We are now in Gulfport, Florida just outside of St. Petersburg. May 1st we started heading back home. We may be back by July 4th, we never know where we will be or when…

We have been to many wonderful places and seen so many beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

I have decided to just post a couple of photos and when we get home I will complete the story. Using WIFI is a must and we only have limited access.  I hope you have enjoyed our journal, someday I may tell you the rest of the story.  🙂

 


Some of you have already seen this article. I never got around to posting it here until now.

After posting a note on facebook about my onboard studio, my friend, Joan Vienot, was contacted by Plein Air Magazine. They asked her for my contact information because they wanted to do an article about me. It was a fun experience. Below is the link.

Outdoor Painter

Thanks Joan for making me famous!

Enjoy. Brenda

 

Catch Up Time


I seem to always be behind with my posts. The days just slip away. I am going to keep this short and catch up to current day. (maybe not so short) Ha ha

March 20 thru April 18 – Titusville Municipal Marina

We arrived in Titusville after a few days at anchor. We have been having engine troubles so decided to stop here for repairs. Also, I am due for a dental implant so I decided to have that scheduled while at this marina.

After researching dental surgeons with the help of my sister, Anita, I chose Christopher Williams. This process required 4 visits over a month. He usually does more followup but we are leaving town. Excellent surgeon and staff. If you ever need any dental surgery, contact his office.

I am a total scaredy-cat when it comes to dental work. I had all of the work done with only local anesthesia. Dr Williams and his staff were very compassionate and understanding, they also arranged my schedule so we could leave town sooner. Dr Williams provided me with a letter of explanation and all x-rays that I could take to another dentist when I get the final crown attached. Excellent and professional all the way.

Anita Webb, my sister, lent us her car while we are in Titusville. This allowed us to go to the dentist and explore the area for future relocation. Most generous!

Anita asked if I would paint over the paintings she has in her family room. I accepted the challenge. I finished one, which we named Land Ho. This is the image of our first sighting of the keys as we crossed the Florida Bay.

While I am spending time in Orlando, Luke is busy repairing the engine, replacing the muffler and hoses and taking all of the required education courses to maintain his insurance adjusters license. It was a very busy month for both of us.

Ozzy is back with us now and is adjusting well to marina life. He barks a lot and loud at anyone one or dog that he has not met before. We have a squirt bottle we use on him if he does not stop. He was somewhat wet the first few days.

We had family dinners and all went sailing. It was great to have everyone together.

We will be heading north soon. I have decided that I will remain extremely flexible on our future schedule. Our plan changes daily with the wind and life’s requirements. So, we never know when or where we will be. It is an interesting lifestyle.

More mañana…  ;D


Wind, wind and more wind. Too much of a good thing. Anxious cruisers are making last minute preparations just in case a weather window opens to move on. We are lined up like horses at a starting gate nervously awaiting the bell.

March 8, Wed

The highlight of my day – Yoga. Then a walk to burn off some of my nervous energy.

March 9-11

Preparations to leave continue.

Dinghy motor pull cord shredded and was replaced. Diesel Don was kind enough to help Luke with this.

Saturday evening we attended the Marathon Seafood Festival with Will and Sonia off of Allora. Sonia and I bought a few Turkish towels, then we all got our fill of seafood. It was a pleasant evening spent with friends before we go our separate ways. Will and Sonia are leaving Monday going to Ft Laud before heading to the Bahamas. Scout (Beth and Stan) will be connecting with them in Ft Laud for the crossing. At the end of the evening we said “see you laters” and returned to our boats.

The boating community is actually somewhat small and you always run into someone you met along the way. The community is extremely helpful and giving. At some point we all need assistance, none of us can cruise along in a bubble without a helping hand.

We will miss our friends from Boot Key Harbor, but we know that we will see them somewhere along the way.

Boat Chaser

Storm following us out of Boot Key

March 13-14, Departing Boot Key Harbor heading for West Palm Beach

We are off and running! The Gulf looked like a sailboat interstate as we all left Boot Key.

It was a glorious morning and perfect weather for sailing. The sunrise was incredible. We pulled up anchor at about 7:30a and arrived at West Palm 24 hours later. Since we had arrived earlier than expected, we decided to continue up the ICW to Stuart and find a marina. We tucked into Loggerhead Marina. By the time we got to the marina, we were exhausted, but never too tired for a  good hot shower!

This passage was my first experience in the Gulf Stream. Oh My! The swells were like rolling hills, you walk up one side then slide down the other. Very interesting. The current in the stream increased our speed by a few knots. We were traveling at 8.5knts, much faster than our usual 5.

Deep Blue Sea

The incredible color of The Deep Blue Sea – 500 Feet deep

March 15 – Stuart – Loggerhead Marina

John and Anita, our friends from Canada, had just returned from the Bahamas. They are storing their boat in Indiantown and were close enough for a visit. They came to Stuart and we went out to Giuseppe’s. It was a pleasant evening and visit with friends.

March 16 – Stuart – Loggerhead Marina

Laundry and chore day. Later Tom and Linda Thomas came for a visit. We had a great time catching up on friends and family. We ate at the marina, which is exceptionally good.

March 17-20 – Traveling north

We continued our journey north through the ICW. Anchored in Ft Pierce along with Living Live and Tranquility, two families from Canada,sailing the Great Loop. The next two nights we stayed at Coconut Point, 20 miles south of Cocoa. We stayed two night due to the high winds.

We started getting air bubbles in our fuel filter, so we spent some time replacing o-rings and filters. No change still getting bubbles. So, I would think who cares about a few little bubbles. WELL… the engine does. Good lord, the engine dies or at least revs down significantly. Usually not a big problem as long as another boat is not passing you or you are going through a bridge. Unlike a car, if the engine dies you soon lose the ability to steer the boat and you will drift with the wind, waves and current.

We decided to press on to Titusville. We made it safely, however, the engine did die on us a few times.

Titusville Municipal Marina is a tidy, well run operation. We will enjoy our stay here.


One of the little discussed aspects of living on a boat is the different smells you encounter different than living in a house. The smells come from the dried salt water on the deck, excess of dirty damp clothes and towels, sheets that are on the bed longer to stretch out time before going to the laundry, clothes you wear longer than on land before putting in the laundry basket, extended time between showers and washing hair, garbage and the ubiquitous king of smell the head. Cram all of these lovely aromatic items, including you, your mate and a dog, in a space that is the size of a large overstuffed closet and voila it becomes a banquet for those of us with overactive olfactory glands!

I have been blessed with overactive olfactory processes. I smell everything! I smell to determine if something is clean or dirty, fresh or old. I smell things that smell wonderful just because. Smelling is what I do. Anyway…this is now a problem.

Oh, but I have found the solution. I have put away the Vicks and the air fresheners, the candles and oils. The solution is simple, you can’t smell yourself. If you smell worse than everything around you, the other smells are much less powerful. Yahoo! Personal hygiene. Hundreds of years ago people rarely took baths, but they stood by fires. The smoke hid some of the odors. I do not have a fire, so I shall forgo the sink in order to stink and itch to save my nose.

If you are planning a visit, please give me warning so I can shower.

My Head has a Diaper


(I forgot to post this. It is out of order.)

In the marine world the toilet is more commonly known as the head. Mine has a diaper due to a fresh water leak. I wrap doggy pee pads around the head base and pump. The diapers need to be changed a couple times a day. Luke is working on this issue and has ordered parts. A dry head in is our future. It is great to have a handi husband!

Speaking of handi, he just replaced our battery charger for a more powerful unit. Now our batteries will have a full charge most of the time.

Life on the mooring ball is easy breezy. No worries about wind waves or local yahoos cutting your anchor line. No huge wakes and no bugs. We also have a front row seat to the sunrise and sunset. We are one mile from Publix, Winn Dixie, Kmart, and West Marine. Our feet and our bikes are all we need to get around. Taxis are $5 to go anywhere on the island. The weather is mostly balmy and warm. We can participate in yoga classes, bocce ball, softball, dominos and more. This is a nice community of boaters that we will not forget.

Please look closely at the top photo. The clouds are actually deep blue on the bottom.

Feb 21, Tuesday

Played dominos at the marina cruisers lounge. This is a regular event, every Tuesday. I took this opportunity to quiz the other ladies on their boating experiences.

Parking Lot

Parking Lot at Boot Key Marina

Feb 22, Wednesday

Weather is sucky, high winds and rain. I was devastated when it was announced on the Cruiser’s Net that yoga class was cancelled. I actually started to cry. Not sure why. We read books for the whole day. Went to the marina at that end of the day for water.

Feb 23 Thursday

Luke biked to the dentist today. A crown had fallen off and fortunately he did not swallow it. The dentist was unable to do anything for the tooth, it will have to be pulled. That will be another day. He also went to the fancy bike shop and got a rack for his bike. OMG there is a whole story behind the bike rack. I will let me tell that story when he sees you.

I am working on concepts for my “Weather Window” series of paintings. I want to have the perspective correct before I start to paint. A weather window is what every boater is waiting for so they can cross a body of water safely and quickly. Wind speed, wind direction, wave height, travel time, etc all play into the decision to move to another location. Many boaters come to the keys to visit and then wait for their weather window to go to either the Bahamas or Cuba. Just like sex, some like their window hot and rough and some like it cool and soft…

Green clouds

Green Clouds Over Harbor

Feb 24, Friday

The generator is now fixed, $650 later.

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Tiki Hut

I took my painting equipment to the small tiki hut at the marina. It is very secluded and a perfect spot to paint. I completed one painting of a small dinghy tied to a post. I am getting better at plein air painting. I just need to get over being shy about painting in public. Luke worked with the repair guy to get the generator running. Now we have a/c, hot water and I can use my electric appliances.

Feb 25

Great day. Luke and I went to the marina for the flea market. Then we went sailing. After sailing we went to the marina for showers and then out to dinner. It was like a real date night!

Feb 26 – Sunday

I walked to Home Depot as my morning exercise. Returned to the boat and cleaned the mildew off the wood in the bedroom. Did laundry which took 4 hours and $12 for 2 loads. In the afternoon, I returned to the marina and worked on my website and blog. Luke worked on figuring out how to attach the “new to us” battery charger.

Ran into Barbara and Jorge, of Diadema. They were in the office because they finally got a mooring ball. They were going to have their first night no-see-um free and be able to stay on deck through sunset. They were ecstatic.

Barbara is an art quilter and has a studio setup in her boat. We compared current art projects. She is working on a sunset and is working out the details of how to do the clouds so they appear more round.

Feb 28 – Fat Tuesday

Let the Good Times Roll!  Mardi Gras in Boot Key Harbor.

 

More later… Brenda

sunset in the neighborhood

Sunset – Time for Conch Horns and Cocktails in the Neighborhood

Living Life in Island Time


My only excuse for not posting sooner is that we are just enjoying life in the keys. You might say we are on island time which means I will do this mañana man. Don’t worry be happy!

I have always enjoyed and benefited from a yoga practice. There is a yoga class at the community park Mon, Wed and Fri. I do my best to make it to all of these classes. Emily Hughes is our current instructor. She is amazing. Emily makes yoga a learning and inner thought provoking experience. Of all the things in Marathon that I will miss, Emily’s yoga classes will be missed the most.

Birds sm

Birds Over Nice Lady

March 1, Wednesday

Yoga.

Chores: Preparing for weekend storm and Laundry

March 2, Thursday

Luke and I rode our bikes a 6 mile round trip to buy 2 stainless nuts.

Then to Publix for groceries. Filled our tanks… water, fuel etc

March 3, Friday

Yoga.

Spent time in the cruiser’s lounge for downloading books and watching art videos with the WIFI.

Late in the afternoon the wind started to blow and blow. Hunkered down for a few days. Due to our position in the harbor the waves should not get big and we will be able to go to shore.

March 4-6

A few days of rest. Wind blowing 20 knots and sun is shining. We stayed on the boat. Luke read, I painted and read.

The cruisers are getting anxious to get out of Boot Key Harbor. Most are heading to the Bahamas or Cuba, but no one can leave until the wind calms down. We talk about where we are headed when we get our weather window.

Life continues to be good. In another week we will have been in the Keys for 1/2 have of our journey. Where has the time gone? It is time to move on.

The Coveted Mooring Ball


We finally made it! We are uptown in Boot Key Harbor on mooring ball S2 with over 250 other cruising  yachts. We are in a great location, close to the marina, dinghy docks AND (drum roll…) Showers! The basic essentials of life have become the joys of my life.

The photo is of Ozzy going for a dinghy ride. He LOVES the dinghy adventures. Miss that boy! He will be rejoining us when we head north up the east coast.

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Boot Key Harbor Marina

Jan 25, Wednesday Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL

Moved to our mooring ball. We had a delightful 1/2 mile cruise. Hooked on the to ball without too much drama. Met our new neighbors and settled in.

Jan 26, Thursday

Water in the bilge. Hmmm where does this come from? Can not be from the engine. We will monitor. We dry the bilge and keep and eye out for more water.

Jan 27 – 30

Enjoying life.

Jan 31

More water in the bilge. Gallons and gallons of water forming a little stream as it flows in. Not good. Luke decides we need to pull the boat out of the water, let it dry out then fill the hull with water to find the leak. It cannot be the engine since there is no access from the engine compartment to the bilge. However, the water only seems to appear after the motor has been running. Hmmm…

Feb 1

Luke makes arrangements at a yard for this work. Since we cannot stay on the boat, I make places to go to Orlando and Luke will be staying with Diesel Don on Lady Trianna. Mr. Diesel will be helping Luke with this repair. The theory is that when the motor is running a crack is opening more to allow water intrusion. Hmmm…

While Luke was working with another repair person to get the generator going. I dried out the bilge again and keep an eye out for water. I found a very small leak and marked that. Later, Luke ran the engine so we could have hot water and water started streaming into the bilge. When he turned the engine off the water stopped.Hmmm… Ok, so according to Luke there is no way it is coming from the engine. I make arrangements for a rental car to go to Orlando.

Feb 2

We picked up the rental car today. I am looking forward to being with my twin sister for our birthday, Feb 4th. Also, very happy to be going to see Ozzy who is still temporarily living with Anita and Chuck.

Luke does some more checking into our bilge water issue. OH NO Mr. Bill! the water is coming from the engine!!! We have a leak in our heat exchanger that is spraying water on a wall that drains into the bilge. I am ecstatic that we can avoid pulling the boat out of the water for repairs, but crying because I want to go see my family and Ozzy. Boohoo Boohoo. ( I can be such a whiner). We decided that I should still go to Orlando. I still need to take care of taxes and insurance issues. So, Tra La La off to Orlando I go.

Luke and I picked up the rental car that evening and then went to Herbie’s for my birthday dinner. Later it was early to bed, very early to rise (2:00a). Dinghied to shore and hit the road at 3am to avoid Miami traffic. Sections of the turnpike through Miami are 10 lanes!!

Feb 3-11- Orlando

Arrived in Orlando. Had a great time with family.

Luke reported that the repairs on the boat were successful. No more leaks!!

Feb 11 – Saturday

Left Orlando at 2:40 am, passed through Miami at 7am, light traffic. Traffic was bumper to bumper going into the keys. I made it back to Marathon about 9am. We used the rental car to run some errands and then I returned it to the airport.

Feb 12-19

Enjoying life on a mooring ball. Must be 5 o’clock somewhere! Oh too bad my margarita days are over.

Monday, Carol and Todd Mason arrived. They drove all the way from Canada for a little sunshine and warm weather. They joined us on the boat for two days. We introduced them to marina life and that includes the SHOWERS! Carol and I took two showers in one day.

Tuesday we went sailing. Very light wind, but it was great to be out on the water with a cool breeze. Later Carol and I were in the marina and there was a huge manatee getting a drink of water from a dripping hose. It put forth quite an effort for about a ½ cup of water.img_7767

It is against the law to feed or give manatees water. I read that they do not need the water but it is like candy to a child, if they can get it they want it and will return to find it. This causes problems because they come to marinas that have heavy boat traffic and they can be fatally injured. It is impossible for them to get out of the way of a boat. Boaters must watch out for them and travel as slow as possible. Hmmm… ladies, when you ask your significant other to slow down do they? Always in a hurry, but not sure to where.

Wednesday, Carol and Todd left. I believe they enjoyed their stay. We certainly enjoyed their company. Their visit showed us that we can accommodate two visitors that are flexible and tolerant of early to bed, early to rise and marine toilets.

Feb 20, Monday – Presidents Day

Yoga! We have an amazing instructor, Emily Hughes

“Blessed are they that laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be entertained.”  -Chinese proverb

That’s all folks! See you real soon.  🙂

 

 

 

Roots on Land or Floating


The Keys are warm and balmy and very casual. It is nice to be spending some time relaxing and not moving to new locations. I feel like my brain is taking some time to process where we have been and are going. It can be unsettling to always be on the move without some sense of continuity.

Cruising on a boat is different than RV cruising. There are more variables that you need to consider. In an RV weather can be a problem but in most cases is not life threatening. RV repairs may be able to be put off but in the boat most repairs if not fixed soon could cause critical issues. We also have safety equipment not required for camping. Life boat, food and water rations, EPIRB, PFD (personal flotation device), Life lines, flares, spot lights, flags, etc. Also, learning procedures for man overboard situations and how to properly use the VHF radio certainly are not required for camping.

Living on a boat is absolutely enjoyable, however the time and brain power required to make the change from roots on land to floating on water are unknown. It is a different life that is closer to no frills living where simple chores are now all day events, i.e. grocery shopping, laundry.

The painting is one I did while in Apalachicola.

Jan 14 – move to Boot Key Harbor, Sister Creek

Winds subsided so we moved out of Faro Blanco and over to Sister Creek. Faro Blanco and the City Marina are about a mile from each other on the road, but to get there by boat, we had to sail down to the 7 mile bridge pass and around the island. It took us about ½ day as we maneuvered around crab pots and buoys.

Anchoring in Sister Creek is “Med Style”. We put two anchors in the channel and pull the stern of the boat around and tie off to the mangroves. Unless you have anchored like this several times and are proficient, it takes at least 3 crew and a dinghy to properly set your lines and anchor. Let’s just say we had a few more tense boating moments before we were settled. We currently have 6 lines to the mangroves and two anchors. Soon after being settled and safely anchored, Luke decides he needs to change the anchors. Then change the lines. If I was a drinker, I would surely be downing a 5th of something to calm my nerves.

luke-sailing-to-shark-river

Watching for Crab Pots

Jan 15 – Sister Creek

Luke changes more lines and concerned about the abandoned “pirate” ship next to us. This abandoned boat is huge and heavy. If it broke loose of its lines in a storm, our boat could be smashed.

We woke up this morning and found the pirate ship about 10 feet from us. Another boating moment. Luke decides to move the boat over closer to our neighbors. For the next few hours we moved anchors and lines to put more room between us and the huge and heavy pirate ship. Luke is still not happy. Now we are too close to our neighbors and low and behold Luke apologizes to John and Valerie for our intrusion. They are most gracious and say it is no problem.

Jan 16 – Sister Creek, MLK day

brenda-in-boat-studio

Studio 🙂

We listen to the cruiser net and Luke wants to buy a bike. So, we motor off to a few boats that have bikes for sale. None of them were suitable. Ah Ha! An excuse to go somewhere… we walk down to the local bike shop but found nothing suitable so we took a taxi to Kmart. Still no bike for Lukey. While at Kmart, I bought a towel and soap so I could get one of those so greatly coveted showers before returning to the boat.

For our return trip, we agreed to walk back and get lunch along the way instead of paying a taxi. The Cracked Conch Diner was excellent. We hope to return there when Luke’s sister and BIL visit next month.

Jan 17,  Tues, Sister Creek – #12 on waiting list

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Storm Provisions

We stayed on the boat all day. I painted and Luke sewed. He made shade covers for the overhead windows in the cockpit and finished the no seeum screens for all of our hatches. My paintings were color studies. I also did some sketching of the pirate ship in prep of doing a few paintings plein air.

Jan 18-19, Wed, Sister Creek

luke-chores

Filling Water Tank

Listened to Cruiser Net. Another big blow is headed our way.

We moved the boat again. Argh! Luke did not want to stay close to the pirate ship. No plein air painting for me. I missed my opportunity to paint the ship – lesson learned.

Jan 20. Friday, Inauguration Day, # 7 on waiting list

We were up early had coffee and headed into shore. Walked to Winn Dixie for provisions and took a taxi back. I met Philomena and asked her about the yoga class. Found out it is M, W and F at 10 and is free. I hurried Luke bak to the boat, unloaded the groceries, grabbed my yoga mat and mde it to the last 30 minutes of class. The location is an outisde community ampitheatre, mostly shaded with a cool balmy breeze. The instructor was amazing. I plan to attend yoga a much as possible. It is good for my soul.

Jan 21 Sat, Sister Creek, #7 on waiting list

We listened to the Cruisers Net. Then it was off the the marina flea market and much anticipated “walk” with Luke. We bought a device that closes your hatch when it rains.

The “walk” was very short. Luke decided he did not want to walk far. Knowing that we could be unable to leave the boat for days, I wanted as much exercise as possible. Did not happen. (sad face)

Jan 22 Sun, Sister Creek, #1 on waiting list but due to the storm it will probably be Tuesday or Wednesday before we get the mooring ball.

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Mangrove Dancer

Hunkered down for the storm. I painted two abstract mangrove paintings and napped.

Jan 23 Mon, Sister Creek

3am the storm squall came thru. Luke and I are up to monitor storm. Back to bed at 4:00am. 10:00am still laying low due to high winds and limited quantity of dinghy fuel. It is a long ride to the closest fuel dock. The water is rough and it would be a miserable trip to get fuel.

 

Florida Keys – Winter Retreat


We are now leaving the mainland of Florida and heading south to the Florida Keys. Very excited. This will be our southern most port. We will spend the rest of the winter in the keys.

The painting is of our first sighting of the keys as we crossed Florida Bay.

Jan 5 – Heading to the Keys – Lv Shark River going to Long Key

Up before day break and ready to pull up anchor at first light. We have a long day ahead of us crossing the Florida Bay. It was a beautiful passage. We found that as long as we stayed in the park boundaries there were no crab pots. WooHoo!!

We arrived at Long Key anchorage at 4pm. Anchored and jumped in the 78 degree water for a quick swim and Joy bath. It was refreshing after a long day of travel.

Jan 6 – URGENT heading to safe harbor, Faro Blanco Marina, Marathon, FL

Up at 5:00am preparing to move…A storm with 35 knot winds will be moving in on Saturday. Since we are unfamiliar with the area, we decide to find a marina in which to weather the storm. Luke called many marinas and only found space at Faro Blanco in Marathon. Another long day going 30 miles to Marathon. Crab Pots everywhere.

The high winds were supposed to pass by Monday but stayed for a week. We were unable to leave this marina for 10 days ($$$). Hey, they gave us free ice and use of the gym at the Marriott. Our boat was the little dog at the dock and the only one that needed at bit of TLC. It is a great facility and the dock crew were excellent.

Jan 7-13 – Faro Blanco Marina, Marathon, FL

We weathered the storm. I got whiny on a couple of days. I need rest, exercise and sunshine or my mood shifts. After the nights of anchor dragging and moving to safe harbors then sitting on the boat due to weather, I was a moody mess. Yes, even in paradise you can have cranky days.

Luke started making an effort to get me off the boat more. Oh, did I mention, I could not leave or get on the boat without Luke’s assistance. The boat was tied too far off of the dock and it was a rockin in the waves.

The wind was too stiff to comfortably take a walk or ride my bike so I went to the hotel lobby to read or to the gym. I also did the laundry and a couple of Publix runs. Laundry in paradise is still better than a day at an unrewarding job.