Living at the dock in Indiantown Marina was a new experience for us. We settled into a routine in which Rick and Colin would have breakfast on their boat (or later, when it was torn apart, come to ours). I would do the dishes, make the bed, vacuum, shop for groceries, clean or do laundry and make lunch, usually sandwiches which I left in the fridge. Whenever the guys decided to have lunch they would get the food and drink out of the fridge and eat it under the trees in the patio area.

That left me free to play Scrabble with Janice from Valderee, Anita and, when she and Linton arrived to prepare their boat, Carol of Incognita II. They were all good Scrabble players, there were challenges and bingos and we all had fun and stretched our minds.

A painting group turned up to paint in the marina. I got out my paints too and the painting I did is now in the possession of someone whose boat had been on the dock that I painted.

At the beginning of April the temperature got up to 95◦F, but Richard, Rick and Colin soldiered on. Rick and Colin were stripping the paint on the hull and I don’t know how they kept going.

Women kept giving me their leftover groceries as they cleaned out their boats before going home. I made a lot of french toast with the leftover eggs – a popular breakfast until the guys got tired of them. Same with the egg salad sandwiches. Not much luck with green salads. If only I could have figured out a way to deep fry them! Rick took us all out for supper a few times – in desperation, I think. We often played hearts, a game Rick and Colin loved and were good at, after supper.

Finally, on April 7, Downstream 1 was moved to the storage yard and Rick and Colin drove back to Ontario. We stayed at the marina until April 17, because the month we had paid for ended then. Richard put his tools away and cleaned up the van for driving home and I cleaned out lockers.

Diny and Jerry Solmon of Endless Summer both wrote to say they had almost finished reading all three of my books and were enjoying them. A young man from Ragtime Gal, which was in the work yard, recognized me from the cover of Book II, which Andy Zwyck had loaned him in Cuba, and bought the other two books. I stopped by the bonfire one night and someone introduced me as “the author”. It was hard not to let it go to my head.

André and Katchka finally launched Cardinal and tied up next to us after they discovered that they had problems with their very old motor. Richard crawled into the engine compartment and analyzed the problem, but refused the offer of employment that was extended. Instead he walked through Andre through what needed to be done so he could do it himself. Andre was delighted and we were invited to Easter dinner at their house in Boca Raton. We meet such wonderful people along the way!

We walked around the work yard now and then and saw enthusiastic young people happily restoring boats that needed many months of work and thousands of dollars before they became .functional.

My favourite thing about the marina was the wildlife in the water – the painted turtles, the large snake the Alec said was a water moccasin, the big alligator that sunned behind our boat in the morning and the pod of manatees surrounding our boat one morning when we got up.

One evening a large fishing boat was towed in by TowboatUS. It had been gored by a large rock as it crossed Lake Okeechobee, made shallow by the lack of rain and the surrounding sugar plantations’ insatiable demands for water.

Many of the boats at docks, including Lucky, were aground. When we powered through the mud to leave the dock on April 17, we were surprised to see the wide beaches on each side of the canal. Both then and later when we came back we saw a couple of dozen alligators sunning on these beaches.

We anchored in Manatee Pocket again. We like it because the six-foot depth keeps bigger boats away, and the no-wake rule is strictly enforced. Most of the boats were occupied, although one family is a pair of ospreys who have built a large and unruly nest on the solar panel atop the cockpit, and sit on the spreaders in the evenings, watching for fish.

Bernie, on his trawler Countess Cosel, arrived the next day from the Bahamas and went to happy hour and supper with us on his way to the marina for haulout.

We moved on to Peck Lake on April 21, and Chris and Divya arrived on Maggie M in time for supper with us. Over the next three days we shared meals, I played a couple of games of Scrabble with Diva and I went with Chris and Divya to show them where the boat ramp was so they could get rid of their garbage. When the rain filled up the dinghies with fresh water on Sunday, we had cold fresh-water baths.

During this time Richard had not been feeling well. I called the marina to see if we could get our boat hauled a few days earlier than we had booked. When Antoinette called on April 25 to say there might Jesse could squeeze us in two days, we pulled up the anchor. Richard had just cooked his wonderful crêpes and we had all had our fill. That night we anchored for the last time this season in the Four Rivers Loop, four miles before the St. Lucie Lock – a quiet spot surrounded by trees, near the community dock.

Before we entered the marina a day later, we anchored and let out all the chain to rinse off the salt water, and Richard ran the dinghy around to get the salt water out of the motor. When we arrived at the dock, Jesse asked if we could be hauled in twenty minutes; there had been a cancellation. That night we had a good-bye supper at Quatamex with Richard and Renita and slept in the boat on the hard. The mosquitoes, flies and heat were an incentive to get out of there.

The next day was the hardest day of every sailing season. I climbed up and down the ladder, with food from the fridge, groceries and our clothes and packed them in the van. Richard did the technical jobs necessary to store the boat for the summer. Then we tied the tarp down and left Lucky out in that field with the hundreds of other boats up on stands for the long hot summer. We had supper in the picnic area and slept in the open screened van near the water, enjoying the breeze.

Four days later, after inching through a five-hour traffic jam south of Atlanta, sleeping in rest areas in the van three nights and driving through heavy rain most of Sunday, we pulled into my driveway in Bothwell, Ontario, turned up the heat and crawled into my queen-size bed.

Will we be back next year? Time will tell. We wish you all a good summer season.
Richard and Sharon on Lucky

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As you may have noticed, perhaps gratefully, these updates are getting fewer and farther between. Richard and I are getting older, lazier and less inclined to travel long distances and embrace adventure. It makes the updates less gripping.

In Marathon, Jim and Lynda left their boat to the new owner and drove north to British Columbia and their grandchildren on February 21. We stayed for another four days, connecting with our old friends Chris and Divya of Maggie M. I’ve known them since 2002, when I invited everyone in the mooring field at the Los Olas Bridge in Fort Lauderdale (twelve people and a large dog) to a BBQ on my Nonsuch 30. I told them to bring their own meat to barbeque and Chris, who was sitting next to the barbeque, had the good luck to be the cook, as no one could change position. He decided to replicate this event on Maggie M this year and more than succeeded, with fifteen guests.

A day later, I did the laundry at the marina and finished the first update and sent it. That evening Chris and Divya had a rental car so we all went to Sparky’s in Key Colony Beach, With our drinks in Hand, we shared chicken wings, shrimp and oysters. Then we skipped the dinner and shared the three classic Florida desserts, including key lime pie, my favourite.

The next morning we motored north in Hawk’s Channel and went in under the high bridge at Channel 5. At 2 p.m. we picked up the only remaining mooring off of Shell Key. It was so isolated that we took showers without suits and sprawled on the deck to dry, the only time this season.

The two days after that we relaxed at anchor off Isla Morada near the Lorelei, watching movies, listening to music and enjoying the setting of the sun, the new moon and Venus.

On February 28, we moved on to Tarpon Basin and anchored off the Monroe County building, where there are dinghy docks in the park. While reading my emails at the picnic table outside the back entrance, I saw Sylvia the county commissioner and praised her for the action she had taken several years ago to make the shore accessible to cruisers. But she is now planning to close the docks because many live-aboards have come to the area and caused problems in the park. Some would otherwise be homeless and a small number have mental illness. A few had been arrested or asked to leave. I asked why they hadn’t received psychiatric care and she ruefully admitted that the psychiatric hospitals had all been closed. Her solution – the liveaboards should move north.

I read My Father’s Country aloud to Richard It is set in a village in Germany, close to the one he lived in as a child during World War II and focuses on a failed assassination attempt on Hitler.

I painted in the mangrove creeks while we were there; the dinghy, parked in a creek, was my studio. I loved the peace. No power boats came by and there was only the sound of the odd twig cracking, the sighing of the breeze in the branches, and the gentle splashing of fish and singing of birds.

After a week there we sailed north again and dropped our hook in the clear barely deep-enough water north of Sand Key, where only one other boat was anchored a good distance from us. We saw two large loggerhead turtles and several dolphins and swam around the boat there.

On March 9 we sailed over to No Name Harbor and spent a week there. As soon as we got there I did laundry in the aging, privately-owned washer and dryer and hung things all over the boat to complete the drying. But that night we slept on fresh clean sheets.

We were anchored near the entrance and the first night we woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a towboat towing a sailboat into the harbour.

It was Diny on Adventure Quest, a single-handed sailor who had attempted to sail to the Bahamas overnight and had engine problems in the middle of the Gulf Stream. We got to know her well. Richard and later Rick spent time on her boat, helping her solve problems with the motor. She reminded me of myself, when I was sailing alone, but I have to admit she was more resourceful and knowledgeable than I had been. I silently thanked my lucky stars that I was now sailing with a very good mechanic, on his boat.

Alejandro (sp?) came over from his beautiful little classic boat Willow to ask us about the Sand Key anchorage. His a charming young man – an airline pilot for half of the year and a cruiser in the winter.

Richard’s family – Rick, Rebecca and the three boys – arrived by car in the late afternoon on Saturday, March 11. Everyone swam around the boat and supper was a joint effort. Everyone found a place to sleep on Lucky for two nights. There were bodies everywhere!

On Sunday Rick, Rebecca and I went shopping at Wynn-Dixie in their wonderful big car.Own and Dylan drove around in the dinghy and Divy’s little paddle-kayak. Diny joined us for happy hour and Rick BBQed hamburgers for supper. After supper we played Hearts, a new game for me but one I have come to enjoy.

On Monday, after Richard took the bags and Rick and then everybody else to shore in the dinghy, the boat seemed very spacious, but too quiet. It was a lot of fun having them on board.

The next day Richard worked on Divy’s motor again and painted a picture of the mangroves on the bank behind us. Diny brought us pizza and wine. (She wanted to take us out for supper but we didn’t have the wherewithal to go.)

On March 14 we pulled up the anchor and motored to Lake Oleta, at the Baker’s Haulover Cut-off. Very windy. Alejandro sailed in (it had been too windy to sail on the ocean side of the Keys). We had another great visit and cocktails became supper.

The next day we continued north through six or eight bridges that had time-restricted openings and anchored in Boca Raton Lake, a nice quiet place.

Thursday we moved on, bundled up because it was still windy and cold. There were many more bridges and pesky powerboats with big wakes. (Sherry Baby zoomed by us to get to George Bush Bridge but had to wait for us before the bridge would open. Nice.) We got to North Lake Worth at five and at eight p.m. I was in bed reading and Richard was watching TV, chuckling, with his headphones on.

The next day, Friday, March 17, we motored past Peck Lake to Indiantown Marina, on the St. Lucie Canal, arriving at 7 p.m.. There in the entrance, watching for us, was Owen. We happily rafted to Downstream 1 and climbed up on to it to reconnect with Rick, Rebecca and the boys.

On Saturday, Richard and the family went to the flea market in Stuart. I hadn’t had a shower in eleven days so opted out of that jaunt. After my shower, I caught up on emails. I had had no internet for three weeks. (How many people go that long?)

On Sunday Rick took Rebecca, Owen and Dylan to West Palm Beach to catch their flight back to Canada. Work and school were calling.

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February 23rd, 2017

Update from Lucky, February 22, 2017

The last update I sent was May 28, 2016. Writing and publishing Book III in late 2015 was difficult, and I don’t plan to write anymore books. The updates are the only writing I do now.

If you are no longer interested in reading about our increasingly sedentary travels or can’t even remember who in hell Sharon and Richard are, please let me know and I’ll take you off the list.

For most of the summer and fall, Richard mowed the grass at his son’s house near Orangeville and did mechanical work on old vehicles that he owns where he lives, and I lived in my little house in Bothwell, tending to the yard, playing Scrabble every Tuesday night, spending time with my sister Virginia and the rest of the family and just enjoying life in a small town.

We took two trips. The first was in July, travelling and living in the 1992 VW camper van, across New York and Massachusetts, to visit Uli the photographer, an old friend of Richard’s. She was a wonderful hostess and tour guide. Marblehead is very rocky and the houses, dating back the 1600s, are built beside, over and around the rocky outcroppings. Gloucester and Essex, just north of Marblehead are also traditional sailing and fishing towns, which commemorate their histories in many interesting ways. On the way back, we stopped near Leverett to visit sailing friends Chris and Divya, who also took us touring around their area and entertained us. The best part was the visiting, of course.

In October, we joined Richard’s son Rick, who had just purchased a Roberts 42 and was transporting it from Mimico Yacht Club in Toronto to Beaufort, North Carolina so he and his family could go sailing in the south in school holidays. It was often cold and sometimes rainy and a fast trip (3 weeks). It included crossing Lake Ontario to Oswego overnight, taking down the two masts in Owego, going through all the locks in the New York Canal System, and putting the masts back up in a yacht club on the Hudson River in the pouring rain. The fall colours in the low mountains along the Hudson rivalled Algonquin. Overnights in the ocean and Chesapeake Bay were a bit scary, with all the big shipping around, but Rick was an old pro with that sort of sailing and both he and Richard had been that way several times before. I enjoyed it because I had never gone south that way.

Richard dealt with a possible heart problem (his doctor heard a weird noise in his heart which could be normal for him) and I got over a really persistent cough that was going around.  On Dec. 30, we had breakfast with Virginia at Shanigan’s in Bothwell and Virginia even gave Richard a goodbye hug. Then we headed south, crossing the border at Detroit and passing through snow and ice and rain. We crossed over to Beaufort, North Carolina, and from there south I drove Rebecca’s car, following Richard. In Indiantown Marina, Lucky was waiting patiently for us in the storage yard. On the evening of January 2, we gratefully climbed under the sheets that I had washed before we left last May. They smelt clean and fresh and we slept for twelve wonderfully restorative hours! (At least ten hours of sleep would become our pattern for most of the rest of the trip.)

Sue and Mick were at the dock in their trawler Jenny. Sue told me that Jim and Lynda Pilipishen, our friends from Vermilion Bay, were on their way but the weather up there was bad.

Then we got into the work routine. We transferred everything we had brought south to the boat and put it away, the boat got moved; Richard replaced a leaky propane hose and scrubbed eight months of soot off the deck.

On January fourth, Owen, Richard’s youngest grandson, called to say Downstream One would arrive in half an hour and I scrambled to find dock space for its forty-four feet. We relaxed and visited with Rick, Rebecca and the kids, full of stories of their sail in the ocean from Beaufort, NC. Later, with Richard and Renita Brooks, we all went to JR’s BBQ in town and Richard B enchanted the boys with his magic tricks. My favourite – when he pulled his eye out of the socket, rolled it around in his mouth and then replaced it. Well, that’s what it looked like. The next day they all went to the Hobe sound beach while we kept working. Their boat was put on the hard the day after that and they drove back home.

We kept on working, provisioning the boat and buying new parts that we needed. I wanted us to get the deck sanded and repainted before we left. Last year we had planned to do it during our cruise and although Richard sewed beautiful new cushions for the cockpit, the deck never got done. Richard scrubbed and sanded and slapped on the high-gloss white and I taped for the non-skid. It took me all day and I did a beautiful careful job, making tiny curves on all the corners. By the time I finished at the bow, my feet were in wet paint because Richard was right behind me with the paint brush. (!)

I did manage to get in the odd Scrabble game in the late afternoons with Janice, a very good player who was living in a boat at the dock with her husband – a life of leisure of which I was envious.
Our friends Jim and Lynda, of Morningstar finally arrived on January 16, after lots of bad weather and flu, and we barbequed and visited together often. We have cruised with them since they bought their boat in March 2011. They plan to sell it this year, and we will miss having them rafted up to us and sharing meals, movies and adventures together.

On Thursday, January 19, we finally were finished working on the hard and were moved to a dock. “Aah!” sighed Lucky, and so did we. One night while we were barbequing, I looked up and saw a long red streak in the sky – a launch from Cape Canaveral.

Finally, on January 23rd, we left the dock. It was quite windy, but the wind was from the west and would push us, so that would be a good thing. But when we got out in the channel, the motor would not accelerate. Not good. We flew through the railroad bridge and under the high bridge. Then Richard dropped the hook. We had to get back to the marina, find out what was wrong with the motor and fix it. Ever resourceful, Richard lashed the dinghy with the 15-horse outboard to the side. It was enough to get us back through the railroad bridge, but the canal was more open there. A big gust of wind whipped us around and back we went through the bridges to where we had dropped the hook first. I had been talking on the radio to Jim and to a Towboat US captain who had passed us, towing another boat to the marina. He came back and towed us in too. $375US. So there we were, back on the dock.

Jim googled the problem and correctly diagnosed it as an issue with the exhaust elbow. Richard struggled to get it off and found it plugged solid with rusty-looking hard crap. With a screwdriver and hammer, he cleaned it out. Just this week he learned that the exhaust elbow should be replaced every two years and we will order another one now that we are here in Marathon, an easy dinghy ride to the Yanmar dealer.
While Richard was working on that, I painted a little picture of palm trees in front of water in a corner of the marina. Scott, the owner, bought it. Nice.

On January 28th we left again and anchored in Manatee Pocket, where we went ashore and found Sandy and Terry on Gambit II in the work yard, their boat in chaos. They hope to sell it but much work needs to be done. (We first met them at a gathering in the summer at Vonny and Ray’s in Prince Edward County, Ontario.)

Three days later we anchored in Peck Lake; Jim and Lynda on Morningstar caught up to us there. We stayed there for a week. I painted while Jim and Richard replaced the magnetic solenoid on the starter. We explored little mangrove bays in the dinghy, walked the stunning ocean beach and saw the big green Bahamian marker and the wrecked sailboat that we surmised had come ashore in Hurricane Matthew. Lynda and I walked the boardwalk through the mangroves in the park across from the anchorage. Then it was time to move on.

A full day of motoring took us through at least twelve bridges, and we had to wait for two or three of them. I hate that! Richard picked up his old friend Ben in the park at the Lantana Bridge after we anchored, Jim and Lynda came over and Happy Hour was very happy. Ben brought me a bottle of wine and I drank a wee bit too much of it, but slept well.

On Tuesday February seventh, Jim and Lynda left an hour before us, but when we got to the first bridge we were waiting with four other sailboats and only had to wait for one of the fifteen bridges. We caught up to Jim and Lynda. They took a mooring at Los Olas Bridge to meet with their potential buyer and we anchored in Lake Sylvia. We enjoyed doing laundry, taking showers and having access to Internet. February tenth, we were in No Name Harbor, across Biscayne Bay from Miami.

The next stop, after a very long and lovely sail south across Biscayne Bay and several other bays, was Tarpon Basin, off Key Largo. We didn’t even go ashore. The next day, we motor sailed to the anchorage off the Lorelei, which is on Isla Morada. I had called two friends from Oakville, Steve and Janet McDonald, introduced to us by Alan Robinson when he sold her my book and she wanted to meet me. I have told some of you about the terrible accident Alan had. He was helping a power boater go to the Bahamas and the man did not take his advice about returning when the weather turned bad, Alan was badly injured and that resulted in his death. We all miss him and the six of us shared our memories of him.

Then, with Morningstar, we continued south to Marathon, where we are anchored now. Yesterday Jim and Lynda moved off Morningstar and the new owner moved on. We helped them dinghy their possessions to the marina, where they had a rental car waiting. Then they were gone, after five years of cruising with us. How lonely and quiet it is now! No more rafting together and sharing coffee in the mornings and sharing suppers at night.

But the trip continues and there will be new experiences and friends along the way. After a whole day of rain and high winds, the sun has come out, our music is playing and it’s time for happy hour and a game of cards.

After writing this, I called Chris on Maggie M and we’ll have supper with them tonight. And at laundry today I met Linda and we have a date for Scrabble tomorrow. We will meet Rick and Rebecca at West Palm Beach in March Break and then go back to Indian town and stay on a dock, where Richard will help Rick and Colin work on the boat and I will cook, do dishes, play Scrabble and paint.

We hope to meet lots of new people on the way to help fill the hole that Jim and Lynda have left.
-from Sharon and Richard on Lucky

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At the end of Part I, Lucky was just pulling into the little man-made lake between the North Miami campus of Florida International University and Oleta River State Park. It was just after noon. I had run forward to loosen the chain and tip the anchor over the bow so I could drop it when Richard had found a good spot to anchor.

I held the chain in my right hand and reached over with my left to push the “down” button, but hit the “up” button by mistake. Oops! My hand moved into the winch. Feeling the pain, I quickly pushed the down button and removed my hand. Three fingers had been cut, the tip of the index finger was almost off and the tip of the middle finger was missing and the nail torn out. I cupped my right hand in the other and and Richard ran forward and dropped the hook. Lots of blood, but no pain for quite a long time.

Jim and Lynda rafted alongside. Jim dinghied Lynda and me to shore to find medical care while Richard stayed behind with the boats and (he told me later) mopped up blood. The woman at the university clinic was very sympathetic but could only treat students. She cleaned my hand up a bit, put a kind of tent bandage around it, and called a cab to take us to emergency.

In the little room where we had been put right away, staff popped in over the next five hours to take blood pressure, assess what needed doing, give me pain medication when reminded by Lynda and sprayed disinfectant on my fingers from time to time. Lynda found food for us, kept up my spirits and observed the workings of the emergency department (and even an ongoing romance) as my treatment kept getting bumped by the arrival of people who were more likely to die than I was.  Finally the doctor came and injected painkiller into my fingers with what felt like quite a large needle and ran off. When he eventually came back the numbness was wearing off, but he sewed up the less damaged finger and bandaged the fingers tightly and then splinted them tightly together.

After paying the flat rate for uninsured visitors who didn’t have to stay overnight, $660, we walked to the nearby Walmart to get my prescriptions filled, and called a cab. It was ten o’clock when we got back to the boat, and I took my oxycodone and slept well.

The plastic surgeon saw me the next evening and two days later he repaired the tip of my middle finger with skin from my wrist. Dr. Lampert was gentle, competent, good-looking and younger than my son.

His assistant Ashley was helpful, kind and patient. When I commented that their needle for injecting painkiller didn’t hurt like the one in Emergency, she smiled and said that it was because Dr. Lambert used a slim little Botox needle. She arranged Uber cabs for me, since I didn’t have a smart phone. After return visits, I gave her two of my books and she told me she bought a book light so her boyfriend wouldn’t complain about her reading in bed.

Lynda went with me to these appointments and was patient, upbeat and efficient about keeping the places and times straight when I was too muddled to do it. But on April 8, Jim and Lynda had to head north.

Lucky stayed in that little lake until April 27th, the day after Dr. Lampert took the stitches out of my fingers. During that time, we slowed down, enjoyed each other’s company and watched the life of the lake go on around us. Richard dressed and undressed me, and cooked. He set up a shower bag in the cockpit and washed my hair. We went for walks together in the park.

He tackled the job of replacing the wood frame of the hard dodger, which was falling apart, and sanded and varnished the new pieces.

Hundreds of kayaks, canoes and paddle boards poured out of the little mangrove creek in the corner of the

lake next to our boat, especially on the weekends. People would often chat with us as they went by, and Richard frequently had his binoculars out, checking out the latest in swimwear fashions being worn by some paddle boarders.

On April 15th, Maggie M appeared around the corner and anchored near us. That afternoon and for several to follow, Chris, Divya and I played heavily contested Scrabble games in the park, on a picnic table in the shade. One evening during Happy Hour on our boat, the rain came down so heavily that both dinghies filled with water. We filled the tanks with drinking water from our water jugs, and then filled the jugs and shower bags with the fresh rainwater for showers. The water taps in the park had all been removed to discourage live-aboards, but we now had enough water to get us back to Indiantown. Yippee!

On Sunday, April 17, Richard made all of the remaining pancake mix into crêpes and Chris and Divya helped us eat them with fruit. That afternoon we walked through the park. Every picnic table was occupied.

Hundreds of families, speaking many different languages, were cooking, eating, playing, swimming, and enjoying being alive. It was wonderful.

The following Thursday Chris and Divya went to Dr. Lampert’s office with me. The Uber driver was a no show, so we got there late and had to wait until the doctor could squeeze me in.

The next day, Friday, Chris and Divya went back to South Beach to anchor so they could see a wonderful outdoor classical music concert. We chose to stay where we were. We just didn’t have the wherewithal to go.

On Sunday, we saw a canoe almost completely submerged in the distance, with people and things bobbing around it. Paddle boarders had pulled children from the water. Richard dinghied over to help. A man was in the water with his life jacket up around his ears and gasping for air, looking terrified. He couldn’t get into the dinghy in the deep water so Richard towed him to where he could stand up and climb in. Richard then went back and got the two little girls off of the paddle boards and picked up their mother, who near them. With everyone safely in the dinghy, and helped by a paddle-boarder, Richard towed the canoe to shallow water and emptied it. Then he took the family, whom he learned were Russian tourists, and the canoe back to the kayak station. The father shoved money which Richard had refused under the dinghy engine cover. He thanked Richard for saving his life. My accident had kept us there, in the right spot for Richard to save that man’s life.

Finally the day came when Richard went with me to South Beach to have my stitches removed and to meet Dr. Lampert and Ashley.

When we went to pull up the anchor on April 27, the windlass wouldn’t go. Richard had to rewire it before it would work, and the chain was covered with barnacles. But finally we were underway.

The trip north to Indiantown was uneventful .We did the usual racing to make it under time-restricted opening bridges, and waiting for the ones we couldn’t get to on time. A couple of kind bridge-tenders held the bridge or opened it a little late so we could make it. We stayed in anchorages we knew well, and caught up to Chris and Divya at Peck Lake, and went out to dinner together in Stuart. Then we did the usual three days of work at Indiantown to store the boat. It was stored on the hard and we drove north. Richard, very tired during this time, was subject to hot sweats at night. We assume he had a virus, which he is just now getting over.

We are both back in our homes and with our families. My hand is almost completely recovered. Will we cruise next year? We hope so, but treat ourselves gently and live each day as if it is special.

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On March 7, we were back in the Keys, off Isla Morada. Jim and Lynda, of Morningstar, were in Marathon, a favourite hangout of theirs but not one of ours. There were too many boats there for us.

We had Happy Hours at the Lorelei with friend Alan Robinson from Tavernier and Janet and Steve McDonald of Burlington, Ontario. When the wind got choppy, we moved over to Cotton Key for shelter. I made bread; we explored in the dinghy, and enjoyed this special time by ourselves.

When the wind direction changed to the east, we moved back in front of the Lorelei. Richard dropped me off at the little beach up the clear creek where fish swam beneath us, behind the library. I caught up on emails while he refilled the fuel and water jugs at the nearby marina.

The Lorelei was the spot in Key Largo where all the tourists and boaters met. It was in the Lorelei that we got to know Simone and Jerry, of the houseboat Special Treat. We had met and danced with them at the block party when we were docked in LaBelle. They too had been together, unmarried, for ten years. One night, after Richard and I landed a scarce table near the bar, I saw a young couple standing too far from the bar to get served, with no place to sit down. I asked if they would like to join us. They gratefully accepted, bought us a round of drinks and showed us pictures of the two babies they had left up north with Granny while they had a short getaway. They shared their hopes and dreams with us, and we gave them advice from our experience. I suspect they ignored the warnings about going into debt to buy a large catamaran.

After a week we moved to the next bay north along the Intracoastal, which we call Sponge Boat Bay, after the sponge boats stored there. We learned from one of the live-aboards, who works on a tourist pirate ship in the area, that the official name is Postcard Bay, after the hotel across the Overseas Highway. He said that is what had been written on the ticket he got for not having the registration numbers spaced properly on his little houseboat.

After a few days we sailed farther north to the bay between the channel into Tavernier and toilet seat pass. We went into Alan’s dock and loaded up with water. He drove me to the laundromat and to get groceries. Every Keys cruiser needs a shore friend like that!

The anchorage was isolated and we were able to swim without swimsuits around the boat in perfectly clear water. The only downside to that anchorage was returning in our dinghy from dinner at Steve and Janet’s condo in the dark through that long unlit channel. Powerboats flew through there with no regard for little dinghies that they could not see. One came bursting into the channel through our little cut-off just as we were about to enter it. It would have sunk us if Richard had not passed the cut-off to make sure it was clear before he entered it.

Frank Pappas, author of a Keys cruising guide was a guest at that dinner. I traded my book for an adventure novel set in the Keys that he had also written, and ended up reading it to Richard in the evenings. The sex was a bit over the top, and it could have used a good editor, but Richard loved it.

Our next anchorage was Tarpon Basin, off Key Largo, a favourite spot of ours. Jim and Lynda caught up to us there, and we resumed taking turns hosting each other for dinners. We had been watching episodes of Castle that my son Mike had downloaded for me in the evenings and continued to do that until we had seen them all.

One night we went to a presentation on sea turtles in the auditorium at the Munroe County building.. When explorers first arrived in Key West the turtles were so numerous that iy was difficult to anchor. Now, after a couple of hundred years of indiscriminate slaughter to supply turtle soup to Europe, they have all but disappeared. But many still come back to lay their eggs on both coasts of Florida, and concerned people are trying to make that safer for them.

In the dinghy, we toured the shady little mangrove creeks that flow through the otherwise impenetrable mangrove islands in Tarpon Basin. Then I spent three blissful days away from the powerboats, sitting in the dinghy which I had tied up to the mangroves, painting them in all of their tangled grace.

On March 31, we sailed north to Sand Key, Jim and Lynda following in Morning Star. Sand Key is just north of the long narrow strip of parkland called Elliott Key. Together they form most of the barrier between Biscayne Bay, which is thirty-five miles long and up to eight miles wide in spots, and the Atlantic Ocean. We got there about two-thirty p.m., crept in as close as we could to land and dropped our hooks. We were the only boats anchored there and the first order of business was a swim in the clear Bahamas-blue water. Our bathing suits stayed dry. Drinks were on our boat before both crews retreated behind their screens to avoid the mosquitoes.

The next day we sailed to No Name Harbor where, to our surprise, only a half-dozen sailboats and one power-boat were anchored. Later more would come, and the harbour was packed all weekend. I got my bathing suit wet for the first time all winter and swam around the boat.

Some large power boats ran their generators or motors 24/7 at anchor to keep the booze cold, the air conditioner running and the music playing. The result was often unhealthy fumes and noise for those nearby. One anchored right next to us and when we went to bed the noise was deafening. A man on a nearby boat with two little kids had his parents visiting and had complained about the fumes, to no avail. I got up, pointed my flashlight at the man on the bow and asked him if he was planning to run the motor all night.

He said he was. I said, “It’s too loud. I can’t sleep.”

He shouted back, “Move if you don’t like it.”

The he suggested where I could put my flashlight – in an orifice on my body where I knew it wouldn’t fit. I explained that there were many other people on boats around him who couldn’t sleep either and that he should go to a more isolated anchorage or tie up at a dock where he could plug into power. Then I retreated. He didn’t seem to be the kind of person who would listen to suggestions. However, the friends rafted to him left a few minutes later, and he followed. Blessed silence and sleep.

I did laundry the next day and we dined at the seafood restaurant ashore. The day after that we motored north to the little lake at Baker’s Haulover Inlet in North Miami, between Florida International University and Oleta River State Park. And there, as I prepared to drop the anchor, our trip made an abrupt and prolonged stop.

More to follow in Part II of this update

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On Feb. 13, Jim and Lynda on Morning Star rafted to Lucky in the anchorage at South Bay, on the southern rim route of Lake Okeechobee.

While we reconnected over supper and drinks (the lads drank quite a bit of rum), we watched a fishing boat raft about twenty feet from where we were sitting in the cockpit. We had inadvertently anchored right in front of their fishing spot and they cheerfully chatted to each other and us as the three of them set out their eighteen (!) fishing rods in the holders on their boat. No limit, they told us, on the number of rods you can use in Florida. They were still happily pulling in fish when I woke up at midnight and saw their lights still blazing. The next day Jim and Richard, who really enjoyed reconnecting, were a little fragile and haven’t drunk that much rum since.

We stayed four days longer there. Lynda and I walked on the rim trail in the mornings. I did laundry in the nearby trailer park. Steve and Sarah, our new friends from the trailer park, picked me up, served me lunch, gave me laundry soap and dropped me off at the dinghy dock in the boat launch area. Sue and Mick on Jenny arrived on their way back to Indiantown and, with Cheryl and Matt from Curieuse, we all got together for Happy Hour on Jenny. Except for three noisy airboats that roared by, sometimes in the middle of the night, and the frequent drifting down of cane ash onto our boats, it was a very quiet anchorage, full of water birds and fish.

On Feb. 18, we motored west, then north, then west again to a small narrow anchorage called the Lollipop, next to a herd of grazing cattle. Very quiet. It was a long narrow channel with a big round deep bay at the end, hence the name.

We made good time along the waterway. Because excess water was being released from the Lake the current was very strong, giving us an extra three and a half knots of speed. When we got to the Gulf a few days later, we could see this brown water flowing out into it for miles from shore.

The next day we filled up with fuel and water at the little Port LaBelle Marina and then tied up at the free town dock in the town of LaBelle. Richard’s long-time sailing friends Dennis and Kika, no longer sailing and living in a house on the river, joined us at the block party on the dock that night. We even danced – three Canadian couples, doing the foxtrot and looking very weird to the many teenagers standing by, I imagine – to the wonderful music there. Dennis and Kika picked us up for a restocking trip to the Save-a-lot the next day and Kika picked us up at the dock for a bonfire and BBQ on their back lawn overlooking the river in the evening.

The next day, Sunday, we continued the trip west on the river. As we got closer to Fort Meyers, more large power boats flew by streaming large wakes. I never saw anyone on board looking back to see how badly they rocked us. Not my favourite part of the trip.

We had decided to take a channel a couple of miles north into Bimini Basin, in the city of Cape Coral. There were about twenty live-aboard boats there and almost no other boat traffic. The surrounding condos and vacation rentals provided shelter from the wind.  A park at the north end had a dinghy dock where visitors could park and we could meet them.

Nancy Chase, a Scrabble player I had met ten years ago in the Bahamas, drove down from Sarasota and we had lunch and played two great games on the boat before the weather turned threatening and she had to go home. Jim and Lynda were visited by friends and relatives who staying nearby, both on the boat and ashore. Lynda did laundry. I walked to the Wynn Dixie and took a cab back to the dingy dock, where Richard, watching from the boat, came in and picked up me with my many bags of groceries.

One day the Honda generator wouldn’t start.  Jim and Richard took it completely apart and put it back together, Lynda googling advice for them. The boat was chaos and they didn’t get it all together until the next day. All I could do was lay in the v-Berth and read. A good thing I had a wonderful book. We watched movies on board a couple of evenings. It was still in the forties F. at night, and much snuggling was necessary to keep warm.

Five days later, the visitors had gone, the wind had settled down and it was time to go to Fort Meyers Beach, a half-day journey out into the bay and back in behind Estero Island. There were two moorings left, and we took them. They were only $16 and gave us access to the laundry, fresh water on the dinghy dock and clean hot showers.

The next day, Saturday, Feb. 27, we motored out into the Gulf of Mexico and sailed downwind to Gordon Cut. Richard had the sails set wing on wing and the boat was going seven knots. Exhilarating! Our best sail so far. But I couldn’t steer because I can only steer downwind if I can see the little wind indicator arrow at the top of the mast; there is no window in the top of our bimini.

At Gordon Pass, we flew in between the rocky breakwaters as I struggled to get the main down. Then we found ourselves in the midst of small boats speeding back and forth between Naples and Marco Island and to the many little bays and fishing spots in between. They were all enjoying their speed much more than the scenery and had little regard for sailboats moving at five knots. We learned later that Jim and Lynda, who came in behind us, had their cockpit swamped with spray from a powerboat; they were both drenched and had to bail out the cockpit. It was a relief when we turned east, away from the channel and into the cut leading to Rookery Bay. Old friends Chris, Divya and Sue were anchored there on Maggie M, waiting for us. Lynda and Jim followed and we all gathered for tea with rum and Girl Scout cookies in our cockpit and later for spaghetti dinner on Maggie M. It was a joyful reunion.

The next day there were two good Scrabble games, more meals shared, a long walk on the nearby Gulf beach and a wonderful dinghy cruise through the mangroves, led by Chris, Divya and Sue. The morning after that, we woke up to the singing of the Maggie M crew as they slid by our boat and away to the north.
The day after, Lynda and I took another ocean walk and I painted two little pictures of the mangroves, trying to see into their depths.

This is our third trip making this loop west from Indiantown to Fort Meyers and south to the Florida Keys and back north through the Keys, travelling up the Intracoastal Waterway on the East Coast and turning  west in the St. Lucie Canal back to Indiantown. We’ve been to all of these spots before. But now they are fresher in our memories. And busier, I regret to say.

On Tuesday, March first, we motored south in the west coast Intracoastal. We had to time our departure so we would pass under the bridge at Marco Island and into the shallow water just beyond at slack tide. Then it was a nail-biting trip to Goodlands, picking our way through many skinny spots. Morning Star bumped three times and we hit bottom once, but got off easily.

After an expensive Happy Hour at Marker 8 Bar and a quiet night in the anchorage we sailed on the next day to Little Shark River. We anchored up the river, rafted together among ancient trees hanging over the shores. An old turtle with a big gnarly shell at least three feet in diameter and a head the size of a new-born baby rose out of the water just behind us to breath. And a white dolphin fished along the shore. The night was silent except for the gnawing of barnacles on the hull at intervals and the odd whine of mosquitoes against the screens.

Then there was a long day of sailing and watching out for the crab-pots that would foul our prop, until we finally arrived at the moorings at Lignum Vitae in the Florida Keys. Now we are anchored just north of the Lorelei Restaurant on Isla Morada, where we enjoyed Happy Hour with our old friends Alan, Steve and Janet, waiting for the twenty-to-thirty knot wind to let up. Jim and Lynda are in Marathon, waiting for better weather too, and may join us then.

So far, it has been a chilly, wet and windy winter here.

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Being in the water was wonderful, but there was still lots to do. We had to fill up with water, gas and diesel, and buy more groceries – a lot more.

The first night, when we got back with supplies, there was an odd smell in the boat, from the saurkraut and sausage we cooked the night before, Richard thought. But I could detect a subtle hint of gas, so Richard shut off the propane tank, and went to bed, with the rain pouring down, as it had been doing all day. The next day when we turned on the propane, there was a loud hissing noise.

It rained all day. And all day, Richard climbed in and out of the locker where the propane regulator and hook-ups to the stove were – in the rain, as the tarp didn’t cover the whole cockpit and our bimini was away, a pattern for the new one being sewn by a seamstress in Tequesta. I spent the day driving back and forth from the marina to the hardware store and the Gas Company in that pouring rain. We replaced the copper line – had to lift the stove out to get it out. The hissing continued when we turned the propane on. Then the LPG line. Still hissing. I was getting frazzled from all the driving in the heavy rain. Late in the day at the gas company, I backed into a short metal post that I couldn’t see and now the van needs a new bumper.

Finally I went back for a new regulator, and when Rich installed it the hissing stopped. It kept raining. Richard climbed creakily out on the locker, a hero in my eyes.

And that was supposed to have been our day of rest after our three weeks of slaving in the yard!
But things got better. I did laundry quickly the next day in town, where there are many machines and I was early enough that I didn’t have to wait.

In the afternoon we went to Tequesta and waited an hour for Beth to finish the new bimini. She had forgotten to make the changes we requested and her grommet machine didn’t work. $335 U.S. Richard said he should have done it himself, but he already had so much to do.

We had a good visit with Richard’s old friend Ben, who thinks Trump will solve all of the problems in the U.S. if he gets elected.

I played a few wonderful Scrabble games with some very good players – Joy from Sandals, Joan from Tranquility, Debbie from Our Way and two or three others. They needed a little brushing up on the rules, as most played on the computer, but took that well.

On Monday we moved up the canal a little ways to the dock of Richard and Renita Brooks, Richard’s good and log-time friends. Most of the power boats that passed slowed down and left small wakes. Richard spent an afternoon helping Richard B. install a pump in his pool. We relaxed a bit.

Richard got out his 50-year-old Pfaff sewing machine out and started making cockpit cushions. (He had brought the foam and beautiful waterproof material from Canada.) He worked on them many days in our two different anchorages until now.

It kept raining off and on. One morning we woke up surrounded by a floating island of foliage that had floated down the canal. With the boathook and broom, we were able to get it off of our lines in pieces and sent it on towards Stuart. We have seen these large floating islands all along the way. Yesterday one was blocking the boat ramps near our current anchorage, and another stretched almost across the canal.

We took another trip to West Palm Beach to look for a replacement for the broken spring in the tensor unit of the sewing machine. After being sent from one place to another, Brad kindly agreed to fix it while we did more grocery shopping. We all agreed that it was a miracle that he had the part in stock. After that the sewing proceeded at a better pace, although Richard still had to keep taking those tiny pieces apart and putting them back together, with his reduced eyesight. I held the flashlight and threaded the needle.

On Feb. 1st, there was still a light drizzle, but we decided nothing was so crucial that it couldn’t be done farther down the water. Richard had put the car to bed the day before while I played two last games of Scrabble with those wonderful players.

We detached the electrical line and two dock lines, pulled up the four anchors and I motored slowly west down the canal while Richard tied everything down.

At the railroad bridge with the 49-foot clearance, Richard approached slowly into the oncoming current and went underneath the bridge. It cleared the light on top of the mast by about 6 inches and the aerial went “ping” as it bent to go under each girder. Phew! Once under, we anchored before the lock. We had decided to take the southern rim route and weren’t sure we could get to the next possible anchorage before dark. We watched “Sex Tape”, one of the movies downloaded for us by Bill and Eileen on Moshulu. Richard picked it for the reasons you would expect, but it turned out to be a good comedy.

In the morning we went through the Port Mayaca Lock and motored into the southern Rim Route. Late in the day we anchored in a little side-pocket just east of the swing bridge at Torrie Island. There we rode out a strong cold front and stayed three more days. We spent much of the time working on the cockpit cushions, Richard nursing his crotchety old Pfaff machine along.

In the evenings we watch movies that son Mike and Richard’s son Colin downloaded for us. We have become addicted to the Castle detective series (so nice with no commercials) and watched “12 Years a Slave”. Thank you Mike and Colin!

On Feb. 6, we moved here, to the enclosed anchorage just north os the South Bay Trailer Park and boat launch. All of the nights have been cold and we woke up to temperatures from 35 to 55◦ F. every night.
A few days ago I hand-sewed the last corner on the last cockpit cushion, and they are beautiful. Very subtle beige colour, but they give the boat a bit of class that was missing last year with the smelly damp old foam and the loose pieces of cheap plastic laid on top.

We met Steve from Maine, a winter resident in the motor-home park, on the dinghy-dock, and he has come over to raft alongside Lucky in Opa’s Island, his Bayside cruiser, with his wife and guests. They have offered help whenever we need it. We meet the very nicest people while cruising.

Jim and Lynda came in yesterday in Morning Star and rafted alongside and we shared the fish Steve had given to us for supper. Sue and Mick on Jennie may stop by on their way home tomorrow or the next day and Dennis and Kika, old friends of Richard will drive over tomorrow.

Today is lovely and warm but another front is coming through tonight. Jim and Richard got out their fishing gear. Now, at 3:30 p.m., they are both napping. They say the fish bite better at night.
At 4:30 the birds will begin roosting in the trees near us and I will watch for the beautiful roseate spoonbills I saw two nights ago to flutter  onto a roost. Perhaps we will stay here all winter!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sharon and Richard, taking it easy on Lucky

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February 9th, 2016

January 21, 2016 Update from Lucky

From Spring until Christmas, June 15 to December 28, 2015:

The summer of 2015 flew by.

My elderly parents had both died a couple of years ago, and I felt I had more time. Kamo had his passport and Rebecca took him back to the airport in Toronto, where he flew to Grenada, so I could resume my regular life.

There were still those twenty-five grand-nieces and grand-nephews and their parents (my seventeen nieces and nephews and their spouses) and the grandparents (my sisters and brothers and their spouses). We all enjoy each other’s company so the summer was filled with visiting and eating together.

My son Mike was now living alone in a little house in Vienna, south of Tillsonburg, Ontario. I tried to visit him as much as possible to see how his renovations and clearing out of the brush in the little forest around his house was progressing.

Sister Virginia had been looking forward to her time with me. We took the Canadian train with the dome cars through the Rockies to celebrate her sixtieth birthday, visited niece Dana and her husband Dave in Vancouver and flew home. My advice – take the plane out and the train back. That way you will pass through the most spectacular mountains in daylight. The dining car with starched tablecloths and napkins, wonderful food and attentive wait staff was the highlight. Virginia took a shine to both of the good-looking young men who kept the sleeper car beautiful and directed the entertainment aboard.

Oh, yes, did I mention that Richard and I got together once in a while? He changed his 1985 VW Vanagen for a “new” 1993 Westphalia VW van and we took two camping trips in Ontario. One of these was to visit Sister Vonny and her husband Ray, who were hosting another five couples with whom they had cruised. We knew some and would meet others again along the way, a special treat. In fact, Terry and Sandy had their boat Gambit in the work yard when we got to Indiantown Marina.

The big project that I worked on for most of the summer and fall was writing Book III of the Idiot Afloat Series. This book is called Still Floating. After six years of single-handing, I figured I could drop the “idiot” designation. It was the hardest one of the series to write, even though I wasn’t really making it up, just recounting what happened. It covers another three years of the adventure, including 2006, when I met Richard, a great mechanic and a good companion. Okay, we’re still working on the partnership part, but we continue to stick it out and we have had many wonderful times together. By the time I got to the year 2009 in the book, I felt the story had been told. Yet, many good times and adventures followed, but they were the same things that all of us aging cruising couple do out here, and lots has already been written on the subject. I included an Afterword, where I wrapped up or updated unfinished stories of the people along the way. I also described a couple of notable things that happened between then and now. To tell you the truth, I was having trouble remembering what I had already written. In the proofing, I and the other proof-readers discovered I had repeated myself quite a bit, a sure sign I should let it go.

Before I knew it, the book was published. I did four book talks in libraries – a less than spectacularly successful way to sell books, unless you are already famous. Book III was selling well, mostly to people who already had the first two of the series. And Christine was working on converting them to ebooks.

Then it was Christmas and time to go south.

Richard spent Christmas with his three grand-sons and their parents, and I stayed home for my big family’s events around Bothwell, where the best part was immersing myself in a sea of little kids – a sea from which I could escape and go home for a nap when it got overwhelming.

The “new” Westphalia camper appeared before noon on Boxing Day, loaded down with new things that Richard had bought for the boat, as well as my old 15 HP Johnson outboard that he had rebuilt during the summer. I was ready to jump on board. Three days later, after driving south through steady rain and sleeping aboard the camper in Flying J’s at night, we pulled into Indiantown Marina at 8 p.m. Sue and Mick on Jenny welcomed us with drinks and a visit and we crawled back into the van to sleep there one last night.

The next day we uncovered and opened Lucky, dirty on the outside from the sugar cane ash, but pristine on the inside, thanks to mothballs and our little solar ventilating fan in the head. Jess and Alex moved her to the work yard in the Afternoon and we got to work.

Slaving in the Workyard, December 28, 2015 to January 21, 2016:
We knew we had a lot to do after going to the Bahamas and keeping the boat in George Town for three years. The 45% import duty on everything there made the costs of repairs and replacements very high, so we postponed our work until we got back to the States, where we could at least bring replacement parts from Canada.

We slept and cooked on the boat. Richard got the propane stove and water pump working the first day and we got used to climbing up and down the ladder to use the nearby toilet.

The first full day of work, I scrubbed most of the dirty deck and cockpit and Richard installed the new head (toilet to you landlubbers) and the new water pump for the head. His job had him in a tightly cramped position all day. He was still at it when the light started to fail, so I held the flashlight so he could see the small parts with which he was working, and the hair dryer so he could get the hoses fitted together. We finished at 7:30, exhausted.

And so the days went. I cleaned the stern. Richard ground down the bubbled-up paint on the boot line and scrubbed the hull. He sanded the topsides and painted it. Later he put two coats of paint on the hull. I sanded the prop. I cooked, did dishes, vacuumed often, and did weekly laundry. I redid the lettering on the stern and bow of the boat after Richard painted. I took me three days, but everyone who walked by said it was a good job. It looked perfect, from a modest distance. I sanded and painted inside the hard dodger, and it gleams.

There were shared meals and cocktails on the patio some evenings with old and new friends. Some came for dinner on our boat – Bill and Eileen on Moshulu, from near Algonquin Park, whom Richard had known for decades, but I had just met for the first time. And Jon off Captain Cook, an old friend of Richard’s whom I met before I knew Richard. Jim and Lynda of Morning Star, hailing from Vermillion Bay, Ontario, arrived and we reconnected. Murray and Laurel Thompson from Hamilton, Ontario, even stopped by for a BBQ on their way to their mobile home in Bonita Springs and brought filet minyon (sp?) to die for.

We squeezed the painting in between the many rainy days and found jobs we could inside on those days. Many days were much colder than it should be in Florida. Of course one of those jobs was going shopping to stock the boat for the winter, which we did on at least five rainy days. Some nights we watched DVDs on board and I had the luxury of easily accessible internet so I could do email. A bonus – I was able to play a few games of Scrabble with some excellent and keen players.

Finally, on January 21, we were placed gently (splashed, they call it) into the water. More to come, but that’s enough for now. Sharon and Richard on Lucky

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Update from Sharon and Richard, of the Sailboat Lucky, now back in Ontario

On April fourth, we sailed to Samson Cay, followed by and sometimes following Jim and Lynda on their little 30 foot eastward Ho!, Morningstar. Richard knew this place as a beautiful anchorage just off of a nice marina with a good restaurant, but the marina was gone, now private and closed to boaters. We cooked our own dinner, in the empty anchorage.

We made our way up the Exumas, enjoying exhilarating sailing, and stopping for a couple of days in Ship Channel anchorage, by Roberts Cay, and Bimini. We were surprised at the number of very large motor yachts we saw, up to 150 feet in length, with two or three stories, and tenders the size of our boat! Fortunately, they were too big to get into our favourite anchorages.

After two nights of luxury on the dock at Bimini Bluewater Marina, and sipping cocktails in the pool there, we set out across the Gulf Stream to Florida.

Right at the axis of the Gulf Stream, the prop stopped with a big clunk, and we were drifting in the light wind. Richard leaned over and looked under the dive platform. We had picked up a chunk of heavy commercial fishing net the size of three people. He could not go under the boat with just a snorkel in the strong current and choppy waves to free it. Since no one was in immediate danger, the Coast Guard was not interested in our plight. Jim and Lynda tried to tow us with Morningstar, but it was too dangerous.

After several hours of sailing at two or three knots and being pushed north, we realized we would get to shore after dark and past the harbour entrance. We radioed TowBoatUS (whom we suspect were expecting our call) and an hour or so later, a young man came out in a towboat. When he had towed us into Lake Sylvia, we anchored. He got out his hookah, remover the big clump of netting from the prop and took it away with him. It cost $1037, but by that time we felt it was well worth it. And divided by the thirty years that Richard has not carried insurance, it was a bargain. There was a problem with Customs too, but I’ll save it for the book. (I may never get there. I’m paging through the current calendar faster than I’m telling the story in my journals.)

After that we made the usual passage through the dozen and more bridges in the Intracoastal Waterway with very little waiting.

Back in Indiantown, Richard anchored us in a perfect four-point position off the dock of Richard’s old friends, Richard and Renita. Then we dove into the cleaning, organizing, getting rid of stuff and packing that must happen before heading north. There were also issues getting my car operational. And all those friends to visit. We had the Brookses and Chris and Divya for crêpes when we got tied to the dock.

Nine days later we were in the car and driving north. More than halfway to my house in Ontario, Richard remembered that he had forgotten to loosen off the seal on the stuffing box. As a result, it will have to be replaced ($400?) when we get back. I’m going to start the list of things to do before leaving as soon as we get back to the boat next year!

When we got to my place after ten p.m. , ready to fall into bed, we discovered that my sister-in-law Connie had put breakfast in the fridge for us. She is an angel. There were many reunions with family and friends, most involving food. Richard went home and I felt that a big piece of my life was missing.

I tackled Paypal, Smashwords and the editing of my art on my webpage, www.mydetour.com. I’m still working on all that stuff, but go to the website to see what’s there so far..

Christine had prepared Idiot Afloat, Books I and II for ebook publication in Smashwords, and now both books are available to Canadian libraries, and are available on Overdrive, Kobo, and many other ebook sites. (Book I still available on Kindle, but not to Canadian libraries, which is why I went to Smashwords.) Of course, both books are still available from me and the info about them is on the website.

The latest news: Kamo emailed me from to say his passport had expired and he was about to be deported from Grenada(which has no Canadian Consulate) and might lose his boat. After much investigation, old friends Rebecca and Laurel and I concluded that the best way to resolve the issue was for him to fly to Canada (the only place that will accept him with an expired passport – he’s Canadian). Actually getting on any plane with an expired passport in another whole issue and it took several phone calls to airlines and various government departments to work that out. I sent begging emails to those of you that knew Kamo personally or through Idiot Afloat Book II. Enough people responded that there is money for his flight back and a ten-year passport. Any extra money will go to Kamo for incidentals (photo I.D., emergency passport, repairing his boat, etc.) Thank you for your generosity. If you would like to donate and I didn’t send you a letter, email me and I can give you the donor info.

I didn’t use crowd funder or whatever they call it because they take a big cut, I understand, and the amount of money Kamo needed is relatively modest. Rebecca picked Kamo up at the airport and did research on documents needed, etc.. He stayed with Laurel and Murray a week and was able to work a few days at the yacht club in Hamilton. He is staying with me a month, waiting for his photo i.d. and passport. Then he will fly back to Grenada, where Immigration promises to welcome him back with his valid passport. All donors will receive a summary of money raised and how it is spent.

It’s nice to be back home, surrounded by my family and the many shades of a green Southwestern Ontario summer.

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April 4th, 2015

April 3, 2015 Update from Lucky

This update covers the most relaxed period of the cruise this year.

I felt a little guilty leaving Rebecca in town by herself for the last night of her visit. But when she called to make sure I got back to Lucky safely in the dinghy, she was at the bar of the Exuma Yacht Club and making more friends already. I’m sure she will find wonderful things to do in her retirement when it starts in a few weeks.

The winds remained high and we watched many more of the great movies that Rebecca had brought down as gifts for us. Often Jim and Lynda came to watch them with us. I recommend The Imitation Game, about the British genius who broke the German Enigma code in WWII, also Boyhood.

We were still in Red Shanks and most mornings I got up before 6:30 a.m. to listen to Chris Parker predict more wind at 25 to 30 knots. Richard made breakfast and cooked many suppers. I made bread. Richard baked it. I worked on writing Book III, while Richard watched violent guy movies, wearing his headphones. When it wasn’t too windy to get off the boat, we walked back and forth on and in the white sand and turquoise water of the beach nearby. Gabe and Gail of Sea Wolf and Jim and Lynda usually joined us. We got used to the wind howling night and day and slept through it. Most evenings we shared supper with Jim and Lynda.

We missed the opening night show of the Cruisers’ Regatta. The entertainment, by all accounts, was wonderful, but the wind blew cold through Regatta Park. The four or five hundred people who arrived on Elvis’s taxis at 3 p.m. in shorts and tee-shirts had to stand or sit on the wall or the muddy ground for the show, then wait two or three hours to get rides back to their boats in one of the (3?) water taxis.

The six of us went the back way to town in our dinghies the next day, then crossed to Volleyball Beach to see the small boat races. The last day of the regatta we climbed to the ridge near the monument on Stocking Island to watch the Round the Island Race. In earlier years we raced, and I participated in the art show, but this year we didn’t have the wherewithal to race what had become our home, and the high winds kept us in Red Shanks and discouraged me from organizing an art show. Besides, an art group never really coalesced this year. (Or a Scrabble group, for that matter.) But one day I took all my paintings to Volleyball Beach just as Beach Church was getting out and set up my easel to paint. A couple of paintings and two books found new homes and I met and visited with many really friendly people. A great day.

There were two volunteer yoga leaders with different styles, and Lynda and I enjoyed both of their classes, when we could get there in spite of the wind. Richard and I went to three or four parties and enjoyed dancing and listening to the music. But by nine or ten p.m., we were both ready to go home to our V-berth.

We showed Gabe and Gail of the Kroegen the way to the Loyalist ruins on Crab Key, and went snorkelling in sheltered spots with them one day when the wind was high.

Our boats had now been in the water for two years. As fast as Richard and Jim cleaned the bottoms of the boats with scrapers, the grass grew back, and they had to go at it again. They could have hired a guy to do it for a dollar a foot, but Richard was having none of it. He still could do it himself, thank you very much. But he was glad of the help he got from Jim. I even helped a little, but got a lot of bites from little creatures that floated out of the grass I was scraping off on the waterline and got caught under the edges of my old bathing suit.

We saw lots of sea life this year – a two-foot-long red-finned pipe-fish with jaws full of sharp little teeth, the odd squid, and countless starfish and stingrays. Later we even had conch salad from a conch Richard found one day in the Darbys.

I managed to get about five pages of Book III written this winter, as well as the updates.

On March 15, the wind finally died down, and a week of calm was predicted. Off we went to Kidd Cove in front of George Town to reprovision and refill the tanks with water. Even though the number of boats in the harbour had dropped from 379 to 177, there was a long line-up of dinghies at the water tap on the dinghy dock behind the Exuma Market, where we got free reverse osmosis water. A day later Richard and I went to visit Helga, the German woman we met last year, who lives on Elizabeth Island. My favourite thing there: she has a rule – no bathing suits allowed on her lovely little beach.

Finally, on Thursday, March 19, we headed over to Kidd Cove to meet Jim and Lynda, who would lead us out of the harbour. Funny thing: As we were passing a boat anchored a little farther out, I saw the name Blue Streak on the side and as the stern became visible, I saw: Chatham, Ontario. I yelled that I was from Bothwell, and the couple on board said they knew the Kerrs from Bothwell (also sailors) and had read my books, loaned to them by the Kerrs. Small world.

Every day I look around at the clear azure 90 degree F water and swim in it, feel the warm air and go to sleep in the gently rocking boat, thankful that I’m here and not up there in Ontario. We go to town and the Bahamians are cheerful and helpful, and the kids are polite and charming. But there are more tourists and cruisers every year too, so I’m glad to have been wintering here since 2000, when it wasn’t quite as busy as it has been more recently.

We more or less followed Morningstar out of the harbour. After a couple of hours of slow sailing, there was a zzzzing on the fishing line we had been trailing with a flashy plastic lure on it. Looking back, I could see the stunning greens, yellows and blues of a large dorado (a.k.a. dolphin fish or mahi-mahi). Richard wound it in while I ran to find the net and gaff. Richard pulled it into the cockpit. It was fought until Richard poured rum into its gills. Sadly, when we posed with our four-foot catch, its beauty had faded to a dark gray. Jim cleaned it at our next stop, the old research center, now closed. Two big meals for four of us.

The water was much clearer there than in George Town and it was hot so we spent a lot of time in the water. We also went ashore and walked around. No one was living there and there were big piles of junk everywhere – a sad waste.

Heavy wind was called for, so we continued on the shallow route on the banks, followed by Hug, a Norwegian boat that was trying the shallow route for the first time. They drew 5 feet, same as us. Higher winds were called for so we took Lucky and Morningstar into a small anchorage between the Darbys, a well-protected spot where we could raft together. Jim and Lynda’s dinghy was continually springing leaks, so they came in our dinghy to explore. Richard had known the caretaker’s father in the old days, so we were cleared to visit the green mansion on top of the hill and other places of interest, despite the signs that said we would be taken to Fox Hill Prison in Nassau and our passports seized until our trial if we trespassed. But revisiting the green house was depressing. It was once a beautiful structure, but the rebar and steel beams are rusting and big chunks of concrete are falling through the floors. It has become dangerous. The new American owner is probably right to throw trespassers in prison. He is likely only concerned for their safety.

Some Bahamians have suggested that the reason most grandiose plans for resorts and the like never come to fruition is that the islands are purchased with money made by nefarious means and will eventually be resold to launder the money. The government goes along with this because so much employment is promised for locals, but often the project halts after a short time. There are a few successes. Emerald Bay is a notable example.

Two big catamarans came in and tried to anchor in this place, but no one uses two anchors anymore, and there is not room to swing there on only one. We had a total of seven anchors on our bows and sterns.

On March 30, we left this little haven and resumed the trip north, stopping at Little Farmers Cay and the secluded little bay south of Hetty’s land. Now we are in the pretty little village of Black Point and will continue to explore it today.

I have lost my address book, so if I sometimes phone you, could you please email me your phone number? Thank you.

Sharon and Richard on Lucky

 

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