Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Freedom

Dear Freedom, One year ago today, in a Virginia bookstore, you became ours. We rose early, packed the car with everything from shorts to decorative pillows, and headed south from Pennsylvania. Just before 11AM we pulled off I-95 at the designated meeting place and excitedly shook hands with our boat broker and loan agent. We pushed together a few tables and set to signing page after page of agreement. Soon the deal was done. Our satisfaction was tempered by the knowledge that a day and a half of driving separated us. But drive we did, and soon we were in Fort Lauderdale. It was a day or two before we climbed aboard, and a few more days before you truly felt like ours, but the connection was there from the start. You are now our almost full time home: warm, welcoming and ready for a road trip. You have safely delivered us as far north as Martha's Vineyard, south to Key West and west to our current berth in St. Petersburg. You have satisfied our need to be on the water and filled our imagination with trips to come. For all that we are grateful. Happy Birthday Freedom!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Life in St. Petersburg

We've been docked in St. Petersburg for over a week now. In addition to the usual day to day onboard chores, we've had the chance to visit the Dali Museum, enjoy dinner at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Pass-a-Grille clubhouse in St. Pete Beach; take a 10 mile (roundtrip) bike ride to visit our friend Bryant; re-connect with the Capn's former workmate Diana; watch the planes take off and land at the nearby Whittord Airport; take advantage of the student-provided stylist and spa services at the nearby Aveda Institute; and enjoy unbelievably spectacular days of blue skies and moderate temperatures. A girl could get used to this.

Tomorrow we head north to Tarpon Springs, the Sponge Capital of the World. Details to follow...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday The 13th Update

After leaving the Shark River we headed north to Naples where we had a delightful visit with the Capn's Uncle Bill and Aunt Jane and then on to Sanibel Island. The beaches there truly are made of shells, and I filled my pockets!

On Sunday afternoon we said goodbye to good friends and shipmates Peter and Debbie, and just after sunrise on Monday we were off the Venice, FL. What a gorgeous day on the Gulf: sunshine & calm seas. A few minutes after tying up the Venice Yacht Club we were greeted by our hosts Bill and Judy, just back from making a Project Cure delivery in Tampa. Project C.U.R.E. Delivers donated medical supplies and equipment to medical professionals and patients under their care in more than 125 developing countries.

Incredibly, after a long day of driving and coordinating, Judy took me for a much needed trip to the grocery store, and then we all enjoyed dinner together.

Our original plan had been to stay at least two nights in Venice, but a cold front threatened and off we went at sunrise Wednesday. After another fabulous Gulf day, we arrived at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, our "home" for a month.

Our slip is walking distance from shops, restaurants, museums, and the St. Petersburg Yacht Club where we enjoyed lunch with fellow CCA members on Thursday. It feels good to be settled in for a bit - with much to look forward to: time with friends and family; taking the trolley to the beach; the Saturday Morning Farmer's Market; weekend cruises; and the Zac Brown Band in concert.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Moon Dance

Maybe we left a day too soon, but after a few days of heavy winds and cooler temperatures, we were anxious to leave Key West and so we headed out into the 20kt winds and choppy seas at sunrise Wednesday morning. By 9AM I was prone on the port side settee not really enjoying my first trip on the Gulf of Mexico. After a long bouncy day, at last were were rewarded by dropping anchor along the isolated shores of the Shark River amid the Florida Everglades. Postings on the boating guide 'Active Captain' noted an abundance of wildlife in the area, including birds, dolphins and alligators. We saw a few pelicans and shore birds but little else. After dark we scanned the shoreline with a flashlight looking for the beady red eyes of the gators, but saw nothing. With temperatures hovering in the high 40's it was just too cold. Even the stars were dimmed by an almost full moon.

After a long day on the water, and another full day ahead of us, it was early to bed. Just after turning out the light I heard heavy breathing outside our porthole. "Gator" I thought, and ran upstairs to check it out. I threw open the cockpit door and the breath sounded close enough to touch. I shrieked, slammed the door, and ran for our new handheld "Super Spot" light. The Cap'n heard the commotion and joined me in the salon. Together we ventured into the cockpit. Just as the Cap'n aimed the spot towards shore a dolphin shot straight up out of the water into the beam of light. "Did you see that?" the Cap'n gasped. We watched in awe as he (she?)continued to jump, dive and frolic in the moonlight, finally disappearing into the dark water.

You don't need an abundance of wildlife to leave a lasting impression - just one graceful dolphin will do.

Celebrity Sighting

There was a lot to see in Key West, but nothing surprised us more than when this guy pulled up along side us.....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The holidays passed quickly with the k'dults aboard. After greeting them in Miami, and completing our crime scene investigation, we headed south toward Marathon. There we settled in the mooring field, taking the dink ashore for a trip to the grocery and later for Christmas Eve Dinner at the Butterfly Cafe.

The Marathon Mooring field can hold up to 200 boats, of all shapes, sizes and levels of repair (or disrepair). We would not have been surprised to see Captain Ron sailing by (don't know who Captain Ron is? Rent the movie by the same name and have a good laugh)

We spent Christmas Day motoring about the mooring field, venturing under the bridge to see the other side of the Key, sipping champagne cocktails and eating crab cakes. Christmas in paradise. The next day we turned the bow south toward Key West.

After a week "on the hook" it was great to tie up at the dock in Key West, and climb on shore. Key West is full of interesting things to see, but one of the best sights was right there on the dock at A&B Marina.Perhaps the most beautiful sport fish boats I have ever seen was tied up just across the dock: the Ann Warrick from Midlothian, VA. A sleek 62 feet, with a 20 ft. Beam, dark green hull and polished, impeccably maintained teak cockpit. She took my breath away!

Other highlights of our week in Key West: touring the home of Ernest Hemingway where he wrote his most significant works; watching the sunset on the last day of 2011 ( and running into some fellow Corinthian Yacht Club members there); joining the New Year's celebrations on Duval St.; Happy Hour with the K'dults; glorious blue skies with temperatures hovering at 80; and discovering Fish Dip.

Now it is time to say goodbye to Key West and head north up Florida's West Coast. As good as it felt to stay put for a bit, I look forward to throwing off the bow lines and seeing what adventures lie ahead.