Monday, June 29, 2009

On to Cocoa Beach

We decided to make up some time after spending the extra night in Vero Beach. Leaving at 8:00am we put in a long day, covering 57 miles in eight and a half hours. It was a nice day on the ICW, with a steady 12 knot wind that gusted up to 21 knots. The wind kept us cool, and the gusts added interest to the motor sailing.

We checked out the Skipper Bob book and decided on Cocoa as our next stop. We anchored in amongst about 20 other boats. I volunteered to go ashore to forage for the few provisions we forgot to get at Walmart. I took the dinghy ashore and was met at the dock by a gentleman who took my line and tied it off. When I asked him how far it was to the Publix he told me it was too far to walk and offered me a ride, assuring me that he lived on his boat and had five daughters of his own. My mom would not be a happy camper if she new, but I accepted his offer. He had an honest face. The gentleman was named Ernie, and was incredibly friendly and helpful. After our Publix run he drove me down the main street of Cocoa so I could see the little touristy shops. He even offered that Andy could borrow his van the next day to go to the West Marine.

We stayed on in Cocoa an extra day so that Andy could exchange our inverter (we blew another one!) and I could go to all of the little shops Ernie showed me the day before. Henry and I had a wonderful time shopping, me getting a book to read, and Henry getting a new toy in their little educational toy shop. We stopped for refreshments at the little Cookie Shop, and ended our stroll walking through the beautiful park on the waterfront. Henry slept in his stroller for the last bit. He is such an easy going baby!!

Ernie and another sailor named Cliff joined us on our boat for dinner. Andy barbecued, and we listened to tales from both the experienced older sailor and the 21 year old novice. It was a very enjoyable evening. Now I'm tuckered out and headed off to bed. It's almost midnight and Henry has been getting me up between 6:30 and 7:00am lately! I think we'll probably be getting a late start tomorrow, and will only go 20 miles or so to Titusville.

Vero Beach day two...and three

Our provisioning in Vero Beach was a bust. We had been told about the free bus service, which sounded like a great way to get our shopping done. Unfortunately the Walmart it took us to was in the process of depleting their stock to close and make room for a new store. It was the crappiest little Walmart we'd ever been in. It was so crappy we decided to scrap the whole shopping expedition and try again at the next port. We rode the bus home in a typical Florida downpour, and waited out the rain talking to the locals at the marina before dinghying back to the boat.

Andy was able to get in touch with his cousin Jeff who lives in Vero Beach that evening. Jeff seemed quite excited to hear from him, and offered for our whole family, dogs included, to spend the day with him and his wife Laurie on Saturday. He said they'd take us to a better Walmart, and even offered for us to use their laundry machines.

We had a wonderful day with Jeff and Laurie. They were really great with the dogs and enjoyed having a baby in the house. We all went off to the Walmart, which was much better than the other store! Jeff and Laurie fed us a lovely steak dinner, and then we watched the rocket launch, first on TV, then we all ran outside to see if we could see it streak through the sky. Laurie saw it briefly, but there was too much cloud cover, and Andy and I missed it. :( All in all we had a super day, and went back to the boat with clean clothes and a fully stocked galley. Thanks Laurie and Jeff!

We spent one last night in Vero Beach, fueled up and filled the water tanks in the morning, and were off again.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vero Beach

Today we motored the ICW from Jensen Beach to Vero Beach. It was an uneventful trip. The weather was hot, with little breeze. There was very little traffic in the ICW. Not much to report.

We arrived at 2:30pm (got an early start today). The dogs had a wonderful afternoon at the local dog park. We took the dinghy ashore and went as a family. That was the first time Henry and I had been ashore in three days!! Buddy and Charlie met a managerie of canine friends, and Andy and I chatted up the older crowd that frequents the dog park (average age around 70). They all oohed and aahed over our adorable Henry, going so far as to ask if they could pinch his chubby thighs. We let them, of course.

We are planning to stay in Vero Beach for a couple of days to take advantage of the free bus and accessible shopping. We may not stay too long, though, as the place is surrounded by mangrove trees and those pesky little bugs are finding their way into the boat and eating me alive despite the screens.

Tomorrow will be quite exciting, as we will be going to the beach to watch the rocket launch from Cape Canaveral! Andy is particularly excited, he has always wanted to see a launch.

Henry's first taste of applesauce...unsweetened, of course!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lantana to Jensen Beach

Up and out by 8:30am, we are starting to get back in the swing of early rising! Henry gets me going bright and early everyday, but Andy has never been much of a morning person. The words, "just fifteen more minutes", are like the snooze button on my wake up call...and I hear them almost every time.

Today we motored in the ICW to Jensen Beach. We had planned to go as far as Peck Lake, but when we read in Skipper Bob's book that it was "buggy" we decided to give it a miss. After the Everglades we avoid bugs at all costs!! The day was lovely, and we had no trouble putting in our 50 miles. Passing through the endless Mangrove trees along the stretch that included Peck Lake, we were very glad we'd decided to go further.

We passed through a large number of bridges today and yesterday. Waiting for opening times slows progress. While waiting for one bridge today we made a pit stop and filled up on water and bought ice during our twenty minute wait. We almost missed the bridge opening though, when Charlie ran off and Buddy took an unexpected swim!

We arrived at Jensen Beach around 5:30pm. It was a long day, but never feels that way in such good company. The late arrival did convince us, however, to order pizza for dinner. Now, with full bellies and happy hearts we are settled in to watch a movie we borrowed from a neighbouring boat. Another adventure awaits tomorrow!

From Lake Sylvia to Lantana

June 23rd - We got a very late start, as a thunderstorm started around 4:00am and continued into the late morning. We didn't want to head out in bad weather, so we waited until it let up and headed out around 11:00am. The plan had been to head to Lake Worth, but with the late start we wanted a shorter route, so our wonderful route advisor William recommended we anchor at Lantana instead.

The weather was overcast all day, with intermittent rain and some gusts up to 15 knots. We motored in the ICW, and were glad of the opportunity to get some miles under our keel despite the lousy weather.

The houses and yachts along this part of the ICW really are a sight to behold. The wealth is staggering.

Henry's bloodshot eyes seem to be improving. I'm very relieved.

We arrived at Lantana around 6:00pm and had to call William to be sure we were in the right place, as the anchorage just looked like we veered out of the lane and dropped anchor. It was indeed the right place, and so we settled in and enjoyed the coolest breeze of the trip thus far.We got a wonderful taste of the more temperate climates to come! We slept like babies.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Several days in Marathon, then off to sea again...

We ended up spending five nights in Marathon. Andy was finally able to solve the elusive, ongoing engine trouble! With the help of a local named Doug, Andy was able to diagnose the engine trouble as an electrical problem. We were not getting 12Volts to the fuel pump, and so the engine was running on two cylinders. Andy replaced a wire, and Hooray! Our engine is now running flawlessly!

We rented a car for a day to run all of our errands. We got provisions, did laundry, bought fuel filters, and of course...went to the West Marine. Once all of our work was done we had a day of fun. We motored out to a reef. It was beautiful! Andy went scuba diving on the reef, and I snorkelled. The marine life is incredible!! I've never seen so many fish in one place, and so colourful!! I watched two divers chasing a sting ray right under me! What an experience!!

Wrapping up our week in Marathon, we set off on Saturday, June 20th for Rodriquez Key. We motored, as their has still been very little wind. We had a good day, gaining experience as we went through a squall just before we arrived at Rodriquez Key. It is really amazing the way a storm front looks as you approach it on the water. Andy has gotten the routine down pat, preparing us for weather quickly and efficiently long before we get into the storm. We were very calm and low key when the rain started, and Andy quite enjoyed the whole experience, yelling, "Oh yeah! Clean my boat!!!". By the time we anchored on the north east side of the island the weather had passed, and we had a lovely calm evening. The stars were amazing, unpoluted by city lights. Andy was unable to find any beach to take the dogs ashore, so once again they went over 30 hours without relieving themselves. What troopers!

June 21st we motored from Rodriquez Key to No Name Harbor. We have gotten a late start for two days. Leaving at noon from Marathon, and 11:00am today. We need to get back into the swing of things and start getting up early to avoid these late day thunderstorms. We had an uneventful day at sea again today, and then passed through a heavy squall just before reaching our destination. The winds blew over 20 knots, and there was lightning flashing all around us. Again, preparedness was key, and we motored through the storm without a problem. No Name Harbor was really, really small. We paid our $15 for the night, and Andy walked the dogs in the State Park. There was a restaurant in the Harbor, so we treated ourselves to take-out. Andy met the three Englishmen on the next sailboat, and visited them for a beer or two while I relaxed in front of the TV. Henry continues to take it all in stride, although I am a bit concerned as he is suffering from numerous bug bites and has had bloodshot eyes for the last two days. I am thinking his eyes are probably irritated from the sun, wind and salt water. We will have to keep an eye on him and will take him to the doctor if it doesn't improve with some care to shelter him from the elements.

June 22nd - Today we were finally able to put up the sails and take advantage of some stronger winds!! The wind was a consistent 15 knots from the west. It was a lovely day. The breeze kept us comfortable despite the record temperatures of 99F!!!!!!! We pulled into the harbor at Fort Lauderdale around 3:00pm. The estates surrounding the waterways are unbelievable!! Lifestyles of the rich and famous! Andy and I agreed that even if we had that kind of money, we would never buy into that kind of lifestyle. It's amazing the amount of excess! We are anchored tonight in Lake Sylvia. I wouldn't really call it a lake...Andy said it is someone's pond that they let others build houses around. It really is small. The record heat is much more evident now that we've stopped. Henry's eyes have looked much better all day, and his bites are improving. I am still concerned, but will keep a watch on him for another day before rushing off to the doctor.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I haven't been able to write for several days, as our inverter failed and the computer battery died.

June 11th was a lovely day. We motored through the ICW from Venice to Pelican Cove. The highlights of our day included a dolphin swimming up to the boat, and Henry tasting his first popsicle! Pelican Cove was a beautiful anchorage. Very quiet and undeveloped. Andy took Buddy and Charlie ashore where they frolicked on the beach, and Charlie decided to take a swim. We enjoyed the evening with champagne and Frank Sinatra music in the cockpit. There was a pleasant breeze, no bugs, and total privacy. Perfect!

June 12th we motored to Fort Meyers Beach. Overdeveloped for our tastes. It was very busy there, and we paid $13 to stay on a mooring ball. We picked up a few provisions at the Topps that we could dinghy to. I slipped and fell as I left the grocery store because my sandals were wet and the ramp was painted. My only injuries were a scraped ankle and a bruised pride. The mosquitoes were bad here, so we stayed in for the evening, showered, and went to bed early.

June 13th we ventured out of the ICW and into the Gulf of Mexico. We had a great day, the weather was lovely, and I didn't get sea sick!! We anchored for the night at Marco Island. It didn't look like an anchorage, as we just had to drop the hook in amongst houses and marinas. We thought about getting a dock for the night, but quickly changed our minds when we heard the price of $2.30 per foot! We could have stayed in a nice hotel for the night at that price!! So, we anchored out in the harbour, and were joined by one other boat before nightfall.

June 14th was our longest day thus far. We motor sailed in the Gulf to Little Shark River. The trip was great, and we enjoyed the day immensely! Andy and I took turns at the helm, both had naps, and felt very much at ease sailing far enough out in the Gulf that we couldn't see land. Sassy II performed beautifully. Then we got to the Everglades... Oh my God! Andy tried to take the dogs ashore for a pee. There wasn't any place to get footing to go ashore, just tree roots coming out of the water, and in the 60 seconds it took for them to realize they couldn't go ashore, a huge swarm of mosquitoes tried to carry them off!! Andy dinghied back to the boat yelling, "Deb, Deb! Get the dogs inside and keep the screens in, the mosquitoes know we're here!!!!". We had a terrible night. The bugs that managed to follow them in ate away at us all night, as we sweltered in the breezeless boat. I am still covered in about 250 welts, and I am not exagerrating!! We both vow never again to go to the Everglades! Next time we'll travel right through from Marco Island to Marathon. The dogs had to go 32 hours without peeing this time, so a long journey would actually have been easier for them. Luckily Henry's V-berth has a fan blowing right on him. It kept him cool and prevented the bugs from landing on him. We should all have been so lucky!

June 15th - We motor sailed from Little Shark River to Marathon. It took about three hours to clear the rest of the bugs out of the cockpit, but after that we settled in for a nice trip. Just before the bridge that separates the Gulf from the Atlantic we sailed into a thunder storm. It was our first, and we weren't sure how it would go. It went surprisingly well. The seas did not get too choppy, we just got a little wet. The rain was quite refreshing, in fact Andy got chilled at the helm and had to put on his foul weather gear to get warm! We arrived in Marathon around 2:00pm and filled our water tanks, walked the dogs, checked our email and paid for three nights at a mooring ball. ($20/night). Andy took the dinghy to West Marine and purchased a $50 inverter that seems to be working like a charm. After Henry's nap we all dinghied over to the Publix (Andy was out of beer, Oh No!!). It was quite a time trying to find the dinghy dock, but we eventually did, bought a lot of beverages and a bag of ice, and made it back to the boat just after nightfall.

June 16th, today, it is hot, hot, hot in the Florida Keys in June. I am not tolerating the heat well. I have very itchy heat rashes on my knees and elbows that combined with the hundreds of bug bites have left me quite irritable. Andy is managing much better and has been incredibly understanding as I sit in front of the fan and try to exert as little energy as possible while he works away changing the filters on the engine. We will be here three nights, and will then try to head north as quickly as possible to escape the relentless heat! Henry is irritable today too. He is not sleeping or eating well, and I'm not sure if his issue is with the heat or if he has teething pain. Hopefully we will both adjust and start feeling better soon.

It has been quite an adventure already. Hopefully as we head north and become more accustomed to sailing, anchoring and the entire lifestyle, things will just get better and better.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Underway!!!! Hooray!

Well, as I sit in the cockpit typing this post, we have been officially on our journey for two days!!

Yesterday was very hectic, as we had a bunch of things to do before we left the dock. High tide was at 12:00pm, and we were aiming to leave then. We got underway at about 1:45pm after running our final errands, stowing the air conditioner, and doing the final boat prep.

Despite taking a ginger tablet, wearing my new electronic sea band and drinking gingerale and eating pretzels, I still got a little sea sick when I went below to make lunch. We were still in Terra Ceia Bay and it was choppy. Once we entered the ICW (Intracoastal waterway) my sea sickness subsided.

All in all it was a beautiful day on the water, and we arrived at our destination at Longboat Key around 5:30pm. We dropped the anchor in an anchorage with eight other sailboats. The location was lovely and calm, and the breeze was incredible!

Things I learned yesterday; Take Bonine pills for sea sickness before it hits, make lunch before we leave, I need a lot of practice at the helm to make anchoring easier!!

Henry did great, and seemed to really enjoy the day outside. The bimini and dodger provided ample shade, which is lucky, since Henry has learned to remove both sunglasses and hats, and does so as soon as you put them on him!

Today we are headed for Venice...Florida, not Italy! :) The water has been incredibly calm today, but there is no breeze to speak of, and we are hot! We had engine trouble early on in the day, with an alternator belt being thrown, and the engine overheating. Luckily I have a clever "Jack of all trades" husband, who changed the belt on the fly so we only had about 15 minutes of down time as we bobbed in Sarasota Bay.

I will keep you posted on our progress!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Almost ready, no really!

Well, more time has passed, and we are still sitting at the dock. It seems that every time we think there are only a few things left to do, more crop up. We plan to leave by the end of this week. Let's hope we really are almost ready now!

Sassy II is in "ship shape"! We have fixed all that required fixing, upgraded what needed upgrading, and stowed all of our stuff in various containers all over the boat. We have even had Sassy II blessed, and christened with her new name (she was just Sassy until we registered her in Canada and the name was taken). The car is finally pretty much empty and ready to sell. We just need to finish up a few minor things and do a big shopping trip to stock up on food and supplies for our trip. And of course there is the laundry to do. With a four month old infant there is ALWAYS plenty of laundry to do.

The anticipation is mounting. I can't wait to set out and start this adventure!!