Category Archives: Updates

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.

Last Update of the Season from Lucky May 7, 2017

Living at the dock in Indiantown Marina was a new experience for us. We settled into a routine in which Rick and Colin would have breakfast on their boat (or later, when it was torn apart, come to ours). I would do the dishes, make the bed, vacuum, shop for groceries, clean or do laundry and make lunch, usually sandwiches which I left in the fridge. Whenever the guys decided to have lunch they would get the food and drink out of the fridge and eat it under the trees in the patio area.

That left me free to play Scrabble with Janice from Valderee, Anita and, when she and Linton arrived to prepare their boat, Carol of Incognita II. They were all good Scrabble players, there were challenges and bingos and we all had fun and stretched our minds.

A painting group turned up to paint in the marina. I got out my paints too and the painting I did is now in the possession of someone whose boat had been on the dock that I painted.

At the beginning of April the temperature got up to 95◦F, but Richard, Rick and Colin soldiered on. Rick and Colin were stripping the paint on the hull and I don’t know how they kept going.

Women kept giving me their leftover groceries as they cleaned out their boats before going home. I made a lot of french toast with the leftover eggs – a popular breakfast until the guys got tired of them. Same with the egg salad sandwiches. Not much luck with green salads. If only I could have figured out a way to deep fry them! Rick took us all out for supper a few times – in desperation, I think. We often played hearts, a game Rick and Colin loved and were good at, after supper.

Finally, on April 7, Downstream 1 was moved to the storage yard and Rick and Colin drove back to Ontario. We stayed at the marina until April 17, because the month we had paid for ended then. Richard put his tools away and cleaned up the van for driving home and I cleaned out lockers.

Diny and Jerry Solmon of Endless Summer both wrote to say they had almost finished reading all three of my books and were enjoying them. A young man from Ragtime Gal, which was in the work yard, recognized me from the cover of Book II, which Andy Zwyck had loaned him in Cuba, and bought the other two books. I stopped by the bonfire one night and someone introduced me as “the author”. It was hard not to let it go to my head.

André and Katchka finally launched Cardinal and tied up next to us after they discovered that they had problems with their very old motor. Richard crawled into the engine compartment and analyzed the problem, but refused the offer of employment that was extended. Instead he walked through Andre through what needed to be done so he could do it himself. Andre was delighted and we were invited to Easter dinner at their house in Boca Raton. We meet such wonderful people along the way!

We walked around the work yard now and then and saw enthusiastic young people happily restoring boats that needed many months of work and thousands of dollars before they became .functional.

My favourite thing about the marina was the wildlife in the water – the painted turtles, the large snake the Alec said was a water moccasin, the big alligator that sunned behind our boat in the morning and the pod of manatees surrounding our boat one morning when we got up.

One evening a large fishing boat was towed in by TowboatUS. It had been gored by a large rock as it crossed Lake Okeechobee, made shallow by the lack of rain and the surrounding sugar plantations’ insatiable demands for water.

Many of the boats at docks, including Lucky, were aground. When we powered through the mud to leave the dock on April 17, we were surprised to see the wide beaches on each side of the canal. Both then and later when we came back we saw a couple of dozen alligators sunning on these beaches.

We anchored in Manatee Pocket again. We like it because the six-foot depth keeps bigger boats away, and the no-wake rule is strictly enforced. Most of the boats were occupied, although one family is a pair of ospreys who have built a large and unruly nest on the solar panel atop the cockpit, and sit on the spreaders in the evenings, watching for fish.

Bernie, on his trawler Countess Cosel, arrived the next day from the Bahamas and went to happy hour and supper with us on his way to the marina for haulout.

We moved on to Peck Lake on April 21, and Chris and Divya arrived on Maggie M in time for supper with us. Over the next three days we shared meals, I played a couple of games of Scrabble with Diva and I went with Chris and Divya to show them where the boat ramp was so they could get rid of their garbage. When the rain filled up the dinghies with fresh water on Sunday, we had cold fresh-water baths.

During this time Richard had not been feeling well. I called the marina to see if we could get our boat hauled a few days earlier than we had booked. When Antoinette called on April 25 to say there might Jesse could squeeze us in two days, we pulled up the anchor. Richard had just cooked his wonderful crêpes and we had all had our fill. That night we anchored for the last time this season in the Four Rivers Loop, four miles before the St. Lucie Lock – a quiet spot surrounded by trees, near the community dock.

Before we entered the marina a day later, we anchored and let out all the chain to rinse off the salt water, and Richard ran the dinghy around to get the salt water out of the motor. When we arrived at the dock, Jesse asked if we could be hauled in twenty minutes; there had been a cancellation. That night we had a good-bye supper at Quatamex with Richard and Renita and slept in the boat on the hard. The mosquitoes, flies and heat were an incentive to get out of there.

The next day was the hardest day of every sailing season. I climbed up and down the ladder, with food from the fridge, groceries and our clothes and packed them in the van. Richard did the technical jobs necessary to store the boat for the summer. Then we tied the tarp down and left Lucky out in that field with the hundreds of other boats up on stands for the long hot summer. We had supper in the picnic area and slept in the open screened van near the water, enjoying the breeze.

Four days later, after inching through a five-hour traffic jam south of Atlanta, sleeping in rest areas in the van three nights and driving through heavy rain most of Sunday, we pulled into my driveway in Bothwell, Ontario, turned up the heat and crawled into my queen-size bed.

Will we be back next year? Time will tell. We wish you all a good summer season.
Richard and Sharon on Lucky

Update from Lucky, March 19, 2017 The Second of the Season

As you may have noticed, perhaps gratefully, these updates are getting fewer and farther between. Richard and I are getting older, lazier and less inclined to travel long distances and embrace adventure. It makes the updates less gripping.

In Marathon, Jim and Lynda left their boat to the new owner and drove north to British Columbia and their grandchildren on February 21. We stayed for another four days, connecting with our old friends Chris and Divya of Maggie M. I’ve known them since 2002, when I invited everyone in the mooring field at the Los Olas Bridge in Fort Lauderdale (twelve people and a large dog) to a BBQ on my Nonsuch 30. I told them to bring their own meat to barbeque and Chris, who was sitting next to the barbeque, had the good luck to be the cook, as no one could change position. He decided to replicate this event on Maggie M this year and more than succeeded, with fifteen guests.

A day later, I did the laundry at the marina and finished the first update and sent it. That evening Chris and Divya had a rental car so we all went to Sparky’s in Key Colony Beach, With our drinks in Hand, we shared chicken wings, shrimp and oysters. Then we skipped the dinner and shared the three classic Florida desserts, including key lime pie, my favourite.

The next morning we motored north in Hawk’s Channel and went in under the high bridge at Channel 5. At 2 p.m. we picked up the only remaining mooring off of Shell Key. It was so isolated that we took showers without suits and sprawled on the deck to dry, the only time this season.

The two days after that we relaxed at anchor off Isla Morada near the Lorelei, watching movies, listening to music and enjoying the setting of the sun, the new moon and Venus.

On February 28, we moved on to Tarpon Basin and anchored off the Monroe County building, where there are dinghy docks in the park. While reading my emails at the picnic table outside the back entrance, I saw Sylvia the county commissioner and praised her for the action she had taken several years ago to make the shore accessible to cruisers. But she is now planning to close the docks because many live-aboards have come to the area and caused problems in the park. Some would otherwise be homeless and a small number have mental illness. A few had been arrested or asked to leave. I asked why they hadn’t received psychiatric care and she ruefully admitted that the psychiatric hospitals had all been closed. Her solution – the liveaboards should move north.

I read My Father’s Country aloud to Richard It is set in a village in Germany, close to the one he lived in as a child during World War II and focuses on a failed assassination attempt on Hitler.

I painted in the mangrove creeks while we were there; the dinghy, parked in a creek, was my studio. I loved the peace. No power boats came by and there was only the sound of the odd twig cracking, the sighing of the breeze in the branches, and the gentle splashing of fish and singing of birds.

After a week there we sailed north again and dropped our hook in the clear barely deep-enough water north of Sand Key, where only one other boat was anchored a good distance from us. We saw two large loggerhead turtles and several dolphins and swam around the boat there.

On March 9 we sailed over to No Name Harbor and spent a week there. As soon as we got there I did laundry in the aging, privately-owned washer and dryer and hung things all over the boat to complete the drying. But that night we slept on fresh clean sheets.

We were anchored near the entrance and the first night we woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a towboat towing a sailboat into the harbour.

It was Diny on Adventure Quest, a single-handed sailor who had attempted to sail to the Bahamas overnight and had engine problems in the middle of the Gulf Stream. We got to know her well. Richard and later Rick spent time on her boat, helping her solve problems with the motor. She reminded me of myself, when I was sailing alone, but I have to admit she was more resourceful and knowledgeable than I had been. I silently thanked my lucky stars that I was now sailing with a very good mechanic, on his boat.

Alejandro (sp?) came over from his beautiful little classic boat Willow to ask us about the Sand Key anchorage. His a charming young man – an airline pilot for half of the year and a cruiser in the winter.

Richard’s family – Rick, Rebecca and the three boys – arrived by car in the late afternoon on Saturday, March 11. Everyone swam around the boat and supper was a joint effort. Everyone found a place to sleep on Lucky for two nights. There were bodies everywhere!

On Sunday Rick, Rebecca and I went shopping at Wynn-Dixie in their wonderful big car.Own and Dylan drove around in the dinghy and Divy’s little paddle-kayak. Diny joined us for happy hour and Rick BBQed hamburgers for supper. After supper we played Hearts, a new game for me but one I have come to enjoy.

On Monday, after Richard took the bags and Rick and then everybody else to shore in the dinghy, the boat seemed very spacious, but too quiet. It was a lot of fun having them on board.

The next day Richard worked on Divy’s motor again and painted a picture of the mangroves on the bank behind us. Diny brought us pizza and wine. (She wanted to take us out for supper but we didn’t have the wherewithal to go.)

On March 14 we pulled up the anchor and motored to Lake Oleta, at the Baker’s Haulover Cut-off. Very windy. Alejandro sailed in (it had been too windy to sail on the ocean side of the Keys). We had another great visit and cocktails became supper.

The next day we continued north through six or eight bridges that had time-restricted openings and anchored in Boca Raton Lake, a nice quiet place.

Thursday we moved on, bundled up because it was still windy and cold. There were many more bridges and pesky powerboats with big wakes. (Sherry Baby zoomed by us to get to George Bush Bridge but had to wait for us before the bridge would open. Nice.) We got to North Lake Worth at five and at eight p.m. I was in bed reading and Richard was watching TV, chuckling, with his headphones on.

The next day, Friday, March 17, we motored past Peck Lake to Indiantown Marina, on the St. Lucie Canal, arriving at 7 p.m.. There in the entrance, watching for us, was Owen. We happily rafted to Downstream 1 and climbed up on to it to reconnect with Rick, Rebecca and the boys.

On Saturday, Richard and the family went to the flea market in Stuart. I hadn’t had a shower in eleven days so opted out of that jaunt. After my shower, I caught up on emails. I had had no internet for three weeks. (How many people go that long?)

On Sunday Rick took Rebecca, Owen and Dylan to West Palm Beach to catch their flight back to Canada. Work and school were calling.

Update from Lucky, February 22, 2017

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