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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Stupid Cat Tricks


Shiva, a 15-week old Rag Doll kitten
we're cat-sitting for in rare form.
(15-second video)

Who knew that less than $3 laser pen from Walmart could provide hours of entertainment so funny I damned near wet my pants? 

We're currently house (and kitty)-sitting for our friend Julene in Sunnier Palms, Fort Pierce Florida, in the same park we hung out in while boat-shopping. 

Julene (seated right) and her friend Wendy (seated left) in Philly
while Wayne and I mind the fort—and Julene's kitty.

While our boat sits in the Fort Pierce City Marina docks bearing a For Sale sign, we don't want to stray too far from the area. 
S/V Gallivant, in Fort Pierce, looking for someone to take her on new adventures.

We like to give the boat a little primping and cleaning before showings, want to be on hand for any prospective buyer questions that might require us to be present, and someday soon we expect a sea trial—in fact we have an out-of-town offer and that big showtime is this coming week.

Fingers crossed all goes well with this coming weeks for our boat sale.
Photo by 
Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Besides, it's hurricane season and we're holding off stripping s/v Gallivant naked of her sails before a sea trial, even though the marina prefers it this time of year. We're close to the marina—a 20-minute drive—and would get enough notice to take them down if we're in the path of a hurricane.

We're hoping Gallivant will never need to weather anything like this, though
it is hurricane season in Florida until November.

Photo by 
Ray Bilcliff from Pexels

Shiva amuses us with what we call stupid cat tricks, but she's a clever furry tyke who's stolen our hearts as she graduates from biting and scratching for attention to mewling and head-bonks. 

Shiva "helping" with the mail in her best attorney-advisor mode.

We're grateful to Julene and the Sunnier gang for welcoming us (and especially John who showed us how to torment our loaner kitty with laser-light) while we figure out our what-next, which could very well be right here. Shiva-kitty wins the prize, though, for providing the purrfect here-and-now distraction to keep us from worrying about our future.
Shiva in boneless-kitty mode, in one of her precious mellower moments.
 Location Location
Harvesting pineapple from Sunnier. There's more.
The hacksaw wasn't needed as the pineapples twist right off when ripe.
We're in Fort Pierce, Florida. Instead of sailing to along the eastern seaboard this summer or to the tropics in November, we're in the tropics right here and now. Our fondest memories and some of our closest friends are a result of our cruising. I'm sure our boating days (and I will post a video when I create it of the terrific 3-day kayaking trip I took with my buddy Tom and the gang of Go Kayaking Tours) are far from over, while we prepare for this bye.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Surreal Sunset—You'll Never Guess What Caused It

Sunset, Eleuthera, Governor's Harbour mid-April 2021
Sunsets are our favorite shared moments when cruising. It's time to take a deep breath, release the worries of the day, sip a refreshing drink, hold hands and let Mother Nature bring on the show. IMHO, as a connoisseur of sunsets, there is no better place to see a sunset than over the water.

We were hoping for a glimpse of a green flash,  which occurs when the atmosphere causes the light from the Sun to separate, or refract, into different frequencies. Viewing them is a balancing act as it's unsafe to stare at a setting sun, and yet green flashes are fleeting; they last only a second or two.

We're among the lucky—we've seen green flashes—more than once. However, that eve, like nearly every night on our 2021 Bahamas trip,  cloud banks on the horizon obliterated the possibility.

Yet what we saw instead was magnificent in its own right, evoking a sense that felt more planetary, seeing this from another world than an everyday sunset on our own humble little blue marble of a planet. 

La Soufrière, St. Vincent photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

We thought it was La Soufrière, St. Vincent's actively erupting volcano, about 1200 miles away.

Nope. Instead, it came from a source at least four times as far—dust from the Sahara Desert. It's an annual Bahamas atmospheric invasion, blanketing the skies in a milky whiteness; those particles amplifying the sunset's colors.

I remember the 2012 summer we first started cruising and my surprise at the vivid red sunset we saw in the San Juans, lit by particles from wildfires in Russia, over 4,000 miles away.

In yesterday's news. New Yorkers were suffering from air quality issues due to the U.S. West Coast: California and Oregon fires, over 3,000 miles away.

Both the weather and the Coronavirus pandemic are stark reminders of our interconnectedness, whether we like it or not.

Location Location

Herons, egrets, pelicans and pigeons are prolific in Fort Pierce City Marina,
where s/v Gallivant is docked.

We are currently house-sitting in the same town where we are selling our boat, Fort Pierce (Marina), Florida at 27 27.039N 16 21.19W. This post is a retrospective of our time in Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera, the Bahamas in April of 2021. My logbook is on the boat, so I will update this post with our lat/long for Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera when I can check our logbooks.

I'll give an update on what's happening where we currently are in my next post.



Friday, July 9, 2021

Update on Our Boat Sale

Now is not the time for us to leap.
We're taking in the view and sitting tight until the place and time are right.
Photo by Karol Stefański on Unsplash

Back when I used to work in corporate America (Hewlett-Packard), I remember when our group was a person short and we were driving our manager crazy about it.

"Why do you keep asking me about where I'm at on the hiring process?" she asked, perplexed and exasperated. She tended to keep her plans close to the vest. "I'm still trying to figure out what skills I'm trying to bring to our team."

We explained even knowing that helped. That having some idea of whether we were covering for a week, a month, or much longer made a difference on how we went about it. We took away it would be a while so we needed to own the cover, not just band-aid it. Five months later, our manager made a great hire.

In a sense, when it comes to this blog, I am a bit like that manager from my days of yore. When it comes to selling a boat, I too play it close to the vest. But at some point, radio silence needs to be broken.
Selling our sailboat isn't this dramatic
but we're still feeling stuck between two worlds.
Photo by Michael Shannon on Unsplash
We're still in limbo.

We got an appealing offer a few weeks ago, sight unseen.  The buyer was so interested in closing quickly, he was willing to accept our recent survey (from a very reputable surveyor—yay Ceal!) and even the haulout. 

We were excited but nervous. 

Excited because . . .
Oooh. Ahhh. The excitement of an attractive offer on our sailboat!
Photo by Jordan Ling on Unsplash
Getting an offer with few contingencies meant we could move on with our life. We envisioned taking that summer trip up the east coast by car or camper since we weren't doing it by boat.
We didn't want to be more than a day or so away from the boat, in case we needed to be on tap to answer questions and potentially captain a sea trial. We're reluctant to make any offers on a place to live until our boat sells.

Nervous because . . . 
Yes, I definitely bit my nails to the quick waiting to hear back
after our sailboat showing.
Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash.
What buyer is willing to make a sight-unseen offer with so few contingencies—even in a tight boat market? Though we've heard boat inventories are still about a third of what is considered normal and we don't see much comparable to our boat on the market.

Yet despite photos and a walk-through video, there's nothing like the real thing. He came, he stepped aboard, he didn't like the layout and reneged his offer—the boat-seller equivalent of a mail-order bride whose groom decides she's not his type and bows out before the wedding but after the invitations were drawn up and ready to pop in the mail. No sea trial necessary; just . . . no.
We felt . . . jilted. You know . . . Love me. Love my sailboat. Love me not.
Then again, we were jilted by someone we didn't know and who didn't know us. Weird.
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

We were bummed. 

A few days ago tropical storm-hurricane-tropical storm Elsa passed by. We understand this is not the time of year Florida is the top where-to-visit pick, even for boat buyers. After all, we tried to buy remotely before we realized we needed to go to Florida and spend some time looking, after seeing what else was out there online, across the country. But we also know that across the country, there's not much else out there as nice as our boat in its category. We're willing to wait for the right buyer, even if it means living in limbo longer, and not spending the time we'd hoped to spend exploring the eastern seaboard this summer.

Interest is picking up on our boat. It's just a matter of time. We got kinda spoiled on our previous boat sales, which took only a few weeks from when we posted them for sale.
We've still got as much time as it takes to sell our sailboat—within reason.
It will take finding the right buyer to take her on the adventure she deserves.
Photo by 
Jordan Benton from Pexels

For those of you (still) hanging in there, wondering what the heck we're up to—thank you! 
Thank you added to
Photo by 
Jordan Benton from Pexels
Until I have something solid to report, would you like to see . . .
For example, the story behind this place, just outside Nassau, Bahamas is fascinating in a sordid way.
  • more flashbacks from the Bahamas? I do have some good stuff I've yet to publish. Or 
  • would you prefer to learn what we do to keep from climbing the walls while we wait—like the awesome 3-day kayaking trip I took? Or 
  • What makes Fort Pierce quirky?
  • More about my book on our travels? Click here if you want to get on the list to be notified of when it's releasing.
  • not much unless another no-news month goes by just so you still know we're alive?
Want to learn about where I was to get this recent photo?
Location Location

Our boat is at Fort Pierce City Marina, 27 27.039N 16 21.19W. We'll be house-sitting, nearby.


Monday, June 7, 2021

Major Pivot

Plans and decisions don't always align. Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

Have you ever hovered on the precipice of a major decision, wondering if the path you planned is the right one?

Not a life-and-death decision, but still a difficult one. Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

We did, but we plunged ahead anyway. At one point, Wayne pondered aloud, "Are we doing this because it's what we really want to do, or because it fits some image of what others expect us to do?" We tried to convince ourselves it was the former. 

The Backstory: How did we get here?

S/V Gallivant, a Gulfstar 45, sailing the Bahamas Grand Banks February 2021.
Photo courtesy Christine of s/v
Scintilla.
Late summer 2020 we decided on "COVID plan #27"—buying a sailboat to return to the Caribbean. We sold the trawler we'd lived aboard since 2017. 

Our Puget Trawler, M/V Serendipity, at Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia, Canada.
Sold, to buy our sailboat.

We bought an RV to move us and everything we owned to Florida to find a sailboat. 

"The Beast" our RV before it got hit.
Here it's parked at BLM land, in Torrey Utah, near Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef National Park; one of the many stunning places we saw on our cross-country RV trip
as we headed to Florida to buy our sailboat.

Along the way, another driver whose interpretation of merge was overly assertive slammed our RV into a guardrail. Everyone walked and drove away, and her generous insurance company gave us two years to turn the RV over to collect a check.

We arrived in Florida, parked our RV in Fort Pierce and started boat shopping in earnest.

Decisions, Decisions: What Boat to Get?

S/V Journey, our boat from 2012 to 2017—a Pearson 365. At 36 1/2 feet it was just right for the two of us but too small for all but Wayne's dad and his wife Gunnel, both intrepid sailors, to join us.

Wayne wanted go with what we knew, and buy another tried-and-true, affordable Pearson, like the 36 1/2 Pearson 365 ketch we took through 31 countries, across the Pacific and sold in Australia

I wanted a bigger boat because when I asked our friends and family who said they wanted to join us if they'd be willing to do without having their own closed-door cabin, most said no. I also wasn't ready to recommit to another 3-5 years with no home base and 150 square feet of living space.

Gulfstar 45s like our s/v Gallivant are designed with a captain's quarters and a guest room;
each with doors that can close for privacy.
Wayne reluctantly agreed to a bigger boat. 

Because boating is a COVID-safe activity, the boat market went crazy and inventory was at an all-time low. We put in an offer on a larger Pearson, but I was concerned it was too much of a fixer. Then our friends Don and Maryann decided they wanted to sell their sailboat and get a trawler and asked: "if we knew anyone interested." Of course, we bit. Then we got cold feet. Then we came around, but we were still nervous about whether this was the move for us.

We Buy the Boat & Go

Taking the plunge. Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

We signed the papers. We sold our bicycles, loaded everything from the RV onto our new-to-us-boat. With a lump in our throats, we bid the RV goodbye as we turned it in for our insurance check. By the time we left the parking lot, it was already gone. We sold my car, and off we went to the Bahamas with plans to sail the US eastern seaboard this summer then head to the Caribbean this fall.
My Prius and our RV, before we determined the towing it wouldn't work.
I drove it cross-country, then sold it, as well as the bikes you see on the back of the RV.

Back to the Beautiful Balmy Bahamas: The Same Only Different

This is not Photoshopped. The Bahamas water really is this clear and blue.
This photo shot from Gallivant in the Bahamas earlier this year.

I posted photos and videos of how well our sailboat sailed, of the Bahamas' clear aqua waters, of luxuriating in the warm weather while our friends in the Pacific Northwest froze. 


In Georgetown's Elizabeth Harbour, with only 125 boats versus the usual 300-600, there was plenty of room to anchor. We were often the first dinghy at the town dock when previously getting to the dock might mean getting past triple-parked dinghies.

Elizabeth Harbour, the Bahamas, near Georgetown in "the height of the season" April 2021
—drastically fewer boats.
While we buddy-boated with our friends on Scintilla, none of our friends from Jacksonville left Florida. There were no bonding cruiser potlucks on the beach from years of yore. High winds kept us from making it back to the Raggeds, and friends who did, told us Duncantown's population shrank from 70 to 20. I'd hoped to see Marjorie in Duncantown again, but her shop no longer existed.

Our friends Chris and Chris' boat, s/v Scintilla at Warderick Wells, Bahamas.
Gallivant is parked further in the background.

We also spent a lot of time hunkered aboard in 20-knot-plus winds. We didn't like it much but our wind generator loved it; it did a great job of keeping our boat powered up.

We always wanted to spend more time there and less time getting there, and this time we did that a bit more, especially taking our time in the Georgetown area and in Eleuthera. 

The Journey vs the Destination

It took us over a month at sea to sail from the Galapagos to the French Marquesas in Journey.
But we've decided we're done with passages for a while.

We came back a bit earlier than planned, to give ourselves more time to spend exploring the US East Coast. 
We've always liked arriving more than sailing, which may seem odd for a couple who's sailed halfway around the world. Although we spent 31 days sailing from Galapagos to the French Marquesas in our Pearson, we found ourselves dreading overnight passages. This time we did only one overnight passage, and we didn't want to do more. 

We started rethinking whether we wanted to sail to the Caribbean again, which would require some multi-day overnight passages or a very slow trip down island-hopping. Wayne still pined a return to New Zealand (by air, not boat), though I doubted New Zealand would booking from American early enough for us to go there in our winter/their summer November-ish 2021.

We Noticed We Were Dragging Our Feet

Once we got to St. Augustine, we stalled on or progress up the eastern seaboard. Over the years, I've learned to recognize that not to decide is in itself a decision—one that begs for soul-searching. 

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Sunrise, Hatchett Bay, Eleuthera, our first time there in 2014.

We named our boat Gallivant, which is defined as traveling for pleasure because that is what we wanted to do. So w
e asked ourselves, were we having fun? Was the fun-to-suck-ratio more fun or more suck? 

Other than the stress of boat-shopping, we thoroughly enjoyed our winter in Fort Pierce—more than we did our time aboard. I craved more stability, routine, a normal toilet, a shower that didn't require a bilge pump, the ability to participate in video conferences without killing my internet access, a stationary address. Wayne missed the RV couch—simple pleasures most folks we know take for granted.

Pivot Time

We turned around and headed back south to Fort Pierce. We found marina space, contacted a broker, and listed our boat (here's our listing).

We are working on where we'll live once the boat sells. Even if we get an offer right away, it's still at least a 6-week to 2-month process before offers, surveys, haul-outs, insurance verification, etc. reach the point of the final sale. Worst case, while we figure out where to call home, we'll still travel the east coast this summer—by car or camper or RV and just rent an apartment somewhere. 

This is where we stayed when we boat-shopped and may be where we'll call home.

I know I will miss seeing the sun rise and set over the water and the starry sky far from city lights too much to give up boating forever. I am sure our boating days and adventures are far from over, whether we join friends on their boats, charter, or buy something trailer-able. Our goal is to spend less time on the journey and more time enjoying the destination. 

I still have some great stories to share from our Bahamas trip, but for the last few and the next few weeks, my focus is on making our transition. 

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Takeaways

For those of you who find yourselves struggling with those big life decisions, give yourself some grace, then look into your hearts with unstinting candor and come to terms with what it will take to be happy. Be true to yourself. The only wrong decisions are the ones that you refuse to move on from.

Any hey, if you want to trade places and give sailing and cruising a try, we know about a great sailboat ready to go right now! Here's a 1-minute tour (click the "video" tab if this link doesn't take you to the video).

Location Location

Dana and Wayne aboard Gallivant in Fort Pierce City Marina.
Photo courtesy Rolf.

We're at Fort Pierce City Marina, Fort Pierce Florida, 27 27.039N 80 18.219W, until our boat sells. 
Wish us luck. And we wish you a most excellent summer!


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Minutes Matter: Exciting St. Augustine Entrance

The weather forecast said no rain for a couple of hours. But these clouds were telling us something else.

We enjoyed the sunshine all day long from Daytona Florida to St. Augustine, lolling along the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). The winds for the most part that day were nil to light, sometimes blowing gently against our bow.

Earlier in the day, we saw this place on the ICW, a perfect party pad.

Looking at my weather app, I told Wayne it looked like we had a few hours before the rain was forecast to hit.

Neptune, looking lordly
from a dock on the ICW

"You mean 15 minutes," he countered. 

No, I said, puzzled. Instead of reading a weather app, he studiously scanned the horizon. He noticed an inky bank of clouds advancing our way.

"Close the hatches," he said. Usually, I'm the one battening down the hatches after he suggested waiting, getting soaked as I flex my climbing skills to close hatches not designed to be closed by someone my height. I got right to it.

Wayne insisted I stay below while the rain pelted down on him through the open cockpit window.

We were 15 minutes from grabbing a mooring ball in St. Augustine. We were exiting an exceptionally narrowly navigable part of the ICW. A day off a new moon, the high and low tides were more extreme than usual. We were at dead low tide and there were mere inches between our keel and the muddy bottom.

No sooner did I close the hatches when suddenly, we got slammed by a 40-knot gust, the rain sluiced down, lightning lit up otherwise the now-dark sky and thunder rumbled. 

Forget about grabbing a mooring ball, it was all Wayne could do to see where he was going. 

Fortunately for us, we were in a wide-open section, Wayne stalled a bit since he couldn't see where he was going—the rain sheeted down that hard. 

Suddenly as the squall started, it stopped. Wayne proceeded to our mooring ball, grabbed the ball's pennant with our boat hook, threaded it with our line, and tied it off. Just like that, we were set. Then the wind kicked back up and blew and blew and blew.

Sunset setting through the oaks in St. Augustine tonight.

A little earlier, and that squall would've caught us in that narrow, twisty, shallow section and we'd have run aground. A little later and we would've had a heckuva time grabbing our mooring ball in the high winds. We were snug in our anchorage. The boat was dry and steady. We felt grateful (though this time, Wayne was disappointed I didn't catch that squall on video).

St. Augustine is a fun place to hang out and watch the world go by.

One of the amusing boats parading past in St. Augustine tonight.

Pirate tour boat in St. Augustine tonight.

They say walking on water is a miracle.  But in St. Augustine, there's cycling on water.
Location Location

We're currently in St. Augustine Florida, 29 53.253N 81 18.289W. Monday we'll meander to Sisters' Creek, then cross the border the next day to Cumberland in Georgia.

Who knew egrets were this territorial? 
These two were on the St. Augustine docks.

 
These armadillos were too busy chowing down to notice me. Sculpture Park, St. Augustine.
I still have a number of Bahamas blog posts and videos to catch up on, but sometimes I just want to show you where we are right now.

P.S. If you like armadillos and other weird Florida wildlife, check out this video; if nothing else, do it just for the song. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Back in the USA

We're back—arrived in the U.S. Friday, April 30th a little over a week ago, after an overnight passage from the Nassau, Bahamas area. We aimed for Fort Pierce originally, but the winds were too light to make it before dark, so instead, we entered at Lake Worth, the Miami Florida area. 

Sally and Julene, visiting our boat from Sunnier Palms in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Photo courtesy Julene.
We didn't set foot on U.S. soil for another two days, the day after we got to Fort Pierce. Fort Pierce is "old home week" where we caught up with the friends we made while we were there, boat shopping for two months.  Returning to the US meant we needed to get our phone plans set up, check in (yay! we got to do this over our mobile phone), our COVID vaccination, our produce restocked . . . and other boring but necessary stuff.
 
"Stay for Cinco de Mayo!" our friends at Sunnier, said. "It'll be lots of fun!" We did. It was. We even got to see our friends again at our next stop, Vero Beach, where they showed up in a pontoon boat near our anchorage.

Now we're making our way north, where we'll spend the summer. We're currently in Daytona, Florida. Our insurance requires our boat to be north of the Florida border by June 1st.

We're working on our what next; more about that soon.

Bahamas catch-up post still coming, as well as a bit of a retrospective.

Location Location
Dayton Beach, N29 13.941 81 01.360W. Next stop: St. Augustine.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Bye-Bye Bahamas!

 

French Leave Beach didn't get much more crowded than this. Eleuthera, Bahamas.

By the time you read this, we're probably out of wifi range. This Thursday morning we're headed back to the US, 24/7 sailing with an ETA of sunset, Friday, April 30th. Ideally, we can make the 207 nautical miles to Fort Pierce by then. If not, we'll pull into Lake Worth, which is 170 miles from where are as I write this, the night before our departure and post right before we pull anchor. 

We'll miss the balmy Bahamas days, warm water and the vibrant color palette across the entire spectrum of blue, accentuated by golden, white or pink sands, iconic leafy green palm trees, and white-trimmed buildings painted in happy colors—pastel pinks, pistachio green, and sunny yellows.

But we're also feeling ready to be back in the familiarity of the States.

Location Location

We're currently at Clifton, the Western tip of Providence Island, about 15 miles from Nassau, 25 01 387N 77 32.984W. The water is crystal clear and we saw lots of surprisingly fast sea turtles and a ray zip by. We walked Jaws Beach (named for the reputedly awful Jaws sequel, Jaws Revenge), relieved we didn't get fleeced for the entry fee to the underwhelmingly run-down Clifton Heritage site. We didn't make it Flipper Beach, yet another former show-biz filming location.  But I almost wish I didn't research the weird dilapidated architecture at adjacent Lyford Cay, built by Candian fashion mogul, Peter Nyguard. Warning: if even half of the accusations he got convicted for are true, he is one sick dude

More soon!

I still plan to catch up on posts about Long Island, Georgetown, Flamingo and Water Cay, Lee Stocking Island, Eleuthera and Nassau, interspersed with our new cruising ground adventures along the US eastern seaboard.