It has been nine months since I sent an update to you about the travels of the sailboat Lucky, captained by Richard Villmann and crewed by me, Sharon Lehnert. I am writing this on a new Acer computer, since my Surface, at least ten years old, laid down and died. It will be a long slow process for me, but I hope to be proficient by the time I have finished this update.
When I last wrote, on Jan. 3rd, 2019, we were anchored in Baker’s Haulover, near the University of Miami’s north campus. The bright young staff at the counter in the university library were kind enough to help me send that update to you, since I had forgotten how to do it. This time I am writing at my desk, at home in Bothwell, Ontario, Canada. When I run into problems, I call my 16-year-old nephew Julian for help. Richard is still my skipper and living in Caledon, Ontario. I am 76 and he will soon be 80, but we are looking forward to travelling south to Florida in December and living and travelling on Lucky.
Last season, we noticed that there were fewer sailboats travelling in the ICW, and more powerboats. The powerboats sped by without regard for their wake, and some powerboats were very large, up to 100 feet, too large to be tucking into Baker’s Haulover, noted for the many paddle-boarders and kayakers who enjoyed this little sheltered lake.
We went for walks in Oleta State Park, watched movies on TV that my son Mike had put on a stick, swam, showered in the dinghy in precious fresh rain-water, took turns baking bread and cooking, and played Match Four (3-dimensional tic-tac-toe) and cards. We had Mick and Sue over for happy hour or went to their boat most evenings, explored the creeks in our dinghies and went shopping, tying the dinghies off as closely as we could to the stores we needed to get to. Richard dropped me ashore with my paints a few times and came back when I was done painting a picture. He cooked crepes for the four of us. Sue helped me sort out my smart phone a few times. Richard and Mick bought batteries and the seller trundled them over to where I was holding the dinghy off of the barnacles on the dock. When I didn’t want to watch the violent movies that my kind gentle partner loved, I put in earplugs and read.
We left Baker’s Haulover on January 14, going south, and Mick and Sue headed north on Jenny, their Mainship, back to Indiantown Marina to store the boat and catch a flight back to Wales. We would miss them.
Our next stop on Jan. 15 was No Name Harbor, at the southern tip of Key Biscayne. (This was where Vonny and Ray’s boat was hit by lightning a couple of years before. I called them; Vonny could no longer no longer talk due to her brain cancer, which had grown back.
The next day, we filled our tanks with fresh water, and jugs with diesel. Then over to the Sand Key Anchorage, which was so empty we could swim sans suits. Nice and sunny, so enough solar power to answer emails.
We slept at anchor under a full moon, then drifted south on just the sails to Key Largo. The next day we took a 2.5 mile walk to West Marine to buy a new water separator. Water was getting into the diesel fuel.
Wind and waves for the next few days. Several manatee sightings. One came up beside me as I sat in the cockpit and breathed deeply as it rolled over and then sank slowly. Best moment of the trip.
We settled down in Tarpon Basin. Most of January and February were cool and windy. Twice we saw a barge lift sunken and abandoned boats out of the water. It looked like an expensive procedure, involving several divers. No wonder scruffy or abandoned anchored boats are unpopular.
We enjoyed the sunsets and blew the conch horn when the sun touched the horizon. Sometimes others did too. We took the propane stove out of its spot and cleaned off the years of accumulated cooking oil and food scraps. February was cool and windy, with some rain.
Our friend Elizabeth arrived from Toronto on February 27. She and I walked to John Pennekamp Park and went out in the glass-bottomed boat. There was quite a good view if the many fish on Molasses Reef, and we didn’t get wet while looking at them.
One day we rented a car and visited Elizabethann Wyndelts in Key West. She was a friend who used to come cruising on our boat, but whom we hadn’t seen in years. It was a wonderful reunion. And we walked around and looked at the 3-foot long iguanas walking all around the (former) Holiday Inn.
But then niece Sarah sent me a picture of my sister Vonny, who had fallen and hurt herself at home and was now in the Prince Edward Hospice in Picton, Ontario. Vonny had been diagnosed with the brain tumor glio-blastoma multi-form, that grew back faster after each surgery. It was obvious that she did not have long to live, so Elizabeth booked me on her return flight to Toronto. On March 8th we took the shuttle bus to Miami and I rented a car at the Toronto airport. I should mention that I could not have made it through the airport without Elizabeth’s help. The airport is like a giant stockyard, with big herds of cattle cutting across each other in many directions.
The next day I was at the hospice. That night I asked Vonny if she would like me to stay overnight and she nodded her head. From then on, Ray and I arranged to have someone sleeping in the lazy boy at the foot of her bed almost every night. Old friends Doug and Rosemary have a house near the hospice, which made it easier for me to stay in Picton instead of taking the ferry out to Ray’s place every night. There were many visitors every day. Except for getting my own car from home and returning the rental, with sister Sandy’s help, I was at the hospice most of the time until April 10th, when Vonny died. One night, she talked to me until two or three in the morning, but I could only make out one word, “Tom”, the name of her youngest son. I told her not to worry and that Ray would look after him. I think she was saying all of the things she wanted to tell everyone before she died, and it broke my heart that I could not understand her.
In the meantime, Richard had been making his way back to the Indiantown boat yard alone, except for getting his friend Richard to join him for the trip up the Lucie Canal, where he needed help getting through the locks. He used the autopilot a lot, and anchored early in the evenings. He arrived in Indiantown with Lucky April 10th. On April 22 I was getting the garbage out of the garage when I turned around and there was the VW van. Richard had driven almost non-stop from Indiantown to Bothwell!
Vonny’s celebration of life was at the Alexandra Yacht on June 9. Many cousins and other family members were there, but I didn’t get to talk to many of them because I was constantly approached by yacht club members who remembered our women’s cruising days and Vonny’s many years at the club and wanted to reminisce.
Back in Bothwell, the summer proceeded apace. My brother Bill came over and cut down the walnut tree that both Richard and I had hit while backing out of the driveway. I saw all of my 29 grand- nieces and nephews at sister Sandy’s and Brother Bill’s at Easter.
After meeting the gallery manager when I went to a concert at the Mary Webb Centre in Highgate, I was asked to bring in some art, and five of my paintings, mostly of the Bahamas, are hanging there now.
Lots of yard work this year. And I went to Richard’s stress test with him. He passed.
In the VW van, we visited the cottage, on Lake Farcour and then toured around the lake in the little power boat. We drove to Algonquin Park and camped on Rock Bay, where Richard had camped many years ago with his wife and son Rick, when Rick was a little boy. Then we stopped in Keene, and the next night at Presque Isle Provincial Park, a favourite now. We also visited Tom and Ray, Vonny’s husband and son, on the Reach, east of Picton.
Richard bought an old seventies motor home and spent a lot of time repairing and revitalizing it. And I spent a lot of time on it too. I even found a mattress that fits the bed over the cab perfectly – my contribution. And in September we went travelling in the motor home. We like it. It’s roomy and comfortable and we hope to take some longer trips in it next year.
Sorry for the length of this update. Let me know how you are doing and don’t be afraid to ask me to remove you from the list if you find this a bit tedious or have forgot who in hell we are!
Sharon and Richard, on Lucky