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