Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blame Buffett?

Shirl and I were interviewed today via telephone by a gentleman in Australia. He has been following our blog and does sailing pod casts. One of the many questions he asked was..."why blame Buffett"? I thought that was a good question. Here is basically how I answered it.

 I have always listened to Jimmy Buffett's music. While he is not a great singer, or an over the top guitarist, he is a great entertainer. His music tells a story. Jimmy has the ability through his music to transport you to Margaritaville. We all know Margaritaville is a state of mind.  Buffett's music can put you in that Margaritaville state of mind. Jimmy's music is simple, entertaining, and fun. It has always been and will continue to be part of my music library.
When my children were young...they are adults now with children of their own, we would vacation with family on a lake in Tennessee. They would swim, play, knee board, ski, swing from ropes into the lake, and spend time with family. We would keep the boats out on the lake for as long as possible every day. You guessed it...with Buffett music playing. Why? because we all wanted to go to Margaritaville. With the water, sunshine, warm temperatures, cool drinks, and Jimmy singing we had our own little piece of paradise. To this day I can remember my kids singing along on "Boat Drinks". My recent boating and relaxing has been on a houseboat on Cumberland lake...a great place by the way. If you can't get to saltwater...go to Cumberland. At Cumberland Buffett music plays.  When our family vacations in Florida...our favorite restaurant, even the grand kids love it, is Margaritaville. More Buffett music.

Jimmy's music can take you out of the rat of the hamster wheel...away from the nine to five grind, and place you on an island, under a palm tree in warm tropical breezes, with the smell of salt in the air. His music has done that for me. For the brief minutes that the songs play you can escape the ordinary life...leave it behind, and imagine what it would be like to live your life like a Jimmy Buffett song.
 We are going to sail to an island...sit under a palm tree with our toes in the sand, smell the salt air and sing BoatDrinks. We will relax, think, look at the stars, and enjoy some down time. We want to be sun baked, salt encrusted, and have some fun. In short we want to have an extended stay in Margaritaville.

I guess what I am trying to do is to Blame Buffett for the fact that I am now singing my own song.
Maybe it's my own damn fault...

Thanks for the music Jimmy!

Our family favorite... 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thinking in the sunshine...

I was sitting in the sun on the bow of Serenity today...the wind blowing, the sky a bright blue, and the water calmly passing the hull as we traveled. Shirl was at the helm, and I was thinking about the experiences I have had recently, and how I would not have had them if I had not come on this trip. It has not all been easy, but it has been very good. As you might imagine, there have been challenges. Our lack of experience early on created some challenges that I am sure more experienced sailors just calmly deal with, as we do now. I have always believed that you learn from accepting challenges and you grow from learning. I sure would not have wanted to miss this. So sitting in the sun today I decided that it may be very simple...not complicated. Maybe we are sailing for pleasure and the personal growth that comes from accepting challenges. Shirl needs to take the helm more often...
After almost three months living and traveling on Serenity I do not feel like a newbie any more. There are always challenges in life, and what we are doing is no different. Actually we are turning into really good boat people. If you have ever thought about doing this, try to make it happen. It will be worth it.

The Okeechobee Waterway runs across the Florida Peninsula. It is an interesting area. Today Shirl saw an alligator on the bank as we passed. We crossed Lake Okeechobee yesterday. After leaving a lock we were immediately in the lake with fog and a significant chop. After a few miles the fog lifted, the wind decreased and the water calmed. The trip across the lake was great. It is a large, beautiful body of water. Last night we stayed at Roland Martin's Marina. It was a bit over priced but I understand he is a celebrity of sorts....(fishing show). Today we traveled to La Belle, Florida. We will stay here on the city docks tomorrow, which are free by the way. We also have a good WiFi signal. This will be an opportunity to do a couple of blog posts, and work on my computer which is slowing down more every day. The Dink needs to be cleaned as well, and I want to check all the rigging in preparation for our sail to Key West. Have you noticed there is always work to be done? Then it will be on to Ft. Myers.
We will go through a total of five locks on the Okeechobee Waterway. While this is no big deal to us...we have been through a lot of locks on this trip...these locks are different in that the lock tenders open the doors slightly to let the water in or out. This tends to create some turbulence in the locks.

Lake Okeechobee...gator country!

 They are serious!

 Key West very soon...

A lot of fishing boats in this lake. 

 Typical scenery in the Lake Okeechobee Waterway. This is a lot different than the condo lined east and west coasts.

 A different kind of houseboat...a stern wheeler?
 Serenity at Martin's Marina. The building to the left is a restaurant and bar...and yes they serve gator tail...and we had some for dinner. It tastes like chicken.
This lock opens to Lake Okeechobee. Foggy and rough, but only for a few miles... then calm and beautiful.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Heading west for a few days...

We are crossing the Okeechobee Waterway to Ft. Meyer. We will then head south to Key West. This route will give us an opportunity to see a little of the west coast of Florida, and allow us to visit the Keys while working our way back north. We are in Indian Town today, and will cross Lake Okeechobee tomorrow. We are in a tiny marina in a very small slip...a little difficult to get in to. It will be a little difficult to get out of tomorrow. We will be leaving at first light.
It will be interesting to see a more rural part of the sunshine state.
Statue in Stuart, Florida. My friend Rodger loves art.
The produce market...really convenient for cruisers.

Sunset in Stuart
One more...
Great picture which brought back parents had one of these in 1965. Several family vacations were taken in that car...good times and good memories.

Oh yea, I still have it... one and a half miles to the liquor store.

Mooring field in Stuart
Shirl on duty waiting for the lock to open.
No problem for us...after the Erie Canal. We will go through five locks on the Okeechobee Waterway.

Shirl taking over while I took a break.
We passed this in the water today...a first on this trip.
A "deadhead" floating in the waterway...may be connected, may not. You have to watch for these.
A tough slip to get in to.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A politician thinks of the next election...a leader thinks of the next generation.

A short rant...
I saw this bumper sticker today and I thought it was worth putting out there. While this is not a political blog, it is obvious to me that our country has too many politicians and not enough leaders. We can fix that!
End of rant...

We left Velcro Beach this morning, and as soon as we got to the ICW there was a thick fog. Navigating in fog is not easy, however it is good practice. You have to trust your chart plotter and radar. We slowed down during the fog and after it lifted we continued to Stuart, Florida which is on the St. Lucie River. We are considering going through the Okeechobee Waterway to Ft. Meyers, and then sailing off shore to Key West. There is one bridge that may be a problem because it is 49 feet in height. Serenity's mast is 48 feet off the water, and the lights, instruments, and antenna on top the mast add another foot. The boat would have to be heeled (tilted), to allow passage under the bridge. We will find out tomorrow exactly how much clearance there is before we decide. The waterway is not tidal in the area of the bridge. The water level is controlled by locks. We will keep you posted on our decision. We are in the mooring field with a lot of other $16.00 a night.  There are so many people traveling by boat, and they are all so interesting to talk to. Tonight we attended a sun downer on a neighbors boat...thank you so much, it was fun.

We buddy boated today...that is we traveled with two other boats from Vero Beach to Stuart. (Sanuk and Polar Pacer) It was a little cooler today, in the low seventies. We have removed our enclosure and we are starting to protect ourselves from the sun. We are so happy to be where it is warm.

A very Happy Birthday to my daughter who has birthday this month.
A Happy Birthday to Patience, (Shirl's granddaughter) who is now six years old...also in December.

 Our view at the beginning of the day.
 The fog beginning to lift.
The fog has lifted...
This is a good idea...turn your boat into a money maker...boat signs!
Guarding the bridge!
Shirl and Tracie on the anchor
 Another boardwalk...
This sign gave me a laugh...
My kind of house...the back yard is a beach.
Did some one order a beach?
A picture for the off spring..."that's right...Little Killies"
Another Christmas boat...
A painting on a building in Stuart...interesting
 Another double bascule bridge
We plan to visit Key West, and would like to be there for  the New Years celebration if possible. We still want to sail around the Keys, visit Marathon Key, Ft. Lauderdale, and hopefully the Bahamas. We still have a lot of adventure ahead.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Down to the tropical sun...

I have been looking at the chart book as well as the Waterway Guide. We are now into the part of Florida where boating is something people do all year. The Guide states that it is better to travel south through the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami areas during the week to avoid the boat traffic that is much heavier on weekends. There are a lot of bridges in this area as well as no wake zones. It will be a slow trip south for the next 150 miles. It is overcast today so the solar panels are not doing much. Little Red is running to charge our batteries. Shirl is cleaning the inside of Serenity. As with all boats there is a constant battle with condensation. We are beginning to plan a trip home in January, and we hope to be in Key West for New Years Eve.

We will leave tomorrow or the next day depending on the weather. I plan to run the engine for an hour this afternoon to make sure the water pump is fine, and that I did not get air in the fuel lines when I cleaned the Racor and changed the filter. We have enjoyed our stay here, but it will be good to get moving south again. The next place we plan to stay a couple of days is Ft. Lauderdale. ..then it is on to the Keys. To anyone doing this trip...spend some time at Velcro Beach!
A few random pictures...
 Why didn't I write this book? What a great idea! I can not believe I did not think of it.
Wonderful morning view...
 Shirl and Neala...
 You have to pay attention to signs!

 Two car boat garage...check out those outboards!
 A houseboat docked at a bar...what are the chances?
Cruising in the "Dink"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Ah! A heading. Set sail in a...uh...a general...that way! direction."-Captain Jack Sparrow

Where will we go next? Just real plans. We want to visit friends in the Ft. Lauderdale area. We will then either head for the Bahamas or the Marathon Key, and on to Key West.  Shirl and I are going to decide when to take a trip home to see family, probably some time in January. We will need to find a place to dock Serenity while we are gone, and get airline tickets. We both miss our families.

Vero Beach has been great. I see why so many cruisers just stay here. Northern Lights will arrive here today. We traveled part of the Erie Canal, and the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays with them. It will be nice to visit with them before we leave. We have met some very nice people here in Vero Beach...even some cruisers from Kentucky...Louisville by the way. One thing I can say for sure about this life style is that there are many great people doing it. Everyone is quick to offer help and advice to newbies. Many have been doing this for years, and have a lot of knowledge. We have learned a lot!

 Lunch with the crew from Sanuk and Polar Pacer at Waldo's on the beach...with bucket drinks.

 I love this sign.

This picture is for Tim Wilson, a comedian who makes fun of all things Buffett. I don't see anyone wearing Tim Wilson T shirts....just sayin.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Stuck in Velcro Beach...?

We are not really stuck. I replaced the water pump, and cleaned the Racor and changed the Serenity is ready to go. It seems that we are not. We had a great day on the beach yesterday. The weather is warm, and it seems to rain at night. great for sleeping. We have been on this mooring for three days, and today was the first day I had to crank up Little Red, the Honda 1000 generator to charge the batteries. The solar panels are doing a great job. When I checked yesterday they were putting out 10 amps.
Two nights ago there was a Christmas Boat Parade that went right past our boat. Last night we took the dink to a pub near our marina where there was live music. This morning when I came out of the boat there were dolphins everywhere. I watched one chase a fish around our mooring ball...see picture.
We will spend a few more days here and then head south. Shirl and I decided to take a little vacation from vacation...sweet!


  There were too many boats to post...probably about 20.
Another good decorating job

 Our view at the beach yesterday...

 Dolphin on port...

 See the fish right in front of the dolphin? He is no longer swimming around!

Racor...cleaned with a new filter...this unit removes impurities from the fuel.
New water pump on left...old one on right with the hub of the pulley missing. It turned out to be more difficult than I thought because the mount on the old water pump is custom made. That meant the pulley had to be removed from the new one to install the old mount. I was able to use a vise in the small workshop at the marina...or I could not have taken it apart...thanks Vero Beach Marina!

Shirl in the car going to the beach.
His and her Dory's...hey Rick, why didn't you think of this name for your Dory?..."Hunky Dory"

Fog in the morning...
A few destinations...
More boats...