Saturday, January 28, 2012


Saturday, January 28

Late again in posting to our blog, right?  But this time we have an excuse.  (Well, we always have an excuse, but this time it's a bona fide good one.)  We lost our email capability, both sending and receiving, on Jan. 23 and only got everything working again yesterday.  So please excuse our tardiness in keeping you up to speed with our progress.  We have added photos this time (yea, Al!) but we haven't quite yet figured out how to caption them (work for another day).

The end of another gorgeous day

That being said, we are getting closer and closer to The Bahamas!  Wahoo!!  We left Fort Myers Beach last Monday, Jan. 23, and had a gorgeous overnight sail to Boot Key Harbor in the Florida Keys.  The wind was 10-15 knots, the largest wave we saw was less than a foot high, and the trip could not have been more perfect (this being a far cry from the leg from Pensacola to Ft. Myers Beach).

And the water only gets better from here on out.  

 We arrived at Boot Key Harbor in Marathon on Tuesday afternoon and anchored just outside, along with several other boats.  Boot Key Harbor Marina is an amazing place.  It has 286 mooring balls and the protocol is to sign up for one after you arrive.  Four days later, we are still anchored but have moved Wind Dancer into the mooring area, which is calmer than where we were initially, and we think our name will reach the top of the list for a mooring either today or tomorrow.  Update:  we got our mooring!  Yea!!!  In any case,  including the anchored boats, there are well over 300 boats here, most of which are sailboats.  Never have we seen so many masts in one place!  Many of the people here live aboard year 'round while others, such as ourselves, are transient cruisers who are generally planning trips either to The Bahamas or points south.

Dinghying in to Boot Key Harbor Marina

 One neat feature here is that the marina has a sign-up board where cruisers post where they are going...and when.  We have met another couple who is also headed to the Exumas and we'll probably sail with them when we leave here.  Right now, that timeline appears to be at the end of this week, at the earliest.  For our non-sailing friends:  When crossing the Gulf Stream, you have to avoid going whenever there is (or has recently been) a north wind, since the Stream carries a substantial current running north.  A north wind going against that current sets up awful seas that would make the crossing to The Bahamas a truly dangerous undertaking.  Our first possible "weather window" in which to leave therefore appears to be Thursday.  We have enlisted the services of Chris Parker, a weather forecaster of almost godlike renown for sailors in the Caribbean.  He not only gives you a daily forecast for the area in which you are sailing but will also (for a very reasonable fee) give personalized travel itineraries.  You tell him where you want to sail to and he tells you what day is best to leave and what weather conditions to anticipate along the way (wind, wave height, etc.).  He gives you the exact waypoints along the route to your destination as well.   It's a great service to be able to take advantage of when sailing in unfamiliar territory and we are delighted to have found him.

The view from the galley port (window to you land lubbers)

Other than the above, no real news.  Oh, yes!  We found a used spinnaker in excellent condition that fits our boat (at a wonderful price!) so we're ready for light winds whenever they show themselves.  Hopefully we'll be able to get a photo of Wind Dancer flying her spinnaker one of these days and will post it on the blog.  (The folks that sold us the spinnaker had posted the listing on the board at Boot Key Harbor.  When they found out that we didn't have a car, they brought the spinnaker to the marina for us and afterward they even took us to Home Depot to pick up a couple of things.  How nice!  Thank you, Dan & Linda!  The boating community is truly unlike anything we have ever experienced.  Everyone is so incredibly helpful.  And since you already share a major interest with everyone you meet (boats!), conversations are easily begun, leading to easy friendships.

Speaking of friendships, we have been invited to join some other folks on their boat this afternoon, so we're getting ready to head out.

"Is that land I see?"  Glory be, it is!

Thanks once again for following us.  We'll post again as soon as something cool happens.  In the meantime,

Fair Winds from the Crew of Wind Dancer
Sue, Al, Sophie & Chelsea

Several photos follow (we'll get better at this, folks)

Chelsea recovering after a hard day of dolphin watching!  (It's exhausting work.)

Sophie checking out the neighbors (she thinks every boat has a cat on it...and she loves cats!)

Two little sailors begging for a dinghy ride

Home sweet home

Another view of our living/dining room

Our favorite place to kick back and have a glass of wine at the end of the day.  Wish you were here!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Tuesday, January 17

Holy cow, I hadn't realized how long it has been since we last posted to our blog!  Thanks go to all of you who wrote to us (primarily to ascertain whether or not we were still alive).  Yes, all is currently well...but we had a rough go of it for awhile.  During the really rough trip over to Fort Myers Beach from Pensacola coming across the Gulf, we took on a lot of water over the bow and, unbeknownst to us, we had a leak on the forward port deck at the chainplate, which allowed water to enter the boat...right into the bottom of the mattress.  The black mold continued to expand until one day we realized how sick I (Sue) had become.  Al had started showing symptoms first, with what he thought was a cold & sore throat.  Sue, being leery of catching Al's cold, opted to sleep on the settee in the saloon area and was semi-ok there.  However, once she decided that Al was probably no longer contagious, she hopped back into bed with him, only to find that she could barely swallow the next morning.  Still thinking that it was a cold (or possibly breathing the air from the "red tide" that had recently inundated the Fort Myers area), she persevered, only to begin having huge coughing attacks and a bacterial infection that developed in her lymph glands in her throat.  When we FINALLY got smart and lifted up the mattress, it was amazing to see the mold that had been growing underneath us while we slept.  We got the mattress off the boat and we got Sue off the boat (along with a dose of antibiotics), driving her to the Florida Keys to a little motel where she stayed for three days, taking cortisone and breathing much better air.  Today she is on the mend (the mattress is toast), Al has cleaned the interior of the boat of mold, and he is now in the process of re-caulking the teak decking to seal off any leaks (a really difficult and messy business that takes a lot of practice to do well...but he is fast becoming a pro at it and the newly caulked area looks wonderful!)

In any case, the above is only one of many reasons we have continued staying in the Fort Myers area.  We have enjoyed being able to spend some time with Al's older brother, Jim, and his love, Phyllis.  Also,  Al's younger brother, Glenn, and his wife, LeeAnn, arrived yesterday from Erie to spend several months down here in their new home, getting away from dreary Erie's wintry days, so it will be great fun getting to spend some time with them as well.  Jack & Tatiana on Pashka (who we "buddy boated" with from Pensacola) have today left us and are heading to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson (a day's sail west from Key West, FL).  Our understanding is that it is gorgeous there and the snorkeling is phenomenal.  We hope to get there one day.  In the meantime, Al's feverishly working on caulking and sanding the deck (which he secretly loves doing).  We want to get it done before we do any additional sailing where we might once again encounter less than optimal weather.  The current plan (and we have found that any of our plans are only good for one day at a time) is to leave Fort Myers either at the end of this week or the beginning of next and to sail down to Marathon in the Florida Keys, staying briefly at Boot Key Harbor, which has a huge mooring field and is loaded with other cruising sailors such as ourselves.  We then plan on sailing to The Bahamas where Sue's son, Mark, his wife, Citlali, and their one-year-old little one, Roman, will be joining us in late February.  Due to Roman's recent spurt of activity (we understand he is crawling like a demon and is close to walking), Mark & Citlali have opted to find a place on land to stay (once we can tell them where to start looking!) and day sail with us rather than stay aboard full time.  We therefore want to get to The Bahamas as soon as possible so that we can get the lay of the land, at least to the point of figuring out where we might best be able to hook up with them on a daily basis.  Right now, having never been to The Bahamas, it doesn't appear to be an easy task.  We don't even know what island to send them to!  Ah, well.  These things have a way of working themselves out and we think we'll all have a ball.

Once again, thanks to all of you who have inquired as to whether or not we were still alive and kicking; we really appreciate your following our progress (such as it's been lately).  We'll try to be better at keeping you up to date in future postings.  Until then,

Fair Winds from the Crew of Wind Dancer
Sue, Al, Sophie & Chelsea