Monday, February 28, 2011

Still Hanging in Hollywood

Six years ago Hans and I came down to Hollywood for Valentine's Day. We ended up at Le Tub, a very rustic restaurant with old toilets and tubs that have been re-purposed into planters full of flowers and even furniture. They make a huge pot of gumbo every day and I'm glad I got to eat some back then because they ran out of it the two times we were there this time.

Anyway it's right on the ICW and we had walked up and down the waterway and admired all the boats that were docked. Gee, wouldn't it be neat to someday arrive here and be a part of this someday we said.

And six years later we did.

It gave me goosebumps last week when we motored past Le Tub in our very own boat. Who'd have thought it would really happen.

We were able to take some friends out into the ocean on Saturday. We didn't have much wind but we did have a few left over waves from the previous day which made it a little lumpy.

There was quite a bit of traffic on the water and for God's sake why on earth everyone felt the need to cluster in one big pack is beyond me! It's an ocean! There's plenty of room for everyone.

There was one fishing boat that was trolling along with huge lines out in all directions and it even had a kite flying way off its stern that apparently dangles bait in the water in order to draw more fish in. We were under sail and when we got too close they screamed, got on the radio, and when Hans told them we were under sail and they were powering, they said, "You've got a rudder don't you? You effing sailing people are all alike!" We then watched a couple of other boats come close but we didn't hear anything on the radio. Now keep in mind these were not commercial fisherman which we do have to stay away from. I just don't know why they didn't go further out and avoid all the smaller boats.

Dave is from Pittsburgh and was very glad to get away from the weather up north.

Dave's nephew, Kevin (who lives here in FL) and his girlfriend Norelle.

Kevin works here and Norelle is finishing her degree this summer. I had such a good time talking with her and if I were twenty four I'd want to be her best friend.

Wilbur doing his best lap dog impersonation for Norelle.

We ended up having a pretty good day at sea and later on we all went to dinner. Dave's wife Kathy was able to join us after driving around for over a half hour while trying to find a parking space! I don't miss traffic.

This is what the ICW looks like from our many colored bridge.

I made this dress and was just able to finish it the night before we got on board back in January. I never thought the weather would ever be nice enough to wear it and now it's almost too hot!

Tomorrow we have access to a car and we're going to do a huge provisioning run for last minute things like snorkeling gear, dog food, etc... and then we're off to Miami.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hollywood, FL

We arrived in Hollywood yesterday and are currently at a marina since Hans has a business meeting in Ft. Lauderdale on Monday.

Here we are with the ocean behind us.
Wilbur was incarcerated on the boat since all the signs said that not only are dogs not allowed on the beach they aren't allowed on the 'broadwalk' (we call it the boardwalk).

In Europe you can take your dog nearly everywhere (I've seen them in restaurants and even the subway) and I wish the USA would get that stick out of their a$$ and let responsible dog owners walk about freely.

We ended up at the 'Broadwalk' (as opposed to the Boardwalk??) which stretches for a few miles and I insisted on getting my feet wet before heading back to the boat.

Finally!!! The Welcome to Ft. Lauderdale sign at one of the 30 bridges we had to pass under for the last three days. I have to admit that after reading about how much trouble a lot of cruisers have had with bridge operators etc... we really had no trouble whatsoever. Maybe it has to do with my pleasant radio voice(?) .

You see, when we first started out on this voyage back in October, I was assigned the duty of radio communicator and I still remember at the beginning of our three hour tour when a speed boat captain asked permission for a 'slow pass'. I gave the go ahead and when the boat did indeed pass slowly with virtually no wake I responded with the comment, "You just made the Knotty Cat purrrrr!" The captain of the other boat meowed back at me and as I sat in the companionway giggling like a school girl, Hans called out to me, "What are you doing over there?"

"Umm, nothing?"

"You realize the radio isn't for fun don't you?"

"Of course I do!"


Here's a freighter from Hans' homeland.

Look at this huge freighter with all the containers sitting on it. How something like this gets across the ocean without tipping over, I'll never know!

Ft. Lauderdale is supposedly the yachting boat capital of the world and I believe it. We've never seen so many huge boats in our life.

Now that we're at a marina in Hollywood, if we want to get to the beach or any of the local shops, we need to traverse a bridge.

By foot.

Go figure!

We arrived at the bridge just as it was going up.
Hans looks like a little school boy with his shorts and white socks!

But look at how fancy schmancy this bridge is!

It changes colors. Just like the horse of many colors from The Wizard of Oz.


Lime green.


Friends from Pittsburgh arrived in town today, and tomorrow we're taking them out for a spin in the ocean.

NOAA promises light winds and calm seas, but we all know that NOAA is a habitual liar (I would love to say lying bitch, but I'm too nice) so God only knows what we're in for.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Knotty Cat Interview

Livia from the blog Newly Salted recently asked us if we'd like to be interviewed. And before she could take it back, I said yes!

Newly Salted is an interview site for cruisers who've been bumbling around for under two years and we certainly fit into that category.

Hans (who has been sailing since he was a teenager) and I (who had never been on a sail boat until I met Hans 7 years ago) bought our Island Packet Cat in January of 2008 and moved her from Massachusetts to Maryland with the intention of eventually moving aboard full time. We moved on board for what we hope is for good in January of this year and finally arrived in Florida a couple of weeks ago.

We both sold our houses so now instead of wondering when we'll have to replace a roof, or the furnace etc... we now spend our time replacing water pumps that break down just before company is due to arrive, leaky hoses that give up the ghost and saturate the contents of our lockers, and "Oh God! that's not the head I smell is it"!?

Of course when I do something I go whole hog and we ended up bringing a pit bull puppy with us.
Wilbur is our rescue project and we couldn't ask for a better companion. He learned to use his potty patch within a week and as you can see here, he also helps navigate.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?

Actually, I read so many blogs before hand that I think we had a pretty good idea of what to expect. However traveling the ICW has been an eye opener for us both. We didn't realize how much the tides affect the currents and even though we think we've tried to time ourselves perfectly it doesn't always turn out that way and we end up with the current on our nose half the time.

In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?

Nothing major but trying to get our mail is a pain. Even in this electronic age I'm surprised by how much paper stuff we still need. Right now my daughter sends it on when we finally know we'll be somewhere to actually receive it.

I also don't like not being able to wash my hair more often, but when we're at anchor I can't use a hair dryer. If the weather is warm it's not a big deal but if it's cold out, my hair, which is really thick, won't dry. Hans doesn't have that problem!

What mistakes did you make in your first year of cruising?

Trying to keep a schedule and biting off way more than we could chew. This summer we bought a new dinghy and motor, picked up our newly repaired sail, a new bimini, brought a dog and cat with us, and then tried to fully provision our boat. All of this in one weekend!
It was a nightmare and of course since the marina wanted us out of there we took off towing our dinghy complete with huge motor attached and ended up sailing in horrible seas!

What do you enjoy about cruising that you didn't expect to enjoy?

I'm surprised that I don't miss TV. We do have one on board but we only use it when we're at marinas. We have a digital converter and a good antenna so it's free and we can always pick up something if we want to. And not that it had a good ending (we're from Pittsburgh!) but we were able to watch the Superbowl in the comfort of our boat and the beer was cheap.

At first when things broke down it would drive Hans crazy but he's really learning a lot. He's done oil and impeller changes, replaced our water pump when it quit on us one too many times, and he loves to come up with too many ideas on how to get our dinghy up on the stern sans dinghy davits!

What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?

Being at the mercy of Mother Nature. In the old days if the weather was nice, we went sailing. if it wasn't, we didn't. Now it doesn't matter whether we like it or not, we're in it. Period. Getting up in the middle of the night when a 40 knot storm blows through because we want to be prepared for the anchor to drag. Having thunder hit overhead so hard the fillings in my teeth rattle. Trying to stay warm. Trying to stay cool!!!

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you didn't find to be true?

We were both laughing the other day about how everyone perceives our sailing life. Everyone thinks our life is like the covers of all the sailing and boating magazines. The weather is always nice, the sun is always shining, the ladies don't have filthy hair, and we lie around and drink Margaritas all day long. If the magazines showed how glamorous sailing really is; bruises, dirty fingernails, no makeup; I have a feeling boat sales would be lower than they already are!

What is something that you read or heard about cruising, that you found particularly accurate?

I'd read (via Windtravelers blog) that your working systems are usually going to be 80/20. 80% working and 20% not. Very true and there have been times when 80% would have been heaven!

Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting cruising?

Dinghy davits for sure!!!! There have been a lot of times I would have loved going ashore but messing with the dinghy and its motor both before and after an excursion just wasn't worth it to me. We also don't have a generator and we'd love to get a diesel one but we hate to spend money on a gasoline one right now. We have gas on board for the dinghy motor but Hans hates to have to have large quantities of gas and diesel if we can get by with just one fuel.

What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?

Right now we think we're okay. We learned last summer that we really don't need tons of clothes and I don't really need five pairs of sandals.

I also ditched the microwave since I don't use it. I did buy a portable ice maker for $150.00 and it's already paid for itself. It starts making ice within ten minutes and if it gets left at the dock, I'm going with it!

What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why.

For now we'll continue on South and hopefully head to the Bahamas. After that we'll probably come back over and sail back up the Atlantic coast. Having a dog on board limits your destinations a bit as they are not allowed in the BVI because of rabies. But that's okay, we found out last summer when we were in the Chesapeake and Potomac that there are tons of places to see and go and I have no problem with limiting myself to this hemisphere!

What has been the scariest event you've experienced so far?

We've gone through some heavy seas that probably weren't dangerous but certainly weren't fun and a couple of times our anchor dragged but the scariest event for me was when Hans fell off the boat at 4 AM while we were at a marina. He wanted to adjust our dock lines due to the strong currents and because of the frosty surface he slipped and fell in between the boat and the dock. He also broke our rule that no one goes aboveboard at night without notifying anyone and the huge bang he made when he went in is what woke me up. I had to lower our swim ladder (we've rigged it now so that it can be lowered by someone in the water) and he was able to get out. He did end up with seven stitches in the palm of his hand and I think he got off very lucky!

When all is said and done though, living on a boat is different. It's not for the weak at heart or those who live for the Midnight Buffet (not when you're asleep by 9 PM!). Showers (and I'm not talking rain) are sometimes few and far between, and thank God I've never had a manicure so I don't have to worry about missing them. But nothing beats watching a sunset or a full moon rising... sitting in the cockpit and being surrounded by the lights of a new city...grilling a steak in a secluded anchorage and then enjoying a Bloody Mary the next morning... need I say more?

Friday, February 18, 2011

West Palm Beach

We spent two really nice nights anchored at Peck Lake. We beached the dinghy on the shore, walked through a small path to the other side of a strip of land and then VOILA!!! We were on the beach and Wilbur became a real salty dog.

Before heading to the beach however, we decided to replace the Eye splice on our anchor.

Wilbur gets his first splicing lesson.

Can you tell he had fun? I spent most of my time trying to keep my shoulder in its socket and avoiding very pretty but nasty Men-O-War. They were everywhere.


You can't really see it but his nose is covered in sand. Wilbur's not Hans'.

I'm a huge copy cat (no pun intended) and a lot of cruisers write the names or initials of their boats in the sand.

I did my best but I honestly couldn't remember what our logo looks like! I'll do better next time.

A full moon at Peck Lake.

In order to avoid seven bridges (yes, seven!!) we decided to head outside. We left St. Lucies inlet and came in at Fort Worth. Winds were fore casted to be 8-12 E/NE with 3-5 foot waves.

They got the wave part right but we ended up with E/SE winds and while that's not a big deal we ended up rolling all day. Imagine being on your most hated amusement park ride for over six hours, and yes I tossed my cookies!

Stay tuned for our next post where we get interviewed by Newly Salted.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Still in Vero Beach

We hooked up to a mooring here in Vero Beach Sunday afternoon and we are finally enjoying what I would call perfect weather. Cloudless sunny skies with temperatures in the 70's!


Poor Wilbur's eyes nearly popped out of his head the first time a dog burst out of the mangroves right behind where our boat is moored (although I was pretty damn surprised too!).

It turns out there's a dog park within a stones throw from our mooring but the only way to get there is to dinghy way down the shore and then walk to it.

We've been there twice but since Wilbur doesn't listen very well, I had to keep him on his leash nearly the whole time.

I told Hans I really need to get my hair colored but I think I'll steer clear of the stylist that takes care of this bunch!
I smell a lawsuit!

These are the mangroves right beside our boat. Sometimes we swing so close that I think we could actually jump to shore if we wanted to. Don't think Wilbur hasn't thought about that already and I'm keeping a sharp eye out.

This mornings breakfast was bacon, eggs over easy, and toast.

Today was also a Bloody Mary morning.
I think it's a national holiday.

This is the first real few days that we've been able to relax on this trip and not feel pressured to MOVE!!! So I've finally been able to do some reading. I took some of my already read books to the book swap at the Marina and ended up finding Twilight. Since there seems to be a huge following of this book and its sequels I finally decided to give it a try.

Then I got back to the boat and read the sappy three sentence blurb on the back cover that's supposed to hook and reel me in. I think the chances of me suddenly going crazy and screaming hysterically at a Clay Aiken concert (I waited on a bunch of Claymates once and it was surreal!) are a lot greater than my actually enjoying this book.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Next stop Velcro Beach

Also known as Vero Beach.

Apparently many cruisers discover Vero Beach to be a wonderful place to visit and then find it very difficult to leave.

Therefore: Velcro Beach.

But on to the big news.

Yesterday I posted my concerns about leaving Wilbur alone on the boat. Since we're all together pretty much 24/7 he's started having issues with being left alone. So last night when we went out to dinner with some friends we locked him in our berth along with a peanut butter kong and a bowl of water in the head.

Before we left.

"Sure, go ahead and leave me! I'll keep warm somehow."

Poor baby.

Upon our return.

"Geez, what's the big deal?"

I admit to being a little anxious while we were away and fully expected to find that we'd need to replace the door to our berth. You can imagine how relieved I was to come back and find everything was just fine and as far as we know Wilbur was a good boy.

At least we think he was. Hans left his phone behind when we went out and we're hoping we don't get a shocking phone bill full of 900 calls to Lonely Pretty Pitties in the Big Cities.

Friday, February 11, 2011

On to Eau Gallie

Which is right before Melbourne.

We managed to get the dinghy and its motor all put away this morning. Tonight after three nights at anchor we're going to stay at a marina where I intend to put their shower facilities to good use! I can't remember the last time I washed my hair and that's not a good thing or a pretty sight! In the summer I don't need to use a hair dryer but if I tried the same thing in the winter my hair would never dry! I sincerely hope the day is not too far off where this is not a problem!

Wilbur love to do his own 'watches'. He jumps from port to starboard, lies down for a bit, and then start all over again.
He particularly likes to spot dolphins.

What he doesn't like is to be left all alone as seen from the evidence he left behind from the last time we crated him.
That black stuff are the remains of the bottom of his crate.

We are going out to dinner with a friend of Hans' who now lives in this area, and we plan to shut Wilbur in our berth sans crate and see how he fares.

I almost don't want to see what we come back to.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Such bizarre weather!

Tuesday was bitter cold and we ended up wearing our foul weather gear all day.

I mean, c'mon, we're in Florida!

Wednesday was beautiful and sunny, and I actually broke out my capris.

Today we wanted to dinghy ashore for some errands but a blow came through early in the morning and we had to hang on for balance while we moved around the boat. The sun never came out, the wind was bitter cold, and you can bet we did not go ashore!


Horribly cold but the sun was out and even though Wilbur was freezing he likes to be with Hans.

Greg, from Harvey, arrived the day before us and asked Hans if we wanted to do some sightseeing with him. I opted to stay at anchor with Wilbur since he's been having some separation anxiety issues (like destroying the hard plastic bottom of his crate).

Here's Greg at the Warbird Museum.

Check it out! Greg sent this treat for Wilbur. It's a piece of left over steak.

He got some for dinner last night and he'll get the rest tonight.

That dog eats better than us. We get chile dogs and Hamburger Helper.

This is what I came down here for!!

Even if it was short lived I enjoyed every second of it!!

So what does one do all day long in dreary rainy weather while the boat rolls and bucks in a very unfun way?

Torture the dog that's what.

Wilbur didn't think that taking a picture of him with a pillow on his head and dubbing him Prince Wilbur was very funny.

He's just lucky Hans drew the line at putting a dress and makeup on him!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Daytona Beach

Well, just a bit further from Daytona.

We ended up at Seven Seas Marina in Port Orange yesterday and it's a bargain at 90 cents per foot! It's family owned and has been in business for around 30 years. The docks are fixed as opposed to floating but if you tie up properly there are no problems. It's also a DIY yard and they have a nice ship store.

They have one bathroom each for men and women but it's shared by Pat's Riverfront Diner which is open from 7 AM to 2 PM. We had breakfast there this morning and they appear to have a lot of business and I noticed it was packed until they closed.

However the showers (with fantastic water pressure) are in the bathroom too, so unless you feel comfortable locking the customers out while you get cleaned up, it would be a kindness to them to wait until the diner closes in order to use the facilities. The washer and dryer are located in the entry way to the potties and you can say "Hey" to people as they pass by. The staff is just as friendly as can be and will even take you to Publix, at no charge, so you can stock up.

Today, when Bob dropped me off at the store it was a muggy 80 degrees. A half hour later when I called for him to come and pick me up, the temperature had dropped into the 50's, icy sheets of rain were slashing through the parking lot sideways, and horror of all horrors the lottery machine was down due to high winds! When I got back to the boat Hans told me he'd clocked the winds at 36 knots.
Tornado warnings had been issued and I'm glad we weren't at an anchorage.

Anyway I love a Mom and Pop kind of place so this really worked for me.

Just one of the many bridges here in Florida.

Colorful chairs along the ICW.
Yesterday I was worried about finding a good anchorage between St. Augustine and Daytona but luckily Greg, from Harvey, found a nice little place at a now defunct cement plant and he let us know that he saved a spot for us.
After we got ourselves settled in he rowed on over in his dinghy and we had crackers, wine, and cheese.
Wilbur loves company and after a wild welcome, settled himself down and snored the whole way through happy hour.
I forgot to take a picture!
Greg's dinghy can be folded for easy storage.
Hans had considered one of these at one point but I told him I would never get into anything that resembled a row boat with him!
Been there done that!
This was one of the calmest anchorages we've had since entering the ICW.
Tomorrow we hope to get as far as Titusville.
Wish us luck!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Next stop, Daytona Beach

We had a very quiet night on our mooring last night as compared to Thursday night when the wind howled and waves bashed against the boat all night long.

After about an hour of getting the dinghy motor off the dinghy and back onto our boat and then hoisting the dinghy itself onto our stern (I'm telling you right now there are dinghy davits in our future!) we left St. Augustine at 11 AM, much later than we wanted to.

We're going to have to anchor tonight but unfortunately there are very few choices within our time frame of motoring. We'll either have to anchor early or late and I don't like doing this at night.

Wilbur keeps his ears open at all times. I think he's hoping someone on shore will call out to him and beg him to please come live with them so he can get off this crazy boat.

There's just something about horse drawn buggies that everyone seems to like. Unless of course you're on an episode of Seinfeld and someone has fed the horse a can of beans.

Here is a foggy view of the Bridge of Lyons last night from inside the Knotty Cat.

Last night we went to Tini's Martini Bar with some fellow sailors. We met Greg (whose boat is named Harvey) back in Jacksonville Beach and caught up with him again in St. Augustine. He invited us and another couple, Connie and Andre, to join him. This is the first time we've actually had a chance to go out and socialize with cruisers we've met via the intracoastal and we had a great time.

I mean really, how can an evening that involves chocolate martinis be bad?

We're hoping yesterdays replacement of the impeller raw water pulley holds up today as we now head to Daytona.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Stuck in St. Augustine

You're not going anywhere buddy!

After Wilbur's great escape we're trying to keep a better eye (and grip) on him.

We arrived in St. Augustine, FL on Monday after an uneventful day in the canal. We had no sooner anchored on the northern side of the Bridge of Lyons that Joey and Christine from Bright Eyes came zipping up to us in their dinghy. They'd been at the beach and were on their way back to their boat when they spotted us.

I'm sorry to say they left early the next morning though and are already in Daytona. We thought we'd be right behind them but that's not happening now.

Here is our Knotty Cat as seen from the bridge. Yesterday we moved to a mooring as it's been very windy and the
currents are pretty strong.

For the first time during this trip we finally put the dinghy in the water and hooked up the motor. We were all happy when the motor fired up nicely.

A view of the A1A restaurant from our boat.

St. Augustine really is quite beautiful and I guess we could be stuck somewhere a lot worse.


So why are we stuck?

After running around town all day, once with Wilbur and once without, we decided to fire up an engine in order to charge up some equipment. I'm not sure how long white smoke was pouring out of the exhaust before I discovered it when I went up to the cockpit. We now need to get a new pulley for our raw water pump. Hans discovered that the opening where the screw holds it in place is now 'out of round'. He checks the belts etc... every day and he was sure that everything was nice and tight.

I have to say though that this bothers me a lot more than the fact that my nose tells me we have a leaky hose in the holding tank.

Stinky stuff I can handle, engine problems disturb me!