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    Coinjock, NCAugust 19th, 2012
    Prepared to be here for 18 hours then found engine issues that need fixed. Will be here for 3 more days then finally on to the Chesapeake! We can't wait to get there!
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Beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina!


Public park in “The Point” with swing bridge in the background

After losing 20 pounds from sweating it out on Cumberland Island, GA, it was definitely time to move on, so off we headed to Beaufort, South Carolina.  That’s Beaufort, like Bew-furt, not to be confused with Beaufort, like Bo-fort, North Carolina.  We were up and at ‘em in order to be out of the inlet by 6:30am, knowing we would be in for a full day and a half sail.  It is about 130 nautical miles to the anchorage, and with light winds we were expecting about a 30-36 hour sail, arriving in Beaufort by dinner time the following day.  We FINALLY were not wrong on our calculations!  We arrived and were anchored by 3:30pm the following day – no big adventures (or misadventures) to speak of during our sail/motor.  We did, however, happen to coincidentally arrive for a fantastic weekend in Beaufort – they were hosting the 57th annual Water Festival.   We didn’t really know what that meant, but it was all over their website, signs were posted everywhere in town and when we walked to the Visitor’s Information Center (I drag Ben to these in every city, you never know what you’ll find to do when you talk to the locals!), it was all they talked about.   Okey dokey, Water Festival it was!  But there was also a walking tour of “the point”, a 300 year old church and cemetery, an original 1800’s era house with a Civil War exhibition and the house where South Carolina decided to secede from the Union– all within walking distance of the city marina where we were anchored.

Our first full day there was the opening ceremonies of the festival.  So after a yummy dinner on the water (complete with a peach beer, OMG it was dee-lish!) we headed over to the Festival – the only time the entrance to the festival was actually FREE…and being the cheapo’s that we have become in this non-working lifestyle, we like free A LOT!  The festival itself was in a pretty small area in the public park along the waterfront.  But they had the Marine Corps Band playing that evening so we strolled along the waterfront while

Taken while running through the cemetery. Not a bad place to spend eternity!

listening to the amazing band and watched a great fireworks display!  Good times.  The following day we found more FREE things to do – tour a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, followed by a tour of a shrimp boat.  Yes, we were the oldest kids on the tours, but we really enjoyed both of them….probably much more than the little kids!  So after those tours it was time for wandering around “the point” where all the huge plantation homes are, in addition to where several movies were filmed – The Big Chill, Forest Gump and The Great Santini to name a few.  We had to stop for lunch (and peach beer) and on our way out we ran into another cruising couple that was anchored next to us.  We chatted with them for close to an hour, then headed out for our walk.  As soon as we got to “the point” and I took 2 pictures, it started to drizzle.  We kept at the walk though, enjoying the beautiful surroundings and not minding the cooling rain.  Next thing we knew we were stuck in a full on downpour and huddled under a tree (with my camera safely stowed in my backpack)!  Five minutes later it stopped so we decided to keep on the tour.  Around the corner we go and yet another downpour.  We huddled under another tree, to the laughs of many passing cars.  The rain subsided enough for us to finish the tour and dry off a little bit, before we headed back to the boat for the night.  The following day was another touring day.  We headed out to the John Mark Verdier house, built in 1805, which had a Civil War photo exhibition (for free!).  Next stop was the Secession House – where South Carolina actually made their plans to secede from the Union.  Somewhere on the walls is the original writing of the date they seceded.  Having just finished reading three books centered around the Civil War, I was more than excited to tour this home.  We finally get there and it’s a house….a private residence.  We can’t get in, no entry, no trespassing, NO PHOTOS!  Annoying!  Well, at least I got to see the outside (all for free!).  Around the corner from the Secession House was a 300 year old Church and graveyard that we wanted to see.

Ladies Island Swing Bridge – our first swing bridge!

Ben pointed out a storm rolling in and I waved him off saying, “well if you walk faster we can get there and back before the storm. Come on let’s go” (in his defense, the toenail from his broken toe is growing back in quite infected and it’s causing him to walk like anold man).  So we went…and we walked very quickly (he stayed on one side of the graveyard while I sprinted around the entire place like a mad woman)…and I snapped a few photos…and we practically ran back to the dock to get on the boat before the storm hit.  We were in the dinghy heading to the boat with lightning a little too close for my comfort.  I guess I should have listened to Ben afterall…he was right, I was wrong (it’s becoming a theme on Buckeye haha).

After all the touring it was time to head out to Charleston.  It was a shorter distance to stay inside the Intracoastal so we motored about 45 miles to a nice little creek where we anchored for the night and saw a zillion stars.  Quiet, secluded, out of the way….and no bugs!  A perfect evening!

If you ever have time, I really recommend checking out Beaufort, SC.  It is a beautiful, quaint town.  If the scenery doesn’t get you, the southern hospitality sure will!  After 10 years in South Florida, it was a refreshing change to be surrounded by southerners….and the peach beer sure didn’t hurt!   A think a second trip to this perfect little town is in our future!  🙂

My first attempt to take a picture of stars on a moving boat! All those little dots are stars – Britt, this picture is for you, my friend! 🙂

Something is ALWAYS Broken on a Boat


Anyone who has ever owned a boat, or followed my posts on Facebook, knows that something on a boat is always broken!  Why is

Ben at the top of the mast!

that?  Well, we knew when we bought the boat that boat actually stands for Break Out Another Thousand – which I took to mean that boats were expensive (which they are!) but I guess I didn’t realize why they are expensive!  Because boat also stands for Broken Or About To!  So I was told that I should call Buckeye a vessel, which I’ve come to realize means Very Expensive ShipS End Laziness.  Even if we call it a ship, that sounds a lot like SHIT which is what we say every time something breaks!  We can’t win.  Owning a boat is a real pain in the butt….but worth it…most days!

Let’s go over a real life scenario of what has broken on Buckeye in the past month or so.  The watermaker:  replaced the water pump with a commercial grade water pump…which required new wiring…which required new circuit breaker…which still didn’t work so put old water pump back on.  Three trips to West

Ben contorting himself to fix a leaking water line.

Marine later and a conversation with the manufacturer resulted in putting in yet a bigger circuit breaker and removing the secondary filter.  In between all those trips to West Marine and fixing different thingamajigs with the watermaker, other issues popped up.  The radar reflector fell, so back to West Marine to buy a new one, up the mast Ben went (with my winching him up there, yes my arms are getting a good workout in this lifestyle!) to replace that.  Then a bird tried to land on our windex at the top of the mast, so back to West Marine, back up the mast to replace that.  We then noticed a leak in a line in the fresh water supply.  Empty the entire locker (which is one of our food storage cupboards packed to the rim) to replace those parts and the next day it’s still leaking but not as badly.  Empty locker again, search online and find new parts to completely replace the old parts.

We had 4 deck latches that were old and corroded and we were constantly painfully stubbing our toes.  After some online research he located new ones, ordered them and installed those.  The dinghy got an air leak so he had to patch and recondition the dinghy (a 3 day labor intensive project).  Our Brita faucet filter broke and since the water is clean without the filter we decided to just put a new faucet head on…low flow to conserve water of course.  That resulted in us not being able to get hot water to that faucet.  After much tinkering around he was able to determine that an adjustment was needed on the instamatic hot water heater.   At least that was an easy fix!

All of these issues are separate from the regular maintenance required with boat ownership.  Just to name a few are cleaning the

Brutus being helpful inside the electrical panel

bottom of the boat to remove barnacles…in the winter we (which means Ben!) can do this every 6-8 weeks.  However the warmer the water, the faster the bottom growth, which means this time of year it should be done every 2-3 weeks (we’re going on 6 and she’s a very dirty girl at the moment…hint hint Ben).  Engine belts always need maintained and eventually replaced, so he spends lots of time bent over in the very tiny engine rooms (which are surprisingly roomy with convenient access as far as engine rooms go)!  With two engines comes two times the maintenance!  The stainless steel needs to be cleaned frequently to prevent rust corrosion.  Inside the boat gets mildew so we are constantly cleaning the walls and ceiling.  Then there’s the heads.  Those need to be rebuilt annually…and we have 2 of them.  Did I say poor Ben yet?  It is literally always something!

Just like in a land based home we also have all the daily life chores.  We have 2 bathrooms that need regular cleaning, as does the rest of the boat.  The dishes need to be done by hand daily, laundry gets done by hand and eventually dragged to a laundromat to be thoroughly and commercially cleaned.  Grocery shopping is not so easy….find a Publix within biking distance, load bike in dinghy and get to marina, fight with bike to get it unfolded and ready to use, bike 4 miles in sweltering heat (my last trip took me to WalMart and I was literally getting stared at because I was so sweaty!  ME, the nasty one at Walmart!!!), get 2 bags worth of groceries that can be stuffed into a backpack and small bike basket and get back to the dock, fold up the bike, load up the dinghy, get home, unload the groceries and stow bike.  It’s pretty much a full day chore to go grocery shopping.  We have two cats that require us to vacuum or sweep daily, plus clean the litter box out.  The dinghy gets hauled out of the water and secured every day – no easy feat at 350+ pounds.  Never a moments rest!  In addition to all of this, there are lots of upgrades we want to make on Buckeye….when we have the money, which at the rate things break, may be never (sponsorships and donations are currently being accepted!).

It’s not an easy lifestyle, and definitely not convenient, but it’s worth it!

Currently our to do list includes:  replacing the outdoor speaker that fried out the other day (but we’d really like to upgrade our stereo system at the same time), adding a fan and light to the port berth (that’s for you Britt and Katherine!), cleaning the bottom, interior mildew cleaning, fix the water line leak when the parts arrive, add Sirius weather when the replacement component arrives, wax topsides, software updates for the chartplotter since the last one is making it crash consistently, and a bunch of little things….grocery shop, laundry, dishes and plan our next trip.  After typing this all up I’m exhausted so I think I’ll go take a nap…chores can wait until tomorrow!

So, do you still think living on a boat is a glamorous and luxurious lifestyle?  Yep, us too!

Sweating it out on Cumberland Island, GA


After a week of boat projects followed by a harrowing experience leaving St Augustine, we were all too ready for a little R&R at St

view of the anchorage

Simons in Georgia.  Mother Nature had a different gunkholing location in mind for us though.  With no wind to boost us up the coast,  we ended up motoring into St Mary’s Inlet which is about 20 miles (and 5-6 hours at our super slow speed) south of our intended destination.  There was a perfect secluded anchorage just off Cumberland National Seashore.  Quiet, out of the way, surrounded by nature – just what we needed to recharge our batteries…literally and figuratively.

We quickly learned that quiet, out of the way, surrounded by nature, also means being eaten alive by mosquitoes!  Every few hours we had to spray on Deep Woods Off to have any chance of survival against those evil little bugs.  We slept covered in Off and despite the overwhelming heat we would cover up with the bed sheet as an added layer between our skin and those trying to suck our blood.

That first day was hot, unbearably hot.  All I wanted to do was jump in the water, however the color of the water made me think otherwise – it was brown, not the crystal blue waters of West Palm to which I have become accustomed.  Ben said the water looked like a dark beer, but I think it was just the heat making him dream of beer!  Regardless, if I can’t see bottom, I’m not swimming in it!

Want to go for a swim in beer?

We headed on over to the island to check out the sites.  We packed up sandwiches, water and 2 bottles of bug spray.  Walking through the woods there was literally a cloud of mosquitoes hovering over us, just waiting for the Off to wear away so they could begin their feast!  Walking towards us was another couple that was slapping themselves silly.  As they got closer they desperately begged to use our Off.   There was no way we could turn them down so we made sure they had a nice generous dose from head to toe!  We walked through the woods and ended up finding some ruins (‘Old Shit’ as Ben and I like to call it) and learned a little bit about the history of the island.  We toured the ruins of Dungeness Mansion – first built by Nathaniel Greene, a Revolutionary War Officer, and later rebuilt after a fire by Thomas Carnegie, Andrew Carnegie’s brother – which also burned down.  We had the pleasure of seeing a herd of wild horses, including two babies, right there on the grounds of the mansion.  While wandering the grounds, I noticed a patch of mud by the shore

All the little black dots are actually crabs

that was moving – I could not for the life of me figure out why this spot of land appeared to be shifting.  Was the heat causing me to hallucinate?  As I walked over closer I realized the movement was crabs!  Thousands of adorable crabs scurrying all over the place.  With my curiosity settled, and relieved that I wasn’t hallucinating afterall, it was time to walk back to the dock.  We’d been there 2 hours, walked close to 4 miles and were ready to cool off…so off to the sweltering heat on the boat we went.  Fortunately, sundown brought a nice cooling breeze, allowing us to cool off…but the cold beer certainly didn’t hurt.

Submarine and escort boats headed into the base

Although it was hotter than hell, we still enjoyed our couple of days anchored off of Cumberland Island.  Probably one of the most interesting things we saw while there was a submarine!  Just across the water from our anchorage is home to the US Navy’s Kings Bay Submarine Base and we were lucky enough to see one of the submarines coming back to the base.  It was amazing to see the size of the sub and the size and amount of boats escorting it.  There was a large tug on either side of the submarine, 2 large coast guard boats following it, and several smaller boats and tugboats following the Coasties.  In addition, the USCG also had helicopters flying overhead.   Fortunately we watched from the safety of our little anchorage, with dolphins swimming nearby and covered in Deep Woods Off.

Click the Flikr photos on the side to check out all the photos from that stay, or check them out on our Facebook page.  🙂

Shrimp Dijon Pasta Salad with Asparagus


I love to cook…mostly because 9 years ago Ben and I made a deal that whoever cooked, the other one cleaned the dishes and I hate doing dishes – especially now since we  ARE our own dishwasher.  Anyway, after several recent parties of being asked for recipes, I’ve decided it’s time to start putting my recipes up for everyone to enjoy.

My mum got the original recipe for this from The Columbus Dispatch newspaper but I’ve added a few things here and there over the years.

 

1 pound penne, cooked, drained and cooled

1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces, cooked, and cooled

3 green onions finely chopped

1 red pepper (or yellow or orange or green or whatever color floats your boat) finely chopped

1 pound cooked shrimp, cut into 1 inch pieces, cooled

1 fillet of mahi mahi or other white fish, cooked and flaked and cooled

2 T chopped fresh parsley or 1 T dried parsley

Toss all in a big ole bowl, toss with the following vinaigrette and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.   (My pops prefers this meal hot, so you don’t have to cool everything if you don’t want – just cook it and toss it together and serve right away.  We prefer it cold)

Garlic Dijon Vinaigrette

4 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard (or you can use dijon, whichever you prefer)

dash of salt and pepper (I never use salt though and use plenty of pepper)

3/4 cup EVOO

as much crushed red pepper as you want (optional if you don’t like spicy)

Mix all in a blender and process until well blended.

 

 

The original recipe called for black olives in place of the sweet pepper and didn’t include the mahi.  However I’ve found that I don’t like olives but peppers are a good addition to any meal.  The first time I made this meal I didn’t have enough shrimp so I added a piece of fish and it was DEE-LISH, so it’s a must add now!  This will serve an entire family, even if your hubby is a big eater like mine.  This meal lasts the 2 of us 3 meals so I tend to make it for dinner parties or cut the recipe in half for just the two of us….unless I want leftovers.  I’ll be making this full recipe tomorrow so it will be ready to eat while we are under sail on our way to North Carolina on Monday.

 

If you come up with any additions or suggestions, please post them below, I’m always looking for ways to change things up a bit, but I’m not creative in the kitchen!!!

 

A Fun Visit in St Augustine???


Having just visited my parents in St Augustine this past January, I was pretty familiar with what there was to see, where to go, what to do, etc…. During our nice long 56 hour sail to this beautiful port town, I had compiled a list in my head of all the fun things to do with Ben:

Tour the Castillo, winery, St. George’s Street, Pirate Museum, kayak around the Mision de Dios, visit Flagler College, see the Old Senator, drink from the Fountain of youth (totally cheesy but the planetarium is worth the cheese and sulfur of the fountain!).

Mision Nombre de Dios – taken in January while touring with my folks!

We arrived on Monday and were staying through Saturday.  After 56 hours on the water, with 4 hour shifts of not very good sleep, we were both exhausted.  But we had to check in to the marina so while we were off the boat we headed over to St George’s Street in search of some place to grab a Bloody Mary – a celebratory drink after completing our longest trip.  No such luck.  But we did find a place with good coffee and pastries!  After sleeping the afternoon away we headed back over to St George’s Street for tapas and sangria, as I was in no mood to cook and we still hadn’t had our celebratory drink together!  Tuesday we had already planned to be a work day – I had photos to edit and Ben had a watermaker to fix.  We stayed on the boat all day, worked, cussed at the watermaker and worked some more.  Wednesday was the July 4th holiday but since the watermaker wasn’t fixed and a bird broke our windex we took the bikes ashore and rode over to West Marine to pick up parts.  We spent the rest of that afternoon doing more work, then had a great evening relaxing on the boat and watching the amazing fireworks…without having to deal with the crowds!  Being on a mooring at the city marina has its advantages – we had practically a front row spot for the fireworks!  By Thursday I was getting antsy to do something touristy, but we needed MORE BOAT PARTS from West Marine, so back we went.  We did however wander the grounds of the Castillo de San Marcos and toured the Pirate Museum (a must do for all boaties!).  Then we headed over to The Tasting Room for a fabulous dinner of tapas and wine.  If you ever get to St Augustine, eat at The Tasting Room – you won’t be disappointed!  If you’re a beer lover, check out A1A Brewery, where we ended up for a night cap (or 3).  They have delicious beer – get the sampler and savor each sip of all 6 beers!

Friday was our last day in St Augustine since we knew we were leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday.  So what did we do?  Biked to West Marine of course!  Actually, Ben did that on his own (just to return unneeded boat parts from the previous day’s purchase!) while I stayed in the nice air conditioning of the marina laundry room!  Yep, I spent my last day in St Augustine doing laundry.  And if you look at my list of things to do, we only did 2 – St Georges Street and the Pirate Museum.  I guess that just means we have to go back at some point!  We might not have toured as much as we wanted, but we still had a great time – relaxed, worked and enjoyed a few sites.

Now for the best part of St Augustine – the inlet!  On the way into St Augustine we noticed a large barge (named Marge) dredging the

St Augustine Lighthouse helped guide us towards the inlet.

middle of the inlet.  To the south of Marge we saw red and green buoys – go right between the two while we enter and we’re good to go…we know our navigation rules!  There was a catamaran exiting the inlet at the same time, and it was exiting on the opposite side of the barge.  The barge was hailing a catamaran on the VHF and we were sure it was the other catamaran!  The next thing we know they are jumping into their small tug boat and zooming over to the catamaran….OUR CATAMARAN…and waving us off.  Shit, turn around fast!!!  Another sailboat was following us so we hailed them and told them to follow us on the OTHER side of the barge (and of our course by the time we got to the other side of the barge our port engine crapped out).  Fortunately, we made it through the inlet just fine…eventually!  Well, after that nerve-wracking experience we thought for sure we had this inlet down pat and wouldn’t have any issues leaving, even in the dark.  The channel markers were lit and I had a spot light at the bow of the boat while Ben motored us safely out to sea.  While standing at the bow, I all of sudden saw something in the water that looked like breakers crashing in VERY SHALLOW water so I screamed for him to stop and turn around, we’re about to run aground.  Well, it was just sea foam, nothing to worry about, we were actually in 20 feet of water.  Overreact much?  We make it out through the inlet breakers and see Marge to our right and know to stay well clear of it, but all of a sudden we’re in 7 feet of water…in the inlet?  What is going on?  Where’s the water????  After a few VERY scary minutes of 7 feet of inlet water we finally make it back to 20 feet of water, clear the safe water marker and start heading north…right towards 2 shrimp boats!  Ben wanted to put everything into the throttles and outrun the shrimp boats….I wanted to completely turn around and go south a few miles so we could safely pass behind them and head out well east of them.  Ben won the argument, not wanting to add an additional 2 hours to our trip just to get east of the boats.  Throttles down and we’re going as fast as we can, but so is shrimp boat #1 (#2 was far away and no threat by this point).  We kept getting closer and closer and I kept getting more and more nervous (remember it is pitch black so all we can see are bright lights and large nets hanging over the side).  Eventually the shrimp boat slowed down and let us pass well clear of it.  But Ben is convinced we weren’t in any danger anyway.  Ugh, St Augustine inlet is NOT our friend and I don’t look forward to doing that inlet ever again!  But we learned 1 very important lesson:  never, ever, ever do a new inlet in the dark again. Period.

Castillo de San Marcos

Night Watches


Saturday nights beautiful sunset

We decided that St Augustine would be our first stop on the way up the coast to spend the summer in the Chesapeake. We calculated it at 210 miles as the tern flies (there aren’t crows over water, but there sure are a lot of terns!) and knew that a friend of ours had completed the trip in 44 hours recently, having run into bad weather. We assumed we would be able to average at least 5 knots, given the forecast of 5-10 knots of wind during the day and 10-15 knots during the evenings. By leaving at 1:30 am on Saturday (note we did NOT leave on a Friday!) we figured we’d be picking up the mooring ball in St Augustine around dinner time on Sunday. 40 hours – at 4 hour shifts that meant 5 shifts for me, 5 for Ben. Do-able. Even for this wimp.

I wanted to take the first shift…get it out-of-the-way and I’d only have 4 more shifts to go! I was slightly nervous to be alone at the helm at night (and by slightly nervous I mean legs shaking, hands sweating and butterflies summersaulting in my tummy!) having never done it before. Every other time I’ve been at the helm there have always seemingly been a zillion fishing boats to watch out for and cruise ships and cargo tankers trying to run us down, so I guess that was what I was picturing the night sails would be like, only I wouldn’t be able to see the boats! Sure, no problem, I was up for the challenge (hence the shaking legs, etc…).

Saturday nights amazing moonrise. It was almost full! It’s hard to take night photos on a moving boat!

I was not prepared for the peaceful, calm, quiet and sereneness of night sails! That first shift we motored due to a lack of wind, so that wasn’t so quiet, but my 2am-6am shift on Sunday was by far the most spectacular experience of my life! The winds had (FINALLY!!!!) picked up so we were humming along at 7+ knots. The seas were calm, calm, calm, just the way I like them! Ben was all curled up in the salon snoring his cute little snore, reassuring me that he was just around the corner if I needed anything. And then there were the stars. Oh the stars! The stars were AMAZING. We were 30 miles offshore so had no city lights lighting up the sky and all I could see for miles were stars. More stars than I even knew existed…an unbelievable, awe-inspiring amount of stars. There were no boats to dodge, as a matter of fact there was not one other boat out there with us! No land in sight, no city lights anywhere to be found, just a sea of calm blackness and stars, stars, stars. There are few times in my life when I can remember being so relaxed and feeling at peace. It was a very weird feeling, considering I am always a bundle of nerves just waiting for something to go wrong. So I just sat at the helm and gazed at the stars and felt, well I guess I just felt peace. It was a refreshing change of pace! Knowing that I’d only have 1 more 4 hour shift certainly didn’t hurt either! And then it hit me….we’re not as far along as we’re supposed to be to get to St Augustine by that afternoon. As a matter of fact, we were only at the half way point. HALF WAY? Surely we were further than half way, weren’t we? Another double-check on the GPS, another calculation confirmed that after 26 hours at this, we were in fact only…half way. So much for 40 hours.

My little dolphin friend coming to keep me coming on one of my watches! 🙂

After another full (and blazing hot) day on the water we had yet one more overnight passage to go. Sadly, this one was not as calm and serene as the previous. A small squall popped up, bringing with it 5-7 foot seas on our beam with 8-10 foot swells coming from behind, and the wind directly on our nose: a confused sea indeed….we both endured that last night watch together (except when I left Ben at the helm while I took a Dramamine and gave it some time to kick in). We decided we’d had enough and it was time for the engines to get us through the slop! And of course while going through the inlet, the port engine died and we had to enter the challenging inlet with only our starboard engine. Thankfully, I am married to Mr. Calm who just kept right on going like nothing bad had happened…he’s my hero. It ended up taking us 56 hours to get to St. Augustine. By 9:30 Monday morning we were safely attached to the mooring ball and ready to take on the town….after a long, long, long nap!

Happy Anniversary, Buckeye!


Moving day – July 2nd 2010

July 2nd 2010 we loaded up the boat with friends and started out on a journey to bring her home to West Palm Beach from her previous home in Fort Lauderdale.  We officially kicked off a new chapter in our lives as boat owners.  A thousand lessons, bruises and changes later and July 2nd 2012 marked the completion of the first leg of our 9 month journey to The Chesapeake Bay and The Bahamas – the start of another new chapter in our lives!

There have been so many changes to our lives and to Buckeye over the past 2 years.  We sold our home and downsized to a 1 bedroom apartment, which we then moved out of and put our stuff in a 15X5 storage unit.  Ben’s gone from being a sales rep with big pharma to a marketing rep for our small photo biz to our full-time broken-boat-part-fixer.  We have learned that the more you do on a boat, the more parts that break…story for another day!  🙂   I have gone from the most nervous sailor that refused to go out if the forecast called for more than 5 knots of wind or seas bigger than 2 feet (even then I would rather just leave the engines on just in case), to having completed solo night sailing watches – no engines, no Ben.  Just me, Buckeye and mother nature (I was still nervous, but considering that is just my nature, we don’t really expect less from me)!

Regardless of what Ben and I (and Sam and Bru) have been through, Buckeye has definitely seen the most changes.  She has gone from a barebones charter boat named Sebastian to a decked out cruising boat complete with 2 kitties.  We’ve added solar panels and a wind generator and 4 new batteries to be able to store all that power.  We’ve also changed the refrigeration system, added a freezer, water

Buckeye on her mooring in St Augustine

maker and a hot water heater.  Basically we make our own water from sea water, and make our own power from the sun and wind – which then powers all the comforts of home:  fridge, freezer, TV (local channels only), portable heater for the super cold nights and portable air conditioner for the unbearable nights (although the a/c is in storage so we’re sweating it out in St Augustine at the moment!).  We’ve also added all new electronics to the boat:  radar, new multi-function display (GPS/chartplotter/etc), new VHF with an AIS receiver and Sirius satellite (still to be activated).   And that’s just some of the “blue” projects  we’ve done to her.  As for the “pink” projects, we bought new pots and pans, dishes, collapsible storage bowls, collapsible mixing bowls, collapsible salad spinner, collapsible measuring cups (are you sensing a theme with the collapsible stuff?), pillows for the cockpit, memory foam mattress topper for our berth and most recently we added curtains to the salon to help reduce the heat in the daytime (God bless you Bonnie Smith!).

I don’t think that 2 years ago we really thought we would be spending the next 9 months cruising, but then again, 2 ½ years ago we didn’t think we’d be boat owners until 2013 or 2014 at the earliest.  So, happy anniversary Buckeye!  We’ve had a lot of good times on her for the past 2 years and look forward to many more good times.  There will be lots more changes to Buckeye over the years, we are both sure of that.  But we look forward to checking each one off the never-ending and ever-growing to do list!

Tropical Storm Debby Versus Mercury Marine


Today is the day we have been waiting for, impatiently, for the past 3-4 months.  We’ve planned everything around today….June 25th, 2012, the day our journey begins.  What we didn’t plan on was Tropical Storm Debby…and of course our never-ending battles with our OH-SO-RELIABLE outboard (insert sarcastic expletive about Mercury Marine here).

 

Last Monday we were making our list, checking it twice, and deciding who got the naughty chores and who got the nice.  By mid-week we were staring at our ever-growing list wondering when we were going to be able to accomplish all these things, given the weather forecast.  A low pressure system was putting a serious crimp on us being able to actually accomplish any outdoor chores.  Then the low became a tropical depression, which eventually, Friday evening during our going away party, turned into Tropical Storm Debby.  Ironic that we are trying to leave Florida to get away from hurricane season, and our departure is delayed by a tropical storm!  No worries, we’ll just wait it out.  Besides, after 11 summers in Florida I’ve realized that storms can change course in a hurry and there was a good chance that come Monday Debby would be well over in Texas and we’d be on our way to our first stop, St. Augustine.  There was nothing to do but keep plugging away at preparing to leave on Monday.

Saturday brought us gusty winds but no rain, so off we headed to get chores done.  Ben’s to do list consisted of cleaning the carburetor in the outboard, then going shopping for last-minute fishing gear.  My list was doing the laundry followed by 2 client meetings.  We reconvened at the dinghy dock with Ben not having made it shopping and the outboard not in any better working condition, and the weather beginning to deteriorate by the minute.   Back to our home we sputtered to stare at the never-ending to do list and see what Tropical Storm Debby was up to (and dream up ways to get a new outboard!).

 

Sunday we awoke to a list of: selling the car, last-minute provisioning trips to Costco and Publix, but now added to it was the unfinished business from yesterday – fishing gear and fixing the outboard – accomplishable in 1 day, no problem!  After breakfast it quickly became apparent that those things weren’t going to happen – unless we wanted to head out in the torrential downpour and tornado warnings, and drive around the flooding city shopping and selling a car.  Off we went….to our cabin to stare at the meteorologists on TV all afternoon.  Nothing to do but wait out the storm….and while we’re at it, we’ll wait until the outboard repair shop opens on Monday too!

So here it is departure day and we’re still dealing with Debby, who appears to just be sitting on top of Florida as she slowly makes her way across the state towards, you guessed it, St. Augustine.  The latest forecast puts Debby exiting over St Augustine and out into the Atlantic Ocean sometime Saturday morning.  What does that mean for us, since we were hoping to be in the Atlantic Ocean near St Augustine on Saturday?  At this point, only time will tell.  But I’ve decided the gods are not against us, they are just simply allowing us ample time to fix our outboard.  🙂

 

A Kayak Adventure


The first time I went kayaking was while visiting my friend in San Diego. I don’t remember where in San Diego we were, but I do remember it was fun and I enjoyed it….much more than the torturous canoe trips with my siblings when I was younger. I think I’ve been kayaking 3 times in my life, but have always wanted to own a kayak…especially now with an unreliable outboard on the dinghy!!! Plus, when we were down in the Keys in April, it would have been so much fun to kayak through the mangroves and check out all the interesting nooks and crannies in the shallow waters. Well, I’m happy to say another dream just came true! I am now the proud owner of 2 kayaks. Sadly, one is yellow and the other is blue, but once we cover them in OSU and Screw Blue stickers, it won’t be so bad…or embarrassing.

So how did Michigan colored kayaks end up on a boat named Buckeye? It’s a cute story really. I posted on Facebook that I was looking for used kayaks. The next thing I knew, I got an email from a woman who had 2 that she wanted to sell because she and her husband no longer used them…and boats are meant to be used, not sit on dry land. I emailed back that I needed to sell our 46” TV in order to have the money to buy the kayaks, but that we were definitely interested. Well, lo and behold she emailed back about trading as she and her husband were in the market for a new TV!!!! How lucky is that? So we headed over to drop off the TV (my beloved TV that I miss) and picked up their kayaks (their beloved kayaks that they will miss). In talking with Susan and Wayne (our kayak for TV traders) we found out that they used to live in the Chesapeake area and that was where they used the kayaks! How ironic that we are taking the kayaks back up to their home town!  Susan mentioned she will be there in August for a concert…ironically again, we will be there in August too! We’re going to have to meet up for sure! And she and her husband are photographers! We tried to have them out to the boat for a sunset sail and dinner, but our outboard crapped out (YES AGAIN!), but as soon as it’s working, we’ll get them out for a sail and let them say hi to their old kayaks!

What I didn’t anticipate, as a new kayak owner, is the difficulty in getting in and out of them from a boat. On land it’s no big deal, you push the kayak into the water, jump in and off you go. From a boat, it’s a totally different story. The current is ripping under the kayak, trying to tear it away from you and the choppy seas are making the kayak and the boat both bounce around. Add to that mix my lack of balance and my complete and utter clumsiness, and you have the makings of a comedy sketch! Here I am, holding on to the side of the boat, with my right foot on the steps and my left foot planted on the kayak, trying to keep the kayak from floating away or rocking too much (yes I know it’s bad luck to step onto a boat with your left foot but I really have no choice in this situation!). Next, I need to get my right foot into the kayak and let go of the boat, all without tipping the kayak, slipping and banging my head on the boat, or losing my balance and taking a nice refreshing splash in the water. Somehow I manage to make a rather controlled (yet somewhat uncontrolled) fall /slip into the kayak, land my butt on the seat and say a prayer that I’m still dry. Yay for me, time for fun!

If you can believe it, getting out is a little more challenging than getting in. I can’t just “fall” out of the kayak and into the boat. Although on every approach, I do contemplate just falling into the water and climbing up the swim ladder onto the boat. I have yet to actually try that. So instead I have to climb out of the kayak. Which involves an oh-so (un)graceful act of balancing myself while standing up in the rocking kayak, holding on to the side of the boat, and trying to get up the nerve to quickly step onto the boat, before the kayak tips over or I lose my balance and take the ever-looming splash. This all takes place while trying to hold the line on the kayak, and not bump my head on the bottom of the dinghy hanging from the davits above me. Miraculously, I have yet to cut, bruise or injure myself with these kayaks! Not only that, but we’ve also come to find out that I’m pretty good at this kayaking thing. I can maneuver the boat quickly and easily and really enjoy it. Do they have kayaking in the Olympics? This could be my new future! Ok, maybe not!

Every Little Step


I met life long friend, Britt, my freshman year in high school.  We had mutual friends and found out we lived fairly close to each other, so we starting walking to and from school together.  We hit it off immediately.  We were on the same lacrosse team, took as many

Our junior year in high school – weren’t we too cute?

classes together as we could, snuck out after dark together, got in trouble together, worked at the same nursing home, went on vacations together….we were attached at the hip.  To this day, we still are.  Not literally anymore, since we live on opposite sides of the country.  However we text almost daily (sometimes just Bobby Brown or trashy NWA lyrics to make each other laugh!), we also Facebook just as often (when she hasn’t deactivated her account), and try to see each other every few years.  The last time we got together was before Ben and I bought the boat, so we were anxious to get her out here.

We finally did just that a few weeks ago!  I was so excited that I had made a list of all the fun things we would do together!  Go sailing every day, snorkel, kayak, let her climb the mast, all kinds of fun stuff were on my to do list!  She arrived on a Monday afternoon so we spent that evening getting her settled on the boat, making dinner, and catching up.  Tuesday the weather sucked so we spent another day hanging out on the boat…sang some Bobby Brown songs (and a few NWA songs too), annoyed the crap out of Ben, tried to kayak but it was too rough for me, played some board games, and basically spent a lazy day hanging out (and cleaning up after Brutus but that story will be told another day).  Wednesday was a little better so we finally went kayaking for an hour, then took the boat for a bit of a cruise through the Intracoastal and headed downtown to check out the Farmer’s Market (I finally got to check 2 things of my “to do with Britt” list).  After kettlecorn and raspberry lemonade, we headed over for some sushi, followed by gelato…pig out fest it was, and worth every splurged calorie.  The fest continued back on the boat as we polished off more kettlecorn and watched a movie.

Thursday’s weather was even better as Tropical Storm Beryl was much further up the coast and not causing as many problems here in South Florida.  Britt and I launched the kayaks, loaded up the snorkel gear and headed up to Peanut Island, which is about a mile north of us.  Ben was all too relieved to get us off the boat so he could have a little piece and quiet and take a nap! He’s so patient with us crazy

24 years later, we’re still goofing around together!

girls!  Anyway, we landed the kayaks in the marked swimming beach on the east side of the island.  The incoming tide made for a bit of a chop while snorkeling and the rocky bottom quickly got on my nerves so we decided to check out a different part of the island.  We finally found a calm, sandy spot on the northern side of the island, but unfortunately didn’t see many fish….just some cute crabs that Britt enjoyed chasing!  While walking back to the kayaks I spotted what we later found out was a fire worm.  Britt wanted to touch it but thankfully I wouldn’t let her.  No touching marine life – you never know what cute little thing is poisonous or dangerous!  We decided it was time to head back to the boat since we’d already been gone a couple of hours and Ben was probably going to start worrying if he didn’t see us soon.  Off we headed for another fun kayak adventure.  And what an adventure that trip back was.  Britt’s kayak kept turning to the left so much she ended up paddling backwards to give her left arm a break!  (on a side note, Ben was having the same issue with that kayak so we thought it was something wrong with the kayak.  I used it yesterday and didn’t have any problems though, so I think it was user error, sorry guys).  I offered to tow her in my kayak, but she decided to suck it up.  She’s the adventurous and fit one of the 2 of us, so if little wimpy ME could do it, she could too.  We finally made it back to the boat just in time, as Ben was about to launch the dinghy and come and look for us….but probably just because he didn’t want to have to cook dinner!

Friday was departure day but the weather was finally idyllic for a sail so out we headed to the ocean to get a sail in.  We were only out for about 2 hours but the weather was nice and Britt finally got to enjoy her first real sail on Buckeye.  The first of many more to come!  Hopefully, she will be joining us for a month (or so) when we head over to the Bahamas in the fall!  So Britt, here’s to “Every Little Step” we take in the Bahamas!   I better go get my Lacrosse sticks out of storage!  🙂