Monday, November 12, 2012

Key West and North

Okay, I realize it's been a LONG, LONG time since I've posted a blog.  Not sure where the time goes, but mostly can't get on the big computer because of Dennis. Oh, and I've been lazy :)

We were sad to see Mark and Deb leave because we enjoyed their company so much.  It was a great 2 weeks with them.

Left the marina bright and early in Key West, at 7:20 a.m, on April 25th.  No wind or seas so it was an easy 'out of there' with no help.  We motorsailed, with the wind on the nose, and anchored outside of Marathon, Boot Key Harbor, close to 4 p.m.    Up early on the 26th and underway by 8 a.m.  We motorsailed with a full main in 2' seas up to Tavernier Key, anchoring around 4 p.m. again.  On the way at 7 a.m. to Fisher Island, outside of Miami Beach, motorsailing again.    Left that anchorage at 7 a.m. with all sails up.  Had a wonderful sail up to Ft. Lauderdale.  Unfortunately for us, it was a Saturday, and the ICW was crazy with powerboats.  The most boats we've ever seen in Lake Sylvia (17), and we there when there was the migration south!!!  There was an air show ... not sure why they were all here because you couldn't see that much, but the weather was really bad.  Stayed a couple of days, getting off the boat and walking after all that travelling.  Felt so good.

Time to start heading north, but, unfortunately, the weather was not co-operating, so up the ICW we went. Bridge opening after bridge opening and some pretty crazy boat people out there.  What were they thinking?  Oh, and they don't answer their radios on either 16 or 9.  Too busy being cool I guess.  Lauderdale to Fort Worth (where the starter started messing up) and then up to Ft. Pierce.  By this time we were just tired.  Connie and Steve from Better Days have a home in Ft. Pierce, so we made sure we stopped to see them.  Turned out to be a permanent stop!  Looked at the boat yards, decided we just couldn't do this any longer and wanted to get back home, so put the boat on the hard at Riverside Marina.  Steve was great, running us around looking for a car, and then heading back to their home where Connie cooked a great dinner and we did laundry.  As a cruiser, you know laundry, dinner and shopping are the best things ever, and we had the best hosts!!!!

Into the marina on May 5th, spending a couple of days getting the boat ready to haul.  SO much work in this heat.  Haven't done this total stripping of the boat in many years since for the past 6 years we've only gone home for 5-6 weeks.  Got rid of all of the canned goods and had our car packed with stuff to take home.  Oh, and there's still a ton of stuff on the boat!!!  It's a shallow marina and we're stuck in the mud at the seawall waiting to haul out. Finally hauled at 4:30, and after a washdown, Audrey Paige was blocked by 6 p.m., and we were out of there to the closest hotel.

So, here we are, in our 2007 PT Cruiser, heading  back to kids and grandkids, hoping to make it for Mother's Day, and into our condo that we haven't been in in 8 months.  But, on the way, we stopped to visit with my sister, Gail, in Ohio.  We had been apart for a lot of years, and then she came to visit us in Panama ... we're both so happy to have her back in our lives.

On to a new life !!!!! 

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Dry Tortugas to Key West

Safe and sound at anchorage and, according to Mark's notes, the winds were still 22 knots, but everyone slept the sleep of the dead.  Mark slept from 3:00 p.m. right through till 7:00 a.m. the next morning, which is unheard of with him.  Looking back at the log book, we only used 45 gallons of diesel for the entire trip, so we didn't have to stop at the Caymans to refuel, and still had 55 gallons of water.  With the weather, we would have been stuck in the Caymans for at least a week, so glad things worked out the way they did.  Oh, and we did shower more than the two times I noted.

Looking out to sea
Dennis at the Fort
On Tuesday, the 17th of April, the seas finally calmed down enough for us to put the dinghy in the water and go ashore to explore.  Dennis had been to Fort Jefferson 30 years before, but the rest of us hadn't, so it was a great experience.   And, great to get off the boat after 12 days on the boat!!  Walked around, stretching our legs, and learning some new history for we Canadians.  Most of our time was spent reading, relaxing and watching the sea plane land and take off.
Where Dr. Mudd spent his prison term
He unknowingly treated John Wilkes Booth

On Thursday, the 19th, the winds and waves had finally calmed down enough for us to leave and head to Key West.  Anchor up at 7:30 a.m. and out we went with all sails up.  At 9:30 we ended up rolling in the Yankee and staysail and motored with the main since the wind promised to be on the nose all the way to Key West.  Thankful that we had such a wonderful sail from Panama, so I guess we can put up with this last bit of bad weather.  Well, until the autopilot quit.  Must have been that 8-10' wave that washed over the deck and down the side during our horrible night, or maybe the next morning.  Mark took over the helm, wanting to get his last bit of sailing in.

Headed into the anchorage at Key West, Wisteria Island, right as the sun was starting to go down.  Every tour boat and catamaran were out, so lots of things to avoid.  Lots of tricky manoeuvring with so many boats and shallow spots -- and why is it I'm always at the helm for that?  Called the Coast Guard to get the number for Customs, then phoned them to check in.  Have to report in tomorrow with Homeland Security downtown Key West. Relaxed, had dinner, and cracked open those two bottles of champagne to celebrate our true arrive in the U.S.

Took the dinghy in the next morning and found somewhere to tie up.  Oops, forgot we were in the U.S. and should have life jackets in the dink.  Luckily, made it back without being stopped.  Stopped and had a muffin and coffee, checked in with Homeland Security, and then were off to explore.  Checking in was amazingly easy and everyone was friendly and helpful. Although, I told them things would be easier if they could make the office stop moving!  That's what happens when you're on the boat for 2 weeks, rocking and rolling, and then get to land.

Another front coming in, and Dennis and I have been in Key West before when that's happened (on land, but watching boats at anchor), so we all decided we would go to a marina and split the cost just to be able to get off the boat and not get soaked.  First pulled into the Conch Harbor Marina, where we got our first pump-out in 9 years.  Hmmmm, took care greasing everything on the boat, but forgot about that waste tank. Ended up stripping the cap trying to get it off, so that's on the list of to get items.  Left there and headed into the Westin Key West Marina.  Nice place, with all the amenities of the hotel.  Unfortunately, we're too far from the hotel to get wifi, but we can go into nice air conditioned lounges and we're all set.  The big plus was getting laundry done.  Again, the wind picked up, it poured rain, but we were able to get things done and walk around a lot in between squalls.  Glad we came in here after we looked at the anchorage, where everyone was looking like the pirate ship ride.

We've all loved Key West..  Lots of walking, exploring and shopping, and a restaurant or two is nice after two weeks at sea.

We took the marina for an extra few days because the weather just wasn't calming down, which turned out to be a really good thing.  Mark and Deb got an email that they needed to get home ASAP - his dad was still in the hospital, not doing well and asking for Mark.  They got on the internet at 10:00 a.m., got a ticket and flew out at 5:00 p.m.  We'll miss them and are so glad that they were able to make it this far with us, and hope Mark's dad improves.
Deb and Mark getting ready to fly out 

Could not have asked for better crew -- Mark and Deb were so, so great to travel with.  And, they put up with us ;)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Panama To The Dry Tortugas

Okay, I think we're ready!  Deb and I headed into the grocery store for the roast chickens on Wednesday morning and I did the last load of laundry Thursday morning.  Dennis had originally said he wanted to leave around noon, so I planned my time accordingly.  Well, he changed his mind, but the laundry was busy so it was noon when we left.  Helped and waved off the dock by Lili and Steve on LiWard and Judy on Quest.  Last minute dock waves from Terry and Gerry on Gymnopides.  I took the helm while Dennis stowed lines and fenders, put up the main, and Mark and Deb get to see how the boat works.  We've decided to do our log every 6 hours with our position and the conditions, so that's what will follow.

April 5, 2012   12:15 p.m.   POSITION    9.2N  79.51W      Shelter Bay Marina

WIND  N/10    SEAS  N/E 2' swell    SPEED  6 knots     SAILS   full main, motor sailing
Checked in on the 6209 SSB net at 5 p.m. with George on Silver Sea

6 p.m.     POSITION  09.54N    79.58W
WIND  N/10   SEAS  N/E swell 5-6'   SPEED  5.5 knots   SAILS  reefed main, motor sailing
Too much static to hear the NW 6209 net

April 6, 2012    12:00 a.m.   POSITION    10.27N    80.03W

WIND   Calm, light and variable out of the North   SEAS  3' with a NE swell  SPEED  5.7 knots
SAILS  reefed main, motor sailing    DISTANCE TRAVELED  67.2 nm
Full moon - Engine off at 4 a.m. with Mark on watch - 212 nm to the first waypoint with a reefed main and Yankee
Deb at the helm and Mark and Allayne in the cockpit with a ship spotted at 4:30 a.m. - had to turn the motor on to avoid ship, which changed course and crossed our bow.  Mark hailed 6 times with no response.

6:00 a.m.    POSITION   10.57N   80.06W
WIND   N 10-15   SEAS  4-5'   SPEED   3.8  Average of 4.3-5.2   SAILS  reefed main and Yankee
DISTANCE TRAVELED  97.9 nm and sailing a close reach
Allayne spoke to Russell on Luterna on the 6209 SSB net - position at 8:15 a.m. was 11.09N  80.09W

12:00 p.m.   POSITION 11.31N  80.12W
WIND  NE 10-15   SEAS  4-5'  SPEED  5.4   SAILS  reefed main and Yankee
82 degrees with scattered clouds  -  Checked into the SW Caribbean net at 5:00 p.m.
Dennis, Deb and Allayne have been taking medication for queasiness, just getting our sea legs back after 2 weeks at the dock - Mark solved the problem by staying in the cockpit :)

6:00 p.m.  POSITION  11.58N   81.17W
WIND NE 8-10   SEAS  2' from the N/E   SPEED  3.5   SAILS  reefed main and jib
81 degrees with scattered clouds

April 7, 2012   12:45 a.m.    POSITION  12.28N  80.22W

WIND  NE 10-14   SEAS 3'   SPEED 4.5   SAILS  reefed main and jib
79 degrees with scattered clouds and full moon
A bird committed suicide on Mark's watch by flying into the wind generator and landing in the cockpit.  Dennis awoke from a sound sleep, picked up the bird and threw it overboard, then went back to sleep.
Watches have been working out great, switching out every 2-3 hours.  Dennis takes the first shift after supper; then Mark gets up between 11 and 12 and does anywhere from 2-4 hours, waking up either Deb or I to take over.  Every other night Deb and I get almost a full night of sleep.  It's working for us :)

6:00 a.m.   POSITION 12.49N  80.26W
WIND  NE 10-12   SEAS  2'   SPEED  2-4.5   SAILS  reefed main and Yankee until 6:00 a.m., when Dennis let the reef out of the main and our speed came up to 4.5
76 degrees with a full moon still up

12:00 p.m.   POSITION  13.21N   80.31W
WIND  NE 10-12   SEAS  2'   SPEED  5.6   SAILS  full main and jib
82 degrees with scattered  clouds    Checked in with the 6209 net at 5:00 p.m. with our position at 13.46N  80.32W
We had showers in the tub today!!!   Felt fantastic.
Glad I made many meals ahead of time and froze them.  We had the roasted chicken for the first couple of days with salads and bread, and are starting to move on to the freezer meals.

6:00 p.m.   POSITION  13.51N  80.32W
WIND  NE 10-12   SEAS  2-3'   SPEED  5.4   SAILS  full main and jib
A pod of dolphins were jumping and swimming around the boat after dinner - good luck?  It sure made all of us smile. 

April 8, 2012   12:00 a.m.   POSITION 14.18N  80.36W

WIND  ENE 10   SEAS  less than 2'   SPEED  4.4   SAILS  one reef put in the main at dinner because of squall line
Mark was assaulted by a flying fish on the side of the head at 10:30 p.m.  Arrived at our first waypoint and changed to Waypoint 2 at 11:00 p.m.  We wanted to leave Shelter Bay at noon because, by our calculations, it would put us off the reef early morning.  Made such good time, the guys passed through the reef in the dark with lots of room to spare.
Started the motor at 1:200 a.m. and ran until 3:45 a.m. for power
The wind changed at 4:00 a.m. so we changed course slightly and our speed increased to 6-6.5
You have to give it to Mark, he's always good for a laugh.  When I spoke to Judy on Caribbean Blue on the SW 6209 net, I thought she was going to choke when I told her about first the bird and then the fish.  She laughed through the rest of the net :)

6:00 a.m.   POSITION  14.46N  80.42W
WIND  10-12   SEAS  less than 2'   SPEED  5.5-6.5   SAILS   full main and jib
Plane circling with Columbian flag
Dennis shook out the reef at 5:30 a.m. and adjusted the course from 336 to 343 degrees
At 11:15 a.m. we were circled twice by an AWAC surveillance plane from Columbia at 15.14N  80.50W

12:00 p.m.   POSITION  15.17N  80.51W
WIND  NE 10   SEAS  2'   SPEED  4.5   SAILS  full main and jib, heading for Thunder Knoll waypoint
Changed course at 4:15 p.m., 15.36N 80.58W, on a heading to Cuba and 433 nm, with a reefed main and jib
Checked in on the 6209 net at 5:00 p.m. with a position of 15.39N 81.01W with a speed of 5.6 and a distance traveled of 388 nm

6:00 p.m.   POSITION 15.44N  81.04W
WIND  NE 10-12   SEAS  2'   SPEED  5.6   SAILS  reefed main and jib

April 9, 2012   12:00 a.m.   POSITION  16.08N  81.22W

WIND  NE 10-12   SEAS  1-2'   SPEED  4.5   SAILS   Single reefed main
The Captain on deck
The moon rose at 9:00 p.m..  We ran the engine in neutral for 2 hours for power.  Passed one vessel around 8:00 p.m. with white lights only.

6:00 a.m.   POSITION 16.26N  81.39W
WIND  NE 5   SEAS  1'   SPEED  2.6   SAILS  full main and Yankee
DISTANCE TRAVELED  448 nm with 373 to the Cuba waypoint
I relieved Deb at 6:00 and Dennis shook the reef out and moved the solar panel.  Ghosting along in flat seas.

12:00 p.m.   POSITION  16.43N   81.52W
WIND  NE 8-10   SEAS  flat   SPEED  4.4   SAILS  full main, Yankee and jib
DISTANCE TRAVELED  469 nm with 351 to the Cuba waypoint
We were visited by2 sparrows around 10:00 a.m. and we got to take showers at 4:30.  Talked to Russell on Luterna on the 5:00 p.m. 6209 SW net

6:00 p.m.   POSITION  17.07   82.05W
WIND   NE 8-10   SEAS  flat   SPEED  5 with 1 knot of favorable current (7.5)  SAILS  full canvas
DISTANCE TRAVELED  496 nm with 325 to the Cuba waypoint
Speed has varied all afternoon from 3-5 knots
Waning full moon, up at 10:15 p.m.

April 10, 2012    12:00 a.m.   POSITION  17.36N   82.27W
Frick and Frack

WIND  NE 12   SEAS  flat with a long 2' swell    SPEED  7.8   SAILS  full canvas
DISTANCE TRAVELED  534 nm with 288 to the Cuba waypoint
I don't know if we've ever
gone this fast!
We are like a rocket, sailing along at 7.5.  Spotted two freighters around 9:00 p.m., running south to our east.  Two swallows hitched a ride at dinnertime.  The winds started building after dinner and neither Dennis or Mark would take any sails in because it would have knocked the sparrows off the lifeline.  Granted, Deb and I couldn't move, as we were pinned to the port side bulkhead!!  Not a good night's sleep.  Ran the engine for 2 hours in neutral for power.

6:00 a.m.   POSITION   18.11N   82.53W
WIND  NE 12   SEAS  2'   SPEED  7.5   SAILS  full canvas

12:00 p.m.  POSITION  18.46N   83.18W
WIND  NE 12-14   SEAS  2' plus   SPEED  6.5-7.5   SAILS  reefed main, Yankee and jib
DISTANCE TRAVELED  619 nm with 204 to the Cuba waypoint
We still have 1 knot of current in our favor.  Checked into the 6208 SSB net and spoke with George on Silver Sea.

6:00 p.m.   POSITION  19.18N  83.37W
WIND  NE 10-12   SEAS  1-2'   SPEED  5.7   SAILS  reefed main, Yankee and jib
DISTANCE TRAVELED  656 nm with 167 to the Cuba waypoint

April 11, 2012   12:00 a.m.   POSITION  19.45N  83.47W

WIND  NE 5-10   SEAS  2'   SPEED  3   SAILS  reefed main, Yankee and staysail
Waning full moon rose at midnight.  The winds died at 12:45 a.m. so we motorsailed.

6:00 a.m.   POSITION  20.80N  84.03W
WIND  NE 12   SEAS  1'   SPEED  5   SAILS  reefed main and jib
DISTANCE TRAVELED  713 nm with 113 to the Cuba waypoint
At 4:30 a.m. spotted one northbound freighter 1/4 mile to starboard, and at 6:30 a.m. spotted a southbound freighter 3 miles to starboard.
Ran the engine for 4 hours in the morning for power.  Checked in on the 6209 SSB net.  Freighter, High Strength, at 20.30N and 84.13W altered course after we called him on Channel 16

12:00 p.m.   POSITION  20.37N  84.15W
WIND  NE 10-12   SEAS  1'   SPEED  5.2   SAILS  full canvas
DISTANCE TRAVELED  744 nm with 82 to the Cuba waypoint
Added 15 gallons of water, so that we have approximately 65 gallons on board.  Added 10 gallons of diesel, so that we have 43 in the tank and 20 still on the deck.  Heavy shipping traffic.  Started the engine about 4:30 p.m. when the wind died.  Checked in at 5:00 p.m. on the 6209 SSB net with Russell on Luterna and Judy on Caribbean Blue

Coming up to the green flash

6:00 p.m.   POSITION   21.02N   84.29W

WIND   NE 3-5   SEAS  flat   SPEED  5.4   SAILS   main only
No traffic, but heard voices on the VHF.  Too long at sea???   At 7:00 p.m. we saw the green flash!!!

April 12, 2012   12:00 a.m.   POSITION  21.23N  84.48W

WIND  N 10   SEAS  2'   SPEED  4   SAILS  main only
DISTANCE TRAVELED  801 nm with 27 to the Cuba waypoint
Fighting a 1/2 knot current and wind on the nose, hoping to find the Gulf Stream.  Turned the engine off at 1:45 a.m., having run since 4:30 p.m. yesterday.  Dennis put on a harness to put a reef in so that we could run a reefed main and staysail at 2:00 a.m.  All hands on deck.  Speed at 5 knots.
Sometimes the guys (I mean Dennis) think they can do things without us - NOT!  Anyone on deck in the dark requires everyone on deck.

6:00 a.m.  POSITION  21.48N  85.04W
WIND  NE 15+   SEAS  3-4' choppy   SPEED  5.7 with a 1 knot current   SAILS   reefed main and staysail, close reach
Rounded the west end of Cuba at 5:30 a.m..  Saw a little sliver of land, which was Cuba.  First land seen in 7 days.  Talked to Chris Parker and he said we need to be in in 36 hours.  A new system developed and the winds and seas would be building to 20-25 by Saturday.  Changed course to the next waypoint 5 miles early.  Took a wave over the side while Deb was at the helm and she got drenched.

Deb's bird
I thought he was on watch,
but I guess not
12:00 p.m.   POSITION  22.22N  85.06W
WIND  NE 10-12   SEAS  1-2' wind chop   SPEED  5-6   SAILS  reefed main, Yankee and jib
DISTANCE TRAVELED  865 nm, with 183 nm to the Dry Tortuga waypoint.  Mark and Dennis are finally napping. They were both up most of the night.  We had a hitchhiking bird which kept jumping on Deb!  At 3:30 we rolled in the Yankee and jib and started the motor.

6:00 p.m.   POSITION  22.45N   85.01W
WIND  NE 14   SEAS  2'   SPEED  4.5   SAILS   reefed main, and staysail, sheeted tight
DISTANCE TRAVELED  894 nm with 164 nm to Dry Tortugas
Motorsailing since 3:30 with the main and staysail

April 13, 2012   12:00 a.m.   POSITION  22.59N  84.56W

WIND  NE 12   SEAS  2'   SPEED  4.5   SAILS  reefed main and staysail
We changed course at 9:30 p.m. to a bearing of 347.  We turned the engine off and had a reefed main and staysail.  No evidence of the Gulf Stream yet.  (Turns out, we never did find it :(  )

6:00 a.m.   POSITION   23.23N   85.04W
WIND  NE 10 or less   SEAS  2'   SPEED  3.5-4.5   SAILS   reefed main and staysail
We have 1/2 knot of current against us with still no evidence of the Gulf Stream.  The wind started picking up at sunrise, around 5:50 a.m.

12:00 p.m.   POSITION   23.49N   85.00W
WIND  NE 10   SEAS  1.5' and choppy   SPEED  3   SAILS   full canvas
Still picking up a 1/2 knot of current against us.  Started the motor at 2:45.

6:00 p.m.   POSITION  24.05N  84.45W
WIND  NE 5   SEAS  Flat   SPEED  4.5 with 1/2 knot still against us   SAILS  double reefed main
Motorsailing since 2:45 p.m. with still no evidence of the Gulf Stream.  Dennis added 10 gallons of diesel to the tank.
The next entry will be in Daylight Savings Time.  We have been on Atlantic Standard Time up until now.

A scary picture - Dennis and Mark
discussing what to do :(
Once again, trying to get a
Globalstar signal

Mark at the helm

April 14, 2012   12:00 a.m.   POSITION  24.12N  84.21W

WIND  NE 10   SEAS  1'   SPEED 4.8   SAILS  double reefed main
DISTANCE TRAVELED  1013 nm with 56 nm to the Dry Tortugas
We are expecting the winds to shift east to 15 before dawn.

6:12 a.m.   POSITION   24.13N   83.49W
WIND  ENE 10   SEAS 1-2'   SPEED  between 3.5 and 4.5   SAILS  double reefed main and motoring
A ship on the horizon.  Everyone else asleep - beautiful morning, even though it's still dark.  Spotted a ship on the horizon.  Shut off the motor at 9:00 a.m. and ran a reefed main, Yankee and staysail.  Shook out one reef on the main at 8:00 a.m.

12:00 p.m.   POSITION  24.33N  83.30W
WIND  ESE 12   SEAS  2' chop   SPEED  6.7   SAILS  reefed main, Yankee and stay - close reach
We're trying to reach the Dry Tortugas before the front that is supposed to have winds of 30-35 knots.  Started motorsailing at 2:00 p.m.  Took in the Yankee and staysail at 3:00 p.m. and motored with a reefed main at 3.4 knots.  Frustrating!!!  No Gulf Stream and not making any headway.

6:00 p.m.   POSITION  24.41N   83.04W
WIND  E 15-20   SEAS  confused with a 3' wind chop   SPEED  3-4   SAILS  reefed main and motoring
We had dolphins along side again.  We're slogging along with the wind on the nose, trying to reach the Dry Tortugas before the front blows in.  Have a double reefed main. The winds are getting stronger and the clouds quite black.  We're not going to be able to make Loggerhead Key or the Dry Tortugas.  The front moved in around 9:00 p.m. with 30-35 knots. We could see Ft. Jefferson, but never having been there, didn't feel confident enough to attempt it in the dark with all the reefs.  Dennis wanted to continue on to Key West, but he was out-voted (I love having other people on board!!!) and we hove to around 9:30.  We'll continue on in the morning when we can see.  Dinner was sandwiches while we got tossed around.  Not real fun.  Deb slept on the port setee, which is a double that backs up to the table so you're stable.  I took the starboard setee cushions and slept on the floor.  Mark and Dennis kept watch, hour on, hour off, for awhile.  Decided they weren't in the shipping channel, there were no reefs, so Mark took the port seat in the cockpit and Dennis took the floor with his feet in the companionway.  Wish I had a picture of that, but we were all to busy hanging on, trying not to get too many bruises.
No midnight or 6:00 a.m. log.  Everyone sleeping, or trying to.  The guys couldn't have been very comfortable sleeping in the cockpit in full rain gear.  YUK!

April 15, 2012   6:00 p.m.   POSITION  24.37N  82.52W   600' off of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

WIND  E25   SEAS  1' in the harbor, wind chop

THE PREVIOUS 12 HOURS --  (written by Mark)  As noted, we missed dropping the hook off of Loggerhead Key by one hour as the front dropped on us, bringing 35-40 knot winds and rapidly building seas.  At first we tried to bear off to Key West, but it was a close haul and hard to hold.  We hove to at 24.33N 82.57W.  By midnight we had experimented (he and Dennis) with the position of the main, but were still lying a little too beam to, but were safe and riding comfortably at .5 knots. (His idea of comfortable and mine are obviously different)  Our midnight position was 24.33N 82.58W.  By 7:00 a.m. we were at 24.53N 83.01W.  The wind around 5:00 a.m. was a constant 40 knots and gusting.  We ended up drifting back around 15 miles.  Turned the staysail around and headed back to Loggerhead Key with the stay and a double reefed main with 35 knot winds and 10' seas.  (Took quite a few over the bow, which actually made their way down below, with Deb and Allayne mopping up continuously)  At 11:30 a.m., at 24.33N and 82.58W we tacked into the channel behind Loggerhead Reef and arrived at Fort Jefferson at 1:30 p.m.  Wet, salty, soggy, tired, but still a happy boat.

Yes, Mark is right, 10 days at sea and we're still a happy boat!!  Dennis and Mark have great debates about what should be done, but end up coming to the same conclusion ... after much discussion.  Having Mark and Deb on board has been wonderful and we all work together great.  Now we're going to relax, catch up on sleep and cleaning, and tour Fort Jefferson when the seas die down!

Anchored off of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

                                                       ~~~ _/) ~~~      On to Key West next

Monday, May 28, 2012

Leaving The San Blas For The Last Time

Said goodbye to Michael, Edie
and Bella
This is it, the last time we'll be sailing in the San Blas, but it's time to move on to new adventures.  Waiting for weather and want to take advantage of the marina prices by staying longer than 15 days.  We left Salardup on March 12th to head to Porvenir to check out with the Port Captain, and had a great sail until the last two miles.  By then, of course, it was 5-8' seas and on the nose.  Dropped the anchor back out of the way, hoping for no roll, and Dave on Elysium picked me up to do our check-out.  Sea Cycle pulled in a couple of hours later from their private anchorage off of Green :)  Decided to wait an extra day, hoping that the waves would die down a bit.  That extra day was pretty miserable with the roll coming in to Porvenir.  Sea Cycle was going directly to Portobelo and into the marina before us, while we decided to stop off in Linton so that we could see Sid and Manuela from Paradise.  Had a wonderful sail, still wondering why those 'backpacker boats' need to come so close when they have the whole ocean.  Seriously, you need to come that close to pass behind me?  At first I thought they were heading for mid-ships!  Then, going into Linton there was another boat that decided he needed to be in ahead of us -- hey, knock yourself out.  Turns out he'd never been there before so then they slow down right in front of us and grab the binoculars, doing circles in the anchorage behind us as we're trying to anchor.  Hmmm, maybe I'm ready for a change!

Called Manuela and she was heading into town to do some shopping, so I tagged along with her, picking up a few things.  Right now it's getting stuff off the boat instead of more on.  Sold a lot of stuff in the San Blas and gave Manuela my FoodSaver sealer. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see Sid because he was busy working on Runner, but they promise to come and visit in Shelter Bay before we leave.

Left Linton at 8:15 on March 17th to head into Shelter Bay Marina.  We had a reefed main and the jib, and it was an okay sail, but a lot of wallowing from the waves.  Finally docked at Shelter Bay around 2 p.m., with Mark and Deb from Sea Cycle and Lili from LiWard helping us into our slip.  Woo hoo, laundry facilities again, a fantastic restaurant with happy hours and catching up with friends.

It's amazing how fast two weeks goes by when you're busy working!  We did have time to hit the pool once or twice, celebrate Dennis' birthday with Sid and Manuela at The Dock Restaurant and catch up with Mike and Linda on Casa del Mar.  Mark and Deb are putting their boat on the hard for an extended time, so every time I turned around she had more food for us.  I'm sure it will get eaten underway!

Chris Young, Manager of  The
Dock Restaurant with his
cute dog Cooper
The time is getting closer to leave.  Subscribed to Chris Parker for a 5 day forecast and he thought we should leave on the Thursday to avoid weather off of Cuba, instead of the Tuesday we had planned.  I've been busy cooking and freezing meals for underway, and our last stop is for Deb and I to head into the grocery store Wednesday morning for some roasted chickens.

The big trip coming up!!!!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Still For Sale

Back at Shelter Bay Marina, and here's a few photos, but the majority will be posted in our Picasa Web Albums, in the sidebar on the lefthand side of the page.  Audrey Paige is a wonderful boat, solid and sails great.  We've owned her for 11 years, sailed away 10 years ago, and lived aboard full-time for 8 years.  Explored many islands and anchorages, with many memorable moments, but can't afford to go home to visit the kids and grandkids, sail, and travel to the places we can't get to by boat.  We bought a condo back in Michigan this past summer to be close to the kids and grandkids.  We're both looking forward to being land based again.  The boat will be in Panama until the beginning to mid-April, and then we'll sail back to the States and leave her on the hard in Green Cove Springs to dry out for awhile.

Chart table

36' Bayfield Cutter   -   Built in 1987
LOA 41' 3" LWL 30' 6" BEAM 12' DRAFT 5' 6" DISPLACEMENT 18,500 lbs
100 gallon water tank 54 gallon diesel tank 40 gallon holding tank Macerator with diverter
44 HP Yanmar Balmar 100 amp alternator/Smart regulator
New sheets, main halyard, topping lift and lazy jacks 2010
New dodger, bimini and side curtains, November, 2011

Port setee
Awlgrip 2007 - Hood furling systems on jib and staysail - New Doyle jib 2006 - New Doyle full batten main 2009

New stainless steel lifelines 2007

5 step stainless steel folding boarding ladder
44 lb. Bruce anchor with 150' 3/8" BBB chain - 22 lb. high tensil Danforth anchor - 15 lb. Guardian aluminum anchor
60' 3/8" chain - 150' 1/2" line - 50' 5/8" bridle line - 6 30' 5/8" docklines
Lofrans manual windlass
4 water jerry cans - 2 diesel jerry cans - 2 gasoline jerry cans

4' x 4' rain catcher - splash cloths - sun curtains and full cockpit enclosure
New Air X Wind Generator, 2011

3 Solar panels - 150 watt, 120 watt, 65 watt
Kato stainless steel davits with floodlight

Stainless steel outboard lifting crane

2 stainless steel fishing pole holders

Avon 9' 6" rib dinghy, 2002

15 hp. Yamaha, 2009, with 6 gallon gas tank

Magma bbq grill with 6 lb. propane tank

450 amp house battery bank and separate starting battery
Cockpit  --

New cushions - 2" closed cell foam covered with waterproof material

Folding table
VHF radio

Depth and Speedometer
Raymarine autopilot with 24,000 lb. core pack
Edson outboard motor bracket

Cabin Equipment and Accessories
New Jabsco head
New stainless steel faucets with soap dispenser in head and galley

Whale galley salt water foot pump

Nova Kool refrigerator and Engel 35 qt freezer

Origo 2 burner non-pressurized alcohol stove/oven
Origo 5,000 BTU cabin heater

Nav station VHF radio

ICOM 700 PRO SSB with auto tuner - 2009
Garmin 230 GPS

Garmin 430 chartplotter with chips for the Eastern and Western Caribbean
Jensen AM/FM stereo/CD player with 6 speakers

Teak dish rack, spice rack and all galley dishes, etc.

5 cabin Hella fans

Globalstar phone
Tools and fishing gear

Safety Equipment
2 Sospenders life jackets - 2 offshore lifejackets - 2 dinghy lifejackets

Lifesling Rescue Pack

406 EPRIB - new battery in 2010

25 millimetre flaregun with flares, etc.

Emergency Ditch Bag

Any inquiries, email us at


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gail's Visit

Wow, this is so way past my bedtime! Roger picked me up around 9 p.m. and off we went to the airport. Stood around, checking the flights, and it looked like the Delta one was going to be a little late. I had told Gail, when she came out of Customs, to turn right and I'd see her. So, of course, all my attention was focused to the right. She turned left and then walked right, but I was too busy watching people exiting to notice her walking by. Luckily, she stopped, looked around ... she looked back as I looked her way! I think she was a little worried:) Kind of hard to appreciate Panama City in the dark, but I think she was as surprised as we were the first time we saw it. You don't think of Panama City and skyscrapers, but that's it! Roger dropped us off, Gail checked in and we headed up to our room to say hi to Deb (who had just returned from her card games!) and pick up wine and snacks. Kept Deb up till after 1 a.m., and then Gail and I headed off to her room. Up talking till after 3:30 ... tomorrow is going to be a l-o-n-g day!

Met up with the group down in the restaurant around 8:30 and had another wonderful breakfast. It's kind of nice not having to prepare food, clean up and do dishes. Gary and Adam are off at noon in the jeep, and Mark will pick them up from the dock in Carti. Deb said she wanted to hang around to make sure they got off okay, so Gail and I headed off to Albrook Mall. I am really getting my walking in and I love it. These women in South and Central America love their shoes, and shoe shops outnumber clothes shops easily. Found one amazing store that sold shoes made out of Columbian leather. We Hudson girls have a shoe thing, so Gail had a great time. Turned out they didn't have her size in what she wanted, but ... this mall is SO huge they actually have two stores ... so off we went to the other one. On the way to the next shoe store we found her a sundress, a couple of souvenirs, and then the perfect CFM shoes. Oooooh, red leather, ankle strap sandals and a 3 inch heel. Then they looked at me, in my beautiful peach colored Keens, and wondered if I'd want anything. Well, I did get a great deal on a pair of Tommy Hilfiger flipflops at another store. I can say this because Dennis never reads the blog and one pair of flipflops looks the same as another to him. Works for me:)

Back to the room, a couple of snacks, and then the three of us walked to the Miraflores Lock. Unfortunately, the third and fourth floors of the museum were closed for renovations, and that's where the best exhibits are. Took a taxi to the Rey Supermarket and picked up the meat and everything else we needed, since our jeep ride will pick us up at 5 a.m. Had dinner and we were off to bed early. We were all in the same room, and set our alarms for 5 minutes apart. Gail's actually had us up and going. Can you believe that 3 women can get showered and dressed in less than 45 minutes? We did. Gave Gail a Stugeron and put her in the front seat, since she's had motion sickness forever. Wasn't quite the wild jeep ride that we had on the way, but we were all glad to get out at the river before Carti. We're going to arrange a flight back from Nargana for Gail, which actually works out better all the way around, so that we can make a circle instead of doubling back.

Dennis, Gary, Gail, Deb and Adam at the East Lemmons

Gail at the Helm
With a Starfish
Found a panga to drop us off at Sea Cycle, since Eulogio was nowhere to be found. Deb was thrilled because Gail's first ever sail was on Sea Cycle. We've decided we'll make her an honorary sister :) Mark took us all down to the East Lemmons, with a lot of tacking and some motoring. Of course, the wind was on the nose! Got Gail settled on the boat, went for a swim, cracked open some wine and sat back and caught up. Tuesday morning we went to shore and looked at molas. Gail, Gary and Adam all picked up some beautiful molas and other good stuff. Gail is only on the boat for 4 days :( so we picked up anchor and headed down to the Swimming Pool in the Hollandes. Had Gail behind the helm and she did a great job. After we anchored, Victor came out to collect the customary anchoring fee, but it worked out to our advantage for a change. We told him we'd be in the next day to look at molas (they certainly weren't as nice as the East Lemmons), and while Gail bought one, Victor gave us avocados and mangos ... and they were all really, really good. The wind has really been high, but the sun is out, so we splashed our way around the little islands, and actually got some snorkelling in. Gail was a little panicky the first time, but by the time we went down to Green Island, she wanted to try it again and was much calmer. Dennis, as usual, put bait out in the Pool, and we ended up catching a fish. He told Gail it was all hers to bring in. I wish I had the "Dennis Coon, get your ass up here and help me" on video! It was an edible fish, a yellowfin jack, but we'd all had a little too much to drink to bring it in and filet it, so it gets to swim on!
The Hudson girls snorkel
After breakfast and the local nets on Thursday we headed off to Green Island to visit Katrina, who makes beautiful jewelry out of the tagua nut. The seas were unbeliveably high in the channel, so Gail was quite proud of herself that she was handling 8-10 ft seas -- kind of. We let her take the helm again, which helps, until we got into the lee of the West Coco Banderos, and then the seas settled down.
Watching Dennis clean lobster

Anchored in 'our spot' and went over to see Katrina. They were having lunch when we pulled up to the boat, so we went into Green Island and walked around. Didn't tell Gail about the croc that hangs out there sometimes, but I sure was looking around. Picked up a couple of sea beans and urchins for her to take back home. Back to Katrina and her beautiful jewelry. Gail bought some and so did I! Had lunch, and then sailed down to Nargana for her to catch the plane Friday morning.

Buying molas
 Our only complaint about her visit was that it wasn't long enough. We had a lot of laughs (she really has to stop laughing at Dennis' jokes and stories, because it just encourages him!), and a few tears. I've missed my sister and it was so amazing and wonderful to have her visit us here, see our lifestyle, and get to know Dennis.

Of course, the plane was late, but off she went. See you soon, Gail. We both love you and miss you.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Carti Run and Panama City

We've been busy making arrangements for our run into Panama City. Booked into the Holiday Inn because that's where Gail had already booked. Mark and Deb's guests, their friend, Gary, and nephew, Adam, also booked in there as well. They arrive Friday afternoon and Gail arrives late Saturday night.

Had hoped to get a panga ride from the East Lemmons into Carti to get the jeep, but you just can't depend on the Kunas to follow through and be there when they're supposed to. The original plan was for Dennis and Mark to stay in the East Lemmons, but Mark said since his guests were arriving first, he'd pick me up and we'd go over to Nonomulu and have the panga pick us up from there. A 10 minute ride versus 45 minutes.

A fun night aboard Sea Cycle, and Eulogio was only 45 minutes late. Not bad! While we waited to find out which jeep we were taking, I was looking around. One guy underneath the hood, working on something. Of course, that's the one we were in. I said to Deb that I thought this was the guy we had on the way back last time when we had two flat tires. Sure enough, asked him his name (since I took the front seat), and it was Alfonso. Great! Still drives like crazy, busy answering two phones when there was service, and the rest of the time overtaking everyone. Got into the City and we had made pretty good time. Our concern was that Deb had a dental appointment at 2:30, but it was looking like we'd have time for lunch and relaxing. Well, spoke too soon on that one!!! Alfonso had just hung up the phone, got himself comfortable, stepped on the gas ..... and, OMG! There was an accident ahead and he was driving too fast and too close. He slammed on the brakes (I closed my eyes, but Deb watched the whole thing). In order to avoid the car ahead, he tried to fit in between the car and the bus. We bounced off the bus and skidded to the side. I guess that was the good thing, because the dump truck that was right behind us missed us and came in between us and the bus. Two cars behind us also collided. What a mess! I've never seen so many officials out taking photos and statements. Amazingly, no one asked any of us in the jeep what had happened or were we all right. Two young German guys had gone out to Carti with Alfonso the week before, where he rear ended another jeep on the mountain road. He's a cute, personable young man, but when we arranged for the trip back I told Eulogio we would not go back with Alfonso.
Hmmm, second photo of Deb beside a broken
down vehicle on the Carti run
Got the flat tire fixed, dropped the other people off and he took Deb and I to the Holiday Inn. We left the bags in the room and headed off to the dentist, with no lunch and no time to relax. Good news for Deb, the dentist did 2 fillings on the tooth and she can get a crown when she gets back to Canada. Took a taxi to the Rey Supermarket, picked up some goodies for the room, and got back to the Holiday Inn at about the same time that Gary and Adam pulled in with Roger. Everyone headed up to the room to collapse before dinner, and luckily Gary and Adam are just down the hall from us. Deb and I were feeling a little stiff and sore, so some Aleve, a hot shower and red wine were looking good to us.

Went down the hall, picked up Gary and Adam, and headed down to the lounge for our courtesy drink. Sat out by the pool enjoying our drinks until the restaurant opened, where Gary treated us to dinner and drinks on Friday night, and the wine on Saturday night. Thanks Gary:) Unnecessary, but really, really appreciated!
None of us realized that this was Carnival weekend in Panama, so things are pretty crazy. Gary and Adam weren't able to get a jeep ride out Saturday morning, as planned, so they hung around the pool, with Gary giving Adam snorkelling lessons. I can see how Gary must be a fantastic father and grandfather since he was so amazing with Adam. Deb and I decided we'd head to Albrook Mall to check off things on our shopping list and pick up some of the groceries we needed to take back with us. There's a small fridge in our room, so that's going to work out great. Wish I'd had my pedometer on, since we spent almost 5 hours walking around Albrook, and then across the street to Novey. We're tired!! Came back to the room, relaxed, showered and off to dinner. Feeling kind of bad that the guys have to fend for themselves, especially Mark, stuck in Nonomulu.

Staying up late Saturday night -- Roger is picking me up at 9 p.m. to go and get Gail at the airport and Deb is off to play cards with Gary and Adam.

Eleven years of catching up to do !


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

High Winds

Some days are just frustrating and I get tired of doing boat chores or baking to keep busy. Although, I do get a lot of reading in and love my Kindle! With high winds also come high seas, so we're not able to snorkel. Great for our friends that kite. But, when that sun comes out, off we go to explore.

Edie and Connie

Met up with Panda, Better Days and Blue Sky just off Waisaladup, and celebrated Deb on Blue Sky's birthday on Panda. Pizza, with carrot cake for dessert:)

Sea Cycle made it to the San Blas (stuck in the marina and Portobelo with high winds), and we finally met up with Mark and Deb in Esnasdup. Spent a happy hour on Nirvana Now with Randy and Dawn from Sault Ste. Marie. They've been back in Canada doing that nasty work thing, so it was good to catch up with them again. Met John and Jen from Elisa, a young Canadian couple, who have the best of both worlds. They used to be Coast Guard, now work on ships with 3 months on, 3 months off.
Crew of Elisa
Dawn and Randy from Nirvana Now

Getting ready to take the boat back to the States, and selling all the extra little goodies that won't make a difference in the sale, but make a difference in our pocketbook! Sold the 5 hp outboard, the sewing machine, spear gun, Hawaiian sling, yogurt maker, blender and all kinds of fishing gear. This boat is getting empty!

My last load of onboard laundry

Great news from home -- my sister, Gail, is coming to visit!! Deb and I will head into Panama City for a girls weekend, since her friend and nephew arrive that weekend as well.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Great Sailing!

We installed a new wind generator at the beginning of the summer, and it has made a huge difference.  Well, the amount of wind we've had lately does make it go all the time!  Since we don't have to motorsail to charge the batteries, we've sailed every time we've changed anchorages.  The sail from Nabadup to Green the other day was perfect.  If we could only arrange that -- 10-15 knots of wind, 1 foot waves -- for our sail back to the US.

The 15-25 knots of wind has finally calmed down and we're so happy to be able to snorkel again.  Dennis has caught a few small fish to pan fry, but nothing of size to bbq.

The rain has finally stopped, and that makes us happy to be able to snorkel, but it also means having to go down to Rio Azucar to get water.  It's relatively painless, just a slow process.  They now have a 'high speed' connection, which means the hose actually fills up.  Dennis filled up the jerry cans, then we put the hose below and  filled the tub, threw in soap and the laundry.  I swished everything around, scrubbed, and by the time he finished filling the tank, I had washed everything, emptied the tub, and we refilled for rinse water. A very productive day.  Plus, we were able to purchase gas at Rio Azucar (only $6 a gallon for all you people in the States who complain about gas prices), so we eliminated the need to go to Nargana.  Smoke from the fires and the generator running all night long make for not a nice anchorage.

Hanging out at Green Island for awhile, where we have good phone coverage and sometimes decent internet!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy 2012

Okay, so I've had a few complaints and just looked at the date of my last post.  Guess it got away from me.  We're back in the San Blas, so there will be no photos added until we're back in the land of  real wifi, not a phone connection wifi.

Dennis finished his major sewing project of the dodger, bimini and side curtains.  I think that's the most frustrated I've ever seen him.  Well, maybe the motor mount job was up there.  He did an amazing job!  I know  I would never have the patience or skill to do what he did.

We spent our 24th wedding anniversary at The Dock Restaurant at Shelter Bay, enjoying a great night with Mark and Deb on Sea Cycle.  Spent our anniversary with them a couple of years ago in Aruba.  The food and company were wonderful!

Time to get ready to head out.  Took the bus into Panama City with Deb and Roger drove us around getting that all important provisioning done.  Paid a little bit more this year for wine and beer because we ordered it through the Dock Shoppe, just opened at Shelter Bay, but well worth the money.  Made life much easier. After  another run to the grocery store and finishing up the laundry, we were ready to leave on December 17th.  It's hard to cast off those dock lines and all the conveniences.

Had a good motorsail down to Portobelo.  Rained like I've not seen for awhile, so no one got off the boat on Sunday.  Monday looked like a good day to stage to Linton, but we were hoping to get Dennis' scuba tank refilled.  Well, with the holidays coming up, that didn't happen.  Left on Tuesday for Isla Grande, a nice 2 hour motorsail.  The winds and waves are supposed to pick up, so we'll be here for awhile, but it's a good place to be.  Nice resort place, we can swim and walk.  Plus, Sid and Manuela on Paradise are now renting a house in Linton, so we were able to catch up with them.  The best thing was that Manuela was going into Colon for groceries and took me with her for that last bit of fresh fruit and veggies.  While we did that, Dennis did a load of  laundry.  Thank you, thank you Sid and Manuela :)

Left on Thursday, the 29th of December for the San Blas.  The seas were supposed to be down to 4' by that time.  Yeah, right!  There were 8 to 10's out there easily, but luckily they were far apart and we were actually able to sail from the western edge of the Escribos Reef all the way into the East Lemmons.  Not a bad day.  Met Greg and Deb from Lion's Paw, Colorado, and spent some fun time with them.  Finally caught up with Frank and Gretchen on Infinity, which is always a good time.

Hung around the East Lemmons until after the new year, and then went into Porvenir to check in and have a better phone connection for wifi.  Cannot believe the number of boats on the reef in the last two years.  Lots of backpacker boats, but others as well.  Unbelievable.

We've had a lot of wind, and with this new wind generator, we have tons of power.  Have actually had some amazing sails since we haven't had to recharge the batteries with the engine.  Spent a couple of days in Salardup, then meeting up with Infinity again in Cambombia.  Gretchen borrowed Dennis' sewing machine and they discussed sewing projects, while Frank is trying to get rid of a bogus program I picked up which affected the running of my computer.

We're currently anchored in Esnasdup, waiting for the wind to die down so that we can snorkel, and hopefully avoid the huge croc that swims between here and Green Island.  Met  John and Gerry on Peking and Gary and Kaija on Kaija's Song and had a fun night with dinner aboard Peking.  Beautiful motorsailer.

Stay tuned     ~~~_/)~~~