Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Again almost off to the Bahamas

Well, its Tuesday and we are still here and still planning and checking the weather. Now it looks like Thursday (Dakota's birthday) that is the day to go. We will go to Bimini and then have to stop to wait out bad weather there. At least we'll be in the Bahamas! Now we are anchored behind Pumkin Key off Key Largo, waiting.......

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Off to the Bahamas! (well almost...)

Dimitry, my cousin, was kind enough to invite us his home to watch the presidential inauguration. Which was very exciting and the most fun I've had with politics ever. He and my father have been both great in letting us come to their homes bedraggled and shoving us in the direction of showers, brownies and some time on terra firma.

The kiddos have really gotten attached to their uncle, as he feeds them goodies, makes lemonade (with straws..) ,very patiently teaches them how to play his video games and takes them to the Banyan tree to swing off the vines. Has been a lot of fun for them and has been fun for us to hang out with Dimi also.
We attempted to leave for the Bahamas on Saturday morning 3:00 AM, the winds were predicted from the east at 5-10 but got out there and found instead northerlies with the 4 AM forecast calling for seas up to 6 feet in the stream. It was an easy decision for me, as the last thing I wanted was to be bobbing around in the Gulf stream unable to sail and therefore without the press of sail to keep us steady and slogging into it for 10 hours with unhappy children (read seasick) We came back instead and later had a great sail to Sands Key. We are currently in Key Largo and looking at leaving from Angel Fish Creek on Wed or Thurs (if the weather holds). There are light southerlies predicted which is considered perfect crossing weather. Will let you know how it goes.
Here are the kids riding in the crotch of sail as we ghost around in Sands key, perfectly clear water, really cool to be able to see everything so clearly, we all really loved that. The kids have been making starships out of legos, after watching Star Wars, which Dimitry lent us. They walk around the decks all day, shooting down imperial starships and creating trouble for their foe Darth Vader. All I hear is light saber, and laser noises which I wish I could replicate for you but ask any small one and they'll do it for you.
Alistair's ship

Dakota's ship
Fair seas all and thanks for your messages!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Off to The Bahamas!

Well, time has flown and the time has come for us to venture off across the gulf stream! So far tomorrow looks good and we plan to leave by 3 or 4 AM to head across. We will still keep up the blog when we come into an internet cafe or that sort of thing. Same for emails. We have gotten all your emails, sorry we haven't gotten to answering all of them but we do appreciate it and think of you all frequently!

We have been working on projects to make the boat better and to maintain what we have! We spent many a wonderful moment with friends and family and are grateful for the time to reconnect!

This guy was yummy!
We will be in touch and let you know of our adventures!!! Take care, happy winter and spring!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cutlass bearings, coral reefs and Little Tunny

Well, we went to Marathon in Vaca Key to haul out for a survey (someone looks at your boat and assesses the condition, similar to an appraisal) that we needed to get insurance for the Bahamas.
The boat did well but did need to have a small part in between the propeller and the inside of the boat. It keeps the water out of the boat while also letting the prop turn. Ours was worn out. So after hanging out at the mooring field a couple of days we came back out of the water to fix it. Of coarse nothing ever goes as planned and it turned into a bigger job: There is another part called the shaft log that holds the cutlass bearing in place and it was discovered that it was no good. So, they didn't have one in stock and had to order it, and over night it, this is Friday afternoon. We couldn't stay on the boat for insurance reasons and so found ourselves at the nearest motel. The next day we did indeed get everything put back together and then they nicely let us stay on the wall for the weekend. Ironically this is the very wall we stayed at the day we bought the boat as we waited for the truck to pick it up and take it to Maine. In the midst of all this Papa Charlie came down for lunch. Marathon has a small airport and that made for a special treat for us!

One great thing about Boot Key harbor is that we met a couple of families with kids our kids age! A nice couple from Tennessee had a little boy named Reece (he was a little younger) and then a couple from New Zealand, Leighia, Cameron and their kids Maya and Finn. Dakota and Alistiar loved Maya and Finn and all four would scream with delight when they saw each other! We played just about every day we were there and had a great time. Cameron and Leighia have a business aboard their boat installing alternative power systems etc. A delightful couple, we very much enjoyed them!

Today we left at 7 AM to go to Sombrero reef, about 3 nm from Marathon. We got there around 8:30 and picked up a mooring (Florida puts moorings out on the popular reefs to prevent damage from anchoring), it was cloudy so we decided to go fishing for a while. We got back around 11 and picked up a mooring and over the side we went. This was my first time diving a reef and it was awesome!!!!!! I saw so many little sargent majors, yellow snappers, parrot fish, damsel fish, plus sea fans and many fish that I couldn't identify. It was so funny to be swimming or holding the ropes that Charles rigged on the boat(due to a decent current) and look next to me and there swimming along side me was a bunch of snappers and sargent majors, just hanging out, just looking at me, not concerned just like I was on of the school. I was amazed and can't wait to go again!!!

After we took off to go somewhere for the night and we thought we would fish. BAM, whizzz. Charles had a blast hauling in the 24" little tunny! Unfortunately at the time we mistook it for a frigate mackerel and threw it back! Bye bye dinner, oh well. We are still learning! But never the less Charles was very happy!

What a beauty!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


So I think I left you all at Buttonwood Sound. We proceeded to make our way to Islamorada where we spent a couple of hours browsing in a huge sportsman store that has a replica of Ernest Hemingways boat Pilar.

This is Charles grilling our daily catch at sunset.

We had to haul out for a survey and so Charles dove to clean the boat bottom in preparation for that.

Dakota Caught a Cero (a close relative to the Spanish Mackerel) and we had it for dinner, yum!

Alistair caught a Blue Runner!

Dakota fishing in the morning

A mangrove nearby in Lower matacombe Harbor had a pier and 'hideout'. The kids fished off the docks and explored.

This Bolger design sharpy is moored near us.

So we went outside to go to Marathon where we hauled out and it was choppy day keeping us all on deck and eating saltine crackers. Alistair even slept to feel better. At the end of the sail as we were approaching Vaca Key a school of around 15 dolphins surfed our bow wake. It was a magical experience to see then so clearly and so many, even babies! I hope to figure out how to up load video so you all might see. If anyone knows how to do this please let me know!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Time with Dimitry and then Off to the Keys

Much to our delight we have been reunited with Dimitry! (Charles' cousin). We have had so much fun catching up on the last 8 years of our lives! He also helped me provision for the Bahamas, trekking me all over for the best deals in town. It was huge help and much appreciated! The kids absolutely LOVE Dimitry and ask for him constantly! He took us to a park near his house with a huge banyan tree and the kids climbed all over it and then started to Tarzan swing on the new roots coming down (I will try to include a video of this). The loved it!!

We also managed to fit in a sail with Dimitry and as we watched him leave felt so sad to see him go that we stayed in Miami one more day to spend with him! We hung out and the kids played Spore (a really cool computer game about evolution) then we headed out to a party at his friend Michelle's house and didn't get home until 1:30. The kids first real new years!! They loved staying up late and Michelle has a 13 year old son, who wasn't there, but his toys were!

This is Charles up the mast doing some work and checking that alls well.

Charles and Dimitry.

Dimitry and the boys in the banyan tree.

So, on new year day we recovered from our late night, Charles did projects on the boat and I took the kids for a walk on the beach. The next morning we left Miami Beach and headed once again south to the keys. This pic is of an area just south of Key Biscayne called stiltsville. There once were many houses built on stilts, but alas they were destroyed by hurricanes. Some were rebuilt and apparently are available for rent from Dade county.

We ended up in Elliot Key and went ashore to take a walk to the ocean side but found that it was closed due to repairs. We did however walk in the hammocks on the island. The word hammock comes from the Indian word hamaca (that may not be correct spelling) that means tropical jungle. The island was very busy being a holiday, but the kids enjoyed a swim in the mangroves, while we walked around after them. During the early afternoon Papa Charlie payed us a visit in his airplane and thrilled us with swoops and fly-bys. The kids jumped up and down shouting "do it again, Papa Charlie!". I got a small video which I will work on getting up. Papa Charlie also spent lots of time helping us out with supplies and propane etc., he lent us his car many times, too. I don't know what we would have done without him! Thank you , thank you!!!

I know you've seen this one before, but its so good, I just had to publish it again!
Our two wonderful Charlies!
Yesterday we moved on to Buttonwood sound and worked our way in front of Snooks tiki bar. We couldn't wait to get ashore and a rum punch! The kids went off to play at the beach next to the bar and a musician came to play Caribbean music. We had a great time just relaxing. Charles and I even danced!!

I tried to get the video, no luck. I think I have to reformat it. If anyone knows, let me know how to do it! Thanks