11.30.2013

Looking north at the outer dinghy dock, Marathon City Marina from the water.

We've settled into our new winter home pretty quickly. The Marathon City Marina is a big place as far as mooring fields go. There are more than 200 moorings in Boot Key Harbor. The map below is courtesy of the city of Marathon. The picture above, is looking from the middle of the black dots, north to the circle with the Boot Key logo. The mooring field isn't full yet, but more and more boats are arriving daily. The cold weather up north is chasing the cruisers our way. We're on mooring K-1.


AerialMapThumb

We picked Marathon for the winter because of it's facilities and the ease of getting around and getting supplies for all the projects we have on the list for the next 4 months. The marina has large project rooms where cruisers can spread out and do work that none of us have room to do on our boats. You want to fix a sail? There's a floor for that. You need to work on the dinghy motor? There are motor stands and workbench space for that. Fibreglass repair? Ditto. Free wifi? Yep. Laundry, yes. (But it makes me cringe to pay $6 for one load. When I think of all the washers and dryers I could have bought with just the money I've spent  in laundromats in the last 5 years. Definitely cringe-worthy.)


The view from above the tiki hut, looking south. Celebration is just right of center.



The inner dinghy dock, with the shower/laundry building and project rooms on the right.

11.11.2013


After our very fun, event filled summer, getting back to the boat yard and going to work on Celebration was a definite let down! It's a good thing we met some really fun, party loving fellow sailors, who were also in the midst of boat repairs or overhauls. You know who you are Billy, Bill, Lori, Edgar, Hela, Wendy... the list is long. Thanks for making our yard time go by so quickly.
We splashed Celebration on a very rainy day, in the middle of a very rainy week, that unfortunately  happened to be in the middle of a very rainy month. We didn't see the sun for the next 3 weeks.
We headed south on Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk and then into the ICW system of rivers and canals that takes boaters inside of Cape Hatteras. It's beautiful back country of swamp grass and marsh but it was still raining.



                                        Norfolk Navy Yard, grey ships on a grey day.





Air craft carrier in dry dock, they're so big on top, it's a surprise to see how little is under water.



                                 A kettle of anhingas, wondering where the sun went.

As is usual on our way south, we ended up in Oriental, NC, for a visit with Beth and Jim on Wild Haggis. We lucked out and got onto the free town dock for two nights and we even managed to be there for a pig-pickin at Dick and Jackies. The weather was improving as we made our way south and we were very ready to be back in shorts and flip-flops.



          Carolina Beach, NC, even the geese were heading south, they passed  us daily.
We left Carolina Beach and did a 5 day sail all the way to Marathon. It was a great trip, pretty good wind, pretty calm seas and we managed to average more than 5knots an hour.


 
                                               Our new morning-coffee view, over Boot Key.
 
We've settled into our home for the winter, the mooring field at Boot Key Harbor in Marathon FL. We've spent s lot of time in Florida, but haven't really explored any of it and I'm excited to get to check out all of the Keys.
 



Just a shot of the inside of the boat after our 5 days off shore to Marathon, the sea berth on the left with lots of pillows to keep us from rolling and our piles of cold weather clothing we shed as we got south.

9.24.2013

They say that time flies when you're having fun



 And we're having a lot of fun, so the days are slipping through my fingers at a scary fast rate. How can it be that 2 months have gone by since we put the boat up on the hard? Didn't Hannah tell us just yesterday that she was getting married? And more importantly, where has all the rum gone? This summer was a whirlwind 8000 roadtripping miles of family, fun, good friends, and amazing scenery. Once again we started in Virginia, headed to Minnesota and North Dakota to see our families, turned left and made our way to New Mexico, where there was a big party with a small wedding in the middle.
Our family grew by many as we welcomed not only our new son-in-law, Cameron, but his entire family into the fold. It was a very beautiful Hannah/Cameron/New Mexico wedding: a beautiful clear blue sky, a gorgeous estate, green and cool, a beautiful bride and her handsome groom, family and friends dressed in the very best of elegant picnic attire, a Dia de los Muertos bride and groom pi├▒ata, fish tacos, rum bar (courtesy of the bride's parents), sack races, wild flowers bouquets and dancing outside on the grass under the twinkling lights and stars. We, of the older generation went home by midnight, but the party went on into the wee hours and, from what I understand, continued the next day. As my dad said, after watching his first grandchild get married, "The bar has been set pretty high for the rest of the grandkids." 
  

After the wedding we continued our "wear out our welcome" tour of our families. We headed to Phoenix for a bit and then back to Albuquerque and on to northern New Mexico where we spent some time looking at land. We'd like to find somewhere to build a cabin and eventually do 6 months on the boat and 6 months off.
In between family visits, we were camping again. We usually stay at the KOA campgrounds, having a fondness for bathrooms and showers and such. Most of the KOA's have some kind of a gift shop with local kitsch for sale. It actually might be a requirement: the dusty forgotten gift shop to the left of the check-in. I've never bought anything but, I always look, I just never know what to expect. In the KOA in Tucumcari NM, I found a treasure, the new mug I've been looking for. It's bright sunshine yellow with a big red Zia sun on it. I love it!



Currently, we're back on the boat, but still in the yard. The picture above is the view from the cockpit, looking around the yard. There are lots of people here, working on boats in varying states of seaworthiness.  We'd planned a quick bottom paint job and then back in the water, BUT as with all things boat, the plans changed. It goes like this. We have a new anchor, it's bigger than the last one and it doesn't fit on the bow as well as it should. The anchor roller needed to be removed and moved back and re welded, so the anchor could fit properly.  Enter our friend, Billy, who has a shop with a TIG welder. Off came the bow spirit. It'll be another week.
The picture below is of Celebration on the hard, minus the bow spirit.
 

7.14.2013

A really cool thing

One of the really cool things we've done lately, is sail through New York City. Not just to the city but through it. The East River runs 14 miles from the Throgs Neck bridge on the west end of Long Island Sound to the Battery on the southern tip of Manhattan. Steve did LOTS of planning for this passage. Currents on the river can reach 5 knots and we certainly didn't want to be going against them. At the midway point of the trip, where the East and Harlem rivers meet, the current can be so strong, the area is called Hell Gate. It didn't give these newbies warm and fuzzy feelings. The key was to time the currents so we could go through the city and continue on our way down the New Jersey coast.
Steve timed it perfectly and it was an amazing day.



We entered the East river, going under the Throgs Neck bridge, it was our first view of Manhattan.


                                              Sailing school, just past the bridge.
 
 

There were beautiful, expensive homes all along the river. Yes, that is a float plane in the garage.



We went under the bridge and past La Guardia airport and Rikers Island prison. Just across the river from Rikers was a maximum security barge. It had curling razor tape everywhere and a tunnel of the stuff leading to the barge. The upper left corner was a basketball court/outdoor area, also heavily razor wired.  I nicknamed it the 'party barge'. It made me claustrophobic just going by.
 
 
 

 
                  Another barge, this one looks like a residence with indoor and outdoor space.
 
 

 

   As we came around Rikers Island, we got our first good view of Manhattan. Hell Gate bridge is to the left.










 








There were so many beautiful old buildings and apartments. The rooftop gardens were everywhere.











Going through Hell Gate.





                                            The UN and the Chrysler building.



More beautiful apartments.




               River traffic, my captains course didn't cover right of way issues with planes.



                                                  Old and abandoned looking Domino Sugar mill.





                      Around another corner and our first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.





The detail on the undersides of the bridges was ornate and beautiful. They don't build 'em like that anymore.





                            Brooklyn Bridge at the bottom of Manhattan.



 
 
One final corner and we were in busy New York harbor. The Statue of Liberty straight ahead. Tugs, ferries, planes, helicopters, sailboats, barges, and any and every other kind of conveyance in between.
It was a 2 hour trip through the city and one I'd really like to do again.
 
 
Tidbit: Throgs don't really have necks. The area around the bridge was name after the Rev. John Throggmorton who settled there in 1642 and it eventually was shortened to Throg.
 
Tidbit #2: The East river and the Harlem rivers are said to be the only rivers in the world with two mouths and no source.
 
 
I've gotten a little flack lately for not updating the blog. OK, I've gotten LOTS of flack and even a few hand grenades. but we were having so much fun at Gary and Alex's dock, time flew. We've been back in the US for about 6 weeks after our winter season in the VI's.  It's been great to use the phone and internet whenever I want, go to the grocery and find all the things on my list. Whaa hooo! It's the little things in life that are the most fun!

So we got pretty spoiled staying at a dock for a month. A dock with great friends and their great neighbors, unlimited access to a fabulous garden, gluten free bagel Sundays and use of a car. It was hard to leave. We actually stayed longer than planned because I needed a rather extensive physical and had the chance to do it all while we were there. Again, Alex, thanks a million for the use of your car.
We've been reacquainting ourselves with sailing in this part of the world. As Florida sailors we rarely had to deal with currents, tides were less than 2 feet and we seldom had fog. In New England the currents can run 4 knots, the tides rise and fall 8-10 feet twice a day (thus creating the current) and the fog just hangs around whenever it bloody well feels like it. It makes entering and exiting ports and canals a challenge: trying to figure out if we should go into a river with the current but against the wind, or against the current and with the wind, or wait for slack and motor like crazy.



Celebration on the dock behind Gary and Alex's house. We started out on a mooring ball, but the currents in the river were so strong and squirly, that we were doing wild loopdie loops around the ball. I think some of the neighbors complained that it was making them seasick to watch us, so we moved to the dock. The tide here is about 8 feet and combined with the strong river flow it makes for some serious eddies. This picture is at high tide, you can see the bridge to the dock is level.



                                                      Low tide and we all but disappeared.




           Fog in the Cape Cod canal, odd to be going under a bridge and not really be able to see it.

6.03.2013

Greetings from in the fog

Morning in Block Island, RI, in the fog and rain.


As Jim pointed out in the comments about our last posts, this is quite a change from St Croix. In the course of 2 weeks we've gone from hot, sunny days, warm turquois waters and balmy nights under the stars, to cold, wet, foggy and "Have you seen my gloves?" As we came north from Bermuda, adding layer upon layer of clothing, I kept asking Steve "Whose idea was this anyway?" He was always very quick to point out that it was mine. Hmmmm.

We decided (back on one of those balmy warm nights, when we couldn't even imagine cold) to sail north, in one chunk, as far as we're going to get this year and then work our way south along the east coast before putting the boat up and driving around the country, bothering our relatives along the way. We almost made it. We're just south of our final destination of Amesbury MA and the home of friends Alex and Gary and their mooring on the Merrimac River. We ducked into Block Island to avoid yet another cold front and it's accompanying storms. Beautiful, but the mooring rates have gone up 50% since last we were here, it's now $45 a night. We'll be leaving ASAP.


The entrance to Salt Pond, looking north.

We had a nice trip up from the USVI. I won't use the 'b' word again, but it was nicely uneventful. Just a couple of days of sloppy seas, good wind most of the way and another 1500 miles under the keel. We didn't plan a stop in Bermuda, but the weather decided for us. It was a wonderful surprise and has been added to the list of places to go back to. I have loads of pictures and will do a separate post on Bermuda soon.



6.01.2013

Last of the Salty Dawgs

May 31st:

It's getting a little lonely out here as most the bigger, newer, faster boats in the rally continue to make port. Several made it this morning, a few more will reach port tonight. We on the other hand expect to be in sometime Sunday so we'll be the last on the Salty Dawg net for this Spring Rally

Meanwhile it remains pretty much like we like it....not too eventful. Today we are seeing wind and that will continue to pick up through the remainder of our trip. Right now we are crossing the Gulf Stream several hundred miles south of Block Island. Rolly and a few squalls, confused seas like the stream does but we have ~15 more miles to where we expect the north bound. We'll be through it by day and expect the sea to settle, and a bit better point to the west. Winds forecast 15-18kts or so for the night and tomorrow..should be good sailing. We are looking forward to being on land again.

Position
Time: 2013/05/31 20:10:40 (GMT)
Latitude: 37-12.68N
Longitude: 070-33.85W
Speed: 6.0

Steve & Lynn


May 30th:

Another day at sea and all is well. We have decided not to go around the Cape this trip but to go inside. On going around the cape. We are going inside. Wind is forecast to be pretty strong from the west and WSW (25-35) while we would be outside...then followed by another cold front on Monday eve/Tuesday. Right now going west far enough to make it an easier reach when the wind picks up.  We should be somewhere in Buzzards bay, most likely Cuttyhunk or Woods Hole by Sunday afternoon.  Would have loved to have made it one shot but not to be this trip. No desire on this boat to be in weather already forecast to be bad if we can avoid it.

Boat chores: put one of the backup anchors on the bow this AM while the weather is good and seas settled. A little vegetable oil in the evacuation pump for the holding tank and working through another John Scalzi novel
.
Position:
Time: 2013/05/30 15:14:29 (GMT)
Latitude: 35-02.71N
Longitude: 068-46.19W

Steve & Lynn

5.24.2013

In Bermuda!

My apologies for not posting anything up until this point but they are safe and sound in Bermuda.  Here is the most recent report:

Sitting St Georges Harbor, Bermuda. We resigned ourselves to a couple things two days ago. First that we would have to stop in Bermuda or be subjected to forecasted 35kt winds with squalls up to 50kts as we crossed the gulf stream. Second that we couldn't reach Bermuda by tonight so would have to wait off shore to enter.

After two days of spectacular sailing we are just 5 miles out and will be in before dark. Not sure how it worked but the seas stayed flat and the good ship Celebration ran steady across them making between 6.5 to 7.5 knots over the 48 hours. One point this morning we slowed to 4, then after sever hours it picked up again. TO insure the extra speed I experimented with flying the storm jib on it's sta in the foretriangle. Love it, extra 25 feet of leading edge with no impact on the genny, more speed and yes I took some pics for posting later...double headsails with Bermuda in the background.

Maintenance: One water-maker membrane is good, the other bad. The bad one is now plumbed out of the system; we're down to making just 20 gallons/hr. Hot showers and a cold drink tonight once we're settled.

Time: 2013/05/23 22:50:54
Latitude: 32-22.43N
Longitude: 064-40.53W
St Georges Harbor, Bermuda

5.03.2013

Buck Island, St Ctoix


The day started with the palest of sunrises, a barely-grey morning that slowly went silver, then yellow. We sat in the cockpit sipping coffee, watching the pelicans and frigate birds shake off the night and begin their breakfast dance. The pelicans and gulls diving and fishing, the frigate birds stealing from any and all.
We were anchored just off the beach of Buck Island in St Croix. Buck Island is a park, run by the US Park Service that's just a mile or so off the coast of STX. It's uninhabited and boats need a permit to stay overnight. During the middle of the day, the place is crowded with day snorkelers and beach walkers, but at evenings and in the early morning, it's just us boaters and there were only 5 of us.


It was a pale, gentle start to the day.


View from the beach, MrMac is centered and Celebration is on the right.

 
We had sailed out to BI to meet our best buds and sometime buddyboaters, Chris and Anne on MrMac. They had just arrived from the marine shopping mecca of St Martin and were in need of distraction. The weather was perfect: the clouds were almost too white, the sky was almost too blue, there were almost too many shades of turquois in the water to count. We did our best to appreciate it all. We snorkeled and hiked and  sundownered until way past dark.
 

 
I love that last line. With all our stopping and picture taking and gazing at the views and lizard watching, it took us much longer than 1 hour. We saw no other hikers even though the beach was busy.
 
 
The top of a Turks Head cactus, tiny pink flowers and bright pink seeds.
 
 
The bromeliads and air plants were everywhere.
 


Buck Island is an interesting combination of cacti and succulents and tropical plants. It's very dry most of the year and very, very wet the rest of the time. Average rainfall is about 40 inches, most of it coming from August to November.


The reef on the north side of Buck Island, from the viewing platform 300 feet up the hill. We sat here a long time.
 
 

3.27.2013

Updates

I'm back from my 3 week trip up north. I've actually been back for 2 weeks now, but the sun is so sunny and the water so blue, I've had a hard time staying inside to write about it. I headed back to Minneapolis (where it was 3. Three shouldn't even be a number when it comes to temperature.) to do wedding dress shopping with Hannah, who is getting married in August, and MOH dress shopping with Amanda, who is her MOH. It was a grand time, lots of family and laughter, some tears. My little girls are all grown up.
After Mpls I headed to Phoenix to thaw and see more family, and do a side trip to Mexico to stay in my sisters lovely condo on the Sea of  Cortez. I flew back to St Thomas and we immediately sailed south. We made it back to St Croix just in time for St Paddy's day. 
 
For some unknown reason, St Pat's day is a HUGE here.  Personally, I think it's because it falls right in the middle of Lent and it's a great opportunity to let loose for a day. Whatever the reasons, the partying starts early in the morning and goes late into the night, or in this case, until 4am.
 
We watched a 3 hour parade where the spectators were just as much fun to watch as the floats and bands. Everyone was in green. Green hair, green skin, green glasses, hats, shoes, socks. Water fights were had, drinks were lifted, we all had a wonderful time under the bright, hot sun.

 
 
 
Love his sideburns.




There were girls twirling flaming hula-hoops...





                                                          ...and leprechauns



                                            and a bartender on every float.




                                        Green was the color of the day. These guys had wet-paint hands
                        and were trying to put handprints on various parts of the women in the crowd.



                                               Love her smile, even her bike was green.


 
It was hot, but the bands played on