Friday, February 29, 2008

Island Time

Manjack Cay
N 26 49.202 W 077 22.068

So far, we're not having trouble getting in to island life style and island time. Here are our accomplishments for the past several days.

Wed - We rode out storms and watched other people getting in to trouble.

Thu - We snorkeled. We found a beautiful private crescent shaped beach with white sand, privacy, and shelter from outlying islands. It was almost a lagoon.

Fri - We moved 5 miles to the next Cay.

That's it.

This morning, I walked to New Plymouth to buy a few things. That is I walked half way down and half way back. Then, kindly passers by stopped to offer me a ride. One of them was a man named Carol. Carol said that he was a native of Green Turtle Key, going back 5 generations. I read in our guide book that natives of this island were called turtlers. I asked him if he was a turtler. He gave me a blank stare; he never heard that term. So much for guide books.

Carol said that he had traveled all over the Caribbean and all over the USA and he liked this place best of all. Good for him. I love it when people are so proud of their home territory.

When I got back to the boat, it was 11 AM. Based on the tide tables, I decided that was the time to leave. The channel in to the sound is deep enough only at high tide. As I raised the anchor, I looked around. Surprise, all the other boats in the harbor were also leaving at the same time. I guess we all know how to read the time tables. However, the first boat that attempted to leave ran aground. Whoops! Maybe we all read the tables wrong. After 30 minutes though, the grounded boat was
afloat again and we all could leave with out incident.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Other People's Troubles

Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas
N 26 46.735 W 077 20.180

The sailing life is not all sunshine, beaches, and naps in the hammock. There are also moments of disaster and panic. Even though we haven't had any of those for several weeks, we have witnessed some. In the past 12 hours, we saw three such events that affected other people. Here are their stories.

[By the way, when I write about other people's troubles, I never identify them. It would not be nice for others to be embarrassed by things they may read about themselves in this blog.]

Yesterday, as we were rowing in to shore, a sailboat from New Bern was attempting to back in to a slip at the Green Turtle Club Marina nearby. There was zero wind and zero current and the slip was twice as wide as the boat, so there should have been no trouble. Not so. First, the captain lost control while backing, and got his boat crosswise to the slip. Then, as he realized the mistake, he put it in forward and gunned the engine to get himself out of there. Unfortunately, there was a dinghy
passing by at just that time, and the dinghy had to scramble to row fast to avoid being run down. Double unfortunate, it was Libby and I in that dinghy. Finally, he got it backed in to the slip, but when trying to get a line over the piling, the captain fell overboard. Not a good day for him.

This morning, just before dawn, a squall passed over and the wind blew pretty hard for a while. I got up to check that the anchor was holding (it was) and went back to bed. A few hours later, we learned that an Island Packet 40 sailboat nearby dragged their anchor in that squall and were blown up on to the rocks. According to a witness, it took them 90 minutes to get off the rocks and re-anchored. This morning, that boat hired a local diver to go down and inspect the damage to the propeller, keel
and hull. I haven't heard the result.

Later this morning, a cold front passed by. The sky turned black and the winds went from zero to 35 in a matter of seconds. Just before it arrived, I had just finished putting out a second anchor. I was still up on deck when I heard a boat horn warning HONK-HONK-HONK. I looked around. A catamaran nearby had dragged. It was drifting towards shore sideways at about 4 knots; not under control. I could see the captain running around in the cockpit. I expected him to start the engine and
get out of there, but he didn't.

Bang, it crashed up against some trees and pilings on the shore. I was just contemplating going in my dinghy to offer help when a man in a power boat came along. The man passed them a line, and pulled them away from shore. Then, the catamaran got it's own engine started and took control.

That wasn't the end of their trouble. I watched (and everyone else in the harbor watched) as they tried and failed to anchor 4 more times. (They only had 70 feet of anchor rode on board; not nearly enough.) The man (captain) and wife took turns hauling up the anchor after each failure. It would have been extremely strenuous work for anyone of any age, but for seniors like ourselves, it is very very hard to do. Add to that, doing it in the midst of a gale and drenching rain and it makes for
a really miserable morning. The poor couple then gave up anchoring and tried to pick up a private mooring. They couldn't even manage to do that. Finally, a man from another boat came by in his rubber dinghy and helped them to pick up a mooring line.

This story may have more episodes. Today's really strong cold front still hasn't reached us. It is supposed to pass late this afternoon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Green Turtle Cay

Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas
N 26 46.735 W 077 20.180

Well we made it to this wonderfully sheltered little harbor. It is called White Sound and it is on Green Turtle Cay. We got in early, anchored, rowed ashore, and set out for the town of New Plymouth, 2 miles away.

The town and the houses on the island are delightfully quaint. I especially like the pastel colors they use on the stucco walls. The Bahamians we met were all very friendly. It is also a luxury for us to have such perfect English spoken in a foreign country that is not England.

We had lunch at Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar. Miss Emily herself served us. Libby had conch chowder (delicious) and I had fried fish and fries. The fish (grouper) was absolutely wonderful. I think this is a place we could learn to like.

We saw the sights of New Plymouth in about one hour, so we walked back. We have some nice pictures, but unfortunately I can't post them until we have WIFI.

Tomorrow there is supposed to be a blow with winds up to 40 knots. We'll just sit here secure in the harbor.

There are lots of coral reefs on the ocean side of these cays. There are spots for snorkeling and for scuba diving. There is a dive shop here that offers certification lessons. We'd like to do that but the price is high; $600 each for the lessons. I think we can get certified much cheaper back in the states. Lessons or now, we want to do some diving on those reefs while we are here. We must wait for a very calm day though.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oh God It's Nice

The Sea of Abaco
N 26 57 W 77 41

What a splendid day for sailing. We set out at 0630 with the goal of reaching Green Turtle Cay. The whole day we had clear sky and gentle winds 10-13 knots. That makes progress rather slow, but we're enjoying every minute.

The water is a bit deeper here, around 6 meters deep, so we can't see the bottom so clearly. Instead, one just gets the constant turquoise reflection of sunlight off the sand on the bottom. The waves are tiny; less than a foot in height. If we were at sea, we would be rocking and rolling even with the gentle winds, but in here it is like sailing on Sacandaga Reservoir.

We have been trolling with a spoon attached to 12 feet of steel leader, attached to 50 feet of clothesline all day. So far, we only caught a dozen or so clumps of seaweed. We'll keep trying.

There were a whole bunch of boats that pulled in to Great Sale Cay with us last night. They all left later than we did this morning, but they have all passed us before 1100. We chatted with several of them on the radio. The last one to pass us, SV Caper, let the secret out. They said, "You look like you're not using the iron jenny." That's sailor slang for the engine. No wonder they were all faster than us.

However, this afternoon the wind has been steadily diminishing. We can't make it to Green Turtle Cay before dark, but we do want to make some reasonable anchorage by dark. Therefore, we to started using the iron jenny in addition to the sails. So much for purity.

There is little scenery to see on the Cays we pass by. The look like sand bars and a little sea grass rising only a few feet above sea level. However, every once in a while we do see a structure. The guide book says that many of these Cays have small communities. They'll be fun to visit.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Banks

Great Sale Cay, Bahamas
N 26 59.16 W 078 13.06

These Bahamas Banks are amazing. I never paid much attention to them before in my studies of geography.

Imagine a plateau, sort of like the bluffs one sees in the Western US. However, these plateaus are more than a hundred miles wide and they are almost as flat as a table on top. The plateau rises 4 kilometers above the surrounding territory. Now, for reasons I don't understand, suppose the top of this table is just 3 meters below sea level. That's what we have in the Bahamas. Come to think of it, that is also what we have in Florida except that Florida is 3 meters above sea level.

Now consider the tides. There is about 1 meter of tide here. That means that 1/3 of the water on top of the banks is flushed out and replaces twice per day. No wonder the water is so clean and clear. It also means that the tidal currents here on the banks are swift and strong.

Next consider the waves. No matter how hard the wind blows, waves on the banks will never get more than 3-4 feet high. Bigger waves would be cut off by the shallow bottom. At the fringes of the bank however is a different story. On the eastern side, the edge is defined by a chain of islands. The seas and swells of the North Atlantic are forced up from 4000 meters depth to 4 meters depth as they are squeezed between those islands. In addition, all that tidal water must ebb and flow twice per
day, regardless of waves. It all adds up to huge and dangerous waves in those gaps between the islands. The Bahamians call that The Rage.

The flat table top is spoiled in a few places where the land is a bit higher. Those places are the islands, or cays as most of them are called here. The cays are mostly infertile and have no minerals, oil or fresh water of their own. Small wonder then, they were never heavily settled.

I wish my knowledge of geography was better. I've wondered before how such huge stretches of land can just accidentally lie just a few meters above (or below) sea level. Even more amazing are the salt marshes. They cover thousands of square miles with land at a level just a few centimeters below sea level. Those levels don't sound accidental to me. There must be some feedback mechanisms in place to keep them stable. On visible mechanism is the mangroves forests, but there are no mangrove
forests here.

We sailed only 20 miles today to Great Sale Cay. I went snorkeling and Libby and I explored the shallow waters a bit with the dinghy. Tomorrow we'll go ashore and explore the shallows some more.

Now, about an hour before sunset, the biggest, grandest, most beautiful thundercloud I ever saw is approaching from the west. What a shame that I can't post pictures with SSB email. That cloud must be more than 100 miles long. It is shaped like a cone, and at it's tip is the storm. I hear thunder from far away but can see no flashes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Here At Last

The Little Bahamas Bank
N 26 51 W 079 48

Well, after three years of screwing around, we finally made it to the Bahamas. It feels very very good to be here. We're sailing across the banks. The water is uniformly about 9 feet deep, much clearer than most swimming pools, the bottom is white sand with patches of coral and grass, and there are no people or other vessels or land in sight. Now is the time for you to use Google Earth to check out the latitude and longitude coordinates above. That might give an impression of what these banks

The sail up here was most pleasant. We really caught the Gulf Stream good late afternoon yesterday. By midnight, I realized that we were going so fast (7.5 knots in 12 knot wind) that we would arrive at West End before dawn. That wouldn't be good, so I tried to turn on the brakes. I took down the main sail, and I reefed the jib. Finally, I had the jib down to the size of a bath towel and I couldn't go any smaller yet still keep steerage. Still, we were going 5.5 knots. But that was slow
enough. Even at midnight, it was comfortable on desk wearing only shorts and t-shirt.

We arrived at West End at 0830 this morning. Perfect timing. We put in to the harbor. The people there at the marina and at the custom house were very friendly and helpful. We filled out a lot of paperwork, and paid our $150 cruising permit fee, and it was done. We are cleared to stay here for up to a year. That was an auspicious start to our Bahamas adventure.

Now it's time for yet another paradigm shift in our transformation to the cruising life. We're going to anchor out tonight, not in any particular spot but rather when we get tired of sailing, we'll take down the sail and drop the anchor. Doesn't even matter if the anchor drags (where would we drag to?) Then I realized the real shift in thinking. We want to go to the one and only town here in the Abacos that we're likely to see. Marsh Harbor. There we can buy groceries, and fuel, and probably
meet up with some friends. However, I realized that it doesn't matter if it is takes us a day or a month or two months to get there. We have food, water, fuel, fishing poles, fishing licenses, books and magazines. We have no cell phone, no mail, no library, but we do have Sirius satellite radio. What would the point be of hurrying to Marsh Harbor.

The long term weather forecast for March is that a cold front with a little nasty weather will come through every fourth day. Not to worry, there are plenty of small cays with protected anchorages. I think most of them are uninhabited. Other than that, it will be sunny and warm. Ho hum, time for my nap.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mid Stream

At Sea
25 38 N 079 49 W

Friday, 1800
This morning we left Rodriguez Key and headed for the open sea. We decided to go for West End and the Abacos. We had to thread our way out through the reef between two shoals. It was tense because our GPS chartplotter isn't working to show us where we are. Anyhow, we successfully navigated the reef any how and soon I was able to call out, "We have blue water!" That made us both feel very good. Later in the morning, Libby said, "I love this. I could do it forever."

The winds were very light the whole day, and coming from our stern quarter. We tried with the jib alone, and with both main and jib and with the whisker pole holding the jib out. None of those worked very well. We had to motor from noon till 1700. But now we're in the axis of the Gulf Stream and getting a two knot boost from the current. The motor is off and we're sailing with just the jib. Our ETA at West End is about 0800, just about perfect for clearing customs.

We saw about a half dozen small fishing boats and four ships today. Not much traffic. All in all, it's pretty calm and pleasant out here in the middle of that dreaded Gulf Stream.

Libby felt seasick for a while, and even I became a little queasy because the seas were on our beam. However, now the seas have calmed a lot and we both feel better.

By the way, here's the story on our GPS. We sent the Lowrance GPS back for repair because the button pad to move the cursor up/down/left/right failed (it fell out on to the floor). Following instructions, I removed our navigation chip before sending it back. The unit came back, but not with the innards repaired, but with the innards replaced. That should be OK. I noted that the software version had been bumped from 15 to 18. Anyhow, when I put the navigation chip back in, the Lowrance refused
to boot. It gave an error message, "Invalid loader." Damn. I suspect that they changed something in the software between rev 15 and rev 18 that made it incompatible with our chip.

Oh well, I've confessed here several times that I'm ashamed at how dependent we became on that GPS map. Now's our chance to re-learn how to get along without it. We certainly couldn't get it fixed before returning to the USA. Anyhow, the navigation chip did not cover the Bahamas anyhow. There are no accurate electronic charts of the Bahamas so I hear.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

On Our Way

Rodriquez Key
N 26 46.70 W 078 49.22

Well, we're on our way. We left Boot Key harbor at 0730 this morning in the middle of a rain squall. At first, we got nowhere fast. We motored in to the teeth of a stiff 25 knot headwind making only 1.8 knots at full RPM. After the squalls left, and after we got away from shore, we were able to sail close hauled. That brought us up to 5.7 knots using both sail and engine. As the day went on, the weather got nicer and the wind shifted a little. We kept backing off on the engine and by noon
we were able to turn it off and make way under sail alone.

Our buddy boat, Viking Rose, stayed in Marathon. They didn't get some important mail they were waiting for. Also, the weather forecast for tomorrow sounds more iffy than it did yesterday.

We are thinking of changing our minds for destination, and heading for the Abacos instead of the Exumas.

We'll decide tomorrow and by tomorrow night's blog, you should know our choice.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

Marathon, FL
N 24 42.391 W 081 05.683, (See the map)

After so many months of idle pleasure in Vero and Marathon, it is easy to slip in to a post mañana mode. Post mañana is when one doesn't say "tomorrow is good enough" but rather "next week (month) is good enough. This morning we were shocked out of our lethargy into the action mode.

The impetus was the arrival of our friends, Richard and Penny on Viking Rose. They arrived in Marathon yesterday, and they have a plan to leave tomorrow and cross over to the Bahamas on Friday. I'm very bad at such planning. I have no plan on where to go in the Bahamas, or where or when to cross over, nor do I have the Bahamas weather forecasts in mind. Anyhow all things considered, it would be to our great advantage to tag along with
Viking Rose. Therefore, we now have a fire lit under our tails and we're scrambling to get ready to leave tomorrow morning.

I may not have WIFI again for a while, so I posted a couple of ready blog articles that have been sitting in the out box for a while. (see below)

Today, I have to shop for parts for my battery project, a spare part for our Furuno radar (the part we ordered 3 weeks ago from our dealer in Maine never arrived), and do our income taxes before leaving the country. We also have to scrub the bottom of the hull, haul and clean the dinghy, and shop for provisions. We'll be really busy today. It feels great!!!

p.s. Is there a popular nautical equivalent to the saying "make hay while the sun shines?"

A Sad Tale If True


Nowadays, as one enters the channel to the Marathon City Marina, one sees a startling sight, as shown in the picture below.

I haven't met the owner of this vessel yet, but I did ask around about the story behind the dismasting. The first story I heard was that the vessel was struck by a rogue wave and knocked down. As she righted herself, the weight of the water in the sails broke the mast. Well, that story is hard to refute. Satellite imagery has proven conclusively that rogue waves exist and are more common than once thought.

I heard a second version of the story that is more detailed and more believable. According to this version, the owner packed everything his owns on board and was headed for the Dominican Republic to live. (Look at the picture below. One sees motorcycles, batteries, lawn furniture and all sorts of things lying on deck in a most unseaworthy manner, plus a deflated rubber dinghy hanging limply from the stern.)

The story continues that the owner tried to leave the harbor but ran aground right in front of the City Marina. Then, the marina employees offered assistance to re-float the vessel. It didn't pull off easily, so they grabbed ahold of a halyard from the top of the mast and heeled her over. That worked, and the vessel sailed away. However, it was soon back with a broken mast and it reported that the mast broke only 30 miles away from Marathon. I'm sure that there have not been any rogue waves within 30 miles of Marathon this year. The suspicion is that pulling sideways on the mast somehow damaged it, causing the failure.

Now, there must be fear that the owner of the vessel may try to sue the marina. Oh what a mess. The marina employees never should have volunteered to help. That is a job for professional towing services. The reason is the liability, as this anecdote clearly illustrates.

I emphasize that both versions of this story are local gossip. I have no verification of their truth.

The real reason that this story moves me so much is that it touches on my most secret inner fear. I never met the skipper of this sad vessel but all appearances are that it must be owned by someone who became so old and infirm that he or she was unable to keep up with the actual demands of a cruising life. It is an inglorious end. Heaven help us that Libby and I should avoid that fate.

Yikes! Hackers After My Blog


When I tried to log in to this blog today, I got rejected by Google. The error message said that the request looked like it had been hacked by spyware. Rather than try to circumvent the error, I stopped to think about it for a while. It is true that I've been complaining about my slow computer for a while. It is also true that my computer is protected by firewalls and by anti-virus software, but not anti-spyware software. Hmmm; I wonder if it is time to boost the protection. I would surly hate to have my blog password hacked.

I checked the recommendations of Kim Komando (a source of PC lore that I respect and highly trust). She recommended Ad Aware. There is a free version that I used in the past, but this time I went for the paid Pro version. It let me download a free scanner. The scanner turned up hundreds (actually more than 200) spyware, malware and keyboard loggers on my PC. Yikes! I was cowed, and I paid the $39.95 for the Pro version and let it clean out the bad guys. It worked. Google now accepts my login and my computer is running noticeably faster even without a reboot.

My friend John likes his Mac and he loves to point out that he needs no such protections. Still, I use lots of software that is not available on Macs or on Linux. It's like Esperanto. I acknowledge that Esperanto may be superior to English, but English is the lingua franca.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stirring Mud


Yesterday, we played Balderdash on board Reflections. Our hosts, Ray and Pat, told a very interesting story that I'd like to pass along.

Pat and Ray say that they like to take their dinghy out past Sombrero Beach to a shoal area south of Vaca Key. There, they can swim in 5 feet of fine clear water. Recently, as they swam there, they came upon two manatees. The manatees were engaged in making little manatees (if you know what I mean.) They said that the activity was vigorous and that they stirred up quite a bit of mud from the bottom. What a shame that they didn't have a camera with them.

p.s. I find it hard to visualize a manatee doing anything vigorously.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Grounding Data Base


The other day, I posted a list of 175 anchorages. It wasn't my most inspired writing, and as I look at it, it seems rather boring. Today, we'll have more fun than that. Below is my list of 14 places where we ran aground.

I can't say for sure that we haven't missed some places, but I can say for sure that we've run aground more than once in the same place, so the actual number of groundings is higher than 14.

12 of these 14 groundings, we got off ourselves by kedging. For the non-boaters among you, that means putting the anchor and lots of chain in the dinghy, then rowing it as far away as the chain will reach and dropping the anchor in the water. Then, one uses the windlass to pull the anchor in. In almost all cases, we can make enough force with the windlass to pull the boat away and re-float it. In fact, we had done this drill so many times, that we can launch the dinghy, kedge off, pull the dinghy back on deck and be on our way in less than 15 minutes.

The other two times, once in North Miami and the other in Beaufort, NC, we had got towed off by Tow Boat US or by Sea Tow. That makes it worth our while to pay $150/year for towing insurance since the list price for each of those tows was around $700.

The only time we ever grounded on a hard rock bottom was up in Vergennes Vermont, right below the dam. We were very lucky to get off of that without trouble.

You may have heard that a boat running aground is terribly dangerous and that the survival of the boat and the lives of the occupants are in peril. That is very true if one runs aground where there are significant waves. The waves lift and drop the boat repeatedly, eventually bashing in the sides. Thankfully, we've never been close to that kind of grounding.

What was the funniest story of the 14 groundings? I like the one about "Aground Breedlove" We were out early one morning on the Indian River in Florida, near the Cape Canaveral canal. I was astonished to see a very unusual boat passing right next to us. It was the vessel "The Spirit of America" and it was being driven by Craig Breedlove. Mr. Breedlove is the is a five-time world land speed record holder and all his cars have been names "The Spirit of America" I don't know if his boat of the same name holds any records, but it looks like it could.

To make a long story short, I turned around to gawk and called to Libby, "Come see Craig Breedlove." and bang we were aground. To add insult to injury, according to the red and green markers we were 30 feet inside the channel where it was supposed to be deep. I was still not paying attention though because Mr. Breedlove, after getting well clear of us put the hammer down and roared on up the river at several hundred miles per hour. Wow!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

At The Turtle Hospital


There are two other Westsails in the harbor. We met Martin, the skipper of one of those W32s. Martin told us about meeting the owner of the Turtle Hospital eating dinner at Porky's Restaurant. Martin said he asked how the hopital was funded. Ritchie, the owner, replied "I fund it. I put about two million dollars per year in to it." Wow! I thought it was just a tourist trap, and we avoided it the previous two years we were in Marathon.

Today we remedied that and we paid for a guided tour of the Turtle Hospital. It was delightful. Those turtles are wonderful creatures. They have been mistreated by man to the point where they are endangered. We learned also about the history of the hospital.

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon started out as a motel with a salt water pool.
Ritchie Moretti, the owner bought the motel and intende to retire there. He built a new fresh water pool, and allowed fish in to the salt water pool to entertain the guests. One day, a little boy said, "Why don't you have turtles?" Ritchie looked into it and learned that he coudn't keep turtles without doing something positive to help them. So started the turtle hospital idea. Since then, the motel functions have faded to nothing while the hospital has flourished and grown; all without government money. I think it is a fascinating story.

They have about 60 turtles at the hospital right now. They suffer from various maladies. Some have lost flippers to fishing line entanglement. Others tangled with fishing hooks. Others have a mysterious growth of cancer-like tumors that remain unexplained.

Still others have bubble back, a singularly turtle specific ailment. Those turtles were struck by boats as the broached the surface after a long dive. They were poised to expel a lung full of air, but the boat strike forced that air in to a bubble between the turtle's body and it's shell. The shell gets a swelling, like a hunchback's hump, over the bubble. The bubble ruins the turtle's bouyancy so they can't dive. So far, all the king's horses and all the king's men and all the vets at the Turtle Hospital
have not figured out how to solve the problem and return those bubble back turtles to the wild. Fascinating.

We recommend a visit to the Turtle Hospital
in Marathon when you visit the Florida Keys.

Political Theater

Marathon, FL

There seems to be delicious political theater is about to unfold. Thursday's NYT said, "With every delegate precious, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers also made it clear that they were prepared to take a number of potentially incendiary steps to build up Mrs. Clinton’s count. Top among these, her aides said, is pressing for Democrats to seat the disputed delegations from Florida and Michigan..."

Meanwhile, the WSJ the other day published an Op Ed by Theodore Olsen. Mr. Olsen is the former solicitor general and he represented Bush in the famous Bush V. Gore Supreme Court Case.

Mr. Olsen anticipates (with apparent relish) that the spat about seating Democratic delegates from Florida and Michigan will lead to litigation. He says, "Surely no one familiar with her history would doubt that [Clinton's] take-no-prisoners campaign team would do whatever it took to capture the nomination, including all manner of challenges to Obama delegates and tidal waves of litigation."

Senator Clinton will be arguing "Count every vote" while Senator Obama will argue "Don't change the rules after the election."
In other words, it would be a replay of Bush V. Gore.

At that point
Mr. Olsen says, "The array of battle-tested Democratic lawyers who fought for recounts, changes in ballot counting procedures, and even re-votes in Florida courts and the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 would separate into two camps. Half of them would be relying on the suddenly-respectable Supreme Court Bush v. Gore decision that overturned the Florida courts' post-hoc election rules changes. The other half would be preaching a new-found respect for "federalism" and demanding that the high court leave the Florida court decisions alone."

He further wonders, "... would Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, the dissenters in Bush v. Gore, feel as strongly about not intervening if Sen. Obama was fighting against an effort to change a presidential election by changing the rules after the fact?"

Finally, he makes an offer. "If it does happen, I'd be more than happy to loan Sen. Obama the winning briefs that helped secure the election of the legitimate winner of the 2000 election, George W. Bush."

No matter what your politics, you must agree that this would be political theater at its most dramatic

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

R.I.P. Pup


We got a call from Alaska today. It was Dave. He had sad news to tell us about our dog Pup. Pup died yesterday.

Oh dear. It's hard to express the sorrow one feels with loss of a beloved pet. We had Pup since 1997. He was a wonderful pet and companion.

Pup was a very athletic dog. He loved most running free in the open fields. In West Charlton, we lived out beyond the leash law restrictions so he was free to run almost every day. Pup never learned to not chase cars. I once clocked him with my own car. He ran 35mph for 1 mile.

When it came time to retire and begin our cruising life on Tarwathie, we had to give Pup up. Pup hated boats. On the few times I took him sailing on our previous sail boat, Pup cried and whined the whole time until the trip was over.

Dave and Cathy and Bobby up in Alaska took him for us. They took wonderful care of Pup right up to the end. Dave said that they went out last night for 1 hour and when they returned he was gone. Pup had been suffering from a tumor but it is not at all clear what killed him. Thank you very much Dave, Cathy and Bobby.

R.I.P. Pup.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sopping Wet

Marathon Public Library

"Here I sit broken hearted ..." No, no no. Wrong rhyme. Here I sit in the library sopping wet. Drops of water drip off my clothes on to the floor leaving a budding puddle under the place where I sit. No, I didn't fall overboard (wouldn't that make a fun blog article?). It's just a rainy day.

We had an ambitious agenda for today and tomorrow. I'm working on varnish and trying to fix the anchor light. I also have a new battery monitor system to install, and I want to put in a starting battery. To do that, I need to redesign all the battery cables. Given the sky high price for battery cables nowadays, it deserves some careful consideration. Tomorrow, Wednesday, we had plans to go to Key West again.

Anyhow, it turned out to be a rainy day. Real cloudbursts. This must be one of the top 5 rainy days we've seen in the past 500 days.

During a lull in the rain, I set out in the dinghy and the bike to buy gas, to go the library and to the grocery store. I should have counted on Murphy. The skies opened up. I had a rain jacket on but no pants, so I'm really really wet.

Oh well; the rain is sorely needed down here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Anchorage Archive


When I recently sent away our GPS for repair, the vendor warned me to back up our way points first. If they replace the unit, then we would lose all the way point data. I'm glad they made me do it, because for a long time I've wanted to extract those way points to see if they might make a good blog article. You may enjoy looking it over just for general interest sake.

First, look at the pictorial depiction below. It shows actual positions of 175 places where we actually anchored. The scale it much too small to be able to read the names. It looks funny without an underlying map, but stare at it for a while and you can make out the East Coast of the USA, plus the Saint Lawrence Seaway, plus one outlier in Mexico. You can also see two gaps showing places we've never anchored. Those are, New Jersey and South Carolina south of Charleston.

Now for the raw data, sorted by location North to South.





St Lawrence


N 45 51.99

W 073 016.29

Lac St Louis


N 45 19.34

W 073 052.65



N 45 09.48

W 073 015.46

St Regis


N 45 00.30

W 074 039.23

Deep Bay

New York

N 44 46.58

W 073 022.86



N 44 40.59

W 075 033.47


New York

N 44 37.81

W 073 025.54

Valcour Spoon Bay

New York

N 44 37.79

W 073 024.41

Valcour Sloop Cove

New York

N 44 37.37

W 073 024.41

Valcour Smugglers Harbor

New York

N 44 37.09

W 073 024.52

North Burlington


N 44 29.93

W 073 014.97

Appletree Point


N 44 29.79

W 073 014.95



N 44 27.02

W 068 055.30

Demello's Camp

New York

N 44 26.22

W 073 023.19



N 44 25.58

W 073 014.97



N 44 25.41

W 068 059.51

Shelburne Bay


N 44 24.23

W 073 014.26

Willsboro Bay

New York

N 44 23.90

W 073 023.63

Bounty Cove


N 44 19.00

W 068 053.98



N 44 18.24

W 076 005.75



N 44 16.75

W 076 004.26

Porter Bay


N 44 13.78

W 073 019.01

Andrews Island


N 44 08.81

W 068 042.13



N 44 05.84

W 069 005.76

Isle Au Haut


N 44 03.22

W 068 038.77

Port Henry

New York

N 44 03.05

W 073 027.10

Sackets Harbor

New York

N 43 57.00

W 076 007.12



N 43 54.17

W 069 048.30

White Bay

New York

N 43 52.32

W 076 013.80



N 43 50.84

W 069 038.05


New York

N 43 50.31

W 073 023.33

Chipman Point


N 43 48.04

W 073 022.54

Jewel Island


N 43 41.33

W 070 005.39

Lock 11

New York

N 43 28.12

W 073 026.07

Fort Edward

New York

N 43 15.55

W 073 034.99



N 43 06.51

W 070 047.57

Little Bay


N 43 05.96

W 070 051.67



N 43 04.90

W 070 043.40



N 42 58.74

W 070 036.81

Lock 4

New York

N 42 56.00

W 073 039.23


New York

N 42 47.16

W 073 040.69

Albany Yacht Club

New York

N 42 38.36

W 073 044.91



N 42 36.67

W 070 039.31



N 42 29.75

W 070 050.99

Shady Hbr

New York

N 42 27.09

W 073 047.18


New York

N 42 26.09

W 073 046.46


New York

N 42 22.09

W 073 047.84

Middle Ground

New York

N 42 15.92

W 073 048.03


New York

N 42 13.90

W 073 050.63


New York

N 42 09.28

W 073 054.09



N 41 59.97

W 070 036.94


New York

N 41 55.19

W 073 057.92



N 41 44.31

W 070 042.67

Monument Beach


N 41 43.18

W 070 037.18

Fall River


N 41 42.49

W 071 009.60



N 41 40.36

W 070 038.42


Rhode Island

N 41 40.01

W 071 017.16

New Bedford


N 41 37.46

W 070 054.75

Buzzards Bay


N 41 34.27

W 070 056.52

Dutch ng

Rhode Island

N 41 29.89

W 071 023.31


New York

N 41 27.36

W 073 059.21

Judith Point

Rhode Island

N 41 24.29

W 071 030.34


New York

N 41 05.14

W 073 054.73

Liberty Island

New York

N 40 41.77

W 074 003.93

Havre de Grace


N 39 32.85

W 076 005.00



N 39 28.81

W 075 056.04

Bohemia Better


N 39 28.58

W 075 056.33



N 39 21.94

W 075 058.77



N 39 21.82

W 075 053.54


New Jersey

N 39 21.23

W 075 021.62

Still Creek


N 39 19.97

W 076 008.52



N 39 17.09

W 076 036.71



N 39 12.30

W 076 003.70



N 38 58.40

W 076 029.22

At Sea

N 38 58.23

W 074 037.91

Kent Narrows


N 38 57.77

W 076 015.19

Back Creek


N 38 57.48

W 076 029.09

Cape May

New Jersey

N 38 57.00

W 074 053.24



N 38 52.95

W 076 031.61

Washington DC


N 38 52.61

W 077 001.55

Rhodes 2


N 38 52.50

W 076 031.39

Goose Creek


N 38 45.04

W 076 015.70

Laplatte River


N 38 37.95

W 076 007.17



N 38 34.74

W 077 012.13

Cambridge Municipal Y B


N 38 34.58

W 076 004.41



N 38 34.34

W 076 004.43



N 38 33.86

W 077 011.83

Back Creek


N 38 20.39

W 076 027.54

Deep Creek


N 38 16.26

W 076 043.39

Canoe Neck


N 38 15.59

W 076 043.74

Tangier Island


N 37 49.80

W 075 059.66

Sandy Point


N 37 49.50

W 076 018.59

Onancook Creek


N 37 43.52

W 075 049.50



N 37 42.65

W 075 045.49

Wareh Creek


N 37 42.29

W 076 021.25

Myers Creek


N 37 41.50

W 076 029.66



N 37 40.78

W 076 027.59

Dymer Creek


N 37 40.11

W 076 020.87



N 37 39.05

W 076 025.92



N 37 38.23

W 076 034.14



N 37 37.87

W 076 020.96

Jackson Creek


N 37 32.75

W 076 020.00

Fishing Bay


N 37 32.28

W 076 020.03



N 37 13.41

W 076 047.44



N 37 01.43

W 076 020.43



N 37 01.14

W 076 020.55

Marina Waterside


N 36 50.63

W 076 017.53



N 36 50.30

W 076 017.79

Deep Creek


N 36 44.87

W 076 020.29

Dismal Swamp Canal

North Carolina

N 36 26.65

W 076 019.58


North Carolina

N 36 23.14

W 076 017.19

Elizabeth Creek

North Carolina

N 36 18.19

W 076 012.40

Little Alligator

North Carolina

N 35 55.99

W 076 001.53

Alligator River

North Carolina

N 35 52.18

W 076 002.15

Alligator River

North Carolina

N 35 40.31

W 076 005.61


North Carolina

N 35 32.20

W 076 037.62

Bath, NC

North Carolina

N 35 28.59

W 076 048.92

Bath, NC

North Carolina

N 35 27.52

W 076 048.99

Eastham Creek

North Carolina

N 35 17.83

W 076 036.34

Eastham Creek 2

North Carolina

N 35 17.82

W 076 036.30

New Bern

North Carolina

N 35 06.15

W 077 001.92

Broad Creek

North Carolina

N 35 05.79

W 076 035.76

Broad Creek

North Carolina

N 35 05.41

W 076 037.41

Neuse River

North Carolina

N 35 05.31

W 076 034.34


North Carolina

N 35 01.41

W 076 041.86


North Carolina

N 35 01.40

W 076 041.84


North Carolina

N 35 01.18

W 076 041.74

Adams Creek

North Carolina

N 34 56.00

W 076 039.31


North Carolina

N 34 43.54

W 076 039.97


North Carolina

N 34 41.16

W 077 007.04


South Carolina

N 33 30.79

W 079 008.71

Winyah Bay

South Carolina

N 33 15.48

W 079 015.06

Minim Creek

South Carolina

N 33 11.63

W 079 016.67


South Carolina

N 33 08.77

W 079 018.89

Inlet Creek

South Carolina

N 32 47.11

W 079 049.49

Turner Creek


N 32 00.91

W 080 059.41

St Catherine


N 31 41.47

W 081 009.27



N 31 36.16

W 081 012.84



N 31 17.07

W 081 022.79

Brickhill River 2


N 30 53.79

W 081 026.73

Brickhill River


N 30 53.30

W 081 027.05



N 30 51.60

W 081 030.24

Fernandina Beach


N 30 40.35

W 081 028.15

Alligator River


N 30 34.52

W 081 028.30



N 30 24.19

W 081 030.77

Matanzas 2


N 29 49.08

W 081 017.59



N 29 48.45

W 081 017.14



N 29 14.12

W 081 001.45



N 29 11.82

W 081 000.29

Space Center


N 28 38.96

W 080 048.01



N 28 37.53

W 080 048.40



N 28 31.50

W 080 046.25

Merrit Island


N 28 31.16

W 080 046.32



N 28 21.15

W 080 042.93



N 28 05.08

W 080 035.06

Melborne Harbor


N 28 04.66

W 080 036.11

Malabar Rd


N 28 00.44

W 080 033.48



N 28 00.13

W 080 033.38

Rock Point


N 27 59.33

W 080 032.73

Pine Island


N 27 43.47

W 080 023.98

Vero Beach 1


N 27 39.76

W 080 022.35

Vero Beach 2


N 27 39.35

W 080 022.24

Fort Pierce


N 27 28.09

W 080 019.45

Thumb Point


N 27 27.42

W 080 018.17

Fort Pierce


N 27 27.16

W 080 019.10



N 27 11.48

W 080 016.03

St Lucie


N 27 10.74

W 080 011.55

Lake Worth


N 26 45.56

W 080 002.59



N 25 47.91

W 080 008.97



N 25 43.46

W 080 009.42

Hurricane Hole


N 25 41.22

W 080 010.42

No Name Harbor


N 25 40.62

W 080 009.80

Marathon, Ball T2


N 24 42.42

W 081 005.67

Garden Key Dry Tortugas


N 24 38.00

W 082 052.30



N 21 36.00

W 087 045.00

Note that about 20% of the time we anchored, I forgot to push the buttons to remember the place in the GPS. Those places, including the whole West Coast of Florida, are missing from the table.

p.s. For my sailing friends, I can send you this data base in .GSX format that you may be able load directly in to your own GPS. I find it useful for planning purposes to know where good anchorages are. I loaded all the anchorages listed in the Skipper Bob book in to my GPS.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Activity Day

Marathon, FL
N 24 42.391 W 081 05.683, (See the map)

Saturday was like activity day at kids camp. It started with a nautical flea market. I scored at the party by buying a foot pump for $5 that is an exact replacement for the pumps we use in the sinks. I can cannibalize it for spare parts, or use it as a replacement. These foot pumps are very tough, but they don't last forever.

At noon was the dinghy race, which I entered. It was not a race for the fastest speed, but rather a race to most closely match the organizer's reference time to complete a course. My strategy was to go as slow as possible. However I was out-slowed by another guy who stopped dead mid course to smoke a cigar. That guy was the winner. We all paid a $5 entry fee, and the winner got 50%. The other 50% was donated to the local sailor's association.

Then we went to the Chili Cookoff competition. Libby made a big pot of her best chili as the Tarwathie entry. With my appetite whetted by sampling Libby's chili in advance, I went to the cookoff ready for serious judging. A few years ago, I had great fun as a judge in a chili cookoff in Sugarland Texas. Yesterday, all the cruisers were all judges. Each paid $5 to get a bowl, money which went to the local sailor's association.

There were 16 entries in the contest. As a consciouses judge, I did my duty by taking a scoop of each in numerical order. In the end, I voted for Libby's chili, but other people won more votes. One of them was spiced with ginger, which gave it a wonderful flavor. Another entry stacked the deck by loading up the chili with numerous shrimp, scollaps and oysters. I really really liked about 5 out of the 16, but in the end I voted for Libby's. The winner confessed that he simply poured a whole bottle of hot sauce in his chili.

In the final analysis Libby had the last word. She said, "Many entries, including the winners, went home with their chili only half gone. My chili was gone; eaten to the last drop."

After the cook off, we returned to the boat. I had a tummy ache from eating too much chili, but I didn't care. I can't think of a better way to get a tummy ache than judging a chili cook off.

Cooking The Chili

Waiting for the dinghy race

Cruisers at the cook off
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Friday, February 08, 2008

Libby's Turn


Well it is about 3 years since we started this phase of our lives. Some things stay the same, missing family and friends, always something new to learn, and enjoying each other’s company. Some things are getting better, my level of confidence in myself as a sailor, the number of new friends that we meet, then find again along the way, being comfortable with this lifestyle (foot pumps for water, sun showers, using the same space or thing for multiple uses, and a constantly rocking environment). We are healthier, more relaxed, and definitely more self sufficient. I'm glad we are traveling with no final destination in sight.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Day In Key West


Yesterday we rode the bus down to Key West, just to be tourists for a day. The bus is a real bargain. It only costs us $1 each to ride the bus from Marathon to Key West; a 90 minute ride.

Key West hasn't changed much since the last time we were there. We still haven't seen the Key West night life, but during the day it is full of tourists. Lots of tourists. There are about 500,000 tourists that come to Key West every month during the winter. I understand that the late night crowd is very (very very) different, but sailor's midnight is 8PM so we don't get to see much of them.

We bought a conch shell with the top cut off, so that we can begin practicing to join the daily conch shell serenade at the moment of sunset. We love listening to that and I think we'll love it even more if we can join in.

The high point for the day was a visit to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. It was amazing. We recommend that as a stop for anyone visiting Key West. It is much better than the butterfly garden in Montreal. We spent a couple of hours there saying oh and ah about all the beautiful creatures flying around us. We also took 179 pictures; too many to post on this blog, but at a later date I'll post the best one.

On the way back, as we waited for the bus, our friends Ted and Nancy from Solomons, MD came riding by on bicycles. How nice it is to have chance meetings with friends, and how nice it is that it happens more and more often to us along the East Coast.