Beaufort to Myrtle Beach to Homeless

We spend 3 nights in Beaufort, SC. This was a “planned” stop. A fellow blogger was staying there and I wanted to meet him, his wife, and Honey, their dog.

I’ve been following Mike’s blog Bimini Dream shortly after he and Pam moved aboard their Pacific Seacraft 34 late last summer. They were up in the Chesapeake and had plans to go south. While Steve and I were complaining about how awful the weather was, Mike and Pam were dealing with one boat catastrophe after the other. I can’t tell you how many times I’d start reading one of Mike’s posts and just shake my head in disbelief. It took them about 6 months to get from Cambridge, MD to Beaufort, SC.

In one of his blogs, Mike mentioned (as a good husband should) Pam’s blog about Honey, Something Wagging This Way Comes. Honey became my virtual dog and I enjoyed reading about her adventures.

We have a nice visit getting to know one another “in person”. We are impressed by their commitment to the cruising lifestyle

Dinner with New Friends
Enjoying dinner with new friends

Steve and I aren’t so committed. Living on FNR is hard. Making the bed is hard. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night is hard. Flushing the head is hard. Explaining how to flush the head is even harder. Getting into tight places to fix things when you are 6’2” is hard. Having to remember where you put things so you don’t have to tear the whole boat apart looking for them is hard. Watching the stock market put a dent in the cruising kitty is hard. But to be honest, it’s probably not harder than we thought it would be.  It’s just harder than we want to live.

So, a year in, FNR goes on eBay and sells to someone who has never seen her and who doesn’t know how to sail.

Steve patiently answers all the guy’s questions and believe me, he has plenty. They talk so often that I accuse Steve of having an eBay wife. No, he says. This guy has our money in his pocket and I’m trying to get him to turn it loose. The negotiations start in Stuart and finally end in Myrtle Beach leaving us officially homeless. Luckily, our children feel sorry for us and we have 2-week stays scheduled at each of their 3 houses. That should give us enough time to find permanent housing in the Raleigh area.

Folks ask Steve if he’s sad to see FNR go. No, he emphatically answers and then goes on to explain that cruising has been a dream of his for 30 years. He needed to live this dream. He’s glad he did it because he got it out of his system. And, just in case you’re wondering, he will tell you that it’s him and not me who cut this adventure short .

Once we get settled, we plan to find part-time jobs and replenish what we now call the adventure kitty. Life’s always an adventure with Steve Fisher but I have an adventure or two in me. I know a Morgan 38 that needs some loving and after that Zen on a Boat may get rebranded. Stay tuned. Zen in an RV is just an RV away.

FNR
FNR waiting for her new owner
003
Swallowing the anchor

Stuart to Beaufort

According to Wikipedia, “a logbook (a ship’s logs or simply log) is a record of important events in the management, operation, and navigation of a ship. It is essential to traditional navigation, and must be filled in at least daily.” We don’t have a traditional ship’s log and if we did, it definitely wouldn’t be filled in on a daily basis.

So how do we know when to change the oil or how long a tank of water lasts or how far we’ve traveled?  Why Google calendar and Excel, of course.  Scheduled maintenance tasks go on the shared Google calendar. Everything else goes on a spreadsheet.

Man, I love a good spreadsheet. There’s the Monthly Expenses spreadsheet, the Water Utilization spreadsheet, the Passwords spreadsheet…in case I forget my Active Captain login.  But my favorite spreadsheet is the Travel Log.

As the trip planner, I use this spreadsheet A LOT and when we’re underway, I use it multiple times a day. I’ve posted a small section of the log below and as you can see, it’s pretty straightforward but there’s A LOT that goes into maintaining this spreadsheet.

Travel Log.jpg

You literally have to go with the flow when traveling the ICW. Tides, currents, weather, bridges, skinny water, winding rivers all dictate how fast and how far you go in a day. That’s why we start each day with a 40 mile, a 50 mile and a 60 mile travel plan. When planning, I mostly use the Waterway Guide and Active Captain to check distances and marina prices. Underway, I open either the iSailor app or the Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net app to track our progress. Once I know where we are, I figure out how many more statue miles we have to go. That number and our current speed gets plugged into the spreadsheet, and VOILA! We have an ETA…at least for that point in time.

And that’s why I use this spreadsheet A LOT when we’re underway. We may be barreling down one stretch of water at 7 knots but after rounding a point, we’re crawling along at 4 knots. At 7 knots, we can cover 40 miles in 5 hours.  At 4 knots, it’ll be closer to 9.

Since leaving Stuart, we’ve taken advantage of a good weather window travelling 10 out of 12 days. We’ve covered an average of 47.9 miles a day and have been on the water an average of 7 hours and 15 minutes a day. Man, I love a good spreadsheet!

But, I’m loving these last 12 days on the waterway even more. It’s not too hot during the day, not too cold at night. There’s been more sun than rain. The water’s been calm. Bugs aren’t out in full force yet. The sunrises are refreshing. The sunsets are relaxing. And to top it all off, Sunday was our one year anniversary of living aboard FNR. It’s been quite a year…one that I couldn’t schedule with Google calendar or graph in Excel.

Having spent most my life planning for how things “should” be and then being disappointed when they weren’t, I think I may finally get it. There’s no room for time frames or expectations on a boat. Life is good but it’s awesome and rarely disappointing when you just let it happen.

I’ve complied the pictures taken on this leg of the trip into a slide show.  If you have time, click here to take a look.

 

 

Go North, FNR. Go North!

Yes, the weather could have been more pleasant, but overall, our time in Stuart has been really enjoyable. We’ve made lots of new friends and reconnected with old ones. We’ve taken a couple of daycations. Family and friends have visited. But mostly, we’ve settled into a routine. Our days are predictable. We get up in the morning and then next thing we know, it’s time to go to bed. My brother-in-law says that’s how you know you’re doing retirement “right”. I will even admit to getting a little better at doing nothing. And, as luck would have it, I have about 850 miles in which I can get even better. That’s right! It’s time to head north.

There’s lots to do to get ready. We each have a list.

Marci Steve
Clean FNR Get FNR’s bottom cleaned
Plan meals Check batteries
Provision Crank diesel and generators
Laundry Fill gas, diesel, and propane tanks
Fill water tanks Mount dinghy engine on stern rail
Defrost freezer Find a place to park the truck
Update travel log Study charts
Set the alarm 15 minutes earlier than Steve’s so you have time to dilly dally before you leave Don’t get up when Marci’s alarm goes off. She needs those extra 15 minutes so she won’t feel rushed.
Don’t dilly dally when Steve says it’s time to go because it will only annoy him Don’t rush Marci when you’re ready to go because it will only annoy her

Ah, yes. Even when you’re retired, some things – like making lists and annoying one another – never change. But some things do…dramatically.

As I write this, FNR is motoring down the St. Lucie River toward the ICW.  We have a 40, a 50, and a 60 mile travel plan. The ICW is so winding that it’s almost impossible to know where you’ll end up at the end of the day. You may start out going with the tide but before long you make a turn and you’re going against it. We’ll know by mid-afternoon if we’re going to make 40, 50 or 60 miles. And then, we’ll stop.

We will not travel hard. We will not travel fast. We’re just going to travel. Leisurely. Mindfully. Intentionally. If there’s something we want to see, we are going to see it. If we get tired, we are going to rest. If we find someplace we like, we are going to stay for a while. We are going back to North Carolina one 40, one 50, and one 60 mile travel plan at a time. Yes, these waters are charted but our journey is not.  Here’s hoping we can enjoy it!

SunsetBayMarina4
Sunset Bay Marina
SunsetBayMarina2
Sunset Bay Marina…another view

 

MooringField1
Sunset Bay’s Mooring Field can accommodate 60 boats
MooringField2
Mooring Field on a dreary day
SunsetBayMarina3
The Clubhouse and Dinghy Dock
DogsOnTheBoat
And I thought two dogs were two too many to bring aboard.  These folks have FOUR!!
DowntownStuart
Downtown Stuart
StuartWildlife1
These little guys are everywhere!
StuartWildlife2
Do you mind if I join you for breakfast?
Everglades
Guess where this was taken? 🙂

 

KeyLargo
Key Largo
StuartBeach3
My little sister, my brother-in-law, Steve and me on Stuart Beach

 

I drag our visitors to yoga…

Yoga1

Yoga2

 

Steve takes them for a sail!!

Sail1Sail2Sail3Sail4

 

 

Weather Always Wins

“The sun did not shine.  It was too wet to play.  So we sat in the house.  All that cold, cold, wet day.”

Dr. Seuss gets credit for the quote.  A strong El Nino gets the blame for below normal temps, lots and lots of rain and way too many storms.  NOAA says that “given that the previous eight winters in Florida experienced storminess much below normal (with no strong-to-violent tornadoes), the likely transition to a very active season may come as a surprise to those who are unaware.”  Thanks, NOAA, for ruining the surprise.

We started this adventure fairly well prepared and definitely aware enough to know we’d be dealing with the occasional surprise.

I mean really.  We took a cracked Electro Scan in stride.  We incorporated removing jellyfish from our raw-water intake strainer into our daily routine.  We appreciated the exercise we got when the dinghy engine died and we had to row it back to the boat…not once, not twice, but three times.  We didn’t flinch at the three flawless refrigeration installs.  There was no mutiny on the bounty when a huge wave crashed over the bow and soaked our bed.  We didn’t let a freshwater leak get the better of us.  Mildew?  That’s what bleach is for.  We’ve flinched but we haven’t faltered even in the face of a huge-honking, life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

Be that as it may, saltier sailors than me readily admit that Weather always wins.  We’ve been pummeled with front after front since September.  We put up the good fight determined to find warm, happy and dry but Weather is the reigning champion.

Defeated?  Hardly.

Aware?   Keenly.

Done?  Of course not.  FNR is simply staying put.  No more toddling down the ICW dodging fronts and waiting on weather windows.  No more looking for warm, happy and dry.  We’re happy and kind of warm and mostly dry.  We’ve found our Zen in Stuart.  FNR may not be going further south, but we are.

We spend a couple of days exploring the Everglades and the Keys and then take back US 1 through Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.  Steve sees his crystal clear water.  We hike a lot, hoping to see an alligator or two but the most wildlife we encounter are a few birds, a swarm of mosquitoes and a camel on the side of the road at some sketch wild animal rehab center.  Still, it was fun and don’t tell FNR, but it was good to get off the boat.

I read today that El Nino is strengthening and likely to last into spring.  I imagine that means we’ll be dodging fronts and waiting on weather windows as we begin our 850 plus mile journey back to North Carolina next month.  But I remember what a really smart cat once said.  “I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.”  Yes, Weather always wins, but that doesn’t mean that losing can’t be an adventure.

001

002
Closest thing to a real alligator we’ve seen

003005008010015018

019
Mangrove forest

 

011
Say whaatt??
012
Skeeters!!!!

023026

036
Not sure what I think about this…
038
Yes, that’s a zebra back there.
039
What are YOU looking at??

050047

046
I think I’ve been here before

053058

060
A stranger enjoying the sunshine while he can. I know how he feels.

My Captain is Handier than Your Captain

Yes, most captains are handy. They’re either handy or they’re rich because most cruisers can’t afford to not DIY.

Still, I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again. Steve is the handiest man I know. Engine maintenance? Check. Electrical issue? Check. Plumbing? Check. Refrigeration? Check. Carpentry work? Check.

Living with a handy man sure comes in handy and I take Steve’s handiness for granted. If something needs to be done, I just assume Steve will do it. Most times, I’m right but I have learned that if Steve puts off a project, then 1) he’s studying on it or 2) it’s going to be aggravating or 3) both.

“Both” is why Steve put off a project I added to his Honey-Do list back in July.

At one point in time, FNR had a diesel generator on board. When we bought her, the generator was gone but whoever removed it, left the controls in the bulkhead. I wanted the controls removed, because 1) they didn’t control anything anymore and 2) they were unsightly and 3) they were attached to a tangled mess of wires in the cockpit locker that were always in the way.

Handy1
Those contols gotta go!

It took Steve almost all day to run down all the wires in the cockpit locker and snip the ones that weren’t needed anymore but it took him 6 months to get around to finally patching the holes left in the bulkhead.

Handy2
And, I thought the controls were unsightly…

Admittedly, Steve attempted to patch the holes a few times but couldn’t find a piece of teak plywood at a reasonable price. After studying on a couple of other approaches, he finally decided to go with teak veneer applied to a very thin piece of plywood.

With his poster board pattern in hand, Steve goes to work. Cutting and sanding plywood with one of those multi-function oscillating tools appears to be aggravating so I go to yoga. By the time I get back, Steve is ready to cut out holes for the electrical outlet and the propane control switch.

M: Want some help with that?

S: Well, unless you want to cut the holes, I am not sure you can help.

M: I don’t want to cut the holes. I want to hold the vacuum while you cut so you don’t get sawdust everywhere.

S (rolling his eyes): Okay. Great. That will be very helpful.

Handy3
How’s that for some clean hole cutting?

Once the holes are cut, Steve uses contact cement to attach the teak veneer to the plywood and then glues the plywood to the bulkhead with construction adhesive.

Generator controls removed? Check.

Handy4
What generator controls??

Yes, most captains are handy. I think mine just happens to be the handiest!!

 

Sunshine State? What do you mean I can’t anchor there?

We’ve been in Stuart for 10 days. Love the town. The weather? Not so much.

Since we’ve been here, the average high temperature has been 67°.  That’s 7° colder than it’s supposed to be in January. It’s been windy. Two tornadoes have touched down in neighboring towns. We’ve had more than 5” of rain in 10 days with localized flooding. It seems that Florida has forgotten that it’s nicknamed the Sunshine State because there’s been way more clouds than sunshine.

The locals are not in love with this weather either. They can’t apologize enough and are quick to assure us that this is not normal. This is supposed to be the dry season. February will be better. They promise.

I like that about Floridians. They are happy we’re here. They want us to have a good time. They want us to come back. They want us to love Florida as much as they do.

That’s why I don’t understand why the Florida legislature is considering a bill that will ban overnight anchoring in several areas popular with cruising boaters. I’m not politically savvy. I can’t even pretend to understand the political game that is being played here, and I can’t imagine what will happen if the bill passes. Still, I have to wonder how many Floridians are even aware of this bill because I get the impression that Florida needs and enjoys Cruisers as much as Cruisers need and enjoy Florida.

 

Some Good Days

We arrive at St. Augustine’s Municipal Marina in time to catch the 10 AM water taxi out to the mooring field. At first glance, FNR looks no worse for the wear after 3 ½ weeks on a mooring ball. Not so upon closer inspection. We lost the mildew wars.

We anticipated dealing with some issue on our return so the plan to take FNR 18 miles south to Marineland Marina is a good one. Steve cranks the diesel, drops me off at the dock and heads down the river. I hop in the truck, go buy cleaning supplies, and head down A1A.

We’re both a little nervous about Steve being on the boat by himself post-blood clot, but he promises to call me every hour with an update. His calls go something like this:

11:00: All’s well. Tides are in my favor so I’m making good time. The diesel’s smoking a little but it’s running okay. May be water in the fuel.

12:00: All’s well. Made a turn. Going against the tide now but still making pretty good time. The diesel is still smoking.

1:00: It’s foggy as h~~l out here. If the diesel is still smoking, I can’t see it because I can’t see s**t.

2:00: I ran aground. The fu^^^ng markers are in the wrong place. Talked a guy in a pontoon boat into pulling me off. It’s tough out here. I can’t see s**t.

3:00: I’m at Red 86. Just hailed the marina to let them know I’m almost there. The Dockmaster said he is standing at the end of the dock waving at me. Wanted to know if I could see him. I said h~~l no, I can’t see you. I can’t see s**t.

3:30: That was bad. That was real bad. I really needed to have a good day.

We spend an hour or so tackling the mildew and then drive down to Palm Coast for the night. Thanks to our BoatUS discount, we get a hotel room pretty cheap. Not the best room, but it’s better than sleeping with mildew.

We’re back on FNR first thing in the morning and she’s clean by early afternoon. Over lunch, we talk about what’s next. With a little over a week before we’re supposed to be in Stuart, we decide to take it easy for a couple of days. Whew! Bought myself some time to find cheap marinas between here and Stuart and to perfect my “I don’t want to anchor out” speech.

It’s no secret. I don’t love anchoring out, but I don’t hate it either. Anchoring out is free. That’s good. Anchoring out is usually peaceful and beautiful. That’s good. But getting emergency medical treatment when you’re anchored out is not something that happens quickly and post-blood clot that worries me. That’s bad.

With my list of cheap marinas in hand, I explain this to Steve. He gets it. The blood clot was bad. Losing the mildew war was bad. Getting to this marina was bad. Worrying while anchored out is bad. We really need some good days.

And, just like that, we get them.

Marineland to New Smyrna Beach City Marina (50.5 miles): A cool start and a little overcast but the water is calm and we’re practically all by ourselves on the waterway. Diesel’s not smoking. Marina is easily accessible. Docking is a piece of cake. Helpful and friendly staff. Cutest downtown ever. Clean bathrooms. Great Wi-Fi. $1.25/ft. plus $6 for electric.

New Smyrna Beach City Marina to Titusville Municipal Marina (31.8 miles): Another cool start to the day but the sun comes out and it gets so warm that we put the side curtains up. Marina is right off the ICW. Finger piers are short but Steve has no problem backing into the slip. Pleasant walk through downtown. Bathrooms and Wi-Fi meet our expectations. It’s a little bumpy early in the evening but by bedtime, it’s calm. $1.44/ft. with BoatUS discount plus $5 for electric.

Titusville Municipal Marina to Eau Gallie Yacht Basin in Melbourne (38.7 miles): The cockpit is nice and toasty. The Addison Point Bridge (27’ closed vertical clearance) only opens half way but it’s navigable. Getting into the Eau Gallie River is a little tricky but once in, the marina is easy to find. There’s a boat in our assigned slip, but several locals are on the dock to direct us to our new one. Quaint little downtown. Throwback marina. Rustic, but adequate facilities.  Well-protected from the two recent storm systems that ripped through central Florida. Friendly folks. Wi-Fi works as long as our antenna is pointed in the right direction. $1.00/ft. Electric included.

023
So that’s what a bridge looks like when it only opens halfway.

We had some really good days, but I’m not sure that’s what we really needed.  All we may have needed was time. Time to get used to being back on FNR. Time to settle into a routine. Time to get reacquainted with our adventure. Time to get our zen back.

We’re leaving for Stuart in the morning. It’s going to take us a couple of days to get there, but I’m not worried.  We have time.  And besides, it looks like there are several good anchorages between here and there.