Posts Tagged: ‘sailing’

Lago Izabal

January 14, 2017 Posted by Deb

Few venture out on this giant body of water west of Fronteras. The main reason few go there is fear. We were kind of proud of ourselves 21 years ago when we ignored the old sailors advice and spent 10 days circumnavigating Lago Izabal The highlights then were the hot and cold running waterfalls and hot caves at Finca El Paraiso, the town of El Estor, and the jungle rivers full of howler monkeys. We (Chuck mostly) were also concerned this year because of the old stories that wouldn’t die of drug operations and bad guys.

Once again we set out with a buddy boat Flying Fish with Claudia and Claudius from Munich. They were great and together we put together a wonderful four-day lap of the lake. Now they want us to write an article for the local riodulcechisme net and newspaper.

Heading Out Under the Bridge, Flying Fish Takes the Lead

Heading Out Under the Bridge, Flying Fish Takes the Lead

Not Easy

Not Easy

Spanish Castillo San Felipe Built to Guard Against British Pirates

Spanish Castillo San Felipe Built to Guard Against British Pirates

Fronteras to Denny’s Beach

Denny’s Beach was and maybe still is on occasion a party destination. We found the place under new ownership, kind of empty, and with bad weather coming. It was also for sale again. We enjoyed ourselves but had a bit of a bumpy night as the northwest wind caught us on a lee shore.

Champagne Birthday Brunch for Chuck

Champagne Birthday Brunch for Chuck

Denny's Beach Sunset

Denny’s Beach Sunset

DennysBeach

El Estor

The town was a former British outpost for supplies to Honduras, hence the name “The Store.” We remember 21 years ago it as a wonderful small town where the women went nuts over a four year old blonde haired son of our travelling companions on Gooseberry. They kept playing with his blonde hair. There was also a women’s coop with large outdoor fabric making looms. They were churning out fabric for Patagonia. We also remember that we had to keep a tight watch on boats and dinghies.

Now the town is bigger, the troops at the Navy base said they would keep an eye on our boats but that it wouldn’t be a problem, the town administrator treated us like royalty with staged photos, and we had a whole lineup of folks helping set up a couple of days worth of touring in the area.

El Estor Waterfront

El Estor Waterfront

El Boqueron, Juan, and the Boqueron Canyon Project

We walked along the waterfront to the municipal building near the city dock and found Eric, a city administrator, just leaving work for the day. He showed us around, took a few photos, and lined up Juan Tacaj, the man in charge of the Seacacar project in Boqueron Canyon.

Seacacar Mayan Women's Coop Making Pendants

Seacacar Mayan Women’s Coop Making Pendants

Village Children at Q'eqchi

Village Children at Q’eqchi

Hanging Bridge at Q'eqchi

Hanging Bridge at Q’eqchi

With only a partial understanding of what we were getting into, we headed off in a large SUV for Boqueron Canyon and a major serendipity surprise. We first got a tour of the school and the Mayan carvings they were doing to earn money. We then found out we were in for an innertube trip after a hike to their ceremonial cave. Then, as you can see, we were treated to one of the prettiest canyon trips we have ever seen with two young boys keeping us out of trouble. Very cool.

RiverElBoqueronCanyonClaudiusMiniCoconuts

Rio Sauce

Rio Sauce

Claudia & Deb

Claudia & Deb

RiverElBoqueronCanyon

Ceremonial Cueva With Juan Tacaj

Ceremonial Cueva With Juan Tacaj

ReadyToTubeTubingCrewTubingCameraTubingFriends

Here is a link to the project run by Paul Heesaker from Silverthorne, Colorado: http://www.riosguatemala.com/legacy-builders

Ensenata Los Lagartos y Rio Polochic

The next day at 6:00 a.m. we were picked up for a tour of the famous howler monkey rivers that feed into Lago Izabal. Our guide worked the whole shoreline and we caught all the animals waking up for the day. We can’t remember how far up we went 21 years ago but there are enough twists, turns, and side channels to spend a day and more if you get lost.

Sunrise On Way to Rio Polochic

Sunrise On Way to Rio Polochic

River Exploration At Dawn

River Exploration At Dawn

Environmentally Friendly Nickel Mine

Environmentally Friendly Nickel Mine

Chuck & Claudia

Chuck & Claudia

PedroDebChuckPlayaIguanaOnLimbFlamingos3GoingDowonRioPabloMtnBkg

Lago Izabal Wrap

Nothing but a positive experience on our trip and this area. It is a shame that leftover tales have kept so many away. Our security was very important to all of the officials we met and we were treated like visiting celebrities.

Putting Neytiri Away for the Sixth Time

June 16, 2016 Posted by Deb

We’ve decommissioned in St. Martin, Curacao, Guatemala, Georgia, Florida, and now Guatemala again. There’s no escaping the fact that it takes seven to ten days of really fun work like pulling heavy sails down, oiling anchor chain, heads, and other wonderful jobs. We took breaks and hit the pool at NanaJuana often but the happy hours were lonely until the last day there when boats started pouring in for hurricane season. That was nice. We finally did the hike at Hacienda Tijax and our guide said we were the best “old people” she had seen for dealing with the heat and humidity. For us, it was cool in the jungle compared to working on a boat. Once we moved to our final storage location in Cayo Quemado, the air conditioning was stowed and we cooked at 97°F with 87% humidity for the final teardown.

Oiling the Anchor Chain in the Guatemala Heat

Oiling the Anchor Chain in the Guatemala Heat

NanaJuana Pool Time

NanaJuana Pool Time

Swing Bridge at Hacienda Tijax

Swing Bridge at Hacienda Tijax

Found a Spot for a Skinny Dip

Found a Spot for a Skinny Dip

Old People Hikers

Old People Hikers

Saturday Market in Fronteras

Saturday Market in Fronteras

How to Cross the Road

How to Cross the Road

Tucked Away for Another Day

Tucked Away for Another Day

Honduras

Deb pieced together a cab to San Pedro Sula in Honduras followed by a flight to Phoenix via Dallas.

Trip from Rio Dulce to San Pedro Sula in Honduras

Trip from Rio Dulce to San Pedro Sula in Honduras

Breakfast Under Coca-Cola Mountain??

Breakfast Under Coca-Cola Mountain??

We had a two-hour window to switch planes, and we missed by about 12 hours. It’s funny that we made all our sailing deadlines for three months and a little storm over Dallas blew the endgame. We waited until 2:00 a.m. for a crew to show up for our plane; and as they walked up to applause from the crowd, they announced that they had “timed out” and the flight was cancelled. We found a hotel for the night and cancelled our reservations for a car and hotel in Phoenix. They were pretty nice about refunding some of our money. The next day we slept in and did our first UBER ride to the airport. It was $45 for a taxi to the hotel, and we split a $16 dollar fair back to the airport the next day with UBER. Wow!

Casa Grande

Both the town and the RV were right where we left them. The difference was that Palm Creek, where we did the early winter last year, was a ghost town. We found the odd human at the pool from time to time but 119°F for three days kept the few that still lived in the RV park inside. We ran 48 amps of A/C around the clock and the refrigerator pretty much gave up trying. It was nice to be back in the land of big box stores but the ghost town RV Park had us feeling like we late getting out of Dodge. We headed up the hill (8% grade) to Flagstaff and the V10 got a workout. We did not need A/C again until we got out into the flats of New Mexico and Kansas.

An Entire Wall at Palm Creek Labelled Romance

An Entire Wall at Palm Creek Labelled Romance

Lake Afton in Kansas - Almost Home

Lake Afton in Kansas – Almost Home

Propane Fill - Short Hose Workaround

Propane Fill – Short Hose Workaround

Staging in Iowa

We stop for a week or so at the pole barn in Iowa where we store all our summer toys. Oh … and the odd car and van. This year we’re extending the layover to attend a birthday party for the kids of nieces and nephews. It feels like they were kids themselves just a few years ago. Tick Tick.

Our Private Trail Got Popular. Great Western Trail from Martinsdale to Des Moines

Our Private Trail Got Popular. Great Western Trail from Martinsdale to Des Moines

Calorie-Positive Biking at Cummins Tap – Great Western Trail

Calorie-Positive Biking at Cummins Tap – Great Western Trail

Deb Even Took Time Help Out with Bible School

Deb Helped Out with Vacation Bible School

Sunday Pool Day with the Family in Iowa

Sunday Pool Day with the Family in Iowa

Rio Dulce and the End of a Sailing Season

May 17, 2016 Posted by Deb

DebFlagAtSeaIt’s a nice, leisurely 40-50 mile sail to Cabo Tres Puntas in Guatemala where we stage for crossing the dreaded Livingston bar the next morning. It was great to get back to the jungle, howler monkeys, and a giant water slide (What??). There were only three lights on at night for the whole peninsula and they have a water slide?Cabo3PuntasWaterslide

We thought it would be a lonely, kind of nervous feeling night off that part of Guatemala and we had not checked in detail for any incidents in that area. Instead, we ran into three other boats. Oh … there is a cruise ship going to Puerto Barios now. Who’d’ve thought.LivingstsonSeafront

Jail

We crossed the bar, had the various government departments visit the boat, and went ashore to pay approximately $465 U.S. for our stay in Guatemala. There was a two-hour wait for our cruising permit because the officer in charge started the job the day before and could not get the system to print. The woman who held that position for years and had been telling folks to not use an agent but to just come to her, was caught for large scale embezzling. After a two-month investigation, they made her pay back the money (she had to get a loan) and then they arrested her.

The next jail chapter involves the Nana Juana Marina where we are currently residing. The entire management staff and some ancillary folks got arrested just a few days ago. This place is running on autopilot. They were skimming too. The arrestee list included a nice Austrailian woman who was connected somehow but basically just helping out. Money made it into her account as well. We don’t know what it means for this marina but some folks are dropping their boats back into the water as a result.HomesRio RioCurveBackstagePass RioNeytiriClouds RioDock

Cayo Quemado

CayucoRioThatchedHouseWe had a dinner date with Chris and Kelly of Seakist Services and we made it to Cayo Quemado with two hours to spare. Again weather and “events” had to all line up for us to actually make good on a commitment made weeks or a month earlier. We met up with Cannon Ball again as well. They built a home around the corner from Texan Bay and we met them in Pelican Cay, Belize. We will be returning to Cayo Quemado, or Texas Bay, to store the boat on May 29.

Fronteras

BrunosChucNothing much has changed in two years. A few folks have died, including our trivia partner Don and the guy who sold imported meats and cheeses and ran the AeroPostal outlet here where we had parts flown in. The main drag is full of buses, 18 wheelers, tuk tuk’s (motor cycle driven cabs), large and small cycles, and lots of people on foot with only inches between your body and the giant wheels going by.FronterasTruck

Belize 2016 and Home Turf

May 8, 2016 Posted by Deb

We waited out a calm day in Cozumel and we were off on Thursday, April 28, for San Pedro, Belize, and a rendezvous with the former Mokacat owner, Dale and his significant other, Kathryn. We have never taken on the Gulf Stream head on before. Every crossing to date we have positioned to cross the strong part of the current as close to right angles as we can. This trip was 250 to 300 miles, straight into the teeth of the current. Many sailors have posted waypoints for a strategy that involves hugging the coast but we found tremendous variation and eddies. Our first encounter took us for 8.5 knots down to 1.8 to 3.3 knots and we were jammed against mainland Mexico. We tried getting even closer but finally just went out to where we could count on a steadier 3-knot “in-your-face” current; and our speed over the ground went to 5 to 5.5, even though we were smoking. We were planning on being out two nights but by the time we got to the Chinchoro Banks, the current moved offshore, the winds went to 23 knots, and we picked up to 9.5 to 11 knots and made it through the Eastern Channel, Ships Bogue, and Porto Stuck to Cay Caulker all before dark on day two. Not bad. The boat did great but the passengers were knocked around like rag dolls when we got out of the lee of the outer atolls.SunsetBelizeSailing

San Pedro

We always liked San Pedro, Belize. Even though it is an open roadstead, salt spray everywhere, buried in golf carts, and full of tourists, it was our base for chartering out of TMM for years and we have fond memories of scrambling all over town to provision a charter cat. We always ran out of booze on those charters, sometimes by the halfway mark. This time we were there to clear into the country, say hi and goodbye to Simon at TMM (TMM is closing shop in Belize in June, 2016), and to pick up Dale and Kathryn.

Company was a bit of a concern since we needed weather windows to cooperate to get us there (we beat their plane by seven hours) and we were on what amounted to a 1,400-mile delivery run from Ft Lauderdale to Guatemala, all in about a month, and, as such, the boat wasn’t fully ready to party.

BlowingPalmTreesNeytiri was covered in salt and the humidity was unusually high; we were exhausted; we never un-pickled the watermaker, so water for four people was a concern; and we had plans to cover the whole country in seven days. Everything worked out very well, despite a large hole opening up in the dink on day one and threatening to leave us w/o a way to get to shore. We had 30 gallons of water to spare at the end of the week, thanks to the extreme conservation habits of Dale and Kathryn. With company, the fishing poles came out, and we were eating Cobia and Jack in no time. Dale was an impressive fisherman and fish cleaner.FishDaleChuckSunsetDinghyRepairLazyLizardDaleKathrynHelmChuckDaleAtMastLostReefersYokisChuck

The four of us had to scratch our heads to go from what we wanted to do and see in Belize to what we had time for given that we didn’t really want to power sail all day. We eventually decided on San Pedro, Cay Caulker, Water Cay, a power run to Pelican Cay and the Hideaway Resort and Restaurant, Hatchet Cay (2 days), and Placencia.

The Storm

We were hit by two nights of storms at Hatchet Cay. Neytiri was on a mooring but 40 kts out of the South and West really got our attention. The lightning show was one of the worst we’ve been in since the Mona Passage in 1994. The moorings held, the storm passed, and we had two days of cooler, drier weather.HatchetCayeBeach HatchetCayeDinner

Robert’s Grove Resort and Marina

We returned to Robert’s Grove Resort for a few days of laundry, relaxing, and water. It was surprising to see the change in two years. The house construction was complete but the marina was quite empty, the restaurants were on reduced hours, the deli and Sweet Mama’s were closed, the bathrooms were toilet paper challenged, the WIFI was very sporadic, the marina showers have never been built, the dive shop hadn’t had a charter in a week, and the French owner was history having been bought out by the Boris Mansfield company.RobertsGroveDock

Cozumel and the Cruise Ships

May 1, 2016 Posted by Deb

marina_CozumelSounds like an old rock band. Our weather guru, Chris Parker, suggested that we break up the Isla Mujeres to Belize trip into two parts because there was a calm day with no sailing right smack in the middle of the trip. We tried that and dropped hook off the Captania del Puerto in Cozumel and spent a day checking out of Mexico. We left the dink in a little marina north of the anchorage and started the Mexican clearing out shuffle which goes something like Port Captain, bank (to pay), Port Captain, and Immigration. Oh… and they’re not exactly in the same building. Some folks have to do four taxi rides.Street_Cozumel

The cruise ships gave us a break and were leaving when we pulled in; but now Cozumel has three cruise ship piers, and they run 3.3 million people a year through that island at the rate of 20 to 30 cruise ships per week. Wow! That little island was already standing room only on my 60th birthday, and it hasn’t gotten better.

Cuba

April 20, 2016 Posted by Deb

Cuba

It was always our intention to get to Cuba before the U.S. hemorrhaged a sport fisherman armada, and it would be forever changed. We were about eight miles off the coast 20 years ago when Fidel decided to shoot down a couple of private planes trying to sneak in from the U.S. The Gulf filled up with U.S. destroyers and aircraft in a heartbeat and we were being buzzed by very large aircraft at about mast height with a row of grey destroyers in front of us. None of them answered our hails on any channel so we hung a left for Key West.  That was 1996.

 In the Footsteps of Grandpa Sam

Our family history had a walkabout character.

Grandpa Sam was a great-grandfather on Chuck’s Mom’s side. It was said he didn’t like anyone in the family much.  He was a bit of a recluse in his old age, and didn’t much care for everyone living with him after the great depression.

The folklore is that he didn’t really like farming, at least not the winter part of it, and would hire out as a hand on the freighters that took off across Superior and down the Erie Canal, where he continued on to Cuba.  Grandma Sarah would throw dishes and pots and pans and cutlery at him as he left.  He’d come back in the spring, but no one knows what happened in Cuba.  No doubt we have relatives there, but who they are or whether or not they go by the name of Groth, no one knows.  Probably not. Sam himself looked like an old black sharecropper with a long white beard.

The Neytiri report includes no Groths found but we’re guessing he had a hell of a good time. You’d have to work hard at not.

Great Grandpa Sam Groth on the Way to Cuba

Great Grandpa Sam Groth on the Way to Cuba

Hemingway Marina

Tucked Into Marina Hemingway

Tucked Into Marina Hemingway

We made the quick overnight passage straight to Hemingway Marina in relatively calm weather and we’re prepared for the five government department hassle. We hailed Guarda Frontera at the 12-mile mark, and there were two young uniformed guys waiting to handle our lines as we docked at around 7 a.m. They had great broken English and we were done in just over an hour. The Agriculture Department looked at all our food and took nothing, to our surprise. Oh … the Health Department took our temperatures as well. Can’t be too careful with those unhealthy Norte Americanos. The government officials state that we are not obligated to tip them but … We handed out a U.S. $20 on occasion and one guy was polite but acted like we were a little light.

They Taped Up Our Satellite Phone and Blocked Skype Calls

They Taped Up Our Satellite Phone and Blocked Skype Calls

Walk Around the Grounds Until You Feel At Home

It felt different. Kind of like a trip back to the 1950’s with Rod Serling. The architecture, the cars, the colors, the state of the infrastructure, the cars, oh … and the cars. Wow. They have two currencies and that takes a bit of practice, they now have internet in some of the hotels courtesy of Venezuela and a cable on the bottom of the ocean. Our IP’s said we were in Caracas, VZ. They block Skype, our Sat phones were taped up, and they don’t use https (secure websites) so unless you have a VPN, connecting to a site (like a financial site) that requires security is a problem. Our credit cards and debit cards were useless so it was cash, cash, and more cash. The exchange penalty was supposed to be over but we found it alive and well at 87 CUC for $100 US. You could get to $91 if you worked at it.

As we were sitting in our first restaurant and contemplating our next Cuba move, Deb brought up the cash question. She had been lobbying to get a bunch of Euro’s before we got here and I put it off for Key West (or just put it off). You kind of get that cold sweat feeling going when you start to add up the marina bill, the inland travel, diesel purchase, electricity, a buffer for a weather delay, and food. For the first time since college we were tight on cash with no good options. Oops. We started tightening our belts and looking for a solution. After all, there have to be other credit card addicted Norte Americanos that are too brain dead to total up how much they needed before they left the U.S.

Havana

1950's Revisited

1950’s Revisited

The cars. Everyone talks about the old Spanish buildings but the first thing we noticed were the cars. The old Spanish buildings are cool but we wanted to see the haunts of the rich and famous before the revolution. That past is everywhere and the atmosphere is one large party. Live music in every restaurant and on every street with a parade of some kind every few blocks, sometimes running into each other. We watched a parade of tall people (stilts) detour around a street classic dancing show. The musicians take a break from time to time and pass the hat around and one CUC is enough to make them happy.

12-Feet Tall on the Streets of Havana

12-Feet Tall on the Streets of Havana

Spontaneous Parades

Spontaneous Parades

Salsa Dancing

Salsa Dancing

Colors on the Balcony

Colors on the Balcony

Do You Think the Street Artist Captured Chuck?

The Cuban Street Artist Thinks I Look Like a Doonesbury Character

We felt welcomed and safe everywhere, even in the off streets. When they found out we were from the U.S., most of them gave a thumbs up and yelled (I mean yelled) “Obama”! He had just been there. We were told by the cab driver of a mint condition 56 Chevy that they have been taught since they were little that the U.S. is evil and the people are bad but that they never bought into it. It feels like they are in the calm before the U.S. invasion and everyone wants that invasion to happen. The cabbies of vintage cars were all asking for estimates on what their vehicles would be worth in the U.S. (our Spanish was barely up to the challenge but we did okay).

Forts and Cannons and Chuck

Forts and Cannons and Chuck

Taking a Break to Listen to Some Musica

Taking a Break to Listen to Some Musica

Food Was So-So But Drinks Were Amazing (Cucumber Limonada)

Food Was So-So But Drinks Were Amazing (Cucumber Limonada)

Rasta Cuban Cigar Smoker

Rasta Cuban Cigar Smoker

Peeking at the Real Havana Just Over a Crumbled Wall

Peeking at the Real Havana Just Over a Crumbled Wall

One Block In, A Little Cleanup Needed

One Block In, A Little Cleanup Needed

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

 Hotel Nacional de Cuba - A Lot of History

Hotel Nacional de Cuba – A Lot of History

Trip two into Havana (about 25 kilometers from Hemingway) had more focus.  We wanted to see the famous hotel/casino from the old Mafia days with all the big boss names, Frank Sinatra, and Hollywood stars. Nice place but then we stumbled into the History room and there are portraits of the famous people that have visited all the way up through Kerry a few months ago. Vladimir Putin is up there with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. There’s a room dedicated to Winston Churchill. The bar serves a Mafia Mojito and the phone on the wall is an ancient wood beast that was used to connect to the rest of the world. We wondered how many hits were called in from that phone. At one time or another, they all sat in the lawn chairs looking out over the Gulf. So … we did too.

Mafia Mohito

Mafia Mojito

HotelNationalChuck

Cienfuegos and Trinidad

Road trip. This is where Deb does her best. She’s like the Duracell bunny when it comes to difficult travel arrangements. The one day we finally solved our money problems, the Cubanacan travel agent at the Hotel Aquarios at Hemmingway failed to show . Not to be deterred, Deb dragged my complaining b…t down to the next town by bike and we found another agent in a grocery store. Off we went to Cienfuegos at 8:00 the next morning.

Cienfuegos Plaza Marti

Cienfuegos Plaza Marti

What to take on a Cuban road trip. Well, of course, all the money you will need for everything and also, of course, all the toilet paper you’ll need. Even nice hotels are usually out. We appreciated old building after old building and church after church but were getting a little tourist fatigue. We hit a many famous places as possible and did well on restaurants but this road trip was not quite normal for us. We started at our number one choice for accommodations, La Gorta Villa casa particular out on the point and, of course, it’s Friday so they are full. As we knocked on doors down the point, it was obvious they were all booked for the weekend. Oops. The folks at Casa Amarillo finally helped us and walked us down the road to Casa Cuca, an elderly lady that has a room set up for tourists. It was great. Her whole family showed up in the mornings to do breakfast and we had A/C even though she had none. She gave us keys to her front door and the room and we became like family.

Cuca's Garden

Cuca’s Garden

The local transportation options include horse and carriage, motor cab, and hundreds of bicitaxis which are human bicycle powered carts that will take you miles for 2 to 3 bucks. We did all of them at one time or another.

Bike Taxi

Bike Taxi

Horse Taxi

Horse Taxi

More Taxi Options

More Taxi Options

Trinidad was a one day, walking tour, one bar and one restaurant stop and we did not do it justice but there are only so many old buildings you can assimilate. It had a great feel to it and we will return by boat but we got a weather window from Chris Parker (our weather guru) and we had to get back to the boat. Less than five hours later, we were in Marina Hemingway and home.

Rest Stop on the Way to Trinidad

Rest Stop on the Way to Trinidad

Really Old Yellow Church

Really Old Yellow Church

Resting in the Shade of an Ancient Church

Resting in the Shade of an Old Yellow Church

Lunch Break With A Band

Lunch Break With A Band

Cuba Wrap

One of the more unique stops in our travels and not easy to explain. The average Cuban citizen has born the brunt of the U.S. embargo, not the higher ups, and yet they love all their foreign visitors. When you ask for help or directions, they go over and above and if you don’t cut it off, you’ll eventually be invited to dinner. And talk about a blast from the past … we can’t get over those cars.

Cars Lining the Seawall

Cars Lining the Seawall

We left in the early morning hours as the katabatics flattened the seas over the entrance. We sailed all day and all night and the following morning we were still off Cuba. That is one large island, sixteenth in the world. Then we hung a right for Mexico across the freighter lanes and the famous Gulf Steam current. There are so many freighters, they now have lanes in the ocean called transshipment zones. We had to cross them and had over five bogies on radar at one time but only had to alter course once. We were luckier than the young Russian couple just in front of us at Marina Hemingway. They hit a freighter in the middle of the night and lost the nose of their boat. The picture below is after weeks of work putting her back together. They had just re-mounted the roller furling when we left. That is close to “worst nightmare” hearing a crash and seeing a giant wall of steel on top of you going 20 knots. They were still kissing each other when they took work breaks, so no psychological issues and just happy to be alive.

Russians in

Russians in Cuba

The Story of Two Boats

March 1, 2016 Posted by Deb

homelessIt’s kind of sad. Florida has a lot of homeless people and Ft. Lauderdale has more than its share. The 2015 Census listed over 71,000 Florida school children as homeless and a point in time count found 35,000 adults. Wow.

There’s another layer of folks just above homeless that have something resembling a place to live. In Florida, a boat will do. The first boat story (no names to protect the guilty) is about a small Catalina owned by a guy who motored up the New River five years ago and stayed. As his health declined, so did the boat. He was wheelchair bound when we met him but seemed to be in fairly good spirits. We said goodbye and “see you in a few months” and that’s all we remember about him. Apparently his health declined quickly and, though folks brought him food from time to time, pop tarts aren’t exactly a well rounded diet. The dock owner probably saved his life by calling whoever you call for that kind of thing and they hauled him off his boat in a straight jacket kicking and screaming. He’s been in the hospital ever since.

And then there is the boat. It was sold for $600 to a guy with an almost identical boat in almost identical condition. Hey … they’re everywhere. Anyway, the new owner of two derelict boats tied them together on the same dock, just behind us, and started salvaging his new purchase. This happened in multi-million dollar Ft. Lauderdale New River real estate with mini-mega yachts everywhere. The landlord/dock owner got edgy. The short version is that the landlord said “Sorry, you’re outta here at the end of the month” and it’s another $40 per week to have that other derelict tied up here.

Florida is full of people for which $40 a week is a big deal. The $600 he paid for his other derelict wiped him out and he was selling tools and salvage bits to get by. His solution was to scull the boat out into the New River, drop a couple of anchors, and swim back. He almost did not make it back because he’s a big smoker and drinker and not in very good shape. He also had found about a gallon of rum on the salvage boat and was having trouble walking for the prior few days.

No one gets away with dumping a boat in the New River. A mangrove swamp down the coast, maybe, but not the New River. It has been three weeks, the boat is a hazard to navigation, the cops have been by with bull horns, the neighbors are angry, taking pictures, and hot on the phones. The official word is that the owner was taken away (true), someone bought the boat (true) and took it away (false), and one morning it just showed up out there. There’s no paper trail, the guy in the hospital has been contacted repeatedly but could not ID who he sold it to; and the current owner just sits back and watches the show.BlueCoral

It gets better. The owner of the two derelicts, one aground in the channel, decided it was time to go back to Texas. He advertised his derelict for $600 and a true modern day dreamer showed up and gave him $300 for it. The young guy was a carpenter from Virginia and had been hiking the Appalachian Trail to get over his mother’s death, just like Reese Witherspoon in Wild. With $900 to his name, he decided to become a sailor. The rest of the story is why we don’t need TV out here.LeesBoat

We first saw the dreamer when he dragged his poor, shaking and scared to death, dog below decks, dropped the storm boards in the companionway, and left for lunch. That hurt to watch. The dreamer turned out to be a nice enough guy, brand new to Christ, newly off booze, OK with the dog after that, and completely out of his league with sailing or boats. We all tried to help, us least of all, because we have our own boat issues.

When we returned from a night out with Dave and Gail from Wildest Dream, an intoxicated voice came out of the dark, almost crying. As the former owner and the new owner prepared the boat for two people to sleep, it started dawning on the dreamer that his new purchase was not a perfect boat. We heard there was loud arguing, a falling out, and a lot of talk about getting money back. We had just run into the former owner in the dark, quite shaken by the “event” that we missed. He has a problem thinking that people don’t like him.

The landlord needed the deal to happen and the boat to be gone. He interceded the next morning with a  philosophical session with the dreamer. “You are starting a new life and there are going to be a lot of lessons. Last night you just had lesson one. Don’t get mad at the people who are trying to help you, you’re going to need them.” So … they made up over donuts and have been frantically working together ever since. It got a little dicey when the dreamer touched the mainsail and his hand went right through it.

Final chapter. The outboard was under water for awhile but it did run a little today. The boat has no functioning engine. The dreamer is going to strap the hard dinghy and partially running Evinrude 15 onto the sailboat and tow it north up the Intercoastal Waterway to home with around $200 in his pocket. This epic journey begins tomorrow morning. Their Plan B is to move down the river to docks off a vacant lot and continue to work on the outboard until they are kicked off that dock. There is a fair chance that both of them and their dogs will be gone in the morning and that both boats and all their debris will get dumped on the landlord. Side bets?

Looking out the other side of the boat -- much nicer view

Looking out the other side of the boat — much nicer view

 

 

40th Anniversary in the Land of Gitchigumi

September 2, 2015 Posted by Deb

Not to be taken lightly. We will probably need more than a nice restaurant. Hmmmm.

We kicked around anniversary ideas of a health spa in Utah, the Mississippi River trip, and a few plane ticket type events. Out of nowhere we decided to take our little Hobie trimaran up to the Apostle Islands and graduate to the big leagues. Lake Superior is also not to be taken lightly.

We stopped by the pole barn in Iowa on the way back from Colorado and grabbed our backpacking gear including a small tent, our Therm-A-Rests, cooking gear, and the rest of a long list. We then went shopping at Cabela’s and REI for the remainder of what we needed to put four days worth of food and gear into the trimaran. Craigslist yielded the full wetsuits we needed since ours are still on the boat.

Can't Believe We Made All This Fit in our Little Hobie Trimaran

Can’t Believe We Made All This Fit in our Little Hobie Trimaran

The literature put out by the Forest Service and the kayak companies had us a bit freaked out as to the kind of trouble we could be getting into. The water is in the upper 40’s and may reach 50 degrees. That will kill you pretty quickly. It boils down to weather, weather, and weather. All the other cautions like proper communications, wilderness equipment, route planning, and bears are not that difficult for sailor/backpacker types. Just to be safe and have options we set up a base camp at the marina in Cornucopia and got permits for Oak and Sand Islands for the same set of days. We got to Cornucopia, the furthest west town in Wisconsin, set up base camp, and left for Oak Island the next morning.

The following shots tell the story. Bottom line … that little trimaran is a perfect tool for the Apostle Islands.

Base Camp in Siskowit Marina, Cornucopia

Base Camp in Siskowit Marina, Cornucopia

Oak Island Group Site A

Oak Island Group Site A

Sand Island

Sand Island

Sand Island Cliffs with Steve

Sand Island Cliffs with Steve

Sand Island Pillars

Sand Island Pillars

Heading Into the Caves

Heading Into the Caves

The Gate to the Mines of Moria

The Gate to the Mines of Moria

We’ll Be Right Behind You All The Way

We’ll Be Right Behind You All The Way

Mast Down, Outriggers In

Mast Down, Outriggers In

Beer Cooler Lake Superior Style

47-Degree Beer Cooler Compliments of Lake Superior

Sand Island Boardwalk

Sand Island Boardwalk

Sand Island Lighthouse

Sand Island Lighthouse

We stopped by base camp after a night on Sand Island, primarily because we were tired of Therm-A-Rests and small tents. We stumbled onto a Greg Brown concert at the Big Top thanks to a heads up from Steve and Cherie. Good seats were still available and that guy is funny. Oh … he sings pretty good too.

Greg Brown Under the Big Top Tent in Bayfield

Greg Brown Under the Big Top Tent in Bayfield

Caves on the Mainland

Caves on the Mainland

Small Body of Water

Small Body of Water

More Mainland Caves

More Mainland Caves

Who's That on the Back of the Trimaran

Who’s That on the Back of the Trimaran

Ray Caught Up

April 30, 2015 Posted by Deb

We thought we were moving too fast for company this year but Ray Buse flew into Georgetown the day before our weather window and he’s been on the boat ever since … he may even make it to Florida. Ray is a member of the Cast Iron Canoe Club, the son of Jeff and JoAnn Buse and now lives in Montana and works at a private ski resort.

Memorial Grounds for the Straw Market that Burned Down in

Memorial Grounds for the Straw Market that Burned Down Just Before the Georgetown Regatta 

More Dinghies Following the Race Boats Than There Were Boats in the Race

More Dinghies Following the Race Boats Than There Were Boats in the Race

RegattaDinghiesinRace

We left Georgetown with a large fleet of boats and were alone by the time we hit the infamous Dotham Cut again. Most peeled off before then for places like Little Farmers Cay and Adderly Cay. We were concerned about the post-regatta crowd and went as far as daylight would allow. We timed the cut correctly and the tide was still roaring out but it didn’t matter because we had a strong west wind all day. We are giving up on trying to figure the tides at Dotham. Exuma Sound was calm but when we went through the cut to protected waters, the west wind had the calm side all churned up. West winds cut down on available anchorages significantly. We bit the bullet and anchored at Big Major on an open roadstead with 15 to 20 from the west. We had a catamaran, so we did better than most that night.

A Really, Really Big One Got Away

A Really, Really Big One Got Away

As we worked our way back to Florida, we did a repeat performance on Thunderball Cave, the swimming pigs, and the Warderick Wells hiking with Ray. We did each of these better than the first time. We are now waiting in the protected north mooring field at Warderick Wells for the 50-60 knot storms headed our way.

Back at Thunderball with Ray

Back at Thunderball Cave with Ray

Diving Into Thunderball Cave Entrance

Diving Into Thunderball Cave Entrance

Gotta Feed My Favorite Pigs Again

Gotta Feed My Favorite Pigs Again

This Arch Will Be Gone by Next Year

This Arch Will Be Gone by Next Year

Calm Windward Shore at Warderick Wells

Calm Windward Shore at Warderick Wells

Breakfast ~ Protein Banana Muffins and Pineapple Protein Chia Smoothies ~ No One is Starving on This Boat

Breakfast ~ Protein Banana Muffins and Pineapple Protein Chia Smoothies ~ No One is Starving on This Boat

Staniel Cay to Georgetown

April 24, 2015 Posted by Deb

Thunderball and Big Majors Spot

Entrance to Thunderball Cave ~ Looking for Sean Connery

Entrance to Thunderball Cave ~ Looking for Sean Connery

Looked All Over the Cave for Weight Belt ~ Found Under the Dinghy

Looked All Over the Cave for Weight Belt ~ Found Under the Dinghy

ThunderballChuckDivingThruHole

Goggle Man

Goggle Man

Looking for the Famous Swimming Pigs

Looking for the Famous Swimming Pigs

Carrots are Good for Lots of Things

Carrots are Good for Lots of Things

Staniel2Pigs

To Georgetown

At some point we had to stop island hopping and take a cut out into Exuma Sound. We chose Dothan Cut near Black Point because we could get out of there very early in the a.m. without worrying about depth. To be sure, we motored up to the cut the evening before and laid down a track on one of the Samsung notepads. The cut was calm and harmless looking that evening. The next morning was a different story. The wind and swells had kicked up and our calculations for slack tide were off. By the time we realized that the boiling up ahead was serious, we were caught in a three- to five-knot current headed like a freight train into ten-foot standing waves. We were getting knocked around a bit but doing OK  until we decided to turn out of the mess. At that point, Deb got bombed by beer cans that were stowed in the galley and stuff that had never fallen before started flying around the inside of the boat. Fun. The rest of the day was choppy but not a bad motor sail but the swell continued to haunt us. We declined stopping at Adderly Cut for the night because it looked closed out so we cranked up the diesels and rolled the dice on Conch Cay Cut, the entrance to Georgetown. Conch Cay Cut was flat calm and we dropped hook in the Mecca of Bahama sailing after about 8 hours and 53 miles (not counting tacks).

The Georgetown Regatta

Unintentionally, we arrived in Georgetown just days before the big regatta week. It is a race by and for Bahamians in unique boats. At the start, the boats are anchored and sails are down. The town decked itself out like a state fair, street food everywhere, and the music was loud and late.  We slid into the cruiser social scene with dink drift and drink, hikes, and BBQ’s. In our anchorage there were four cats, four monohulls, and five trawlers. We’re at Sand Dollar and the other anchorages are very packed. Georgetown is definitely trawler heaven here. Great folks but they do have a different mind set.

A couple and their dog are living on the beach in hammocks and the occasional bed on one of the boats in the anchorage. They’re cruising the Bahamas by pontoon plane.

A couple and their dog are living on the beach in hammocks and the occasional bed on one of the boats in the anchorage. They’re cruising the Bahamas by pontoon plane.

The perennial winner of the event, Tidal Wav.e, coming home after a challenge match

The Perennial Winner of the Event, Tidal Wave ~Coming Home after a Challenge Match

 Jacque and Annet on Panache Hiked With Us on the  Island Trails

Jacque and Annet on Panache Hiked With Us on the Island Trails

 Yet Another Multi-Mile Beach All to Ourselves

Yet Another Multi-Mile Beach All to Ourselves

Not Happy

Not Happy

Little Problem with the Wind on Day 2

Little Problem with the Wind on Day 2