Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!!

We have so much to be thankful for!! We had a great Thanksgiving, together with family and good friends, some of whom flew in, and others came by boat. Our dear friends Kim and Al and their two kids blasted over from Pompano, FL in their new 35' Scarab, Short Circuit, in good conditions despite a lot of rain. It was startling to hear them hail OBB so soon after they'd left...we're not used to going fast, but they made it in just under 3 hours!

With the nasty weather, we were indeed lucky we'd decided to rent the house for the was lovely, with a large kitchen, and a huge dining room, great room and master bedroom, with two guest cottages on either side of a gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the Atlantic to the west. Ron and Karyn moved Equinox to the house dock on the canal, so as to have the provisions and foodstuffs at hand, then cooked, prepped and baked all afternoon. With the boat oven out of commission, we made do between the convection microwaves (one aboard, one in the house) and the house oven. While the convection oven in the house sped things along a bit faster than Karyn expected, it still worked out. It was touch and go for a bit there regarding the timing of all the food, but it came together beautifully!

The cooks!

Al, in his element, carving the turkey

New recipes came through, supplementing family favorites, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed while the wine flowed. We ended up with a crowd of 16, from teens to adults, and it was a great time, with everyone delighting in the comeraderie of the company assembled. A heartfelt thank you to all for the friendship, love and togetherness! It was a fabulous feast!

The whole group, feasting!

The ladies, post dinner

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rain, rain and waterspouts!

Well, it wasn't quite the day we envisioned for family to join us....gray and dull all morning, then torrential rains with waterspouts tearing around the west end of West End. Squally and rather exciting at moments, thankfully to die down and merely ....rain. So, we put the day to good use, prepping and cooking and making ready for the feast day tomorrow!! What else are you going to do in paradise when the weather throws you a curve? Roll with it, right?

Karyn made a loaf of savory bread yesterday, which she cut into croutons for the stuffing today...which smelled pretty darn good, let me tell you! Then, she assembled her corn cheddar casserole mid-morning, to be baked tomorrow with all the other dishes. Happily, about half-way through the assembly of said corn casserole, she overheard the kids (Shelley, Sam and Ally) on Skype receive the good news that Shelley will be staying with us for Thanksgiving!! Hopefully, the weather will cooperate so that Papa and Mama Miles will join us as well, but the seas have to lie down and behave if they are to join us here, as they have to make the crossing aboard the Miles Behind (their 35' open console fishing boat). We can only keep our fingers crossed!!

Other news is that we have a contract on the Maryland house! Very exciting!! Thus, lots of phone calls were made and many downloaded pages signed, faxed and e-mailed. Who would have thought that we could be selling our house while aboard the boat in the Bahamas?? We're kind of shell-shocked that it happened so fast, but....all good! We'll be back in FL and MD in mid-December if it all goes through as planned/hoped! Wish us well on that front.

While we waited for Laura, Jeff, Marina and Jordan to arrive, we all watched Star Trek on DVD, and prepped the famous family recipe of "Daphne's Sweet Potatoes". Daphne was the long-time maid/housekeeper for Ron's parents in NYC whom Karyn first met along with Ron's folks more than 25 years ago. Daphne, a beautiful Jamaican lady who always did the everyday cooking and cleaning, always made the most fantastic mashed sweet potatoes for their Thanksgiving dinners over the years. When Daphne was about to retire, Karyn and Ron finally got the recipe from her... scribbled down in haste in the kitchen as she recited it from memory. We still have the original half-page of paper that we used to transcribe the recipe, still safely tucked away in my cookbook here aboard the boat ...we used it yet again today!! Happily, we also had Bahamian sweet potatoes to mix in with the others, to add a bit of the Bahamas to our Thanksgiving, seeing as we are here. Yum!

It's quiet now, after enduring amazingly torrential rains during dinner with everyone who arrived today. Tomorrow, weather prevailing, we will be joined by additional friends to make the day a complete raucous, fun and fabulous affair!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's always something!!

It was a bit of a maintenance day today after our fun day in the sun yesterday. Ron made a few phone calls in the morning (gotta love Skype!) and after a consultation with Nuvair, confirmed that the O2 sensor regulator was leaking. Thankfully it's not put us out of comission, as it could be removed and the hole capped off while a replacement gets shipped. Being resourceful, Ron realized it was just a regulator, and amongst his scuba parts, he had the perfect cap for it. SO...after testing and tightening a bit...compressor is working well again! Ron''s becoming more McGyver-like all the time, but he doesn't think so!

For the daily "fun surprise", Karyn was all set to get a start on the Thanksgiving menu items, although much to her incredulous dismay, discovered that the oven stopped working!! Now isn't that a fun surprise?? It heated right up to 375, but didn't hold the temperature and then shut off. Turns out thermocoupler/ignition switches in the oven have died, so need to be replaced. Trying to get parts was interesting...Viking put Ron through the paces, giving him phone number after phone number to call in an attempt to find "local" service of the numbers only had a Spanish recording, so....not much use there! Ron was so distraught -- talk about poor timing!! We are putting the truth in the old adage about fixing one's boat in exotic places, but I'm more than a little tired of that phrase now! Enough already!! Here we are, about to have 15-20 people on island for Thanksgiving and the oven dies!! AUGH!!

Thankfully though, the resort management here is fabulous; we asked Nathan (the OBB manager extraordinaire) and he knew whom to call to see if there were any local parts in stock, as their professional stoves are all Vikings too. While it turned out there were no parts to be found locally, Ron arranged for the right parts to be sent from Miami overnight to our friends who are coming on Thursday. SO we can fix the boat after they the nick of time!
The necessary part

However, we'd previously arranged to rent one of the beautiful waterfront homes here for Thanksgiving day (seeing as we don't have seating for that many people on the boat), so we will have access to another oven! We will move Equinox to the house dock for the day, so as to have all our Thanksgiving provisioning available and will just prepare the food ashore. The house is gorgeous, with has plenty of table space both indoor and outdoor, (as well as a heated pool!) so we will celebrate in style!

And, some of our friends/family have already arrived!! We have Shelley here (sadly sans Miles Aweigh or Miles Behind -- ) who flew in from her job in Denver, and we are expecting Ron's sister Laura and her family to arrive tomorrow. No matter the "fun surprises" or obstacles, they will be overcome, and we are looking forward to Thanksgiving! :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Breakfast on the Beach....

Our approach to Sandy Cay in the dinghy coming across the
edges of the little Bahama Bank the Straw Bar this morning, with our friend Peter off Celebration. He arrived just a day after we did, with the remainder of his family is flying in tomorrow. We'd met Peter and his son Sam last year, when we were all here at West End in the spring...seems like old home week!! (Certainly would be if the Miles Aweigh was here, but...not to happen, as she's in the yard yet, much to our -- and the Miles' -- dismay. We miss them!!) But you never know who you are going to meet when you're out cruising! All part of the fun!

In any event, our leisurely breakfast was followed by a family scuba dive out on the reefs off West End. Again, it was a dive we all enjoyed! There was little current and fairly decent visibility, although it wasn't quite as clear as it was yesterday. It's always so fun to dive with Ally, as she has sharp eyes and finds creatures that Ron and I often miss. This morning, she found a small spotted moray eel tucked away in a crevice of the reef that Ron swam right past. I just marvel at all the juvenile fish there....lots of parrotfish, butterflyfish, damselfish, wrasses, and grunts swimming about, with gobies, cardinalfish, squirrelfish, rock hinds, red hinds shyly peeking out from their hiding's a very pretty dive site!

While Ron refilled the scuba tanks (which took longer than normal as the O2 sensor regulator is leaking) Karyn packed the cooler with a picnic lunch. We took the dinghy up to Sandy Cay, where we relaxed on the beach, walked along the shore, looked for shells and snorkeled, looking for lobster holes. There were lots of large southern stingrays in the sand, and tons of orange starfish, some startlingly large. We enjoyed the lunch, the sunshine and the views! It was a low-key, kick-back kind of day!

Ally in the sea pines on the southwestern edge of the cay

The western side has a secluded beach -- wild and unsettled

One of the shore birds on Sandy Cay

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Yes, still sharing adventures in life, love and happiness, and going strong!! Karyn and Ron celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary this morning with a marvelous scuba dive on the reefs about 2 miles north of West End. It's an area we call "Dog's Head" reef, from the contours of one of the coral formations there. The conditions were rather agreeable, with a light breeze from the east, and maybe a 1'-2' chop on the water; once we'd checked the set of the anchor, we had a lovely, relaxed dive -- good visibility, little if any current, with lots and lots of fish life. (In contrast to Bermuda, where the reefs were dramatic, but had little if any fish life.) There was a huge southern ray buried in the sand below us as we descended to check our anchor site; you could only see his outline and his two eye watching us intently as we swam past. The reefs north of West End are slightly healthier as there is less silt and leafy cover on the coral.

Heading out from Old Bahama Bay to go diving

Yesterday, we dove about a mile west of the OBB jetty, in unbelievably calm and clear conditions -- quite the change from last winter's constant cold, rough and choppy conditions! A great start to our time here!! Unfortunately, though, the reefs near West End are very overgrown with this leafy bottom cover; at one time the reefs must have been spectacular, but not so much now. Due to the blasting, digging and dredging for the expansion of Old Bahama Bay/Ginn Sur Mer on the south side of the point at West End the past couple of years, there is a thick layer of silt on the reefs off OBB, which allowed this leafy algae/ground cover to grow on the reefs....depressing. That and all the lionfish that are everywhere, which are crowding out the lobsters.

The best anniversary gift was that Ally flew in yesterday from Baltimore to join us here for Oldfields Thanksgiving break. We're hoping it will be a fun 10 days together! It's great that the school has such a long break for the holiday, which allows the boarders a decent amount of time for travel as well as time to spend at home (many of the girls are from overseas). Ally doesn't have to be back until December 1st! After her arrival, Ally and Karyn spent a quiet couple of hours at the OBB pool while Ron was out lobstering (with limited success this time!).

It was an enjoyable family movie night after a superb dinner of Ron's crab cakes, salad and steamed green beans. (Those of you who have knowledge of Ron's crab cakes know what we are talking about! Ally was in heaven!) It wasn't a late night: after all Ally's travels, she was tired, and so were we from our diving and all that healthy sunshine. Life is good!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hard work in exotic places...

Equinox the morning after our arrival, sitting pretty in slip S-7

A variation of the theme of repairing things in exotic places, but still applicable! While we are here aboard Equinox in Old Bahama Bay, enjoying a gloriously lovely Caribbean day, we have to pinch lucky we are!! Yet, we are not just sitting about sipping lattes on the back deck...we still have our work to do!! For instance, after the crossing last night -- no matter how calm it was -- we still had to wash the salt off and keep corrosion at bay! So that was this morning's job: we washed the boat, from stem to stern, top to bottom (or nearly so, whatever part was out of the water!). In fact, the good news about retirement is that Ron now has time to do all these things that we previously paid people to do, like wash the boat. The bad news, is now we have time to do all these things!! It takes us about 3 hours, working in tandem, to get the boat rinsed, washed, rinsed and dried...definitely not an easy task! About halfway through, you're ready to pay for someone else to do it for you again!!

But...gotta admit, the view was gorgeous: palm trees and turquoise waters, warm sunshine and cheerful folks all stopping by the boat to welcome us back! It's lovely!! SO...we rinsed, washed, rinsed and dried, and enjoyed ourselves because we could. Just wish I was an inch taller, so that wiping off the underside of the pilothouse overhang would be easier! The new hard top makes it so much easier to clean the equipment on the mast and on the pilothouse, though, so that helps somewhat.

After a lunch on the back deck (ok, so we do lounge on the back deck, what can I say?) we pulled out the scuba gear and folding bikes, as well as the lobster spears and snorkels for some afternoon fun. We ended up just lobstering, unfortunately without success....I believe our "secret" spots for lobster are not so secret and were recently harvested, since the pantry was bare! Oh well...should have bought some from the lobster man when he went by earlier!

Ally will join us tomorrow and we're excited about her joining us! Then, later in the week, we have family and friends flying (and hopefully boating) in for a big Thanksgiving feast. Looking forward to it!

Back to the Island!

Well, what a difference a day makes!! Today was great! After our brutal day of frustration, moving and unpacking yesterday, we slept well for the most part (hard to believe, I know!) and thus were feeling good and ready to tackle the tasks we had on our respective lists. Ron headed out to get the last of the fresh produce, hit the bank, then make a run to Best Buy for some new DVDs and a modem for the condo. Karyn tackled the remainder of the boxes, clearing out a huge portion of the boxes. She put away box after box of kitchen goods, laundry stuff, clothing, winter coats (ummm....why did we bring those again?), bathroom toiletries and assorted odds and ends. While she was doing that, she was also dodging the shutter company guys today, as they were installing all the custom plantation shutters for our windows. Talk about gorgeous!! Love them!

When Ron returned with the modem, Karyn took care of the technical end, getting its MAC address connected and transferring the internet e-mail accounts to the local Comcast provider, so that the house will have internet acess. At least the account is set up, although we're not entirely sure if it works, as their test link was having issues, but...we’ll see when we return!

We say, “when we return”, because after looking at the good weather reports and tides, we decided to head out to West End, Grand Bahama Island in the early afternoon. We gotten quite a lot accomplished in the house and were feeling good about that, but we both wanted to head out while it was still light. So...we did!! We were provisioned and prepared to the teeth already, and were simply trying to get the boxes off our backs before we left. Yes....lines off and underway at 2:30 pm.

Since we’d not gone out the St. Lucie inlet in over a year, we double-checked the last year’s worth of Local Notice To Mariners (LNM) last night, to make sure we knew about any issues with the St. Lucie Inlet. There had been some shoaling in the St. Lucie Channel, (which Ron discovered upon his return from the haul-out-that-was-not-to-be) but other than a couple of moved buoys, the inlet was fine. We just figured it was best to be prudent about it, to check beforehand and leave in good sunlight.

Normally we’d leave St. Lucie inlet late at night to arrive in West End in the morning, but being as familiar as we are with West End (having spent all winter there last year) we have no qualms about arriving at night. It's well-marked, with deep water right to the breakwater at Settlement Point. We called Old Bahama Bay to confirm our arrival; Ron was delighted to speak with Jamal, one of the superb dockhands there at OBB, who assured us that our old slip, S-7, was waiting for us. We’ll simply fly the quarantine flag and wait for customs to open in the morning!

Despite the light winds being out of the north, (never a good thing when crossing the Gulf Stream) the seas were only 2-4’, with good conditions forecast for the next few days. While the Gulf Stream slowed us some, the following seas were lovely and benign. The cruise over was uneventful...something that you only appreciate after having been tossed about in 20’ waves! The stars were glorious; we spent quite a few minutes star-gazing from the portuguese bridge, checking out the Crab Nebula (try to look directly at it and it seems to fade!) and watching the Monarch of the Seas slowly make its way north. A lovely cruise!

We arrived in near total darkness -- love the spotlight and the FLIR!! It was nice to see the details using them both. As it turned out, there were two additional markers by the breakwater, new since last year, which caused us to pause and check it out...usually in the Bahamas, the markers wind up missing, rather than double! And we are, in OBB!! Yay!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Never again...

...nope, never again will we move. It was a brutal day yesterday, frustrating and very physical. We were up bright and early awaiting the movers (who were already a day late) and when I called to inquire as to where the truck might be, I was told they were "two hours away". But after waiting, no truck! I called again at 9:00, only to be told they were "two hours away" -- What? After some persistence on my part, the inane dispatcher admitted that the truck had broken down, and they were waiting for the mechanic, about 2 hours away!! I pointed out, that if the truck wasn't moving, it didn't matter where they were, it was going to be longer than two hours!! AUGH!! Frustration!!

The truck finally arrived just shy of 1:00 pm, and we went to town emptying the truck, directing the traffic of boxes and bed parts up into the condo. I don't know how many times I went up and down the stairs...thankfully our condo is right at the top of the stairs, and not on the third floor! Nevertheless, we had WAY more stuff moved down than intended...the Maryland movers had packed up a closet or two of items that we hadn't intended to bring. (Karyn had done her best, but clearly hadn't been everywhere at once trying to direct traffic there) and many of the boxes the movers had packed were unmarked, so we had to open them to figure it out what was in them!! We also brought furniture for the entryway areas, only to be told late in the evening that it wasn't allowed. (Although other folks from other units have done it, which is why we thought we could.) Again, just more frustration!!

In any event...Ron and I worked hours straight, and were up late, but we unpacked a ton of boxes!! We need to get everything put away and out of the way of the painters and decorators who will be in next week (not to mention the shutter company, who will be installing the plantation shutters today!). We banged out all the kitchen items, multiple sets of china, wine glasses (how many do we have??!?) as well as some artwork, and will be tackling the bedrooms and closets tomorrow. By the time we finished, though, we both felt like someone had stuffed socks in our mouths and thrown us down the stairs...repeatedly!! OUCH!! Hopefully it will go smoothly tomorrow so we can get things stored and out of the way for everyone, and then we can head over to West End!!

The weather window seems to be improving a bit, as winds are clocking more to the east, and remain at 2-4' which is doable for us. SO...we will do what we can today in the condo and reassess the weather afterwards. But, if all goes well, we will be heading out late tonight to take advantage of the high tide and be crossing to Old Bahama Bay in West End tomorrow!! Wish us a bon voyage!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good news!

After the last post, in case you were wondering, Ron and Paul slept aboard Equinox, even though the boat was on the hard. So they weren't the homeless souls Karyn worried they were!

Equinox splashed back in this morning at CrackerBoy after getting the underwater lights re-painted and properly installed. (Apparently they were only hand-tightened before...go figure!) Captain Ron was at the helm, heading south back to Jensen Beach on the ICW while Karyn drove the car back.
Equinox on the move, heading back towards water

Ahhhhh...afloat once again!

As we've said before, (and as others have said before us) cruising is sometimes nothing more than fixing your boat in exotic locations. Although I'm not sure that the middle of the ICW exactly qualifies as exotic! But, definitely exciting!!

About an hour into the trip, the hydraulic system started giving warning alarms of rising temps. Not what anyone wants to hear!! It meant the raw water cooling pump for the hydraulics wasn't working properly, but Ron knew to immediately shut down the engines, so as to prevent any damage to the pump and avoid overheating the system. (Thank you, Eric Folkestad of TRAC for the hydraulic systems class!) It was a bit exciting for Ron, single-handing the boat as he was, but he was quick to handle it. Ron issued a securitie on the radio, warning other boats of his inability to maneuver as he dropped anchor just to the east of the ICW channel. (SeaTow was quick to ask if he needed assistance....but no, not needed!) Ron then took a few minutes to change the impeller on the raw water pump. Once changed, everything was working normally again -- whew -- and Equinox continued her journey back home to Outrigger Harbour. Always exciting!!

Martek came aboard at Jensen Beach to finish the light installation and reconnect the computer with the MaxSea to the new Newmar power supply. While they were doing that, we ran errands -- getting a couple spare impellers for the hydraulic raw water pump, and doing the last of the provisioning for Thanksgiving, already next week!! We have family and friends flying (and boating!) over to West End to join us, so....we're trying to make sure we have enough for the big day. We did a provisioning run to the Hutchinson Island Publix that was epic!!

We are awaiting the movers from Maryland tomorrow, and will unpack as much as we can...thankfully, there's not a lot of furniture in the condo yet, so many, many boxes will be moved in and unpacked -- as many as possible!! Wish us luck!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good news or Bad news?

Lately, Ron starts every phone conversation with "Do you want the good news, or the bad news?" Which means one problem is solved, and two have appeared! Yes, we were to be hauled out on Friday; it was all arranged for us by Martek, who were coordinating the replacement of the underwater lights. It was supposed to be simple and straightforward. wasn't. (Are you surprised??) Ron and our buddy Kerry got to the haul-out facility, and after waiting for an eternity for the boatyard to be ready, the tide had fallen and was now too low for Equinox to get into the extremely small and tight haul-out slip. It was also windy...and it didn't instill confidence in the boatyard guys when one of them told Ron that "If your boat is being blown sideways, just have your friend stick his foot out and fend off" the metal framework of the haul-out slip. Ron and Kerry looked incredulously at each other, each thinking, "Oh yeah, sure!!" (Sorry, NEVER going to EVEN be attempted! No human will ever win against a 50-ton vessel!) It did not bode well, shall we say?? And, predictably, yes, it was a fiasco in every way, including the fact that they insisted on Ron trying to squeeze Equinox into the too-shallow and very tight slip. The boat yard couldn't get the sling arms low enough to allow the stabilizers to clear, so Ron refused to bring Equinox any farther in. Unfortunately, it was not before the boat yard guys managed to drag the metal sling arms against Equinox in the process....with damage. Oh, thanks.

Needless to say, we did not get a haul-out on Friday. Martek stepped up and re-scheduled the haul-out at a marina that definitely had the capability for a boat of our size, but unfortunately farther away, up in Ft. Pierce, a good 3-hour trip. Ron and our friend Paul (newly arrived from NY) were up and about early Saturday morning as a result, getting Equinox to to the haul-out facility by 10:00. you want the good news or the bad news?

Good news: Equinox was there early and out of the water on time, and one of the Martek guys was there as well. Bad news: was the underwater lights guy there to do the work?? NO!! Such a smart way to do business: make an appointment and fail to show up on time. The worse news was that the boat yard needed to do another haul-out at 11:30, and would be closing at noon!! Which meant the WORST news was that if the work wasn't completed on Equinox before 11:30, she would have to be blocked and stay on the hard until next Tuesday, which is earliest that the boatyard can splash her back in! Oh yes, Murphy was having a field day!!

You guessed it. The boat is blocked and now on the hard. However, good news: the lights are supposedly fixed, replaced and tightened properly this time, and will be touched up with appropriate bottom paint. Plus, the scratches from the other haul-out fiasco will be repaired as well. But, bad news: with the boat out of the water and no place to stay, Ron and Paul were now effectively stranded in Ft. Pierce. But, good news: being the resourceful and fit fellows that they are, they took our road bikes off the boat and spun the easy 24 miles back to Jensen Beach. They enjoyed the ride, and it was a great respite from all the bad news!

Fortunately, the condo was getting some furniture delivered today, so Ron was hoping the den couch (and fold-out bed) would be one of the items installed. guessed it. Bad news: no couch, thus no bed...big problem!! As of this posting, Karyn has no idea where Ron and Paul are spending the night. I want the good news or the bad news?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Clean power and clean chimneys...


Karyn and Ally are enduring the lovely Nor'easter that is hitting the Maryland and Delaware coasts. (See above photo!) Pouring rain, winds averaging 35-45 knots...gusts to 50 tomorrow, so hang onto your hats! Ally is busy prepping for term exams, writing papers and studying hard while Karyn is sorting through all the mail that was on hold the past 3 weeks, busy contacting the cable & phone companies regarding closing/transfering accounts and last minute moving items now that the big truckload of stuff has departed south. Still so much to be done!

In the meantime, down in Florida, Ron wins the award for persistence and patience in getting things done aboard! He arranged for some fuel to be delivered to the boat, got the lazarette hatch support struts replaced (they hold open the hatch, as it's so heavy...don't want that coming down on anyone!) and coordinated a visit with Kadey-Krogen, Martek and Ward Electric, all to determine where the problem was with getting the satellite TV to work again. In the end, it turned out that Martek had failed to isolate the Newmar power supply (supposedly a clean power supply for the KVH system) so the computer on the Newmar breaker was causing problems with the KVH. Thankfully, everyone was able to come aboard at the same time to work together and determine where the weak link was, or else we'd still be dealing with the mystery of why the sat TV wouldn't work. And, easily resolved, so now we have clean power once again and a working KVH system. Yay! any event, we are closer to getting all the final punch list items tweaked, from the watermaker (new head pump unit in: putting out 40 gph now and working like a champ!) to the Nitrox compressor getting some oil return lines attached properly. (Initial installation error, they still under warranty!) Now it's down to the underwater lights, and Ron will be getting hauled out tomorrow for their inspection and replacement. It'll be a quick haul-out and splash back in, or so they say....let's hope so!!

Back in Maryland, after the packing frenzy and loading of the moving van, Karyn gratefully enjoyed the generosity of our neighbors Ricky and David the last couple of nights (not having anything in the frig, nor TV at the house) sharing dinner, wine and good company. With Ally home tonight, the two of us decided to stay here in the house. We started a cozy fire in the fireplace tonight, as we thought we'd enjoy it just one more time while we actually have a fireplace! And yes, it was oh, so cozy -- except for the wasps that flew out of the chimney and terrorized us a while as the fire got started!! (Not to worry, no one got stung, but it wasn't really as relaxing as we'd hoped!) Actually, rather exciting for a while there....burn, burn, damned wasps!! But, the chimney is now clean, and the fire lovely!

Ally thought they were this big. She's not a fan of bugs.

So...what will tomorrow bring?? :) Always an adventure!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

High winds and high speed!

Apologies for not writing for a few days, but we've split forces this week in order to cover a lot of ground, and as a result, we've been going in different directions at a high rate of speed! But... all productive, so all good!! It's actually been a good time to get things done, since the weather has been uncooperative, with gusty winds of 25-30 kts pinning us to the dock -- remnants of tropical storm Ida that is now moving up the east coast. High winds, high speed...can we move on, please? We're ready!

Karyn Flew to Maryland Sunday evening with Ally, so has been in Maryland, packing up the last of the household items and artwork to send to Florida, while Ron remained in Florida getting the boat maintenance items dealt with. Unfortunately, I think Ron has had the harder end of the deal, since it always seems like when we get one thing fixed, two different things mysteriously stop working! ("Why is that, Captain Ron?") Hmmm...! In any event, while Ron has been making some progress with the systems,(gotta LOVE Kadey-Krogen, Nuvair and Spectra for their customer service! Fabulous!) Karyn has been dealing with packing tape, bubble wrap, paper cuts, and boxes, boxes and more boxes! Yet, somehow, despite all the purging and donating and purging and donating, we STILL have so much stuff. (To quote Jimmy Buffett: we've "got too much stuff!"). Scary! But the movers were quick and competent and packed the truck with a minimum of fuss. Best of all, it wasn't raining!! (Murphy's Law, right?) But no, we had a cool overcast Maryland day, and things progressed nicely. But, now I'm wondering how all the stuff we are shipping is EVER going to fit into the FL condo...?!? Thank goodness we have lots of storage there, but...guess what? Fun times never cease as Karyn gets to fly back to FL next Monday to deal with the arrival of said stuff, while Ron is heading to West End and happiness. Oh, to be in the Bahamas! :)

In any event...things will get dealt with, more stuff will get donated, and we will sail off with a greatly lightened load within a few days!! I already feel better about things! Outrigger Harbour has been a godsend in that we can lock up and go, with maintenance taken care of and lovely folks keeping an eye on things while we're cruising. LOVE IT!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival!!

Ally is with us this weekend, so we are enjoying a bit of family time aboard Equinox here in Jensen Beach. We feel so lucky to have found such a neat area of's close enough to the airports but with an old world, old time Florida atmosphere and style around here. And, as luck would also have it, this weekend is the Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival! Not knowing much about Jensen Beach or the history of this area, I've been asking folks about it, and reading up about it! It's pretty cool!
Ally with the Sonic Hot of the Pineapple Festival
sponsors, apparently. He loved Ally!

The history of Jensen Beach reaches back to the 1500s when the Ais Indians inhabited the area. The land changed hands over the years from the Spaniards to the Seminoles, until the mid 1800s, when settlers began homesteading land in the area. It was tough going, as the area's isolation and irregular transport by coastal schooners caused crops to often spoil. Fresh water from the St. Lucie River killed the saltwater fish as grasses flourished and oyster beds died out. In 1844, the homesteaders dug an inlet at Gilbert's Bar, a narrow neck of land at the St. Lucie River, which allowed the Indian River's salinity to rebound and the fishing industry flourished.

In 1881, John Laurence Jensen, a settler from Denmark moved to the area, and he and other newcomers started planting pineapples. By 1894, with Robert Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad now reaching the area, transportation to market was reliable, and within a year, Jensen Beach was named the "Pineapple Capital of the World", shipping out 1 million boxes of pineapples during the summer months. Unfortunately, the pineapple industry suffered agricultural setbacks, which combined with expensive freight rates caused the plantations to decline rapidly. In 1908 and 1910, the town was devastated by two major fires that reduced the bustling city to a quiet village that continues to this day. Today, citrus trees, key limes, guavas and mangos grow in many backyards, and some folks still have a pineapple patch.

Since 1988, Jensen Beach has been celebrating its unique history with the Pineapple Festival, a family event for all. There are musical headliners including Pat Green, Julianne Hough, Honor Society among others. The best part (from our point of view) is that the festival has a unique history with Gregory Town, Bahamas -- Jensen Beach's sister city in the Bahamas -- and two of the most popular bands in the Bahamas will be here too: The Brilanders and Eleuthera Express. We're very excited to be able to see them!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Home port!

We arrived at Jensen Beach early Monday morning, after an unbelievably beautiful moonlit cruise down the Florida coast. We switched watch schedules, so Ron did the early 8-midnight split, then Karyn did midnight-4 am. The moonlight was so intense, it lit up everything with this pale shimmering silver glow. Watching the waves move and slide past under the moonglow was just mesmerizing. Our porpoise escort continued too, as we had porpoises surface and dive alongside the boat during the night too...rather than just play in the bow wave, they were jumping and diving right next to the pilothouse door, so I could peek at them over the rail as they sailed past. It was really very cool.

We arrived at Outrigger Harbour at 8:00, and tied up with ease in the slip graciously made available to us. This isn't a permanent slip for Equinox, as we will be heading over to West End, Grand Bahamas shortly to spend the next month or two, before heading to points south (either the Berries or the Exumas) for the spring. Right now though, it's luxurious to have the boat so close to our new home! We're very excited about the place, and are even more excited to have Ally see it this coming week. After the boat was tied up and secure, we celebrated our landfall & homecoming with a bit of champagne, and had a reunion with Joie from the OH sales office, who has been so wonderfully helpful during this transition. We also met some of the other folks who work here, and are looking forward to meeting our neighbors. We're very excited about the place! We thoroughly enjoyed the pool and hot tub after the journey, let me tell you!

The pool and hot tub at Outrigger Harbour

View of Equinox from the pool area

We crashed early Monday night after a great dinner at The Dolphin Bar, then were up bright and early the next morning. We spent the morning washing down Equinox thoroughly from stem to stern, mast to waterline. She wasn't that grubby as Ron had done a mid-cruise wash-down, but considering we were offshore for 45 hours, there's always a bit of salt somewhere, so we wanted to rinse her off. The new hardtop makes cleaning her a lot easier...we can get to the radar mast and the equipment there with ease, which wasn't the case before. Equinox is looking beautiful for herself once again!

During the next couple of weeks we are getting a few items tweaked and repaired: Martek is trying to get the KVH system working (along with the Sirius radio as well, which also just stopped working); we need to have the Frigibar freezer checked, as the unit controls don't appear to be working properly (although it certainly is freezing things!) and Ron wants Nuvair to add a oil-capture unit to the air dryer for the low pressure compressor. SO, some work to be done, per usual. As the saying goes, cruising is simply fixing your boat in exotic locations!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Offshore again, somewhere between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach...

Today is a gray day, with sea and sky mirroring each other, although the water has more contrast and features in its slightly darker shade, with the wind wrinkling the waves. It was a long night last night from Charleston; the weather forecast was actually quite accurate: seas ranged from 2-4’, and as for the winds, for they did clock around from the south to the west and now are pushing us along quite nicely from the north, in a following sea. When the wind and waves were out of the west as we were approaching Jacksonville, we were taking the seas more head-on, causing Equinox to pitch as well as roll in the easterly swells. Definitely a more boisterous ride, which bounced us a bit.

Neither of us got great off-watch sleep; we each felt we were being tossed about a bit more than usual. When Karyn came up on watch at 0300 (0400 with the clocks changing back this weekend), we noticed our port stabilizer wasn’t pulling its fair share of the work, so we reset the system. Bingo!! That did the trick, and settled our our ride a bit. Nice to know what was going on with the fin, having taken the stabilizer class at TRAC! Nevertheless, it was hard going in the wee hours of the watch after less than satisfying sleep. The electronics all needed to be coordinated with the time change too, which made things a bit confusing. What time IS it, anyway? Time has no meaning at certain points on an offshore cruise...

Of course, that doesn’t mean we are totally without reference out here...we have Ravens radio on Sirius, and are eagerly awaiting today’s NFL game against the Denver Broncos. After a 3-0 start, we are now 3-3 and are slogging through a tough patch here, having played undefeated team after undefeated team, but, hey, we’re due for a win!! ( we did: 30-6!!)

We still have our porpoise escort's been almost continual all the way down the coast. Different pods come to join us, play in the bow wave, and cruise along with us....even in the dark hours, I can hear them splashing and coming up for air alongside the pilothouse. Its actually rather comforting; makes me feel happy and lucky that they enjoy being near us!