Category Archives: 2016

Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, May 28, 2016 – Part II

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.

Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, May 28, 2016

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

Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, March 8, 2016

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.

Feb 14 Update, 2016 from Sharon and Richard on Lucky

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