Category Archives: Our adventures

Glub glub, our sunken tub 12-30-2013

Glub glub, our sunken tub

Palm trees at dawn

Palm trees at dawn

Aside from a little time people watching, Miami was really not so much about South Beach as it was getting set to leave again. I had ordered a bunch of parts including a new bigger anchor and chain which would be delivered in a couple of days. First though was the commitment I had made at work to finish a project before leaving the states. It wasn’t that big of a project, but it had been started and stopped so many times, it was now completely out of control. We had now prolonged our leaving the states for almost 2 months to try and finish it, working a few hours and then waiting a few days, but still there wasn’t an end in sight. I handed the project off to a co-worker and we targeted the first good weather window in 2014 as our push off date.

They say that the biggest mistake you can make “cruising” is trying to live by a schedule. The pressure causes you to force things to happen, which leads to bad choices and particularly – weather problems. Well weather because a problem, with a storm roaring into Biscayne bay with 35kt winds. I retied the dinghy with a triangulated painter to keep it from banging the transom all night, and we went to bed. About 1:00AM I got up to check the boat, and the dinghy… our dinghy… our only way off the boat… was GONE. I mean it wasn’t there any more, and we are maybe 400 yards off the beach with no way to look for it, or anything.

Earlier in the day, we had met the couple on the 55′ Stevens designed wooden ketch “AWAB” who have sailed all over the Caribbean. One of their big warnings was to lift your dinghy every night because the Bahamian crooks swim out and cut them loose off the back of your boat. Once they drift away they can “salvage” the motor and make a few bucks. Obviously I should have taken their advise just a little sooner and better, because we now had the opportunity to see how big of a problem this could be. I called the police and the Coast Guard to report the theft. At first light we called the insurance company to file a claim, and the marina that was “down wind”… just in case. This was not really the kind of thing we needed right now. I had just quit my job, we had burnt through about twice the cash this year we expected, and now I needed to replace a dinghy and motor before we could leave… about a $6000 expense. We actually discussed just dropping the whole cruising plan and going “home” instead. Enough is enough and we were about tapped out.

Around noon, we got a call back from the marina. They had found and recovered a dinghy that had sunk against their sea wall, would we come and get it – please. Sure…. how ? First I called Peter on “AWAB” and asked if I could borrow his dinghy. They had rented a car to go shopping in town, so he said we could have it for the day. A little 2 mile run down the VERY choppy shoreline did show that the collapsed and torn up inflatable with the outboard dripping sea water and oil was indeed ours. “Could you remove it now please, it is an eye sore for our guests.” Uh, sure… just as quick as I can. I was able to the the 145lb engine off and into AWAB’s dinghy and traveling at the slowest speed possible we traveled the 2 miles back to “Dancer.” I had to stop several times to pump out AWABs dink as we were awkwardly loaded and shipping water about every 6-7th wave. Once back to Dancer, I hoisted the engine onto its rack on the foredeck and began the process of draining sea water and replacing it with diesel fuel to stop corrosion and “pickle” the engine. With 20+ knots of still blowing, this process resulted in oil and fuel being blown all over the deck. Our proud yacht was a complete and total mess.

What a mess!

What a mess!

Later in the day the new anchor and chain were to be delivered. A few quick phone calls and they agreed to allow their driver to use the delivery trailer to carry the dinghy home. What a life saver. By 5PM we had the saddest looking mess of torn fabric, deflated tubes and just general soggy stuff dumped next to the dock along with a bright shinny new anchor and 200 feet (300 plus lbs) of chain. The dinghy dock was also a public launch ramp, and police station and dock. Although they were not happy to have this little mess sitting in front of their office, they were big hearted about it and said it would be “OK, for a while – I guess.” Well you don’t patch up 5 major tears in a dinghys tubes in a rain storm, so we chained her to a tree and waited for the rain to stop… and waited…. and waited.

Two days later the weather had cleared enough to put new oil back into the outboard, and start the tube repairs. The tubes went pretty well, but the motor just refused to start. Through a long process and a lot of help from Scott on “Saltine” and Peter on “AWAB” we dried out the electronics and got some new spark plugs installed just in time for a rousing “rooooooorrrrrrrr” just at sunset. The outboard LIVES. By morning the tube patches had cured and we towed the still shabby, but floating dink back to Dancer to be joined to her outboard. 8 days of our lives we will never get again, but we have our “family car” SB

Miami and the real “South Beach” 12-28-2013

Miami and the real “South Beach”

Lots of things in South Beach are "slightly enhanced"

Lots of things in South Beach are “slightly enhanced”

Before you arrive in Miami, there are thousands of images that go through your mind. Crystal clear Biscayne bay, “NCIS”, South Beach Models, Miami Boat show, “Miami Vice”. As usual, reality is slightly less “color enhanced” than the TV Image.

Miami skyline does not need to be color enhanced.

Miami skyline does not need to be color enhanced.

We arrived in Miami late afternoon.  Coming into the channel we were dodging huge cruise ships and then went to the Miami Marine Stadium for the night. This is a man made lagoon with covered bleachers for boat racing, much like the Indy 500. The view of the Miami skyline at night was spectacular.

The next day we moved to South Beach. We needed to be close to grocery stores to provision for our trip to the Bahamas. There is a Publix just off the City dock and also one up a little channel. So we are set to start putting together the items we will need for our trip.

When traveling to the Bahamas you need to bring all your meats, can goods, liquor and beer. It is expensive to buy most of these items there. A roll of paper towels can cost up to $3.50 per roll. Beer is $57.00 for a case. So we rented a car for the day and drove to Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club for most of our supplies. (2) 12 packs of paper towels and same for TP. 15 cases of beer, 5 boxes of wine and 9 bottles. Not that we drink that much. We look at it as it will last forever. Better to have to much then not enough. Pork chop, chicken, steaks, bacon and so on is in the freezer. 20 lbs of potatoes, 5 lbs onions, 20 lbs flour and sugar for making bread and cakes.



We picked up singular items at Publix. Tomatoes, pineapple, apples, oranges etc.. the items that will not last a long time. These items we will need to buy when in the Bahamas when we are able to find them.

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner on the Dancer

It took a week to get everything bought and stowed. During this week, we ran into our friends from Minnesota on “Saltine.” We spent a day in town @ South Beach with them and enjoyed a nice lunch on Lincoln Ave. We also walked Ocean Drive with them. This is the Rodeo Drive of South Beach. Here is where the Beautiful People hang out. Models, pretty boys, and movie stars. I was absolutely amazed that you can RENT a convertible Lamborghini by the hour here.

Second day at anchor in S Beach we met S/V awabAWAB (All Women Are Beautiful) who anchored next to use. He is from Germany and Paula is from Rome. They were every helpful on what we need to see while in the Bahamas as Peter has been there several times. We spent a lot of time with this couple, they even babysat Rio when we went grocery shopping. When Rio is on AWAB his name is Fritz.

We had a storm blow in on our forth night at anchor 1/8/14. Gary went up to check on the dinghy about midnight and found that it had disappeared. So the next day we called around to the marines in the area to see if it drifted over to their docks. The Miami Marina found our dinghy late morning. It was sunk on their T-dock. They were kind enough to tow it to their loading dock and pull it out. The 15 horse motor was still attached. Thank goodness. Peter lent us his dinghy to retrieve our motor so Gary could pickle it before it was ruined. Worked on the motor for 2 days and finally got it going. Peter and Scott were a great help in getting the engine running again. Even if it was just moral support.

Then we had to patch the 4 very large holes in the dinghy itself. Gary and I had made dinghy chaps which were on at the time. We believe that if they were not in place, it would have had more holes then it did. The chaps will need to be replaced soon as there are many little tears. First we had to get all the water out of the tubes, then have a dry day to repair it. It had been raining part of the day everyday after the accident. With our weather window predicted for 1/14/14. We had to move to No Name Harbor the night before to leave early, dawn for Bimini. Took 2 days to patch the dinghy. Peter towed us to our boat and we attached the motor. We are back in water. Engine is a little ruff but it runs. We made the repair in time to hit our window.

At No Name Harbor we met up with “Escape,” one of our 470 friends. We walked the small island and then settled in for the night, for our early morning sail.

We were up at 5 and ready to pull anchor. “Samvaro III”, another 470 we met in Ft. Pierce were also sailing to Bimini, along with “AWAB,” so we made plans to go together. When Gary pulled the anchor we had an old crab trap wrapped around it. It took a half hour to detach it. So then we were off.

Long time from last blog – Oct 2013

Our last blog had us in sailing with “Ellie” in Bar Harbor Maine.

Well we sailed quit a ways since then. Sometimes it is hard to sit down and write about our travels. Some of the novelty has worn off, and things that we just HAD to write about at first are now “old news.” We are sitting in a great little anchorage, fjord700 miles from “home,” eating good, enjoying life…. but not writing enough.


low tide / high tide

So where have we been since Ellie was on board?
We left Bar Harbor and sailed to SW Harbor and stayed several days. One day we sailed up the Fjord to Somesville ME and spent the day. Took an hour to sail up and the same back. It was a beautiful sail and a nice day for a walk to the little town. This was also our most extreme tides with 18ft of change from high to low.

We returned to Kittery Maine 8/22 and mailed “Ellie” back to MN. We stayed several days and visited with our friends Pam and Dan.

We sailed in Maine for a month. We saw lighthouses, lobster pots, MAJOR rocks, extreme tides and lots of fog as thick a pea soup. Since we have sailed in Florida for several years we have gotten very good at dodging crab traps while under sail. We were not that lucky at “the dodge” in Maine. The density of lobster posts has to be seen to be believed and we hooked 4 while we were there. Our first was in Kittery on the way out of port. 2nd in Bar Harbor and 2 on 8/23 in 300ft of ocean. Luckily we were able to reverse the boat and unhook each of them from the keel.IMG_1184

We left Maine August 27 and headed to Gloucester MA. On our way we met up with a couple on “Silverheels” who were flying their spinnaker. This was a great photo op and way to make new friends, so I set about taking photos and radioing them to get email and phone numbers. They too were going to Gloucester so we made plans to meet up there for dinner and drinks. Gloucester is the home of Gordon Foods and Wicked Tuna TV show. We met one of the famous new TV stars at a local marine store. We spent Labor Day Weekend in this port.

9/1/13 From there we went to Salem. I IMG_1206just had to see the witches. We spent the day in town walking through the graveyards and seeing the Bewitched status. This is haunting little town.

9/2 We dropped anchor in Plymouth harbor but did not get off the boat. Just spent the night. This was the only place north of the Chesapeake where we touched bottom. How the pilgrims did it I will never know, as the harbor seemed absolutely impossible without GPS and a chart plotter.

9/4 We sailed into Woods Hole and then Hadley Harbor for 2 days. IMG_1220This is an island group that is owned by the Forbes Family (John Keary Forbes). They have placed 25 mooring balls in this quite harbor for transits to use while in the area. It is free mooring, but the land is private and you just can’t go to shore. While in the harbor, another C470 that we had never met moored next to us. “Snow Goose.” So we headed over to make their acquaintance. They are from Newport RI and sailed up for the week. The next day they left and in comes another C470, “Making Progress.” What are the chances of 3 C470’s mooring right beside each other in a little harbor like this?!IMG_1262

Block Island dunes

Block IslanIMG_1323d dunes

9/7 Newport RI was our next stop. Spent a week here. Met a couple, Scott and John who have a Schipperke dog like ours. We made a date to have lunch and a “play date” for the dogs. We also met a second couple who are from Duluth Minnesota, they have just put their boat up for sale. They have been cruising for the past 15 years. They took us on a driving tour of the town. So we were able to see the HOUSEs on Beach Blvd. “WOW”

While in port we went to the boat show and ran into “Silverheels” who was a featured boat at the show. Also at the show we bumped into a couple we met in Wrightsville NC back in May and the couple from “Snow Goose”, and two more C470 boats. So we had a awesome time meeting old and new friends.

9/14 Block Island was our next destination. This is an island in Long Island Sound. Quaint little island and it took us 2 hours to walk from one end to the other.

9/16 Where is Yale University?? It is in New Haven CT. We were able to pick up a free town mooring ball close to downtown. On our way in to port we met the crew working on the new Yale marine center. They were a motley bunch and reminded us of the crew from Deadliest Catch.IMG_1330

9/17 We have made it to the mouth of Hells Gate to NY city. We are able to grab another free mooring ball in Port Washington NY. While in port we met Stan who has a C470 moored here. He took us to lunch at the Yacht Club. Also met a young couple from Switzerland who bought their boat in Florida and sailed north for the season and was returning south to sell her and return home.

IMG_1339Gary and I decided to take the train from Port Washington to NY City instead of sailing there. This was my first train ride.

9/21 New York City! We walked to the train station at 8:30 in the morning. It is about a 1/2 hour walk. Once there we got our round trip tickets to NY and boarded the train. We arrived at Penn Station 45 minutes later for our adventure to the Big Apple.IMG_1347

The first thing we did was have breakfast from a street vendor.. a buck 57 for 2 eggs, toast and hash browns. What a deal. We were in town on a Saturday – so it was not crazy crowded on the sidewalks.

We headed towards the Empire State Building in awe of all the tall building and so close together.

We made it to the follow places in The City:IMG_1352
Empire State Bldg
Madison Sq Garden
Central Park
Trump Towers
Ground Zero
China Town
Little Italy
Grand Central Station
and took the subway to ground Zero.
Everyplace looked like a scene from a TV drama, with too many famous streets to name.

After 10 hours in the City we were IMG_1479ready to go back to the boat. We had walked so many miles and we still had the 1/2 hour walk back to the boat. We had a GRAND time in NY and would will do it again.

9/22 we left port and point our boat towards Hells Gate and the NY waterway. We sailed by the UN building, Ellis Island and the Statue of NY_AISLiberty. While passing the UN we were escorted along with two others boats, by 3 manned machine gun carrying Coast Guards boats! What an exciting trip we had. While sailing out of NY we had to turn IMG_1496off our AIS, this is our navigation tool to show us where the other boats are, where they are heading and how fast. Why – too many boats in the area we could not see our route.

9/24 our new friends from Switzerland joined us on the sail down. We were going to go to Atlantic City for a day or so, but decided to bypass and go to Cape May NJ. This was an overnight sail and once again the weather did not obey the forecast with gusts above 35kts. Once at anchor we went to town for the afternoon and had Nadia and Jonah over for cocktails that night.

9/26 Ocean City MD, spent 2 night/days here. IMG_1600Walked the boardwalk one day. It is off season now. Rio learned how to ride in the backpack this day. Not allow on the walk, so we improvised.

9/28 We sailed to Chincoteague Island/Assateague Island VA. What an adventure this was. We were looking for a quick place to sail into for the night. Called the City Harbor Master for dockage availability. Sure enough they have room for us. IMG_1599No problem with the boat size, we’ll fit just fine. Well it was not a quick into port, an hour later we made it, with help from the local fishermen who kept us from going aground. There is no one to help tie us up to this itty bitty dock. We made it, but it was not easy. This town is famous for their wild pony on Assateague Island that the volunteer fire department rounds up and swim them across the bay to Chincoteague to auction off. Several years ago there was a children’s books written about the pony “Misty of Chincoteague” and several others. This town also raised chickens and duck for sale. I was so enthralled with this town, I would go back in a heartbeat.IMG_1617

10/3 We left Chincoteague and sailed to Wrightsville NC. We needed to get around Cape Hatteras and so this had to be 2 overnights. We were in Wrightsville before  and this is where we met our first C470 sister ship back in May.

This time we met a different types of friend, one in a white shirt and tie. You know them as Jehovah Witnesses. They come by your house and offer you their pamphlets. Well we had a group show up via boat to offer the word and their pamphlets. REALLY!!! I was so shocked! and laughed till I had tears in my eyes.

While in Wrightsville we celebrated my birthday with diner in town.

10/11 Gary and I put the boat up at the local marina and rented a car for the week to drive to Tampa for work. Gary needed to be in the office. We met up with Michael and visited for 2 days, and met up with Jenna for a few hours on the way back to the boat.IMG_1647

10/21 We got back to the boat yesterday. On the trip back from Tampa we ran across yet another C470, this time it was on a trailer on I95 heading to Canada to her new owners. We sure have been lucky to meet so many C470 members. This boat makes 16 for the season.

We set sail to Charleston SC, this was an overnight sail.IMG_1683

While in Charleston we met a father/son crew, Cecil and Hank, they are on a 42′ Catalina. Had them over for dinner and drinks, and Cecil didn’t let being 86yrs old slow him down a bit.

10/26 Gary and I have decided to do a little Inter-coastal cruising. We left Charleston at 8:30 and headed into the ICW. Our boat is NOT an IMG_1685Inter-coastal cruiser, and the stretch from Charleston to Fernandina Beach is really the only part of the ICW that we can sail with out fear of hitting bottom or a bridge.  (We just ran into a mud bar, but were able to get off)  It is beautiful though !!!!!!!!!

Our newest addition – THE MAP

As of today, we are happy to announce the newest addition to our family,
8 lbs, 4.5 oz – The Map.

This is an animated map of where we have been on our adventure so far.  It uses the “tracks” generated by the GPS and chartplotter, so where it shows, is actually where we went – down to about 5 feet!
If you click the animate button, you can actually watch us moving or waiting at the rate of several days per second.  Now that is “action speed!”

Stay tuned as we add the full photo stream that will show the movies and photos along the way.

Living inside the Postcard

There is no question, that since our leaving Florida in April, we have seen and been seen in hundreds of places and hundreds of situations that are the essence of a good Postcard.  But living INSIDE the Postcard has some other unique characteristics.


A Postcard Sunset – Sarah’s Creek Virginia.

you are here

You are HERE

We passed this sign walking today.  “You are here.” This is usually a very big help in figuring your way around a place, but THIS sign really didn’t help very much. Sure we now know that we are “HERE”, but where in the Heck is “HERE”? And where is here in relationship to anyplace else, specifically someplace that I know?

Its all a matter of context. When you have limited input even “Here” can be a strange and alien place.  And so it is with postcards.  Even very familiar places can be totally new when viewed in the 2 dimensional world of a camera lens .

With the exception of a couple of bus rides, this whole adventure has never taken us further than 2-3 miles inland from the coast.  Places that we have visited by car are completely alien and new when approached from the sea. I am not saying that our sailing adventure is 2 dimensional, but the very fact that we only travel by foot or sail, means that we see a very “thin” layer of the places we visit.  This layer is completely different from the layers we have visited before.  The layer we are traveling in now is also a beautiful one.  Rather than feeling like we have to capture the moment or the view, WE are CAPTURED in the continuous unveiling of new postcard quality beauty, mile after mile.

Although nights can be (can be–they ARE) the longest 1/2 of the day, they also carry a subtle beauty that the camera just can’t capture. Seeing the shape and hearing the splash of something big breaking the water a few dozen feet away is impossible to capture on film, but a thrill that begs to be shared… if only there was a way.  Stars that I haven’t seen since I was a child are again becoming friends.


Southwest Harbor, ME

Sunrises and Sunsets are so glorious and so regular, they have almost become mundane.  Even so, we stop what ever we are doing every morning and every night, to watch that glory one more time.


Somes Fjord

And how do you share a Fjord?  This is a narrow gut cut into solid granite by a glacier 10,000 years ago. It looks like any other mountain lake, until you UNDERSTAND how it got there… the forces that were involved in its creation.. and the sheer Majesty of it.. its just a postcard.

The ocean too is something like a postcard.  We only see the surface, but nearly all the life happens unseen in the  layers below the surface.  Here in Maine, the tide is 12-18 feet, so we have had the privilege of seeing some of what lies below as the tide recedes and leaves the bottom open for our view. We have also had the opportunity to see whales, and seals, and life that until now we only knew from TV or a book.


Living In the Postcard

Our voyage IS very thin, like the layer of ink on the postcard, but the details that we enjoy are incredible.. partially because they are SO VERY different from what our life was before.  Today we walked into town again.  This is our third trip in as many days, and everything is pretty much the same, but the things you notice walking this way!  Rio and I sat on a bench outside the pharmacy while Jodi shopped inside.  The first day there was a rather large cigar butt off to the left of the bench.  Yesterday it had moved more to the edge of the pavement, and today I had to look in the grass to see if it was still there.  You may say “so what” but believe me, there is immense pleasure in seeing even these details that live in the layers of our cruising life…. our life INSIDE the postcard.

Dear Diary of Elli

(We were recently asked to host a “Flat Stanley” for Jodi’s 3 yr old niece. This is the character from a children’s  story book that is accidentally flattened, and thus gets to travel by mail. Our job was to take our “Flat Elli” for a week, and return her and her story to Amber. )

Dear Diary Aug 12, 2013
Miss Amber, my daycare mom, mailed me to my host family today.  It was a little scary to get stuffed in an envelop and then leave, but exciting to see new places and meet new people.

Dear Diary Aug 16th, 2013elli dinghy Bar Harbor ME
I arrived in Bar Harbor Maine.  I was worried I would not make it.  The mail truck broke-down in route to my destination.  Miss Jodi and Gary arrived at 11:00 to pick me up.  I had only been at the terminal for 10 minutes.

Jodi explained to me that they live on a sail boat and to get there we have to ride in a dinghy.  Miss Jodi had a lifejacket for me to wear.

After a tour of their boat and my home for the elli boatnext week, we had lunch, then  back into Bar Harbor to take a bus ride to see the mountains.  Bar Harbor is in the Acadia National Park.   When we arrived in town, we ran into their friends, Lauren and Brian who are also living on a sailboat.  They joined us for the tour of the park.

We rode bus #3 to the visitor center.  Then we got on bus #4 The Loop, to go to the  riding stables.  We were given a tour of the stable and horses.  elli busAfterwords we got back on the bus to head to Jordan’s Pond.  At 5:00 we jumped on the next bus to get back to town and went out for pizza.   Once we were done with dinner we said our goodbyes to Brian and Lauren and put our life-jackets on and dinghied back to the boat.

My stateroom (bedroom) is in the forward part of the boat.  I slept in what is call the Pullman bed.  I even have my own head (bathroom).

Lights out at 9.

Dear Diary Aug. 17, 2013

We got up at 6 and readied the boat to set sail for Canada.  All items that we out, had to be stowed so they will not fall over while under sail.  Miss Jodi said I didn’t have to wear the lifejacket on the sailboat unless it was rough seas.  We pulled the anchor at 7:15 and put the sails up and headed out.

We passed several lighthouses on the way. elli lighthouseThe lighthouses help guide the sailors into port or to miss rocks that are sticking out of the sea.

12:52 we entered Canadian waters at the Bay of Fundy.  We spent the night in Seal Cove which is an island in the Atlantic Ocean.    In Seals Cove they have salmon fish farms or weirs as they are called.   I am now 1,120 miles from home.elli chart

Jodi called customs to check into their port to let them know we are in their country.  We told them we were only spending the night and then going back to the states.

Lights out 9:30.

Dear Diary Aug. 18th, 2013

We got up early to pull the anchor and head back to the states.  We put the sails up and headed south.

elli humpback

Humpback whaleelli buoy

About 2 hours into the sail we saw dolphin and whales. These mammals are hard to get a picture of so Jodi sent a picture from the internet.

We have to keep an watch out for the lobster buoys, we do not want to hit theses as they will wrap around our keel.  We missed one and it got caught, so Gary had to put the boat in reverse to unwrap it.

When sailing you use charts instead of maps – there are also channel markets we had to look for, red should be on our starboard side (right) and green on our port side (left).

We arrived in SouthWest Harbor at 6 PM and we picked up a mooring ball for the night.  A mooring ball is just that a ball that is anchored to the bottom of the bay.

Lights out 8:30

Dear Diary Aug 19th, 2013

Gary had to work this morning,elli Coast Guardmen so Jodi and I washed the enclosure windows.  Later in the day we went to SW Harbor to look around the dock area.    We met 2 Coast Guardsmen at the station, Sammy & Steven (on the right) who takes care of all the lighthouses, he makes sure that they light up. He has 26 to look after.

When we returned to the boat, we saw a seal in the channel.  it was so cool.  His head was the only thing above the water. Then he was gone.

It is low tide this afternoon.  elli sunsetThe tides are ruled by the moon.  With an almost full moon tonight it was really low.  The moon and sunset were beautiful.

Gary and Jodi have internet on the boat so we were able to watch a show tonight “McGyver” .

Lights out 9:00

Dear Diary Aug 20th, 2013

We awoke to a very warm morning.  Sun was shining with not a cloud in the sky.  We went to the main town SW Harbor and walked around all the neat little shops.  We even stopped by library, post office and had pizza on the sidewalk.

Low tide ---  High tide

Low tide — High tide

It was high tide when we were in town today – so we took a picture to show the two tides.

Today was bath day.  Country Dance has 200 gallons of water on board.  We take a shower with 2 gallons of water.  Get wet, soap up, wash hair, rinse off.  We will get more water when we go to the fuel dock to get diesel (gas).

July 31st 2013 Our Anniversary

8 years ago, Gary and I said our vows to become husband and wife.  Who would have thought that we would have done some many things together in those nine years.Jodi and Gary

We moved from Tallahassee to Seminole Florida, bought a house and remodeled it from top to bottom.

Sold our little sail boat and bought Big Dancer.  Made major changes to her.  Pantry, new galley flooring, shelves, storage and lots of waxing.

We set sail in April to travel the world.  Three months into our journey we have sailed the entire East Coast.  Our goal is to make it to Canada then back down the coast to the ports we missed on the way up and winter in Mexico.

Today we are anchored in Portland Maine and to celebrate this wonderful day we are making our gifts to each other.  IMG_0975smallWe gave up buying things and opted to create them instead.

We decided on a teak serving tray and fid bookshelf holders.  Gary  routed the wood and I stain and seal them..glove up and begin.  Once the pieces are dry we commence to put them all together for the finished product.

Apple baked pork chops for dinner with a salad and tomatoes from our plant.

Happy to us!!

Kittery Maine/Porthsmouth July 10th 2013


A riot of colors and flowers

Kittery Maine/Porthsmouth July 10th 2013 – We arrived in Kittery and had a great first few days, as stated in our earlier post. We met Gary’s cousin Ruthie and Jeannie for dinner and Dan for a walk in the park.

Now on with the story:
We entered the mouth of the Piscataqua River in the fog. Being from Florida we have not sailed much in fog at least not this thick.

Pea soup

Pea soup

The saying “thick as pea soup” is appropriate. We could not see 10′ in front of us, as we are trying to dodge lobster buoy’s which are everywhere. I stood on the bow of Dancer and directed Gary right or left to miss those little floating objects.

Kittery ME is on the north side of the Piscataqua River and Portsmouth NH is on the south side. This is the first port as you enter Maine. We originally were headed to York where there is another 470 owner. When checking for anchorages I found none in that area so we picked Kittery instead. As we entered, the fog lifted and we could see lighthouses on either side and forts to the left and right of us and one straight ahead. sunsetWe anchored in front of Fort McClary and what a view this offered every morning and wonderful sunsets every night.

We met up with Pam and Dan Thursday night for dinner. They took us out for mussels, crab cakes and lobster. What a great time getting to know our new friends. They own Optimistic a 2003 Catalina 470 sailboat. They bought their boat 2 months before we bought ours. Though their boat is 3 years newer they are the same with a few exceptions. It is so cool to see other 470’s and what has been done to each to make it their own. Dan has added a remote to the auto pilot so he can change coarse from anywhere on the boat, Gary is so envious.

The next day Gary and I dinghied to Kittery and walked around the quaint town. Kittery is not very big and took about an hour. So we still had a full day to explore, we dinghied the 2 miles to Portsmouth NH. In the river there are several islands which can only be reached by boat or ferry. One of these islands is where the Naval Shipyard is and also houses the old prison. The prison is huge and abandon. It looks like a castle with barbwire fencing around it. Per Dan, they closed years ago. I would have loved to walk about that place. Gary and I found a spot to pull the dinghy up and walk to town. While in town I found a farmers market. Since we have started this adventure I have chosen to try new foods each night. ufosSo at that market I picked up Patty Pan squash, they look like UFO’s. We stayed in town about 2 hours then back to the boat.

When we arrived the fisherman were collecting their catch of the day. I flagged down the skipper and asked if they would sell a few lobsters. Skip replied sure, I asked how much, he said four fifty. I said what do you mean, he said $4.50 each. So I bought 2.

Now I have to keep these crustaceans alive crusteanstill dinner, so I pulled out my 5 gallon wash bucket with the hole in the lid to house them for the next 6 hours. Floated them behind the boat on a line. It worked. Now we had lobster and UFS’s to cook for dinner. We boiled the lobster and grilled the squash.

We invited Pam and Dan for dinner on Friday so I had to get more lobster. I had not seen Skip Friday morning so I made Gary dinghy me over to another fisherman’s boat, he wanted $5.00 each, our trapI bought 8. His were larger than the last ones, about 2 1/2 pounds. Now I have a problem, they won’t fit in my 5 gallon bucket. So I ran down below and retrieve the 2 milk crates we have on board. Gary and I zip tied these together to make our own lobster trap and float them behind the boat.

Pam and Dan arrived and the chatting began. I did stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer. Pam brought over a very large pot to boil the 4 lobsters, as mine would only do 2 at a time. I

Pam usually had her eyes open, but this is the only shot I got.

Pam usually had her eyes open, but this is the only shot I got.

made mashed potatoes with Parmesan cheese and acorn squash to accompany the lobster. After dinner we decided to re-christen the boat, since we were having such bad luck lately and the 470 group thought this was in order. They brought over a bottle of champagne just for this purpose. I pulled out the crystal wine glasses, pulled off the protective covers and the christening began. The next thing we knew it was 11:30 p.m.

Our new friends offered us a car to use for the week. What a treat. Gary and I are now mobile. So we are off the next day to find a few items we need. As I was getting into the dinghy I leaned over and in to the sea went my phone. So we add AT&T to our list. While out and about we came upon garage sales and of coarse I had to stop. Then I spied another farmers market, another new vegetable to try, a long skinny egg plant and zucchini.

Pam and Dan took us sailing on Saturday to IMG_0879Star Island. This island houses an old hotel and owned by the Star Island Corp. When we landed at the dock a young deckhand greets us (they are called Pelicans) and orients us to the island. Pam and I wandered, while the guys hung on the dock with Rio as he was not welcome. We move on to another island called Smuttynose where Rio could get off and do his thing.

Sunday we met up with Optimistic for steak dinner on their boat. With Monday being a work day for them, we made it an early night.

We are ready to move on but I have a problem, I still have 4 lobsters in my makeshift trap. So we Googled how to freeze lobster. Par boil them for 60 seconds, dip in ice water for 15 minutes, then freeze. So we have 2 more lobster dinners waiting for us in the next port.

We had a great time with our new friends and look forward to seeing them on the return trip. 10 great days in Kittery and we have our SSB back and installed again. Thanks to Dan and Pam for an address to receive mail. I made wine glass covers for Pam as she liked the ones I had on my crystal.

We departed Wednesday morning the 24th for Portland. It was extremely foggy that morning and we had to cross the river to the Yacht club to fill up with water. Gary was securing the anchor, when he yells “hard right”! DSCF0003A trap appeared out of no where and I had to avoid it. NOT – I caught it, luckily it didn’t get our prop. I watched it pull behind us for 10 seconds or so, then off it came. Whew!!! Sailed through fog for about an hour, then sunny skies for the rest of our trip to Portland.

Heading back to the states – Jodi

We were at sea for 8 days. We had 5 storms in the fist 5 days, so we decided Ireland would have to DSCF0076 DSCF0088-2wait until next year. We ended up with some damage from the knockdown and had to make repairs. So we headed to Cape Cod, the shortest distance back. As we approach Martha’s Vineyard about 50 miles out, the ocean is like glass and we can see for miles. Gary and I start seeing fins all around us. we are thinking whales or dolphins, as we get closer I start hearing the theme song from JAWS. They are sharks, hundreds of them. No not the Great White, but White tip Sharks. We had a blast looking for them and then chasing one down to get a photo. They were elusive.

We limped into Martha’s Vineyard and dropped the anchor in a beautiful area, light house to the right of the inlet and town to the left. We wandered around this picturesque fishing village for 2 days then moved to the other side of the island to Vineyard Haven. Here we saw kids at littleboatsday camp learning how to sail, one boy missed his jibe and hit the back of our boat. No damage but a look of surprise on his face. I helped get him back on course.

From here we head to New Bedford and Fairhaven, which is just behind a huge hurricane barrier about 20 miles for Martha’s Vineyard. They have a near by hardware store, West Marine and a welding shop. We need to order parts to repair the rudder, new lines for the jib, stainless to beef up the enclosure and some badly needed rest. We dropped the hook by the first green marker which according to Active Captain is the only place in here we can anchor. We are amazed at all the large fishing boats in this one little area. We did some research and found out this was at one time the whaling capital of the world and today very active in scalloping and shrimp. nb

After our first night at anchorage we receive a visit from the harbor master, Captain Bob.
CB – “You can’t anchor here, you have to be on a mooring ball”.
CD – How much. CB – $45.00 per night.
CD – can you make us a deal as we are going to be here about 10 days?
CB – will check with the boss. You can stay one more night at anchor and I will chat with you tomorrow regarding mooring.

So the next day Bob gets back to us. No deals on the mooring, we are to use ball #1, it is rated for a boat our size and it is across the bay.

Now Gary and I have only grabbed a mooring ball once before in Key West at the coral reefs, so we are going to learn how to do this in 18kt winds. I am very nervous about grabbing a ball. Gary will steer the boat up to the floating buoy and I was to reach over and snag the float with the boat hook. So we slowly motored over towards this ball, I reach out and on the first try snag it. Now what do I do with it??? Gary yells, hook it on to the cleat quickly. Well I was not fast enough because the wind caught the boat and I had to drop the line, so we took a second swing at the mooring ball. I snagged it again and this time just wrapped the line around a single cleat. We are now on a mooting ball. This took about a half hour, whew glad this is over with.

We receive a phone call from Stan Walsh, another 470 owner who also has his boat in this inlet at the Fairhaven Marina. He offered to drive us to West Marine when our parts are in and drop me off at Wal-Mart for grocery shopping. Also, his son is putting on a regatta for the Wounded Warrior with a benefit dinner afterwords. We said we would join them Saturday for the dinner.

Gary and I went to New Bedford to check out the sights. First we have to find the dinghy dock that is tucked in between the huge fishing boats. Once at the dock we walk to town. This is a very unique town/village with lots of whale history. We run into Captain Bob and he offers to open the Visitor Center for us as it is after hours. We wander through and get to chatting with Bob regarding his history. He is friends with Steven Taylor and writing a book with him. Bob is a photographer and has taken photos of many of the rock bands and even did Faye Dunaway’s wedding. What an interesting life he lead.

My job the next day was to find stainless steal for the enclosure. After several phone calls I came across Ocean Marine Fabricating, Steve Shurteff. He said he would meet us Saturday morning at his shop to see if he could help us out. Once we arrive, Gary’s eyes grew large, Steve is building a KitFox airplane in his shop. They got to chatting about planes and 2 hours later we got around to what we came for, STAINLESS! Steve was very helpful and provided us with the correct sizes of stainless.

That night we met with Stan and his wife at the benefit dinner. Had a great time visiting with them and dinner was pretty good. Chicken for me, hamburger for Gary. Stan offered their sons mooring ball to us so we could save some money. We moved the next day. I am becoming a pro at grabbing these balls.

The next couple of days, Gary worked and I dinghy to town to do laundry. On Wednesday Stan picks us up and we head to West Marine, our parts are in. They dropped me off at Wal-Mart. Afterwords, Stan gave us a nice driving tour of Fairhaven, with a lot of history of the town. Back to the boat to make the repairs. We had to shore up the rudder so it won’t fall off when we remove the bolts which hold it. We are in 25′ of water and this would be a disaster. We re-glassed the rudder area and drilled new holes for the bolts. 6 hours later we have this repair done. On to the next project, adding the new stainless to the enclosure, then the new lines and tighten the boom-vang tang.

Saturday morning we receive a call from Captain Bob stating we can not be on this mooring ball, it is against the rules, something to do with insurance. We have to move back to ball 1. We have been on this ball for 4 days. We agree to move. Sunday we met up with Bob at the marina and he asked us when we were leaving and we said July 5th. He asked that we settle up with them that night, we asked what do we owe you? Bob $270.00! What, we were only on the marina’s ball for 2 days. Bob states his boss is charging us for using the private ball. We pay the man and he says we can stay on a different private mooring ball on the other side of the harbor, no charge. So me move again. We are not sure why we can stay on this one for two day for free, but had to pay for the one our friends gave us permission to use???

DSCF0162The Fireworks on the 4th in the harbor are beautiful. The next day Gary writes an email to Stan IMG_0801regarding the payment of the mooring and to make sure his son gets his portion. Stan forwards this email on to the City, which stirs up the pot. Bob calls us on Friday at 4 in the afternoon and says we have an hour to get off the mooring ball. So we were run out of town.

Our next stop is Cape Cod, Provincetown. What a cool place. This semi-island is not very lager, but has a very diverse culture. You know the flower hydrangea, it changes color with the acid in the soil so you can have pink, blue and white all on the same bush. That is what P-town is like, you can be blue, or pink, or both!

We also found that our boom-vang tang was cracked and needed to have it welded. We actually found a shop who could do this for us, Michael Kacergis. As we approached his place we see metal flowers, fountains and stuff all round his shop. He gives us his history and how the shop was his fathers. He fix the vang part and off we went. Met a couple, Paul and Carol who were anchored on a Valiant 42 just behind us. Had them over for dinner. They are cruising for 6 month each year.

We pulled anchor on Wednesday July 10th and headed to York Maine. Once underway I discovered that there was no place to anchor in York, so put our anchor down in Kittery Point instead. When the fog lifted in the morning, low and behold, there is a another 470 just like ours moored not 200 feet cousinsaway. Since we did not make it to Ireland we decided to meet as many 470 owners as we could and Dan and Pam Morrison were on our list. Once we were secure at anchor we fired up the WiFi and found out that Gary’s Cousins Jeannie and Ruth went through Kittery on their was to Portland ME. They had on their bucket list to go from Portland OR to Portland ME, and they had just driven right by us and none of us knew. We got a hold of them on Facebook and on their return trip they stopped to see us. Had a great dinner at Captain & Pattys and caught up on all the family gossip. We met up with Dan on Thursday and walked to Fort McClary which is the backdrop view from our mooring. Friday night we had dinner with them. Lobster at last!

Crossing epic

Before leaving Yorktown, we had borrowed a car to drive into Hampton and pick up Pete Cateo’s old 135 jib. If it was in good enough shape we thought it could make a good dual jib down wind rig, and if not, some good bag material. While driving back, a fast moving storm hit and traveled up from Hampton and across the little anchorage at Sarah’s Creek. As it moved up highway 17, it brought down trees across the highway, and we sat for 2.5 hrs while they tried to clear traffic, wondering how Dancer was fairing the weather without us. Turns out, not too good. Since we had no idea any weather was coming in, and we were only going to be gone for a couple of hrs, we had left the boat “open” and with fairly short scope. On driving back into the marina, we could see that she had drug across the anchorage and was firmly stuck in the mud back on the opposite side. Nice start for a trip across the Atlantic!


Kedges out, waiting for high tide

I kedged out 2 anchors and we waited for high tide at quarter past midnight.

Once the tide had come back in, it took about a dozen turns on the windlass and Dancer was seriously wet, but floating again. Whew.

Saturday morning the 15th, we did a last few chores, put the dink on deck, and headed out the Chesapeake. Winds were out of the south at 10-12, so we beat our way out over the tunnel and into the open Atlantic by about 9:30PM and settled in for night watches. Was a glorious sail headed ENE. Made 88 miles that first day

Sunday the 16th we spotted our first whale quietly cruising about 150 yards away on our port side. Not sure what “brand” it was, but for the 2 times he broke surface the visible part of his back was bigger than we were. This was a pretty fast day, and we reefed the main at 1:30 in the afternoon. By 4:30 PM the wind had piped enough that we dropped the main and were still making over 7kts on jib alone. By 5:00 AM we had enough light to see a massive storm rolling up on us from the west. Using the radar we were able to pick our way between some of the worst, but still got banged around pretty good.

Jodi came on deck and said.” Two storms already and we are only on day two, are you sure you want to do this?” Absolutely I am!    We Made 150 miles today,.

Monday the 17th as the seas flattened was a fabulous sailing day. Even reefed from late afternoon through the night we made 192 miles in 24hrs. Avg 8.0kts with the knot log showing max boat speed of 11.2kts.



Tuesday the 18. The new weather faxes showed two really fast moving lows had moved across the country and were headed out into the Atlantic.

storm sandwich

storm sandwich! These were not on the chart at all the day before.

You can imagine the look on Jodi’s face when I told her this news! The two storms were almost on top of each other, both projected to turn NE over water and cross our position by early next morning. We were now over 400 miles out and I could see no way to avoid getting hit. If we turned back, we might miss the second storm, but the first would nail us for sure. If we stayed on course, one would pass us to the east and the other to our west. Not good to be a low pressure system sandwich. If I cut SE, there was a chance that we could get across the path of the second storm before it got here, so we put her in high gear to the SE. As the seas had started to build again, we were not quite as fast today, but still were able to roll up hour after hour of 9-10 kt speeds. I thought we had made it.

Wednesday the 19th at 1:00 AM we were fully reefed down and running as fast as we could ESE. With a little help from the Gulf Stream, we were making 10.4 kts away from the storm.  The boat was balanced so that we had almost no weather helm, and could handle the quartering seas without corkscrewing all over the ocean. At 4:00AM Jodi was on the helm and I was napping on the bridge deck. The wind had shifted and was now coming out of the SW so I was pretty sure we had made it out of the center of the storm track, but we were now in confused 9-11 foot seas and 24-26kts of wind again.

Suddenly I woke up to Jodi yelling “whoaaaaa…..GARYyyyyyyyy” and wham, we were knocked down on the port beam with the jib in the water, and the boom bouncing on the waves. Jodi said later that a wave “the size of a mountain with water curling over the top like the surfers like” had hit us directly on the stbd side. The next few minutes were obviously kinda fuzzy in both of our minds, but I remember seeing Jodi hunched down on the side of the cockpit seat with her head in her hands. I yelled “get your head up” and my favorite first mate in the whole world came back to life. She dumped the main sheet and Dancer started to roll back up.

A smaller boat knocked down

A smaller boat knocked down. We were a little too busy to get a picture of our own.

She then dumped the jib sheet and I was wrenching so hard on the wheel that we now need to retention the cables. Dancer popped up, and immediately gybed tearing part of the vang loose, and blowing the preventer up like a bomb. I could NOT turn the wheel, period. Once she came up from the her roll to the other side, Jodi was trying to get the jib sheets under control, and I was trying to figure out which way the wind was coming from, and all this in total darkness except for the glow of the instruments lighting the cockpit. I could not find the center of the wind, the sails seemed to be flogging from both port and stbd, and the rudder would only move if I jerked it using a hand on each wheel together. Something had jammed the rudder.

24760 hours later…well it felt like that… I had found the wind and gotten us pointed directly down wind. Our heading was 180 degrees from when we went down so we must have been hit by the eye of the storm. Jodi was spinning the primary winch with the jib reefing line like a cowboy riding on a spinning bronc, shoulders pumping and hair flying in circles around her head. She was something to see as she managed to get the jib furled and the boom back under control. The rudder had loosened up some and I could steer if I used sort of a back and forth motion. I needed to get off the wheel to help Jodi, so decided to see if the autopilot could hold her down wind, and IT seemed to have no trouble steering at all.

We got the cushions back into the cockpit and the 6″ of water finally drained out. Pulled everything out of the port lazarette and leaned in upside down with a flashlight to clear what ever had jammed the steering gear. Nothing! No loose lines banging around, no paint cans in the cables, Nothing. We ripped everything out of the stbd side and I did the same, with the same result. Absolutely nothing. The jam had to be in the rudder bearings or something in the rudder its self, not the steering gear.

Now 500 miles at sea, our whole world dumped out on the cabin sole, everything wet, major gear broken or damaged, in a 35 kt gale with 11 foot seas, and I can’t steer the damn boat. Not my finest moment.

Sanity returned very slowly, but the autopilot seemed to be able to keep us pointed directly down wind, so we just started to take stock, and try to make it livable in the cockpit again. I tried hand steering again, and everything seemed perfectly normal, except that the cables seemed to have stretched some. The sails seemed intact, except for a broken batten in the main and both jib sheets with “blown” breaks in them, so I built a new preventer and tied everything down tight.

Blown up sheets and bent pole

Blown up sheets and bent whisker pole lashed to the deck.

We ran directly down wind with bare poles at 3-7.7 kts for the next 30 odd hours. In the afternoon I got the latest weather faxes, and the two lows had merged into a single long system with a full gale to the SE…right over where we were. The centers were predicted to move several hundred miles north in the next 24 hrs, so if we could just ride it out we would be OK …… NOT!

There was a 5th system that had come across Georgia and would be headed into the Atlantic….and come up the same track, the next morning. The fax also showed a front stretching down the Atlantic from the North Sea to Cuba, like a fence dividing the ocean top to bottom. 5 storms in the first 5 days, and a fence between us and the Azores and Ireland…’s time to turn home and do this trip next year.

After it seemed like thing were settling down, we raised a little jib, and turned slowly back to the west in the remaining heavy seas.

EVERYTHING dumped on the floor

EVERYTHING dumped on the floor

I had just gone below, holding on to anything I could grab and working my way over the mounds of rubble on the floor, when I heard the wind building again. We got the jib down in seconds and turned down wind again before a squall hit us with 10 minutes of sustained 45 kts and one long gust that held the wind speed meter at 62 kts. Enough is enough already, we are leaving, just let us go !

We turned back, the Gods smiled

We turned back, the Gods smiled

The return to Martha’s Vineyard was fabulous. Winds very light for most of it, and no longer concerned about fuel, we motorsailed through glassy flat seas, looking to get pictures of the hundreds of white tip sharks fining the surface. Firmly anchored in Edgertown harbor, we are going to take a couple of days OFF our beloved Dancer before starting to put her back together. The Gods of the the sea said NO Ireland this year, so we will cruise New England for the summer and then to the Caribbean or Mexico for the winter. Next spring, we will join the ARC rally, and the Gods willing, cross the Atlantic and see Ireland in 2014.

Fastest day – 192 nautical miles
Fastest speed – by Jodi 14.2 kts, by the log 13.9 kts
Time spent sailing over 9kts -more than 12 hrs
lbs of stores dumped on the cabin sole – all of it!
Time sitting at anchor in beautiful places – priceless