Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Our Year With a Boat...

How time flies.

We left in July 2015 to do some land travel and look for a cruising sailboat.  We found Wings in October 2015 and purchased her, I believe, on October 22nd, or thereabouts.  We sold her October 11, 2016.

Our year with a live aboard cruising sailboat wasn't entirely spent on the boat so, here's a summary of what we did:

October 2015
We purchased Wings in Punta Gorda, Florida from Dave and Dottie, a lovely couple, that immediately turned around and bought a trawler that they fixed up and now live aboard full time!

November 2015
We lived aboard at Fisherman's Village Marina, where we bought her, and sailed around Charlotte Harbor to learn the ropes.  We also took some Coast Guard Auxiliary courses.

December 2015
We were in Austin for the holidays and to take care of some business.

January 2016
We returned to Punta Gorda, provisioned the boat, and sailed south towards the Keys.  We took about 10 days to reach the Keys.  As has been our experience, throughout our boating time, there were weather issues...

February 2016
Was mostly spent in Stock Island Marina (Key West) but we did make a trip out to the Dry Tortugas.  The Dry Tortugas, where Fort Jefferson is located, might be the highlight of our entire time with the boat.  Of course, on the way back we got thrashed and had to return to Stock Island Marina for almost a week, again weather...

March 2016
We sailed up the Keys to Key Largo where we waited at Pennekamp State Park for a weather window to cross over to Bimini.

April and May 2016
In the Bahamas.  We went to Bimini, Providence Island, the Exumas, and Eleuthera.  If you read the previous few blog entries you're probably wondering "did you have any fun?".  Yes, absolutely, but it was all but eclipsed by our weather related issues...

June 2016
Limped back to Florida to handle boat repairs.  Most of June was in West Palm Beach where we stayed in a borrowed condo (thank you thank you thank you Herb and Gayle) while working on Wings at Cracker Boy Boat Works.  Funny name, we know, the story is that Florida cowboys used to herd cattle with whips and became known as "cracker boys" at least that's what I was told...

July 2016
Wings was back in the water and we motored her inland via the Okeechobee waterway to be stored at Port Labelle Marina between Lake Okeechobee and Ft Myers.  We might have to do a blog entry dedicated to Port Labelle Marina it's a... unique place.  We put her on the market and took a road trip to see family in Maryland and Pennsylvania in a borrowed Toyota (thank you thank you again Herb and Gayle).

August 2016
I (Greg) stayed aboard Wings to continue repairs (not very successfully) and show her to prospective buyers, most of whom were just looky-loos until Scott and his father Wes came along.  Almost completed the deal until Hurricane Hermine made us postpone.  Meanwhile Angie took a trip to San Diego and we spent a lot of time at my cousin Beth's in Sarasota.  In fact, we spent a ton of time at Beth's while we were in Florida the whole year, thanks Beth, Jon, Ryan, Kyle, and Michelle!

September 2016
By now we had another van and took a roadtrip to Austin, Colorado, Seattle, Houston, and points in between.  Did a bunch of camping and caught up with lots of friends and family (thanks Ryders, Wilsons, Terry, Jerry, Theo, Jason and Kay!).  Then we drove all the way back to Florida...

October 2016
Back to Wings to finalize sale to Scott and Wes.  Got delayed a couple of days by Hurricane Mathew but wrapped it up on October 11th.  After a thorough survey we handed Wings off to Captain Bob who delivered her to Ft Walton Beach, FL where she lives with her new family!  Scott and his Dad, Wes, have got her all ship shape again.
Very happy with the outcome for Wings.  She's 49 years old in 2017!

November - December 2016
Back to Austin for a visit then off for a week in West Texas before driving to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving with Rose family (thanks Mom, Dave, Pam, and kids!).  Onto Massachusetts to visit Jess, Dave, and Nancy (thanks y'all!); then Virginia to see Herb and Gayle (thanks again!) down to the Florida panhandle to retrieve some tools from Scott, back to Houston briefly (thanks MA and Laurent!) and now we're back in Austin.  Whew!  Currently staying with Lee and Patti, huge thanks to them!

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year everyone!

Uncharted territory...


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Goodbye Bahamas, Thanks for the Memories

June 1st, 2016

Bimini to West Palm Beach, Florida
Crossing the Gulf Stream

We get up in darkness to navigate out of the marina and (typical of our luck lately) discover a storm is approaching.  By this time Angie has become an amateur meteorologist, consulting multiple weather, wind, and radar apps.  We wait an hour to let it rumble on.  At least it's not going our direction but hours are precious when you need to travel almost 80 nautical miles and want to reach your destination by dark, well before dark...

80 nautical miles doesn't sound like much.  You can drive your car 80 miles an hour what's the big deal?  Well, depends on your boat.  There are power boats that blast back and forth across the Gulf Stream just to go fishing for the day.  Not ours.  Top speed under power and our average sailing speed is 7 knots (which is great for a sailboat).  Also, a nautical mile equals 1.15 land miles so we're looking at a full day.  With the help of the Gulf Stream current we should make 7 easily and probably more but we plan conservatively, hence the early departure.

Just getting out of the marina, in the dark, got us sweating.  You'd think the entrance would be all lit up and marked.  Nope, just piles of dark jagged rocks on either side and a nice little jog to the left at the end.  We successfully get out into the small channel and look for the buoys we saw on the way in.  Ha!  No lights on those either!  That just isn't the Bahamian way.  Which I can kind of understand.  Why invest too much in something that's just going to get carried away in a storm eventually and why would you be out here in the dark anyway?  We pass thru a few anchored boats, most of which have their anchor lights on, and one of them appears to be our friends, First Look, but it's too early to hail them.  Sadly we never actually met them in person!

Bimini is now in our rearview.  We head into the darkness almost straight west for a couple of miles until we know we're in deep water and begin to turn slightly northwest.  Soon we'll pick up the Gulf Stream current which will help propel us north.  The Gulf Stream is a current that runs up the east coast at anywhere from 1-3 knots, depending on the time of year.  It can also be closer to Florida or the Bahamas depending on the season.  Because of the current running north it's best to cross with a wind direction that cooperates with it.  If the wind is blowing against the stream it becomes a washing machine.  Basically, never cross when the wind forecast has an N in it.  We had waited for an east/southeast breeze.  

The wind was light, as we left, but after sunrise it picked up enough that we actually got to haul up the sails!  Once we hit the stream we turned northwest and picked up speed.  So far so good.  Decent wind, mellow waves on the stern, and a nice 2-3 knot kick from the stream.

I don't remember exactly what time we dropped anchor in West Palm Beach but with all the elements finally working in our favor we made it easily by mid afternoon.  Navigating the inlet, ICW markers, and boat traffic was harder than the Gulf Stream but I won't bore you with all that.  We were exhausted but it was a great day and we had succeeded in bringing the 4 of us safely back to Florida.  In 2 days Wings would be hauled out for repairs.

We owned Wings until October but this was the last time we actually sailed her.
It was fantastic and somewhat bittersweet to look back upon.  We touched 11 knots a few times on the return from Bimini.  The fastest she ever went for us and it was effortless and smooth.  At the time we didn't know that we'd never 
get another opportunity to sail her.

The last leg...

That's equivalent to 12.5 miles per hour!  Woohoo!

Land ho!

That's a big boat...

We did it!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

After Another Rocky Night on "the Bank"...

May 30th, 2016

We're awoken by thunder as a storm passes overhead.  We spent the night in the cockpit, not that we got any sleep anyway with the wave action tossing us about all night.  We escape with just a boat bath but there's more squalls in every direction.  Our nerves are rattled.

There's a meteorologist, Chris Parker, that has made his career specializing in trying to forecast the weather for Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.  All the cruisers listen to his daily forecast or, in our case, get it via email, but we haven't had a signal since Providence Island.  He's not perfect, that's impossible, but he's better than most and about the only option out here anyway.  We don't have an SSB radio to receive his 7am broadcast but our neighbor boat, First Look, does so we check in with them, via VHF, at 7:30 and... no surprise, anything could happen today.  Except actually sailing because there's no wind.  Same old same old...

With the Yanmar diesel started we haul anchor and turn east towards Bimini.  Just a short 8 hours away.

Most of the day is sunny and uneventful.  There's always a thunderhead, or two, or five, on the horizon but they keep their distance.  We take turns at the helm, hand steering, since the auto pilot is zapped.  It's tedious and the cockpit is hot without any sailing wind.  We go to the bow occasionally to get some breeze and watch the bottom go by, Wings' shadow flying beneath us.  You can actually pick out starfish on the sea floor it's so clear.  The bank is calm and glassy today, a giant, lazy, swimming pool.  So unlike last night.

First Look turns southeast to head over to Cat Cay Yacht Club for fuel.  They plan to anchor for the night after that.  We thank them for their company and part ways.  We've had enough of anchoring for awhile and continue on to Bimini Sands Marina where we can get a slip for the night or two.  Full circle.  Bimini Sands is where we checked in to the Bahamas two months earlier.  Seems fitting, I suppose.  We almost make it but a brief storm catches us for another boat bath.  Not bad...

Bimini Sands is sort of similar to Hatchet Bay.  A salt pond opened up to form a protected marina but much smaller.  Also, like Hatchet Bay, it seems to be between heydays but that aside it's comforting to finally be secured to a dock.  Floating docks, which are nice because they move up and down with the tide so your boat is always at the same height against the dock.  The place also has fuel, a pool, some food, showers, etc.  It's surrounded by condos so there's no breeze.  It's stifling hot and nearly deserted except for plenty of no-see-ums.  Not familiar with no-see-ums?  They're a tiny biting insect that appears at dusk, small enough to fit thru window screens, and impervious to bug spray (even the deet stuff).  Bimini Sands is swarming with them and they eat us for dinner every night.  We're covered in a rash of bites by the time we leave.

Again, as in Hatchet Bay we spend the time figuring out a plan, checking weather forecasts, and finalizing our choice of boatyard.  Cracker Boy Boatworks in Riviera Beach.  We'll enter at the Lake Worth Inlet by West Palm Beach.  It's further than we wanted to go but they can haul us almost immediately and with the help of the Gulfstream we should make decent time, weather permitting of course.  Crossing the Gulfstream calls for a specific wind direction or none at all.  Now we wait...

A predawn thunderstorm actually made for a very pretty sunrise...

And even a rainbow!

Most of the day looked like this

If you squint you'll see that blob is a starfish

Back at Bimini Sands Marina
We took over this out-of-service pool bar as our office.

Next we jump "the Stream"...

Great Bahama Bank Video

May 29th, 2016
The Great Bahama Bank on route to Bimini

I discovered a video of our second time crossing the bank!
This was taken at dusk after we had anchored for the night.
This sums it up pretty well...

Hopefully you could see it.  I had to dumb the file way down to get Blogger to take it which is why we don't do much video...

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Bank

Providence Island almost to Bimini
May 28th...ish...

Ahhh the Bank.

We're not talking about that kind of "bank", we're referring to the Great Bahama Bank.
Basically, a large, underwater platform that surrounds the island of Andros and stretches for miles in all directions.
It's a weird place.  But we'll get back to that...

We're now at a familiar anchorage, West End, which is the west end of Providence Island.  Nassau is located at the other side.  We stopped here to wait for a weather window, for nearly a week, two months ago when we were on route to the Exumas.  We have to wait a day or two for weather again.  It's the same old story, possible squalls, which we can't predict but we're going to wait for favorable wind, or at least something that's not working against us.  There's no point in trying to fight upwind and with the additional bilge pump there's less urgency.

This gives me another opportunity to try to troubleshoot some of our electrical problems.  We still have no depth sounder which is really disconcerting.  It's nice to have a clue how much water is under your boat!  Wings is an old boat so she's had a lot of work and modifications done over the years.  The depth transducer, that feeds information to the fried Raymarine unit, is almost for certain toast but Wings still has an older stand alone depth gauge as a spare.  I was able to get it to power up but it just gives garbled information so the transducer for that also appears to be ruined.  After another conversation with Dave, the previous owner, he tells me that there's a third transducer in the engine compartment.  He had quit using it because it was a really poor location since it was so close to the rear of the boat.  I dig around the spaghetti nest of cables and wiring and find the old transducer cable!  I plug it in, fire up the old depth sounder, and...nothing.  Bummer... The boat will have to be hauled out to replace the transducer.

I had unhooked the solar panels and the inverter since the day after the lightning.  Something must have fused inside because the inverter got hot, I'm talking lava hot!  Even without the solar to charge our batteries we're actually doing ok, power-wise, because the fridge is shot, which was our biggest power draw.  Lucky us!  I'm seeing dollar signs... Running the diesel, which still has a functional alternator, has been enough to keep the batteries charged and the 12 volt system running.
So we're not doing too bad!

Two months ago when we were in this anchorage there must have been at least a dozen boats, now only a few.  One of the few is another trimaran called "Faith".  Faith is an old Piver Victress and looks like she's got thousands of nautical miles under her keel.  We meet the owners, Dave (yep, another Dave) and Debbie, missionaries currently between missions.  They've been out for years, maybe a decade or more, have survived hurricanes, and have all kinds of crazy colorful stories.  Our story is starting to sound pretty tame, by comparison, but after hearing our tale Dave volunteers to fix or at least slow our leak with "pool putty".  I'm hesitant for him to dig around under there but he swears by the stuff...

He gathers a few tools, mixes the putty, suits up with a mask and fins and dives under the boat.  Dave is an old salty sailor and for an older dude he can really hold his breath!  He digs around the area of the leak to clean it up but it's kind of guess work with the boat in the water.  He squishes the epoxy putty into the crack... no discernible change but it's not any worse.  I dive under the boat a couple of days later to check it and the gob of putty is gone.  Oh well, I appreciate the attempt.  Cruisers are like that, we wouldn't have made it this far without so many people's help and generosity.

Before leaving West End we take the opportunity to get a few provisions and some diesel.  The last time we were here we coordinated with a few other cruisers and split a taxi which ended up costing $70!  There's no one else to share a cab with this time and there's no way I'm blowing $70 which meant a little hike and thumbing down a ride.  Once again a few errands consume almost an entire day but now we're ready to cross the bank and get to Bimini.

We leave at dawn and head east across the Tongue of the Ocean towards the Northwest Channel marker and onto the Bank.  The Tongue is deep blue because it's thousands of feet deep.  No depth issues here just ships to watch out for.  The Great Bahama Bank is about 15 feet deep on average and looks like a swimming pool on a calm day.  We're finally following the trail of bread crumbs on the Ipad which gives us some confidence that we won't rub bottom.  No wind again so we're motoring.  We plunk along until dusk and drop anchor out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by water.  I'm curious how much depth we actually have so I don a mask and get in to have a look.  More than I thought, at least 10 feet under the keel.

We don't like the bank.  At night the tide and wind seem to have an adverse relationship out here and make strange swells that come beam on and toss Wings side to side.  The last time we anchored out here we got beat up all night, didn't get any sleep, and our rudder took such a beating we lost our steering... but that's another story.  Looks like we're in for a similar night.  Not to mention that it's a bit spooky out here all alone.  Then, just before dark, another sailboat appears to the south!  I hail them on the borrowed handheld VHF and they quickly respond "First Look".  We never met First Look but we heard them regularly on the radio when we were in Georgetown.  We chat for a bit and decide to tag along with them in the morning since we're both headed towards Bimini.  It's nice to have someone within radio range for the night.

Tomorrow Bimini...

West End anchorage to the midway point on the Great Bahama Bank enroute to Bimini.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hatchet Bay

Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera, Bahamas
May 25-?, 2016

When your best option is to take shelter at a place called "Hatchet Bay" you might be in deep doodoo...

But sometimes a name is simply a name.

  After a heart to heart conversation with Angie, which included the option to fly her and Kipper back to Florida (which was ixnayed pretty quickly), we left Governor's Harbor and motored 20 miles north to Hatchet Bay. There was no wind. It had blown itself out the night before.  Twenty miles doesn't sound like much but this was our first time to take Wings out since the squalls so we were edgy, 
to say the least.

Hatchet Bay was originally an enclosed salt pond.  In the 1930's a 90-foot opening was dynamited to form a protected bay for a dairy and poultry plantation which thrived for a decade, or two... until a hurricane... or two... and some political turmoil...
shut it down completely.

Which is kind of the story of the Bahamas.

Hatchet Bay isn't your typical cruiser's destination but it had what we needed.  Primarily, protection and just enough services to figure out our next move.  Wings' engine was running fine and thankfully the alternator wasn't fried by the lightning and neither were the batteries.  We arrived to Hatchet Bay by mid afternoon without any drama...

The first person we met was Francis, he runs the Front Porch restaurant.  There are some old mooring balls that he rents, which are sketchy, but so was our anchor at this point so we chose the best available and tied on.  Francis has mixed reviews among cruisers but he was a saint to us.  We spent a couple of days surfing his wifi, drinking rum punch, making calls, having some great food, getting his advice, and he even flagged me down a ride to get some diesel up the road in Gregory Town.

We called all the boat yards in Spanish Wells in an attempt to repair Wings in the Bahamas but everyone was booked or unwilling to take on our electrical problems.  Which was probably for the best anyway since we would have had to navigate some unfamiliar water without a depth sounder just to get to Spanish Wells, notorious for being a challenging area even with all your equipment working.  We had also lost our Raymarine GPS and chart plotter but, thanks to Angie, we had an IPad loaded with nautical charts and a Bluetooth enabled GPS locator that was independent of the boat's systems and unaffected by the lightning.  Angie had been using the IPad about half the time already because it was easier to plot our course than the Raymarine plotter attached to Wings.  This meant we could backtrack and pick up our old course from the trip out, at least as far as Bimini.

So we started calling Florida boatyards...

 Meanwhile, on Wings, I dug through the spares left by Dave, the previous owner, another saint.  Dave was a well prepared guy.  I found an extra bilge pump, a switch, a bag of hose clamps, and enough scraps of hose to rig up an extra pump in the aft cabin, closer to the leak, to reduce the load on the main bilge pump.  Now we had a pump by the leak running about every 10 minutes so that the main bilge only ran maybe once an hour, depending on conditions.

After calling a bunch of boat yards we finally found one in Riviera Beach that could haul Wings out within 2 days of our arrival back in Florida.
Now we had a plan!

The plan: sail from Eleuthera 70 nautical miles straight to New Providence Island where we had anchored on our route out from Bimini to the Exumas.  There we could pick up our old trail from New Providence across the Bahama Bank to Bimini.  After that we would be winging it into Florida but we had the IPad and recent paper charts, thanks to Peter and Helen from One Love (the other lightning boat, which was a total loss so they flew home).

The day we sailed for New Providence we left at dawn so we could see our way out the cut from Hatchet Bay.  We were, literally, surrounded by squalls the entire day. On every horizon, there was a storm cell, complete with lightning and audible thunder.  We slowed to let some cells pass in front of us and speed up or changed direction to get out of the way of other cells. None of the wind in these storms made it to our sails so we had to motor the whole way.  Seventy miles doesn't sound like much but at 7 knots it's a full day especially when you're zig zagging to avoid squalls.

We made it unscathed by late afternoon, followed our old trail into the anchorage, and dropped anchor where we had almost 2 months earlier.  Once the anchor was solidly set in familiar sand we toasted with warm shots of good 'ol Ricardo Rum.

Hatchet Bay from above.  The arrow marks the man-made entrance.  We approached from the South.  You can't even see it as you approach, luckily a boat was leaving as we arrived.

Saint Francis' rum punch at the Front Porch.  I could go for one of these right now.

Angie dozes...
Hatchet Bay was an opportunity to finally catch up on some much needed sleep

Angie saved our bacon by loading the IPad with charts and having the forethought to bring an extra GPS locator independent of the boat electronics.  These are waypoints to reach our old anchorage at the west end of New Providence Island.

Hatchet Bay to West End, New Providence

Dawn departure from Hatchet Bay

Safely at West End as another squall passes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why do these things always happen at night...?

This is something I wrote after a couple of days of getting hammered by bad weather at an anchorage in the Bahamas.  This is a journal entry that I didn't intend to publish but this blog is primarily for us to keep a record for ourselves so here it is.  We are safe and sound and so is Wings, with her new family!  More on that later...

Governor's Harbor, Eleuthera, Bahamas
May 22-24, 2016
by Greg

I'm sitting in the cockpit as I write this, Angie dozing beside me, Kipper in her lap.  He's panting slightly, anxiously, and giving me his best "what the hell are we doing here" look.  He's had plenty of opportunity to perfect that look recently.  At home we would have never let Kipper lay anywhere but the floor or his own bed.  On the boat that's all gone out the window and at the moment he deserves a little tlc.

We're weathering another storm.  My writing looks shaky and drunk.  I wish.  The only thing I'm drunk on is sleep deprivation.  I'm illuminating the page with a small flashlight, a full moon that just appeared from the clouds, and the occasional flash of lightning.  Wings is pitching and rocking in anger and frustration, probably in pain as well.  It's been a trying couple of days.  No one has had more than a few hours sleep, we're all exhausted, even Wings.

I've just come back from bucket bailing the aft cabin where she's slowly taking on water.  I've unclogged and enlarged the drain holes that lead down to the main bilge where the pump should take care of it.  Ang' and I are taking shifts to monitor the leak, bail if needed, and watch our mooring lines.  We're riding out this storm on a mooring ball, thank God.  The anchor hasn't been anchoring the last couple of days so a mooring is a welcome relief.  We caught this one in pitch black darkness just before the storm, lightning flashing on the horizon.  We don't make a habit of grabbing mooring balls, anchoring, sailing, or even moving the boat after sunset.  We don't even like to be in the dinghy after dark.  The last couple of days have been exceptions.

We ran aground today and were struck by lightning the night before.
If Wings had emotions I'm sure she'd be shrieking in pain.  Our poor boat.  There's not an apt way to describe the feeling as you watch your boat listing on a sandbar, standing helplessly by in driving rain.  Nor the sheer terror and fear as lightning strikes all around you and finally your mast.

This is the fourth storm at this anchorage, in 2 days, and they're taking a toll on all of us.  The boat is a mess; tools everywhere, flashlights, wet clothing, towels, bucket and sponge for bailing, floor pulled up, flip flops, a gas can, and Kipper's tennis ball swirl in the rain filled dinghy.

It's predawn now and I can finally get a glimpse of the boats around us.  Three other sailboats and a little trawler, although it's probably bigger than Wings.  A little while ago they were just apparitions with a few twinkling lights getting tossed around along with us.  On my left is a large catamaran called "Tribe".  Tribe is a serious ocean capable big cruising cat, 60 feet long, and beautiful in a shiny sleek modern way.  We met her professional Captain, his fiance, and some of his crew and companions yesterday.  They came by to check on us having seen the lightning strike.  We weren't the only boat hit either.  Our buddy boat "One Love", anchored about a hundred feet from us was also struck, probably by the same bolt of lightning.  They're worse off than us.  They took a direct hit and the lightning exited thru their hull.  They took on water almost waist deep.  Fortunately, being a trimaran, the extra hulls kept them afloat.  Unfortunately the boat was a total loss.

Spike, Tribe's Captain, is in Governor's Harbor to be married.  He's already loaned us a handheld VHF radio and portable running lights so we can limp back to Florida or perhaps Spanish Wells for repairs.  Terrific guy, we owe him for sure.  All our navigation, auto pilot, VHF, running lights, inverter, and even the damn fridge are fried.  If we can just get a few days of clear weather we'll make a dash to a boat yard.  At the moment we might be stuck on this mooring ball.

Better than the sandbar we found ourselves on yesterday.

At dusk a squall blew us into shallows, as the tide went out, and there was a full moon just the day before making it an especially low tide.  I take responsibility.  We should have relocated to deeper water.  I was in a fog all day.  Making calls and trying to repair whatever I could after the lightning strike.  The night of the lightning strike we dragged anchor but were able to react quickly and keep the boat in relative safety by using the engine to take pressure off the anchor until the storm subsided enough to re-anchor.  All in the dead of night, of course.  Without the chart plotter we used Google Earth on our phones to maintain our location...

We had no time to react the second time.  Suddenly we were just sideways on the sand taking waves on our starboard beam.  No time to do anything but get safely off the boat.  Once ashore, Angie got a ride up to where the Tribe crew were staying and moments later Spike and another professional Captain, John, both Aussies, were headed towards Wings in their powerful tender to help me. By now, Wings had turned into the waves and was perched on her keel, rocking side to side.

Pulling her off was unsuccessful with the tide still out.  They suggested a second anchor which they hauled out and dropped for me in their tender.  By now it was dusk and they had to get back to their plans.  There was nothing else to do until the tide turned anyway.  Poor Wings' exposed rudder was taking a beating as she rocked backwards with the incoming swells but soon she began to lift.  That additional anchor was the solution.  Within about 30 minutes I was able to pull her off by hand, alternating between the two anchors.

Fortunately, no damage to the prop.  Unfortunately, the rudder hammered a small crack in the hull, hence the bilge water...

With Wings afloat and Angie back on board I dinghied towards the mooring area and marked the last available ball with a lantern so we could find it, and here we sit.

I just noticed the trawler moored nearby is named, "Dream On".
Pretty appropriate, comical really, since we're supposedly
"living the dream"...

I wonder if they know that's an Aerosmith song?

(Kipper, with Wings in the background, back in the States)

When the lightning struck, I (Angie) was relatively calm.  It was scary of course, but I kept my cool and was able to help navigate the storm. It's silly, but my biggest concern was "how much is all this going to cost?"  The next night though, when we ran aground, I lost it.  It wasn't the running aground that did it. It was the sudden deafening noise and intensity of the storm. The wind was blowing so hard we couldn't hear each other speak. Being outside in that kind of weather....well, you just don't do that.  It's cliche, but it really does sound like a train. And it hurts. You're being pelted with sand and twigs and water and there's a roar in your ears and you just can't think. And of course we're all sleep deprived, making it harder to deal with things and put things in perspective. I saw Greg in shock, which is a shock in itself as he's so cool and in charge most of the time. 

The other thing that made me lose it was the heartfelt kindness we experienced from complete strangers. Greg has already mentioned Spike and his now-wife Anna. They went above and beyond to help us. Which is even more impressive when you remember that they were there for their wedding! And they had wedding guests to take care of! They've got a lot of good karma coming their way.  

Another woman helped us that night. Her name is Monique and she was driving home with her 3 kids in a tiny hatchback car when she saw us running from the beach to a semi shelter behind a building. She drove over to us and asked us if we were ok. When she heard our tale of woe, she offered us a ride. She put me (soaked to the skin), Kipper (soaked to the skin) and our three backpacks in her tiny car with all her kids and drove us up the hill to where Spike and Anna were staying.  And then she stood in the rain and hugged me while I cried (some more).  It doesn't seem like that big of a deal now that I'm typing the words, but it meant the world to me then and I will always remember her kindness. 

So, that's the story of our time in Governor's Harbor. We got the heck out of there first thing in the morning. Maybe someone with more experience could've looked at the weather patterns and known what was coming. For sure someone with more experience would've known that our anchor was not the right one to hold in the grassy bottom of that anchorage. Maybe they would've forced themselves to sleep the day after the lightning strike so sleep deprivation wouldn't have been a factor in future squalls. Or they would've moved anchorages. Or gotten a mooring ball.  It's easy to think about would've, could've, should've, but you can't change what happened, you can just learn from it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Still Here!

Hello again! 

Obviously our blog has been dormant for awhile.  Even in these modern go fast times WiFi access is not as reliable and prevalent as you might think and when you do connect it typically doesn't have the juice to upload photos, etc, not via computer anyway.  That has pretty much been the case for months so hopefully anyone who cares to know what we're up to has been following the Tumblr posts.  Now that we're back in the USofA we'll begin compiling some posts, photos, videos, etc of the last few months of cruising and driving around.

It is December of 2016 already! It's been a crazy year (personally, nationally, you name it) but we're trying to go back in time and get some stuff published before moving on to 2017. We are safely on land visiting friends and family so if you read anything alarming, it's already happened! 

A brief recap:  In October 2015 we bought a boat, 

learned to sail it and cruised the southwest coast of Florida, down to Key West, out to the Dry Tortugas, and up to Key Largo, 


crossed to the Bahamas for two months, 

had some issues and limped back to Florida to haul the boat out, 

fixed the boat and took her across the Okeechobee waterway to western Florida, 

where we kept Wings until we sold her.

So, we did give "living the dream" a chance, i.e. life aboard a sailboat, with all the promises of sun, fun, sand, turquoise water, umbrella drinks, etc...

That particular "dream", for us, also included
lightning, running aground, stress, weight loss, panic attacks, and monetary loss...

Funny thing is now that we've been solidly back on dry land for a while, I (Greg) miss some of it!  Angie and Kipper... not so much, at least not yet.  
We'll land travel for now and see what happens...