Heading Home

Hello all,

Well, Windswept IV is all put away again for another sailing season. It has been a busy 10 days since we arrived at the marina.

First we cleaned off the accumulated salt from our crossing and subsequent travels into the north wind. Gallons of water washed the decks, dive gear, anchor and chain, sails, dodger and bimini, halyards, lines etc etc. Murray was just in his element, playing in the water. Most of you have seen this phenomenon in person as water flies in all directions. He is dangerous to be around unless you are wearing a bathing suit!

Then we started to unload the boat, sorting through lockers of clothing, books, shells, utensils, tools etc to remove anything that doesn’t get used often and would be better stored at the house. We filled tubs with dressier clothes, shoes etc. Most things will not return, we hope. Meanwhile all surfaces were wiped down with a vinegar mixture to retard the growth of mildew during the hot, humid summer months.

Time was taken to drive some good friends, Ole and Sue Pederson, down to Stuart, FL to retrieve his truck. They had been headed to the Chesapeake when a family emergency brought them to Green Cove Springs. As dock space was limited, they rafted beside us for four nights before hauling out to storage. They spent another day working on the boat in storage to off-load all of their gear. It was a pair of tired people that said goodbye on Wed evening as they headed north towards Parry Sound.

Time also had to be taken to shop for house things. Since we have the trailer, it seemed silly not to fill it, right? You remember, it is a 5×10 landscape trailer and carries quite a lot.

The locker that was rented at the marina was also emptied and contents either sold, disposed of or added to the load. But, today it all came together. We were hauled out at about 9:30 and finished, showered and underway by 2 pm.

Tonight we are north of Columbia, NC on Hwy 77. Tomorrow we should arrive at Fred & Cindy’s place in Cayahoga Falls, OH just in time to have dinner with them. What a plan! Monday morning, not too early, we will continue on our way, arriving at Steve’s house in St Thomas in the late afternoon.

The first order of business is to purchase a bed and have it delivered to T’burg. Once that is in place, we will move into the house. When the telephone is installed, we will contact you all with the number.

Bottom line is ” watch out, they’re baaaack! ” Much love to you all and we look forward to seeing you soon, Heather & Murray

PS Tomorrow will be a difficult day. The Volvo wagon is loaded, with a roof box on top, also loaded. A trailer behind – heavy. Between here and Ohio are the West Virginian mountains. Today, driving in Florida and Georgia on flat ground, the Volvo consumed a noticeably increased amount of fuel. In the mountains……..?? So, Fred & Cindy, we may be later than usual arriving. We will call when we get close.

Crossing #22

Hello everyone,

I promised a more complete report on our return journey to the US and, as we motor north in the ICW, finally have the time to fulfill my promise. Or maybe you see it as a threat.

Before dawn on March 28th, we hauled anchor and headed out from Meek’s Patch with High Stepper right behind us. Through the channel between Egg Island and Little Egg and out to deep water was the course plotted. More and more lights showed up as other vessels headed out as well. Most of those turned northward towards the Abaco Islands. High Stepper and us sailed off on a course of 305M and held that exact course almost all the way across.

The winds were light and up our butt so it was a motorsail as we maintained an average speed of 6.5 knots. When the wind piped up, we shut down the engine and when the wind died again, on came the diesel.

There was a beautiful green flash at sunset that seemed to hang in the sky longer than usual. Meals were served in the cockpit as we kept a close watch on vessels around us. During the night, we came close to Freeport. There must have been a backlog of ships waiting for port services as cargo ships littered our path. They all were lit up like Christmas trees which made it difficult to pick out the running lights to determine their direction. Most were stopped. It was very scarey to approach these behemoths and maneuver around them. At any one time we could count a dozen ships within our sight!

We took turns on watch so the other person could sleep for three hours at a stretch. Both of us managed to sleep and felt quite refreshed in the morning. When the sun peeked over the waves I watched for a green flash once more. But, although someone had assured me that they had seen it before, I was not so lucky.

Once we reached the currents of the Gulf Stream, we turned slightly more north to take full advantage of the increase in speed.

We motored into Ft Pierce at 1330 hrs on March 29th. Total distance traveled – 230 nautical miles. Time taken – 31.5 hours. That translates to an average speed of 7.3.

By the time we hooked up to a mooring in Vero Beach, it was 1500 hrs. High Stepper loaned us their cell phone to check in with Customs.

On Monday, we rented a car and headed back to Ft Pierce to Customs for our cruising permit for the next months. The officer was very unhappy with all of us. We were required to report within 24 hours, no longer the 48 hours of other years. As rental cars are not available on Sunday in Vero Beach, we could not report within the time frame and had made that known to the officer on the phone. But, it wasn’t good enough. A written warning was put on our file and, if it ever happens again, we are liable for a $5000 fine and confiscation of our vessel! Yikes!

So, if you are returning to the US aboard a private boat, make sure that you phone in and then appear at the Customs office within 24 hours.

The balance of our stay at Vero was very pleasant. Fred & Cindy Meyer stopped by and took us to visit with Jeff and Heather and their 4 year old daughter Jillian. Sitting around their pool, drinking goombay smashes in the afternoon was hard to take. Murray brought along some lobster tails and we barbequed a mixed grill of chicken, steak and lobster. Mmmmm. Jeff did some magic with a pot of oil and produced wonderful conch fritters. Heather made a lovely salad and strawberry cheesecake for dessert. We may ever need to eat again.

It was hard to pull away from Velcro Beach but we finally did. Bright and early today, Friday, we dropped the lines that tethered us to High Stepper and with tears in our eyes, headed off alone. It has been a very enjoyable time cruising with Doug & Connie and we have shared some wonderful experiences. But our paths separate here. They are flying to Boston for a few days to meet their newest granddaughter and we must head to the marina to haul out and drive north to see our family and friends ashore once more.

Our plans you ask? The weekend approaches and we will arrive in Titusville today and stay there until Monday before heading north again. By mid week, we should arrive at Green Cove Springs. Ten days or so after that, we will haul out and drive towards Ontario. But, we will keep you posted.

Hugs to all, Heather & Murray