Friday, December 26, 2008

X-MAS 2008

Dec 25th

Merry Christmas today and Happy Holidays for all this Season!

How can we describe such a lovely trip home? We're in the middle of three and a half weeks away from Florida and later the Bahamas, we hope. Winter has certainly given us a taste of all the reasons we want to be south for the winters. The other day it took 20 minutes for Florrie to scrape ice off her car before going shopping. We've had bitter cold, an ice-frozen Raritan Bay, snow, sleet and even some rain. One morning there was a soft snow fall that was photo-perfect seasonal weather. The visits with family and old friends have reminded us why we miss them all when we are gone for months at a time. One of many highlights was our trip to Baltimore to see granddaughter #2 in the Moscow Ballet's Nutcracker. That included lovely time with #1 granddaughter, Alexa, too.
The 25th was the day that granddaughter #3 came to visit, with her parents. What fun to see an almost 4 year old open presents. Stickers are the big thing this year.

We hope you all have had as much fun as we have. See you next year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Home for the holidays..(click here)

Yes we made it. Left the boat on the hard in Ft. Pierce and got to the airport to find our flight was delayed from 11 to 1. Something about tornadoes in Georgia and the front with snow hitting New England. Sure glad we rushed. Not only that but they sent a smaller plane so needed to bump 22 people. Since they offered $300 flight credit @, we decided to volunteer. It meant waiting for the scheduled !:00 plane which actually took off about 5:00 and getting us in about 8 for a 9 train. Luckily our neighbor, Judy, picked us up at the train station and got us home.
Anyway, we are home for the holidays. We get to see Maddie dance in the Nutcracker, Melissa convalese after her leg operation, and the whole family gather at our place for X-mas on the 27th. We will be back in Florida on the 8th of Jan looking to provision, wax the boat, and a weather window for the Bahamas. If it looks like there is no window, we go south and look again or go to the keys. Anywhere where it is warm. I have been here 2 days...that is enough of cold and it is no colder here than it was going through Georgia.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Art Date

Hi My Artist Friends,

Yesterday I took myself to the Vero Beach Museum of Art. It was the best time I've had alone in weeks! There was a fabulous glass show which will be up until Dec 28. There were three Dale Chihuly pieces, one of which I liked very much. The fabulous surprise was "discovering" Jon Kuhn who works in cold-fused glass crystal. His "A Byte of Time" is breathtaking! There was a Benjamin Moore piece that I might have seen at the Met in NYC; it is a magical blue "bowl" with dramatic lip that casts an ethereal shadow. Those were only three of about a dozen lovely works. The show also had some ancient glass pieces that were exquisite little gems. That part of the museum was worth the whole visit.

Then there was "The Greeting", a video installation by Bill Viola which will also be up until Dec 28th. It is the first modern piece that I have ever enjoyed! It was (approximately) a 4' X 8' video that was like a classic painting come to life. The artist staged and shot a meeting of three women, dressed in modern clothes that are reminiscent of old Roman garb. The flowing long dresses and the red scarf of one are a perfect counterpoint to the dramatic, hard-edged perspective of the street behind them. Reading the label outside the darkened room, I learned that the whole scene was actually a 45 second segment. However, the artist had slowed it down so much that it took 10 minutes to watch. It moved so slowly that you could absorb the composition as it changed as well as the emotions that were on the three women's faces. Static classic painting could not include such a dynamic element as the motion the current artist enhanced.

Since reading Germaine Greer's The Obstacle Race I'm looking at museum pieces with new eyes. That was fun, too. It was interesting to feel my own reactions to different art pieces - and why. Jon Davis's "Lost Luggage" show was interesting intellectually but it did not grab me the way the other two galleries did. As I was leaving I heard one man say to his wife that a particular large abstract was "very feminine". Why? Because it was in pastels? I shook my head and headed for the gift shop.

I hope you each are having a good art date for yourself now and then.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

thanksgiving on Harmony

Here is a turkey recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a stuffing. When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out. Give it a try.

15 lb. turkey
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is good.)
1 cup uncooked popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHER'S LOW FAT)
Salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush turkey well with melted butter salt, and
pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn.

Place in baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven.

Listen for the popping sounds. When the turkey's ass blows the oven door open and the bird flies across the room, it's done.

And, you thought I didn't cook....

Actually we just had our nap after a fantastic (100+ boat) "potluck" turkey dinner at Velcrow Beach. Unbelievable!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


This story has a happpy ending although it didn't start out that way. I bought some duct tape which didn't stick, even to itself. I emailed the company, Shurtape, and Roy Cox got back to me. After an email (he asked if I had bought it in Lowes) I received a brand new roll sent to me in St Augustine. Well, I finally got to use it and it is really good stuff. Thanks Roy. Thanks Shurtape.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Harmony in Vero Beach

Velcro Beach

I am so content I could purr. We're moored in a field that can handle about 120 boats or more, in a lovely protected area off the ICW. We have a resident osprey that sits on a dead branch about 20 yards from our boat. Its sweet whistle delies the fierce predator that it is. The pelicans entertain us daily with their clumsy splashes for fish and a stunning white egret adds a note of grace to the rich green of the mangrove island next to us. Too bad its "hacking cough" call is the opposite of its elegance. The weather has gotten warmer so we can get out of bed and put on just a sweatshirt. No more stocking cap, two sweatshirts and a wool scarf! On the map it is Vero Beach, about 70 miles north of West Palm Beach but to the boaters it is "velcro beach". No wonder boaters stay here for the whole winter! It is inexpensive and there are services that are amazing. The Marina is in a grove of old oaks with their Spanish moss waving gently in the breezes.

We are a five minute dinghy ride from the dock and then a 15 minute free (!) bus ride from an excellent shopping area. There is everything from a West Marine to a TJMaxx. There is even a crafts store so I can get a few simple art supplies! The bus requests a donation and I wish people would be more generous. Most people just take advantage of the free ride. It is even possible to transfor to another free bus route and go to a Sam's Club or Walmart, for instance. When you are boat bound, good shopping is such a treat.

It is so easy to make friends here! For two nights we've been rafted up with Bravo 2, another catamaran. They left this morning, anxious to get farther south because they are taking advantage of every weather window to get over to the islands. Eventually they are going down the Windward chain and then over to the Azores! I am really in awe of Wendy and Graham. That is an ambitious plan for any couple sailing alone. They will miss the festivities this week. Lew and I are looking forward to Thanksgiving here. Last year 150 boaters participated in a pot luck dinner. There is a sign up sheet at the lounge, near the showers and laundry room. I actually brought a few canned goods so I could participate in whatever happened to be the festivities for this holiday. For the December holidays we will be back in NJ.

View Larger Map
For those of you who know what a hellish trip most of last winter's adventures were, the news of this experience couldn't be better. Sure, we've had a few nasty situations but they don't last long and they don't seem to be as dire as last year. Most of this experience has been terrific in some way. The fun of it is that the good things are as unpredictable as the scary parts last year. Now if I can just get to a point where I actually do more art than a few (very satisfying) drawings, I will really be a happy camper. (Lew seems pretty happy, too, now that his stomach problems have abated.)

Please let us know what is happening in your life, snow and all!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Catamaran Harmony in the cold

Here we are just south of the Melbourne Bridge and it is really cold.
View Larger Map The wind should go down from the 15-20 it has been all day but start up again tomorrow. It is only 30 milew to Vero Beach where we will stay for a few days.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

harmony at the shuttle

Hello all,
The following is my attempt at sharing with you one of the most memorable events of my life. Unfortunately Lew was back at the boat still dealing with stomach problems. But he had a clear sight of the launch from our deck. He's feeling a lot better today.

Endeavor lifts off!
After waiting for weeks and hoping that the weather would not delay the launch, thousands of people sat on beaches, in parks and on boats to watch one of the most spectacular pyrotechnic shows of all time. There were cars from virtually every state looking for space to park. By 3 PM, all along the waterfront of Titusville, west of Cape Canaveral, hundreds of people had staked out their area with deck chairs, coolers and blankets. Cars, SUVs and motorcycles were lining every available road near the Indian River. T-shirt vendors were selling out fast and you could get hot dogs and barbeque for a quick meal. This had to have been the tail gate picnic to beat all tail gate picnics. I wonder how many people were outdoors somewhere, watching. There are countless places all around the Kennedy Space Center area where people could gather.

Lew and I watched the event from different locations and these photos are from my digital camera. At about 6 PM I joined four other boat friends to sit on the banks of a small canal. The first photo shows the English students sitting in front of us, our "view" for almost two hours. A family from Denmark shared ground with the students. There were no radios nearby so we had no idea when the actual count-down started. However, at what must have been 7:55, there was a roar from the throng in Veteran’s Memorial Park, south of us.

The first photo of the launch is just a few small lights. In less time than it took to write that sentence, the sky was filling with the most spectacular bloom of white and golden light. While the next shots, and any I’ve seen in newspapers, show a round light, what we actually saw was more elongated. The launch rose up and up past the shrubs next to us and eventually curved to the north. It left a vapor trail that wafted into scallops in the evening winds, then disappeared entirely. The whole launch experience lasted about five minutes, maybe a little more. People hollered their celebration of the successful launch. We gaped open-mouthed at the enormity of the meaning of what we were seeing. There are people on that craft. They are simply going to work. Had the wind been toward us, we would have heard the blast and felt the rumble of the lift-off in our chests and in the ground.

Within minutes of the launch, everyone had picked up their belongings and was leaving. Having left my friends along the way, I walked the last few yards to Harmony in the dim light of the docks. Up in the sky, the vestiges of the vapor trail zig zagged their way across the almost full moon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Harmony 2 days south of St Augustine

Like last night, we are nestled into a small creek going off the ICW. Last night we were at Fort Matanzas about 15 miles south of St. A Our location now

View Larger Map
Tomorrow we get as close as possible and Friday is the rocket shot at Cape Canaveral

Monday, November 10, 2008

harmony celebrates

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A day in St A

Any place is a good place from which to fish.
Ever wonder how the men get up on those high towers to fix the wires? Here it is and if you look closly you will see three men in the tower

Harmony in St. Augustine

For the cruiser: St. Augustine is a wonderful, historic place. Really good and inexpensive marinas around the back...upSan Sabaston. Skipper Bob talks about anchoring up there but there was not all that much room. If you anchor in the main anchorage, use two anchors about 120 feet apart to keep the boat from swinging too much in the strong currents which shift with the tides.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Catamaran Harmony in St. Augustine

That's right, we will be here for 2 days at the city marina just south of the bridge.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Harmony Letter

Hello Beloved Landlubbers,

It is 20 degrees warmer here in Fernandina Beach, on the dock, than it was getting through the lower part of S. Carolina and all the way through GA. It is SO much more comfortable now. Honeywind is moored across the water, close by. That Canadian couple (Pat and Emory) loved the marshes of GA. It is delightful to see this trip through their eyes. They are used to the foggy, rocky coast of New Brunswick and Maine. This has been heavenly for them. It is also fun to hear about our Revolutionary and Civil War history as Pat is learning about it. We have been finding ourselves at many of the same anchorages, docks or towns ever since leaving Norfolk on Oct. 8th. Yesterday Pat and I had a "girl’s day" in town, shopping from one end to the other. Christmas gifts were my excuse to take advantage of sales. But mostly we just ooohed and aaaahed over cute things we don’t have room for on the boats. Honeywind is a trimaran, which means a monohull with "wings". We expect to see each other again in St. Augustine in a couple of days.

Another treat yesterday was catching up with Tropical Impulse. Ed and Eileen are from our club in Keyport. They take their boat outside for many overnights so they make much better time than we do. They have been living aboard for 15 years and really know what they are doing. They were only on the dock for refueling and to pick up the mail they had forwarded here. After delicious scones that Eileen baked on board and some catch up on the news, she and I went into town while the guys did boat chores or whatever pleased them. (Someday I really have to get brave and use our oven!) I’m beginning to get used to the idea that we see more of Ed and Eileen away from NJ than at home. That is boat life! The next time we see them might be in Lake Worth, FL or even somewhere in the Bahamas.

Lew & I plan to take off toward the Jacksonville area this morning. It is overcast right now but this is supposed to clear so it should be a good day for being on the move again. We’ll probably anchor tonight then be on a dock in St. Augustine. We have to go to a dock again, even though we prefer to anchor, because our dinghy needs some attention before we can trust it to get us from a mooring field or anchor to a town dock. It hasn’t been run since last May. We’ll make sure it is fine, then have more options for our night stays.

Five days ago I was really ready to jump ship. The monotonous landscape as well as the long days of pushing to get out of the cold, as well as the 43 degree weather had "worn me smooth" as a good friend would say. It has gotten a lot better as the temps have risen. Also, this is so much more like a Vacation than we’ve had so far - at least since the Great Dismal Swamp, the Waccamaw River and Whiteside Creek. We’re looking forward to a few days in St. Augustine, one of our favorite stops last spring.

There is nothing like being in Florida on Election Day! What suspense!

We hope all of you are doing fine. Let us know your news.

Cheers from Florrie & Lew

Monday, November 3, 2008


Now at Fernandino Beach...Amelia Island at the north end of Florida. Rainy and at the dock. Spent a delightful day with Emory and Patty from Honeywind and Herb and Laura (a couple who emailed me about the blog and are looking for a boat for themselves to live on).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jekyll Island, GA

Almost through Georgia and it is still cold. We are anchored at Jekyll Island (click on the title above for a map) and tomorrow we get to Florida...God willing and if the creek don't rise.

Friday, October 31, 2008


We are at 31 35.491N 081 12.127W Google map it to see where we are. It is a lovely little creek off the ICW. Cruising Georgia is like taking a truck without a heater up a mountain in winter with switchbacks at 3 to 8 mph depending on current. After 3 days and 120 miles of travel you may have gone 50 miles as the crow flies. Major difficulty is boredom. Most of the scenery is marsh and the rivers are wide. How much swamp grass can you stand?

Isle of Hope near Savannah click here for map

We tried to get to Thunderbolt Marina but there was no room. The gods smiled on us. As we went by Thunderbolt, we could see crowded docks, hear lots of noise and it was poorly protected from wind and waves. On the other hand, Isle of Hope Marina is well protected with an anchorage next door, quiet and well protected. With a courtesy car we used to go to an excellent Spanish restaurant about 5 miles away.
It is still very cold, especially in the mornings. I am so tired of wearing socks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Church Creek Click here for a map

Church Creek is about 20 miles West of Charleston after a windy path with currents 2 to 3 knots against us then 2.5 with us so we went from 3 knots to 9.2. What a ride. Last night was in a little creek 20 miles east of Charleston. Then we stopped over at Isle of Palms, SC and got gas, had a much too short visit with Bill Temple, a friend from High School, and got on our way. The visit was much too short but it was the best the circumstances would allow. Maybe on the way back.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Good services

As much as I complain, it is nice to deal with competent people such as John Pate whose email is He is the one you get the Winchbit from if you can't find it on EBAY. In case you forgot, the winchbit is the better bit for a drill to operate the winches.
The second person is the mechanic we just had. He laid on his magic hands and both engines and the electric charger now appear to be working. He came to our boat in Georgetown but also gets down at least as for as Isle of Palms and probably Charleston. His name is Sarkis Keuleyan at SeaTec Systems. Telephone 843-546-1401 and the website is He does engines and electronics and I highly recommend him. Click on the title here for a link to his site.

Waccamaw River

10/23/08 (click on title for a map)
Today we motored from Barefoot Landing, almost on the N/S Carolina border, down the Waccamaw River to Georgetown, SC. The farther southwest you go, the more cypress you see. These fascinating trees grow out of the swamp from a cluster of conical roots that eventually merge into straight, tall trees with small leaves. Most of them are dripping with Spanish moss. We passed Bucksport, one of Florrie's favorite spots in this Low Country. It is the area that inspired one of the pastel drawings in the slide show on this blog.
Here's an excerpt for Florrie's daily journal: We're moving too fast for me to make on-site drawings but maybe I'll be able to do some from memory. The cypress are spectacular. One old gray tree looked like a wraith with a gossamer cape and billowing skirts striding from the water into the forest. Another looked like an ethereal leaping dancer with her "costume" trailing behind. The moss looked like wafting hair. It was both spooky and beautiful. It took awhile for me to realize that the rounded triangular shape of the woman's heads were actually the abandoned nests of eagles built into the topmost branches of the near-dead trees.
There were also totally denuded cypress snags, trees so long dead they had no bark and were completely light gray. They loomed out of the water with holes big enough to look like tormented eyes and mouths. Limbs reached out like arms, twisted in grotesque positions. These also wore tattered moss "garments" that billowed in the breezes. Old cypress are often hollow so the trunks had deep dark gashes that accented the length. The effect gave the whole scene, even in mid-day, the effect of a forest full of Halloween specters. Imagination could run wild here. It is Tim Burton's Paradise!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Milwaukee drill

I have been asked about the drill bit I use for the Milwaukee drill (see one of the early posts about my favorite tool). It is called a "winch bit" and it is still on EBAY. click the title above for a link to it within the next few days or go to EBAY and search "winch bit" or "winchbit". It is soooo much better than the other bit for winches that it is worth the additional cost, about $50 including shipping. The other bit has a round shaft and slips under pressure so it does work under light load but not under the pressure I need to bring in a jib on a windy day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Waiting out the front

(Local on title above)
We have a front coming through (long pants and even socks!) and are sitting at the dock at the Morehead City Yacht Basin. Google it and see the location. If you are too lazy for that check out the Blog below and click on the title to see a map of the area and specifically where we are. Winds are building and some rain. Small craft advisory until Monday then we leave. Hopefully the bridges will open as the winds are still predicted to be up to 25. Also hopefully there are no planned activities at Camp Lejeune until the reported ones on Thursday when we should be past there.
We have been travelling with a couple on a Catalina 42 so we are not alone.
The engines have been working...knocking hard on wood. We did have an overheating problem on the port one but with Florrie taking the helm while I put some more oil and coolant in, it and she responded well. Refridgeration is still kind of iffy. Both the fredge and freezer work off the same switch so we have a cold freidge and a less cold one. The freezer isn't really good enough to be called that but WILL keep ice for 4 to 5 days and the rum is holding out. It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Morehead City, NC

Here we are for awhile (click on the title to see the map). There is a front coming, probably tomorrow night, and we are tucked in for the duration of the passage. Looks like until Monday. We are safe and warm here and there isn't really a good spot for hight winds for 100 miles going south. Hurts the cruising budget but not as much as salvaging the boat off the rocks somewhere.
For those interested, the floating docks are in great shape, the showers are wonderful, the protection is amazing except for wind fron the NW but waves are blocked. It costs $1.75/foot daily or $8.50/foot weekly with a very good resturant within walking distance and you can "rent" their car for $10 for "a couple of hours".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bonner Bay

We have no email or cell phone so I’m writing this in a word program to send as a blanket email later. We’ll see if the Broadband will work. We have Lew’s two laptops. This one gets broadband. The other gets WiFi. That might explain some strange transmission lags now and then.
This was almost a "girlfriend alert" but the day turned out better than the overly domestic drudgery of the morning. The refrigeration works 1000% better than last season but it is still a challenge! That is on my "Grump List". Yes, I started lists again but this time the "good list" is getting longer. For one thing, Lew & I seem to be getting along a whole lot better. Last trip was very stressful for both of us. At least this time around we have some of the contingency plans worked out ahead of each crisis. We’ve met a few people on their First Long Trip together. It doesn’t matter how many years they have been together, it is usually the trip from hell. The divorce rate is 25-30% after the first trip. Honest. But the second time, if you haven’t killed eachother, is actually a lot easier! Let’s hope I can still write this as easier by next April!
The boat is behaving beautifully these days. The weather has been fine. The two nights of higher winds we were on the dock/sea wall at Elizabeth City, NC. What a lovely, friendly town. I could stay there for a week! But we moved on. Last night we were anchored on the Alligator River, tonight we are anchored in Bonner Bay, about 20 road miles north of Oriental (which you might find on a map). Pretty soon, we need to be tucked in some place safe for the weekend because there’s "weather" expected. One of the Named Tropical Storms is supposed to make it nasty travelling for a few days. We’re probably going to try to stay at the Moorehead City Yacht Basin. It was a good place last spring. We’ll get there tomorrow and stay... Unless we find a good place a day or two south, before the weather hits. When it passes we will go on.
Today is day 11 of our trip that started in Keyport. Because of weather and the hole in our boat, last spring it took us 37 days to get home from here! I guess that might give you a little idea of how much easier the trip is this season. Even thought getting ready to leave was crazy-making, we seem to have finally put away all the things we brought on board. We even did laundry in Eliz. City.
Last spring we were traveling with "Puff", now we’re travelling with a bunch of new friends we made at the lock at the north end of the Dismal Swamp Canal. "Royal Serf" has been our trailblazer since then. "Honeywind", "Illusion", and "Brio" are still with us, I think. The trawlers zoomed ahead. We may see them in the Bahamas in the winter. It is very nice to see friends across the water. At night our anchor lights make a lovely constellation above the horizon. Last night was a full moon. THIS is the stuff postcards are made of!
On last thing: I just finished "I am Madame X" by Gioia Diliberto. It is a very interesting novel about the woman who sat for John Singer Sargent’s most controversial portrait. It passed the days when all there was to do was go south. Now I hope to get a little painting and drawing done.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Elizabeth City, NC

We are now sitting in Elizabeth City waiting for a more northerly breeze to cross the Albemarle Sound. These pictures are from the Dismal Swamp. Click on them for enlargements.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dismal Swamp Canal

Yesterday was a very easy day. We left Norfolk and went up to the Dismal Swamp Lock for an 11AM opening only to find that the 11 and 1:30 were both cancelled. We anchored and waited for the 3:00 opening. After going through we tied up to a dock for the night rather than rush to beat darkness to get to the visitors center. Total mileage for the day...10.
Today we were up early and had coffee with the lock master. Made the 9AM bridge opening and got as far as the visitors center by noon. Another 18 miles. Can the human body stand such acceleration.
To see where we are, Google Earth and insert these coordinates:
36 30.409N
076 21.360W

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On the road again

Jimmy left us to fly home yesterday at 3:30. What a treat to have him with us. We had a very good 52+ hours in the Ocean, coming straight from Keyport to Hampton, VA. It is so much easier to do overnights with three people. Jim & I had a chance to get to know each other better with our wee-hours chats. My watch was 3 - 7 AM and his was just before that. He's become a really neat man. What a pleasure. AND Lew hoisted Jim up the mast and now we have an anchor light - finally! THat is a real treat, too. We had been making do with whatever lights we could set up on deck - which isn't really a great idea.

We're hanging out here at the dock for most of today. We'll enjoy a nice shower - for the last time in a few weeks probably. Sigh. It is SO much easier this trip. We made whatever adjustments we needed to last year, under near-crisis conditions so this year we aren't as stressed when something isn't what we thought it would be.

It has been 40 the last three nights, I think, but we have terrific quilt/sleeping bags so have been fine. Days are sunny and very pretty. This may be our best WiFI for awhile. On THursday morning we head down the Dismal Swamp Canal - one of my favorite places on the trip - but I don't remember what kind of email connections we got there last spring.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Island Images by Florence B. Hill

Treasure Cay Beach was painted on site in January 2008. This was the first of 17 acrylic and four watercolor paintings as well as seven quick pastel studies created by Florence B. Hill, better known to friends as Florrie. Enjoy the slide show to the left. Those images are available in gliclee prints. For fun, Florrie and her friend Lisa printed t-shirts and totebags of some of the images.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Getting ready

Sorry that I haven't been keeping up. We are getting ready to take off in a couple of weeks for the trip south. Florrie has been very busy with her art and I have been lazing around until the crunch...i.e., now. The refrigerator man is coming tomorrow and the diesel mechanic on Wed. to replace the motor mounts which are bad. Otherwise we seem ready to begin stocking up on supplies. If this guy can fix the fridge, we can skip the Chesapeake on the way down. Otherwise we may have to go to Annapolis, the nearest place recommended by Sea Frost. We are planning to be back for Xmas and visits to grandchildren in Dec. leaving the boat somewhere for about a month then off for the winter.
We love emails.
Florrie and Lew Hill

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Frequently asked questions

I am also sending this as an entry on the blog. Therefore, I have deleted you name and email address. Happy to answer any other question you might have.

Hello Mr. Hill

I have been reading your blog about sailing on Harmony, and it is very interesting. As my wife and I are hoping to do some serious cruising, I wonder if you would mind giving me your opinion on a couple of things.

First, is a 49 foot boat too large for two people to handle comfortably? If you or your wife had to handle the boat, reef the main, etc, could either one of you handle the boat by yourself? If you were buying a boat again, would you buy the same size?

It depends on who the people are. I have several friends with boats in the 50s who do fine by themselves. You have to be comfortable doing overnights. My wife has been sailing only a short time while I started at 11 years old. One of our concerns is that she is not really able to handle it by herself ( I have single handed a 40 foot boat from Tortola to the Bahamas) but that is not due to its size. In many ways a larger boat is actually easier to handle, especially in heavy weather. In order to make her feel more comfortable, we are very safety conscious. We wear safety harneses in any kind of bad weather and always at night especially if one of us has to go forward. No one goes forward unless someone else is at the helm. We tend to travel in the company of other boats and pay close attention to the weather reports. Remember that the most dangerous thing in sailing is having to keep to a schedule! We practice such activities as heaving to under different conditions.

Also check out the entry about my favorite tool on the blog. It makes things much easier.

On average how many days per month did you stay in marinas, and was it primarily because there was not a safe place to anchor, or because you wanted the conveniences of a marina?

As little as possible. It certainly is convienent at a marina and, in the Bahamas, not that expensive (e.g., about $450 per month plus electricity and water 'off season'...before March when the fishing season starts). Many places also have moorings for about $15 per night. Compare that to over $50 in our cruising area...The North East. When we stayed at marinas in the blog, it was mainly for repairs. The one exception was in Marsh Harbour because I wanted to leave the boat somewhere safe while I went home for Thanksgiving. Marinas that are mainly for cruisers also are very social places where there is usually a party somewhere and the parties usually break up about 9PM. Cruisers tend to be up with the sun.

How much cruising had you done before you purchased your cat, and do you wish you had cruised more before you made the investment?

Before the cat we raced one designs, got a 25 foot day sailor then a Pearson 40 used for club races and short cruises...two or three weeks. My wife really did not like that boat and wanted something with more space and less heeling. If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy! We looked for over two years and this boat fit our needs. I also did the Carribean 1500 (a ralley from Hampton, VA to the British Virgin Islands) seven times. The first time on a Pearson 424 to get ocean experience. Then I took my my Pearson 40 and spent 7 months (six as a single handler) on her in the Caribbean. I loved it so much that I then crewed for other people. My wife calls this 'Big Boy Camp' and she would fly down to meet us. The last time was on a cat to see how she performed on the ocean. That convinced me. If you feel inexperienced, I strongly suggest you crew on an ocean ralley. see:

I crewed for one couple on two ralleys. They had retired early, bought their first boat and moved aboard. They had little experience but were smart enough to get help and there are always people looking for a crewing position. My strong advice is, if you want to try it, do it NOW. Don't be like me and wait for a heart attack before deciding. Life is too short.

If you were going to go cruising again, and did not have a boat, what advise would you offer on brands, size, equipment etc?

It really depends on what you want to do with it. I like long distance cruising so I would advise you get as big a boat as you think you can handle with a mast under 65 feet high off the water so that you can do the Intracoastal Waterway. I would go for a heavy monohull or a cat because my wife would be more comfortable. For equipment I value spending the extra money on a good gps/navigation system, Also, a really good dinghy and motor as you will be surprised how often you will use it. I would avoid boats that have been chartered and even those brands (I saw one that had been holed and it was 1/4 inch thick including the rib. Fine for coastal but not for me on the ocean).

You have three variables: speed, safety and price. Pick any two. It depends on your values. The people I know who have bought new boats have just as much trouble and repairs as those who bought used ones. There will be a time when you need to know something about a fixing the engine and being able to reach all the parts is important. It may sound silly but good knee pads are essential. I tend to have lots of spares on board as well as extra safety equipment (e.g., solas flares and lots of them...extra belts, filters, etc.)

Get a good surveyer..NOT one recommended by the broker! Also have a mechanic test the engine!

If possible, charter the boat for a week and see how you like it. Go on the internet and see what other cruisers are doing and the troubles they have had. Check out their links.

Thank you for writing the blog, it was interesting reading.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Home on Thursday

We left Norfolk on Saturday night (originally planned for Sunday morning) after a day where the temperature was in the 100s. Figured it would be cooler at night and no thunderstorms were predicted. Went out the Bridge/Tunnel into the Atlantic and up the Delmarva coast in a very light breeze. By the time we got near Cobb Island there was a string of thunderstorms from Cobb Island to Smith Point in the Chesapeake. We watched the lightning but it never got to us. We got into Cape May about 6 PM the next day only to find 18 other boats in the small anchorage at the Coast Guard station. By the time we got up the next morning, most of them had left and by that evening we were the only ones there. Two days later, while waiting for crew, we went to the South Jersey Marina, way into the end of Cape May. Very protected from the front scheduled to come by but at $3.00 a foot (was $2 last Sept). DR joined us and we had a fabulous dinner at the Lobster House.
9:00 AM on Wed morning we left, after a real breakfast at a pancake house. Light winds so we motor sailed up the NJ coast and arrived at Keyport at 4:45 AM only to find that the pennant was not on our mooring. We grabbed someone else's and zonked for a few hours. By the afternoon, our mooring had been fixed and Harmony is now home.
Sleeping in our own bed is a treat even though it feels like it is rocking. We even put on the air conditioner...what a concept!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

FW: We're on the water!

> After 3 weeks and one day up on stilts ... the yard crew calls it 'on the hill' ... we were haulled back into the water at about 3 PM yesterday (Friday). All the systems seem to be working so we have refrigeration again. This morning I'll go grocery shopping then return our rental car. When I get back to the boat I'll do some cooking ahead so we can heat up a few things quickly while underway.
It is lovely to be rocking gently again. There are swallows nesting under the dock near us, entertaining us with their chatter. I think a dolphin slipped by early this morning but I didn't get a good look, just saw the bubbles after the gentle splashes. Sunrise was serene on the silky water. No boatyard noises! Ahhhhh, Harmony once again.
Tomorrow we are hoping to get off this dock about 5 AM and head outside to Ocean City MD, on DE Bay. It will be a long day sail and should be a good anchorage for the night. Then we'll go outside again and get to Cape May on Monday. New Jersey! What a concept! Our friend DR will meet us there sometime on Tuesday and probably Wednesday we'll take off for Keyport. It is 27 hours from Cape May home and the weather looks like it is going to cooperate - even if it is hot.
Judy, you could turn on the refrigerator in the condo on Thursday. Thank you!
With all that has gone wrong this trip I'm hesitant to say we will be home soon - but it seems we will be. I can't wait! I've told Lew I don't want to even talk about another trip for at least 6 weeks. He's not sure he can keep still that long. But there is so much to be done at the condo that trying to plan another boat trip is totally overwhelming for me.
We hope you all are doing fine.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Life on the hard

Josh working on the hole in the keel

By the time we get Harmony back in the water we will have been living 20 feet above the ground for at least three weeks. The fiberglass work is coming along beautifully. Josh is a magician and the port keel will be stronger than ever. We have installed a thru-hull GPS fish finder ahead of the port keel so we will be able to see the depth under that pontoon. One of the reasons we’ve run aground in the past is because the depth finder is on the starboard side, aft. That isn’t much help with a 21’ beam in narrow channels.
The plus of being “stuck” in mid air is that there is plenty of time to get the chores done. Lew has been varnishing like crazy. I have cleaned and polished the isinglass. In spite of the dust from the yard and the sawdust from sanding the bright work, Harmony is beginning to sparkle beautifully.
Inside, I’m in the process of cleaning out every closet and drawer in the whole boat as well as cleaning every surface from top to bottom. If we were home, I am sure I would not dedicate 6 - 8 hours a day to spring cleaning the boat. So, however reluctantly, we are getting our floating home in ship shape again. We’re even getting the Dismal Swamp souvenirs, tannic acid stains, off the white hulls. If we ever do the Swamp again it will be in a brown boat.
The boatyard is a memorable experience in itself. Imagine a whole fleet of garbage trucks starting at 6:30 AM - and staying on your block. The enormous lift-cranes begin moving boats in and out of the water, power hoses blast away for bottom cleaning, and painting, drilling, sanding and grinding all begin during or before morning coffee. Because this is a marina that can handle large boats, there have been boats hauled in on flat-bed 18 wheelers from the west coast and every where in between. Norfolk is a good place to begin the summer sailing migration up to New England and Nova Scotia, beginning with a leisurely trip up the Chesapeake, so some people have their yachts trucked overland to start.
Harmony is on the corner of two gravel “streets” that are double- and triple-deep in boats of every size. From our cockpit we see a tug, numerous sailing yachts, a “pirate” ship, a commercial cruiser and, in the yard next door, a whole fleet of Navy ships. Last week three Zodiacs or similar Navy boats were brought by trucks, smaller trailers and all. A day after we arrived a submarine was hauled up. Today a Coastguard, Tow Boat US and some Army inflatables arrived. All we need are the Marines.

We are supported by stanchions and climb a portable staircase to get inside. We are so high up that both Lew and I have been in the cockpit when a duck flew by at eye level! We could step off our boat onto the top of the truck cabs. The lifting crane passes by within a couple of feet a few times a day as we watch some yacht gently swinging in its sling. It really isn’t what you expect to see out your window. As the gentleman in Maine comments, this is neither a leisurely “vacation” nor “retirement” but it certainly is an adventure! The best part of an adventure is to have lived through it and enjoy the stories you can tell. Maybe it is keeping us young.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Once again

Click on a picture to see an enlargement.

Early mornings are best

Going throuh the lock of the Dismal Swamp

After all that happened, would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


We use it a lot on the boat. It works well on little bugs.
Bounce This Along
1. All this time you've just been putting Bounce in the dryer! It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them. It also repels mice.

2. Spread sheets around foundation areas, or in trailers, or cars that are sitting and it keeps mice from entering your vehicle.

3. It takes the odor out of books and photo albums that don't get opened too often.

4. It repels mosquitoes! Tie a sheet of Bounce through a belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season or wave it around in the boat.

5. Eliminate static electricity from your television (or computer) screen.

6. Since Bounce is designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your television screen with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust from resettling.

7. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a sheet of Bounce.

8. To freshen the air in your home or boat, place an individual sheet of Bounce in a drawer or hang in the closet.

9. Put Bounce sheet in vacuum cleaner.

10. Prevent thread from tangling. Run a threaded needle through a sheet of Bounce before beginning to sew.

11. Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing.

12. To freshen the air in your car - Place a sheet of Bounce under the front seat.

13. Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti-static agent apparently weakens the bond between the food and the pan.

14. Eliminate odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet of Bounce at the bottom of the wastebasket.

15. Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.

16. Eliminate static electricity from Venetian blinds. Wipe the blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resettling.

17. Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sand papering. A used sheet of Bounce will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.

18. Eliminate odors in dirty laundry. Place an individual sheet of Bounce at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper.

19. Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your shoes or sneakers overnight.

20. Golfers put a Bounce sheet! In their back pocket to keep the bees away.

21. Put a Bounce sheet in your sleeping bag and tent before folding and storing them. It will keep them smelling fresh.

Friday, May 16, 2008

On the Hard

The picture above shows the reflection of the bow, 8 inches out of the water.

By Wednesday night we had said goodbye to the beautiful Dismal Swamp Canal with its miles of honeysuckle, occasional turtles and Great Blue Herons, its serene reflections and the comraderie of boaters rafted together on the dock at the North Carolina Welcome Center near South Mills. We were anchored with Puff on Mill Creek, amidst the busyness of Norfolk, Hampton and all the ports and docks and activity of this huge area. The 'plan' was to start early Thursday morning, heading for Annapolis where we would get the boat hauled to check on the possible damage of our going aground on May 4th. There was no lift wide enough to pull Harmony out of the water until we arrived in Norfolk. Going to Annapolis would take us closer to where Gareth and family live, so we thought we could have the job done there. The insurance company considered that an all right decision.

Weather permitting.... well, weather was threatening rain and lousy winds for going north, so at 7 AM on Thursday, Lew decided to have the boat pulled at Cobbs Marina, our favorite boatyard, in Norfolk. Puff took off, with sad goodbyes. We'll see them in Keyport next month. We made the two hour motor trip south across Hampton Roads and here we are. We honestly thought there was nothing wrong with the boat. It was a wise formality to get it hauled and check to see if there had been damage to our hull. As it turns out, once again, we are in a good place to get bad things fixed.

The hulls are fine but what a nasty surprise. The hulls are separate compartments above the keels. The port keel has a foot-long gash that poured water for over a minute when the boat was finally out of the water. The starboard keel has scratches along the bottom. We're not sure what else might be wrong. Probably next week the insurance surveyor will be able to fit in an appointment for us. After that, the fiberglass work and any other repairs can begin. Stay tuned.

The good thing about all this is that Cobbs did a lot of work on this boat two years ago when we bought it and Lew brought it up from Florida. We spent a lot of time in this area and know where the stores, restaurants and laundries are. It will also be terrific to spend the weekend with Gareth and family, four hour's drive away in Maryland. Next week we'll not only have the professionals here to fix things we cannot, but Lew & I will also get a chance to clean up and take care of some of the things we've found to need our attention.

Someday we'll get home. This feels like 'Charlie on the MTA', the Kingston Trio song.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dismal Swamp

When last we left the intrepid adventurers they were getting over being towed off a grounding. Today we are rafted up at the free dock at the visitors center at the Dismal Swamp (mile 28 of the ICW just below the Virginia border) avoiding an underwater post at the south end of the dock and, we hope, the gale predicted for the Chesapeak for tonight until tuesday. In between we went to Morehead City and stayed at a marina, met up with Kathy and Dave on Puff, anchored at Bellhaven, did a long (89 mile) day across Albamare Sound to Elizabeth City where we went to a local party for the cruisers that they have about every three days. We talked with some cruisers who had come across the sound after us and were hit with 6 to 8 foot waves and 25 knot of winds. The Dismal Swamp is not dismal. In fact, it is quite beautiful with depths, so far, not under 9 feet. Between its beauty and the friendliness and free docking of Elizabeth City, it is WELL WORTH IT. However, you need to time it well as the locks at each end open only 4 times a day. We just missed the 8:30 AM opening and had to wait for the 11:00. Puff and Harmony anchored in the middle of the narrow channel to block the powerboats from getting ahead of us and were the first ones into the lock and out of it as well. There were so many boats that the lock master had to work the lock twice to let people past. After each opening, he would hop in his car and drive up to open a highway bridge for us all to pass. Lots of turtles, snakes, birds, etc. in the swamp but the "ditch" as it is called is very narrow and perfectly straight. It is also very well protected from wind with large cyprus trees overhanging the sides. I think this will be the route of choice when we go south again.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

FW: North Carolina

Today was a 9.5 hour, 62 mile day with two runnings aground. The first was a humdinger! Out port pontoon caught 'something' and spun us 90 degrees left. Crunch! We were up on the limestone dredgings from the ICW which did not show anywhere. Both bows were 8'"or more out of the water and we had 12 feet mid-ships! It took TowBoat US 40 minutes to haul us off. A couple of miles later we went briefly into soft sand a few miles north east of that. Low Tide ain't for sissies! Soooo after travelling another 5 hours or so, we're at a marina just west of Southport NC for the night. Lew bumped his head which is not bad but the scab looks like Norman's Island, one of our favorite places in the Bahamas. What a souvenir.

Last night we were on anchor in the midst of the MOST beautiful Cypress Swamp imaginable. This morning the storm had passed and the water was a mirror. Everything was gorgeous green and shiny.
Now it all seems much more populated but there may be more wilderness between here and Beaufort. We hope to be there tomorrow night.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

FW: St. Augustine, Florida to McClennanville, South Carolina

We left St. Augustine about 6:45 AM and headed out to sea.  34 hours later we have entered Charleston (181 miles at sea)
 and gone 30 miles up the ICW to a funky little creek ('Five Fathom Creek') which is a home for fishing
and shrimper boats.  Leland Oil has a raft out and we get fuel in the morning.  It takes a couple of days like
this to really appreciate a shower.

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Back to work after baby– how do you know when you're ready?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

FW: heron

St Augustine where we are resting. The front came big deal but since we are here for today, I am working on the bilge pump, etc. Hopefully this afternoon we will get to sightsee and then leave here tomorrow to continue up the ICW.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


We are on a dock at Palm Coast Marina-only because there are lousy anchorages between here and St. Augustine. That's our goal for tomorrow and to hang out on a dock there for the storms to pass. Then it is on again at our snail's pace for home. We'll be lucky if we get home before mid-June. The ride is beautiful, particularly in the early mornings and late afternoons. Above Vero Beach the ICW gets more natural and some places look like Jurassic Park! Of course there is development and some phenominal estates on the water but we like the rustic parts best.

Today we saw a HUGE manatee with a smaller one nearby.The adult was surfacing and rolling back into the water like a porpoise. We saw only part of the back and the tail and all THAT was at least 5'!!!! And the porpoises were playing around all day. About sunrise the water was like satin and there was a porpoise arching up and down in a slow rythm. It was surreally peacefull! Later, one even came along side the boat and looked at us, twice! WAY cool! I was sitting on the deck with my feet off the side and it was only about 24" from my toes! I heard there are eagles north of this. Maybe we'll see some tomorrow.

I like the ICW as something very different from the Bahamas but understand that it may not be our cup of tea very often. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous so we've had three great days of motoring - after two weeks of getting the engines fixed. We still have 'issues' but hopefully we'll not need to get them professionally taken care of until Cobbs Boatyard in Norfolk - or home.

I'm not painting until we get to St. Augustine. It is hard to do it while we're on the way right now. But there is the triptych that I started in Bimini and it is coming along beautifully. I have one part finished and the other two are in good shape. Hopefully one more part will be done in St. A. I'd like to do some sightseeing there, too.

The rum punch is kicking in. I'd better go cook dinner 'for I forget how!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Local Boater Option

Immigration has a new feature which allows you to call into them rather than show up in person for future entrances into the country. It is called the LBO or Local Boater Option and is open to all US citizens. You can only get it at specific offices in Florida (Miami, Port Everglades, and West Palm Beach), Peurto Rico and the Virgin Islands. You have to call first and get an appointment. You bring your passport and boat documentation. The interview takes about 10 minutes and they issue you a number which lets you in without the hassle of having to report in person. It is good forever and is free. There are 11 places in Florida in which you can enter and use this service. Otherwise you need to report in person within 24 hours or face severe penalties. This is in addition to the decal you need for Customs but, with these two, you can enter the country by phone. Finally, a good deal from our government.

On the hard

In Bimini we discovered that the oil looked streaky and gray. Showed it to several people and there was no general agreement as to the problem. Changed the oil, including the filter and it still looked that way. Turns out that there was water mixed in with the oil. The fresh water coolant level was fine which meant it must be salt water and the only way for it to get in was through the exhaust. But the engine would run. Pumped out the sludge several times and got mostly water out. Put some new oil in and decided not to run it until we got to the states. If this ever happens to you, PUT DIESEL FUEL INTO THE OIL TO CUT IT AND MAKE IT EASY TO GET IT PUMPED OUT. Of course we learned this after the fact but it really works.
We left Bimini the next morning on one engine and motor sailed the 80 miles to Palm Beach, Lake Worth in beautiful weather. The Gulf Stream was a non event with the wind from the ESE and 2 to 4 foot waves. We anchored just south of the entrance (see previous discussion about customs) and had dinner on Puff. The next day got the boat into a yard (Cracker Boy) and hauled. Not a bad feat for a boat that could only make left turns. We rented a car and went to Immigration to check in. No now we are completely legal.
We have been lucky to get a good mechanic. While we can’t go anywhere anyway, we are having general work done on both engines: new belts, filters, hoses, getting the heat exchangers rebuilt, etc. Hopefully the new parts will be installed early next week. We have also found a guy who has been working on the refrigerator. We think we have diagnosed the problem, after a year and the debacle with those #*@$^#& at Lamy Marine in Norfolk (see earlier)..
Other than that, we are doing small projects and hanging out. We keep running into cruisers we met in different places along the trip as everyone seems to be making the trip north.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bye Bye Bimini

Hello all,
First I have to apologize to you for these impersonal emails.  Finally we are in the States and will have pretty easy access to the internet for a couple of days while we are at Cracker Boy Boatyard getting the engine fixed (again!).  I hope you will write and give us your news while we can have a dialogue!  (What a concept!)
No more turquoise water.  No more vast horizon with just an occasional island.  No more flying fish "escorting" our boat home. Now it is all memories, photos and souvenirs.  We collected empty conch shells, fan coral, pretty shells of many colors and sizes, sea beans and beach glass.  We made friends with countless strangers, also boaters, whom we have found again all the way from Georgetown in the Exumas up here to Riviera Beach!  Now we're embarking on yet another chapter in this adventure.
On Wednesday Kathy, Lew and I walked down N. Bimini island to go beach combing.  As we passed the Fisherman's Paradise Restaurant, Desne Smith (the owner/chef) came out to say hello.  She gave us some of the history of the island including the large estate across the street and stories from the Hemingway era.  Before we left we had made arrangements to have a big family style dinner for at least four more boats on Thursday evening.  It turned out to be 14 boats and a fabulous way to say good bye to the Bahamas.  We were delighted that Desne could put together a delicious grouper dinner with cole slaw, peas and rice and a cracked conch appetizer (plus corn and green beans and ice tea and a fruit punch) for so many people on such short notice.  The best part was that it was only $15 per person!  A dinner like that would have cost us $40 anywhere else in the Bahamas.  If any of you are traveling that way, you can reach Desne at work (242) 347-3220 or home (242) 347-3370 to arrange your own dinner party.  But it is more fun to meet her in person.
Bimini is the best place to start or end a Bahamas vacation.  It is only 40 miles east of Miami but, because of the strong current, getting across the Gulf Stream is rarely a straight shot.  We were about 70 miles from the Lake Worth Inlet, near Palm Beach.  We left Bimini with about 20 other boats on Friday morning crossing the Gulf Stream in near perfect weather. 
The statistics of this trip so far have been too detailed to list but the synopsis is this: 95 "Lovely Wonders" which include animals, sunsets, beaches, and social gatherings; 58 irritants that are as wearing as water torture but not life threatening; "only" 21 scary and/or dangerous incidents that could have been worse, 8 of which were actually life or health threatening.  On this long trip so far we have spent 42 days in the Abacos, 85 in the Exumas and only 6 in Bimini.  We could enjoy many of the places we visited again, and again.
Now we're living aboard about 20' off the ground in the boatyard.  There are three or four other boats that are "populated" but the yard is locked up until Monday morning.  Our rented car is outside where we can get to it if we want to.  There is another catamaran "Harmony" to our right.  Between us, in this order, are "Lady Rapscallion", "Tranquility" and "Mayhem".  At least "Mayhem" is surrounded by "Tranquility" and "Harmony" and not the other way around!
The Intercoastal Waterway part of this adventure will begin as soon as the engines are good to go again.
We hope you are doing ok in your many adventures. 
 Cheers from Florrie & Lew

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Friday, April 11, 2008

homeland security

How can I describe this one. You get a decal which allows you to check through customs by phone. You call them with a number you got from another cruiser because they don't give you one when you get the decal. You are put on hold for about an hour only to her a voice which hangs up on you. You dial it again, now getting very close to port, to be put on hold (your call is important to us...) for another 40 minutes to be told that you have to be tied up at a dock or anchored in order to check in (IF YOU CONTINUE TO TRAVEL OR TIE TO A TREE OR RUN AGROUND, YOU ARE FREE TO BE HERE WITHOUT GOING THROUGH CUSTOMS...NOW DON'T YOU FEEL SAFER?)
Ok, being a law abiding soul, we anchor in West Palm Beach and call customs. Now it is 6:30 and we wait on hold for another hour. Finally we are cleared through by someone with a foreign accent. Tomorrow, after we get the boat hauled to fix the head gasket on the port engine, we have to go ashore and rent a car or take a taxi to go through immigration at the nearest airport because the law gives you 24 hours to clear immigration or else! And this is supposed to be a shortcut? It used to be you called customs and they either came to the boat or let you in. That was it...the whole process of entering the country. On the bright side, I guess I have an honest voice because they never asked me about what I had to declare or if I had any firearms (I don't) or fruits or vegetables, etc. etc.
Long and short of it is that we are back in the USA after a beautiful day (East at 10) with the gulf stream being a non event.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


We left Nassau at about 10 AM on Saturday for an overnight trip to North Rock, just north of Bimini. Listening to weather reports, we prepared for the possibility of cutting short our plan to go directly to the US. Lightning was in the sky. According to other people's radar, it was about 30 miles away but headed to cross our path. By then we had picked up two more sailboats in a five boat flotilla (we were traveling with Puff and The Suzanne). We slowed down and were only using 1/3 jib so that we would reach North Rock by dawn and would have a choice: push on or go south to Bimini. About 7 AM Sunday, as we were getting close, there was a lot of discussion on the radio and it was decided to go into Bimini. We rounded the light and went south only to be hit with the thunderstorm. It was pouring buckets. One boat was about 100 feet behind us and we could barely see their lights. We hove-to on one motor for the first time. Harmony was sideways to the 6 foot waves but rode steadily going southwest at less than ½ knot for ½ hour while the storm blew through with 30 knot winds. One of the other boats took a wave over the stern which broke off their davits, holing the dink and they had to drag it behind them upside down.
Coming into port was hairy. Someone on land was trying to give directions but it sounded like we needed to leave a rock to port and come between it and the shore - we were looking at ferocious breakers. We went for it only to do a 180 because there was no water between the shore and that rock. Wrong directions - so we went north to find the pass and got into the marina. As we got there we turned on the port engine to get into a slip. Yeah? No port engine so at about 10 AM Sunday we got to the gas dock where we remain. No starter! We will probably stay here until we get one shipped from the states. OR, if we get a really good weather window, take the starter off the starboard engine, put it onto the port engine, start the port engine and leave it on for as much as it takes while putting the starter back on the starboard engine. At least we have that option but given previous problems with the port engine …
So we sit here. Lew had expected Bimini to be a fancy place with lots to see and do. Wrong! Since the fancy boat traffic goes up to Lucaya, this place is almost empty. At least it is cheap at $.75 per foot. Every other marina had been $1.25 - $4 a foot. Three boats, including Suzanne, left this morning leaving Puff and us here.
On the bright side, we caught a 43 inch Mahi Mahi on the trip over and had fresh fish (very hard to find in the Bahamas) for Saturday dinner. Dinner on Sun night with Puff and Suzanne finished off the Mahi Mahi and we all slept very well at the dock only to wake up at 5:30 in another thunderstorm. Now it is about 8 AM and it is clearing up. Who knows when we'll really head for the States …
Florrie's addendum: During the 24 hours between the anchorage in Nassau and the dock at Bimini, we had to take turns at the helm. Even with an auto pilot that meant someone had to stand watch for other boat traffic etc. At one point in the middle of the night all three women - Kathy, Sue & Florrie - were on the helm at the same time. We chatted a bit. Kathy was hand-steering Puff, a 39' sail boat, while Dave slept. Florrie was paying attention to the auto pilot and doing her nails while Lew slept. Sue was just enjoying the night and stars from the bridge of their 39' trawler, The Suzanne. It was a pretty unique initiation into a very different sisterhood. Bimini is lovely, sitting on the edge of vast sand bars and shoals which means gorgeous turquoise water. There is a little cay covered with Mangroves a few hundred yards to the east that is covered with White Ibis or Egrets. The Pelicans sit on any available piling. Maybe Kathy and Florrie will get to do some more shopping before heading to the States.

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Friday, March 28, 2008


We will be here in Nassau at least until next Thursday. There is a bunk free if someone wants to join us for the trip from Nassau to the states.


We're exhausted bacause after a lovely day trip from Norman's Island, the last few minutes here in Nassau were horrible - the port engine clonked out as we were leaving the fuel dock.  There is no room at the marinas because ALL the boats are trying to go home and are looking for safe havens for the next storm.  While we were on  Norman's Pond - a truly spectacular island paradise - a front came through that knocked us silly for an hour or so.  We managed the 30+ knot winds in the most protected anchorage we've been in in weeks.  Whew!  People a mile away in a different anchorage on the same island had 40 knot winds!  That is NOOOOOOOO fun.
However, we have made a couple of friends that are fantastic.  Lew and John are great buddies, we met them in Staniel Cay awhile ago.  (Lew is on the VHF with John right now.)  We've been 'buddy boating' every since.  Sue is a retired elementary art teacher who is also an artist.  Get this - John is a registered Circus Clown!  We have been having a lot of fun with them.  They have showed us all sorts of great places.
HEY - you know the stories about the Green flash that the sun makes at sunset on the ocean?  Well it is TRUE!  Last night we were all at a rustic and elegant place called McDuffs on Norman's Island.  That was after a day that included finding empty and alive BABY conch shells on a tiny little island with only one palm tree!  The four of us AND another couple of strangers SAW the sun go from brilliant orange to the most amazing jade green dot - then disappear!  If I hadn't had witnesses I think i WOULD HAVE DOUBTED MY OWN EYES.  It was magical.
We got to Nausua this afternoon after a gorgous day of motor/sailing through the most incredible turquoise water.  In another day or so it is supposed to blow 40 knots again and we're NOT goin to be happy.  However, we will stay here until it passes.  Then it is a long way to Port Lucaya or West End on Grand Bahama Island.  That will be an overnight trip which I'm not crazy about  but - oh well.
The maladjustment du jour is that the generator and port engine have dirty diesel fuel in them and keep clunking off!  We got in here on one engine and that is really scary because there are are a lot of boats crowded in here.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter


Don't put all of your eggs in one basket

Walk softly and carry a big carrot

Everyone needs a friend who is all ears

There's no such thing as too much candy

All work and no play can make you a basket case

A cute little tail attracts a lot of attention

Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day

Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits

Some body parts should be floppy

Keep your paws off other people's jellybeans

Good things come in small sugarcoated packages

The grass is always greener in someone else's basket

An Easter bonnet can tame even the wildest hare

To show your true colors you have to come out of your shell

The best things in life are still sweet and gooey

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