Thursday, May 3, 2012

Never a Dull Moment

Day 150 - 177 (Saturday, April 7 – Thurs, May 3, 2012): Well, do we have plenty to share! It was a busy month at the Cape. Sorry I haven’t updated folks sooner. On one hand it was “the usual.” Beverages each evening with the locals. Days were filled with projects. A few boisterous parties and some gossip in the mornings. Kinda sounds like a Buffet song. Figure that!

Mike and crew are doing well. Stacy and Marshall and the folks in the yard are great. We spent time with Professor Jim and made a great new friend from the UK. Actually, David fits into the longer range scheme… He lives and owns a restaurant in the Canary Islands. We met him on B dock soon after arriving. He had been there for a bit, waiting for the first of May to cross the Atlantic. He has a very nice Gulf Star (47 foot). Soon after meeting David, he shared that he needed crew to help with the passage. I won’t keep the suspense building any longer. Patrick is currently in the middle of the Atlantic with David. They actually just arrived in Bermuda yesterday. The next leg will be the longest. That is the trip to the Azores. It should be about 14-15 days. Then, they will go southeast to the Canaries. The final leg should be about 8 days. It was with mixed emotion that I went along with this plan. Actually, I am thrilled for Patrick. What an adventure. If you think about it, trips like this are when he is at his best. Exploring and solving problems (OK… and I am more than hoping for not too many problems and simple ones to solve J ). The last week or two at the Cape were spent helping David do final preparations. And, I built a bimini for his boat. He had a very nice hard top but no sides or back. For a crossing, they needed coverage… thus several days of intense sewing. I must say it looks good. I hope I can do as well when it comes to making our new pieces. We had a great time with David prior to their departure. Days filled with projects and in the evenings, we enjoyed movies and wine on David’s boat (Ocean Babe) on his super nice HDTV and sound system. He introduced us to Phantom of the Opera with Gerard Butler. New favorite!
OK, I have been fanatical about listening to Chris Parker each day. Plus, we rented a Satellite Phone from Chris. It worked well. Patrick called several times while he was crossing to Bermuda. The Spot Connect was “spotty.” I need to call the company to find out why it is less than dependable. Some days the messages didn’t come through at all.

And, while I am waiting for my Mr. Sailor Man  to return, I am focusing on consulting jobs and Gaia projects. Our list is long. Lots to do. Dobbie misses Patrick a lot. He has not been the same. Grumpy and not as playful. He does his best rendition though of “velicoraptor” in the mornings. I honestly think he is trying to do it. Not the usual claw in a sensitive spot but instead, he climbs on my back and does his best to do the extended growl. Funniest thing ever! He stomps around and meow/growls. Thank you Patrick.
I will keep everyone posted on Patrick’s progress. What a journey!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Home again...home again...

Day 141 - 149 (Friday, March 30 – Friday, March 6, 2012): What a week! We left Marsh Harbor on Saturday morning and headed for Whale Cay Cut. The weather and tides were perfect for an uneventful passage. Smooth as glass. We headed up to Green Turtle where we anchored outside of the harbors. I say harbors because there is the black side and white side. The black side is where the Green Turtle Marina and Resort are located. The white side is where the small town is situated. We headed into the Marina and Resort for lunch. Patrick had fish and chips. I had the lobster roll. Very good. We then dinghyed back to Gaia for a nap and some strategy mapping for our crossing. Plus a “Grey’s Anatomy” J episode or two. The next morning saw us up early and we headed into town. We were looking for a bait shop where we could get some ballyhoo and a few odds and ends at the grocery. Cute town with narrow streets, very old homes and gardens. You could tell the buildings that were there had been built to withstand hurricanes…sturdy and functional but still the feel of the British Colonies. We were not able to get any Ballyhoo but did find an ice cream shop, a few groceries, an internet connection and two conch, purchased from a local fisherman. Nice, quick stop… then back to Gaia and on to Allen’s Pensacola.
By Sunday afternoon late, we had anchored at Allen’s. We planned on this leg being a pretty quick trip but the wind picked up and it was straight on our nose. Rough trudging most of the way. I also was concerned that Allen’s would not provide sufficient cover for the North West wind that was predicted. When we got to the Cay we found a couple of other boats tucked in. Plenty of room for Gaia and it looked like it was safe enough for one night. We planned on rocking a bit but nothing too severe.  It was still early enough that Patrick and I jumped in the Kraken and headed out to the cut. With the wind from the West/ North West, it provided the perfect opportunity for us to explore the ocean side of the island. Typically, the Easterly winds will not allow safe snorkeling on the ocean side but this was perfect. With camera in hand, I jumped in. Very nice reef just outside of the cut. Only issue a massively large barracuda that seemed quite interested in my video light on my camera. I did a bit of cautious exploring and then jumped back into the dinghy. Patrick’s turn. I pulled him behind the dinghy using the Al Hale’s pull along technique. Patrick ended up doing quite a long trip as a human lure. Only big fish of concern was that massive barracuda. I pulled him the entire way back to Gaia. Fun! We collected a few more conch on the way back and I made a great supper of conch fritters and servache. Yummm!
Monday, we took off to Great Sale Cay. Nice day but again the wind was directly on our nose most of the trip. Long day. We anchored and spent the remainder of the day stowing and checking systems for our crossing. Btw…I was spot on with the guess of how many sail boats would be at anchor in Great Sale Cay. 4 on the money!  I won, I won, I won…
Tuesday morning saw us up early listening to Chris. We verified the weather window would be perfect for our crossing. The forecast was for 10kts of wind and 2ft seas. Quite and calm. We looked at the charts one last time and planned our departure through the banks starting at 10am. We planned on being through the shallow part by dark and then out to the deep blue where we wouldn’t have to worry about running aground.  We also planned the legs to arrive back in the US at Cape Canaveral by 9am ish. As our plan turned out… we were spot on with the timing. The crossing was super nice. A little more wind than predicted but that was an added benefit. Perfect night and we caught a fish just as we left the banks. A Cero… And a couple of others but the barracuda and sharks would not leave them alone long enough to get them on board. I even lost my “purple lure.” Captain Scotty will have to help us find another. Btw… my purple lure was the only thing we caught any fish on the entire trip J.
As we approached the US we caught the smell of a wood fire. Must have been a forest fire in the everglades. Scared us at first and I jumped around the boat sniffing to see if there was a fire. Luckily, it was pretty quickly discernible as coming from somewhere other than Gaia. Disaster averted. We approached the Cape Canaveral entrance about 8:30am only to be greeted by an armed Coast Guard Cutter asking us to clear the channel. A large submarine was on its way out. We promptly obeyed. Pretty cool watching one of those partially submerged monsters navigate through the channel. Once clear, we headed back to the channel and the marina. Crossing the bow wave created by that leviathan was interesting. It seemed small enough but wow was there force involved. Interesting. We tied Gaia up at the Cape Canaveral dock and went beddy bye…. The three of us were out cold until about 5pm. We managed to get ourselves up to say howdy to the Cape regulars. Mike and his crew were still here. Dobbie was delighted! I said hi to Stacy and Patrick was flitting around the docks as normal greeting everyone. Back again, almost like nothing had happened. Now on to our needed maintenance list, insurance investigation, taxes for this year, a consulting job and the research that would lead us to where we will call home for a bit. Lots to do.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pondering and Living Life

Day 138 - 140 (Tues, March 27 – Thurs 29, 2012): Our last day at Marsh Harbor. Kind of sad, although we say we will be back, you never know. I really like this place. I hope we do head back here. Simply love it. Heading back to the US, I have mixed emotions. On one hand, anxious to do some repairs on Gaia. On another hand, hate to see this adventure coming to an end. On yet another hand, really glad we found Marsh Harbor Marina (the other side of the harbor). I would not feel like I had found “my haven” if we hadn’t stopped here. I needed this to feel like the “exit” was worth it. And another hand, still a little raw from the corporate world. I need to ensure that the personal boundaries I set up stay in place. I can’t afford to lose myself in it again. So needless to say, a little hesitant. Still a little soon but I can do it, I need to so that we can make the updates to Gaia. Plus, Patrick is skeptical that I can land a couple of consulting jobs. Need to prove it to him. So with all of those hands (thinking it is like Vishnu when you add up all the hands), you can see why I am reluctant to leave.

Yesterday, we met Gerry O for a spectacular day. It was so great seeing him. We rented a car and drove to Treasure Island. Very interesting drive. The terrain of the inner island is unique. Less arid than the Exumas but still a pretty dry place. Lots of small palms. We met Gerry at Treasure Island Marina. He looked great. The Dr.’s boat he sailed over on was sweet… a Hylas. Very pretty. We had a beer, ate some lunch (burgers on the beach) and Patrick talked to the folks at Treasure Island Resort. Unfortunately, there had been a plane crash and Patrick’s friend that he met with Al and Ellen was in Nassau dealing with the aftermath of the crash. One of the owners of the Resort, his family and pets had been on the plane. Very sad! Grab life to the fullest while you can. After lunch, we headed back to Marsh Harbor with Gerry. He wanted to see Gaia and the other Whitbys at the marina. In total, there were 3 Whitbys and one Brewer (a veritable rendezvous). We carefully checked out the hard top on the one Whitby that we have been admiring. Very, very nice and it met with Gerry’s approval too. After a short nap back on Gaia, we went dinner at The Jib Room. Wed night ribs, and they were great. Super evening, crisp cool island air, great food and boat conversation.  We took Gerry back to Treasure Island and then headed home. He was going to fly home via the charter the Dr. had coming in on Thurs (for wedding guests). We will email Gerry when we get to Great Sale Cay. He may fly back over to do the crossing with us… All in all, great day!!!  Good to see Gerry and super happy he is doing well. He didn’t miss a beat, dueling with Patrick. All in good fun but you have to know, trust and care for someone to joust – just like the Whitby Rendezvous.
So today, will plot our course back home on the chart plotter. Tomorrow early, will head up to Green Turtle. Patrick is very anxious to show this place to me for some reason. And on our crossing, we will do a detailed list of all boat enhancements. It has grown… this trip was tremendous for identifying what we would like to do, what must be done and how we can make future trips much more comfortable and safe.
And for personal discoveries… so many in this last leg of our trip, not sure what to share or where to begin. What do I want to do when I grow up?… paint if possible. What do I need in my life?...some great friends like the folks we have met cruising this year, proximity to my family, palm trees, birds, tree frogs, an occasional thunder storm, spray off the bow of my boat, some good tunes, a marina that is quaint/not pretentious and the excitement of another leg of our journey (wherever that may be). Am I greedy or selfish?