Category Archives: 2013

Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, February 14, 1013

A lot of cruising has been done on Lucky since the update you received on January 31.

Lucky stayed in Lake Oleta at Baker’s Haulover another couple of days. Our friend Shirley Marshall, our angel ashore who lives in Fort Lauderdale in the winter, had received Richard’s forgotten puffers and delivered them to us. She stayed overnight and took Sue and me shopping. This is part of the bonus of a friend with a car. In the morning there was a ticket on it. We advised her to ignore it, and hope there have been no consequences.

The next day, Sunday, we motored to No Name Harbor. The dock was packed with the usual crowd of partiers playing Spanish music loudly, but the harbour had lots of space for anchoring boats. Lynda and Jim on Morning Star came in and rafted to us.  It was so good to see them. We shared supper, caught up on each other’s news and made plans for crossing the Gulf Stream.

The water was as flat as glass all night. Monday morning Chris Parker, the weather guy, said it would be ESE 5-7 knots on Tuesday, with seas of 1-2 feet. Our window.

We had trouble sleeping Monday night and were up at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. At 5:30 we left the harbour and headed out into the black ocean, Morning Star right behind us. The chart plotter light blinded Richard and I was nervous and couldn’t figure out how to dim the light. I had to put a towel over it and then tell Richard which way to go to miss the day markers and stay in the deep water. A lot of yelling. It’s been five years since we headed into the bumpy ocean in the dark and we were both edgy.

As it got lighter we calmed down and got sails up. We motor-sailed all the way across to Bimini. It was not the worst or the best crossing, but when we got into that stunning turquoise blue-green water off Bimini, we were thrilled to be there again.

Both of our boats were waved into Brown’s, the first dock we saw, and we thought it was Weech’s, to whom we had just spoken on the radio and where we had always stayed in previous years. Later we heard the staff at Weech’s shouting furiously at the guys at Browns’, whom they said had stolen their customers. But we were happy. Browns’ is a beautiful restoration of some old docks that used to be at the entrance and is a reasonably priced. Weech’s is run-down. We were told that a French-Canadian woman was responsible for the restoration of Browns’. We strolled over to Customs and Immigration, and enjoyed Alice Town’s village ambiance, where everyone greeted us with a polite “Good Afternoon”.

Jim and Lynda took us out for dinner – a repayment for a painting I had sent them in Canada and a copy of Book II – at the Big Game Club, which has a great restaurant. The conch salad was delicious. Then we toddled back to our boats and fell into bed.

We had internet there, but there were too many touristy things to do and I didn’t have time to do an update. We rented a golf cart the next day and drove the length of the island, through Bailey Town and Porgy Town and north into the Bimini Bay project which was started before Vonny and I were there thirteen years ago. The natural landscape has been obliterated by the landfill resulting from the dredging of a channel into it and a marina for very large (up to 100’ plus) powerboats. We were told the slips were mostly occupied by Cubans. Driving among the many new mostly empty houses, we blew a tire. The property manager, a pleasant and helpful Bahamian who lived on south Bimini, got one of his drivers to take us to the Aqua Grille, a very nice restaurant with an infinity swimming pool. This is a pool that, when you sit in a lounge chair and look out across it, appears to join the ocean. But no one was in the pool, although a sweet Bahamian woman with a big smile sat at a table with rolled white bath towels to pass out to anyone who needed them. The showers were elegant. The restaurant was almost empty. Eventually the golf cart returned, with a replacement tire. The blow-out was really a bonus.

Lynda and I took a tour of Dolphin House, where most of the surfaces are mosaics made from bits and pieces of broken tiles, glass, license plates, and so on. It sounds tacky, but it was quite elegant.

We had planned to stay and be tourists for another day, but when we listened to the weather in the morning, off we went, to take advantage of two good days to get to Chub Cay. We went south and turned left of the lighthouse on Gun Cay to go between Gun and Cat Cays and onto the banks. The wind was light, the water was smooth, and Richard had set the autopilot, so there was no need to tend the wheel. I spent much of the day just staring at the sand below us, looking at little ferny corals, sponges, sea cucumbers, the odd conch and little clumps of grass, as we floated over it, rich blues above and below. My watch had stopped, there was no internet, and the bra became optional.  As the sun went down, both boats dropped an anchor. There was no land in sight and no horizon visible in the darkness – just the millions of brilliant stars.

At 3:30 a.m., we woke up on a very bouncy boat. The waves were 3 to 5 feet high and the wind was behind us. We had to wave a bright light at Morning Star for a few minutes to get their attention. At 8:30 a.m., we were past the NW channel light, or at least where the chart plotter said it should be. All evidence of an actual light was missing.

Then we were in the Tongue of the Ocean. The waves got to three, four and five feet and the depth-sounder just flashed a bar, because it could no longer sound the bottom. The water turned from the light sandy turquoise that it had been to a deep indigo blue, almost black. We put up the jib and sailed to the anchorage at Frazer’s Hog, the cay just past Chub that is joined to it.

Later, after anchoring up at the north end, the two crews swam in the cool water and showered sans swim suits, the best way. Lynda and Jim came for supper and brought all of the makings for tacos. We assured Jim and Lynda that we would stay put the next day.

But the wind moved around to the NE and our anchorage became too open. We sailed back the 4 or 5 miles to Chub Cay and anchored in the little bay just off the beach, in front of a fancy-looking resort.

The four of us explored in our dinghy, and walked on a deserted beach near an abandoned house on a cay next to Chub Cay. A couple of live-aboard boats, abandoned perhaps, were anchored in the channel. On the way back we bought conch, already cleaned, from some Bahamian fishermen for a feast of crached conch and conch salad that night.

On Sunday, February 10, the wind was still blowing from the east, so we ignored all of the No Trespassing and Resort/Marina Guest Only signs and went ashore. We saw no people living in the new subdivision between the anchorage and the marina entrance. The fancy resort with its infinity pool and ersatz tiki bar was not occupied. Not only that, it was unfinished, with big skids of marble tile waiting to go onto the floors, and tall pillars leaning against the walls and lying around on the floors. Rain had come through an unfinished spot in the roof, damaging the interior. Outside, lounge chairs with cushions (all tied down) were arranged around the pool, which was clean and blue and waiting for guests to dive in. But the blue mosaic tiles were falling off the infinity side of the pool. The tiki bar was fitted out with colourful light that had big fans. Most of the fans blades were broken or missing, likely taken by a hurricane and the lights were broken. Nice high white bar stools surrounded it, but no guests sat on them or swam in the pool or strolled on the beautiful white beach.

We dinghied inside the marina to fill our diesel jugs and found a dozen or so workers among some shade trees on their break. The marina had fine docks with electrical and water hook-ups, which could take boats of 150 feet, but most were empty. The workers explained that the marina/resort/townhouse complex had gone bankrupt. Some docks were owned by very wealthy boat-owners who rarely used them, and the bank kept workers there to maintain the property, sell gas and rent docks, and provide security. There used to be a little village but it had been mostly subsumed by the developers, and the workers all came from other islands to stay a month and then go hom,e on their time off.

Jim noticed that the men had the Mason insignia on their hats. He is a mason, so they exchanged lodge numbers and are now all brothers. Some are planning to go visit the fishing camp that Jim and Lynda manage in Vermillion Bay, Ontario. After that encounter, we pretty well had the run of the island. There is a restaurant, and we went there for lunch. We called our families on Skype and read and answered email at the restaurant’s outside tables.

Sunday night there was a surge, and we rocked so violently that Richard laid crossways on the v-berth and I lay on the saloon floor on a settee cushion. No sleep was had. At first light we got up, reanchored closer to shore and made a surge harness out of a rope. It was like magic. We faced into the surge and the boat was calm and comfortable.

Monday I painted our Chub Cay anchorage from the Tiki hut and Jeff, the young man whose job was to maintain the pool, watched. It was nice to have the company and I didn’t feel that I was keeping him from any urgent work. On Tuesday we went in and did laundry. The workers seemed happy to have us there to visit with them. Kisha, the clerk in the grocery store and Jeff’s wife, said that the company that went bankrupt had instructed the workers not to fraternize with the guests, but the bank didn’t seem to care about that policy. The workers we met there were the nicest part of Chub Cay.

Wednesday, Feb. 13, we got up early to head for Nassau. But the wind was almost on the nose, and the waves were five to seven feet. Lynda and Jim got a few sweeping into their cockpit. As we passed the Frazer’s Hog anchorage entrance we decided to turn in and leave the trip to Nassau for another day.

A good decision. The next day the wind was slightly lighter and a couple degrees more off of the nose. The waves were noticeably smaller. We had an invigorating sail, well heeled over.

Well, one little glitch. The macerator pump malfunctioned and refused to pump out the head before we left the anchorage. As we pitched and yawed and heeled over, the fluid in the holding tank drained back into the toilet bowl. Until the tank was empty, it was my job to bail it into a small bucket, carry it very carefully back to the cockpit and toss it over the low side, avoiding blowback. I didn’t spill a drop.

The Valentine’s dinner to which Richard treated me that night was well-earned, I thought. The name of the old second-floor Nassau land-mark restaurant to which Jim and Richard took Lynda and me? The Poop Deck.

More to come. Sharon and Richard, on Lucky.

Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, January 31, 2013

Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, January 31, 2013

The last update was mostly about our land life from July to December. So I am sending this little auxiliary update to fill you in on the boating life from then until now.
On Friday Dec.28, we arrived at Indiantown Marina. When we got the netting and tarps off, Jesse was waiting to move our boat to the work yard, and we really got to work, so we could sleep on the boat that night.
Richard wiped down the slightly mildewy wood inside, and then scrubbed the entire deck and cockpit. I moved the things from the SUV up the ladder into the cockpit and unpacked and put them away. We lowered the dinghy and I carried all of the things piled in the boat and on the deck and in the deck boxes in the dinghy and put a tarp over it, so we would have room to work. When we were really beat, we went to Dee Stephanos, the Italian restaurant in town, for supper.
The next day, Richard took the roller furling apart. All of the bearings and other moving parts had been cemented into a solid mass by a cormorant  which had had landed on it many times when we were anchored near Tavernier. We thought it was cute and took many pictures of it. We didn’t notice the many deposits of shit it made in our roller furling (read cormorant toilet). Later, I had to go to West Palm for new parts for it.
On New Year’s Eve day, we put things away so Maggie and Shirley would have a place to sleep when they came for the marina party that night. The party was good. It was warm, not too many mosquitos, and the potluck food and meat supplied by the marina was plentiful and tasty. A cruiser, Phil on Loopy Kiwi (New Zealanders doing the great loop) played his guitar and sang after supper. He was a wonderful entertainer. I sipped wine all evening and when we were ready to leave, I could barely walk. Apparently I invited everyone back to the boat for Richard’s wonderful crêpes the next morning, but I have no memory of that, or even how I got up the ladder and into bed. Maggie and Shirley slept on the boat, and I felt badly about being such a poor hostess and swore off booze. I was pretty useless as a worker on New Year’s Day. Vince and Sharlene from Finn MacCool came to visit.
We had to go to Stuart because the TV had no sound and we needed get a new one. I also insisted that we get headphones for the noisy violent “action” movies Richard loves to watch. Later we had to exchange the headphones (only one had sound) and the TV (it stopped). Best Buy was very accommodating and now we have a happy boat, where I can write and read, and Richard can watch the movies he likes. If we were married, I guess you would call the headphones a marriage saver.
With the right parts, it took us a day to get the roller furling back together, even with four hands instead of two, but now it works like new.
All of the time we were in the yard, Vonny, from Toronto, was trying to get the yard boss to finish the paperwork on Wishbone. (Remember, it was hit by lightning in No Name in May.) He had already been paid and on Monday, January 14, Don Depencier from Bothwell came in a Bothwell Boatworks truck to take Wishbone back to Canada. He took three hours to tie the boat down. He did an excellent job. Today Vonny found out the local surveyor who is representing the insurance company is now happy with the paperwork and has submitted it to the insurance company.
Meanwhile we continued working as hard as we could every day. (Yes, there was the odd nap when it got really hot some afternoons.) I was Richard’s step-and-fetch-it, and drove to the hardware store and all of the other places where we needed to get things. Richard fixed the wobbly rudder bearing, put on the new feathering prop, and put in a new cutlass bearing. He cut out the floor behind the steering pedestal in the cockpit and replaced it with skillful fibreglassing. There was the usual washing down of the topsides, and we sanded, taped and repainted the deck, which made the boat look clean and spiffy. Richard put the bottom paint on. There was a lot more, but I’ll spare you the tiresome details.
I managed to distribute quite a few copies of Idiot Afloat, Book I and II, and played a couple of Scrabble games. On Saturday nights, we attended the potlucks and enjoyed the company of other hard-working cruisers. One night we had six guests, definitely against the rules, Moose the cook explained, so we brought extra meet to compensate and, of course, extra food. Three were friends from Pickering Ontario and the others were Richard’s good friends Richard, Renita, and Renita’s 88-year- mom. We all had fun.
A big surprise was the day that John and Sheila, my brother and sister-in-law pulled up in their little rented car. They were on their way from the cruise ship where they had travelled the islands, ball-room dancing every night, and the villa they had rented for a week or so in Orlando. They climbed the ladder and we made room among the tools and paint cans in the cockpit for them to sit. I served tea and fancy Christmas cookies. Sheila said everything looked very convenient. But I suspect they wondered how people could even consider this kind of cruising when it involved so much work. I wished they could have seen the nice parts, like now.
On Friday, Jan. 18, we were launched. This year, we went on a dock while we finished the remaining tasks – sails on, groceries bought and stored, laundry, returning friend Richard’s ladder and shop vac, visiting Richard’s friends Ben and Blanca, fixing the steaming light, and so on. This was a real luxury, which we decided we have earned because of our advanced ages.
Tuesday, January 22, we cast off our lines and headed out at noon. Twenty minutes out, we turned around and headed back. The stuffing box was leaking quite a bit. We anchored near Indiantown Marina, just in case.. Richard got out some big wrenches and tightened it. After he mopped up the water in the bilge we were underway again. With our new feathering prop, we flew. Two hours later, we went through St. Lucie Lock, with no waiting – except for it to empty down to the lower level.
At 4 p.m. we turned right at marker 37, went up the river a little ways, and anchored, all alone. We cooked a little roast and later watched a movie. When the movie was over, we went out into the moonlight and realized that we were a little too close to shore and parked solidly on the ground. So Richard started the motor, put it in forward, we rocked the boat back and forth, and gradually moved into deeper water. We reanchored where the wind and opposing current would keep us in deeper water.
The next day we were able to sail for a while, before we came to the restricted bridges. We heard Three Penny Opera calling the same bridges and we ended up in North Lake Worth together. I made a good soup between bridges, and we took it over and reconnected with Pat and Addison. We hadn’t seen them for three years. Reconnecting with old friends is a nice part of cruising.
When we left the next morning, we swang by Anne and Michael on Nimue, flying a British flag. We met them when we had dinner at Ben and Blanca’s and will watch for them down the road. That day, in Riviera Beach, we shopped at Boat Owners’ Warehouse and had drinks with Richard’s old friend Jim Moore, who restores Trumpys, and lives on one. Such an tasteful, beautiful boat. We sat in the gleaming dining room, and they recalled the times when they had worked together, many years ago.
Friday – eleven bridges and nineteen miles. We spent an hour or two waiting. We anchored in Lake Boca Raton. Saturday – thirty-one miles and thirteen bridges, and two hours waiting. We dropped the hook here in Lake Oleta at Bakers Haulover at 4 p.m. Mick and Sue arrived on Jenny on Monday. We haven’t seen them for two years, so we have spent a lot of time together, catching up on our friendship.
On Monday, I pulled Richard to the top of the mast and he replaced the old tri-colour light.
We’ve been getting rid of the boat yard dust and dirt, and organizing cupboards. And doing yoga, swimming, and just chilling. Sue and I took the shuttle bus to get fresh food at Publix yesterday. Tomorrow Shirley is coming to dinner, and will take us to do errands.

We’ll wait here for a Bahamas window. This is cruising.

Update, January 27, 2013 Sharon and Richard get Lucky into the Water

Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, Jan. 27, 2013

Today, Richard and I are back in Lake Oleta, at Bakers Haulover, on the Intracoastal Waterway, which we left in May, 2012, with my sister Vonny and her husband Ray. They had been hit by lightning a few days before and we were taking our boats to Indiantown. Richard and I were storing our boat Lucky for the summer and Vonny and Ray were taking Wishbone there to have repairs done.

Vonny and Ray waited three months for their insurance company to approve the estimate for repairs and send them a deposit for the work. The work was finished a couple of weeks ago, they paid the yard the total bill so the boat could be shipped north, and are waiting to be reimbursed by their insurance company, which is waiting for more info to be sent by the yard before they will pay.

Vonny and Ray have quit cruising. They want to move on.

Here, the sun is shining and it is warm, but not hot. Richard and I are happy to be cruising again.

My summer was very busy. I got the second edition of Idiot Afloat, Book I printed, and arranged a series of book talks to promote it. This meant learning how to use a new projector, and trying to assemble my spotty collection of pictures into an interesting presentation. I’m not sure how engrossing it was, but I managed to sell about fifty books that way.

In the meantime, Book II continued to take shape. I went through the edited copies that a dozen people returned to me, and incorporated the corrections into the book. There are still typos and mistakes in both books, but both are better for work so many volunteers put into them. (Email me if you didn’t get a copy yet and would like one. I have little stashes available in various places, and carry some on the boat.)

Besides working on the books, I tried to visit Mom almost every day. She didn’t always remember my name, or whether I was her sister, her daughter or, recently, her mother, but she knew we loved each other and was always glad to see me. I worked on jigsaw puzzles and she watched and sometimes helped. I gave her manicures, and she picked the colour she wanted her nails to be – bright peach, or a glowing turquoise. Conversation didn’t happen much. She had had a small stroke that affected her speech.

Virginia stayed overnight when the hydro went out at her place and we played Rummicub by candlelight. I took her to doctors’ appointments. We gave out candy together at her house on Hallowe’en. I spent some time with the grand-nieces and nephews – there are now 17 – and with son Mike. Richard and I visited back and forth when we could. I was there when he had surgery in November.

In November a garage took shape in my back yard, and was bricked with the old bricks from the century home that Sandy and Gerry had to tear down to build their new house.

I started promoting Book II among the sailors I know in November and spent most of December filling orders. It was exciting to turn on the computer every morning. I did the printing on brother Bill’s big printer, and the book was being mailed out to readers before the end of November.

Suddenly, it was Christmas. Richard was at my place and all packed to go south. We had Christmas dinner at Bill and Connie’s. Most of the nieces and nephews and their spouses were there – and those wonderful kids, the oldest Julian at nine, and the youngest Trent, four months. All different, and all perfectly delightful.

Tuesday, Boxing Day morning we headed out and got stopped by a snowstorm in Ohio in the afternoon. Friday night we slept on Lucky in the Indiantown Marina boat yard.

Now, after three weeks of very hard work and five days of travel (one a great day of sail), we are anchored for a few days. We are enjoying the cruise.

Til the next update, Sharon and Richard