Category Archives: 2018

Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, June 24, 2018

When I last sent an update, Richard and I were on Lucky, anchored in the Lake at Bakers’ Haulover, just north of Florida International University in North Miami. Our friends from Wales, Mick and Sue, were anchored beside us.

We enjoy this spot. It’s quiet, with mostly paddlers, manatees and dolphins going by. There used to be many long-term anchorers here, but all of the water taps have been removed to discourage them. (We had a good supply of water on board, but still had to use it sparingly.)

Finally, after we had patched our leaking dinghy and all of the big power boats from the Miami Boat Show had passed by our lake, we continued south and sailed on a beautiful wind from Rickenbacher Bridge to No Name Harbor, at the south tip of Key Biscayne – the first of many wonderful passages in the Intracoastal Waterway under full sail this year.

No Name is a good place to get water, do laundry, go for long walks, meet other sailors and walk to the Winn Dixie for groceries, which we did. But earplugs are necessary on the weekend at night, as many powerboats with very large speakers zoom over from Miami then. Their crews tie up to the dock and party all night.

On the positive side, I did a painting of the entrance and found new homes for some of my books.

On Feb. 28, we moved south to Sands Key – four other sailboats there but isolated enough to swim without suits, and sometimes we spot a loggerhead turtle, although not this year.

After a day or two, we continued south and anchored southeast of the first bridge from the mainland to the Keys. We were alone there, except for the manatees of all sizes that we watched cavorting in the shallows. We have seen manatees do this before and think it may have to do with reproduction, although maybe they were just playing. Watching them was a delight.

A relaxing couple of days. Richard cooked crȇpes and baked bread, and we explored Steamboat Creek. We watched another of the good movies that Rebecca had left on the boat – Denial, about the Holocaust.

The next day, after a great sail south, we anchored in Tarpon Basin, which has become our favourite anchorage. Water, propane and groceries are all available there, albeit with long walks dragging the heavily loaded bundle buggy. There are quite a few live-aboards there and most have cars or bicycles to get around. We had happy hour with an older couple that we had met a few years ago, who live permanently on their boat there. We toured Hemingway Creek and I spent a couple of afternoons painting in the dinghy, tied to a mangrove root. Then on March 6th, a great sail back to No Name to meet up with Rick, Rebecca, Colin, Dylan and Dylan’s friend Raj. The boys liked to scamper up Lucky’s ratlines and dive into the water from the masthead. Lots of noisy fun.

Diny, the single-hander that was towed into No Name in the middle of the night last year, arrived. Her boat was leaking and Richard found serious hull problems. We took to calling Diny every night to make sure her boat hadn’t sunk yet. Richard would give her good advice, which she didn’t always take, but talking to Richard seemed to reassure her. It was lovely having a smart phone so we could keep in touch and have access to internet on the boat.

On March 21, we were in Tarpon Basin again, when friend Elizabeth Miller arrived via plane from Toronto to Miami and shuttlebus to the government building in Key Largo. She added life to the boat. Richard gets along well with her and they like to cook together. The next day I took her on a long tour of the mangrove creeks, with the outboard motor tilted up because the creeks were shallow in spots. I had forgotten that the motor can only be tilted up for a short time or it runs dry, heats up and the seals melt. This mistake would seriously restrict our ability to get to shore, but it didn’t show up for a few days. We ordered a new impeller and Steve and Janet, friends from Toronto who have a condo in the Keys, picked it up and delivered it to us at the Lorelei, where we have been reconnecting every year and drinking a toast to Alan, an old sailing friend who died a few years ago. We rowed the dinghy in to see them and it was wonderful to visit with them. The sail south to the Lorelei and back to Tarpon Basin (off Key Largo) was another perfect trip, with good wind both ways.

Over the next two days, Elizabeth found a U- tube video of instruction and the three of us worked on getting the new impeller on the motor.

We rented a car one day to drive down and see Diny, who had her boat hauled out in Marathon. She would try to fix the hull herself, rather than have the boat yard do it, on Richard’s advice. The boat yard owner seemed a bit miffed. He may have expected her to use his staff. We stopped at Boot Key Marina, which seems to have lost its allure for me – trees gone and the front dinghy dock torn away in the hurricane. And it’s become expensive to anchor there, as the dinghy landing fees have been increased.

We had lunch at the Stuffed Pig and made a stop for Elizabeth at the Key Lime Pie Factory on the way back to the boat, in Tarpon Basin.

On Mar. 29, we had a beautiful sail from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (me on the tiller except for breaks) to get back to No Name Harbor so Elizabeth could catch the plane the next day and fly back to Toronto. I walked her out of the park to the bus stop and walked back to what seemed like a very quiet boat with just Richard and me on it.

The rest of the trip was a rewind of the beginning – anchoring at night in spots we have been to many times, and going through many bridges that only open for boats with masts or really big power boats on the hour and half-hour. The bridges seem to be spaced perfectly for a boat going seven knots instead of our five or six knots so, unless we have one of those boats just ahead of us, we do a lot of waiting.

Our last anchorage before Indiantown was the Four Rivers Loop, just east of and below the St. Lucie Lock, a lovely, isolated spot. We took the sails off there and folded them, then packed them below in the quarter berth. Lucky looked a bit naked.

Just after that, on April 11, a vicious storm came through with sixty-knot gusts and heavy rainfall. Lucky dragged several times while we tried to her out of the trees and re-anchor. Eventually the anchor set and we had a good night’s sleep. Richard made crȇpes for breakfast, with maple syrup and dark cherries, a nice find in our diminishing store of groceries, and then we headed for the marina. We anchored outside the marina in the canal as the docks were crowded and the rates had gone up.

After we drove to West Palm Beach and got new parts for the outboard motor, Richard tried to work on it in the cockpit, but decided to take it home in the car so he could work on it in the shop. How guilty I felt for tipping that motor out of the water and causing these problems!

Lucky was hauled out Monday April 17 and we worked all day putting her to bed. Richard was especially careful to make sure no rats could get into the boat. I guess we will know if he was successful when we open the boat next season.

In the morning we got rid of the garbage and put leftover groceries on the free table. After breakfast at Crackers, the cowboy restaurant with Richard and Renita Brooks, we were driving north. Two days later, just before midnight, we were home in Bothwell. The house was warm and cozy, despite a bit of snow outside.

Will we still be cruising next year? At 75 and 78, it’s a good question, but we’re optimistic.

Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky, February 17, 2018

This update may reach you a bit too quickly after the one I just sent about the summer. But here I am, sitting in the beautiful clean quiet air-conditioned library at Florida International University, connected to the library internet by the smart young man at the front desk. Richard is working on the boat.

First, a little more detail on computer help for oldsters. Fourteen-year-olds seem to be the best. They are young enough to not be too openly scornful of your lack of skills (especially if they are related to you) and they seem to know everything about computers. Best of all, they don’t have a lot of access to money and can be bought for a reasonable price. Disadvantages are that they have homework, have to study for tests and are often busy with sports and other school activities. And they are too young to drive so you must provide transportation unless their parents are happy to get them out of the house and deliver them to you.

The trip south was the fastest ever for my old car. It performed well. We left Caledon, Ontario at 10 a.m. Saturday Dec. 2 and arrived in Indiantown Marina at 4 p.m. Sunday Dec. 4. Rick did most of the driving and we only stopped the car to snooze from 1 to 3 a.m. for two hours.

But when we opened up Lucky, we were shocked. Hurricane Irma had been fairly kind, but, when combined with incessant rain for three weeks, had made the storage yard impassable for the travel lift. And I guess the rats had been looking for higher ground too. They found it in boats that were not completely sealed. They can scamper up hurricane straps attached to all of the boats. We had not sealed the Dorado vents. What we saw inside was demoralizing. I had stored left-over flour, rice, beans and vegetable oil in large plastic and glass jars with metal or plastic tops. Only the few glass jars with metal tops were unscathed. Everything else had been consumed or transformed into a thick rock-hard paste where the dry goods had mixed with cooking oil, urine and rat poop. And every open surface was covered with rat poop and urine. Thirty plus rolls of toilet paper had been chewed away on one side. But time to work, not cry. I remade the v-berth with bedding that had been in a drawer inaccessible to the rats and we vacuumed and washed and cleaned. Our worst boat opening ever. That night, a couple of rats scampered over the v-berth and woke us up. We caught one in the traps we had set.

We gradually learned about other boats in similar condition. To Richard’s knowledge, it had never happened before. We caught two rats in traps and six on sticky pads. The six on sticky pads had to be drowned in the toilet or whacked with the winch handle. We caught the last one Jan. 20, when we were anchored in Manatee Pocket. It was a treat to not be awakened by rustling paper and the sound of gnawing any more. You can bet we will be very careful when we store the boat this coming April.

On December 7, Lucky was put in the water and life was more comfortable and pleasant. Richard had been coughing a lot ever since he started taking new blood pressure pills his doctor had prescribed for him. He quit taking them and checks his blood pressure every day. So far, it is better than before.

We kept finding cupboards that had been invaded by rats and needed cleaning. Unpleasant, but we got rid of things we hadn’t been using, and I think the boat is now cleaner than it has ever been. We found a used mainsail to replace the one the rats had chewed on. I shopped for groceries several times. Richard kept working with Rick on Downstream. The Perkins motor overheated all the time and needed a lot of work. Rick joined us for meals.

Sailing buddies Mick and Sue arrived from Wales and I invited them for supper since they had no groceries yet. We reconnected with old Indiantown friends Richard and Renita. We met other sailing friends at late afternoon Happy Hours. I found someone to play Scrabble with. I ran errands.

On Dec. 15, Downstream was put in the water, but leaked, so had to be lifted out. The next day it was moved to a dock near us, at the west end of the marina, where a large alligator snoozes on the small beach in the sun every morning, as it did last year.

On Dec. 17, Rebecca, Owen and Dylan arrived and we hosted them for supper. Later, Colin, his girlfriend Eve and Granny Barbara arrived, and we often had dinner on Downstream with the family.

I painted a picture of the entrance to the marina and gave it to Renita for Christmas. She and her Richard hosted all of us for a beautiful Christmas dinner.

When, you might ask, do we get to the actual cruising part of the trip? We did, eventually. It would be the coldest January in Florida in many years, so Richard and I were not eager to head out.

It has been a good year for visitors. Old friends that I have not seen for years have turned up. Sharon Wilken, from Pickering, Ontario, came with three friends and provided a fantastic dinner for us and the rest of the Villmanns, served in the patio area. She is an event planner, so it went off without a hitch. She and a friend slept on our boat, and when she heard the rats scampering over the deck above her head she put in her earplugs and went to sleep. Great crew!

Finally, Downstream 1 and her crew of seven headed out. But they had forgotten their coffee bodum. We had to pick up some things in Stewart, so stopped at the St. Lucie Lock. As Downstream went through with their happy crew on board, the lock tender kindly passed the bodum to Rebecca. Everyone looked like they were having fun and Granny Barbara was sitting cozily in the cockpit enclosure.

Rainy, cold weather continued. Our electric heater ran non-stop most nights. Several boats that had set out optimistically returned with dirty fuel problems, from sitting too long in the yard.

Downstream returned to Indiantown on Jan.3. They had gone out to sea but had to turn back because Owen and Eve got seasick. Soon after that, they all headed north. Back to school and work.

It would turn out to be one of the coldest Florida Januarys on record, going down to 2˚C. It would also be the winter with the most visitors. Rebecca Lewis arrived and endeared herself to everybody she met with her warmth and enthusiasm. We walked a lot, did laundry, and played Scrabble.

On Jan.9, we delivered her back the airport, stored the car and left the marina, finally on our cruise. We stopped at the Four Rivers anchorage, just below the St. Lucie lock. It was quiet and the sunset was beautiful and we were away from the marina, with no glitches. Three powerboats came by, very slowly, with no wake, bless them.

The next day we anchored in Manatee Pocket, just past Stewart. No wakes allowed because of the manatees, and strictly enforced. We discovered that we could do laundry and take showers for $15 – a real treat. There was a public dinghy dock with fresh water, small stores nearby and great restaurants. I walked to Walmart and got more rat-killing stuff. Last rast caught Jan. 16.

Sandy Turney, who helped me with my boat years ago and now runs a home repair business called Handy Sandy on Vancouver Island, came to visit with her husband Lee.

We finished the rerigging job (no wake) and Richard got out his ancient Pfaff sewing machine and sewed new settee cushions. Still cold. Two gas burners with a fan over them for heat.

We moved around to Peck Lake and walked the ocean beach and made friends with Christmas tree farmers from Bowmanville who know my brothers. Small world. A little green boat pulled up to the beach one day and Richard was quite excited. I was the third boat he and Rick had built in their Caledon Boat Works company many years ago, and still looked like new.

On Feb. 1, we stopped in West Palm Beach and Richard got his cruising permit. The next day we went through twelve bridges, with very little waiting. Sailing outside was not an option, as the ocean was extremely rough. We anchored in Lake Boca Raton that night, and Lake Santa Barbara in Fort Lauderdale the next. I had been having trouble communicating with the bridges, and we finally discovered that I had failed to connect the aerial properly when Richard had asked me to.

We caught up to Sue and Mick in the lake in front of the university at Baker’s Haulover and that’s where we are now – very quiet and relaxing. We will stay here until after the Miami Boat Show and President’s day, when the guys with the big powerboats park the damned things and go back to work.

We are very near to the school where 16 teenagers and three teachers were killed. PERHAPS THERE WILL BE SOME MOVEMENT ON GUN CONTROL?

Sorry for the length of this, but caught up now.

Sharon and Richard

February 7, 2018 Update from Sharon and Richard on Lucky

In the fall of 2017 my laptop, which had given me many years of good service, died. My last backup had been a year before, but oddly, I have just found all three of the 2017 updates, that ended when we got home to Ontario.

I have reverted to using my Surface. It is sufficient to my needs, but I have to have exterior storage for my documents – the terabyte things. I don’t know if you can tell, but my grip on all things digital seems to be slipping. With my fourteen-year-old nephew’s help, I can sort of manage. No telling how long!

The drive home from Indiantown was tedious – a massive traffic jam in Atlanta on a very hot day, a windshield wiper flying off in the pouring rain on the I75 with heavy traffic racing by. It was wonderful to be back in Bothwell. Gina had mowed the lawn and picked up all of the fallen branches and Jane had kept the house immaculate.

I felt bereft when Richard left for his house in Caledon, but was soon back into the swing of Bothwell life – yoga, Scrabble Club, Book Club, seniors’ exercises, Aquafit at the Thamesville pool, watching Borgen on TVO, reconnecting with family, and the lovely relaxation of life in a small town. I got the Florida sunset picture painted and mailed to Cecil Brown. Richard and I visited back and forth and I went to doctors’ appointment with him. The solution for his heart – he now goes to the exercise programme in Orangeville and carries nitro.

Two more great-grands were born. I visited Mike several times. He is really making his place look beautiful. Visits back and forth with Richard, and we also talked on the phone most nights.

In June we went to the gathering of 250+ vans in Almonte, near Ottawa. We enjoy walking around and seeing everyone has modified their vans. And we like staying in our van.

In June Virginia and I went to Hamilton and stayed at the Ambassador Inn while we visited our old friends there.

The apples, grapes and quinces around my house were fecund this year, so lots of canning of applesauce, grape jam, and quince jam. I had to put up the FREE PLEASE TAKE sign on the tree by the road to get rid of all of the grapes.

In July I made the big step from a land line to a cell phone. I have adjusted to it (painful) and it’s great when we are travelling.

Richard came to visit and brought Owen and Dylan, his grandsons, to help him reinforce the grape arbour, which was sagging from the weight of the grapes. And Dylan also helped me with the computer. Wonderful! And they were here for the car show and got to ride the zip line at Bill’s tree farm. After that Richard and I went camping for two weeks in the VW van –akin to living on a boat – attending Volkfest, another van gathering on Lake Huron. And Richard visited family in Germany for three weeks.

And then it was time to go south to the boat.

This season, we arrived in Indiantown Marina in Florida on December 2, 2017. Rick, Richard’s son came with us so he could work on his boat. We spent Christmas there with Richard’s family, who drove down later and stayed on Downstream 1, which went into the water after some intensive work by Rick and Richard.