Heart of Gold
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- 03/27/2013 - Wednesday - 10:30 a.m. - We are underway in the new Heart of Gold! I have not made any entries into the log since we started this trip to the gulf so I will try and catch everything up today. At the first of the year Greg sort of retired. Our son Philip officially became president of our company. We felt confident he could handle the job. Greg and I had taken the Jefferson down the river to Biloxi in October. We had it hauled out to get the bottom ready for the salt water. The boat yard we used was Bay Marine and they did a great job. They also did some extra needed work to get us ready for salt water. After the first of the year we came back down to Biloxi, went back in the water, and moved to our new marina, Pointe Cadet Marina. We love it there. We met our neighbors and got to know many of them. They have all been so helpful teaching us the lay of the land. It has been a blast. Shortly after we retuned in January we started our search for a new boat. We drove to Florida several times to look at boats with our broker, Judy Waldman. If you ever need a broker she is fantastic. She has worked with us for over two years and helped us figure out what it was we were looking for. We finally got it narrowed down to either another Jefferson or a Grand Alaskan. We liked the layouts of either boat. Mary, our daughter met up with us in Ft. Lauderdale and went with us to look at 4 boats that Judy had set up for us to see. Mary and I were both certain that the Jefferson would be the boat for us. We went to see it first and our disappointment in the boat was overwhelming. As much as we loved our Jefferson this one was nothing like it. It was bigger and newer but it didn't feel as solid as ours. Luckily we had three other Grand Alaskans to look at. We drove up and down the coast of Florida all day looking at boats. We loved all three Grand Alaskans. It was tough deciding which one we liked best. We finally made an offer on our favorite and then the process began. It took us quite a while to finally close on our favorite boat. We took possession of our new boat on 3/12/2013 and took it to Sunset Bay Marina where we spent nearly two weeks getting ready to take it to the gulf side of Florida. Parker seemed to like his new home. While in the slip we got to see jelly fish. They were all around us. I later found out that jelly fish are pests and get into stainers and other parts of boats. I still thought they were neat. Took the old name off the boat and Jim and Jan Race of Race Signs put our name on the boat. It really felt like it was ours after that. This morning we got up to see the moon setting over the marina and then watch the sunrise over the marina. Greg put our flag up and we were ready to go. Our neighbors were up early also to help us with lines. It was really exciting. So in a nut shell, here we are putting down the Okeechobee waterway, watching the sights, currently stuck at a broken down railroad bridge waiting for them to fix it. It could be hours or days. Well, it is going to be sometime tomorrow. Heading back to try and find a place for the night. 8:00 p.m. - We are docked at Indiantown Marina and it is a beautiful little place. Everyone that has been stopped by the broken down railroad bridge has ended up here so it is a little crowded, but you would never know it. Parker managed to escape from the boat to follow me and didn't seem to have any trouble at all finding me. We have a very nice sportfisher boat called "Bar South," tied up along side us and her captain's are two very handsome young men. They are cooking Mahi Mahi on the grill tonight for supper. They love to fish and are just such nice kids. They are excellent fishermen also. Not only are they good fishermen, they know how to cook it too! Best Mahi I have ever had. Cooked to perfection. It was lucky for us the bridge broke or we would never have discovered this wonderful little marina. What a gem. Even though we didn't get very far today, it was an excellent day. Don't know if we will still be here tomorrow but it sure is a nice place to be stuck in.
- 03/29/2013 - Good Friday - 11:30 a.m. - The broken railroad bridge was finally repaired yesterday afternoon. Hard to believe this little bridge caused such a back up. It was probably a good thing because from what we heard Lake Okeechobee was fairly rough. We just went through the Mayaca Lock and Damn and into Lake Okeechobee. Cormorants were sunning themselves on either side of the lock. Its a big lake and right now we only have about 3.5' of water under us. I hope it gets deeper. Yesterday we were still in Indiantown and decided to make the best of it. So we found a ride into Stuart and rented a car, then picked up our truck and headed to Tampa to drop off the truck. We thought it would save us time when we did make it to the other side. Crossing the state of Florida is awesome. I could not believe how much agriculture they have. We saw thousands of cows, tons of citrus groves, and fields of strawberries. It was beautiful. We got to Tampa in time to see the harbormaster at the marina we are going to be staying and dropped off the truck. We then started back for Indiantown. It was about 6:30 p.m. We were lucky enough to still find one of the many fruit stands we passed on the way still open. I got a nice bag of really good looking tomatoes and a half a flat of strawberries. It made the whole day worth it. We kept looking for a place to eat and could never figure out what we wanted. We ended up in a little town called Lake Wales and ate at a place that was the shape of a huge ice cream cone. We were both in the mood for salad with bean sprouts but, darn it, the only thing they served was ice cream. So we had to settle for a couple of sundae's. Didn't get back to the boat till 10:00 p.m. but we were glad to get the car to Tampa. This morning we took the rental car back, then Greg got the boat ready to go and I cleaned the strawberries. They are so good and are the sweetest strawberries we have had this year. Lake Okeechobee isn't particularly pretty. It is sort of muddy green and shallow in many places. The color sort of reminds us of the Mississippi River. So far the deepest we have had under us is a little over 8'. Staying in the channel is a good idea. 11:50 p.m. - Crossing the lake was a little rough but not too bad. There seemed to be plenty of traffic going both ways. Me and Parker stayed warm in the pilot house and Greg was at the helm. We finally got across the lake and through the swamp and into Cleweston and back into the canal. In the canal we saw lots of different birds and spotted 4 alligators but they wouldn't hold still for me to take their pictures. The cormorants seem to be so photogenic and I catch the occasional crane. I was even lucky enough to get a crane on her nest with a chick. Got a picture of a bird visiting a memorial but don't know what kind of bird it was. My guess would be a osprey but not sure. We ran across some construction work being done in the canal, it was a tight squeeze. Saw lots of cormorants together in the swamp and I love when they are drying themselves, they are the most photogenic then. The trees are also interesting. I thought one looked like a swamp Christmas tree. I snapped a bird that I think was is some sort of egret and was also lucky enough to get a picture of a Kingfisher, but that one isn't very good. Next time. Cormorants are still the most photogenic birds. We got to Moore Haven and stopped for the night. We had a package delivered here and were supposed to pick it up yesterday but due to the broken railroad bridge we weren't here. So today when we get here City Hall was closed and I could not get the package. We are hoping someone will come in tomorrow and I can get the package. If not we will be here till Monday. I hope it works out tomorrow. Greg and I enjoyed a great supper on the back of the boat this evening. The weather was perfect and we had the best view in the house. It was a perfect day.
- 03/30/2013 - Saturday - 9:30 p.m. - We stayed in Moore Haven till 11:00 a.m. and decided then to go ahead and leave. The possibility of getting my package before Monday was quickly dwindling. So we thought it better to move on and then come back on Monday in a car to pick up the package. A little inconvenient but not worth staying there till Monday. Most of the afternoon was uneventful and it was more populated on the shore. Florida cows do live a good life with trips to the beach. We also saw a great classic boat named "Lady Catherine," she was a beauty. We decided to stop for the night when we got to the W.P. Franklin Lock. They happened to have a wonderful little marina right there. We didn't think we were going to fit into the slip but we did. We stuck out in back quite a bit but it was calm and we tied up just fine. Greg went to check in and I stayed on the boat. As I was looking out over the basin I saw this huge turtle. I could not believe how big he was for a fresh water turtle. Later in the evening after supper I was walking Parker when I saw a probably 60 to 70 birds coming in to roost right in the marina. I grabbed my camera and most of the birds were Ibis. There was also a bluish bird that I didn't recognize. I also saw a Curlew. There was variety of birds but mostly Ibis were roosting. Greg and I were both off the boat at the same time and Parker was looking for us. He is really liking the boat and feels comfortable going just about anywhere. Greg and Parker settled in for the night and both asleep as I am writing this. It is really peaceful here. I am glad we decided to move on instead of staying in Moore Haven. I am excited to get to Ft. Myers and then hopefully a stop in Venice. I sure would love to see my dear friends again.
- 03/31/2013 - Easter Sunday - 11:30 p.m. - We left W.P. Franklin Marina with only one little wave good-bye. As we were leaving the turtle came back to his perch. He must spend all day sitting there in the sun. One Ibis was left huddled in the tree by the time we left. We made it through the last lock on the Okeechobee Waterway and headed to Ft. Myers. On our way we saw a tree full of storks and then a sunken houseboat. Once we got into Ft. Myers we stopped at a marina because Greg was out of beer. We ended up buys some new lines because they had a great price on them. As we headed to the ICW the first group of dolphins showed up to swim with us. It is such a thrill to see them. I could not believe it when the second group of dolphins came up to swim with us. Spotted an osprey in a dead tree. We got into the ICW and started weaving our way through all the little islands. That is when the third group of dolphins showed up to swim along side of us. Parker really didn't care about the dolphins and just relaxed. We heard a call on the radio that a boat was on fire. They gave their coordinates and we were right there. We were the first ones on the scene. They had already gotten the fire out and were now waiting for the tow boat to come. We stayed with them until a bunch of other boats showed up and then we thought we should get out of the way. The name of the boat was "Gratitude". When we radioed them to say were were leaving they radioed back and said we had their gratitude. It was really nice of them. I couldn't believe when I saw a bunch of dolphins swimming around the disabled boat. It was so cool. It is one scary thing to have a fire on your boat. The whole time we were there Parker was just sunning himself. Shortly after that episode I spotted a whole flock of cormorants, at least that is what I think they were. After things settled down that is when the fourth group of dolphins came to swim. One of them started doing tricks and showed us his belly. Most of the groups have two to four dolphins in them. At least today that was how many we counted per group. We went on the outside, or I should say into the gulf, through the Boca Grand Pass. The ICW, Inter Coastal Waterway, had lots of traffic so we decided to go into the gulf. I took my turn being captain on the flybridge. Then the fifth group of dolphins came and one of them was trying to look at me. They are so funny and each group has their own thing. We were getting close to Venice and went past Sharky's. We always liked going there. We went past Manasota beach and Caspersen beach. It was the first time I had seen them from the water. My friend Helen and I spent many hours on those beaches hunting of shells and shark's teeth. We usually found a ton of treasures. The sixth group of dolphins joined us and they were a family of four. There was a small baby with them. Shortly after they left the seventh group came and they were a mom and baby. I just could not believe how many dolphins we saw today. They are sign of good luck. It must be true because we had a wonderful cruise today. We finally reached the Venice Pier and I was really glad we made it here today. It is times like these that I miss my parents the most. They would have loved to come and meet us there. We would have taken them on a boat ride and had a nice visit with them. They would have been happy for us. I sure wish they could have been here. Tomorrow we will visit with their good friend and neighbor, Jean. She was such a good friend to my parents and to me. I am grateful that she is here and we can hopefully take her on a boat ride. I know she will be happy for us. After we got the boat tied up I sat on the back while Greg went to check us in and I spotted dolphins in the marina. Happy Easter.
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- 04/01/2013 - April Fool's Monday - We got going early this morning, rented a car, and headed back to Moore Haven to pick up a package that we could not pick up while we were there. We decided to go ahead and drive to Tampa to pick up the truck so we could have it in Venice. We are going to head across from here instead of Tampa. We got back around 4:30 p. m. and Jean and her daughter Elise were our first official visitors on the boat. I was so thrilled to show them the boat. I think they really like it. They were kind enough to bring a really nice bottle of wine as a boat warming present. After the grand tour we all went out for supper to my favorite Italian place, Valenti's. Jean, my mom and me would go there for supper on a regular basis. They have the best mushroom marinara. And the best tiramisu you will ever eat. It meant so much to me to have Jean and Elise come to see our boat. I was so glad they like it. We had a wonderful evening and plan on getting together again before we leave. Seeing Jean always makes me happy and reminds me of the good times we had and what a good friend she was to my parents. Great day.
- 04/02/2013 - Tuesday - 10:15 p.m. - This morning we returned the car rental and went out for breakfast. Greg started working on a plumbing issue in the galley. We met Sara and Larry Myers for lunch at the Crow's Nest. It was great. We then went back to the boat and gave them a tour. We had a wonderful visit and lots of laughs. They are good friends of ours from Marion who retired in Nokomis, FL. Around 4:30 we had more company. Don and Susan Hallman, who now live in Punta Gourda, came to have supper with us. We have known them for nearly 20 years and were in the same marina with us in MI. They retired and moved to FL. It was so good to see them again. It had been years since we had seem them last. They have not changed a bit. I swear Florida is the fountain of youth. People just get younger here. I can't believe I didn't get a picture of anyone today. I guess we were just too busy visiting. It was just so good to see everyone today.
- 04/03/2013 - Wednesday - 9:30 p.m. - Today my good friend Cyndee and her husband Steve came from Burnt Store to have lunch with us and visit. I was so glad to see Cyndee and finally meet her husband. He sure wasn't what I expected! They are a cute couple and Steve is so funny and engaging. We had a great lunch and a great visit. I can't believe with all the company we have had this week that I didn't take one photo of anyone. I guess I was just so excited about seeing everyone I didn't think to take a picture. I sure am sorry I didn't. I was sorry to see them go so soon but Cyndee has gotten into her condo politics and had to get back to business. I will be seeing Cyndee in Indiana sometime in late April. We also got together with Jean and her daughter and had supper at Robie's Reef, one of the best seafood restaurants in Venice but Jean thinks they serve the best hamburgers. After that we had ice cream. It is so good to see Jean again and a bonus to visit with her daughter Elise. I will hate leaving Venice when the time comes.
- 04/04/2013 - Thursday - 10:00 p.m. - We picked Mary up from the Tampa airport today. It was so good to see her again. We have missed her so much since Thanksgiving. She looked great. Again, I have not taken a picture. Tomorrow for sure. It rained all the way to the airport and rained most of the day. So Mary was a bit of sunshine for the day. We stopped at Sam's club in Sarasota and picked up a few things for the boat and then headed on to Venice. Mary was thrilled with her stateroom and I was thrilled with having her here on the boat. I am so glad she is here with us and will be making the trip across the gulf. Tomorrow we will do more shopping and get groceries for the trip. It is so good to have her here with us. We were hoping Dana could have made it too but he couldn't. Wish our son and his girlfriend could be here too. I love sharing this with my family and friends. What a dream come true. We pinch ourselves everyday.
- 04/05/2013 - Friday - 11:00 p.m. - Got up this morning and had breakfast. Mary and I went shopping for provisions. We shopped all day, except we did take a break for lunch and a pedicure. It was wonderful. We then continued with the grocery shopping. We got back to the boat in time to put everything away before Jean and Elise came to the boat for some wine before supper. We had a wonderful supper at the Crow's Nest. We had such a good time. I am so glad we had so many opportunities to visit with Jean and her daughter. We have had such a great time with them. Tonight at supper we had an especially good time. We laughed till our sides ached. I so appreciate my friendship with Jean. She means so much to me and my family. I love her and her family. I will miss her till next time we visit. Tomorrow we will be leaving to cross the gulf to Mobile. It has been nice here at the Crow's Nest Marina. We have enough groceries to last us a month but it is only a 40 hour crossing. Maybe we will run into some pirates who are hungry.
- 04/06/2013 - Saturday - 11:30 p.m. - Mary and I took Greg to Sara and Larry Myer's home for a conference call they were having. We then went shopping for a few more essentials that we needed. We also had to drop off some wool socks to Jean and Elise they forgot here the night before. It was good to have a chance to see them and Toby one more time before we left. After shopping we picked up Greg, Sara, and Larry and stopped at a surf and kayak shop. Mary and Sara bought some things they needed for kayaking and paddle boarding. We all headed back to our boat where we said good-bye to Sara and Larry. They were kind enough to let us keep our car at their lovely home until we are able to pick it up again. At 2:00 p.m. Greg started the engines, Mary and I prepared the boat to leave. We said good-bye to our friend on the dock, threw the lines and we were off into the gulf. An hour into the trip we were barely in sight of Sarasota and we still had cell signals. Mary and Greg were setting up the log book and looking over the watch schedule. Parker was a little nervous because we were taking the waves right on the nose and had water coming over the bow. Greg had the first watch and Mary was comforting poor Parker. We had rolling seas all day and all evening but we had a beautiful sunset on the boat. We no longer have cell service and the radio signals are getting week also. It has been a great first day crossing the gulf and a peaceful end.
- 04/07/2013 - Sunday - 1:00 p.m. - We had an uneventful evening and everyone took turns keeping watch. This morning Mary and Greg did more work on the log. I had the 4 to 8 a.m. shift so I took a nap while Mary fixed us a great salad for lunch. After lunch Greg went down to our cabin and is taking a nice long nap. Mary is on watch and she spotted dolphins coming our way. We both ran out on the bow and got some great pictures of the dolphins. One even did a big jump way out in front of the boat. This was a group of five. It is amazing they are out here in such deep water. I don't know how deep the water is here but it is no longer registering on any of the instruments we have it only measures down 999 feet. We also no longer hear any radio transmissions. It will probably be that way the rest of today and tonight. It is so huge out here. We have not seen another boat since early last night. Another group of dolphins joined us but didn't stay as long as the others. Also saw some flying fish. They are so funny and fast. Parker had been having trouble going to the bathroom on the boat but while Mary and Greg were napping Parker took care of business. All he needed was some privacy and a little peace and quiet. When they got up they were glad to hear the good news and Parker was a new dog. Most of the day we had 5' to 8' waves and we were in a following sea. So it was a fairly pleasant ride. We were able to enjoy another beautiful sunset. It really was breathtaking. I was up with Mary during her watch and we spotted something on the radar. It was close enough for us to be able to see it but we could not spot it. So I stepped outside to have a better look. There was no moon tonight and you could see every star in the sky. I also saw the florescence for the first time in our wake. It was like a thousand lightning bugs jumping off our wake. It was beautiful. At first I thought it was the stars reflecting on the water. There was also large splashes of florescence. It was ab sol ut ley wonderful. Mary told me when she saw it for the first time they all jumped in the water and they just glowed. It was too rough for us to stop but I sure would have loved to see the glow. It was something to see. I am really glad Mary joined us for this crossing. She has been such a great help.
- 04/08/2013 - Monday - 10:00 p.m. - It was a beautiful sunrise this morning. Mary was enjoying her first cup of coffee of the day. It was a spectacular sunrise. There was no traffic this morning in the Mobile shipping channel which was wonderful. We breezed right though it. We got into Dog River this morning around 7:00 a.m. Right after we got tied up to the dock at the Grand Mariner Marina Mary and Greg got to work on washing down the boat. It was covered in salt. I got to working on the inside cleaning up and washing dishes. I was then ordered to start making the Bloody Mary's. I continued making them until we were done getting the boat ship shape. All in all it took about three Bloody Mary's each to get the job done. I went to the marina store and got us checked in with Willy. In the mean time Greg ran into our friend Phil and they started talking about canvas work and upholstery. Phil came aboard to look and then he and Greg enjoyed a couple of beers. Mary in the mean time was on the computer looking for tourist things to do. Greg and I were ready to take a mid morning nap when she suggested we go tour the USS Alabama. Mary told us we can sleep when we are dead. Something I used to say to my parents. Good Lord I was cruel. We rented a car and went to tour the Alabama and it was spectacular. Mary took a ton of pictures and I forgot my camera. I need to download all her pictures. What an amazing ship. It made a person proud to see such an incredible ship and to learn all the things it and her crew had accomplished for our freedom. Lots of brave young men. After our tour we stopped at a place called Tacky Jack's for a couple of drinks and some nacho's and then went down the road for supper at Felix's Fish Camp. Wow, what a great place. Great food. We headed back to the boat and collapsed. What a great day.
- 04/10/2013 - Wednesday - 10:00 p.m. - On Tuesday Greg and I got up at 6:00 a.m. and went to pick up our car in Venice. What a day. It was an 8 hour drive to Venice. We did visit with Sara and Larry Myers for a few minutes when we got there but had to get going because of the 8 hour drive back to Mobile. We did give ourselves a treat and stopped at a place called Bently's where they make the best homemade ice cream, gelato, and sorbet's. That was our supper. It was one long drive. We were about 40 minutes from the boat when the tire on our truck blew. I was driving the truck and it scared the crap our of me. This was about midnight. By the time we found someone to come out and change the tire it was 2:00 a.m. I was numb by then. It felt so good to get back to the boat and into bed. We slept in and Mary fixed us a great breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. It was great. Mary and I decided to go to the Bellingrath Botanical Gardens. I was amazing. Mary practiced with her new lens and got some spectacular shots. It was a beautiful place. We said we would come back here again. I of course forgot my camera again and didn't get any good pictures. I have to remember to download her pictures onto my computer. We had supper at the Grand Mariner restaurant and it was great. I had the West Indies salad. They have the best West Indies salad around. It is so good. We went back to the boat and crashed. We planned on leaving tomorrow but they are predicting a terrible storm so we will leave on Friday.
- 04/11/2013 - Thursday - 10:00 p.m. - We woke up to a gloomy morning. It had not started raining yet. Mary and I decided to go shopping before the rain. We went to a Michael's we spotted earlier in the week. Poor Mary was overwhelmed. She has not been to a craft store in almost a year. For a creative person like her that is tough. We spent several hours in there. Mary loaded up on supplies to take back to St. Thomas and I got a book. It was nice to spend time with her in a craft store. We always used to have fun doing that. We also went to Best Buy, she needed something for her computer. The rain started and we headed back to the boat. Buy the time we got back it had started pouring rain. It didn't rain that much so we decide to get in the car and head for Dauphin Island. We had never been there and thought it would be a good place to see and have supper before we left. By the time we got ready to go and head to the car it was pouring down rain again. We were soaked by the time we got to the car. It was funny. Dauphin Island is an interesting little place. Lots of vacation homes. We found a place to eat and it was ok. Nothing to write home about but it did stop raining and the sun came out while we enjoyed supper. We got back tot he boat and Mary went to her cabin to play with all her new things and Greg watched a little TV and went to bed. Tomorrow will start early.
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- 06/24/2013 - Monday - 11:00 a.m. - We are back in Biloxi on the boat. I have not been very good at keeping up on the log. I was remiss in posting after we got to Mobile. I will try and catch up everything here before we head out on our next adventure. While we were in Mobile Mary and I went to the Bellingrath Botanical Garden. It was spectacular. She took a ton of beautiful photos, of course I don't have any of them. Next time I see Mary I have to get them off her computer. I want to blow some of them up and frame them. Beautiful colors. We left Mobile and headed to Biloxi. Greg and Mary settled in for the 6 hour ride to Biloxi. I always think this lighthouse in the bay is interesting. I think it would be fun to work there. It was a nice ride and had dolphins swimming with us. We got to the bridge that separates Mobile Bay from the Mississippi sound with no problems and when we got into the sound we were greeted with more dolphins. Got settled into our slip and were glad to see our friends here again. We were supposed to meet up with Dave and Ronda from Hoppies in Mobile but we missed them. They ended up coming to Biloxi to see our new boat. Dave always being the educator taught Mary how to drink bourbon. We all had a great visit and it was good to see Dave and Ronda again.
- Mary and I have never been to New Orleans and we decided to go. She made a list of places we wanted to go there, since we only had a day to visit. Mary had an 8:30 a.m. appointment at the passport place there. She had to get a new passport because hers was full. Gee, I wish I had that problem. She thought it would take a while so Greg and I decided to do some exploring to kill some time. We didn't get very far when the phone rang and she said she was done. None of us could believe it was so efficient. Who would have thunk? She had to come back after 2:00 p.m. to pick up her new passport with more pages in it. So buy 9:30 a.m. we were having begniet's and coffee at du Monde's. It was wonderful. Mary warned us not to eat too many because we had to eat our way through New Orleans today so we had to pace ourselves. It was wonderful. After du Mondes we walked around a while and looked into several shops. Mary found a voodoo shop and we went inside. It was fun. She signed up for a reading by an 85 year old woman who had been doing this for 50 years. On Mary's list was a place called Yo Mama's. Holy cow, they had the best bloody Mary's and hamburgers. She and I split a burger(still pacing ourselves at this point) and all had three bloody Mary's each. They were really good and the hamburgers were fantastic. By this time it was time for Mary's reading. She went to her reading and Greg and I went across the street to Pat O'Briens for a drink. I had my first mint julep. No one told me it was just whisky with some sugar water and mint leaves stuck in it. Mary was done with her reading and joined us. By this time it was all I could do to stay balanced on my bar stool. Her and Greg each ordered a Hurricane and I was still working on my mint julep. She told us all about her reading. It was interesting. We then hit some other places Mary had on her list. We were going to stay until the evening but by 5:00 p.m. even Mary was ready to call it a day. We were all pooped. It was a great day and having Mary there was the best. Next time we are going to spend more time there and really pace ourselves. Mary had to go back to St. Thomas so we took her to the airport. It is always hard for me when she leaves. I miss her so much. Greg and I spent a few more days on the boat and then headed home.
- We got back to the boat in time for Memorial weekend. Our son P.D. and his girlfriend Meghan drove down with us. P.D. had not yet seen the boat and we were excited that he would take time off from work to come down. While they were here we were able to take the boat out to Ship Island where we spent the day anchored out. Greg got the dinghy to work a little and P.D. drove us to shore. We were able to get some good pictures of the boat and the dinghy but Meghan took a lot of pictures of everything else and I did not get her pictures downloaded to my computer. I will have to do that. We went to the old fort that is there and walked through it and stayed on the beach for a while. There wasn't much to find on the beach but the water was warm and refreshing. Their stay was not long enough but we all had a great time with lots of good food. I hope they come back soon. They both flew back and I really hated to take them to the airport. Our visit was just too short.
- The first weekend in June they have the Blessing of the Fleet here in Biloxi. There were all kinds of activities and lots of people around. They topped everything off with a parade of shrimp boats. There were all kinds of boats and they were decorated with flags, balloons, music playing, and all kinds of things. The shrimp boats came from everywhere and they paraded along the beach where everyone could see them. The next week they had the 13th annual Billfish Tournament. We had to move our boat for that one. Nearly 75 million dollar sport fishing boats came to compete. The captains brought the boats here and some of the owners came in by helicopter. The first night they had a big party and all the boats were backed in and they lit up their tuna towers. It was really a sight. I didn't have my camera but Greg took a picture with his phone. They had to postpone the start of the tournament due to a tropical storm in the gulf but they got started the next morning with the traditional parade. We watched them start lining up for the parade from the top of the parking garage. They slowly make their way to the channel where they then blast out into the gulf to find the best fishing spots. Unfortunately we could not stay for the results. It would have been fun to see the fish that won. But we had a great time seeing all the boats anyway.
- We also sold our old boat that week to a lovely couple, Ron and Betty DuBard. They were as excited as we were when we got our new boat. It is a relief to know that it is going to people who will be taking good care of her. They really love the boat and Ron is eager to learn everything about it, that makes me very happy. Greg is more than willing to tell him everything he can to make them more comfortable running the boat. They have been in regular contact with questions. I love it and it gives me a lot of comfort to know they are willing to learn how to take care of her. When we went to the boat for the last time we got to meet Betty and her mother Thelma. They both seemed happy to be aboard. They were already cleaning and making the boat their own. I know how good that feels. It was hard for me to say good-bye to our old boat. We had so many fun times on that boat. It was a great boat for us and the kids, I will always miss it. My wish is that the DuBard's can have as wonderful a time as we always did. As Greg and I walked away from it, it was hard for me not to shed a tear.
- We went back home. I had two commitments. The first was a crank-in I host in Marion. We had 26 people with antique circular sock knitting machines all coming together for a wonderful week of knitting socks, laughing and eating. I love it! I haven't laughed like that since the last time we were all together. I love that I discovered this crazy machine and the people who go with it. The next week after that I went to Manistee, Michigan for a rug hooking camp. Another one of my favorite things to do. It was good to visit with my friend Helen and see lots of other friends too. Even made some new ones. That was a rejuvenating two weeks for me.
- Now we are back in Biloxi getting ready to start taking the boat back up the river. Spotted a great example of one of my favorite things around here. I love the live oaks here. It is going to be fun and I can't wait to get back to New Johnsonville, TN and then on to Hoppies near St. Louis.
- 06/26/2013 - Wednesday - 11:55 p.m. - This morning Greg and Ron left for Mobile. Greg went along with Ron to show him some of the little tricks to running the old Heart of Gold. The old Heart of Gold is now the new Delta Blues. Captain Ron and first mate Greg were set and ready for a day across to Mobile. It is DuBard's boat now and I think it is in good hands. It is so good to know that Ron is so willing to learn everything he can from Greg about the boat. He really loves the boat, just like we did. I know they and their family will truly enjoy it as much as we did. They had a great trip to Mobile and the boat ran great. Ron was confident in running the boat and they got there without incident. I think Ron is getting comfortable with the new Delta Blues. When Ron was leaving the dock he said to me, "see you on the water," and I sure hope we do run into each other out there.
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- 07/07/2013 - Sunday - 11:00 a.m. - I can't believe the first week of July is already over. So far it has been filled with fun. On Tuesday I went to my first southern rug hooking group. I met a group of wonderful women and had a great time. It was pure luck that I was able to get together with them. In June I went to Manistee rug hooking camp in Michigan and come to find out my teacher, Faith Williston, was from Ocean Springs, MS which is at the other end of the bridge from us. She only lives 2 minutes away from where we are! Faith was kind enough to pick me up on Tuesday and we spent a great day hooking and getting to know everyone. I am looking forward to this Tuesday.
- On the 4th we had a really easy day and we got ready for a nice supper with our boat friends Bob and Sally Thompson. We fixed shrimp and chicken kabob's and grouper on the grill. Also red beans and rice, potato salad, olive salad and for dessert Sally fixed home made brownies with ice cream and hot fudge topping. Greg and I were in hog heaven. Once it started to get dark we lit up our boat and waited for the fireworks. Our dock mates came down to enjoy the fireworks and they decided to light up their boat too. Then they turned on their tuna tower and put our little light to shame. I was surprised Greg didn't go out the next day and buy bigger lights. They made fun of us and told Greg to turn off his anchor light. That was good for about a half an hour of laughs at our expense. We all finally turned off all the lights and then the fireworks started. It was a nice show with music to go along with the fireworks. About two thirds of the way through the light show it started to pour down rain. I don't mean a sprinkle, I mean a deluge. The boats that were between us and Deer Island started to leave in droves. Unbelievably the fireworks continued until the end. I thought for sure the amount of rain that was coming down would have drowned them out. But the show went on. We were lucky to be able to still watch them under cover. It was a great display. The crowds finally all went home and we went over to Bob and Sally's boat and she fixed her great dessert. It was a wonderful 4th of July. It is days like these I miss the kids the most. We always enjoyed the 4th so much.
- It has rained ever since it started on the 4th. According to the weather it is going to be like this till Tuesday. I don't care, I love it anyway. Even when it rains down here it is fun and I don't mind it a bit. I am even getting used to the humidity or as the weather man down hear calls it, "air you can wear." Today I am going to make my second attempt at gumbo. This time I am going to add crawfish and okra, maybe some tomatoes. I love gumbo and my first try wasn't bad but I am going to continue to experiment till I find the perfect combination. Well, gumbo is done and this is what we had for supper. It was good but still not there.
- 07/09/2013 - Tuesday - 9:00 p.m.- This morning Faith picked me up again for rug hooking. This was my second time with the group. Today there were several more ladies than last Tuesday. I love this group. They have an official name but no one could exactly remember what it was so I was just going to call them The Southern Belle Hookers of the Mississippi Coast. We had a wonderful day and got even got some hooking done. I am so thankful that Faith was kind enough to invite me to her group and pick me up and take me there too. Everyone in the group was so welcoming, wonderful and interesting. What a great group. They made it a fantastic day.
- 07/10/2013 - Wednesday - 9:30 p.m. - Talked to Chip from Beachwater II today and he told me how he made his gumbo so I am going to incorporate some of what he told me into my next batch. Sally and I went to the movies today and saw Heat. It was really funny. It was really fun to go with her to the movies. I love it here in Biloxi. Later that evening we went with Sally and Bob for pizza.
- 07/11/2013 - Thursday - 7:00 p.m. - Today Faith picked me up around 9:00 a.m. and we headed to Mobile. She was meeting Capri, another rug hooking teacher there who was bringing back Faith's wool from rug camp in Michigan. We did a little shopping and had a great lunch and then Faith and I did a little more shopping. We had a great time. When I got back to the boat Greg and I unloaded the rest of the car and packed it into the boat. We had supper at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant and then spent the rest of the evening getting ready for leaving in the morning.
- 07/12/2013 - Friday - 10:00 p.m. - We left the slip around 7:00 a.m. and headed for the gas dock to top off our fuel. Ken and Judy Tucknot met us overthere to say good-bye. Seems like when they are back in Biloxi we are leaving and when they leave we are coming back. One of these days we will be here at the same time. It was a hot and sunny morning and the sound was flat. Went past a shrimp boat with birds as passengers instead of flying behind the boat looking for food. I had never seen them doing that, it looked funny. It wasn't long before we spotted dolphins following behind some of the shrimp boats. Finally a group of five dolphins joined us and were swimming on our bow. They are absolutely amazing and it is always exciting when they show up. I can't believe how many dolphins we see here. As we were getting closer to Mobile Bay we saw really nice looking shrimp boat. We had a really easy ride and Greg drove from the flybridge and Parker just went from sun to shade napping. Once we got into Mobile Bay we started seeing tankers, the bay was also very calm. I love seeing the pelicans sitting on the markers and wonder how so many can fit on there at the same time. It had been a clear day until we got closer to our marina and we noticed storm clouds moving in our direction. More dolphins joined us but these two just swam along side of the boat. They really like to jump when they are alongside. Finally made it to Dog river and to Grand Mariner Marina. I heated up leftover gumbo and we called it a night. It never did rain.
- 07/13/2013 - Saturday - 10:00 p.m. - Late this morning the people who Greg hired finally came and started waxing the hull of the boat. The guys doing the enclosure on the flybridge also came and people were all over the boat doing stuff. Greg and I were working on getting the KVH satellite system to work. We were sort of successful but it still needs some attention. Greg was on the phone with his pal Bob for advice. This has been an ongoing process. Bob and Greg have been collaborating on this while we were still in Biloxi. We left our car in Biloxi and Bob and Sally drove it over here to Mobile. When they got here they brought the rain with them. The waxing people had to stop and things slowed down on the boat. Bob and Greg worked on the KVH a little and Sally and I got to visit for a while. I know it has only been a day but it still was good to see them again. We were going to have supper here in Mobile but the place Bob suggested was closed due to fire. We were all set for having barbeque for supper so we ended up driving to Ocean Springs and eating in a really good place there. Then we went to Quakes for custard. It was a great evening. We dropped them off at Point Cadet and then headed back to Mobile. It was really a good night and we will miss Bob and Sally. I am sure Greg will continue to call Bob for his sage advice.
- 07/23/2013 - Tuesday - 9:00 p.m. - We have been here in Mobile for eleven days. The flybridge enclosure is finally done, which is good because if it went one more day I think Greg would have had a stroke. It has been a long process but it is finally over. During our stay here we have met some nice people and have had a good time. Have eaten way too much good food. We got to visit with Bob and Sally when they came over here on Saturday and we went out for supper to Felix's Fish Camp Restaurant. It was spectacular. Their service is second to none. We had the best time with them and will miss them a lot. Thank goodness for cell phone's and e-mail. The weather has been warm with the occasional shower but with that comes beautiful rainbows. While sitting here watching the boat traffic we spotted this little tugboat and called him over so we could get a good look. What a cute little thing. We had some nice neighbors that watched out for our boat on a regular basis. Gypsy was a good guard dog. She belonged to Lee and Nancy who were on a sailboat that has been all over the Caribbean for the past nine years. Around 4 or 5 in the afternoon happy hour starts up under the shelter of the restaurant. People, including us, would congregate for some adult beverages and lots of conversation. We got to know a lot of nice people. Today Greg went down to where Lee the mechanic works to do a little painting on something. I ran up there to give Greg his phone when Lee asked us to join him and his friend Wilmer for lunch. They knew of a great hot dog place. Well, it ended up that we went to Lee's aunts restaurant instead. We also got to meet Lee's 4 young sons. The boys were a pleasure to meet. They were so well behaved and each of them were so interesting and engaging. They were a joy to have lunch with. We had a great lunch. Afterwards Wilmer and Lee took us for a tour of Mobile. They showed us some beautiful old houses. Wilmer took us to see the biggest live oak tree I have ever seen. Lee was kind enough to take a picture of Greg and I in front of it. We had a wonderful afternoon. Wilmer and Lee were so good to take time out of their busy day to show us around their town. Tomorrow we may be leaving for the rivers if all systems are go.
- 07/24/2013 - Wednesday - 11:00 p.m. - Well, we didn't leave today. Still at Grand Mariner Marina. But it was a good thing. Phil and his crew got to tweak the flybridge enclosure and that was good. Greg and I got to go to lunch at the Dew Drop Inn. This is the oldest restaurant in Mobile and also where the hotdog was first introduced! We had been in the mood for a good hotdog and Lee and Wilmer said this was the best place for them. Well, they weren't kidding. They were fantastic. This place was packed and stayed that way until we left. We were lucky to find a table. These hotdogs come with chili, sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup, and a pickle chip. And there is more hotdog than bun! I also had a cup of gumbo that was terrific and Greg had the onion rings that were huge. I will forever crave these hotdogs. What a treat. I am glad we didn't leave Mobile before we had one of these. A real treat for sure. Greg got a little more work done on the boat and I did some housekeeping. We also were able to have another nice happy hour with everyone. For some reason this evening we split up into a men's group and a ladies group. Usually it is just everyone sitting together. We visited with Lee again and that is always a pleasure. He and his wife are raising 4 wonderful young men. Next time we are here I would love to meet his wife. She has to be on hell of a woman. Lee wanted me to mention that was not beer in his cup. Really? He is a great guy with a wonderful love for his family and it shows. We are all set to leave in the morning and I think this time it will actually happen. We will see.
- 07/25/20130- Thursday - 10:30 p.m. - We left Grand Mariner Marina today around 7:00 a.m. today. It was a great day to head into Mobile Bay. Watching the sunrise in the bay was beautiful and got several pictures. Saw a guy working his nets catching bait to sell. It didn't take long to get into the Mobile River which is always busy with loading cargo ships and repairing huge boats. Alabama Port Authority is a busy place. Mobile also has some interesting architecture along the river. Once we got past the city we were able to see more interesting things. Spotted an eagles nest and an egret. There were several places that were some ones slice of heaven along the river. Parker spent the day coping with the heat. He would move from one spot to another. Poor Parker didn't want to go downstairs where it was cooler, he just wanted to stay with us. We tried to get into Bates Lake when we realized that we would not make Bobby's fish camp. It was too shallow for us to get in so we continued on. We spotted another place but it wasn't on any of the charts as an anchorage. It is called Three Lakes and it was perfect for us. Deep water all the way in. We got anchored and it was great. We tucked ourselves in off the river and relaxed. Greg came in and he brought in a new friend on his shoulder. He stayed on Greg's shoulder until he went back outside and then flew away. We were getting ready for supper when all of a sudden a fishing boat races in and goes behind our boat. It was a fisherman that came in to check his lines. Luckily we didn't run over them and he could get to all of them. He showed us his catch for the night and then had to go for more bait. Several other fisherman raced past us during the evening and then it became totally quiet except for the wildlife. It was a beautiful day and the boat ran great. Even more amazing was the fact that we turned on the television and we had Direct TV! But, no internet or phone service. Satellite service is great.
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- 09/24/2013 - Tuesday - 10:30 a.m. - Yes I know it is September already and I have not updated the end of July or any of August and most of September. I will try and get around to doing that eventually but I thought I really need to start writing in here again so I don't get really far behind. Yesterday we left Pebble Isle Marina in New Johnsonville, TN. It was really hard to leave our friends there so we ended up taking them with us. Tammy and Randy took the day off and came aboard and their friends from Gulfport, MS, Karen and Frank Swails, owners of Clawdaddy's, also came along. They talked Jerry into picking them up at Clifton when we got there. It took us all day to get to Clifton and it was an hours drive for Jerry. We got to Clifton and Jerry showed up and we all visited on the back of our boat for a bit and then Gene got back from Nashville and he and his friend Glen joined us. Then we all went into the cafe and had some great burgers that Sonja fixed for us. What a great day and wonderful evening. Jerry even played a little guitar for us. He is a great singer and guitar player.
- 09/27/2013 - Friday - 1:00 p.m.- Well, I am still not getting as good as I would like to be at keeping up the boat log. Right now we are cruising down the Tombigbee and the weather is perfect. Slight breeze, no humidity, temperature in the low 70's, and lots of sun. Going down the river this time of year is not near as interesting as early in the spring and late in the fall. Everything has bloomed and the birds are hard to see and most days it has been just to damn hot and humid. I have the boat opened up and a great breeze is coming through here, Greg is on the flybridge driving the boat and I thought I would try and catch stuff up now.
- We headed up the river in august. We did get to see a lot of river fun. The cliff's were beautiful as ever and I keep being mystified as to what is under the bridge. It was great seeing people on the river having a good time. Parker was also enjoying the ride. Sometimes I don't understand why we see some things on the river but it was interesting to see this phone booth in the middle of nowhere. I suppose if you wanted to make a call and didn't have a cell phone it would come in handy. Saw more people having fun and we almost stopped for a hotdog. I found these buzzards interesting. There were just so many of them. We also saw them today on our way down. Strange that they hang out in the same place all the time. We stayed at Columbus Marina on our way up and they have the biggest lily pads I have ever seen.
- We didn't stop there on the way down. We ended up staying in Smithville Marina which was interesting but the owner was wonderfully accommodating. We also got to see a beautiful sunset that night. He let us use a car to go to Mel's Diner down the road. We connected up with two fellows from Wisconsin and they went with us. The night before we stayed in Pickwick and then Thursday night we ended up at Pirates Marina Cove where the guys from Wisconsin made supper for us and then we visited till almost midnight. By visited I mean them and Greg drank a big bottle of Crown Royal. We had a good time.
- We got to Pebble Isle the beginning of August. While we were there a couple of little water snakes moved onto the boat and they ended up staying for a while. Mykola and his family also came to visit for a long weekend. His mother Tatiana was with them also. She was visiting from Ukraine. It was so great to finally meet her. I understand now how Mykola became such a wonderful young man with such a wonderful family. Parker felt very comfortable with Tatiana and really felt safe at her feet, especially with all those other feet around. I felt very fortunate to be able to spend time with her. She was such a kind and loving woman and I truly enjoyed the time we were able to spend together. Tammy and Randy let us borrow their pontoon and we were able to do some exploring on the river. Olesia and grandma seemed to really enjoy it. Mykola and Olesia caught their own bate and Olesia was a remarkable fisherman. She actually caught some fish and Greg and I got to enjoy a little snack of pan fried fish. It was great. I found a little knitting machine for Olesia and she spend some of her time making wonderful gifts for all of us. Taras really enjoyed his, and he made his own little crown also. The kids even dressed up Parker and he looks like he really loved it. We had such a fun visit. Mykola has such a great family and we love them all. I can't wait for them to come and visit us again. I thought for sure after all the excitement on the boat our tiny guests would have gone for good but they came back.
- We had to go home toward the end of August. Greg had work to do and I had my Crank-INdiana event that Judi and I host twice a year. It was so good to see all my friends again. These gatherings are the best therapy a person could ever want. We had such a fun time and I laughed till my sides ached and tears ran down my leg. I also knitted ten pair of socks. Great fun.
- Got back to Pebble Isle mid September and got ready to head south. We had a good visit with Tammy and Randy and everyone at Pebble Isle.
- This trip down we only saw one interesting boat so far. We did get to see one young eagle but that was it. He was sitting near the nest. We did see for the first time the American Queen river boat. She was an amazing sight to see for sure. I could not believe how big she was. People were out on their balconies waving at us. It looked like a lot of fun.
- We are heading to Demopolis right now and will be meeting up with our pals from Wisconsin on their Searay.
- Got to Demopolis and ran into the new owners of the beautiful black hull Grand Alaskan that we saw here for the past few years. We gave each other tours of our boats and compared the differences. We both decided we have a couple of beautiful boats. It was good to finally see the inside of that boat and meet the new owners. We are going to stay in touch and I can't wait to run into them somewhere down in the Caribbean. Tomorrow we are going to get a really early start so we can make it to Bobby's Fish Camp and enjoy some great catfish.
- 09/28/2013 - Saturday - 1:00 a.m. (Sunday morning) - Our day ended at 1:00 am. It was an interesting evening to say the least. We started off early so that we could make it to Bobby's Fish Camp before dark. Our friends Ray and Terry on the Second Wind locked through with us. It was a misty morning for sure. It was a beautiful day with low humidity and temperatures in the 70's. I love this kind of weather. There were few fishing boats for a Saturday and we were grateful for that. While I was driving the boat I had a friend join me to help navigate. He hung out with me for nearly a half hour. I could not believe he stayed so long. Saw a group of people in ski boats that we later would find out were a group of twenty something kids doing a documentary about floating down the river. They started off in Knoxville, TN and we ended up with them at Bobby's Fish Camp. Ray and Terry got here three hours ahead of us and they were already talking with the kids. Terry was really having a good time with them especially the two musicians from Nashville. The group comprised of camera people, musicians, professional wake boarders and not sure what the others did. There were about 16 of them altogether. They had several sponsors including a beer company, boat company, and a soap company. They have a website that sort of explains the project they were working on. www.voyage-movie.com. Not sure if you can connect to it from here but if not just cut and paste into your browser. I checked out the website but could not get the teaser to download. Maybe when I have better service I can get it to come up. They were a great group of young people from all over the United States and one from Australia. They were having a great time and told us about some of their adventures along the way, like jumping off the train bridge near the white bluffs. 70' jump. Crazy kids. Everyone of course went up to Bobby's for supper. Greg and I had our fill of that delicious catfish. Later that night we gave most of the group a tour of our boat and we shared stories. They really were a fine group of young people. The musicians played for us and Terry did his best to share his and Ray's whiskey with them. It was a great night at Bobby's Fish Camp for sure. Tomorrow is going to come early.
- 09/29/2013 - Sunday - 9:00 p.m. - We left Coffeeville before the sun was up. Got through the lock in great time. The weather was beautiful again with low humidity, nice breeze and no sun most of the day. Sort of looked like it might rain but it never did. The ride was uneventful and I didn't see any interesting birds. Hardly any fishermen for a Sunday. Maybe it was too cool or they were all watching the ball games. Parker was happy so I took a picture of him. It was a long day but we finally got to Mobile around 6:00 p.m. It is always amazing to me at how industrial it is here. The cargo ships they are loading or unloading is unreal. The ships are from everywhere. We decided not to anchor out tonight and to try to tie up in front of the conference center. There were no other boats there and the conference center was empty. We filled out the forms and we are all set for the night. Greg and I walked to town and found a little place called Cabos to have supper. They have a ton of places to eat but they were mostly closed on Sunday. We had some great tacos and Greg had some fancy beers. The salsa was fantastic. Went back to the boat and Greg took Parker for his walk. Success all the way around. It is twenty four hours a day here. Seems like the loading and unloading never stops. Tomorrow we will go through the bay down to Dog River and to the Grand Mariner. If we are lucky we can get the people we need to look at some of our electronics in the next day or two and then we are on to Biloxi. Good day.
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- 10/05/2013 - Saturday - 4:00 p.m. - We have been expecting Tropical Storm Karen now for several days. She has stalled out in the gulf and we are still waiting for even the first drop of rain. By the time it gets here all that will be left is a few drops of rain and maybe a slight breeze. Right now I am looking at sunny skies.
- Monday we made our way into the bay which is always interesting to me. We saw a barge with a ton of seagulls just along for the ride. Signal ship repair had a boat undercover for repair. It is always amazing to me to see all the thousands of containers sitting there, either for loading or unloading. They work everyday all day and night. Saw a little tugboat named Miss Marion and a huge cargo ship from Hong Kong. Finally saw the welcoming Dog River Boy and it wasn't long till we were tied up and good for the night.
- Tuesday morning was beautiful and we were sitting on the back deck talking with Ray when we saw our friends from Bobby's Fish Camp come pulling up to the marina. It was really great to see them all. They told us about their trip down the rest of the Tombigbee. One of them was filming Greg as he was talking to Bob on the phone. They unloaded their boats and several of them were heading home and not continuing on to New Orleans. They were really a great group of young people. It was fun seeing them again. Lee and Wilmer took Ray, Greg and I to the Dew Drop Inn for Dew Drop Dogs and some gumbo. I love that place and the hotdogs are the best. Greg worked on the boat getting ready for us to leave on Thursday. Ray went to the airport to pick up his wife who will be joining him for the rest of the trip.
- Wednesday the Debbie brought Rays new iPad and he and Greg spent the day playing with their iPads. They seemed to really be engrossed in what they were doing. We borrowed a car and got a few things in preparation for leaving on Thursday. We were listening to the weather and were going to decide in the morning whether we should leave or not. I went to walk Parker and ran into Lee and Wilmer. They were still working and I was able to get a few pictures of them. If you find yourself in the Mobile area with some boat troubles make sure you stop in to the Grand Mariner Marina and ask for Lee Klosterman. He does great boat work of any kind. We had a little electrical problem and he fixed it right away. Lee and Wilmer are a great team and can fix almost anything. That evening we Ray, Debbie, Greg and i went out for dinner to the Original Oyster House and it was good. It was fun getting to know Debbie.
- Thursday was a no go for us. They were predicting rough seas and high winds due to Tropical Storm Karen. Greg and I decided to rent a car and head up to Nashville and pick up our car. What a long day that was but we were both glad to have the car down here in Mobile.
- Friday the four of us decided to pile into the car and do some grocery shopping. We were going to get ready for the a big hurricane party. We had a great time and bought a ton of food. The whole day was sunny with no sign of any kind of severe weather coming our way. But we would be ready just in case.
- So today we have been waiting all day for even a little sign of some kind of weather. Nothing. All we got is nice fluffy clouds and lots of sun and an occasional breeze. Greg and Ray are getting the food ready for the big "hurricane" party tonight. Maybe late tonight it might rain. Maybe tomorrow for sure.
- 10/06/2013 - Sunday - 11:30 p.m. - This morning we woke up to rain, actually a light shower, but as the day progressed it rained harder and we actually had a down pour with three lightning strikes that were fairly close. The thunder shook the boat. It was a steady rain most of the day which made it a perfect day to stay in and watch the ball games. The Colt's and Seahawk's played a great game and we were thrilled the Colts won. Our friends Ray and Debbie went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch their teem, the Packers, play. They won too. After the game they came over to our boat and the rain cleared off and we actually had sun come out for the rest of the afternoon. It was nice. We visited for a while and then decided to finally try and make it to Felix's Fish Camp for supper since we were all leaving tomorrow to different destinations. They are heading toward Florida and we are going to Biloxi. We had a wonderful supper and a great time. Afterward we visited for a while longer before we said our good-byes. It was a great evening with lots of laughs and I am glad we got to know Ray and Debbie. I hope we run into them again soon.
- 10/07/2013 - Monday - 11:00 p.m. - Left Grand Mariner Marina this morning headed for Biloxi. There was a 20 knot wind when we left and that stayed with us the whole ride over. Even with the rough water we had a dolphin visit right away and were entertained by them, or we entertained them, for a big part of the ride. The Mobile Light House is always an amazing thing to see. I can't help but wonder who used to work in there. I think that would have been a great job. I would have loved to live there. Even the big cargo ships were making a splash in the water today. I love to see where all these cargo ships are from. We got to Biloxi around 5:00 p.m. and it was sure good to be back. Bob and Sally were there to help us dock and so was the harbormaster Richard. It was so good seeing everyone again. We got the boat secure and visited for a bit with everyone and then we went up to the Golden Nugget with Bob and Sally and had supper. It was so good to catch up with them again. I sure have missed them.
- 10/08/2013 - Tuesday - 11:30 p.m. - Got up this morning and Sally was kind enough to drive me back to Mobile to pick up our truck. On the way there I called our friends at Claw Daddy's and made arrangements for us to get together. Also talked with Mike and Sherri Bartrom from Marion. They are here for the big car show. They have a 1968 Camaro hot rod and it is beautiful. When we got back to the boat Mike and Sherri were already at the boat visiting with Greg. The four of us went to lunch and we took Mike's car. What a blast that was. I loved it and Greg could not stop grinning. We ended up in Ocean Springs for lunch the cruised around. Around 3:30 p.m. we came back to the marina and met up with Bob and Sally and the six of us headed to Claw Daddy's to meet up with Frank and Karen. The traffic was so bad on 90 we decided to take Pass Road and it wasn't much better. We were late getting to Claw Daddy's but were really glad to finally get there. It was great seeing Frank and Karen again. They cooked us an oyster feast for sure. Frank and his grandson taught Greg how to shuck oysters and now Greg is going to get an oyster shucker so we can have an oyster feast on our boat one day. I still am not sure about that because it is a mess to do. The eight of us had a wonderful time at Claw Daddy's and Frank and Karens twin grandchildren, who work there in the off season, were wonderful hosts. The twins were just the best. Our group picture is missing Sally because she is taking the picture. After all the good food and the great visit we all decided to go for ice cream. That was a great way to end the evening. Bob and Sally went home in their car and Mike, Sherri, Greg and I went joy riding in the hot rod. It was fantastic.
- 10/10/2013 - Thursday - 10:30 p.m. - Today Mike and Greg went to the big swap meet and Sherri and I went to the outlet mall. While they were at the swap meet they stopped for lunch there. They were sitting having their lunch when Greg got a phone call from Ken's Car Tunes in Mobile. They were setting up an appointment with us to work on our KVH satellite system. After he hung up Greg was telling Mike about all the trouble we have been having with it. Well, there was another car enthusiast sitting near by and overheard the conversation. He came over to them and told them he installed systems as his second job and his wife went shopping and he was free the rest of the afternoon and would be willing to take a look at our problem. WOW! It is unbelievable how lucky we are. His name was Terry Stephenson and he had a yellow Willis station wagon. Terry and his wife drove that car all the way from Oklahoma. He came to the boat and He, Mike and Greg spent the rest of the afternoon working on the boat. We are now watching satellite TV once again. I can't thank Terry enough for his help. Sherri hit the jackpot at the outlet mall with clothes for herself and most importantly, clothes for Brodie, her grandson. The four of us went to Mary Mahoney's for supper and it was spectacular as usual. I love that place. It was another great night.
- 10/22/2013 - Tuesday - 9:30 p.m. - It has been a great two weeks visiting with my friend Helen from NYC. We took her out to Horn Island for a few days and on the way out there she caught this beautiful video of dolphins swimming along with us. It is always like magic when they show up. We got anchored off the south side of Horn Island and Greg took down the dinghy so we could take Parker to shore to do his business. It was a beautiful sunset and then we saw the moonrise. Once on the beach we saw the last of the sun and it was getting dark and we couldn't see much and headed back to the boat. The next day we took the dinghy to the beach Greg did a good job landing on the beach and were there all day. Helen and me and Parker really got into beachcombing. I also learned how to drive the dinghy by myself just in case of an emergency. It really wasn't that hard and actually was a lot of fun. We had a wonderful time and found a ton of interesting things on the beach. Helen was able to take parts of a pelican carcass and lots of shells back home to NYC with her. It made her happy.
- 10/23/2013 - Thursday - 11:00 p.m. - We took Helen to Anthony's for supper so she could see the huge live oak there and we were able to enjoy a great meal and a beautiful sunset. I showed her another live oak and she could not believe how big it was. Also took her to see shrimp boats and we visited the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art and a cemetery. While Helen was here our friends John and Lynn Swain came down to visit for a day while they were on vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama. We were able to take them and Sally and Bob out to Ship Island for the day. Lynn was practicing with my camera on the way out and took this picture of Helen, Sally and me. Greg took Lynn, Sally, and Helen to the beach and then came back for John. Bob and I stayed with the boat and enjoyed all the dolphins that came out to visit us. I could not believe how many dolphins came to look at Bob and me. It was amazing. On the way back to the marina we got to enjoy a little dolphin in and out of our wake and a beautiful sunset. Right after I took this last picture of the sun going down I saw for the first time the "green flash" that Mary has talked about. I couldn't believe it was actually real, but sure enough it was.
- 10/27/2013 - Sunday 11:00 p.m. - It was sad to see Helen go. I always hate dropping her off at the airport. We had such a good time and it is always so good to see her. I will miss her and can't wait till I see her again. It is funny that we have been friends for so long.
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- 11/07/2013 - Thursday - 10:30 p.m. - Today would have been my mom's 80th birthday. I was so lucky to have been able to spend the last years of her life with her in Florida. She loved it there and I loved being with her. I miss her terribly. We went out to supper with Tammy and Randy from Pebble Isle, they came down here to their condo, and after supper Greg and I went back to the boat. I decided to go into the Golden Nugget Casino and gamble a little. It always brings back such good memories of going with my mom to the casino in Florida. We really had fun. I would sit next to her and we would play the slot machines and it would be so exciting when one of us would win. I know it sounds crazy but I really feel close to her when I go to the casino. I know she is happy when I win and she makes me laugh when I lose. I really miss her and am grateful for the time I was able to spend with her. I got to know her on a whole different level during those last two years and am so glad I did. She was one beautiful woman. I miss her.
- 11/15/2013 - Friday - 9:00 a.m. - We left Biloxi around 7:00 a.m. this morning. The weather was cool and cloudy and it looks like we may run into rain. Shrimp boats were out and busy shrimping. We decided not to cross the gulf this time and to stay closer to shore. We may leave the ICW on Sunday if the gulf settles down by then, but for now we are heading to Gulf Shores, Alabama and will spend the night there. I would have liked to just cross the gulf to save time but I prefer safety first. Dolphins have been swimming with us off and on since we left. I just love when ae with us. We have spent the last week getting ready to leave. Lots of trips to Wal-Mart, Sam's club, misculanious other stores, and every marine store in a 50 mile radius. Greg has spent lots of time working on the boat systems and everything is in great working order. We enjoyed the sunsets and all the excitement of the fishing tournament that was going on last week. Saturday was the final weigh in for the fishermen and that night we had a fish fry and cookout. Tammy, Randy, Frank, Karen, Bob and Sally all came over and Greg fried the speckled trout and grilled the red fish he caught on his fishing trip. Frank and Karen brought fresh steamed shrimp and their famous potato salad. It was a great time. Greg and Bob were able to watch the boats coming in from the bow of the boat. It was also a beautiful sunset again that night. Before we left we were able to meet Richard's wife. Richard is one of our favorite harbor masters. I know for sure he is Parkers favorite. We also got to meet his brand new great grandson, Tyler. He was a cutie. Greg thought Tyler looked cold and ran back to get a blanket but ended up wrapping Richard up in it instead. Richards family left and he went back to work and poor Parker was cold so Greg wrapped him up in the blanket. Before we left Sally, our good friend and dock mate, brought over a huge pan of brownies for us to take on our trip. I love her. She makes the best brownies. People on the dock fight just to have a small piece and she gave us a whole pan. Thank you Sally, you are the best.
- 10:00 p.m. - We got into Gulf Shores earlier than we expected and got to relax a little before we went to supper at Lulu's. It was a smooth ride and was cloudy all day with the occasional shower. The boat ran great. We went up to Lulu's for supper and what a place. They had a huge gift shop with lots of interesting things. It just so happened that they were having an International song writers festival and we were able to listen to lots of different song writers. We even recognized some of the the songs they were singing. They also told us how they were inspired to write them and how they eventually sold them. It was really a great night and very interesting. Greg really enjoyed the music and the oysters. I think this was a great start to our adventure down to St. Thomas.
- 11/16/2013 - Saturday - 3:00 p.m. - We left Gulf Shores this morning around 7:00 a.m. We passed lots of other marinas and even saw a Tacky Jacks. It looked like a fun place. We have been to the one in Mobile. Also saw a huge coast guard station. I have never seen coast guard boats that big.
- 11:00 p.m. - Most of the day was uneventful while we were in the ICW. We decided to head out into the gulf at Ft. Walton Beach. It looked rough out there and Greg was not sure that it looked deep enough to get through the pass. We slowed down and tried to decide what to do when all these dolphins showed up around our boat. I could not believe how many there were. There had to be over a dozen dolphins and they were jumping out of the water and doing flips. I was able to get video of them but still can't figure out how to get video on my web page. As soon as I do I will put the videos right here. There was a tour boat coming out to where we were and Greg radioed to him and he told us how to get through the pass. The tour boat was out there to watch the dolphins. There were just a ton of them around. We got through the roughest part and decided to continue on to the gulf. Greg watched the weather and it was supposed to lay down later that night. I love going out into the gulf where we can see the sunset and then the moonrise all at the same time. Unfortunately it never settled down. It is going to be a long rough night. Lots of 6 and 8 footers out here.
- 11/17/2013 - Sunday - 8:00 p.m. - There wasn't much sleeping going on last night but we did take turns resting. This morning we got up to a nice sunrise but I could not go outside to take the picture. I had to take the picture through all the sea spray and water that had been pounding us all night and was rough till the afternoon. Most of the day my dear captain was chumming the waters between naps. He was one sea sick puppy. Speaking of puppies, Parker finally peed and pooped today!!! I thought better of taking a picture of that but we sure were proud of him. We covered the floor with pee pads and he actually peed and pooped on them. We have been out here in the gulf for over 24 hours now so things like Parker pee and poo is really exciting. Especially when Greg has been sea sick all day. Things have been coming out of those two all day. I just tried staying out of the way and then picking up after. I made supper tonight. We had roast chicken and potatoes. Greg ate a little and so far he has kept it down. He is resting right now and I am on watch and having a great snack of Sally's brownies. I don't even bother to cut small pieces anymore. We had another great sunset and moonrise. I just love to be able to do that. I am glad it is much calmer out here tonight. It will make for an easier night. The kids both called on the satellite phone. Mary was just wondering how we were doing and P.D. called to tell us about the terrible storms that were coming through Indiana. He was heading out to our house to make sure things were ok, which they were. He said lots of people were without electricity but he was ok and so were we. I love the sat phone. It was good to hear from the kids. Well, I am glad it is calm out here tonight. We should be in Ft. Myers sometime tomorrow morning.
- 11/18/2013 - Monday - 10:00 p.m. - The gulf settled down to totally flat and the last 8 hours were wonderful. We got into Ft. Myers around 9:00 a.m. and the dolphins were all around us. Saw my first damaged dolphin. It was really sad to see. It also had some propeller gash scars on its head. But it seemed to be swimming just fine and was even swimming with his group of friends. I just had never seen a dolphin like that and I hope we never do anything like that to one of them while they are swimming with us. These dolphins were so funny because they were pushing each other out of the way and they were looking at us all the time. We got through Ft. Myers and then headed into the Caloosahatchee River toward the Okeechobee. We got thought the first lock which was Franklin lock and decided to stay at the little state park that is right there. We love that place because we meet the most interesting people there. After we got tied up I took Parker for some much needed shore leave and Greg washed down the boat, or I should say, chipped the salt off the boat. Man, we were crusty. Afterwards we sat down at the picnic table they had up there at the covered shelter and talked with the group up there. We sat with Mel and Mary Lou and they have been everywhere. They have been back and forth to the Bahamas half a dozen times and gave us some great advise. Mel has been almost everywhere on his many different boats. Sail and power. Mary Lou was kind enough to give me several of her beaded bracelets to give to Mary and Meghan. I thought that was so sweet of her. I invited her onto our boat and showed her my circular sock knitting machine and all the socks and fingerless gloves I have made. She picked out a nice pair of gloves. It was nice to exchange items with her. Especially since we both made them by hand. Mary Lou and I talked for a bit and it got around to the subject of children. When she told me her youngest was 60 I almost fell out of my chair. She said that Mel was 90 and for a woman her age she was in wonderful shape. They both were! It was incredible. I hope Greg and I are sitting under that shelter one day at that age giving advise to somebody. Had supper on the boat, took showers and got the crust of the gulf off of us and settled down to a relaxing evening. It was nice to be in for the night.
- 11/19/2013 - Tuesday - 11:00 p.m. - We waved good-by to Mel and Mary Lou and everyone we met at Franklin Lock around 9:00 a.m. and headed up the Caloosahatchee River. One thing for sure it is an interesting ride and I would have never thought of seeing a seaplane parked outside of some ones river home. Things are very laid back and not so regimented. We got to a swinging railroad bridge and the bridge tender had to walk out to the middle of the bridge and turn it from there. She was very friendly. Saw a flock of egrets and finally spotted an alligator. Everyone talks about all the alligators but we have seen very few and they don't like to have their picture taken. For some reason I like taking pictures of buzzards even though they aren't that pretty but they are everywhere we go. They are natures recyclers. There are lots of birds on this river, especially osprey and cormorants. I was surprised at the amount of osprey I have see so far. Also saw a little hawk of some kind. I love the clumps of cypress trees too. I think the cormorants love to have their picture taken. They tend to always strike such beautiful poses and they actually sit still so I can take their pictures. There is a huge variety of birds here in the everglades and it is fun to be able to take photos of them. My favorite bird down here is the Sandhill crane. They are so huge and just beautiful. Also spotted a white heron. We made it all the way to Cleweston and stopped there for the night. They had a beautiful ships store with lots of really nice clothes. I bought myself some new shorts and got some for Greg too. He didn't go shopping with me because he had already met an interesting guy that worked with heavy equipment at the Tiki hut and was enjoying the dollar beer happy hour they have. He told me to go ahead and go shopping and just buy him some shorts too because he was saving so much on beer. Beer is good and I want to make sure I keep plenty of board for him. After shopping I joined him and his friend at the bar and we had supper. This place had the best Philly cheesesteaks I have had outside of Philadelphia. Greg stayed for a while longer and I went back to the boat to relax and put away all my new clothes and play with Parker. He had been so good waiting for us to come back. It was a great day with cloud cover and a cool breeze and are looking forward to a peaceful night.
- 11/20/2013 - Wednesday - 11:30 p.m. - We left Cleweston around 9:00 a.m. this morning headed into Lake Okeechobee. I really liked that marina and will plan on staying there again. We met the harbor master, Little Man, who is officially know as the best harbor master in the world. I would tend to agree. He had it all under control. On the way their we went through the last of the swamps. We spotted another white heron and another osprey. Got to see how an airboat worked through the swamps and how they fish. Someone told us that this was some of the best bass fishing in the world. We got out onto the Okeechobee, which is a really big lake, and I kept hearing seagulls. At first I thought it was just all the birds we had gone through when we left Clewiston. After a while I looked out the back deck and saw we were being followed by seagulls. I was amazed at how these birds were dive bombing the back of our boat. Always reminds me of the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds. I looked down on the swim platform and finally figured out why the seagulls were coming so close to the boat. We didn't have to lock through when we left the Okeechobee and were able to just pass through into the St. Lucie Canal. This side of the Okeechobee waterway isn't as interesting as the other side but we did see something I had never seen before. All I can call it is a four wheeler jet ski. There were two of them. Strange. Finally got into Stuart and Sunset Bay Marina where we are staying for the night. On the way into Stuart I checked my e-mail and saw that Ron and Ingrid had sent me an e-mail asking when we would get to Stuart! I could not believe the timing she had. I thought it was so funny. When we got to the marina Ingrid was there as we were tying up. It was great seeing her again. Unfortunately we weren't able to get together with them this evening. They were working on their boat and were too tired and I didn't have a chance to tell her that we were only staying the night. When we are back in the spring we will visit for sure. I want to see what they have done to the boat. Greg and I walked in the rain to this nice Italian place and had a great supper, then went back to the boat and hunkered down for the night. It was raining off and on. I am still amazed at Ingrids timing on that e-mail.
- 11/21/2013 - Thursday - 5:30 p.m. - Today is our daughter Mary's birthday! What a special day. I wish I could be with her on this day but we are heading to St. Thomas as fast as we can. We will celebrate with her when we get there. I can't wait. We left around 7:30 a.m. and headed south on the ICW. It was too rough to go on the outside today. It was rainy most of the day We went through an area that was nothing but mangroves. There were manatee signs everywhere but we didn't see any. I did see lots of buzzards. I have never noticed buzzards with their wings spread like they are trying to cool themselves off. I think these birds are so interesting for some reason and I don't know why I have such a fascination for them. We got into the Jupiter area and there were nothing but mansions and mega yachts. The homes on the ICW were just huge and beautiful. We did run into something unusual, it was kind of a houseboat, I think. Didn't really know what to make of it but it was strange. I think we were near West Palm when we saw a very industrial area with cargo ships from everywhere. I love watching them load or unload these huge things. I even got a photo of one of the crane operators. I thought Mobile was busy with cargo ships but this place was busy too. Got into West Palm and it was mega yachts only. I don't think I have ever seen such a collection of 100' plus yachts in my life. They were everywhere. Somewhere around West Palm we lost the first engine and it wasn't too much longer we lost the second engine. We were in the middle of the channel floating powerless. It suddenly occurred to Greg that he was messing with the fuel tanks because he wanted to keep track of our fuel consumption and he had done something to some valves. Well, he ran down to the engine room and tried to get the juices flowing again. In the meantime I am keeping watch and we are getting closer and closer to a dock load of mega yachts. I am yelling at Greg that we need to put down the anchor and of course he can't hear me. So I run down to the engine room and get him and we bump into the dock. I would say about 10 young deck hands run out onto the dock and catch us. They came prepared with huge fenders and tied them to the dock so we could just bounce onto them. What a bunch of quick thinking young men. We got tied up to the dock and Greg went to work on starting the engines. I was keeping watch topside and this little boat came along side and told me that where we were was very shallow and the tide was going out and the bottom was not sand but a bunch of metal beams and that we really needed to get the boat off the dock asap. Well I went down to the engine room and told Greg and if looks could kill I would be dead right now. So I went back topside and hoped he could get the engines started. Finally both engines were running. We got off the dock and back on our way. Needless to say there was some shouting and then a very quiet trip after that. It was cloudy and rain was coming again. We finally decided to anchor before it got dark. I think we are somewhere passed Boynton Beach inlet. I am just glad we stopped before dark. I will go down and make supper and we will be in for the night. Parker is going to have to pee and poop on the pads again. It was pointless to take down the dinghy to take him to land. I don't think any of these people who live around here would want Parker pooping in their yard. It is going to be a quiet night.
- 11/22/2013 - Friday - 11:30 p.m. - Well, it ended up that Greg actually fixed supper and it was great. We cooled off, relaxed, apologized, and even laughed about the days disaster. We were glad we survived it with no damage done. The rest of the evening was a pleasant one. This morning we got up and headed to Ft. Lauderdale. We weren't that far and discovered that there were even more bridges here than anywhere else. At least we were greeted at one of the bridges by a native. Also spotted a flock of curlews. I think the are so cute and I just love them. We did learn that the Army Corp. of Engineers don't need to wait for regular bridge opening times as one poor bridge tender discovered. The Army Corp. came through with a catamaran and they just had to open the bridges on demand for them. There were a ton of beautiful mansions all down the ICW but we thought this one was unique compared to the others. Ft. Lauderdale is the undisputed yacht capital of the world. There were countless mansions with yachts next to them. Greg spotted a boat that Mary had taken him a tour on. I don't know where Book-Ends was when we did this but Mary had a friend who worked on it and he gave them a tour. We also saw the famous Jungle Queen. We finally turned off the ICW and into the New River. It wasn't long until we ran into a boat that looked like it was in some sort of trouble. Actually it was a 90 ' boat that was being towed through the New River because it can't navigate it on their own due to how narrow and curvy the river is. If you have never been on the New River the only way I can describe it is like a narrow, curvy, European side street, but with boats parked on the sided and boats coming and going. Well, the tow boat people asked if we wanted to pass them and we said we would stay right where we were because they were doing a great job of opening all the bridges. Watching these guys tow this boat through the 90 degree turns was so interesting. There was one tow boat in front and one in back and they worked together to maneuver this big boat through the curves. I would have taken more photos but Greg thought the boat might belong to Lulu's brother, aka Jimmy Buffet and I didn't want them to think I was some kind of stalker just in case it was his boat. We followed them all the way to their marina and then passed them, telling them how much we enjoyed watching them work, and headed a little further to our marina. We both were worn out and sweating from just watching those guys man handle that boat through those tight curves and on coming boats. Greg backed our boat into the slip like he had been doing it for years. We didn't hit anything and then got tied right up. I was really proud of him. When we went to sign in Greg had mentioned our experience with the tow boats and he told them the name of the boat in tow and they told us it was Jimmy Buffets boat, so I guess I am glad I didn't take more pictures. We got cleaned up and headed up to the restaurant here and had a light supper, came back to the boat and had a relaxing night. What a great day it was even though I thought I would go crazy with all the bridges
- 11/28/2013 - Thanksgiving Day - 11:30 p.m. - Happy Thanksgiving to anyone reading this. It has been a busy week since we got to Ft. Lauderdale. We have been spending money like drunken sailors and it is scary. Ft. Lauderdale has everything you possibly could ever want or need for your boat. And if they don't have it they will make it. It is amazing here. I was also able to find some beautiful rugs for the boat. Maybe one day I will make some of my own. I have been provisioning all week and making one list after another. Buying the food and supplies is a lot easier than finding a place for it on the boat. But it is getting done. Thanksgiving here was a lot different than anything we have done before. This is the first time we have had Thanksgiving dinner in a German restaurant or any restaurant for that matter. We made reservations at the Old Heidelberg Restaurant and had a wonderful meal. Greg had Bavarian schnitzel and I had something that I can't pronounce or spell but it was really good. We went back to the boat, unbuttoned our pants and relaxed the rest of the day. It was nice taking a day off. I missed having Thanksgiving with Mary and Phil and their significant others but I was so proud of them for having their own Thanksgiving dinners. Mary and Dana had Thanksgiving with Carley and Chris. They roasted a turkey and had all the fixings. Mary made her wonderful pecan pumpkin pie and from the pictures and the texts I received it looked like they were having a fantastic time. Philip and Meghan hosted a "Friendsgiving Dinner" at their house. It was a more formal event and seeing the pictures of the table and Philip carving the turkey with all their friends around was heartwarming. It was heartwarming to know our kids are making their own way in the world. I am so proud of both of them and the lives they are making for themselves. As much as I miss them and wish they were back with us it makes me feel good that they are such wonderful adults and have surrounded themselves with good people to call friends. We all had a wonderful Thanksgiving even though we were a thousand miles apart. Greg and I plan on leaving here on Sunday morning and will spend the rest of the time here getting ready to go. Meghan said her dad and step mom were going to call us so that we can meet. That should be interesting. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I know we sure had a nice one.
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- 12/02/2013 - Monday - 12:30 p.m. - Well we didn't leave on Sunday like we had planned due to a late arrival of a package we were waiting for. But that was ok. Saturday we got to meet Philip's girlfriend, Meghan's parents. We got together for lunch and then spent most of the afternoon together. Marty and Dee helped us move the boat so that we could get fuel. Marty is a tug boat captain so it was strange for him to "choke rope", which is something he does not do, but he did do it for us. It was funny. It was a pleasure getting to know them and Meghan has her dad's smile for sure. The next day they came and picked us up for breakfast and we also made a stop to West Marine. We all had a good time in there. We got back to the boat and Marty and Greg played with stuff in the wheel house. It was great getting to know them and talking about the kids. Today we got the package earlier than we thought so were able to leave Marina Bay and make it out of the New River. I thought for sure I would have a stroke. It is just so narrow and the first thing that came at us was the Jungle Queen. After that we ran head on to our friends at Steel Tow and they were pulling another huge boat inbound. They seem so calm and I am blind with fear. The water taxi just wiggled around us. We finally made it out of the New River and into open water and we didn't hit a thing, which seems like a miracle for me. I am finally calmed down and we are saying good-bye to Ft. Lauderdale. The incoming traffic was amazing with freighters being towed in and all the cargo ships heading in. We are hoping to make it to Cat Cay in the Bahamas before dark and anchor out.
- We made it to Cat Cay but it was in the dark. So didn't get to see anything and were just grateful we didn't hit anything. Got anchored just fine, had a little supper and Greg is trying to get on the satelite internet. I won't be able to upload anything until we actually have good internet somewhere. But I will keep up on my updates. It was a nice ride and crossing the gulf stream wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. It was just slightly rougher than not being in the gulf stream. I am guessing it was just a good day to cross. Greg saw a group of 10 dolphins but by the time I got out there with my camera they were gone. But it was exciting anyway. I did get some great pictures of our first Caribbean sunset in our own boat. I watched the sun go down and hoped we would get closer to our anchorage. But as the last of the light left we were still not close enough to Cat Cay to suit me. This is really going to be an adventure. Tonight there is a wonderful breeze and the humidity is low and we are listening to the waves lapping up against the boat. What a wonderful first night.
- 12/03/2013 - Tuesday - 9:30 p.m. - Woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise and started making our way through the Great Bahama Bank. It really was stunning. The water was fairly shallow most of the way but we never had less than 4' under us. You could see straight to the bottom even when we were at 15'. I saw a bunch of starfish and we saw flocks of flying fish but they were too fast to photograph. We only had two dolphins visit us today but it was so crystal clear you could even see them when they would dive down. Most of the day we didn't see another boat and the was a very calm sea. The water is so clear. I was on the bow of the boat looking down into the water and it was like snorkeling but without the snorkel or being in the water. We made it to Chub Cay around 4:30 p.m. and Greg got us check in with customs. Even Parker was stamped on his papers. He was really thrilled to be on land again. He definitely left his mark on Chub. We took Parker for a walk on the beach and I picked up a few shells and Parker had a great time running on the beach. It is not the busy season here right now so we just about have the whole place to ourselves. We went to the local restaurant for supper and it was good. Met the crew from an 80 footer and visited with them for a bit. It is a beautiful cool night and the we are just enjoying it all.
- 12/04/2013 - Wednesday - 11:30 p.m. - It was a short stay in Chub Cay. We left around 7:00 a.m. and on our way out noticed the gas dock and also the Chub Cay power plant. Cruising today was not as smooth as yesterday. Made it to Nassau and went past the Atlantis resort. On our way back we plan on stopping in there. The water is amazing with all the different colors. As we were headed out for deep water we ran into a sail boat race. They also had several committee boats and one had some sort of big balloon attached to it. Not sure what that was for but must be for racing. As we have been traveling through these islands we notice a lot of boats that look like long time live aboards. No wonder they don't have a good reputation. Mary kept telling us about coral heads and to watch out for them. We weren't sure exactly what a coral head looked like but I think we went past a few. Going between the little islands you notice lots of currents, and they are strong. We settled in for an all nighter. I made chicken noodle soup and we picked out a bunch of movies to watch. Not much to worry about since we were in 4,000 ft. deep water. It was a beautiful sunset. There is a nice cool breeze and we are taking a little water over the bow. Don't think it will get worse than this. Should make for a good night crossing.
- 12/05/2013 - Thursday - 9:00 p.m. - We got into the Exumas around daylight and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise. We found a nice place to anchor across from George Town. Greg took the dinghy down and the we took Parker to the beach. Man alive he was happy to prance around the beach and pee on every blade of grass he could find. He was all smiles. We got Parker settled back in the boat where he went straight for his little bed for a nice nap.Greg and I got back in the dinghy and headed to the Chat and Chill. This place was was highly recommended by Mary. I enjoyed some sort of adult beverage the bartender thought I would like, and she was right. Greg decided on a Kalik, which is the local Bahamian beer. Greg had a delicious mahi lunch with baked potato and cole slaw and I had a conchburger with rice and peas and a side of cole slaw also. Everything was delicous. The cole slaw was expecially tasty and I would love to have the recipe for that. It was the best cole slaw either one of us has every had. Greg and I were both refreshed and rejuvinated after our all nighter. After that we went back to the boat and I got a great shot of the boat at anchor. We got comfortable and decided to try and take naps to prepare for our leaving at midnight. I really hated the idea of leaving but we have to take advantage of our weather window. By the weekend the wind is going to pick up and make crossing open water impossible. We want to make it to St. Thomas on time and we will be able to explore the USVI and BVI's. We plan on our way back to Biloxi to take our time through the Bahamas. Don't look forward to leaving at midnight but it will get us to the Turks and Caicos around noon on Saturday. We are looking forward to seeing Mary and hopefully Dana there.
- 12/07/2013 - Saturday - 11:30 p.m. - I can't say the past 36 hours at sea have been the best time I ever had. We left at midnight with a 20 mph wind but it was going to settle down. Well, it didn't. Not only did it not settle down it became a steady 25 to 30 mph wind with waves 8' to 12'. The first 24 hours I was tolerating the ride fairly well. Greg on the other hand was seasick most of the time. The way the dishes where banging around I could have sworn I was not going to have any dishes left. I was terrified to even open the refrigerator. So we snacked on potato chips and dried apricots. My chicken noodle soup would have to wait for another day. Most everything stayed in its cupboard and we only had one drawer that came open but all we had to do was tape it shut and no problem. It was not a comfortable ride to say the least but I was handling it all pretty well, with the rough seas, Greg being seasick, Parker not being able to pee or poop. I knew it would be over soon enough. I think it was sometime in the 26th hour of our trip, it was dark, when the two from port holes in the front v-birth blew a gasket and water was pouring in like from a fire hose. I thought I was going to blow a gasket myself. Greg came down there and almost immediately was seasick but we managed to get the port hole shut for the most part. There was still some water coming in on both sides but we had towels to catch what water was coming in. But it was already too late. The bedding and the mattress were soaked in sea water. That is when I got what I call "sea madness". It isn't were you are losing your lunch like in regular seasickness. It is when you want to choke your husband with your bare hands while tears are running down your face. It is just a lucky thing for Greg that he was so seasick that he is alive today. Even in my sea madness I did feel sorry for him and spared him most of my rage. The tears were still there, I just stopped talking. It was very quiet after that. Finally daylight came but then we could see the waves and how big they actually were. We got into Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos around 1 p.m. We had a pilot show us the way into the marina and we got tied up on the gas dock. We were both totally exhausted. While we were waiting for the customs guy to come and check us in we started to pull all the wet stuff out of the front cabin. I started the first of 13 loads of laundry that was ahead of me. Our boat was covered in a nice crunchy coat of salt so I decided to go on the front deck and start spaying it down to get some of the salt washed off. While I was up there I noticed something on the drain. It looked like a penny and I thought in my dazed state of mind how strange it was that a penny would be on the top deck. So I went to the the drain and I found the most wonderful surprise. It wasn't a dead flying fish like the four that we threw off the back of the boat when we got here. It was so amazing to me and I suddenly realized that this little gem was worth every minute of the last 36 hours. To think the sea threw this fragile little thing up on the bow of our boat for me to find was very profound for me. I will treasure this little sand dollar for ever. It was like the sea was saying to me, "here is a little something for your trouble." My "sea madness" was cured. The customs guy finally came and we got tied up into our slip and my second load of laundry was in the washer. Greg and I both got showered and clean but were too tired to go out and it was a perfect night for leftover chicken noodle soup and some movies. We were on a beautiful tropical island and all is wonderful again.
- 12/08/2013 - Sunday - 11:45 p.m. - Today was a very productive day. We got busy and early and tackled drying out the front cabin. Greg hired a young man to wash the outside of the boat and we worked on the inside. A man walked up to the boat and introduced himself as David Grow and he and Greg started talking. Come to find out he lives in a condo near the marina and he saw our boat come it and thought it looked interesting. Greg asked him where a hardware store was and he said he would come back at 1:00 p.m. and take us there. He and his wife Donna both came to pick us up. On the way to the hardware store they gave us a wonderful tour of the island. They took us to a beautiful new marina and a lovely beach and also showed us where the grocery store was and the airport. When we got to the hardware store it was closed. We had such a nice afternoon. They were from Indiana and also had a boat in New Haven, MI. We could not believe how we had both been in the same marinas and how many times we had actually crossed paths in Michigan. We came back to the boat and we invited them in for a tour of the boat. I didn't want to show them the boat in the shape it was in but after knowing them I didn't think they would mind the mess. We sat and talked for a bit and they were kind enough to invite us to their home for dinner on Monday. I thought that was so generous to show us the island and then invite us for supper. I wish I had brought my camera because the island is just stunning. I didn't even think of it because I thought we were just going to the hardware store. They are a delightful couple and we are looking forward to tomorrow. After they left we went back to work on the boat. I think we will have the front cabin back in good shape again. Greg took out all the port holes and is going to readjust the gaskets to make sure they are water tight again. He feels sure this will solve our leaking problem. I sure hope it does. I don't want to have sea madness again. We went for supper to the Tiki Hut which was right here at the marina and it was wonderful. We met the owner, Stephanie, and she had owned the place for over 20 years. Greg had the ribs and I had the grouper and they were delicious. We want to go back again. We met a nice couple there from Tampa and had a great time talking with them. They have been coming here for years. It is one of their favorite islands to visit. I feel like we made really good progress on getting the boat back together again. Tomorrow we will finish up and we will be ready for the last leg of our trip. I am so looking forward to seeing Mary and Dana on Tuesday. I love this place wish I would have had my camera. Tomorrow I will take some pictures.
- 12/09/2013 - Monday - 10:45 p.m. - Got started early working on the boat again and it is a little more difficult when it is at low tide. The mattress is about dry but we are giving a little extra time just to be sure. Didn't get to do much sight seeing but went to the hardware store, which was a super store, and Greg found some things he needed to make repairs on the port holes. The sticker shock was amazing. Lots of things were at least 3 or 4 times higher than back home. After that we went into the IGA grocery store and it was beautiful. Again sticker shock. If we stayed here for any length of time Greg would have to stop drinking beer. A case of Coors Light was $69.99 a case. We talked to Stephanie, the owner of the Tiki Hut, and she had said something about the tax on beer went up three times this year and that most people have switched to rum. Had no idea that it was that high. No wonder anytime we offered someone a beer they gladly accepted. Crazy. The marina started decorating for Christmas today and Parker was enjoying the wind in his face. I saw an osprey nest and then noticed that there was an osprey sitting on the nest. I took several pictures before I noticed it also had a tennis ball built into its nest. I would have loved to seen it bring that home. We had a little shower and the shore birds loved it. They had a nice bath and a cool drink of water. We worked until it was time to go to Dave and Donna's home for supper. We got cleaned up and headed to their condo. What a wonderful home they have here. Donna fixed Wahoo that they had caught a few days ago, with rice and peas, mixed vegetables and some squash. It was a wonderful supper with great conversation. They even fixed a delicious dessert of brownie, ice cream, raspberries, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. It was so tasty. It is so cool how people come into your life and then realize they have always been so close, yet you meet them in exotic places like Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Dave and Donna were so kind and generous to invite us into their home. On our trip back I hope we can get together again. Tomorrow Mary and Dana will be here and I am so looking forward to spending time with them. It might be rough water time but it will still be good.
- End of December: Due to my poor logging habits I am going to catch up on the rest of the month at this late date. Mary and Dana arrived on the 10th and we started getting ready to leave at this point. We left in the afternoon on the 12th. Mary and Dana were ready to go. We finally got Carl and Mesion on the pilot boat to take us out and we were on our way. Mary and Greg were charting our course and Dana was at the helm. Mary had heard of a new way to prevent seasickness by wearing one ear plug in one ear. Either they didn't keep the ear plug in or it just doesn't work that well but seasickness abounded on this trip anyway. Greg was the only one who actually threw up. We were all getting settled in for the long ride to St. Thomas. I think it was probably only about 6 hours into our trip and it was dark when Greg got seasick. He decided to go downstairs and take a nap. Mary and Dana were still with me. Then I believe Dana was the next to get seasick and Mary followed shortly after. It may have been around midnight when I told Mary and Dana to lay down and start getting used to the waves. They both laid down on the floor of the salon because it was just too rough for them to go down into their cabin. We were getting pounded pretty good and I was standing watch, all was well until I heard water rushing into the front cabin. I could not believe it. We had repaired the port holes and even caulked them on the outside. This didn't sound like port hole water anyway. It was a huge rush of water. I yelled for Greg and then ran down to the front cabin where I saw water flooding in from the top hatch. By then Greg had gotten down there and jumped on the bed and closed the hatch and then he threw up. . . again. Of course it was too late. The cabin was totally soaked in sea water. I went back upstairs to the pilot house where Mary and Dana were at the helm. I went straight past them and down to our cabin to change clothes. I was soaking wet and could not have been more pissed. Greg followed me down and we changed clothes in silence. It was again very quiet. It was pointless to try and do anything to the cabin. Mary and Dana could not sleep down there anyway because it was just too rough so I just pretended like it never happened. It kept me from crying. I took the helm once again, Greg, Mary and Dana all went back to lay down. I sat at the helm and fumed. By morning things looked a little brighter. Only because it was daylight. The wind was at a steady 20 to 25 knots and the waves were 6' to 8'. Greg, Mary and Dana all took turns at the helm for as long as they could handle it. They were all still seasick. No one ate anything. We snacked on little things. No one could eat anything. I of course was starving and snacked on chips and cookies. We were also not drinking anything and that was not good. Once everyone started to feel a little better we drank water and ate a little more. I was at the helm knitting when Dana came up and was eating a protein bar and drinking a juice. He looked like he was finally getting his sea legs. He remarked that maybe I was a Viking since I had manned the boat most of the time and could knit and read during these rough seas. I was glad we got the protein bars. We didn't take many pictures during this journey. I did threaten to take an after picture but was afraid they would throw my camera overboard. We made it into Megan's Bay around midnight and anchored there. We all just fell asleep. The next morning Mary fixed us a wonderful breakfast of eggs and bacon. I don't think I ever tasted anything as good as those eggs and bacon. The boat was covered in salt and we tried to wash it down a bit before we headed to St. John to clear in with customs and immigration. After that we headed to Sapphire Beach Marina and Niles tried putting us in several slips before he found one we could fit into. We got tied up and washed the boat. Mary and Dana headed home and Greg and I got cleaned up and rested the rest of the day. What a journey!
- We relaxed for a few days and then on the 19th our son Philip and his girlfriend Meghan came to spend Christmas with us. We decided to go for a trip so that we could practice how to pick up a mooring ball. We went to Hawk's Nest Bay and I managed to catch a mooring ball. It isn't as easy as it looks. Mary was a great coach and I finally got the ball. I appreciated all the tips she gave me. Greg and I had finally gone out and started cruising around St. Thomas. It was a wonderful afternoon with our kids and their significant friends. Mary and Dana, Philip and Meghan, it was a great afternoon. We still pinch ourselves to make sure this is real. Greg and I also practiced with the dinghy, getting it off and on the boat. That evening we were back at the dock and Greg cooked brats and hotdogs for us. Meghan showed us once again what a good eater she is. What a great day that was.
- Mykola and his family arrived on the 21st. We all had supper at the Island View, which is one of our favorite places and is becoming a tradition for when everyone is here. We were able to relax and enjoy a wonderful meal and visit with each other. Greg and I were caught kissing and that started a photo frenzy of kissing pictures. Mary and Dana, Mykola and Tania, and Philip and Meghan all got into it. It was great. It was a special night with everyone finally here and in time for Christmas. We got back to the boat and we all just relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the evening. The next day we decided to head to St. John and do a little snorkeling and spend the night on a mooring in Francis Bay. It was a great sunset that evening and we all had a restful night. We did get a treat when it got dark and the Christmas lights came on. The next day Greg took everyone to the beach in the dinghy and we spent the day just hanging around Francis Bay.
- Christmas Eve was the best. I have come to realize that if you don't have enough family, you just adopt some. That is what we have done with the Sarazhynskyy's. Tania and Mykola and their children Olesia and Taras are such good friends of ours that we feel they are like family. Spending the holiday's with them is a blessing. They add so much to our family. We were all together and preparing our Christmas Eve supper. Meghan and Phil were having a little fun and Phil also didn't let an opportunity for a shameless plug get past him. Taras was at the helm. We all participated in fixing supper. We had beef tenderloin, salad, mashed potatoes, and Mary made her usual pumpkin pecan pie and also a special coconut dessert that was spectacular. Mary also fixed some wonderful mahi we bought from the fishing charter guys down the dock. What a feast we had. When we got everything on the table it started to rain so it was every man for himself. It was good to finally be with both our kids for Christmas. After supper we all participated in putting out treats for Santa. Along with the cookies the adults decided some adult beverages would be a good idea. Christmas morning was wonderful. The kids were excited and we all opened presents. You think it would seem strange to have Christmas without snow and cold but I actually liked it. Totally different than we used to have but no less enjoyable. After the presents were open we had a nice breakfast and then decided to play with one of our new games. Greg and I got the game "Ticket To Ride" the European version and everyone wanted to play. We ended up doing that most of the day, between cleaning up and going to the beach. After supper that night we ended up playing a few more rounds of "Ticket To Ride." It is really a fun game.