Friday, March 27, 2015

"A Single Act of Kindness….

…throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.  The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves."  ~Amelia Earhart

Right now, as I type this, a huge storm system has just passed us that had reported gusts of about 50kts.  Sitting here rocking and rolling for a couple of hours with lightning all around us was not fun  We were worried that we were going to drag, or worse, get hit by lightning. The wind was howling like a banshee, the seas were big and choppy, and the anchor chain snubber was so taut, it looked like it's about to snap.  I must say, those conditions were a little intimidating.  It's finally abated, Frank has been going forward and checking on things, and I have just been laying here combatting the onslaught of seasickness symptoms.  Headache, mild nausea, you name it, I've got it.

I took this as it started to get bad...

Been here in Miami now for about a week.  Shortly after we re-anchored a few days ago, we noticed that our new/used RIB had a little trickle coming in.  After further inspection, we realized that the leak was coming from the seam where the hypalon meets the aluminum.  Frank suspects that the delamination was due to the aluminum being corroded and the glue no longer sticking to the corrosion.  This was most likely caused by the aluminum being improperly prepped when the factory was gluing the hypalon to the bottom.   Of course with our luck, after contacting AB about this, we discover that we are in fact NOT covered under their 10 year warranty simply because we are the second owners.   Arrghhh!  So of course, after a mad dash of calling around to places to see where we can get this damn thing fixed (not an easy thing when its your only means of transportation to and from shore), we found a place that would come and pick up the dinghy and deliver it back fixed for us within a week.  Of course, we had to pay out of pocket for this repair.  Another unexpected fix, it’s always a challenge. 

So after we discovered that we had to get this damn RIB fixed, Frank and I were were a little concerned that we would be stranded without a means to get to shore.  Especially because where we are anchored out is right smack in the middle of the bay, in what seems to be the middle of no where.  Up until now, we’ve had a lot of feedback and emails from our readers that have been sending their support, kind words, as well as advice, and welcoming us back to the blogging community.  We have been corresponding back and forth between one particular person who has not only given us invaluable advice about anchorages in Miami, but has gone far out of his way to help us in our time of need.  This man, whom I believe that the gods has anointed to be our fairy godfather, Randy, has truly blown us away by his generosity. 

After discovering that we would be stranded, I wrote to Randy to ask about where there were any anchorages here that have a frequent taxi service.  He wrote back and said that there were none but that we were more than welcome to borrow his little spare dinghy.   We were more than grateful!   After going back and forth, we discovered that our 9.8 hp outboard was far too big for his spare dinghy, and we wrote him back and told him that, unfortunately for us, it would not work.  Before I even had a chance to feel disappointed, he wrote back with another email, saying”…there is more than one way to skin a cat…” and offered his primary dinghy to us.  WHAT THE HELL?  This couldn’t be real.  No one is this nice.  But let me tell you….these people do exist.  I never cease to get amazed by the kindness of complete strangers, especially being from NY, where the pace of life keeps you from ever stopping to look around and ground yourself.  Being a part of this boating community has shown me time and time again that there is still humanity left in the western world.  It brought me to tears thinking that here was this complete stranger, willing to trust us and go out of his way to help us, without a question, without asking anything in return.  After incessantly thanking him, we asked if we could take him out to dinner or have him over for dinner, he simply said, “no worries…just pay it forward…” 

It’s these singular moments in life that make all the hardship and heartache worthwhile.  The discovery that people are good, that there is still love and support in places that you least expect it.  That in this never-ending cycle of surviving and suffering, that there are people who understand and are more than willing to hold out a hand when you fall, and perhaps it is because they have fallen as well once upon a time and know how cold and hard the ground is, or perhaps it’s simply kindness.  Whatever it is, it’s bigger than you and I, so I thank you, Randy, for showing a girl who has struggled to believe that there is still light in this world of darkness.

Anchored outside of Hurricane Harbor, beautiful morning,
before the system rolled in...  

PS-  Sorry if this post embarrassed you, Randy, but we really can’t thank you enough… 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bienvenidos a Miami

I’ll spare the minute details of our trip from Titusville to Melbourne to Fort Pierce. It was like every other leg of the ICW journey, full days of just watching boat traffic and channel markers.  Entering Fort Pierce was pretty straightforward.  We had decided in Melbourne that we would leave for Fort Pierce super early in the morning so as not to have to fight for a spot in one of the few anchorages.  Frank was a little wary of that being the only anchorage around as he had issues finding a spot to anchor in the last time he was there as crew on another boat.  Getting there in the early afternoon, we were able to find a spot almost immediately.  We spent 2 nights during which time, we discussed some route planning options to Miami.  The options were to take the ICW for longer, or hop outside and head straight to Miami.  We ended up going with the latter as trips down the ICW have not only been boring, but also tiresome as well. 

So with that decision being made, we planned to leave sometime in the afternoon from Fort Pierce, and at the average rate of 5-6kts, we’d figure we’d be in within 22 hours, perfect timing to getting into Miami as it would get us there either late morning or early afternoon, with some daylight to spare.   We were both a little apprehensive about taking a night passage as neither on of us has had to do it with just the two of us.  We’ve both crewed on other boats where it wasn’t just Frank and I, and the idea of it just being him and I on watch for the first time was a little unnerving.  There is a first time for everything right?  

Going out the inlet was a complete shit show.  Since it was Sunday afternoon, everyone and their mothers were out.  There were john boats, powerboats, jetskis, kayaks, dinghies, SUPs and more john boats everywhere you turned.  And of course they were all coming in as we were going out.  That coupled with the inlet being extremely choppy due to the strong current and the ongoing removal of a wrecked tug, I was starting to feel that it was an omen for our passage to come. Luckily, it was not. 

It was originally predicted that we would be taking the passage  with 15-20kts of wind on our nose almost the entire. night  Not the most ideal conditions, but doable.  Luckily Poseidon was on our side and put us at 10-15kts at our nose for only the first half of the trip.  As this was the case, the first few hours were spent motoring down the coast.  As the night wore on, the wind died down to 10 kts  and changed to a near beam reach, and we were even able to get some sail up for most of the second half.  Frank and I took hour long watches as the other slept in the cockpit. For those of you who don’t know what being on “watch” entails, let me just side track a bit.  No, a watch does not mean you are looking out for pirates, preparing to shoot them with a spear gun and stealing their booty. Nor does it mean watching for whales or dolphins (of course if either one was spotted, that would be a treat).  The person on watch basically looks for other ships around and makes sure that we are not on a collision course with anyone (at one point our AIS reregistered 144 different boats!). That person makes sure that the sails are trimmed properly, and adjusts them according to the direction of the wind.  He/she also has to make sure, even with an auto-pilot, that you are not veering off course.  During this time, Frank decided to name our auto-pilot, Poppy, as that is what he called his grandfather.  We’d like to think that Poppy was there in spirit, steering the boat, and protecting us from come-what-may.  I must say Poppy did an amazing job and I’m so glad we had him there helping out. 

Nighttime Aboard

It was an easy trip, with small seas, and thousands of phosphorescence twinkling in our wake.  We got to Miami at around 1pm, and upon arrival, we realized that we’d have to traverse through some crazy traffic, with container ships, cruise ships, powerboats, and other extremely large intimidating vessels in the midst of it.   I offered to get us to our anchorage as I’m better at dealing with stressful situations like that than Frank is. Our planned stopping point was to be Dinner key. After incessantly calling the Dinner Key Mooring field, they had assured us that anchoring outside their mooring field would be the best thing for us to do as they did not have a mooring open that was large enough to accommodate us, and so we reluctantly followed their directions and dropped the hook.  We were meeting with our buddy boat after all and he was moored in that field, so we wanted to be close by.  The people in charge assured us that where we were never dropped below 7’ and so should be fine for us and our 6.5' draft.  Boy, were they wrong.  As the afternoon wore on with Frank taking a nap, and me anxiously checking if we were dragging, I had started to notice that the depths were slowly creeping into the 6s.  I woke Frank up to see if perhaps we should anchor some place else, but with his lack of sleep, he hadn’t even heard what I was telling him and muttered something about it being ok.  I kept going below to tell him, “hey our depth sounder is starting to read 6.5’…then 6.4’…then uh-oh 6.3’ ...”By the time I had finally gotten Sleeping Beauty out of bed, it was too late.  We were aground.  Dammit, 2 times in a week, shameful! So we waited for tides to change which seemed like hours, and eventually Frank saved the day and got us unstuck.  By this time, it was around 9:30pm; it was dark and very hard to read channel markers to see where else we could anchor.  With Frank at the bow flashlight in hand and me behind the wheel, we were able to get the boat safely through the channel, and find a less protected but deeper area to anchor.  It’s been a steep learning curve, and hopefully the next few posts you get won’t be about us running aground or breaking dinghy davits, and more about free diving, lobster hunting, snorkeling, and conch salad making. Until then, wish us luck on our crossing which we will be undertaking in a week to a week and a half or so from now.  

Heading into Governors Cut Miami
A  Mouse among Giants
Anchored out at the entrance to Dinner Key

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Running aground…Daytona to Titusville

The ICW is not exactly the most exciting place to be traveling through.  Hours are spent spotting markers, looking for dolphins, Instagramming, and thinking about what to make for dinner (which by the way is my new favorite activity).  Recently I’ve started to play a game, much like the TV show Chopped, where I try to use whatever is in my pantry to make our meals.  It takes up about 90% of my thoughts, and the more I’m able to salvage, the more satisfied I feel that we saved a little money by not wasting food.  Leftovers are re-purposed and once in a while, reluctantly, I use one of our cans as a supplement to our meal.  This is a feat I’d like to overcome as it means, more money in our pockets, and more money equals more time cruising.  Plus, it’s challenging and I’d like to think it makes me a better cook.

The 2nd day on the ICW was filled with many “firsts”, technically, seconds.  On our way from Daytona to Titusville, Frank managed to run us aground.  It happened so quickly as we were chugging our way merrily through the calm waters.  Frank had just finished saying, “Is that red channel marker for us? Or is it for the other channel?  Could you please look on the map and double check?”  Just as I was telling him that yes, in fact, that was our channel marker, did we feel a soft thud.  He was clearly outside the channel.  Just then the depth sounder went blank and we were at a stand still.  Of course, Frank freaked out on me and said that I must’ve misread the charts.  Seeing that he was in panic mode, I took over the wheel, and started to push forward on the throttle, and turn the wheel back and forth.  It was as if time stopped, and just like in the movies, I could hear the sound of my heart beating as I put the boat in reverse full throttle and forward in full throttle as I started to worm my way off the sandbar.  In the background, I could hear in a muffled voice, Frank telling me that I was digging myself in a deeper hole.  But for some reason, stupid as it may sound, I became one with the boat.  I could feel every movement she was making, and I could tell that what I was doing was actually freeing us from the grounding.  Just as I was putting it back into reverse, a powerboat sped by and created a wake for us, which finally helped free us.  As soon as I felt we were lifted, I quickly cut the wheel to starboard, and continued on.  Seconds later, I looked at Frank and we both started laughing. In fact, maniacally laughing.  We couldn’t believe that we were able to get out of that.  Frank humbly apologized for blaming me for misreading the charts, and even admitted that I was perhaps a better close quarter helmsman than him.  I swear there are few times in my life where I wished that I was a robot and could just hit record.  This was definitely one of those moments.  I’d like to imagine that whenever he would question what I was doing that I could simply hit the repeat button and have him hear “you’re a better helmsman…you’re a better helmsman….you’re a better helmsman,” over and over again followed by my smug laughter.  It’s the little things in life….

Aside from that, the day was pretty boring.  Just a series of hailing bridges and motoring on.  We got to Titusville in the late afternoon and were able find a deserted anchorage with depths that could accommodate our deep draft.  We spent the next 2 nights there and even walked into town to re-provision our fresh produce.  Next stop…Melbourne. 

A view from under the bridge
Moitessier anchored out.  Isn't she lovely?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Farewell….St Augustine to Daytona

We set out off the docks of Oasis Boatyard on Thursday, March 12th with the intention of staying on a mooring for a couple of days before our trip just to get used to being out on the water as well as monitor our energy consumption.  After saying our final goodbyes to our friends at the yard and running some very last minute errands, we set out shortly before sunset.  As we were leaving the docks, my nerves got the best of me, and I ended up smoking the piling with our dinghy as well as the dinghy davits.  It was my own damn fault as I thought the wind would push our bow out, and even when Frank asked if I needed a little shove, I stubbornly said no, and ended up underestimating where I was in relation to the piling.  Luckily not TOO much damage was done.  I did manage to crack a weld on the davits, but I’m so grateful that I didn’t tear our dinghy or sink the outboard.  Fortunately for me, my good friend Ashley had decided to come along to stay out on the mooring for 2 days, so I didn’t get the  verbal lashing I would’ve normally gotten from Frank, though my ego was quite bruised and I was very embarrassed that that was to be the last impression I was making at the yard. 

After that debacle, my heart was racing and I lost all confidence that I could even steer the boat.  With Frank being on edge as well as I, I was having some trouble concentrating on what I was doing.  Thankfully I got my shit together by the time we reached the mooring ball and was able to get us pretty darn close to it.  We spent the next few days peacefully moored out, watching the weather, as well as planning our route.  It was decided at that time that we would pull up to the fuel docks and fill our water tanks as well as our diesel tanks.  The days leading up to this were anxiety ridden as I kept replaying the image of our stern smacking up against the piling.  I guess you would call it a bit of post traumatic stress, because I really was affected by that.  I figured I needed to overcome my fear as it would only worsen and fester in my mind, so when the big day came for me to get us to the fuel docks, I ignored my anxiety and crabbed us up the docks flawlessly.  I must say I was pretty proud of myself. 

Of course, Poseidon wouldn’t let us off the hook that easily, and decided to play one last trick on us. The day before we were supposed to leave, which was supposed to be on Sunday, we noticed that the set screws in our pillow block that hold our shaft were missing.  Go figure.  So after borrowing a car from a friend, we headed out to Home Depot to get what we thought were metric screws.  Turns out, they were not metric.  Of course, they were some odd, rare thread, 5/16” fine, and we couldn’t seem to find them anywhere.  It was decided at that point that we’d wait til first thing morning and get them from Marine Oil & Supply.  At first light the next day, Frank went in via dinghy and walked over with his fingers crossed.  He wasn’t able to find set screws, but found bolts that would work for the time being.  Thank Poseidon. 

We were able to get it sorted out and headed out from St Augustine around 9am, with an uneventful jaunt to Daytona via the ICW.  Upon arrival, we noticed that all the anchorages were full.  Shit…we managed to squeeze ourselves in between a powerboat and a sailboat and put out a 5 to 1 scope.  Frank’s nerves were running high, and he was convinced that we were going to hit the boats as soon as the tides changed.  So instead of celebrating with a nice dinner as I had hoped, we cracked open a can of SpaghettiOs and sat in the cockpit on anchor watch.  It wasn’t until about midnight that we realized that our boat was not about to change direction with the tide.  Around 1am, Frank was convinced that we were about to hit the powerboat (though I still don’t think we came close), so up the anchor went as we circled around in the dark looking for a new place to anchor.  All the lessons with Rick have really paid off because at this point, Frank had me do all of the close quarter maneuvering.  Including a 3 point turn between 2 boats.  After finally coming to terms with having to anchor pretty darn close to the bridge, we finally got some intermittent sleep in the cockpit.  I awoke every hour or so to make sure that we weren’t swinging into the bridge.  As for Frank, all the stress wore him out and he got to sleep all of 3 hours.  At first light we headed to our next destination….Titusville. 

Farewell St Augustine... 

We were this close to the bridge 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ode to St Augustine


Sitting here anchored out in Melbourne.  I guess it’s finally hit me that we are no longer in St Augustine.  Feeling a little tired, a little sad, and a little giddy that we’ve made it this far.  Nostalgia of a life I left a few days ago is washing over me.   What has only been a few days, feels like lifetime. I can’t believe we finally left St Augustine.  I’ll be honest, I miss my friends.  Constantly having to say goodbye to people you care about is one of the hardest things to do when you decide to embark on an adventure like this.  I could’ve easily fallen into the life I had in St Augustine.  A complacent life where you knew what the day had in store for you.  I wish I could feel satisfied with that lifestyle.  Seeing familiar faces, familiar places, and just sitting back and dreaming your dream instead of living it certainly has its merits.  The attachment to the familiar is not one to be underestimated.  The duality of wanting an exciting life and having a comfortable one is one that I find hard to balance.  They both carry with it its own pros and cons.  Living a traditional life where you can bond with people and develop deep interpersonal relationships is one that I wish I could just be satisfied with, but the person deep within me, the one that yearns for the unfamiliar, seeing new places, and trying new things is constantly nagging in the back of my mind.  Yu, you must live your life, she tells me.  Yu, hardship is what comes with building character, she says.  But there are times, in the silence of my mind, where I just long for being happy with the simplest things.  A smile from a friend that wants to go shopping with you.  Shelter from the wind and the sun.  Going to a movie.  These are the things that I long to feel satiated with.  It would be so much easier if it were that way.  I guess that’s just something I need to come to terms with.  The grass will always be greener, that is life…

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Visions, Revisions, Provisions…Decisions.

Our little adventure started about 2 weeks ago, after deciding a month ahead of time our final deadline to leave St Augustine, it was crunch time.  Giving ourselves a month to get everything ready, we were running around like chickens without heads.  Everything from giving my final notice at work (which was harder than I thought), to selling our car, to attempting to sell all of the crap we had accumulated in our storage unit, to provisioning for the Bahamas, time really ran away from us. 

It was lists upon lists of stuff to do, and with last minute deadlines, we were really wearing ourselves thin.  The most stressful of all of these things involved provisioning and preparing to be in the Bahamas for a couple months.  Figuring out how much toilet paper we were going to need, as well as how many bags of rice to purchase was absolutely daunting.  In traditional Frank manner, he did extensive online research as to how to go about calculating just how much we would need.  Turns out, you pretty much have to prepare what you would think it would take to be self sufficient and multiply that number by….oh about 10.  I also read in some provisioning article, sometime ago, that you should think to buy what you would  normally eat.  Don’t think that just because you’re cruising, that you’re suddenly going to get healthy and start enjoying Bulgar wheat.  You’re pretty much going to eat the same things you normally would eat.  Yeah, so imagine how difficult it was to purchase 5 10lb bags of M&Ms, 15 boxes of pasta, or better yet, 20 cans of coconut milk.  As we were loading up our carts at BJs Wholesale, purchasing most of our items in bulk, all that could run through my commitment phobic mind was…am I sure I really want to commit to this many boxes of Oreos?  What if I’m craving Double Stuff?  Do I really, really want to smell like Lavender Breeze for the next 3 months, or is Rain-Kissed Leaves a better option? Is 2–ply Charmin really soft enough to get me through this next couple of months?  Am I sure I need 3 bottles of spf 50 or should I just get one bottle of each spf?  Frightening! 

We, as Americans, take for granted that we have choices.  We are faced day in and day out with having choices, making choices, and choosing to make choices.  So when we loaded our little Subaru hatchback to the brim with these miscellaneous necessities, it really dawned on me that we were actually taking the plunge.  We were making our final choices because whatever we were taking had to find a home in what now seemed to be our tiny little boat, and as far as I know, shopping in the Bahamas can be limited as well as expensive.  So if I forgot to purchase a case of Welch’s grape soda, oh well, no grape soda for me.  Every nook and cranny was stuffed with what seemed to me an ungodly amount of Cheetos (yes, BOTH puffy and crunchy).  Surprisingly as we put away $1500 of groceries, we were able to find homes for it all.  The storage on Moitessier is impressive to say the least, and we managed to get everything put away neatly and in an organized manner.  Lesson learned is, you can’t take everything with you, and the reason we’re on a boat in the first place is to get down to the basics, and learn to live without.  But still with this in mind, as I sit here in my cockpit, anchored out with my chafey little butt, typing away about the values of simplicity, I’m thinking, damn, I could really go for a grape soda…

"…Time for you and time for me, and time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of a toast and tea…" ~T.S. Elliot

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

They're Baaack……..

Hi…we’re back.  To those who have been worried about us…many apologies.  The past couple months have been rather depressing, feeling despondent, discouraged, and at times like Sisyphus pushing his stone.   I guess one too many set backs had me believing that we were never going to get out of St Augustine.  One too many of them pushing Frank and I further and further apart.  The death of someone very dear to Frank, his grandfather, pushed him to the deepest depths of despair, pulling us even further apart.  His grandfather had been his father figure growing up, taught him the values of being a man, of self sufficiency, of relying solely on yourself,.  A man that inspired this dream. a dream seemingly turned into a nightmare that one does not awaken from.  Sometimes life has a way of testing your limits, and this time it’s taken months for us both to recover.  

Alas, those feelings are behind us.  We have finally set off and ripped the velcro holding us to St Augustine.  It was decided a couple months ago that we would just leave St Augustine and go to the Bahamas.  It was his death that made us finally realize that we could spend our entire lives dicking around and fixing the boat, and never fulfill our dreams.  That life is short, and you have to just jump into the water, cold as it may be, and start swimming.  We wish he could’ve been here to see this.  It was his strength and fortitude, even in his death, that inspired us to be brave enough to take the leap. 

The past few months, aside from time spent with family in NY, have been spent just doing the final touches on preparing Moitessier.   Since I have last posted, quite a few upgrades have been made.  From what I can remember off the top of my head, they are as follows:
-Installed a new Garmin autopilot (which was a feat in itself).
-Installed and wired solar panels
-Installed new AIS
-Commissioned a new dodger and bimini to be built.
-Purchased a new/used RIB (because ours shat the bed when I went to patch it…never buy West Marine…tore right through after only 5 years!)
-Sold our car (which was what finally made it real that we were actually leaving).

During this time, I also started to take sailing lessons with Captain Rick Gardner.  A lot of women on boats don’t take the initiative to learn to dock and anchor their own boats.  Frank and I have discussed this and had decided that I needed to be more proactive about learning not just to be a good crew member but to be able to handle the boat in close quarters as well. We decided that I needed to learn to dock on my own, without Frank, as having him there would only provide me with a crutch, and I would never take full responsibility.  We also agreed that Frank would not be my teacher as he isn’t the most patient with me when it comes to all things related to Moitessier.  That being said, the lessons with Rick have been invaluable.  He is by far the most patient and kind human being I have come upon, and I'm so grateful for time spent learning from him.  Every other week, we would do docking drills and anything else I didn’t feel comfortable doing.  During this time, I learned to successfully “back and fill,” crab into a slip, as well as anchor.  I've learned how to read the wind and current and how that would directly affect me when coming into a dock, a mooring, or slip.  I’ve gotten to the point in which Frank feels more comfortable with me behind the wheel in close quarters, which is a nice boost of confidence.  For you ladies out there on a boat, please take lessons if you can afford to do so, it’s not that expensive for what you get out of it!  All the lessons cost me what it would’ve cost for a gel coat repair had I crashed into the dock.

That’s a quick summary of what we’ve been up to.  More to come in the next couple days as to our new adventures actually SAILING Moitessier…We’re outta here, see ya later, St Augustine! 

On a side note…to those who helped us get this point, we want to extend our deepest thank you.  We couldn’t have done any of it without you all.


New Dodger and Bimini