Category Archives: When?

Anything that impacts the schedule for our departure or travels, including searching for another boat.

Waiting For Weather

The final provisioning run is complete, and the last errands have been run. The car we’ve been borrowing has been washed and the tank topped off, and it’s ready for Rhonda’s sister to reclaim it. Everything is stowed, and the boat is rigged for sea. All is in readiness, and it now all comes down to weather.

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We would have preferred to head south a month ago. But the issues that brought us back to Pensacola last July have kept us here. It now appears though that things are well under control, and we are able to resume our adventure. There’s just this little issue of winter’s rapid approach. We hate sailing in the cold. Absolutely despise it. That’s why our blog’s tagline is “A couple on a boat in search of perpetual summer.” But it’s been cold lately. Like down in the lower 40’s/upper 30’s cold (about 3 – 4° C). Temperatures in which we wouldn’t even consider heading out onto the water. We’re Floridians, after all, and not New England lobstermen!  But tomorrow, the winds are predicted to clock to the south, and a flow of warm Gulf air is supposed to drive temps back up into the mid-70’s. Just what we’ve been waiting for to make the 24 hour jump to St Joseph Bay, 120 nautical miles to our east. The only problem is that in December, a warm south wind comes with a cost. A cost in the form of strong flow and high seas. The forecast calls for winds in the 15 – 20 knot range, with gusts into the upper 20’s, and four to five foot seas. We’ve sailed in those conditions before, but always because they developed while we were underway. Those are small craft warning conditions, and we’ve never really planned a departure in such weather. But it’s a choice that has to be made. We can either stay warm while underway and deal with the conditions, or wait until the winds clock back around to the north. But while a north wind will bring flat seas, in mid-December it will drive the temperatures back down into the 40’s again (where’s that global warming we’ve been promised for 30 years?)

So we’re ready to go, and we’ll make the final decision when we get up tomorrow morning and see what the day has in store for us. If the winds are less than 20 knots sustained, we’ll slip the dock lines and head out the pass. If they’re blowing into the mid 20’s, we’ll reluctantly tell the marina staff that we’ll be guests of theirs for a while longer.

If we can go tomorrow, we should be able to make it to Apalachicola before the next cold front brings storms and rain. The beginning of next week, after the front’s passage, looks suitable for making the Gulf crossing to Clearwater, and we could meet our goal of being in St. Petersburg by Christmas.

If we miss tomorrow’s window due to high winds, it will most likely be after Christmas before we’ll have another chance. And we most likely won’t see temperatures in the mid-70’s again until March or April.

Stay tuned…

Two Weeks A Castaway

“Houses are but badly built boats so firmly aground that you cannot think of moving them. They are definitely inferior things, belonging to the vegetable, not the animal world, rooted and stationary.” — Arthur Ransome

For fifteen days, Rhonda and I did what has become for us a most unusual thing—we slept in a bed firmly planted on terra firma. Eagle Too was on the hard at Pensacola Shipyard, and while we were told that we could remain aboard if we wished, there was something quite unsettling about the prospect of dwelling in a vessel propped up by metal stands rather than gently supported by mother ocean. Prior to now, we could count on one hand the number of nights we’d slept ashore in the last two years. But when Rhonda’s sister suggested we stay at her house while we hauled our boat, we jumped at the offer. So for two weeks plus a day, we slept each night in an enormous, totally immobile bed. It neither rocked nor pitched, and absent were the quiet hum of the refrigeration system, the whoosh of ventilation, the creaking and squeaking of lines and fenders, and the sigh of wind in the rigging. It was totally dark, still and quiet.

We didn’t get a single decent night’s sleep. 🙂

Why? Maybe it was the subtle tension of the ongoing refit gnawing at our minds, or the discomfort of strange surroundings. But my theory is that after two years afloat, Rhonda and I have become sea dwellers, used to the sounds, smells and feel of a boat in its natural element. No matter how much our conscious minds told us otherwise, unconsciously it was just too unusual to try and sleep without the constant stream of subtle physical and audible cues that say “sleep well, everything is right, you and the boat are safe.”

I’m happy to say that we’re now back where we belong, floating peacefully pierside. The shipyard grime has been washed away, and we’ve brought our cruising gear back onboard. A few more tasks to accomplish, and then we’ll be ready for a fair wind to start us once again on our journey in search of perpetual summer.

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Not Your Traditional Thanksgiving

I shot a possum this morning. It was harassing my sister-in-law’s chickens. The chickens provide fresh eggs while the possum provided nothing but aggravation. Since it wouldn’t listen to a stern warning, it unfortunately had to go.

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The reason I was out shooting possums on this Thanksgiving morning is because our boat is now sitting on the hard at Pensacola Shipyard, and we’re temporarily homeless. We technically could have stayed onboard, but living on a boat that’s up on stilts in the middle of an industrial operation lacks appeal. Since Rhonda’s sister’s husband is currently working offshore and she was home alone for the holiday, she offered us a room, which we gladly accepted.

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With the unpleasant task of dealing with the possum behind me, Rhonda and I headed to the marina to retrieve Eaglet, our dinghy. We’d left her behind in our slip at Palafox Pier when we motored over to the shipyard last Monday to have Eagle Too hauled for a quick refit. After scrubbing Eaglet’s slimy green bottom, we deflated her and rolled her up to store her until we’re ready to bring all of the cruising gear back onboard that we’d unloaded for the mini refit. Our slip lease is up at the end of the month, and so we’re that much closer to getting back underway.

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Both of our sons are working today, which we’re actually quite thankful for.  Getting our youngest son settled into a stable job and back on his feet financially was one of the key reasons why we ended up unexpectedly returning to Pensacola this summer, contrary to our original plans. The downside is that since they’re both working today, there won’t be a Thanksgiving dinner for our family. We’ve pushed it to Saturday, which seems to fit everybody’s schedule better. Giving thanks for our blessings should be all about the sentiment, after all, and not tied to some specific and arbitrary date on a calendar.

Our refit is going well. Our troublesome transmission came out easily, and is now on its way to East Coast Marine Transmission in New Jersey for a tear down and rebuild. We’ve been promised a 24 hour turn around, which means we might get it back as soon as next week.

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Our bottom is sanded and prepped, and we should start applying paint tomorrow. We’ve pulled our old vinyl-coated lifelines, and our local rigger has already ordered our new replacements, in bare-stainless of course. So far the weather is cooperating, and if we can get a few more warm, dry days, we should be able to finish the bottom by Monday.

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It’s quarter till departure, and we’re charging rapidly ahead. With a little luck and some good weather, we hope to be back to living our Life On The Hook™ by mid-December!

Cautious Optimism

Since late July, we’ve worked to help one of our sons overcome a debilitating health issue. While we felt we were making progress, it was a “two steps forward, a step and a half backward” situation. A good day would leave us encouraged and optimistic, but then a really bad day would bring it all crashing down again. We were on an emotional rollercoaster ride with no clear end in sight. And of course, we had no idea of when or even if we’d be able to return to our dream of cruising the Caribbean in search of perpetual summer and the ultimate beach bar with the best fruity rum drink.

Fortunately, things are looking up, and we’re cautiously optimistic. After weeks of doctors, counselors and labs, our son started making progress, and resuming control of his life. As his condition improved, we found ourselves with increasing amounts of free time, which has allowed us to start traveling the local waters again, renewing our ties to the wet parts of our world. And there are certainly worse places to gunkhole around during the summer months than Pensacola.  It’s amazing what a little sailing, a little beachcombing, a little fishing and a few pleasant nights at anchor can do for your perspective and attitude.Sunset1

Fishing

Fresh Fish For Dinner? Yes Please!

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Washing The Family Car

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And now we see what we hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. Our son is returning to work, reporting for orientation next week for his new job at Pensacola Naval Air Station. It’s the last step in his recovery, and the development that should allow us to resume our interrupted adventure. In fact, we’re feeling encouraged enough about our prospects that we pulled the trigger yesterday on four gallons of bottom paint that Defender had on sale, and we’ve scheduled a haulout at Pensacola Shipyard for November 21st to do a bottom job and repair our ailing transmission. Upon completion of those tasks and a few other minor maintenance items that we’ve been wanting to address, we should be ready to resume our journey and once again head south. When we signed our slip lease at Palafox Pier on September 1st, we gave them 90 days notice. That means we’ll be free to leave the first week of December. The timing couldn’t be better. We’re keeping our fingers crossed. Because you know what they say about that light at the end of the tunnel…

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig

Five months and 2,400 miles after throwing off the lines at Palafox Pier and Yacht Harbor in downtown Pensacola, Florida, Rhonda gently worked the throttle to carefully back Eagle Too into a slip while I hung from the starboard shrouds, ready to jump ashore and tie off our docklines.

Arrival

After cleating off the lines, I climbed back aboard while Rhonda shut down the diesel. As the engine shuddered to a stop, the low-oil-pressure alarm whistled shrilly until Rhonda reached down and switched off the engine key, silencing it.

We noted the time for our log, checked the instruments as we usually do upon arrival, and then, our end-of-voyage ritual completed, stood for a moment in the now silent cockpit, taking in our very familiar surroundings.

“We’re home,” we said to each other. For we had just returned to what has become the closest thing to home for us now that we live the life of vagabond cruisers. We were once again docked at Palafox Pier.

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We previously lived in slip 6 on E dock for 16 months, but it has another occupant now, and we slid instead into slip 11 on D dock. We can clearly see our old home, it’s just right over there, and we look with dismay at the squatter currently occupying “our” spot. But D dock isn’t a bad place, and we’ll be fine here for now.

The marina at the Naval Air Station was accommodating and affordable, but unfortunately there is very little there in the way of shopping or dining. Getting around required a car, and after five weeks, we’d pretty much worn out our ability to borrow a car from family or friends. Moving to downtown, while more expensive than the Navy marina, would be cheaper than staying put and renting a car, and would put numerous replenishment and dining options within walking or biking distance. With luck, we won’t be here too long. Rhonda thinks I’m being overly optimistic, but I’m hopeful that we’ll have the issue that brought us unexpectedly home sufficiently under control by November to let us head out again before the weather gets too cold. We’ll see.

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You may have noticed that It’s been a while since we’ve posted an update.  The creative energy that would have normally been expended formulating blog posts has instead been devoted to teasing out solutions to a complex family health issue. After a day of dealing with counselors, doctors, and social services workers, there just isn’t the energy or desire to pull together a blog entry. It’s all been quite depressing actually, and depression is not much of a motivator. But we’ve been making progress, things may be on the right path now, and we’re feeling somewhat optimistic that the time may soon come when we can resume our voyage and things here will be fine in our absence. And optimism is energizing. So maybe the drought has ended. Again, we’ll see. For now, just know that Rhonda and I are fine, we’re home, and we’re looking forward to the (hopefully not far off) day when we can once again head out and resume our interrupted journey.

Chilling In Marathon

Ah, the life of a cruiser. If you count our time in the Dry Tortugas, we’ve been in the Florida Keys for three weeks now. When are we leaving? We don’t know. We haven’t yet decided. And that’s just fine with us, since there is no place else that we absolutely need to be right now. We live on perpetual vacation, after all!

For most of the last two weeks, we’ve been hanging out in Marathon, which is just about right in the middle of the Keys, halfway between Key West and Miami. Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor offers what is probably the best protected location in the Keys, and contains over 200 mooring balls for visiting boats. Marathon and the Boot Key Harbor mooring field are on the short list of things all cruisers should partake of at least once. It’s one of the common cultural experiences that defines our cruising tribe and unites us through bonds of community. It’s a boating Mecca that offers everything a sailor (or even that lesser order of mariner, a power-boater) requires to sustain themselves and maintain their vessels.Marathon7 Marathon6 Marathon5 Marathon4

Instead of picking up a mooring, of which there are currently plenty available (it’s the off-season—in winter there’s a waiting list), we decided to go to a marina instead. Why? Because it’s currently hot. Very hot. Damn hot. I’m not talking about the kind of hot that you can deal with by pouring water over your head to cool off. I’m talking the kind of hot that leaves you feeling lightheaded and dizzy after merely taking the trash ashore. The type of hot where people on moorings wait for midnight to come so that temperatures will moderate enough to allow for comfortable sleep. No, we knew we wanted to run the air conditioner. And that meant access to shore power, which meant we needed to be in a marina. So we’re tied up to a seawall at Sombrero Resort and Marina, where we have power, water, and even cable TV for a pretty reasonable weekly rate (by Florida Keys standards, anyway).Marathon2 Marathon3 Marathon1

There’s a swimming pool with a Tiki bar for our use, a pretty decent laundry room, and an address where we can receive mail and packages.Marathon12

So as you can imagine, it’s been a bit difficult to muster the determination to leave and head north. I mean, we’re in the Keys, after all, a place that many consider paradise and spend a great deal of money to visit.

For the first time since leaving St. Petersburg, we’ve been able to take our bikes ashore. We’ve found that everything we need, from West Marine and a Yanmar parts dealer (repair parts for the boat) to grocery stores and numerous bars and restaurants (therapy for the soul) are all within a 15 minute ride. I will say that our Back Bay folding bicycles did not benefit from the long period of dormancy. Remaining on deck, zipped in their storage bags while we experienced Cuba and Mexico, the steel parts of our bikes did what you’d expect them do in the presence of salt water and tropical heat—they started rusting. The worst was the chain on Rhonda’s bike, which had frozen into a solid clump of oxide. Fortunately nothing was past the point of no return, and a few hours of cleaning, polishing, oiling and flexing returned everything to working condition.

It’s a mile and a half from where our boat is tied up to Sombrero Beach, which is considered one of the best beaches in the Keys. It’s an easy 15 minute ride on a nice bike path, so we naturally rode over to take in the July 4th festivities.Marathon8 Marathon9 Marathon10 Marathon11

So where to next? Well, we’re still waiting for a new float switch for our shower sump that we’ve ordered from  West Marine. Once it arrives, we’ll probably start looking northward. We believe we can be in Biscayne Bay in two or three days, where we’ll spend a night or two at anchor enjoying a view of the Miami skyline. From there, we think we’ll push farther north, maybe as far as Jacksonville. We have a few months of hurricane season to wait out before we’ll feel safe jumping over to the Bahamas, and we’ve been wanting to see more of Florida’s east coast.

Or maybe we’ll just hang around here for a while longer… 🙂

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There Are Worse Places To Wait For Weather

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We’re sitting comfortably in a slip at Boca Chica marina at Naval Air Station Key West at the moment. After a week of pushing steadily southward, knocking out 40 to 60 miles a day, we’re enjoying the opportunity to kick back, relax, drink a few beers ($2 drafts at the Navigator bar at the head of the dock!) and listen as the conchs are blown each day at sunset.

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Our plans are to take care of some minor maintenance issues and give the boat a much needed bath, and then get ready for the right weather window to jump over to Varadero, Cuba. Our plans were to shoot for May 1st, but right now it’s looking more like the 4th or 5th before the winds lighten up and turn more northerly so we can have a pleasant sleigh ride south rather than beat into six foot seas. But there are definitely worse places to be stuck waiting for weather! The laundry here has six washers, so we were able to knock out our entire backload of washing in 35 minutes by shoving it all into three washers at once. And I believe the dryers actually use surplus jet engines from the nearby airfield, as they completely dry a huge load in 15 minutes. There’s an Enterprise car rental agency about four miles away at the Key West airport, so tomorrow we’ll probably order up a car for a few days and play tourist.KeyWest4

One of the things that stands out about this trip so far is that you just have to trust and accept that you can’t plan for or control every aspect of the voyage. You prepare as best you can, and then you just head out and hope for the best. It’s amazing how much we’ve picked up along the way. Pretty much our entire trip from Tarpon Springs to here has been affected and informed by people we’ve met as we’ve headed south. We’d planned to end up here at Boca Chica, but we’d never even heard of places like Factory Bay, Little Shark River, or Moser Channel before leaving Pensacola. Even our route changed based on things we picked up along the way. I’d originally thought we’d enter the Keys via the Northwest channel on the west side of Key West. But it was a much shorter trip through the Moser Channel under the Seven Mile Bridge, which then led us to the delightful anchorage at Bahia Honda State Park that we were totally unaware of.

Now sometimes this bugs Rhonda a bit. She’s always been a planner, and she wants to know what the plan is for tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after. But if you meet someone at an anchorage and you tell them your plans, they might just have a better suggestion for a place to anchor or to pick up a cheap mooring, and like that, the plan has changed. So keeping an open mind and having some flexibility in your plans seems to be pretty important.

Boats Are Not Cars

The internal combustion engine has been around for over 125 years, and it’s been pretty well perfected. You jump on the highway in your car or truck and drive 500 miles and never give a thought to your engine other than keeping an eye on the gas gauge. You might go months without even lifting the hood. But boats are not cars. When you’re motoring along 50 miles offshore, you really start to obsess about your engine. Did the RPM just change? What was that odd noise? Is the belt starting to squeal? What is that drip doing there? Every three to four hours, I’m opening up the engine compartment and looking around with a flashlight. One time I found a small seawater leak that had started dripping on the engine (fixed with new hose clamps). Another time, I noticed that a fuel line was rubbing against a motor mount, and it was starting to chafe a hole in the line (fixed with a piece of scrap hose used as padding and a few zip ties). I lost a night’s sleep when I found a small puddle under the fuel filter that I thought could be the beginning of a fuel leak. I spent several hours yesterday with soapy water, a rag and some brushes completely cleaning the backside of the engine, to ultimately learn that a little bit of oil dripping from the engine intake (perfectly normal, since the intake draws air from the crankcase thanks to the EPA) had mixed with about a tablespoon of rainwater that we’d acumulated during the rainstorm we experienced in the Everglades to create a little amber puddle that looked like fuel. Oh well, at least the engine is nice and shiny again!

One of the most useful things we’ve had along on the trip has been the cheap little Android tablet I picked up at BestBuy for $100 prior to leaving Pensacola. It’s running the Navionics navigation app, and it lets me chart and plot and measure and look at bays and anchorages ahead without having to mess with the chartplotter that Rhonda is using to drive the boat. I fiddle with that thing all day long when we’re underway, and we use it for each evening’s chart review when we’re planning to get underway the next day.

Follow Us On Vessel Finder

A friend pointed out the website Vesselfinder.com to us. Since we broadcast an AIS signal while we’re underway, we apparantly show up on Vesselfinder.com and you can see our latest position. So if you’re interested in seeing where we are, just go to the site and search for Eagle Too. No idea if this will continue to work once we leave the US, but the site does show ships around the world, so who knows, it might!

Well, breakfast is ready and it’s time to start the day, so that’s it for now. We’ll try to post some more pictures very soon. Eagle Too out!

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Twenty-two days ago, we left Pensacola. If you had asked me then, I would have told you that our plans were to be in the Keys by April 25th. I thought that that was just about right to give us a few days to relax and soak in some of Key West’s funky vibe before jumping off for Cuba on May 1st, the date on our approved Coast Guard documentation.

Well it’s April 25th. And today at 1520, (3:20 PM for you lubbers) we dropped anchor in a delightful little anchorage off Bahia Honda state park in the Florida Keys.Recap9 Recap10

I have to admit I’ve had my doubts. When we ended up falling for St. Petersburg and hanging out there for a week, I thought our schedule was completely busted. But we didn’t stress over it. Because that’s the great thing about being cruisers rather than merely people who own a sailboat. Time really doesn’t matter, at least on a micro level. Oh, the seasons are still important, as you don’t want to be caught in the wrong latitude at the wrong time, weather-wise. But if you find a spot you like, well, you just hang out until you’ve had just short of enough. There really is no schedule.Recap1 Recap2 Recap3 Recap4

It’s been a really interesting trip so far. Pensacola to St. Joseph Bay, and then on to Apalachicola via the Gulf County Canal and ICW. Apalachicola to Tarpon Springs (nice town), entering the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) at its northern end.  Anclote Key to Clearwater to St. Petersburg (where we could see ourselves living very comfortably) via the GIWW. Then down to Bradenton, Sarasota, Boca Grande and Ft. Meyers, completing the entire GIWW (and successfully managing the Miserable Mile) before re-entering the Gulf. A mooring ball in Ft Meyers Beach, a night at anchor in Factory Bay on Marco Island, and a run to Little Shark River on Cape Sable in the Everglades. For those who may be thinking of following in our wake someday, we’ll try to provide some additional details in the not too distant future. But suffice it to say that our plan to head south in early April has been spot on. For our three biggest legs to date: Pensacola to St. Joseph Bay, Apalachicola to Tarpon Springs, and south down Florida’s west coast from Sanibel to the Everglades, we’ve been able to ride the mild north winds behind weak late-season cold fronts. No 30 knot northers like we’d have seen in February or March, and no afternoon or evening thunderstorms like you’d expect to see in late May through October.  In fact, in the last 22 days, the only time we’ve had any significant rain at all was yesterday evening, when we were anchored in the Little Shark River in the Everglades.Recap6

I imagine it probably rains there almost every day, and the rain danced across the river like a scene from a Japanese block print rather than storm with menace. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the season has at least one more mild cold front to offer us so that we can again ride the gentle north winds south to Cuba. As May turns to June, the seasonal southeast winds usually fill in pretty strongly, winds that oppose the Gulf Stream that has to be crossed a couple of dozen miles south of the Keys. When wind opposes current, the seas turn turbulent, the boat pitches madly, and Rhonda becomes a very unhappy camper.

We called Boca Chica Marina at NAS Key West when we were several miles from crossing under Seven Mile Bridge (the marker that finally said to us “You’re in the Keys!!!”) and made a reservation for the remainder of the month.Recap8

Our plan has always been to try to secure a slip there, as it’s extremely affordable (as all MWR marinas are), has everything we need to be comfortable (water, power, ice, laundry, and of course a bar. And a restaurant too). And best of all, it’s only a 10 minute bike ride from Duvall Street in Key West. We’d kept our fingers crossed, and we got lucky. We should be moving there tomorrow morning.

The boat has performed extremely well.  We blew out one of our jib track stoppers on our first passage, but it was a $6 part, which we found in Bradenton. A small seawater leak from our engine’s vented loop just required some new hose clamps. And our steaming light has apparently expired, but we’re not doing much nighttime motor-sailing, so it’s not a problem and can wait until we get to the Rio Dulce to fix it (you sailors will understand). Our biggest problem? We picked up a bazillion mosquitoes in the Everglades, and we’re having to fumigate the boat to get rid of our new guests. So while I’ve been wanting for a while to have the time to whip out a quick blog post to let you all know how things are going, we could have done without being trapped in the cockpit for three hours while insecticide percolates below. But at least we planned ahead and had what we needed onboard.

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We hear you knocking but you can’t come in!

We’ve seen some really cool things and interesting places. We’ve had some less than optimal days (and nights). But all in all, the last three weeks have been a blast, and every bit the adventure we were hoping for. We can’t wait to see what’s next!

We Might Just Pull This Off After All…

Today is April 1st. It’s the day we picked over a year ago as Departure Day, the first day of what we hope will be a grand adventure. Back when we first stuck a pin in the calendar, we hadn’t really noticed that the first of April was a Friday. As you may know (or are about to find out), there’s an old maritime superstition that it’s bad luck to begin a voyage on a Friday. Now if all we were talking about was a quick jump to the next island or a move to a new marina, well, we’re really not that superstitious. But to actually head out on the first passage of our long planned journey? It can wait a few days. Just to be sure.

And it’s also raining. Quite a lot. Much more than we’d want to try and drive the boat through if we didn’t absolutely have to. Which we don’t, because we have all the time in the world now. Well, technically we want to be in Boca Chica marina across from Key West by the end of the month, because we’ve told the Coast Guard that we’re jumping off for Cuba on May 1st. But that’s four whole weeks from now. Plenty of time to sit out a rainy spell and await sunnier weather.

So where do things now stand? Well, for the first time in 40 years, neither of us owns a car anymore. I signed the title of my truck over to its new owner last Tuesday. The buyer was actually the same person who purchased Rhonda’s car the week previously, believe it or not. As we were finalizing the deal on Rhonda’s convertible, I jokingly asked, “You wouldn’t happen to want a nice truck by any chance, would you?” Turns out he did. Rhonda’s happy that while they’re no longer ours, our former rides will continue to keep each other company in their new home.Colorado

We also finally cleared out of the storage unit we wanted to vacate. It’s hard to believe that not that long ago we’d open this door to a wall of boxes stacked front to back, floor to ceiling, the result of only having three weeks to move from our home of 18 years. It took over a year to process through all of it, but we finished with a few days to spare!Storage

We managed to arrange the necessary appointments at the Health Department to receive our second round of hepatitis A & B shots. It’s a three shot series for full immunity, with the second shot being required 28 days after the first. We were worried we wouldn’t get in before Departure Day, but we set the alarm yesterday and started calling at 7:30 AM on the dot and succeeded in getting a same day appointment.

The generator is serviced. We rebedded a lifeline stanchion that had developed a leak. The fuel tank and the on-deck jerry cans are all full. The bikes and the watermaker are lashed down. Our new mattresses are onboard. Our rigger is stopping by in the morning to give the new rigging one last check. GeneratorStanchionMattress

The outboard? Sigh. Let’s just say it’s being a pretty typical outboard. Even though we ran the carburetor dry last fall so that we wouldn’t have any issues with bad fuel when we recommissioned it this spring, it still refused to return to life. I rebuilt the carb and changed all the fluids and filters, but it’s still acting wonky. The local Tohatsu dealer tells me they don’t have any carbs in stock and will have to order one, which will take at least a week. But we’re not going to let it tie us down. I’ve been able to get it running well enough to make do until we can get to St. Petersburg, where we expect to find some real marine dealers that actually keep parts in stock.Outboard

My Nemesis

My Nemesis

The plan all along has been to wait for the first mild Spring cold front that sweeps through after April 1st, and then ride the north winds that follow it south. Right now, it looks like Sunday might be our day. The prediction is sunny and 72° (22° C) with a brisk north wind. A perfect beam reach to St. Joseph Bay, 120 nm to our east. An easy overnight passage with a favorable breeze.

Rhonda is making our final provision run tomorrow. We’re returning the borrowed car to her sister. We have a few things yet to stow or tie down, but nothing that would prevent our departure. If the weather holds true, we intend to bring the lines onboard at 0800 on Sunday April 3rd.

And then the fun really begins… 🙂

OK, Now You’re Just Messing With Us

I once mentioned in a previous post the old adage that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.  Well, He’s been having a pretty good chuckle lately. If you’ve been a follower of this blog, you may have noticed that we’ve been pretty quite for a while now. Trust me, it’s not for lack of things to talk about. We’ve simply been overwhelmed. Not since that day almost 16 months ago when our realtor called and told us we had three weeks to move out of our home of 18 years, as detailed in A Tempest Unleashed, have we been spread this thin.

We’ve known for quite a while that this month, our final one before departing for our Life On The Hook™, was going to be challenging. But we had over a year to put a plan together, and we felt we were ready to execute it.  Rhonda’s last day at work was February 29th, and I had picked up fresh mint and limes to make celebratory Mojitos once she returned to Eagle Too after her final day at the office. We planned to hit the ground running the next day and begin implementing our plan, with the goal of being ready to depart for points south the first week of April. First on the agenda—detail Rhonda’s car and get it listed on Craigslist.

I never had a chance to make the Mojitos. Less than five minutes after leaving her office for the final time, Rhonda’s car broke down. I thought when I saw her name on my caller ID that she was calling to share her feelings about her final drive home from work. Instead, it was a call for help. So instead of dropping her car off to be cleaned, we were having it towed to the repair shop.

Car1

It turned out to be a failed distributor. The good news is that we had replaced it once before, and the repair shop warrantied the part. The bad news is that it took them over a week to get the car back to us. And suddenly we’re ten days behind schedule.

Then there was our mattress. We knew we wanted to have a new bed made for our aft cabin prior to shoving off. It’s our “master bedroom,” the place where we always sleep. We learned when we previously had a new V berth mattress made that the foam and fabric shop could take up to a month to finish a project because of how busy they were. Trying to avoid having to do without our bed for several weeks, we scheduled the job a month in advance to hold a place in their schedule so that they wouldn’t need more than three or four days to complete the job.

Just as we were scheduled to drop off the mattress, the owner of the shop suffered an attack of appendicitis and ended up in surgery. It’s the type of business where nothing gets done when the owner isn’t there. They’ve had our bed for two weeks now, and at this point we have no idea when we might get it back. We’re getting pretty damn tired of sleeping on a 2″ mattress topper on a plywood deck. And the clock keeps ticking toward April 1st.

And then there are our eyeglasses. Rhonda and I wanted to get new prescriptions and update our glasses before leaving for the islands. We purposely put it off until the last month so the prescriptions would be fresh. It’s never taken more than a week to get a new pair of glasses made. Until now. Somehow, the ophthalmologist hosed up my first refraction, and when I got the glasses a week later, I couldn’t see. Another eye exam, another prescription, another set of glasses. Almost three weeks later, finally having a pair I’m happy with, I took the prescription to another shop to have new lens made for my RayBan sunglasses. “No problem,” they told me. “We’ll order the lenses, they’ll be in next week, and we’ll call you to bring in your old sunglasses so we can put in the new lenses. Shouldn’t take more than an hour.”

The first pair of lenses arrived from the factory defective. Another set was ordered. Another week goes by, and the second set of lenses arrives. They’re fine, except for the fact that instead of being gray tinted and polarized as I had ordered, they’re clear and non-polarized. “Not going to make very good sunglasses,” I told the optometrist (along with a few more colorful words). A third set of lenses gets ordered. And once again, something that was supposed to take a week took two and a half.

So we’re coping with the frustration of dealing with all the unexpected delays that are beyond our control and appear designed to frustrate our carefully laid plans. while making a final push to bring onboard all the gear that we chose not to purchase or have to find a place to stow until the time to departure grew short. Ordering charts, stockpiling guidebooks, putting together our final Defender order. Clearing out cold weather gear and starting our final provisioning. Sorting through personal papers. The boat hasn’t been this cluttered and disheveled since we first moved onboard.

And then we walk to the Post Office to pick up our mail, and I find I have a jury summons. For the 4th of April. And I just shake my head and say, “Seriously? Now you’re just messing with us!”

And God laughs.