Living on SV Island Time

Adventures of Life on a Boat

Cruising the ICW

Yesterday, Sept. 1 at 10 a.m, we passed the last red buoy on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, marking our entry into the Chesapeake. Last night and tonight, we are at the Hampton, Va. docks, waiting for rain and wind to pass, remnants of Harvey.

Over the last 66 days, we’ve traveled 1,018 nautical miles up the east coast of the United States, from Riveria Beach (Palm Beach County, FL) to Norfolk, Va.

Along the way, we visited 19 cities/towns, hailed 36 tenders for opening of one lock and 35 draw bridges and taken photos of 10 lighthouses. We took advantage of each opportunity to catch up with friends that live nearby or make friends with other boaters.

 

View from the top of Cape Lookout lighthouse.

Each city/town offered excellent boating facilities, good food, nice walkable downtowns and lots of visitor centers, shopping, museums, tours and historic homes. In fact, I think we’ve been on the magical history tour. We now know A LOT about each city’s role in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Information about pirates and the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s paints more of the picture. Tales from St. Augustine, Savannah and Charleston are just the beginning of the story each city tells about the battles fought in their vicinity.

Fountain in Charleston.

If you like pirate lore, don’t miss the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC (pronounced BO-furt). This museum has the artifacts found off the NC coast from the wreckage of Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. It’s very nicely done and tells his story very well.

Exhibit at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC

On a different note. We happened upon a dock in McClellenanville, SC. From our slip, we could see several shrimp boats docked and a seafood market down the canal. We went for a walk to find the seafood market. We were the last of three customers at the end of the day. Each placed their order. The first two wanted one or two large tubs (16 oz) of shrimp dip. We ordered two pounds of shrimp and a small shrimp dip. Both ladies turned around with a look of wonder. “Why would you order a small one? Trust us. Get the large.” Ok. I changed to a large one. OMG. That was the most delicious shrimp dip we have ever tasted. If you go, definitely get the large one.

We took two days off the boat to visit my father and older brother in NC. It was great seeing them and catching up on their lives.

My dad and me.

Along the way, we saw manatee, lots of dolphins, sea turtles and bald eagle. We saw very few alligators. The last one was just south of the Va. state line in NC. They say there are none in Virginia but I’m not so sure the gators know that. We think this one was at least 10 feet long.

Visiting my brother and his wife at their new house.

We plan to spend the next five and a half weeks exploring the Chesapeake Bay. We want to visit the towns in Virginia and Maryland along the coast plus head up the Potomac River to Washington, DC. Of course, we plan to stick around for the Annapolis Boat Show in October.

On the way south, we hope to take the Dismal Swamp route, visit some places we missed, such as NC’s Outer Banks, Tybee Island, SC and Brunswick, Ga. We will plan to stop at McClellenanville for more shrimp dip.

On a sad note, both our dogs, Scout and Sandy,  have passed away. At age 13, they lived good lives and spent their last months sailing with their people. We miss them. RIP.

Newly Salted Interview

When Scott and I first decided to retire and travel on our boat, we started doing research. We read blogs and books, watched YouTube videos and talked to friends who had done it, were doing it and who planned to do it. One of the blogs we followed was Newly Salted and the companion site, Interview with a Cruiser. Now, as cruisers, we get to answer the questions.

Visiting the Hope Town Lighhouse

Scott and I visiting the Hope Town Lighthouse at Elbow Cay, Abacos, Bahamas

About Us
We are Scott and Martha aboard SV Island Time, a 35-foot catamaran made by Island Packet. Yes, we know, you were not aware Island Packet made catamarans. They built 41 of them from 1993-1995. The boat has two staterooms, two heads and a saloon/galley combo. We started living aboard in November 2016, sailed from Shell Point (just south of Tallahassee) to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for boat work that took seven weeks. At the end of January, we headed to Key West and the Dry Tortugas. We then traveled north through the Florida Keys and through the Intracoastal Waterway from Miami to Port Everglades. We spent two months in the Abacos, Bahamas. Now, we are in Palm Beach.

Interview Questions
What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?     We read a lot of blogs and books and watched a lot of YouTube videos before we set out on this journey. We went to boat shows and sat through seminars about living aboard, crossing the Gulf Stream, installing solar panels, outfitting the galley and more. We thought we were fairly well prepared. We underestimated how much we would miss daily contact with family and friends. It makes phone calls and visits really special.

As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?     When we first started this trip, we had two 13 year-old dogs on board. Sadly, one just passed away. We were concerned about their transition to the boat and our need to take them ashore multiple times per day. Both dogs figured out the little green carpet trick. We don’t miss TV or the constant news cycle.

What mistakes did you make as you started cruising?     We underestimated how much time (and money) we would spend with the boat in the boat yard. We predicted a two to three week stay for getting the bottom painted, to service the engines and to complete some other tasks. It took seven weeks. Luckily, we were not living aboard as we had family nearby. At the end of the seven weeks, we were eager to get moving.

What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?     We both enjoy exploring new places and like walking, riding bicycles and finding the occasional Uber ride. Meeting new people who share our lifestyle is also rewarding. We enjoy sunrises, sunsets and really dark night skies so we can see the stars. Anchoring in a new harbor is always exciting

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?     Even though our boat is a catamaran, our storage options are still limited. We move things around all the time to find things that are stored on board. We still have too much stuff. We love having a 12 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer. We don’t like emptying it to find that needed item in the bottom basket.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn’t find to be true?     A lot of people told us that rum would be plentiful and inexpensive in the Bahamas. They didn’t speak to the quality of that rum. We found good rum to be expensive, as was all alcohol, especially beer.

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?     Avoid schedules. Our crossing of the Gulf of Mexico included high seas and high winds. We were on a schedule. Not. Ever. Again. Weather is the first thing we look at before planning to move the boat. We always hesitate to make plans with friends about where we’ll be and when they should meet us. We can’t guarantee that we’ll be there. We also want to take our time and explore each anchorage.

Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?     We are still debating if we want to install a water maker. However, we did purchase a small generator so we can use the air conditioning sometimes when we are not at a dock.

What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?     We brought too many clothes that we don’t have the space to store or the need to wear. We try to stick with wicking/quick dry clothing because laundry can be expensive. So far, we’ve used laundry facilities on shore but we are prepared for the five-gallon bucket method when the time comes.

What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.     We plan to cruise for three to five years. We plan to travel up the ICW to Savannah and Charleston for summer 2017 and then head south through the Exumas and into the Caribbean for winter 2018.

What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I’ve asked you and how would that you answer it?     What broke and how did you fix it? Our autopilot quit working on the way back to Key West from the Dry Tortugas. We ordered new parts and Scott installed them. We needed a hole drilled in a thick piece of brass while we were in Hollywood. Scott called many machine shops to ask for help and didn’t find anyone who could assist. Our friend Jerry came to the rescue. He knew someone with a drill press, made the arrangements and then came to pick Scott up, drive him there and return him to the boat. Whew!

Bonus Question: Some friends have asked “What do you do all day?”     Well, we live here, so it depends. We don’t go to work so alarm clocks are not part of our day. If the boat is underway, we are both on deck actively steering, sailing or motoring the boat, watching for boat traffic, tending lines and more. If we are anchored near a town or city, then we are ashore exploring, provisioning, doing laundry and buying parts for boat repairs and maintenance. We cook most meals on the boat but Scott is constantly looking for a good pizza. If wifi is available, we are checking weather, reading email, reading the news and watching more sailing videos on YouTube. We read books — paper and digital.

Thanks for reading our interview. Be sure to check out other interviews on Newly Salted and Interview with a Cruiser.

Sailing to the Bahamas

In late March, Scott and I sailed Island Time from Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) to the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas. We were there nearly two months, through April and most of May.

My favorite parts? Here’s the top 5.

1. Good Friends. Four catamarans and one powerboat from Apalache Bay Yacht Club were in the Abacos this spring, including Frank and Pat Hankins aboard Zephyros, Steve and Mary Van Sciver aboard Soliton, Ivor and Lynn Groves aboard Gratitude, Scott and I aboard Island Time and Don Beekler and Beth Novinger aboard their powerboat. This is impressive since ABYC is a small club. Friends and family also came to visit, including John and Beth Hamilton, Mike and Angel Ganey, Jackie Werndli and Jon Robinson and Melinda Delpech. We had a great time seeing the sights, exploring the islands, sailing and meeting cruisers from various other places. Boaters share camraderie and a sense of adventure.

Scott and I with Frank and Pat Hankins after a hike on Munjack Cay.

Scott and I with Frank and Pat Hankins after a hike on Munjack Cay.

Mike and Angel Ganey climbing the rocks along the coast at Little Harbor.

Mike and Angel Ganey climbing the rocks along the coast at Little Harbor.

Scott and I with Steve and Mary Van Sciver and Frank and Pat Hankins at Nippers Bar and Grill on Great Guana Cay.

Scott and I with Steve and Mary Van Sciver and Frank and Pat Hankins at Nippers Bar and Grill on Great Guana Cay.

Scott and I with Jackie Werndli at Man O War Cay.Scott and I with Jackie Werndli at Man O War Cay.

Scott and I with Jackie Werndli at Man O War Cay.

The four of us on the bow celebrating the crossing back to Florida.

Scott and I with Jon Robinson and Melinda Delpech after the overnight trip back to Florida across the Gulf Stream.

2. Great scenery. The Abacos are beautiful. Here’s a sample of photos.

Scott holds up one of three 28-inch mutton snappers caught on the trip.

Scott holds up one of three 28-inch mutton snappers caught on the trip.

Green sea turtle at rest

Scott points at a green sea turtle at rest under a branch near Little Harbor.

Scott snorkeling to find a queen conch.

Scott finds a queen conch near Little Harbor.

Coral reef at Fowl Cay Preserve.

The coral reef at Fowl Cay Preserve. Fish were plentiful with barracuda, angel fish, tangs and a variety of other fish.

Lighthouse at Hope Town

The Hope Town lighthouse claims to be the last manned kerosene burning lamp in the world.

View from the lighthouse

View of the harbor and Atlantic Ocean from the top of the Hope Town Lighthouse

3. Good wind. Most days were sunny with temperatures in the 80s and wind between 10 and 20 knots. That’s perfect sailing weather. Most night temperatures fell in the low 70s with light wind, making it comfortable to sleep without air conditioning since we were at anchor or on a mooring ball for most nights.

Island Time under sail on turquoise waters.

Island Time under sail on turquoise waters.

4. Tradition. It’s a tradition among boaters to blow a conch horn at sunset. An enterprising young Bahamian man sold us a conch horn for $5 in West End. I never got the hang of it despite Scott’s efforts to teach me. I will keep practicing. Angel Ganey played the trombone in high school and she’s a pro at blowing the conch horn. See the video.

5. My favorite. Scott can no longer say he has never been to the Bahamas.

Scott and I at Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay.

Scott and I at Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay.

Sailing to the Dry Tortugas

On Sunday, Feb. 10, Scott and I sailed Island Time from Key West to the Marquesas, due west approximately 20 miles. We tucked behind the island with six other boats to spend the evening. One of those boats was Gratitude, owned by friends Ivor and Lynn, also members of Apalache Bay Yacht Club.

Scott wading at the Marquesas

Scott wading at the Marquesas

 

Four people on the beach at Marquesas

Scott, Lynn, Martha and Ivor on the beach at Marquesas

The next day, we sailed an additional 50 or so miles to the Dry Tortugas, where we spent two nights. With 1-2 foot seas and 10-15 knots of wind, both boats enjoyed a beautiful sail getting there. Scott even caught a fish using the Cuban yoyo. It was too small to keep but he had fun catching it. We think this is a Lesser Amberjack.

Scott caught a fish.

Scott caught a fish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a short video of Scott talking about the trip and another taken as we approach the channel to Garden Key at Dry Tortguas National Park.

The park’s centerpiece is Fort Jefferson, which is located on Garden Key. Built in the 1860s, this fort is a wonderful piece of history with a lighthouse that is being restored but was decommissioned long ago. The name was given to the islands by Ponce de Leon in 1513. It means “the turtles” in Spanish. These are the “dry” Tortugas because there is no fresh water on any of the islands. They use cisterns to capture rain water.

Sign: Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park

Sign: Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park

Entry over the moat at the fort

Entry over the moat at the fort

The first floor of the fort

Exploring the first floor of the fort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moat around Fort Jefferson

Moat around Fort Jefferson

Lighthouse at Fort Jefferson

Lighthouse at Fort Jefferson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On nearby Bush Key, around 100,000 sooty terns gather for nesting season. I think all of them were there when we arrived. These birds made a constant ruckus that became background noise as we enjoyed the park. Bush Key is also home to a rookery of  Magnificent Frigate Birds. Pretty cool. I was not able to get a photo of the sootie tern but the frigate birds with six to seven foot wing spans soared overhead. As it turns out, the sootie tern eggs are a favorite food for the frigate birds. (OUCH!)

Male and female frigate bird fly over Fort Jefferson

Male and female frigate bird fly over Fort Jefferson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loggerhead Key is located three miles to the west of Garden Key. This island has a working lighthouse. The park reports that approximately 250 sea turtles (loggerheads and greens) nest on the island, yielding 15,000 hatchlings each year. Scott overheard one of the park guests who arrived by sea plane saying that the turtles were plentiful and looked like manhole covers from the air as they flew over. (WOW!)

Lighthouse at Loggerhead Key

Lighthouse at Loggerhead Key

Snorkeling is the show stealer at Dry Tortugas. OMG. Water temp is 70 degrees this time of year so we wore our wetsuits. The reefs were beautiful, the fish were plentiful and the colors were amazing. We also snorkeled over a sunken boat, called the Windjammer. (AMAZING!)

Fish were plentiful at the Windjammer wreck

Fish were plentiful at the Windjammer wreck

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you ever have an opportunity to go, DO IT! There are three ways to get there: private boat, ferry from Key West or sea plane charter. I recommend private boat because you get to stay as long as you want ($10 entry per person gets you a seven day visit). You can dinghy to the other islands to explore.

Stormy weather was expected so we sailed back to Key West on Feb. 13. Seas were 3-5 feet with wind in the 15-20 range with gusts around 24. Seas diminished as we sailed north of the Marquesas toward Key West. They provided great cover for a beautiful sail. We are glad to be back at the dock. The rain started about two hours after we docked at the marina.

Here are more photos.

Gratitude and Island Time in the harbor at Dry Tortugas National Park

Gratitude and Island Time in the harbor at Dry Tortugas National Park

Sunrise over Dry Tortugas

Sunrise over Dry Tortugas

Four people at Dry Tortugas

Scott, Ivor, Lynn and Martha at Dry Tortugas

Boat Work and Breaking the Three Day Rule

On December 5, we took Island Time to Snead Island Boat Works for a bottom job, to replace the standing rigging, service the engines and some other routine maintenance tasks. We estimated the work would take about three weeks. We planned to spend two weeks at Jon and Melinda’s (Scott’s brother and our sister-in-law) and one week visiting our children, Matthew and Kathryn, in Denver for Christmas. We planned to be underway to Key West right after New Years.

A sailboat on a boat lift

Our catamaran on the lift before work started.

Slight change in plans. We left Snead Island on January 28 … more than seven weeks after we arrived.

About the Boat Work
First off — Snead Island Boat Works was great to work with. Everyone was nice, quick to tackle a problem, worked on Saturdays even when they should have the day off, answered questions and more. This is a reputable yard with a professional crew. However, every project look longer than anticipated.

For the bottom job, they sanded the boat to the fiberglass to remove multiple layers of bottom paint. That exposed the blisters — 72 of them. A blister is like a pimple. Water seeps in and permeates that part of the hull. During the job, they sand it out and let that water drain. That can take a while. One blister took three weeks to drain. Delay number one.

When the blisters were finished draining, they painted three coats of barrier paint and two coats of anti foul paint to protect the hull. They then moved the boat off the blocks and back onto the travel lift so they could do the whole process under the areas where the blocks had been. And guess what. They found another blister on an area that was already finished. The yard foreman is quoted as saying, “Crap. Crap. Crap.” Start the whole process over on that blister. Delay number two.

Another project was to replace to standing rigging. Those are the cables that hold the mast up. After the boat was ready to go back in the water, the mast could be put back on the boat using a crane. The first day, the weather was windy. They were successful the second day. Foreman says, “Captain, move the boat over there” as he points to where he wants us to go. Engines won’t start. We used the “Tom Sawyer method” to move the boat to the slip at the end of the run. They sent over the mechanic the next day. This guy was wonderful and got both engines running. We hoped to get underway after the canvas guy finished installing the new bimini and dodger. Another delay by one day.

Men use a crane to lift the mast onto a sailboat

Putting the mast back on the boat with a crane.

Finally. Ready to go on Saturday, January 28. Nope. One engine won’t go into forward. It’s Saturday morning when the yard is closed. Two guys come in on their day off to save the day and fix it. We are underway by noon, aimed for Marina Jack in Sarasota where we picked up a mooring ball for the night … right next year to our friends Ivor and Lynn on SV Gratitude.

The Three Day Rule
Scott’s mother had a little sign in her guest bathroom: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Benjamin Franklin is credited with that line. We took full advantage of our time with Jon and Melinda and their friends. Our dogs, Scout and Sandy, enjoyed their walks with Cooper and Lily. One benefit was that we all enjoyed watching the seven Star Wars movies so we could remember the full story line. After seven weeks, we hope we didn’t stink too bad. We enjoyed our time with Jon and Melinda. Especially appreciated were the family dinners with our niece, Marina.

Where are we now? Key West. Look for the next post for details of that adventure.

Taking a Sailing Vacation before Our Cruise Begins

At the end of October, Scott and I took a vacation to the Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands for the 30th Anniversary Pro Am Regatta.

Scott and Martha with a view of North Sound.

Scott and I with a view of North Sound behind us.

It was an amazing trip with  beautiful scenery, terrific sailing and plentiful outdoor activities. We were joined by friends Michael and Angel Ganey and Jimmy and Sondra Lee. We met new friends along the way. We found lots of motivation for sailing our boat all the way to the BVIs.
We flew into St. Thomas, took a ferry to Tortola and spent the night at Nanny Cay. The roosters crowing at 4 a.m. were a novel change from the standard alarm clock (not!). We then took another ferry to Virgin Gorda, where we spent seven nights at the Bitter End Yacht Club.
map-of-north-soundThe Pro Am Regatta featured top notch pros and some devoted racing amateurs. Scott and I raced a Hobie Wave (lots of fun!) and participated in the racing of IC 24s with a variety of pro skippers.
Sailing a Hobie Wave.

Sailing a Hobie Wave around North Sound.

Many participants “raced” Leopards to the Baths in the Mount Gay Defiance Day Race. Our skipper was Steve Benjamin (Benj), 2015 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.
For fun, we went snorkeling and took a day to visit Foxy’s and the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke. We also sailed a Hobie Getaway around Necker Island (owned by Sir Richard Branson) and Prickly Pear National Park on Virgin Gorda.
Scott and Martha sitting in beach chairs at Jost Van Dyke

Toes in the Sand

On the way home, Angel found us a three bedroom, three bathroom suite at the Marriott on St. Thomas. The accommodations were sweet and the view was even better. (Thanks, Angel!)
Next post: a recap of the first month living aboard Island Time.
More photos:
Finding a conch while snorkeling

Scott finds a conch while snorkeling.

Sunset

Sunset in St. Thomas, USVI

Starting Our Journey – Crossing the Gulf of Mexico

We have arrived safely in Dunedin and are docked at Marker 1 Marina off the Dunedin Causeway. Whew!

“Attitude makes the difference between an ordeal and an adventure,” says Bob Bitchin, publisher of Cruising Outpost Magazine. We have just experienced an adventure and we’re happy (and relieved) to be tied to the dock. Our attitudes are good, despite a challenging trip.
Scott and I along with Michael and Angel Ganey departed Shell Point at 9 a.m.. yesterday following a terrific send off from our friends on shore. David and Pam Bullard escorted us out of Shell Point with their power boat. We raised the mainsail and unfurled the headsail and were making good time. Within an hour, we had reduced both sails because of wind and sea state (too much of each).
The forecast called for 15-20 knots of wind out of the with 2-4 foot seas. During the day, winds were 15-25 and seas were 4-6. Winds were mostly from the east.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunset at sea.
sunset-on-crossing
After dark, we got 25-28 knots of wind with 6-8 foot seas. Each couple took four hour watches with the men at the helm, starting at 8 p.m. The other couple grabbed a little sleep when possible.
By 10 a.m. today, the forecast was more accurate with sloppy seas and 15 knots of wind. By 11 a.m., it was beautiful.
Island Time performed well. Crew is happy to be tied to the dock. We were not able to get photos but at times we were escorted by dolphin, sea gulls and monarch butterflies.
As we came through the Dunedin Causeway draw bridge, we noticed a kayak to the east, where we were headed. They waved a champagne bottle at us. We were surprised and thrilled to learn that Scott’s brother, Jon, and our sister-in-law, Melinda, had made the trip from Sarasota to escort us into harbor. (Awww!)
Two people in a tandem kayak.

What We Learned on the Shake Down Cruise

Last May, we took a shake down cruise for 10 days. See the previous post for the itinerary. The goals were to play, identify what worked and what needed more attention. Here are five things we learned/verified:

1) Be careful who you invite.

Four people on the bow.

Phil and Jackie with us on the bow at Dog Island. Photo by Phil Werndli.

Phil and Jackie were perfect companions for 10 days. We’ve traveled with them for long trips before so we knew we’d get along great. Jackie and I alternated meal preparation so we were not in the galley together. Phil and Scott worked together on anchoring, engine issues and trouble shooting other systems. We ate, drank cocktails, played dominoes and window shopped in two towns. Both were able to assist and offer valuable suggestions. It was great and we appreciate their company, their expertise and their friendship.

2) Our solar panels kept us off the grid — mostly.

Two solar panels.

Two solar panels on the radar arch of Island Time.

In recent months, Scott installed two 150-watt solar panels on the boat. He also replaced the refrigerator/freezer combo on the boat. The test? Would the solar panels keep up with all the demands of four people and two dogs? It performed well, despite some cloudy days. Between running the diesel engines and the solar panels, our batteries stayed charged and covered all the electrical needs, including powering the refrigerator. The 12-cubic-foot space was filled to the brim when the journey began. As each meal was prepared, the contents slowly diminished. On the days when we knew we would be motoring, we let the crock pot do all the work — pork roast and pot roast. That’s good eating on a boat.

3) Four people need a lot of mixers for 10 days on a boat. Boat drinks are important. Soda Stream to the rescue. We kept cold water in the refrigerator, added the appropriate flavoring and whirled up tonic, lemon/lime and ginger ale on demand. No hauling cans and bottles to the boat and no hauling away the garbage. It worked great and kept us singing along with Jimmy Buffett the whole trip.

4) Ground tackle matters. On the first night, we anchored in Tyson’s Cove at Dog Island. We know from experience that the bottom there is sandy and that most anchors simply don’t hold without the weight of chain to hold it in place. Our new Mantus anchor with all chain rode did a fabulous job. The anchor held great and we all got a good night’s sleep. Of course, Scott was still up every couple of hours checking on the position of the boat.

Because of the sandy/silty/muddy bottom, Phil had the job of rinsing the chain as Scott used the windlass to lift the anchor. Phil had a cloth bucket on a rope that he lowered to the water, filled and lifted to pour over the chain to remove the black mess. Phil filled, lifted, and rinsed while Scott raised the anchor. This was hard work for Phil for more than 30 minutes. Lesson learned: install a fresh/salt water pump on the bow. Scott’s still working on that one.

5) You never know who’ll you’ll meet or meet again. After we docked at the marina in Port St. Joe, another boat came in a little bit later. We assisted with tying their lines. The woman on board and I started chatting and both kept saying, “We know each other. How?” After we chatted for a few minutes, we figured it out. We had met at the St. Petersburg GAM reception for the Seven Seas Cruising Association the previous November. Gary and Shirley are now full time cruisers and we are excited to join them on the water.

Bonus lesson: Keep both engines running. Motoring into the wind with one engine means little progress. Early in the trip, we noticed that the starboard engine was spitting black gunk. Scott turned it off and we decided to proceed with one engine. On the way to Apalachicola, we were going about one knot into the wind. Unacceptable. We started the engine and motored along, taking it easy for the rest of the trip. When we got back to home port, Scott replaced both exhaust elbows (one for each engine). As it turns out, this is a routine maintenance item and it was due.

Scott and I are working to move from the house to the boat so we can begin our adventure on the water. Next post: transitioning from house to boat. What to keep? What to donate? What to store?

Where We Went on the Shake Down Cruise

In May 2016, Scott and I took the boat for 10 days on a shake down cruise to learn more about the boat and some of newly installed equipment. We invited our good friends, Phil and Jackie, to join us on the trip.

We motorsailed west from Shell Point to Dog Island, where we spent the first night. On the second day, we motorsailed to Apalachicola. We anchored in the river one night and tied up to the city wharf the second night. We spent the day sight seeing, shopping and enjoying the town. At cocktail time, we headed over to the Gibson Inn. None of us had ever been there before so it was treat. The historic inn has been wonderfully restored and Phil (a retired historic preservationist) told us all about it. We had dinner at a local restaurant.

Boat at anchor

SV Island Time at anchor on the Apalachicola River.

Appoaching the bridge to St. George Island

Approaching the bridge to St. George Island.

Sunset over the Apalachicola River.

Sunset over the Apalachicola River.

The next day, we traveled up the Apalachicola River to Lake Wimico on the Intracoastal Waterway on our way to Port St. Joe. Our original plan was to anchor for the night, but the winds made it choppy so we headed for the marina, where we spent two nights. We re-provisioned at the Piggly Wiggly, shopped at the adorable stores just one block north of US 98 and enjoyed pizza for dinner at Joe Mama’s Wood Fired Pizza (there are two, the other one is in Tallahassee).

When we left the marina, we sailed around St. Joe Bay, went for a swim and anchored by the lighthouse for the night.

Lighthouse and museum

Lighthouse at the town of Port St. Joe.

The next day, we reversed course and headed through the lake, back to Apalachicola where we anchored for the night before heading to Dog Island to meet the cruising fleet for Memorial Day weekend at Dog Island. There were at least 12 boats there from the Apalache Bay Yacht Club. Scott caught a Spanish mackerel on the way and we were happy to grill it and offer as a appetizer to share with our friends joining us there.

Next: What worked? What needed more attention?

boats at anchor

Several boats from Apalache Bay Yacht Club at anchor at Dog Island.

 

 

 

The Plan

“Go small, go simple, go now,” is a saying credited to Lin and Larry Pardey, sailors and writers, known for their small boat sailing. They have sailed over 200,000 miles together.

So … Scott and I are taking their advice. We are going now. Our plan is to cruise until we don’t like it anymore or we are ready to do something else.

Depending upon the weather, we’ll leave Shell Point at the beginning of November, taking the boat to the Tampa area for bottom paint and other maintenance. We’ll spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.

In January, we will head to the Florida Keys to enjoy the mild winter and prepare for a trip to the Bahamas in the spring. We plan to spend the summer in the Chesapeake and head to the Carribean in the fall.

In this blog, I’ll write about our travels, life on board, our challenges and successes.

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