March 29, 2009: From Sharon and Richard on Lucky, drifting around in the Keys

The bilge remains bone-dry, so our 5200 fix has worked.

Rebecca Lewis, who has often sailed with me, arrived Feb. 9 at Florida International University, and we called Richard on the hand-held and he picked us up.

Life was a little easier for us while she was on board. Richard showed her how to fill the dinghy with gas and start it. She lifted it on to the back deck and back. He showed her the proper way to do dishes to save on salt water and she was a good student. She hauled sails up and down. She played Scrabble with me, and 3-way cards. She slept out in the cockpit every night.

We sailed to Key Biscayne (to No Name Harbour and back to Crandon Park for water and fresh fish). What started as a day sail in Biscayne Bay turned into a trip, and we headed south into the Keys.

We stopped in the most isolated anchorages we could find, where we could swim and snorkel around the boat, or dragging behind it. With the Chartplotter, we can edge into places we wouldn’t dare go before. We also got good at finding places to go ashore, which are few and far between.

It got windy, so we went to Tarpon Basin, still at Key Largo. It has all-round protection from wind. After a day spent searching the shore, we found a place where I could let Rebecca off at a resort dock where she could walk up to highway 1 and catch a bus. (We had learned not to ask if it was permissible, as everyone said no, which would really make you a trespasser if you then did it.) After Rebecca left, the boat seemed really quiet, and now we are looking forward to a visit from Elizabethann, an old friend that I met the first year I was sailing and stayed docked in Snug Harbour on Stock Island for a month. She has come sailing a few times since.

We sailed south to Tavernier Creek, and dinghied in to see Alan of Sinbad and his girlfriend at their dock. He lets us bring our garbage and get water, one of the nicest things someone with a toehold on land can do for a cruiser.

It made me happy to be able to connect with sister Sandy and her husband Gerry, who had driven south for a big ship cruise out of Miami. They came down early and spent a couple of days with us at Islamorada. Lunch and Happy Hour at Lorelei’s, $100. I ordered a bushwhacker and both Richard and I were very silly after he helped me finish it. Gerry picked up the larger half of the tab.

They came out to see the boat but declined sleeping on it, even though we offered them the v-berth. Could it be the cold showers on the swim platform, or the contortions one must go through just to get into the v-berth and lie down? Or the fact that everyone can hear the most intimate details of everyone else’s toilette, even though they try not to listen?

They opted for the $159 room in a quaint hotel that overlooked our anchorage and had a dock we could land at. We brought in our garbage and water jugs, and enjoyed hot showers in their room, so we feel they got their money’s worth.

The next day we all went to the big marine flea market on Plantation key in Sandy’s and Gerry’s van. I felt sorry for them when they took us back to the boat and we saw the traffic into the flea market backed up for many miles on the other side of the road. It must have taken them hours to get back to Miami!

After that, we had good sailing and more anchoring in isolated spots, away from traffic noise, and other peoples’ generator noise and exhaust.

But now we are in Boot Key Harbour, Marathon, where all boats in the Keys seem to end up and get stuck. We’ve been here almost a month!

There is a cruisers’ net in the mornings, a great dinghy dock, yoga in the park, a weekly potluck at the city marina, a pay phone, Scrabble, a nice laundromat, hot showers, water, trash disposal, and free pumpouts.

It comes at a price – $46 a week for those of us who spurn the moorings and anchor. But we have been able to connect with friends not seen in a long while, like Chris and Divya on Maggie M and Bryan on Omami, and Matt and Sue on SueSeaQ.  Not as much socializing as I like, but Richard prefers a more solitary style, and it is his boat. But he loves to teach people to play Farkle.

We had some electrical power issues, but went to Battery Shack  and got two new regulators for the alternators, and had them connected correctly, and everything is ok now.

I broke down and bought a cell phone, #305-304-6593. And we leave the VHF on more, so I don’t feel so disconnected. And I go on the net every few days and call the Scrabble players together for games. I painted a picture yesterday of a boat sitting in the mud off Boot Key.

Richard twisted his back lifting groceries from me on the dinghy, and he’s been in a lot of pain and can’t move much. The wind is supposed to get up to maybe 30 knots tonight and stay up for the week, so we’ll stay in Boot Key a few days more as we are anchored in a good spot. It’s been a good winter so far.

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February 9, 2009: An update from Sharon on Lucky – Oops, just barely floating

On Tuesday, January 6, after noon, Lucky was finally put into the water, and we stayed at a dock in Indiantown while we filled the tanks, folded on the sails, finished grocery shopping, and so on. Then we motored the quarter mile to Richard Brook’s dock, and started to relax for a couple of days.

We neatened up the boat and got everything put away, and had Richard B and Renita out to the boat by dinghy for dinner one night, our first real entertaining. Richard had hurt himself again lifting water jugs, and was trying to not do things.

We headed down the St. Lucie Canal the same day as Blue Pelican, but they go 6 knots to our 5, and we lost them until we got to North Lake Worth.

The canal has lots of water this year, and the locks opened on request.

We anchored in Peck Lake, North Lake Worth (where Vonny and I anchored on Wishbone in 2000), at the Lantana Bridge, in Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale (where a policeman warned us we could only stay 24 hours), and here in Lake Oleta at Baker’s Haulover (where we met up with the trawler Searcher, friends from last year). We have been to all of these places before and enjoy the anchorages. But all the bridges in between, with restricted opening times, get really tedious. We were planning to stay in the Bahamas or farther south this winter, and see more new places.

After sitting out a cold front (with actual freezing, wind chills, and dire warning of hypothermia and even death predicted by NOAA), we headed south to No Name Harbour on Key Biscayne and rafted off Blue Pelican, who were still waiting for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas.

More Scrabble, laundry and happy hours with other cruisers.

Jenny and I often compare notes on our German boyfriends, who tend to micromanage and overinstruct us. But we felt a little better about them after meeting Maria, who had connected up with an American sailor on the internet and had come down to cruise to the Bahamas with him. She came with one small bag, and he said, “Where do you expect to put all that?” All the cupboards and lockers were full of tools and spares, and the food was piled in a couple of plastic bins, not handy for cooking. Initially she was supposed to pee into a funnel in a jar, until she persuaded him to let her use a bucket.  But she was instructed to only use three squares of toilet paper. (I don’t know how that was enforced.) He was mystified when the 30-gallon water tank was empty in a week. He called it “operator error on the part of Maria”, when he explained over the radio that she had jumped ship in Fort Lauderdale. I say, good for Maria. Some internet connections work, some don’t.

Klaus and Jenny left for the Bahamas Jan. 23, and we followed the next day. The wind was stronger than predicted, and north, not north-east, but we were passing other boats, and Richard was pulling lines as I struggled with the wheel. (Richard insists that I mention that we were sailing 9 knots.) But then Richard checked the bilges. We had more water in the bilges than last year.

So back we went, again. We chilled a couple of days at anchor off Ellis Key and looked at our options, including selling the boat, or stripping and sinking the damned thing.

But we kept poring over the cause. No water in the bilges at anchor, or when motoring in flat water, only when motoring or sailing in waves. The only thing that is in that position is the base of the support for the bowsprit.

Richard was hurting again, so we went back to Lake Oleta, north of Miami. He put 5200 all around the bowsprit base, and it has stayed dry. But we have yet to really test it.

And Richard was hurting again. So we got the message. No Bahamas and No Work This Winter. Well, Richard did one more job; he put in a deck pumpout for the Keys. And he was hurting again.But he’s feeling better now.

And Rebecca Lewis is coming to visit tonight. It’s going to be a peaceful winter in the Keys. And we hope it will get warmer.

We have changed from working to get there to being here. Today I painted a picture of Lucky,  and will touch it up with the Skipper’s technical advice tomorrow.

I hope it is warming up where you are.

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January 28, 2009: Leaky Lucky turns back, again

Hi,
We had to turn back again after two hours out towards the Bahamas. Too much water coming in. We were having a wonderful sail, but Richard was starting to pull lines and stuff. We would not have turned back, but for the water. Richard says the guy upstairs intervened so he wouldn’t damage himself.
We think we may have figured out the cause of the water problem, but it will need a haulout to fix it. The only place Richard didn’t reinforce and reset in epoxy was the brace for the bowsprit, which is above water when we are sitting still and below water when we are under way. Voila!
Anyway, keep in touch.

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January 7, 2009: Update from Sharon, on Lucky

Ah, we finally went into the water yesterday, after four weeks of work for Richard, and three for me. It feels really nice.

I had planned to drive south with Richard on December 6, but a few days before that, Virginia asked me to stay overnight with her. She was feeling rotten and Sandy and I thought she had the flu. When she vomited a little blood, and I couldn’t find her pulse, I took her to our little nearby hospital, just to make sure everything was okay, even though Sandy and I both thought I just wasn’t a very good nurse.

But the triage nurse, Lucie, who had almost talked me into not bringing Virginia in when I called to ask, had her in a bed in a few minutes, and Lucie and the on-call doctor were hooking her up to intervenus liquids in both arms. Virginia vomited a couple of kidney bowls full of thick black blood the consistency of chocolate pudding.  I said I had almost not brought Virginia in. The doctor said that, if I hadn’t, she would have died by morning. Sandy came at three a.m. and Bill and Connie later that morning. Ten days later, after Bin had stays in two London hospitals, 12 units of blood, three scopes, and everyday bedside company from many of her relatives, Sandy and I brought Virginia back home. She has always had stomach problems, and is now being monitored fairly closely by a team of gastric specialists to make sure she has no more stomach bleeding.

I flew south from Michigan to West Palm Beach a week after Richard and Rick (Richard’s son) had left, and missed the initial mess of the boat being opened and unpacked. When Rick went home, the bottom was ground down to the fibreglas, new matting and resin covered it, and it had two coats of interprotect. Rick worked all day everyday to do this, taking painkillers so he could keep going. Richard and I helped where we could, and I cleaned and unpacked. Richard and Rick installed the new electric windlass and the new chartplotter/depthsounder.

Most nights we fell into bed exhausted, but there was a potluck on the nice new patio here at Indiantown Marina for Christmas, and another on New Year’s Eve, and most Saturday nights.

Some nights we are too tired to cook. Then we go to a nice little Italian restaurant in town.

At these events we get to compare notes on the work everyone is doing, and where we have been and hope to go. The people on two of the boats have been living in the boatyard and working on their boats since last spring! I’ve been here since Dec. 13, and that is more than enough time in a boatyard for me.

Among other things, we have put three more coats of Interprotect and two coat of antifouling paint on the bottom. I sanded and Richard painted the deck and cockpit. And we did a whole bunch of other stuff. But it’s boring reading about it, so I’ll skip it.

The boat is nice and comfortable and clean. But Richard has been pushing himself and is exhausted and his chest is hurting. I suspect most quadruple bypass patients go at their recovery a little more slowly.

I tried to get the rest of the stuff done the last two days myself, because I was tired of climbing up and down the ladder and peeing in the plastic bucket with the painfully sharp edges in the middle of  the night. And I’ve only had time for two Scrabble games. But Richard kept working too, and still hurts. Right now he is at his friend Richard’s, getting his hair cut. We are trying to slow down a little. And it’s warm, and there is no snow.

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December 7, 2008

Richard and his son Rick left yesterday morning around 8 a.m. for Indiantown and hope to arrive tonight.
I’m not there, although it was disappointing to have them go without me.
But my sister Virginia, who is special as you know, has had a gastro-intestinal bleed for a week. Doctors can neither stop the bleeding or determine its cause. I’m giving moral support to my sister the nurse, and we drive to the hospital an hour away most days to spend time with Virginia and find out what’s happening.
I’m going out to sweep the snow off my car and go to breakfast, since I emptied all of the food out of my house in anticipation of the move south.
It is so cold here! -5 C, which is 23 F, but the wind is strong and makes it feel way colder. I was thinking of skiing around here today, but am afraid my face would freeze off. So I’ll visit the parents and play Rummicub with Mom, and maybe work on the book, a preview of the winters when I can’t go south any longer.

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