Safely Across

Hello everyone

We just wanted to let you know that, once again, we have crossed the Gulf Stream and are back in the USA. This makes 38 times across that stream.

The passage was rough, as usual, but blessedly short as we crossed from Ocean Reef , Grand Bahama to West Palm. The journey was to take 13 hours but took us 11.5 ! The wind and waves were off of the stern so the boat rolled and tossed about a lot. Murray remarked that we were in the agitation cycle in a washing machine.

This morning, we got checked in at Customs and renewed our cruising permit. Once that was done, we hauled anchor and headed northward. Some good friends suggested that we spend the weekend at their dock and we plan to take them up on that. The waterways get crazy on the weekends in the spring and this is also a long weekend. Our friends are not home ( in fact they are still in the Bahamas ) but told us where to find a key to the house and car and to make ourselves at home. Just super people.

On Monday, we will continue our journey northward, with clean clothes and re-filled lockers. It will take us about 5 days to reach the marina and then about a week to prep the boat for storage.

It will not be long now and you will see our smiling faces once again.

Hugs from
Heather & Murray

 
Sent from my iPad

Sailing!

thumb_IMG_0286_1024Yes, believe it or not, we picked the perfect time to sail from Spanish Wells over to the Berry Islands and on. Bob & Liz, on S/V Arapesh, followed us out between Egg and Little Egg just as the sun was breaking over the land behind us. The wind was on our beam and we quickly set sail and shut down the engine. All we heard from then on was the blessed quiet with only the swish of the waves passing beneath our hull. It was a wonderful sail of about 42 miles and we arrived at Devils/Hoffman Cays in lots of time to get securely anchored in the daylight.

Murray jumped into Bob & Liz’s dinghy in the morning to show them the trails to the blue hole and to the ruins on Hoffman Cay. By 1030, we were ready to depart once agin. This time the winds were quite light but the plan was to only go 18 miles up to Great Stirrup Cay area to anchor again. It was a lovely day with the sun shining and the boat sliding along. Arapesh complains that they cannot keep up to us, even though they have a newer boat with a longer water line. W4 was just performing beautifully!

As we approach the anchorage, we take note that the wind is not changing direction as expected. The waves are rolling along that island and maybe right into our anchorage. We enter the area to confirm and it is being affected by ugly waves from the northeast. It is not the spot for tonight but there are a couple more possibilities nearby.

We go back out into the deep water and pass by the cruise ship anchored off of Great Stirrup. They stop here and ferry their passengers ashore to enjoy the beautiful beach and some Bahamian cuisine. Between Great and Little Stirrup is another anchorage – Slaughter Harbour. But the waves are rolling right into there as well. Darn! Do we really have to go all of that extra distance around to Great Harbour Cay?

Murray steers us around the west end of Little Stirrup Cay and towards the shallow sand bar. Here we are out of the waves and safe for the night. Although there is no note on the chart that this is an anchorage, we certainly found it to be perfect for this night. The sun set over the empty sea behind us giving us an awesome view of a green flash.thumb_IMG_2583_1024

The next day found us continuing to sail at hull speed, making the journey of 55 miles to Lucaya in great time. Arapesh disappeared behind us until they turned on their engine to assist. Once in Lucaya, we anchored for the night not far from the entrance as we planned to move on again in the morning. During dinner, we heard a voice “ Captain, captain! You have to move! ” By now, it is full dark and the police boat wants all three boats to haul anchor and follow him to somewhere else. There was no arguing with them as they threatened to arrest the owner of one of the boats who was simply asking questions. They took us over by Grand Bahama Yacht Club and told us to anchor there. But, we had been chased from this spot before and expressed our doubts. “This is fine because I am putting you here!” OK, safely anchored again, we finished dinner and went off to bed. It was just barely daylight, when we again heard a voice. “ Hello, you have to move!” The dock master from the nearby marina is chasing us off. We explained that the police placed us here. So, he left and came back in about an hour with two police aboard his boat. “You cannot anchor here! There are sewer lines all over this area” Well, any thinking person knows that to be untrue as they would never put sewer lines under the water. What happens if you have a break? How do you fix that? It was just an excuse.

The bottom line was that Lucaya was no longer the friendly port that we had enjoyed for so many years. Unless you wish to pay for a dock, perhaps visiting Lucaya should no longer be any part of our plans. Between the extra charges for checking in and being chased from an anchorage twice, once of those times in the dark, we don’t feel welcome here any longer.

But, luckily, we were moving on once again. This time to a dock at Ocean Reef resort. So, on Wed March 2nd, we tied up to the dock here for approx one month. Friends, Bob & Jane Argue formerly from S/V Flextime, are staying here in a timeshare for two weeks and helped us tie up and escorted us on a dinghy adventure right away.

Life is very different on a dock in a resort. There are scheduled activities and lots of boaters to chat with. They have buses to take you to the beach or shopping plus there are dance lessons, scuba lessons, aqua-fit classes, a gym and lots of washers and dryers. Yeah! Clean clothes without using a bucket!

For about a week previously to our arrival here, there had been some concern about a health issue for me. A local doctor came to the boat and sent me for further testing. It took a few days but the bottom line was nothing of real concern was noted. For a time, a CVA was suspected but the MRI ruled that out. So, right now we are doing some exercises to improve my balance and stability again. By the time we are ready to head out again, I should be back to normal. If I was ever normal.

Family arrive on Saturday, staying in the resort, and the fun will begin in earnest!

A different form of life aboard!
Hugs
Heather & Murray

 

 

Spanish Wells & Eleuthera

Hello everyone

It has been a few weeks since I have updated y’all, so here is the latest news.

We tried to go out for lunch at Flo’s Conch Bar, in Little Harbour, Berry Islands one day when the wind finally died down a little. But, just before time to get into the dinghy, a squall came thundering through the anchorage packing winds of 55 knots. As there seemed to be more of those squalls around, we decided to skip lunch out.

On Feb 17th, we motorsailed across to Spanish Wells, about 55 miles to the east. There was just a light breeze so that we did have to run the motor. But, shortly after lunch, one of Murray’s fishing poles started to sing out – zzzzzing! With his mouth already watering, Murray quickly reeled in the fish. It was a nice size Mahi Mahi! They are so pretty in life with the iridescent gold and turquoise scales reflecting the sun. But, it isn’t long before the colour changes to a dull blue.

By late afternoon, we were anchored outside of Spanish Wells. It was time to launch the dinghy so that we could go to town in the morning. The wind was scheduled to increase again as another cold front was to reach us before dawn. Why do these things always come through in the wee small hours? Just to add to the challenge I guess.

We loaded up the dinghy in the morning with two propane tanks, the cart, the folding crate that fits on the cart, a weeks worth of garbage and lots of bags to carry groceries. At the Pinder’s Tune-Up, we left the propane to be filled and walked on to the grocery. The supply ship was in port and we were advised to take our time as things hadn’t been unpacked yet. But, we managed to get a few fresh vegetables and an order for some books. Back to the boat, unload the propane tanks and groceries and then head back in with books.

As soon as all of our town jobs were done, we hauled anchor under sail and sailed out to Meeks Patch, just a few miles away. It is an uninhabited island with a nice beach and protection from the current winds. Several other boats joined us over the next few days and we had several beach parties, making new friends and sharing sailing stories.

Yesterday, the ship was due in again. So, off to town we went for more fresh vegetables and maybe even a lunch out. Murray had read all of the books aboard, so we also had to visit some friends who run the local book exchange in their home. It was great to catch up with Tom & Jean again. Several years ago, they purchased a broken-down cottage in Spanish Wells. Since then, they have performed miracles and have a lovely home now that we visit whenever we can.

You may have noticed that the weather has played a larger part this winter than other years. The cold fronts have been coming through every 2 days, bringing strong winds and cold temperatures and making it a tough year to move around. I know that we don’t have snow and ice as you have there, but we can still whine about the weather.

On Monday, we think that we can sail back to the Berry Islands and then on to Lucaya on Tuesday. That should bring us to Ocean Reef on Wednesday when the tide will allow. There we will relax for a time. We will be on a dock in Ocean Reef Resort for the month of March. Few boat jobs each day, followed by lounging by the pool – it sure sounds tough.

But, is that really life aboard? It will be for a month anyway.
Hugs
Heather & Murray

Berry Islands

Hello all

On Jan 30th at about 4 pm, we set sail from West Palm Beach inlet and crossed to Lucaya, Grand Bahamas. The seas were lumpy as usual and we had many encounters with commercial traffic. But, our trusty new AIS receiver gave us the ships name as well as their Closest Point of Approach. This allowed us to radio any ship that was coming too close for comfort. And they would respond immediately. Dawn found us threading between the ships that were sitting off of Freeport. Most registered as Not Under Command or, in other words, just drifting.

By 9 am, we were secured to the fuel dock to get some diesel and clear Customs. Unfortunately, the marina no longer had fuel and they informed us of a $25 charge for clearing Customs. We filled out all of the paperwork and cleared Customs easily. Then Immigration showed up. She informed us that there would be an additional charge of $40 per vessel. By the time we paid the Customs fee of $300 plus the extras, our total was $365 which is about $450 Cdn. Yikes! Amost a full months spending allowance.

Leaving the dock, we started our search for a spot to anchor. The best ones were already taken. Eventually, we tied to a friend’s dock, Klaus and Marion Karn from Germany. Klaus was in the US but Marion, and her friend Ingrid, made us very welcome. Margaret & Steve on Lion’s Paw also tied up there. Both of Klaus and Marion’s large catamarans were in the US for repairs and thus they had lots of space at the dock.

The weather didn’t co-operate and it was over a week before we were able to depart. But, we shared some meals and cocktail hours with the ladies and Murray and Steve did some home repair jobs for them as well. I think that they were sad to see us go.

This past Monday, the 8th, we took the opportunity to sail to Great Stirrup Cay, at the top of the Berry Island chain. Tuesday, the strong winds came back and we hunkered down aboard. Luckily, we had found a nice patch of sand to set our anchor into as the holding there is not the best and the winds were howling through the rigging.

On Wednesday, the wind died slightly and we sailed on south to Devils/Hoffman cays and were anchored again by 1 pm. During the night, our anchor chain hooked on a piece of coral and the boat was sitting sideways to the wind and current, jerking and heeling over to one side. At first, we thought to wait for daylight to fix the situation but, eventually, after many tries, Murray managed to motor ahead far enough that the anchor cleared the coral. The boat fell back onto the anchor chain and lay quietly. Time to sleep!

Yesterday, we took a hike to the Blue Hole and also explored some ruins on Hoffman Cay. Several other vessels were in the anchorage now, so it was time for a beach party. Meeting new sailors, making friends and exchanging information is what makes this life so unique.

Today, we may take the dinghy down to Flo’s Conch Bar on Little Harbour Cay. Clarence Darville, Flo’s son, lives there now and runs a small restaurant. We try to support it whenever we are in the neighbourhood.

And tomorrow the high winds return. It is going to blow and be ugly for the next several days. Hopefully we have enough books aboard to last through all of the nasty stuff this winter. It has been a tough one with a cold front every two or three days. And the temperatures are much cooler than usual – 60’s with wind. Too cold to swim and even too cold for a cockpit shower. I am hoping that there is enough sun today to warm our solar shower bag so that we can smell good for Valentines Day.

That too is life aboard. Hugs from
Heather & Murray

Tornado!

Hello !

First, let me say that the boat and both of us are just fine.

The weather here has been wild the last few days with thunderstorms, high winds and rain. On Friday, there were many tornado warnings, watches and alerts during the pre-frontal storms. We stayed hunkered down, with the TV on to keep an eye on any approaching problems.

But, we had planned to leave our friend’s dock, here in Hobe Sound, on Saturday near noon, to catch the tide. The weather reports made us change our minds as Sunday was expected to be even worse. Further information on Saturday indicated that the storm would hit Sunday morning between 0400 and 1100.

The wind and rain started about 0330 with some quite strong gusts that made the boat rock and roll. Shortly after 0630, my iPhone started to bleep and there seemed to be some kind of warning on the screen. But, before I could read it, it disappeared. But now we were awake and listening to the wind and rain. At approximately 0700, the boat started to shake, with all of the canvas and furled sails flapping. Then the wind generator distorted with an awful sound. It does this when the wind speed gets too high for it to handle. The boat pulled against her dock lines and rolled over towards the starboard. All loose objects in the boat crashed to the floor. We both jumped up, found our glasses and dressed.

Neighbours report hearing the roar of a tornado but I must admit that I didn’t hear it. The damage around us certainly indicates that a tornado did touch down. Trees are up-rooted, roof tiles are missing, backyard furniture went over a roof and into a neighbour’s front yard, power and cable lines are down. It seems to have been quite a small tornado with damage only spread over three or four blocks.

Luckily, Murray is always prepared for wind, even while on a dock. The dinghy was was moved about a foot although it was lashed down to the deck. If it hadn’t been tied, we might be looking for a new dinghy. One of our dock lines let go and had been very tight before giving up it’s hold. The fuel jugs and deck cargo are always tied down.

Now it is time to assist our friends and their neighbours with the clean-up. Some trees have been lost but everyone survived and their homes are intact, other than missing tiles and broken windows.

Tomorrow we will leave the dock and head south to West Palm Beach, to anchor near the outlet to the sea. Perhaps this Wednesday, we may be able to cross over to the islands. But, don’t worry, we will be keeping a close eye on the weather!

That too is life aboard.

Hugs
Heather & Murray
PS This is a report by WPTV West Palm from this morning.

Big storm damage in Hobe Sound

HOBE SOUND, Fla – Neighbors in several Hobe Sound communities are cleaning up the damage from what they believe was caused by a tornado.

Sunday morning at around 7 a.m. several described hearing the “frieght train noise” people commonly use to describe the sound of a tornado.

A trail of debris was left along several roads: SE Palm Street, SE Coconut Street, SE Gomez Avenue, SE Woodview Terrace, SE Randall Court and SE Courtney Terrace.

Many immediately jumped into action to clean downed trees, scattered debris and broken fences.

The National Weather Service is expected to be out to assess the damage and determine if in fact it was a tornado.

Heather & Murray Rand
windswept4@gmail.com

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A New Year, A New Cruise

The light of dawn had yet to brighten the day when we slipped our lines free and drifted away from the dock. A day of rain and strong winds had been forecast but, when we awoke, it was to hear nary a sound of wind in the rigging or rain pattering on our decks. Time to go.

It had taken some work to get ourselves to this position though. We departed Ontario on Dec 12th and arrived at the marina on the 14th. There we found a ladder and climbed under the shade cloth enveloping our vessel. The decks were filthy as usual. Murray undid the padlock and I ventured below. Mould! Oh well, it was not unusual. The summer had been very wet and many boats had the same problem. The next day, the boat was moved into the work yard where the real work could commence.

As I cleaned belowdecks, Murray worked outside. He had discovered that our prop was seized. Calling on me to read the manual and hold the tiny bits, he carefully took the MaxProp apart, re-greased it and then put it back together. Other than congealed grease, he found no obvious problem with the prop but it seemed to move freely once again. Then it was time to check the thru-hulls. Last year, he had found some softness in the backing plates and feared that much work might be needed. Inspection showed the problem to be confined to just one thru-hull and easily dealt with.

We completed the work that needed to be done on land and took the opportunity to launch a day earlier than planned – on Dec 22nd. On the 23rd, we started the engine and motored to Reynolds where we would finish the jobs that could be done in the water. The Rialta took us on a Christmas adventure, first to Stuart, FL, to visit with George and Nancy Marvin where we had changed our engine last winter. They shared their Christmas celebration with us and it was a wonderful time. From there, we headed north of The Villages to meet up with some former sailors and great friends, Pete and Lani Tufts. Both couples must have thought we needed feeding as they gifted us with boxes of homemade cookies! Yumm!

All fun aside, there was still work to be done. Shopping trips depleted our bank account and filled the lockers with food and wine for the winter. Many gallons of fuel were carried aboard. Some repair work needed to be done on the dodger. All of these jobs were carried out in 85F with 80-95% humidity! The temperatures broke records for 7 days in a row. At bedtime, you almost had to peal your clothes off as they damply stuck to your skin. A late evening shower in the cockpit was the luxury looked forward to each day.

The list was getting shorter but a list of work or needed items never really disappears. It was time to start checking the weather reports. A cold front was coming and might carry us quickly down the ICW if we can position ourselves to use the wind. The timing of the front seemed to vary depending on whose report you read/listened to. So, when we awoke to find light winds on New Years Day, we took the opportunity to head out.

Today, we are sitting at anchor near Ft Matanzas, listening to the rain on the deck. It may stop by noon and allow us to continue south. But, if not, we will head south again tomorrow. The temperatures have definitely dropped – to a high of 59F. But the strong winds have yet to appear. Modified reports indicate perhaps tomorrow but definitely by Wed. Maybe.

It is good to be underway again. Some problems have shown up – a leak in the fresh water system that is challenging Murray. This time in the waterway is the perfect time to find these problems and to resolve them before heading to the islands.

We have some parts meeting us at George & Nancy’s place in Stuart – the repaired Ham radio, some glues and adapters. Plans are to stop there briefly, re-stock, do laundry, visit and then head on. Ready for the islands once again.

From 1997, through every winter, to 2016. Is this the last cruise? One never knows when that decision will be taken from you. For now, we will take it one day, one week, one month and one cruise at a time.

Hugs and love,

Heather & Murray Rand
windswept4@gmail.com

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November Update

As per usual, time has flown by and it has been much more than a month or two since I updated the website and our friends. But, excuses abound.

Most of my spare time, all summer long, was spent working on my first ever queen sized quilt. It is a blooming nine patch quilt that I took a one-day course on in June. It has a huge number of tiny squares and a myriad of seams and was probably not the best selection for a first-time quilter. Finally, in late September, I had completed all of the squares needed for the quilt and it came time to lay it out. You see, I wasn’t quite sure what piece was to be sewn to what.

IMG_0421So, I started to lay it out on our bed, not thinking that the quilt would be larger than the surface of our bed. I dragged furniture from all over the house to hold the blanket up and allow me to continue the pattern. Finally, after two hours, I could step back and view what the quilt would look like when it was finished. It was gorgeous! But, now what? It was covering our bed! I didn’t want to disassemble it. Murray, bless his heart, made me a support for the blanket using some wood, some screws and clamps so that it could stay set up in the dining room until I finished sewing. And, within two weeks, I completed the assembly process and took the quilt to a long-arm quilter to be finished. Yesterday, we got the IMG_0081quilted blanket back and now I just have to apply the binding. I cannot believe that I finished it.

Murray has been spending a lot of time at the farm this fall, as usual. This year,he helped with harvesting wheat, rye, coloured beans, soy beans and corn. The weather co-operated and they finished the corn harvest earlier than usual. When he wasn’t at the farm, he was helping neighbours with jobs around their homes. One, that took much too much time, was adding a railing down the front steps for one couple. He couldn’t find the railing to match until someone said “that is a fencing product, not a railing”. The correct parts were ordered and he installed the rail. It required drilling a four-inch hole in a patio stone to cement in the bottom support and to maintain the look of their front walkway. The finished rail looks as though it has always been there.

DSCN1237The Rialta took us on a couple more adventures this summer and fall. In August, George & Barb held The First Annual Runway Campout at the farm. There were six rigs in attendance and we had perfect weather for the event. Music and food shared with friends, new and old, made for an excellent time. We will definitely join in next year’s event.

Later in September, we travelled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to meet up with some relatives and old friends of George & Murray. They made us very welcome and we toured around the area, forcing ourselves to visit the local wineries for samples. It was too cool for swimming but that didn’t stop us from visiting Lake Michigan in two different areas.IMG_0348

Just a few weeks later, we again loaded up the Rialta for a weekend rendezvous at the farm. Some cousins were coming to visit with their motorhome and wanted us to join them. I skipped out on the Saturday morning activities to get together with my long-time friend, MaryAnn. It had been a couple of years since we had managed to meet and it took a few hours to catch up on all of the news and changes in our lives.

IMG_0434In October, we met Jeremy, Cynthia, Matthew and Samantha in Niagara Falls. They were there for a conference on Juvenile Diabetes and had arrived early enough to spend a day with us. Although it was cool, we investigated the tunnels under the falls and then jumped into the hotel pool. After dinner, we exchanged hugs and headed back home. It was great to see them without travelling through Toronto!IMG_0431

Usually by now, we have loaded the Rialta and headed off to the boat. But, due to a medication change in September, we have delayed our departure until mid December. So, we are Christmas shopping and doing projects around the house.

IMG_0433Murray celebrated his 70th birthday this November and 24 friends joined us to mark the event. One of the gifts that he received was an original print. That encouraged us to get our framing supplies out of the basement and to read the instruction book. The print is now ready to hang and we may have another hobby/small business.

Steve and Katherine have purchased a new home and we helped them get their current home ready for sale/open house. Mostly I forced myself to spend time with my grandbabies while Murray, Steve and Kath worked. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. Their house sold very quickly and they move into a brand new home in mid January. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for my back, we will not be here to assist them with the move.

There are a couple of big jobs to do at the boat before launching this year. One job is to re-seat some thru-hulls as the backing plywood has rotted. The other job is to free up our prop. When we hauled in April, we discovered that the MaxProp had seized up. Both of those jobs must be done while we are on the hard, as well as the usual bottom paint and hull polishing. The marina will close down for almost two weeks at Christmas and we hope to launch before they close. But, if not, we will finish our work and then jump in the Rialta to visit friends around Florida.

After all, sharing time with good friends and family is the best part of life aboard and on the hard, in the marina or at home.

Hugs

Murray & Heather

Mountains, Music and Lobsters!

IMG_0075Just after spending Father’s Day with Steve, Kath, James and Violet, we headed out in our Rialta for points east. We learned the trick to a speedy and trouble-free passage of Toronto – leave our area in the evening! That took us through Toronto and out the eastern side in good time. A WalMart made us welcome for our first night on the road. One more detour had to be made before we hit the road for Nova Scotia – a visit to Ottawa. There we managed to celebrate Matthew’s Grade 6 graduation, Father’s Day and my birthday all at once. But, after a couple of nights, we pulled ourselves away and headed south and east.P1000442

Approaching New Brunswick from the USA brought us near some good sailing friends in St Andrews by-the-Sea and we had to spend a couple of nights there to catch up on their adventures. Underway once again, we turned away from the main highway and travelled through Fundy National Park and the north shore of the Bay of Fundy. Our timing was perfect for a low tide visit to Hopewell Rocks and we marveled at the sculptured rock islands there. Murray walked the whole hike but I opted to ride the tram on the return to the parking lot. IMG_0122

Eventually, we pulled ourselves away from the attractions of New Brunswick and headed into Nova Scotia. Of course, we drove the back roads, Hwy 6, along the coast, with a stop for shortbread in Pictou at Mrs MacGregor’s Cafe. Delicious! Beautiful scenery and lovely little towns. But, Cape Breton was calling to us and we headed for Baddeck.

In Baddeck, we toured the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site and examined the many inventions Bell had been involved with during his lifetime. A Kitchenfest was scheduled for that evening at the Baddeck Legion and, for $10 each, we were treated to live music on guitar, keyboard and fiddle. One of the fiddle players was Mairi Rankin! Great evening of lively music. We spent the night in the Legion parking lot and visited the marina in the morning for laundry and showers.

Clean and sweet smelling once again, the road up into the hills of Cape Breton beckoned. Man, are they steep! The little Rialta was put to the test but managed to make it all the way around. That night we stopped in Inverness and found another Kitchenfest to enjoy. As the sun set into the Gulf of St Lawrence, we walked the boardwalk by the shore, and made plans for the next few days.

IMG_0155On Canada Day, we were visiting St Peter’s, the lock into the Bras D’Or Lake and a small museum nearby when we were told about a party at the yacht club. All were invited for burgers, hot dogs, drinks and cake to celebrate Canada’s birthday. What fun! And more live music.

Finally, it was time to head to Canso and Stanfest. The opening party was Thursday night and we planned to be there. So, from July 2nd through until midnight on July 5th, we enjoyed all the live music we could fit into our day! It was an awesome time! To save money, we had signed up as volunteers. That gave us free entry into the festival for the whole weekend. Our jobs were in traffic control and we worked for 8 hours on Friday. Then we were free to wander. The camping area was well organized and we had a great spot overlooking the whole place. But, it didn’t take us long to figure out that we couldn’t party with the young ones and in fact we were in bed before midnight every night. Too bad we hadn’t attended this event twenty years ago!IMG_0189

The line-up of artists was amazing and it was hard to pick and choose who to go to see. There were several large tents set up where afternoon concerts/workshops were held each day and a main stage event every evening where five or six artists entertained us all.

Next summer is the 20th anniversary of Stanfest and promises to be even bigger and better than ever.

IMG_0204By now, George & Barb had made their way into Nova Scotia and we arranged to meet at a campground north of Halifax. There, we unhooked their truck from the trailer and used it to tour. Much easier than trying to take the RiIMG_0830alta into downtown Halifax! The Museum of Immigration was well worth our visit. And the lovely walk along the harbourfront kept us hiking for miles. This was George and Barb’s first trip to Nova Scotia thus a visit to Peggy’s Cove was necessary. It was as beautiful as advertised but very crowded while we were there.

George had made contact with some of the Rand’s in Nova Scotia and we headed to Kentville to meet with them. I needed another laundry visit and, while watching the clothes come clean, chatted with a couple involved in the same job. The upshot of my chattiness was an invitation to park on their lot overlooking the Bay of Fundy at Hall’s Harbour. IMG_0217IMG_0850We stayed two nights in this beautiful spot! Our hosts even serenaded us on their bagpipes. Thank you Ian Webster!

IMG_0243The Rand family at Randsland Farms Inc welcomed us and Marshall Rand shared much information on our shared genealogy. Then he very kindly took us on a tour of the farm and the area around. The Rands grow many acres of broccoli and supply Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI as well as shipping some products to the USA. It was a great visit and we learned much about the Rand history in Nova Scotia.IMG_0272

IMG_0263Leaving Hall’s Harbour, we ventured south once again and visited Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Chester. In Lunenburg, the Bluenose had just arrived at the dock but they were not allowing visitors as yet. But, it was wonderful to see that beautiful ship in the water. Lunenburg was much too busy with tourists and we enjoyed both Mahone Bay and Chester more. The drive along the coast was just gorgeous! The day was completed with an early lobster dinner at the Shore Club in Hubbard. It was some tired puppies who hauled ourselves back to our campground

The Rands who left Nova Scotia for Ontario had departed from Cornwallis. So, that was our next destination along with a stop at Annapolis Royal. Both lovely small coastal towns, with much history, and much quieter than the towns on the southern coast. Since we were heading in that direction, we opted to take the ferry from Digby to St John, NB. It was a very calm misty day and a lovely crossing.

Now, it was finally time to think about going back home. Toronto was in the midst of the Pan-Am games and traffic problems abounded. So… after some studying of maps and options, we decided to return through the US, driving south almost to Boston before turning to head to Buffalo. It worked well and traffic wasn’t an issue.

It had been a very busy three weeks but we enjoyed all of it! Lots of things to see and music to enjoy plus good times with family members. What more could we ask for?

It was time to clean out the Rialta and get her ready for the next adventure. And catch up with all of the laundry!

Improving Our Front Entrance

This year’s project was to update our front entrance. This is the original door and porch. DSCF0003

To that end, we collected lots of brochures of doors and did some on-line investigation of the best product to use. The question was – fiberglass or steel? We had decided on fiberglass but then were advised by a retailer that steel was better for our climate. So steel it was to be.

Then to chose the design of the door and the glass. We had decided quite early in the process that we wanted glass to increase the light in that hallway. So glass was a definite. But, not too much glass as it does get cold up here in Canada. Eventually we settled on a medium sized oval. Now to select the design of the glass. We wanted the light but also wanted privacy as our bed is in full view from the door. This narrowed the options and made the selection process easier. Finally, the appearance of the door was chosen.

Now just colour remained! Whew, lots of choices. Again, we eliminated ones that were entirely inappropriate quite quickly. Finally we were down to our four favourites. It was time to call in the expert! A neighbour is an artist and has given us excellent advice regarding paint colours in our house. She was thrilled to help and agreed on the four possibles but quickly narrowed in on the best choice.

With all that done, we just had to wait for the door to come in and for the installer to schedule us. Maybe we should take a look at the rest of the entry. The patio slab walkway was looking very mossy and the porch could be cleaner. With a beautiful new door coming, we couldn’t leave the rest looking shabby.

IMG_0070A new coat or two of HardRock freshened up the porch and gave it a colour that would look great with the door. Then Murray tackled the patio stones. After much searching, we found the right replacements and also a lovely natural stone step to replace the old concrete one. The old stones were removed, the hole dug and squared, 3 to 4 inches of fines with mason sand on top was added and, finally, all compacted. Then the new patio stones were installed. Polysand was swept and watered into all the joints.The biggest job was to move the 800 pound stone step from the trailer into it’s place. Murray used eight neighbours ( the oldest over 90 ), pry bars and pipes as rollers to do that job. He figured that if the Egyptians could built the pyramids using levers and rollers, he could move one large stone the same way. All went smoothly but with no photos of the process.

Today, the final piece arrived – the beautiful new door! IMG_0287IMG_0289

Back On Dry Land!

Our crossing back to the US wasn’t without it’s challenges. But, it never is simple, is it?

We hauled anchor and departed White Sound in Green Turtle Cay early one morning. The wind was supposed to die down and shift more easterly.But the wind didn’t listen to the weather guru! It continued to blow hard from the northwest, making us heel over onto our ear as we sailed along the coast of Great Abaco. The wind was so strong that we stopped and anchored for a time, thinking that it would die down. After a quick lunch, we convinced ourselves that the wind had calmed somewhat. So, we hauled anchor once again and continued on. Rounding the corner and turning onto our next course, we found the wind directly on our nose! And blowing 20+ knots ! Motorsailing towards Great Sail Cay was our only option at this point. And the usual anchorage was going to be too far for us to make within daylight hours. With the wind due to clock more to the north, I studied the chart and found us a spot to tuck in for the night. And, just after dark, we dropped the hook in this protected cove.

A few hours later at 0400, we hauled the anchor again and followed friends down around the southern tip of Great Sale and on past Mangrove Cay. The plan was to make passage through the Indian Rock Channel but, due to shallow water, we needed to arrive there at high tide. Thus the early departure. The channel wasn’t quite as shallow as advertised and we made good time out onto the Atlantic. The deep water was quite calm and we motored on towards the West Palm Beach entrance and arrived there about 10 pm that night.

After a good sleep, we launched the dinghy and checked back into the USA on March 25th. By noon, we were back aboard and ready to head north up the ICW. Many bridges later, we dropped the hook in Hobe Sound and finally relaxed. Now it was just a matter of motoring north. We stopped in Cocoa and planned to spend the weekend. Finding no easy access to a grocery store and bus drivers without change, Cocoa let us down. We decided to push on. Weekends are usually busy on the water with the local boaters and we tend to stay put and let them roar around. The weather report wasn’t great with cool and windy days and we hoped that the locals would stay in their harbours. And they did! We made good time northward and arrived in the St John River with an extra day in hand. So, we motorsailed up the river and anchored at the mouth of Julington Creek just after lunch. Launching the dinghy once again, we piloted it up the creek and had a lovely dinner at Clark’s Fish Camp. This is our favourite restaurant for seafood and we try to go there each year.

Before noon the next day, April 1st, we were snugged up to the dock at Reynolds Park Yacht Center with haul-out scheduled for April 9th at Green Cove Springs Marina. Time to clean out lockers, pack clothes, check all cans to be stored aboard and prepare for the summer storage.

Haul-out went well and we finished up and were under way by noon. We were thrilled to notice that the local Moose Lodge was having their monthly pork barbeque. Pulled pork for lunch! Boating friends who live on Hilton Head Island had invited us to visit and we spend a lovely evening sharing our respective winter’s adventures. In the morning, they took us on a golf cart tour of their community. IMG_2457What a lovely place! But, we had miles to go before we could sleep so we pulled ourselves away in the late morning.

The little Rialta made good time and we arrived back in Ontario a day earlier than necessary. Just enough time to stop in St Thomas and meet our newest grandchild. It was bedtime but James was still awake so we got to exchange hugs and give him his belated birthday presents. Violet was sound asleep in her crib. Even though I tried talking loudly in her room, she slept on. Later, my sister suggested that I should have kicked the crib. That might have worked! But, we did get to see her and have had many chances to hold her since then.IMG_0742

Life here in Hickory Hills keeps us busy with dances, coffee hours, the AGM and my work in the library and on the Holler committee. Murray is again helping out at the farm when needed and we have a long list of neighbours who want us to start their irrigation systems. In my spare time, I sew and am starting a queen sized quilt. Murray is re-doing the front entrance as we ordered a new front door. And that job snowballed into new patio stones, new step etc etc.

But, that is life on shore. We hope that your life is going well and everyone who is important to you stays healthy. Enjoy every day and live each one as though it might be the last.

Hugs
Heather & Murray