Gloucester to Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Taken from Main Street, Gloucester.

Taken from Main Street, Gloucester.

We spent two weeks in Gloucester and met new friends!
Norman and Jan, aboard ‘Bandersnatch’ took us under their wing and we spent a lot of time together. Norman had built Bandersnatch, a long keeled Ferro- cement sailing hull, back in the 70s. By the 80s, he decided he couldn’t be messing about with sails, so he never raised the mast and rigging, so Bandersnatch motors up from Florida to spend the summer in Gloucester and back down again in the fall.

'Bandersnatch' in the slings. Always a worrying moment!

‘Bandersnatch’ in the slings. Always a worrying moment!

It is so good to find other cruisers to show us the ropes……laundrette, supermarket, farmers market, fuel, dinghy docks, bars, restaurants etc. and for Marcus……a pool table!
Jan is a Master Bench jeweller and although she no longer does the setting of stones and ‘heavy metal’ work, she produces some fantastically creative pieces in her onboard workshop.

Jan's work shop.

Jan’s work shop.

Jan at work, polishing my necklace.

Jan at work, polishing my necklace.

Together with another new friend, Ana, had a great ‘girls day out’ visiting numerous art and jewellery studios and galleries. One specific area of Gloucester, called Rocky Neck, is an artists colony. Many of the artists live above or behind their studios and are happy to show you their work and talk.

One of the galleries we visited on our girls day out!

One of the galleries we visited on our girls day out!

Brenda's imagine gallery. She leaves a honesty box and book. Very hippy, but it works! She used to be a helicopter pilot!!

Brenda’s imagine gallery. She leaves a honesty box and book.
Very hippy, but it works! She used to be a helicopter pilot!!

Rocky Neck hangs on firmly to times gone by.

Rocky Neck hangs on firmly to times gone by.

It’s a bohemian, quirky place, but like the rest of Gloucester it has a welcoming, working, warts-and-all honesty feel to it…….just like coastal Britain!
We were introduced to a great Azorean restaurant by Ana and her husband, Ralph, and visited their home.

Lunch in the Azores.........restaurant with new friends Norman, Ralph, Anna and Jan.

Lunch in the Azores………restaurant with new friends Norman, Ralph, Anna and Jan.

Ralph is a Portuguese/English interpreter, who in his youth, studied musicology, so being let loose amongst his numerous musical instruments was like being in a sweety shop for me!!
Another new friend was Ernie……he happened past one evening in his rowing skiff. He was incredibly helpful and generous. We now have two paper charts of Nova Scotia and two sailing books and he is educating us, via email, on the finer points of reading weather grins and charts. It turns out that he sailed on the Solway Maid for the same Roger that we knew in Edenbridge years ago…….small world!!
Our reason for being in Gloucester, we had to remind ourselves, was to get the mainsail repaired! After some logistical problems, caused by the shear size of the beast and the thickness of the canvas, the inimitable Josh Bevins worked his magic and we were delivered of a working sail and also a repaired UV strip on our Genoa.

Josh Bevins with sails delivered to Norman and me in the dinghies.

Josh Bevins with sails delivered to Norman and me in the dinghies.

With the sails back on board, Splicer-Marcus, worked his culinary magic on the out-haul line that failed. As you’ll see, old chef’s habits die hard!

Chopping board, knife and sharpening steel. All part of a splicer's equipment.

Chopping board, knife and sharpening steel.
All part of a splicer’s equipment.

The finished article.

The finished article.

Filing off the jagged edges!

Filing off the jagged edges!

We had a farewell party onboard with Jan, Norman, Ralph, Ana and three couples (and two dogs) from three other boats at anchor near us.

Farewell to new friends.

Farewell to new friends.

A good time was had by all and we set sail the following morning for Shelburne, Nova Scotia……a 48 hour passage, which due to very little wind, we motorway!!

Sunset en route to Port Mouton.

Sunset en route to Shelburne.

Dawn breaking.

Dawn breaking.

Chilly morning watch.

Chilly morning watch.

Our first taste of Canada was delightful. We were made very welcome at the Shelburne Yacht Club and enjoyed two days exploring the town.

View from the Yacht Club.

View from the Yacht Club.

Shelburne Harbour.

Shelburne Harbour.

One of the three museums in the village.

One of the three museums in the village.

As with all seaports, Shelburne has seen better days as far as fishing and boat building goes. Government quotas and exorbitant fishing licences have severely reduced the number of young men able to afford to earn a living in the industry, so it seems that even though fish stocks are said to be recovering and lobsters are plentiful, there are not the young men there to take over when the old boys retire…….exactly the same as we saw on the east coast of England!

We decided to break our journey to Lunenburg by staying overnight at Port Mouton (pronounced Port Mutooon) A very quiet anchorage with a remote feel to it.

Port Mouton harbour.

Port Mouton harbour.

Port Mouton anchorage.

Port Mouton anchorage.

Our next port of call was the delightful Lunenburg. This is a working fishing port with shipbuilding and tourism all thriving during the summer months.

Arriving in Lunenburg.

Arriving in Lunenburg.

Once again, we managed to arrive at the right time…….it was the Folk Harbour music festival! We spent three afternoons at the bandstand listening to some great musicians and one evening we actually paid up and heard two bands playing at the Curling Club.

The Bandstand above Lunenburg.

The Bandstand above Lunenburg.

Visiting artist from Oz.

Visiting artist from Oz.

Young musicians take part too!

Young musicians take part too!

Husband and wife...she's a one woman band!

Husband and wife…she’s a one woman band!

Our neighbours at anchor were ‘Kantala’……Michael and Sheila, Canadians who built their own boat and have been cruising the world for the last 28 years. Great company and modestly knowledgeable. We will meet again, as they are travelling south too!

Saying goodbye to Kantala.

Saying goodbye to Kantala.

We set sail for another 10 hour sail up to Halifax and our friends Dave and Corrine on board ‘At Last’.

We like Canada!!!

It is now the middle of July and we have moved on, via Rhode Island to Massachusetts on our way to Nova Scotia.
We spent a great week in Newport, Rhode Island, and met up again with Mel and James. They have friends with a boat yard there, so decided it was a good place to have their ageing rigging refitted.

Entering Newport.

Entering Newport.

We were in Newport for Independence Day and went to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Colony House steps and the 21 gun salute.

Reading the declaration........they really hated King George, and we can't blame them!

Reading the declaration……..they really hated King George, and we can’t blame them!

All friends now!

All friends now!

It’s the first time I’ve understood what all the ‘independence’ fuss was about! Hearing all the grievances the colony had against King George and all the ‘taxation without representation’ that they were expected to put up with, I don’t blame the instigating their own USexit!

21 gun salute.

21 gun salute.

Missed me!

Missed me!

While we were in Newport we got in touch with Joe and Annie,  friends we first met in Trinidad. They happened to be back in Rhode Island to prepare their house for the market, before moving permanently onto Little Wing and sailing across the Pacific.
We met up with them for a day and the drove around the island like consummate tour guides.We stopped off en route at the garden that Annie had worked in for 25 years. What a special garden with wonderful sea views.
To round off the 4th of July celebrations we invited Joe and Annie and James and Mel  onboard for dinner,  followed by a fireworks display from Fort Adams, right next to our anchorage.
Before leaving Newport, we went to our second baseball game …….. with a difference! We were actually sitting in the netted-off seating area at the rear of the Mudville pub. When the  baseball ground was built it was built around the pub, so we sat and enjoyed the game and got a good explanation of the rules and finer tactics from some of our fellow drinkers, one of whom just happened to be the owner of the local team…..The Gulls.

Marcus getting ready for a 'home run' for the Gulls!

Marcus getting ready for a ‘home run’ for the Gulls!

We enjoyed our time in Newport and may well call in again on our way back south,

View from Fort Adams.

View from Fort Adams.

……..but the summer is moving along and we had to set off on our way to the Cape Cod canal.

We decided to split the journey and do day sails, so we headed for the island of Cuttyhunk, which it is supposed to be beautiful……Despite our good plan, we didn’t actually get to see it! We  arrived in thick fog and, after three abortive attempts to get the anchor to set, we decided to picked up a mooring for the night. In the morning, we were shaken awake….the wind had picked up and the mooring was very bouncy. When we had touched bottom a couple of times we decided it was time to cast off and leave before we did any damage and anyone ventured out to take our money!
Next stop was Mattapoisett, back on the mainland, and our first port in the state of Massachusetts. This was a delightful anchorage. In its heyday the town had been a major ship building centre for the whaling industry. It boasted at least eight  ship yards on the foreshore, each with its own quay. The quays are now used for mooring pleasure craft during the summer months and one houses the ‘transients’ dinghy dock where we tied up.
Today, the town has an unspoilt and under exploited air about it. It is a quiet summer holiday home for the wealthy and a dormitory town for locals who work in the larger towns in the area.
We spent a couple of days here and enjoyed live music in the pub and the park and also got to see a local Square Dance group setting up in the car park for their weekly shindig complete with costumes.

Square dancers getting ready.

Square dancers getting ready.

Square dancing is a bit like a barn dance with callers, but not a wisp of hay to be seen.

Our next stop was supposed to be Provincetown on Cape Cod, but just before we got to the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal, the engine overheating alarm went off. After shutting down the engine and setting the sails, we discovered the fan belt had broken, so the water pump that cools the engine wasn’t being turned. We diverted half a mile east to Bourne, dropped the anchor and got down to the not so simple task of replacing the fan belt. Four hours and a lot of mental and physical effort later, all was replaced and a bracket holding the alternator, that had seemingly come adrift was reattached.
The following day we caught the tide up through the canal and out across the bay to Provincetown. We knew before we arrived that ‘PTown’ is known as a gay town. We are used to the gay and cosmopolitan feel of Brighton, but this was like Brighton on steroids!

Provincetown Harbour.

Provincetown Harbour.

It turned out that we had arrived in the middle of Bear week. This is a week when the biggest and hairiest gay men descend on the town from all over the world, all sporting beards and as much body hair on show as possible. The atmosphere was great and everyone was relaxed and friendly.

Some of the Bears heading down to the nightly 'tea dance'?

Some of the Bears heading down to the nightly ‘tea dance’?

The thing that we didn’t know about PTown before arriving was that this is where the Mayflower dropped anchor when she first made land in America. The ship anchored here for 30 days, while they sent smaller boats across the bay to find a better site for their settlement………Plymouth. It was whilst they were at anchor here that they wrote their first ‘compact’ to govern themselves in their new colony.

The Pilgrims tower from the SE.....bike ride!

The Pilgrims tower from the SE…..bike ride!

We spent a good couple of hours going up the tower, that was built to commemorate the founding fathers some 150 years ago, and looking around the museum.

Names of new towns founded in Their new homeland!

Names of new towns founded in their new homeland!

The Pilgrim Fathers came from East Anglia.

The Pilgrim Fathers came from East Anglia.

It’s wonderful to get to know  the history of the places we visit and to understand the part that the British had in developing the colony! Here in New England, it’s not just the place names……Harwich, Plymouth, Boston, Yarmouth that remind us of England, it’s also the architecture and the underlying culture, based around the fishing, farming and boat  building industries that brought British settlers here in the 1700s. Perhaps it’s because of the familiarity that are enjoying the east coast far more than we ever thought we would!!

Jack's wharf. One of the many artist's studios in PTown.

Jack’s wharf. One of the many artist’s studios in PTown.

On our first evening ashore in PTown, we were in a bar,  chatting to our ‘server’ who it transpired lived on a sailing boat in the Harbour with her boyfriend. A few minutes later her boyfriend arrived……..it was Clay Davenport, the young crew/carer of the 92yr old, Vern, aboard ‘Jolly Friends’, who we met and befriended back in Trinidad!!

The last time we saw Clay was around his 30th birthday, when he was planning to escape to Grenada and start to get his sailing qualifications. Here we are, 2 years on and he has his captain’s ticket and is doing the summer season as captain on a day charter yacht in PTown.
What a small place this yachting world is!!

After enjoying four days of ‘people watching’ and digesting the local art and history, we entertained Clay and his girlfriend, Alex, to a farewell dinner aboard IK.

Clay and Alex.

Clay and Alex.

On the morning of St Swithan’s day, we topped up with fuel and water and set off, under clear blue skies, for Nova Scotia.

The Calm before the Storm.

The Calm before the Storm.

After a couple of hours, we saw what we thought was a fog bank coming towards us…….it turned out to be a thunderstorm! Stupidly we thought it would pass behind us, so we continued making good speed away from it with full main and motor……..BIG mistake!!
The storm veered towards us and we were caught with the toe rail under water and  47knts of wind in the sail. Under the strain, the outhaul line wore through and parted company with the clew of the mainsail leaving the sail to flog itself against the shrouds, before we could get up safely on deck to wind it in. The result is three tears in the last third of the canvas. Luckily the clew seems to have escaped damage.

Our poor mainsail :(

Our poor mainsail :(

Needless to say we aborted our course to Nova Scotia and returned to PTown to regroup and try to find a sailmaker.
Having phoned our friends, Joe and Annie back in Newport, they suggested looking for a sail loft further north in Cape Ann. Thanks to the Internet we have found a sail maker, whose grandmother’s surname is Haywood!, in Gloucester on Cape Ann.
We set off the following morning and arrived here last Saturday.

Our first evening at anchor in Gloucester.

Our first evening at anchor in Gloucester.

We spent Sunday  exploring our first proper fishing town…….it’s got real people doing real jobs and there are none of the ‘ersatz’ manicured tourist waterfront properties that we have experienced so far.
Tomorrow our ‘near namesake’ is coming over, on his day off,  to take a look at the damage to the mainsail and help us get the sail down and over to his sail loft……fingers crossed all goes well and we can continue soon.
There are much worse places to be sat waiting for tide and time!!

I’m still having problems loading photos, so rather than delay posting this now out of date entry, I shall upload it sans pics and hope to sort the problem out and update as soon as possible!

We are now a fleet of our own!!
Blew Beyond lead the way and set off from Porstmouth, before White Gold and IK…..we were delayed while Jim, Paula and Marcus tried to mend the leak in the fuel system….I offered the occasional helpful thought in between trips to the laundry room!

Three heads are better than one!

Three heads are better than one!

We eventually set off together, dodging the odd warship and headed for Cape May.
We sailed overnight and dropped anchor in what we thought was a quiet anchorage……it turned out there was a military boot camp next to us. Loud shouting and chorused responses from the squadies, plus early and late renditions of the Star Spangled Banner and bugle calls, were the backdrop to our stay!
Cape May is another picture postcard town that relies on tourism and fishing for its livelihood. We took the bikes and set off like the Famous Five ( or rather Six) and explored the town, bars and sea front.

Bikes aboard and away we went.

Bikes aboard and away we went.

Cape May High Street.

Cape May High Street.

Quaint Cape May.

Quaint Cape May.

Out along the front to the beach. $5 a head to step onto the sand!! We stuck to the prom.!

Out along the front to the beach. $5 a head to step onto the sand!! We stuck to the prom.!

I managed to find a glove puppet……WHY? you may well ask!…..Well, I spoke with an Australian back in Brighton and he said having a puppet was an immediate way to engage with children in the Pacific Islands, where language is a real barrier to integrating with the locals. He said their puppet was a guaranteed introduction to everywhere they went.

Jim entertaining a rather old kid and himself!

Jim entertaining a rather old kid and himself!

 

It is now the end of June and a lot has happened since I began this instalment of the blog.
We left Cape May and made our way up to New York. Timing the tide is as important as in the Solent and luckily we’d left ourselves enough leeway………just before the entrance to the Hudson River, we discovered that the pipe to the water filter, under the sink, had come loose and a fair proportion of our 750 litres of fresh water had been pouring out into the front bilge……the one that we have to manually drain!!! After an hour of fixing up a spare water pump and hoses to reach down into the bottom of the forward bilge and then up and over into the self draining aft bilge, we were on our way.

First glimpse of Manhattan.

First glimpse of Manhattan.

Getting closer!

Getting closer!

It has long been a dream to sail past the Statue of Liberty and one that we have finally achieved twice.

Us & SoL

SoL (2)

Many, many photos later we pulled up to a mooring buoy right at the far end of the 79th Street Yacht Basin, which is right below Central Park.

79th Street Yact Basin.

79th Street Yact Basin.

These moorings are for up to 40ft boats and cost just $30 a night, as opposed to the $200+ it would have cost in a ‘cheap’ Marina!! After claiming that we were a 43’ boat and being told we would have to anchor, Marcus then remembered that we were only 40’!! Luckily the dock master understood his ‘lapse of memory’ and let us stay. Luckily he didn’t venture down to the end of the moorings to check or he’d have been horrified at the extra 9’ we had not admitted to! We stayed for two nights and waved off ‘Gaia’ and ‘Emma’, who were legitimately on the moorings, as they started their Atlantic voyages back to Norway.

Fire boat saluting something......maybe Gaia on her way to the Azores?

Fire boat saluting something……maybe Gaia on her way to the Azores?

We left in their wake and headed south again, past the Statue of Liberty, to round the bottom of Manhattan and headed up the East River, through Hell Gate…..

Hell Gate bridge.

Hell Gate bridge.

 

9.6 knots of current......get the tides wrong at your peril!

9.6 knots of current……get the tides wrong at your peril!

………and on into Long Island sound and Port Washington which lies on the north shore of Long Island.

Sights on the way to Long Island Sound.

Manhatten (18)

Concorde!? We had no idea Manhattan had one of them!

Concorde!? We had no idea Manhattan had one of them!

Street or Avenue?

Street or Avenue?

A passing barge, with our name on it!

A passing barge, with our name on it!

Literally!!

Literally!!

 

From Port Washington there was a 40 min train service into the centre of NYC, so we had the best of both worlds…..a quiet small town with free anchorage and the city to visit at will. Unlike England, the trains run throughout the night, so there was never that 9 o’clock rush to get home!
We met up with Blew Beyond and White Gold, who are both bound for Newport, Rhode Island and joined in James’ birthday celebrations at Hooters!!

Hooters waitresses singing to James!

Hooters waitresses singing to James!

For our wedding anniversary, we took a day to sight see some of the city and went up the Top of the Rock, to Times Square and Grand Central Station and generally strolled around Manhattan.

 

 Our wedding anniversary outing. 32 years........you get less for murder!

Our wedding anniversary outing. 32 years……..you get less for murder!

Top of the Rock looking over Central Park

Top of the Rock looking over Central Park

Times Square.

Times Square.

TimesSquare......both of us on the big screen!

TimesSquare……both of us on the big screen!

Times Square. Marcus on the big screen.

Times Square. Marcus on the big screen.

Inside Grand Central.

Inside Grand Central.

We also met up with ‘Jenni’s Cara’ and she took us to the High Line; a mile and a half of disused elevated railway that used to run between the Fashion and Meat districts of the city. The track has been turned into a park with water features, shrubs, aromatic raised beds and sculptures and is a great example of what can be done with an ‘eyesore’.

With Carla on the High Line.

With Carla on the High Line.

Every one was out and about on the High Line!

Every one was out and about on the High Line!

Cara was our own tour guide and took us around the area where she works, which is more low rise and tree lined than we expected for NYC!

Doing lunch with Carla.

Doing lunch with Carla.

Sunset in Port Washington.

Sunset in Port Washington.

Although we are now in Newport ourselves, we delayed moving with ‘the fleet’ so that I could fly back to Blighty for my mum’s 97th birthday and a trip with her and my two sisters to Suffolk to celebrate. We had a great time, despite some bracing winds and it was good to reconnect.
Two weeks was really too little time, but with the pressure of needing to move the boat at the right times and seasons, meant that this was a fleeting visit. I managed to visit Nigel and Bridget and Dan. Again it was good to see them and catch up with their lives……hopefully next trip will be long enough to visit all our other friends and family!

After rounding Cape Hateras in perfect conditions, with dolphins playing at the bow, we arrived in Hampton, which is opposite Norfolk, just up from Portsmouth!! We certainly have left our stamp on this part of the coast, but with a completely different geography!

This is home to the biggest US fleet and all the support services it needs. We had to stay 100m from any naval ships and patrol boats were out enforcing the rule.

Just a few of the fleet harboured here.

Just a few of the fleet harboured here.

We stayed one night at anchor and then went 12 miles down the Intra Coastal Waterway to meet up with White Gold and Blew Beyond, in Portsmouth for Jim’s 50th birthday.

The day started with James cooking us all breakfast on Blew Beyond.

Birthday breakfast buffet aboard Blew Beyond.

Birthday breakfast buffet aboard Blew Beyond

We then went shopping for seafood for Jim’s birthday dinner in the local street market and then on to a large supermarket, that had a bar!! Needless to say we blocked the isle with our trolleys whilst we sampled their fare!

Birthday drinks in a supermarket bar!!?

Birthday drinks in a supermarket bar!!?

Come the evening, we all went aboard White Gold for a seafood feast of soft shell crabs, prawns in garlic butter, scallops, lobster tails, smoked salmon and spider crab legs. Mmmmmmmm……….

A veritable fish frenzy birthday dinner.

A veritable fish frenzy birthday dinner.

It’s amazing what truly good friends Jim and Paula are. After only knowing them for what is actually a very short time, they put us up for what turned out to be a week, while our boat was lifted and the bottom scrubbed and painted and new anodes fitted. They made us very welcome and were great company.

During the week we explored the area on foot and by bike, making the occasional refreshment stop en route.

Gershwin's Bar staircase.

Gershwin’s Bar staircase.

This was a first…….a bike maintenance station!

What a great idea.....hope they don't introduce these people n Birmingham, Dan!!

What a great idea…..hope they don’t introduce these people in Birmingham, Dan!!

The echoes of the British occupancy linger……..’though I think the pillar box came in well after independence!

A little bit of Britain!

A little bit of Britain!

New experiences are what we are travelling for and the cinema in Portsmouth was an unexpected one…….. Dining in the stalls……what a great idea for old cinemas!

A night out at a he pictures.

A night out at the pictures.

With six of us, hiring a car was affordable and warm!!. We took a trip down to Virginia Beach and on down the outer banks towards Cape Hateras

Virrrrrrrginia bbbbbbbeach!

Virrrrrrrginia bbbbbbbeach!

Some of the sights along the way……..

Shiny Diner....... Classic!

Shiny Diner……. Classic!

Cape Hateras, by land this time.

Cape Hateras, by land this time.

Quirky lunch stop, Cape Hateras.

Quirky lunch stop, Cape Hateras.

Socialising has taken up quite a lot of our stay with the two other British boats! The second Sunday brunch here was delightful and very reasonable………the first, the week before at the Brick Anchor was memorable for all the wrong reasons!!

Sunday Brunch at Freemasons Abbey, Norfolk.

Sunday Brunch at Freemasons Abbey, Norfolk.

Tipping over here is de rigeur. Waiting staff are paid just $3 an hour so they make a living wage through tips. 20% is the norm, as out of that the waiter has to pay 8% of the bill’s total to the management. If we don’t tip, they still have to pay the 8%!! No wonder the service is good over here.

As you can tell from the photos, we had some pretty chilly and damp days here, but the company was always sunny!

Bike tour of Norfolk discovers a Japanese garden.

Bike tour of Norfolk discovers a Japanese garden.

Just testing it out!

Just testing it out!

We are all now back on our own boats, IK having been put back in and moving through the water like a hot knife through butter.

Our next trip was up to Cape May. Blew Beyond scouted the way and White Gold and IK followed on, after a quick repair to our fuel pipes.

To be continued……….

Apologies for lack of photos……. something is wrong with the internet connection and photos won’t upload just now :(

We left Brunswick on Thursday morning, with a little apprehension as gusts of 45 knots were predicted!

We have been out in worse, so with the wind coming off the land we knew the waves would be short, but not steep and decided we’d go for it.

Brunswick bridge left behind but visible for miles.

Brunswick bridge left behind but visible for miles.

We had a great sail for the first day, sailing on the stay sail, third of main and a scrap of genoa and making a steady 7.5 knots under a clear blue sky. At night we reduced sail and speed, so we didn’t have to go on deck in the dark to handle sails.
Friday we motor-sailed, as the winds had dropped. Thankfully the forecast rain didn’t materialise and we made enough distance north to be able to watch an all night electric storm display to the south and east of us…….lightning is our biggest worry out here. Storms build up every afternoon in the summer months and a lightning strike on a boat, if not terminal, is very costly as it tends to knock out all the electronics. At the first sign of a storm, we put the iPad, phones, kindles, laptop and the Garmin GPS into the oven, which we hope works as a faraday cage and isn’t us just being eccentric……..I hope we never have to test it!!

Our trip, needless to say, was not without a hitch…..We had to refill the oil twice en route, as the so far undetected oil leak got progressively worse. Luckily conditions were relatively calm for the pourings!
Arriving in Beaufort at eleven o’clock on Saturday night, we made fast to a long floating pontoon next to the docks and had a good night’s sleep. No one seemed to be around to take our money, so we cast off and made our way up to the historic part of town to a marina, it being my birthday and all.
Beaufort is a charming small town that makes its money mainly from tourism based around its age, the infamous pirate Blackbeard and the passion that people round here have for fishing. The town is old by US standards and there are streets of beautifully maintained clapper board houses, complete with stoops or verandas, established trees and shrubs and well manicured lawns. The one surprising trend is for ‘wild flower meadow’ strips of common ground and some front gardens, but that adds to the olde worlde charm.
Blackbeard was scourge of this coast, until he was captured and killed here. His severed head was hung from the bow of the British vessel that captured him, as a warning to others of the zero tolerance for piracy. Bad news for Blackbeard, but good news for the local pirate tripper boats!
There are very few deep draft yachts around here as the Outer Banks area around Hatteras is very shallow. The majority of boats are for fishing, either in the shelter of the barrier islands, or the bigger ones go out some 20 or so miles where the sea bed drops away and the Gulf Stream sweeps past. There are some huge fish to be had and the prize money for one competition next month is $1,000,000! Luckily we arrived well in advance or we wouldn’t have found a space at the marina!
On Sunday we took a stroll around the town and in the evening we went to the office to ask for the number of a taxi to visit Jim and Paula, who were cooking my birthday meal on board White Gold in a marina a couple of miles down the road. The guys in the office said not to bother with a taxi, but to borrow one of the marina cars overnight……now that’s real southern hospitality! The car was an iconic Buick Roadmaster station wagon which must have been at least 40 years old, but drove like dream.

On Monday we set about finding a mechanic to come and help find the oil leak that had us totally baffled.

Enter Brooks Heyland, a local heavy machinery and marine mechanic/magician! He found the source of the leak……a badly holed pipe from the turbo charger which he found by hanging upside down in the engine compartment. While there he noticed the engine needed its tappets adjusting……..off came the rocker box cover and the rattling tappets tightened for the first time in 25 years! He then took the broken mount for the 24v alternator away overnight to weld it together and then returned in the morning to refit it and rewire it, so now it is actually working and we can recharge the bow thruster batteries.

Finding Brooks was a godsend. So many mechanics are charlatans and aren’t worth their weight or wages, but when you find a good one they are like miracle healers, leaving you with a feeling of awe and well being and a grateful willingness to part with your hard earned cash.
We set off on Tuesday afternoon, as there was a good forecast for rounding Hatteras. Cape Hatteras has a reputation for throwing up very rough conditions when winds are from the north. This is the point where the warm Gulf Stream waters pass closest to the coast as it sweeps north and meets the cold currents flowing south from Canada. Get the weather wrong at your peril!
Thankfully we got it right and had a beautiful sail under clear blue skies, riding the current accompanied by several pods of Dolphins…….we never tire of watching them play on our bow wave.

Dolphins paying us a visit.

Dolphins paying us a visit.

Late on Wednesday evening, Marcus caught his first edible fish using his new rod. Previous attempts have snagged the occasional fish, but they have managed to escape with lures, or have broken hooks and lines. Normally I disappear when there’s a fish on the line, but after Marcus ‘played’ the poor thing for about half an hour, I took the rod and walked forward so the fish came alongside and Marcus could hook it on board with the gaff. I left Marcus to do ‘the deed’ by tipping rum in its gills and then he gutted and filleted it. Later we sat down to a very tasty supper and thanked our fishy for giving us five delicious meals……..(four in the freezer that has now been pressed into service) Although I don’t like the process, I can appreciate the result. What I don’t agree with is fishing for trophies rather than food.
We arrived here in Norfolk, Virginia, and are anchored for the night, before heading down to the top of the Intra coastal waterway for another birthday bash on board White Gold, this time for Jim’s 50th. It’s all go!

Our plans for Cuba are now officially shelved until the end of the year!

Marcus had an email from our leasee at the restaurant and he flew back to Blighty for a fortnight to meet up with her re the sale of the restaurant. It was very strange being alone on the boat, but it gave me uninterrupted time to get some sewing projects started. As with any job on the boat space is the thing in least abundance, so having the luxury of being able to leave things out from day to day was a definite bonus.

I started with what I thought would be the easiest task; the water and diesel jerry cans. The sun has already started to degrade the plastic, so although they weren’t on my original ‘to do’ list, I decided they would be an easy shape to ‘pattern’ first.

Fuel Jerry can cover, belted to the side gate.

Fuel Jerry can cover, belted to the side gate.

Having cut my teeth on the cans, set about designing and cutting the small outboard engine cover, which had it’s moments and the cover wasn’t the only ‘blue’ on the boat!

The sweat shop.

The sweat shop.

 

Small outboard engine covered.

Small outboard engine covered.

 

As I said, it was a luxury to be able to work through, without having to clear away every evening. After my first two efforts, I moved onto my first attempt at setting a zip!!! No problem! The bike bag replaces a completely shot piece of black nylon that was hanging in shreds from my steadily rusting bike. I made it a little larger than my bike, which looks and rides like a child’s bike, in the hope that I may get something a little bigger in the future. At the moment, when we go cycling Marcus pedals serenely ahead of what must look like a demented woman, peddling like fury chasing him!

 

Bike bag completed!

Bike bag completed!

With Marcus’ return, we were ready to stock up and head north. We had been in Fort Lauderdale for 5 months and were beginning to feel like locals……we could help anyone with directions, times of buses and where the best food stores  and bars were to be found!

The time came at last to up anchor……not the easiest or cleanest job after being anchored in the same spot for 4 months. The newly repaired deck wash pump and hose came into its own and the barnacles and thick mud of middle river were vanquished! We made our way down to the fuel dock to load up with fuel and water and then set off out into the Atlantic again bound northwards for Brunswick. Friends of ours had told us about a marina that seemed just too good to be true…..free laundry, free wifi, a friendly clubhouse and free beer every evening! Guess whose decision it was to come here!!

If only all marinas were like this…..reasonably priced, especially if you stay for a month or more, with great facilities and even free bikes to ride into town!

Barbecue and seating area at the top of each of the docks.

Barbecue and seating area at the top of each of the docks.

 

Brunswick Landing club house.

Brunswick Landing club house.

 

Book swap and computers. Free laundry around the corner.

Book swap and computers. Free laundry around the corner.

Books are a very important part of a cruisers life. We tend to get through a couple a week at anchor and maybe double that when on passage.

Meeting room in the clubhouse.

Meeting room in the clubhouse.

We are so impressed with the set up here, that we have booked in for September and October when we think the worst of the hurricane season takes place at this latitude. We could have stopped further north to avoid even more chance of hurricanes, but the weather here is warmer in the winter and the beer is certainly an incentive!

We’re planning to leave tomorrow morning and sail up to Beaufort, just below Cape Hatteras, where we will meet up with our friends, Jim and Paula on White Gold…..hopefully in time to celebrate my birthday on Sunday.

 

As some of you will already know, who have seen Marcus back in Blighty, our plans to go to Cuba have been put on hold again!
We had an email from the woman who is buying the restaurant saying that she would be in England in April and would like to meet with Marcus, if possible. As this is a very safe anchorage, and international airports in abundance in the vicinity, Marcus decided it was safe to leave me in charge for a fortnight!

Our good friends, Stamen and Durita, left at the beginning of the month and are making their north by stages.

Yet another fond farewell to Gaia.


We waved them off, thinking that we might catch up with them in New York, before they cross back over the Atlantic to the Faro Islands.

We spent another ‘first Sunday of the month’ at the Jazz in the Park and enjoyed the eclectic mix in the audience.

A very Colombian looking  Marcus with anApollo lookalike. and an 'Apollo' look alike.

A very Colombian looking Marcus with an Apollo lookalike.

Little girl with Jazz loving snake? Anything goes!

Little girl with Jazz loving snake? Anything goes!

 

Jobs are still to be found aboard. We have been looking for a bookshelf for months to take the cruising guides and technical, radio and cruising logs that regularly spill on the floor when on a starboard tack. Our search has turned up nothing, so we started looking for something that could be adapted. Bingo! We found a bamboo shoe rack that ‘Chippy Marcus’ cut up, fashioned, glued and screwed and then stained, to produce a very fine bespoke bookshelf.

Craftsman at work.

Craftsman at work.

Before.........

Before………

......After.

……After

Project complete, we were contacted by friends, Jim and Paula on ‘White Gold’, who were up in Cape Canaveral in are Marina overlooking the launch site for the Falcon 9 rocket to supply the International Space Station on the 8th. They invited us up, and as the bookshelf was complete, we had nothing to stop us! We hired a car and as Marcus’ flight was from Miami, it seemed a good idea to hire it for a week and put me on the agreement. Funny how the ‘worst passenger in the world’ suddenly allowed me to drive when the prospect of public transport reared its ugly head!

We spent a night with Stamen and Durita, who were a few miles north of Cape Canaveral……so much for seeing them next in New York!

View of the shuttle maintenance 'hanger' from Gaia, Titusville.

View of the shuttle maintenance ‘hanger’ from Gaia, Titusville.

We all drove down to Jim and Paula’s plus two Norwegian friends in the same anchorage. After picking ourselves up off the floor having been quoted silly money by a taxi company, we decided that we could fit all six of us in our hire car, with me sitting in the footwell!. We arrived just in time to watch the rocket launch.

In real life it is much smaller than ‘on the telly’, but the sound and the vibration were impressive.

And we have lift off. Look hard and you'll see the flare from the rocket!

And we have lift off. Look hard
and you’ll see the flare from the rocket!

Separation. The launching rocketed returned safely to a barge in the Atlantic.......amazing!

Separation. The launching rocketed
returned safely to a barge in
the Atlantic…….amazing!

We then retired to ‘White Gold’ for a barbecue. We met up with their neighbours, Mel and James on ‘Blew Beyond’ and spent the evening and night in good company.

A veritable feast! Mel and James enjoying a great barbecue.

A veritable feast! Mel and James enjoying a great barbecue.

Fire! Man must cook meat.

Fire! Man must cook meat!

Despite some sore heads, I t was up early the next morning to go and pick up Hugo, a young Dutch boy from S&D’s anchorage, who we had promised to take with us to the Kennedy Space Centre.

KSC without kids would be like Xmas without them! Our very enthusiastic companion, Hugo.

KSC without kids would be like
Xmas without them!
Our very enthusiastic companion, Hugo.

The KSC ( not to be confused with KFC ) is located on the island where all the space launches take place and we took a bus tour of the site.

The 'Crawler ' that takes the rockets Out to the launch pads at 2 miles and hour.

The ‘Crawler ‘ that takes the rockets
out to the launch pads at 2 miles and hour.

Alligator moving at 0mph!

Alligator moving at 0m

Scorched heat shield.

Scorched heat shield.

Once back at the centre we spent the whole day looking at the Saturn and Apollo exhibitions. The following photosare especially for Paul who it turns out is a bit of a space-aholic!

Saturn control centre.

Saturn control centre.

Saturn V rocket on its side.

Saturn V rocket on its side

All that rocket just to get the Capsule in the nose up to the moon and back.

All that rocket just to get the
Capsule in the nose up to the moon and back.

Apollo space capsule back safely from the moon. Awe inspiring.

Apollo space capsule back safely
from the moon. Awe inspiring

The loading bay that took all the materials up to build the International Space Station.

The loading bay that took all
the materials up to build the
International Space Station.

In the Atlantis centre. The Shuttle is much bigger In real life!

In the Atlantis centre.
The Shuttle is much bigger
In real life!

Pre flight checks!

Pre flight checks

Proud Brits. All the flags of the nations involved in the Space Station are on display.

Proud Brits.
All the flags of the nations
involved in the Space Station
are on display.

This was an inspiring and educational day and well worth the entry fee. We didn’t feel as though we were cash cows being herded through their honey trap…… Sorry for the mixed metaphors!

We returned to ‘Gaia’ for another happy evening with friends.

After all that excitement, things have returned to a much slower pace. I am coping with being on my own and apart from a rather scary thunder storm the other evening and having to deal with the bank over the cloning of my card, all is well.

With Marcus away I have uninterrupted space to get on with some sewing projects; making covers for the outboards, the fuel and water containers, making new bike bags and a spare Hydrovane blade cover, so I won’t have time to get bored, although I am missing him!

We’re still here in FL. The weather is cheering up and the coconut oil has turned back to liquid form……..apparently it solidifies at 74’F!
The bow-thruster motor is now in working order, having been overhauled and given new bearings, but the batteries, that we bought in Trinidad just 18 months ago, have died and need replacing.

Whilst we’re here in the ‘Mecca’ of the boating world, we are servicing everything and stocking up on spares. The exchange rate is very favourable, so it would be silly not to get the expensive, but vital, spares such as starter motors and alternators now, rather than have to have them shipped to some remote place in the Pacific later on in our travels.
Clearly it hasn’t all been work with no play! Our good friends, Stamen and Durita on GAIA, joined us in the anchorage in February and we have spent a lot of time together.

We hired a car and took a road trip up to Orlando and back home via the west coast of Florida.

The B&B that we happened to choose online, turned out to be the highlight of the trip!

The lobby of our gem of a B&B!

The lobby of our gem of a B&B!

Checking in at the Edgewater.

Checking in at the Edgewater.

It was in a town called Winter Gardens to the west of Orlando; a tourist town that has maintained the feel of a 1930’s railway town.

The old engine parked in the high street.

The old engine parked in the high street.

On the old rail way.

On the old rail way.

The hotel, which we stayed at, dated back to the 1920’s…..really old by Floridian standards! It had the very first Otis elevator in Florida and people apparently traveled miles, just to ride up and down in the lift.
The hotel, The Edgewater, is now run as a family concern and the three couples that run it, live on the third floor. All of them are in their twenties and thirties and they have clearly worked hard to renovate and restore it to its former glory.

Our room.

Our room.

Stamen and Durita's room.

Stamen and Durita’s room.

Our towel Hamper.

Our towel Hamper.

Our room.....Marcus doing his Harry Worth impression.

Our room…..Marcus doing his Harry Worth impression.

Part of the breakfast bar.

Part of the breakfast bar.

The lounge.

The lounge.

The countryside in Florida, once you escape the endless retail sprawl that lines both sides of the highways, is flat and used mostly for grazing cattle or just left to the Everglades swamp.

Away from the coast and its luxury living, we got a glimpse of real America and its quirkier side!.

SOME OF THE QUIRKS!

One up on a garden gnome!

One up on a garden gnome!

Great idea for a bench.

Great idea for a bench.

Drinking fountain including dogs!

Drinking fountain including dogs!

This has to be an Oxymoron?!

This has to be an Oxymoron?!

Yee Haw Junction........so American.

Yee Haw Junction……..so American.

Motorised Tiki Bar.......only in America!

Motorised Tiki Bar…….only in America!

We stopped at a diner, next to one of the biggest RV (recreational vehicle) sites I’ve ever seen, and were treated to a new dining experience. The food was plain but good, the clientel eccentric and the portions, as always, were big.

On the wall of the diner!

On the wall of the diner!

We continued westward, until we got to the west coast of Florida, near Naples, and checked out the touristy Fishermen’s village and an early evening glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico.

A real pelican with the themed background of the fishermen's village.

A real pelican with the themed background of the fishermen’s village.

 

 

Back home again, we managed a day of culture; we went to the art museum and saw three exhibitions of Italian fashion from the 50s and 60s, a film and photo exhibition of a Cuban artist from the 70s and a painting exhibition of a renowned US artist dating from the early 1900s to the 50s.

Still on a cultural theme, we spent a great Sunday listening to Jazz in the Park.

 

The Bill Scott trio.

The Bill Scott trio.

Every first Sunday the park hosts at least three jazz bands and families bring picnics, barbecues and cool boxes to soak up the atmosphere by the river……..we brought ours and enjoyed it on the dinghy listening to the Big Band on the main band stand……..the envy of all the land lubbers!

DSC04108

Our cultural exploits weren’t over! We went to see the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra at a theatre that’s within walking distance. It was a fun evening, but it took all of the first half to bury the comparison with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (who I still think are ten times better! If you’ve never heard of them they’re worth looking up on YouTube!)…….the comparison is the difference between accomplished musicians having fun and talented amateurs!

The outcome of the anticipation of an evening of ukulele entertainment is that I now have an early birthday present from Marcus of a concert uke and

My lovely ukulele and it's funky case.

My lovely ukulele and it’s funky case.

….I have mastered about a dozen chords so far! I’m really enjoying playing it and playing with Stamen, who is learning violin. The result is not for public consumption yet!!

On Thursday we got a taxi downtown to celebrate St Patrick’s day the FL way. It was a surreal experience! Everyone, with not a drop of Irish blood in them, was dressed in green and wearing tacky shamrock and horse shoe necklaces. Some sported ‘Finnian’s Rainbow’ hats and there was an occasional kilt being worn. We searched out the Irish Bar to get the true ambience and craic………this is what we got!

Kiss Tribute Band on St Patrick's night!!?

Kiss Tribute Band on St Patrick’s night!!?

Last week saw the arrival of two other friends in Florida, Jim and Paula on White Gold. They made landfall north of us in Palm Beach and took the train down to meet up with the four of us for the day on Thursday.

All six of us doing the tourist thing on the big chair.

All six of us doing the tourist thing on the big chair.

On Friday we hired a car to go up to North Palm Beach to visit Nic and Tyler; we’ve known Nic since she was 8 and they visited us on the boat back in December. We spent a great evening with them……….

DSC04200

………..and the following morning, left as official ambassadors for their new company, ‘ISLAND BUM’.

Tyler, Nic and their new ambassadors!

Tyler, Nic and their new ambassadors!

We bought tee shirts and a hat…….all really good quality. They have an online shop and are expanding into surfer type stores in the area. Look up www.islandbum.com . Be warned, the sizes come up smaller than you’d think. I have an XL tee shirt which needs to shrink a little lengthwise!

While we were up in Palm Beach we dropped in on Jim and Paula and, as you do when you rent a car, we drove them and went in search of a small American propane tank for them………Be Warned any of you who may venture this way…….The camping gaz cylinders, that are popular in Europe, cannot be refilled here and they don’t sell adaptors! Buy all adaptors before you get here as anything non American is greeted by incredulity and a look that confirms we speak the same language, but we are actually aliens!

Well the last of our reconditioned spares, the starter motor, is now back in our possession and we will be setting off this next week for pastures new.

The weather is still not settled enough for us to head north yet, so a month in Cuba now and another month or two later in the year looks like a plan!

We’ll keep you updated.

Love to you all xx.

I have had a very lazy start to the year and I’m afraid the blog has taken a hit as far as time allocation goes!

Sunset at anchor in Middle River.

Sunset at anchor in Middle River.

We are still in Fort Lauderdale and have been busy getting the boat back into full working order…………we have finally got a working generator, which means that with all the cloudy days we’ve had so far in February, we can now charge the batteries. Hooray!!!

I have escaped from the boat to find wifi and as I write this Marcus is busy re-installing the newly repaired motor for the bow thruster. Not such a vital piece of kit when we were crossing oceans and island hopping, but very desirable when trying to navigate in close quarters in a canal!

The other newly repaired item is the deck wash pump…….it should no longer take us 45mins to scrub the chain clean of all the marine life that takes up residence when we drop anchor. With my new hose and hand gun, I should have it clean in a jiffy…….stowing a foul chain makes the boat stink and the muck can contain larvae that hatch into a plague of flies (as Marcus found out when I was back in Blighty in the summer!)

After Jenni left us we moved from the mooring buoy, up to Middle River to anchor and retrench a little. With the cost of a new alternator, a small generator to bridge the gap whilst it’s big brother was being mended and the car hire we were in need of a cheaper month or two!!!

Water Skiier passing by!

Water Skiier passing by in the anchorage!

At the end of January we welcomed our next guest, Graham. Graham was our Best Man some 31 years ago and came out to spend ten days with us. Unfortunately the ‘sunshine state’ had become the cold wet and windy state!, but there were a couple of good days and we managed to sail down to Miami and revisit No Name Harbour.

Graham at the helm.

Graham at the helm.

Graham on dolphin watch!

Graham on dolphin watch!

Another visitor dropped by in Miami.

Another visitor dropped by in Miami.

It was great to see him again and, as with all good friends, it was as if we had seen him yesterday, instead of 4 years ago. There was a lot of reminiscing, drinking and laughter and the boat seemed quite empty again when he left.

Our good friends, Stamen and Durita, have made their way up from Cuba and are anchored near us in Middle River. We went out in the dinghy to meet them and show them the way to the anchorage. They really are like family and we had a lovely time catching up with their news and finding out about Cuba. Durita’s niece came out from The Faroe Isles, to stay with them for a week and we had some greatl meals and outings together.

Stamen, Berit and Durita on board for dinner.

Stamen, Berit and Durita on board IK for dinner.

Sun Downers on board Gaia.

Sun Downers on board Gaia.

An outing to the local Greek festival.

An outing to the local Greek festival.

A third of a bottle of Mitaxa and Marcus can't actually remember these new friends at the festival!!

A third of a bottle of Mitaxa and Marcus can’t actually remember these new friends at the festival!!

As I said, the weather has been uncommonly cold and we even experienced our first (and hopefully last) tornado! We woke at dawn to an electric storm that seemed to be heading north of us, but then the storm was on us.

News footage of the tornado.

News photo of the tornado.

What really got us moving was  the sound of last night’s draining dishes clattering into the sink as the water was churned up into short, steep waves. The wind picked up dramatically and was roaring in the rigging, with winds of 50 to 60 knots. We started the engine, as we were being swept a little too close to the dock, but the visibility was nil and the wind was shifting wildly, so Marcus just held us on station until for about half an hour, until the winds subsided and we could re anchor. Later we learnt that two boats had been picked up and sunk in Lake Sylvia, which is less than a mile from us!

The 35' catamaran that was lifted up and capsized by the Tornado!

The 35′ catamaran that was lifted up and capsized by the Tornado!

Apart from one boat in the anchorage dragging, we all came through unscathed, but it does make you think about your insurance policy!!

I have spent some time designing and sewing a cover for the binnacle, as when it rains,water finds its way down the wiring of the chart plotter into the leg of the support and down onto my side of the bed!

New 'custom made' binnacle cover.

New ‘custom made’ binnacle cover.

……..whilst I was at it, I made a new sleeve for the dinghy oars………..

The oar bag.

The oar bag.

………and a cover for the new Honda generator.

Generator cover.....with vents!!

Generator cover…..with vents!!

As well as work and visitors we are enjoying some of the finer things in life…….I borrowed Stamens Kayak and took a trip up the nearby canals.

Up the creek without a paddle.....so I used half and oar and practiced my didgeridoo embouchure!

Up the creek without a paddle…..so I used half and oar and practiced my didgeridoo embouchure!

Yesterday we took a blanket and an hour long bus ride (for just £1.20 each) in search of a bit of culture…… up to a free outdoor concert in Palm Beach county.

Florida State Youth Symphony Orchestra, as seen from our blanket!

Florida State Youth Symphony Orchestra, as seen from our blanket!

It looks like we’ll be here for another week or so as we wait for the weather to improve, but with good friends in the anchorage we are having a good time!

 

After two very early trips to the airport, we are now on our own again. The boat seems very empty with out Gladys, Cristian and Jenni!

Jenni, Gladys and Cristian.......our perfect boat guests!

Jenni, Gladys and Cristian…….our perfect boat guests!

Having five of us, living at close quarters for three weeks, could have been a recipe for disaster, but we had a great time.

Chillin'

Chillin’

More 'chillin' on the foredeck.

More ‘chillin’ on the foredeck.

Despite the language barrier, Gladys, Marcus and I managed to make ourselves understood and Jenni and Cristian were our resident translators. Marcus found himself a drinking buddy in Gladys and she was my ‘galley fairy’……I hardly did any washing up the whole time she was with us!
The weather, sadly was not the best and any dreams of sailing over to the Bahamas were abandoned. We also had continuing problems with charging the batteries and had to spend some time sourcing, buying and fitting a new alternator and regulator.

The 15th was Marcus’ birthday, which we celebrated by going to the Elbo Room bar ……..he had to get into the act with the bouncer, who ID’d and tagged Jenn and Cristian.

Marcus getting his ID and a hug from the bouncer.

Marcus getting his ID and a hug from the bouncer.

We then decided to go ‘Down town’ for more celebrating, including a pool session and then on for. something to eat.

Birthday Boy with his drinking buddy!

Birthday Boy with his drinking buddy!

Pool doubles match.......a little too much coaching going on?!

Pool doubles match…….a little too much coaching going on?!

A good time was had by all.

Aside from the ever present demands of the boat, the other major hiccup was that Jenni’s Australian visa was proving more difficult to obtain than she had thought and so we had to go to Miami for her to get a chest X-ray done……….a great excuse to go to Miami beach for the day and on to Little Havana, the Cuban sector.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Little Havana, Calle Ocho.

Little Havana, Calle Ocho.

Cuban music......

Cuban music……

.....Colombian, Cuban and British dancing!

…..Colombian, Cuban and British dancing!

As I mentioned before, the beach front here in Fort Lauderdale is a two mile stretch of ‘promenade’ where people come to stroll, eat, sunbathe, cycle, skateboard, exercise or eat and drink at the numerous bars and restaurants. Jenn, Gladys and I went for a couple of jogs……. I’m glad to report my knee, that I injured in Grenada, was fine, but it gave me a good excuse for going gently!!

Posing on the beach.

Posing on the beach.

With the new alternator installed and a bit of a weather window, we decided to sail down to Miami and into Biscayne Bay to No Name Harbour. Another boat from the anchorage was planning to head south so we braved a very choppy entrance to Fort Lauderdale and left together.

Our buddy boat just off Miami.

Our buddy boat just off Miami.

We had a bumpy ride, but our crew took it in their stride!

Our happy crew.

Our happy crew.

Gladys at the helm.

Gladys at the helm.

Miami has a pretty impressive skyline………

Sailing by Miami Docks

Sailing by Miami Docks

and the entry back into the Intracoastal Waterway took us through the dock area. We are very restricted as to where we can go by our height of mast and draft. Unfortunately the fixed bridges on the waterway are 65’ high and our mast is 67’, but we managed to squeeze under a 78’ road bridge on our way down to No Name Harbour.

Did the chart say 78'?

Did the chart say 78′?

The harbour is part of a nature reserve and we spent two nights at anchor here.

No Name Harbour.

No Name Harbour.

Just testing the da it's in No Name Harbour.!

Just testing the davits in No Name Harbour.!

The weather was not good enough for a day on the beach, but the walking was good and we saw our first raccoons and there was great excitement as a couple of dolphins came around the anchorage to check us out.

Our much photoed raccoon.

One of our much photoed raccoons.

Maybe not so cute if they climb and poop all over your boat!

Maybe not so cute if they climb and poop all over your boat!

I think we looked like real tourists excitedly taking pictures of what the locals must look on as vermin!!

The lighthouse which is just south of the harbour, is the oldest structure in Miami, having been built in the 1880’s!…..very old by Miami standards. Just off the shore there is Stiltsville, a collection of buildings dating from the 1920’s 30’s which used to be the playground of the rich and famous.

One of the houses in Stiltsville.

One of the houses in Stiltsville.

Not being rich or famous, we left the tranquility of the nature reserve, for a return to our mooring at Las Olas Marina ready for Christmas. Luckily the wind chose to blow our way, and after another lumpy ride, we managed to dodge the big ship traffic and pick up a mooring ball.

This is our fourth Christmas on the boat……how time flies!!

Christmas Eve is always a time for partying and this year was no exception!

Christmas Eve........always an excuse for a party!!

Christmas Eve……..always an excuse for a party!!

We invited all the neighbours over for a drink and a good time was had by all.

Father Christmas managed to locate us and left us all got stockings.

Father Christmas found us all!

Father Christmas found us all!

Look what he got in his stocking!

Look what he got in his stocking!

Christmas breakfast.

Christmas breakfast.

Christmas morning Champers.

Christmas morning Champers.

Colombian presents. Cheers!

Colombian presents. Cheers!

We had a leisurely day with presents, food and drink and we invited Sylvain, a Canadian ‘single hander’ with engine problems, to join us at 5.00 for Christmas dinner………we finally sat down at 8.30, but it was well worth the wait. Marcus once again excelled himself in the kitchen.

Another good time was had by all!

Jenn and I ready for a Boxing Day jog in our new trainers!

Jenn and I ready for a Boxing Day jog in our new trainers!

On Sunday we took another trip down to Miami, as Gladys’s treat before she left. It seems that everyone who holidays in the US from Colombia, holidays in Miami, so we took her to the oldest ‘open air’ mall…….built in the 1950s

Just about sums these two up!!

Just about sums these two up!!

and then on to an Italian restaurant for a delicious authentic Italian farewell lunch….. Who would have guessed the chef was actually Colombian!

Two early morning runs to the airport, at crack of sparrow’s fart, came as a shock after such a relaxed three weeks. It’s a strange mix of sadness at saying goodbye, excitement for Jenni and Cristian’s big adventure and relief at being able to put the boat back into every day mode!

It was particularly hard say goodbye to Jenni and Cristian, as they are on their way to Hawaii and then Australia. We don’t know when we’ll see them again (:

Farewell at the airport.

Farewell at the airport.

It s now 2016……….how did that happen?!
We spent New Year’s Eve strolling along Fort Lauderdale Beach and then back to the boat for supper and out on the deck to watch the firework display……….all we saw was the moon rise! ………..We weren’t the only ones that were out there on the water to get the best view.  Unfortunately they’d changed the venue for the display, but not told anyone!!

The silver lining to this cloud is that we will both be able to remember the turning of this year!

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL. XX