Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It has already been two weeks?!?!

Wow!  We've been so busy resuming our life, I didn't notice that I haven't touched the blog in two weeks!  Time flies a lot faster on land...

I'm working on a post about the things we learned, but in the meantime, here is some stuff about our new home slip in Ft. Myers Beach.

Second Wind - home in Ft Myers Beach

First time our home port has been a slip (always had moorings before) - I think we are gonna like it!
We've got water, electricity, and we don't have a dinghy or launch ride to get to the boat!  Pretty cool!  Speaking of cool, the air conditioner is set up and running, so even though it is 95deg outside, the boat is nice and comfortable.

The slip itself is only about 15 minutes from the open water, and only 20 minutes from our home in Cape Coral.  This isn't a marina - it is basically behind a fellow's house.  He has 3 slips that he rents out to help him cover the cost of his mortgage - a pretty good idea.  The depth at the dock is fine, and the canal and approaches are deep enough even at low tide.  There are a LOT of big sailboats here, so we felt pretty good about the location.  The approaches from the open water are pretty tight, but they are well marked.  If we stray outside the channel, it is a sandy bottom, so going aground won't break anything.

The boat has never been this close to us, so we can actually go by and check on things just for the heck of it.  It is definitely a big upgrade from our previous arrangements in Rhode Island!  On top of all that, we can hop in the dinghy and ride over to the beach itself and don't have to mess with the traffic!

Our only worry about this place (and Florida in general) is what to do when the inevitable hurricane shows up - do we move the boat somewhere else?  Do we just batten things down?  Looks like we are going to need to get that information figured out - Tropical Storm Emily just formed and there is a decent chance she'll come this way.  Oh well - welcome to Florida!

Monday, July 18, 2011


The boat is parked and we are at our house.  We are all exhausted, but glad to be on dry land again.  More updates and thoughts coming soon!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Naples, Florida, or 27 miles by water from home

We are anchored in the middle of a multi-million dollar neighborhood in Naples, but nobody is home!  All the mansions around us are closed up for the season, so we are all alone.  Oh well.

The last two days went fine, just really hot and boring.  The wind was from behind us, which means we were going the same speed as the breeze, which means on the boat itself, it was still air and really warm.  Luckily, we had the generator running, which powered the air conditioner for the fortunate few inside the cabin (i.e. Rebecca, Reece and Jeannette)...  We improvised some shade with bed sheets (lol) and towels - total redneck, but it worked well.  The big event at the end of the journey last night was a huge thunderstorm!  Sailing around with a giant lightening rod is kinda scary, but God chose not to zap us this time!

Time to wind down and get showers - we don't want to scare Kaysha too bad when she picks us up tomorrow!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Marathon, and we turn north tomorrow morning

We are all very, very tired, so this is just a quick post!  We are at Marathon Marina & Boatyard, just had a great meal, after laundry and showers.  The folks at the restaurant wouldn't let us in unless we took showers first (just kidding - we didn't chance it, lol).  The marina is very nice, though a little pricey, but that is typical of the Florida Keys.

We had a nice time snorkeling at Hen & Chickens reef off of Islamorada - a wonderful reef and we used one of the free mooring balls right over the reef!  We jumped in the water and everything was right there beneath us in about 10 to 15 feet of water.  Right off the bat, an enormous tarpon came by to check us out - the fish had to be at least 5ft long!  He startled me and I yelped, which startled him and he took off in a flash.  Pretty nice welcome!  The reef appeared to be in excellent condition - not much bleaching and tons of soft and hard corals growing well.  The variety of fish was surprising as well, including some barracuda that were just hangin' out, bein' cool.  Reef snorkeling from my own sailboat is one of those things I've dreamed of for decades, so this was definitely a day to remember.  Now if we could only get Reece to figure out how to use his mask!  He puts it on his head, up above his eyes, and walks around like that.  He hasn't quite made the connection of looking around in the water.  Oh well.

Tomorrow we finally turn the boat north.  We are going to Moser Channel and into Florida Bay.  One day to Little Shark River, then one day to Marco Island, then one day into Ft Myers Beach.  Just 3 days left!  It has been a wonderful journey, but we are all ready to get home!

The area we are passing through is some of the most remote regions of the East Coast.  There aren't many cell towers on the edge of the Everglades, so we may not update for a couple of days.  No worries, though, 'cause the VHF still works fine!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Key Largo - A plan works out

The boat is anchored off Key Largo Channel while I do some work.  The rest of the crew took the dinghy up the channel to buy some snorkeling gear and a few other items.  Our plan back on Monday was to travel to Lake Worth Inlet on Monday night, then down to Miami Beach on Tuesday night, then work our way down Hawk Channel in the upper part of the Keys to Rodriguez Key near Key Largo on Wednesday night.  A crazy thing happened - that is exactly what we did!  No real surprises and the trip was about as easy as it gets.

We arrived in the anchorage in Lake Worth pretty late, after the sun had set, but we had plenty of light from Riviera Beach and the nearly full moon.  The anchor set really well, so we collapsed asleep without any worries.  The next morning we got a real treat - when I went to pull the anchor up, I could see the bottom clearly in 15ft of water!  Not only that, I could see the chain running off in the distance!  As we pulled the rode in, we could see the sandy/grassy bottom and then the anchor itself.  Awesome!  Definitely not in New England anymore!

The Miami Beach anchorage wasn't quite as clear, but still pretty nice.  The problem was that there was a ripping current going right through!  I tied a rope to myself and another one to Reece and we jumped in - very nice and warm, but it felt like water skiing!  If we let go of the ladder, we'd immediately start to get swept away.  There was no real danger, but keeping up with Reece was tough.  The spot itself was beautiful:

Miami skyline from behind Fisher Island

We had another early start yesterday morning as we finally "officially" reached the Florida Keys.  The pace slowed waaaay down - much fewer go-fast boats and a lot more cruising sailboats and trawlers now.  The autopilot was set and we just relaxed as we looked over the side and watched the bottom of the ocean roll by.  We thought about pulling over to one of the reefs on our port side, but decided to make directly for our anchorage at Rodriguez Key instead.  We arrived early enough that we all jumped in the water as soon as the anchor set - wonderful!  There were small schools of juvenile Yellowtail Snapper all around us - and we discovered they like bread (but not tortillas, lol, no Tex-Mex fish here).  I was able to dive down under the boat and inspect the rudder, prop, and keel for the first time - no damage, but you can tell we've drug our keel through some mud!  Fortunately, the bottom paint looks perfect, so no need to do anything.

The only disappointment is that my Super Snorkel machine just won't work!  There is always something wrong with it, even though I've never really used it in 10 years!  The device is basically a lawn mower engine connected to an air compressor sitting in the middle of a truck inner-tube.  Two 60ft air hoses with on-demand regulators lets you dive as long as you like (up to 60ft away).  In theory, awesome machine.  In practice, there is constantly something wrong with it!  The latest issue is that the screw binding the air compressor to the engine keeps vibrating loose, resulting in the air compressor shaking like crazy.  This morning, Ben and I got that fixed, so I tried again.  No luck - now the belt that drives the compressor is slipping so bad that the compressor won't run.  Good grief.  What a piece of junk.  I'm very disappointed in this product.  Fortunately, the company that makes it is up in the Tampa area, so I'm going to take it back to them and get them to fix all the problems with it.  Oh well...  At least we can still snorkel!

So after a big breakfast of French toast, bacon and eggs, I'm working until the crew to return from shopping in Key Largo, then we are headed out to one of the reefs around here to snorkel the rest of the afternoon.  We'll probably come back to this anchorage later tonight, then decide what to do for tomorrow.  We are thinking to making for Marathon, but not sure yet.  We'll see...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quick update - Working from the boat again, lost a crew member, and heading to Lake Worth

Here is a quick update, since it has been a little while since the last post:

After 5 days of concentrated development at home, I'm mostly caught up with the high-speed Internet stuff I needed to do for work.  Most programming I can do from the boat just fine, but Silverlight development usually requires me to have a high-bandwidth, constant connection - not easy to do over the wireless RavenX.  Now I'm back to doing database work and client-side development, so I've got a lot to do for the next week.

We lost a crew member today!  :(  Well, we didn't really "lose" him, I mean, we know where he is, but Rebecca's brother, Ed, decided this would be a good spot to catch a plane back to Texas.  Ed was instrumental in getting the boat this far - he showed me how to rebuild the outboard carburetor, he fixed our autopilot, he probably drove the largest distance of all of us (especially at night off-shore), and was always ready to jump at whatever task needed to be done!  We all miss him already and I am personally grateful for the time he spent with us!  Ed, we look forward to seeing you on your own boat very soon!!!!

We pulled out of Ft Pierce this morning, and promptly got stuck in the mud 20ft from the slip!  Turns out, low tide isn't really a great time to leave that marina, lol.  Ben said "power through it toward the pilings, it is deeper there" and he was right.  The sounder read 2.8ft for a bit there (which is about 4.3ft, meaning we had about 6in of keel plowing through the mud).  We are thinking of sending the marina a bill for dredging!  :)  No harm done, and we got out into the channel just fine.  We are now headed to the Lake Worth Inlet, about 45 miles away, where we plan to anchor for the night.  After that, we hope to reach Miami the next day, then the Keys!!!!!  Woohoo!!!!!

Okay, I'd better get back to work!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A perfect launch!

I am truly sad I didn't get to be there, but I watched on TV as Atlantis went up one last time.  I am so glad that Rebecca and Reece, in particular, got to see this in person.  What a special moment!  Hopefully Rebecca will post some pictures from the scene... (hint, hint)