It Is A Hard Life On The Hard

We arrived back at the Green Cove Springs Marina boatyard on the morning of Nov 7th and started right to work. Murray took the sun-cover off while I checked below decks. The mould gods were good to me this year as the mould was minimal. I cannot say that it was due to better preparation as I used the same method as always. It is simply a matter of humidity and luck.


We were scheduled to move from storage into the work yard around 10 am but were moved at about 4 pm. At least we got a spot. I had booked our move into the work yard before we left in the spring, just to be sure to have a space. There are a huge number of boats in storage but only a small area called “the work yard”.


In the work yard, you are supposed to have access to water, power, have garbage pick-up and have use of the bathrooms. The power is sketchy at times. It took Murray many hours to get a working outlet. The water tap was close and usually has sufficient pressure, except on weekends when more people arrive to work on their boats.


img_0755 The garbage situation is terrible. The cans have been overflowing this whole week. With the afternoon heat, the stench is building. They promise that it will be dealt with today. But, if it isn’t, we will be waiting until Tuesday as the staff is off until then.


Now to the bathroom situation. The men’s room has one toilet and one shower. The ladies room has two toilets and one shower. They did build wheelchair accessible washrooms a couple of years ago but I understand that they are in deplorable condition as well. The floors of the showers are black with ground-in dirt from the shoes that everyone wears.img_0754


And for the privilege of enjoying this life-style, we only pay $0.50 per foot or, in our case, $20 per day. Plus there is a charge of an additional $1 per day for a live-aboard fee, covering garbage pick-up and washroom access.


But, we are the lucky ones as we have the Rialta. During the night, we use the bathroom in it. In fact, Murray uses it most of the time. For showers, we use the cockpit shower on the boat. That might not work for us in the next couple of days as it is expected to get very cold.


But, all is not doom and gloom. The jobs are getting done and we all almost ready to launch. Now, if only the marina next door, Reynolds Yacht Centre, has a spot for us! We cannot float on the moimg_0756orings here and there are very few spaces on the dock. Plus, Reynolds is a nicer and cleaner facility. They pick up garbage daily at the boat and do a free pump-out of the boat or motorhome waste tanks weekly.



All of this too is life aboard.

Heather & Murray


PS Windswept IV is for sale and we are working hard to empty out all of our personal stuff. To that end, we purchased an enclosed trailer to transport and store everything.




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Thanksgiving etc

As usual, it has been way too long since I updated y’all. Life here has been quite busy, with several camping trips in our Rialta.

One weekend found us camped in Dorchester for the Fiddle and Step Dance competitions. The music in the campground was very good and we were close to a great group of musicians. It isn’t really our favourite music type but it was fun to visit once.

George ( Murray’s brother ) & Barb hosted the 2nd Annual Runway Campout in August and there were seven or eight rigs there this year. The weather was slightly damp and curtailed the campfires but we had fun anyhow. Several groups went to the nearby Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese while others went to Woodstock for shopping etc. A great game of Mexican Train dominoes kept us entertained in the afternoon. Saturday evening’s dinner was a pot-luck and, as usual, there was lots of awesome food. Before and after dinner, we were entertained with live music from some of the talented fellow campers plus friends of George & Barb. Everyone headed out Sunday afternoon and allowed the farm to return to it’s usual quiet state – until next year.

One long weekend, we travelled to Mackinaw Island and met up with George and Barb along with some cousins from Michigan, Mary & Bill. We stayed in a campground in Mackinaw City and took one of the ferries to the island for the day. It was a damp and rainy day but we took the horse-drawn tour and quite enjoyed that. Back in the village, we had a lovely lunch at a pub and then browsed the stores for a while. Once we were loaded down with the obligatory fudge, we crossed back on the ferry and got out of the rain for a few hours. The next day, we headed home but stopped along the way to look at new and used motorhomes. We spent the night in another, much cheaper campsite, closer to the border and crossed back into Canada in the morning.

This weekend, the Rialta was called into service once again but this time as a bunkhouse. Jeremy, Cynthia, Matthew and Samantha came from Kanata for Thanksgiving and our two bedroom house is just a bit to small to sleep all comfortably. But, with the heater plugged in, it was quite comfortable in the camper parked in front of the house.

On Thanksgiving Sunday, we met Steve, Kath, James and Violet at Great Lakes Farms, near Port Stanley. There we picked apples and watched the kids playing in the Fun Farm. The balance of the day was spent at Steve and Kath’s new house in St Thomas where we enjoyed a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. The cousins had a wonderful time playing together while the adults visited.

We have so many things to be thankful for. Not the least of which is that our boat seems to have survived Hurricane Matthew. Reports from the marina indicate quite a bit of damage to boats in the water but the ones up on the hard seem to be just fine. That will have to wait to be confirmed when we finally get aboard. That is planned for early November but we will have to contact the marina to make sure that they are ready to have W4 in the work-yard by then.
Murray is working with his brother again, to harvest soybeans. That will take up most of his time for the next few weeks. I have several sewing projects on the go that will keep me occupied.

So, basically, life is good! We have family, friends, way too much good food and things to keep us happy and busy.

Murray & Heather
hard aground

Healing Journey

The seven weeks in the hard collar seemed to take forever to pass. The first few weeks were not too bad as I was glad to have had a solution found to my “wobbly” legs and numb hands. Initially, I could hardly get out of bed without help. But, eventually, I was up and around and even getting dressed by myself. Sleeping in the collar didn’t seem too bad either. But, the last few weeks of collar wearing, were a whole other story. The weather had warmed up and I was roasting! And, I started to lose patience with the darn thing! I could never look down – at my feet, my dinner plate or a book.

So, on June 14th when the surgeon said “ You can take it off – for good!” , I did a little happy dance right in his office! The huge grin didn’t leave my face for a whole week! The next day was my birthday and I could not have asked for a better present.

A few days later, we went to a dance at our community centre and had a ball. I danced Murray’s feet off! I don’t think that we sat out any of the fast ones but did sit for the slow ones. I was back!

The next week found us loading the little motorhome for a trip around Ontario. The purpose of the trip was to catch up with friends and family, especially those that we seldom see. During the two weeks, we spent only one night in a campground. The rest of the time, we were in someone’s driveway. During the two weeks, we visited with a total of 26 persons! It was a whirlwind trip.

Returning home, we hit rush hour in Toronto ( although when is it ever NOT rush hour there? ) with lots of stop and go traffic. And it was HOT! The motorhome transmission started to get overheated and there was not much we could do about it. When the traffic finally thinned out, the temperature dropped into a better range but the transmission was still giving trouble. After a night parked at home, things improved again although Murray still wants to change the transmission fluid.

Now we are back into the swing of things here with aqua-size in the mornings and visits to the pool in the afternoon to just cool down. Murray is still helping out at the farm when he is needed. A few days ago, we drove to Sarnia to help celebrate a 50th anniversary. With ours coming up next year, I want to get as many ideas as possible. Because ours is in the middle of May, I will want to have everything planned before we head south again.

Yes, you read that right. We are planning our 20th season aboard W4 in the islands. As long as I am not “wobbly” and am safe aboard, we will go once again.

Until then,
Heather & Murray
hard aground

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Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Hello everyone

There have been some huge changes in our lives in just a brief time and we need to catch y’all up with those happenings.

Contrary to the previous report, we continued on to Vero Beach and spent a two nights there. Sailing friends took us to breakfast and loaned us a car to re-stock the boat. Once fresh vegetables graced our larder, we pushed on and arrived at the marina by Wed, March 30th. On the journey, I called and booked our haul-out for the following Tuesday. But, once again, our sailing family changed those plans. I had called friends to let them know that we would only be at the marina for a brief period, the weekend, if they wanted to come up for a visit. Our explanation of my health concerns mobilized them. They arrived and stayed to help until we hauled out on Sat, April 2nd. I wasn’t allowed to go aboard when W4 was hauled as it was deemed to dangerous for me.

Perhaps an explanation of my medical issues is appropriate at this time. Before the family joined us in Grand Bahamas, I was investigated for a stoke or CVA in the cerebellum. I was having difficulty walking and increasing numbness in both hands. The MRI didn’t show a stroke, so no definitive diagnosis was made. But the problems persisted and, in fact, increased in severity. Crossing back to the US was accomplished with me sitting tucked in a safe spot and seldom moving from there. Thus the reason for our rush to return home – I needed further testing.

By Monday, April 4th, we were home and sleeping in our own bed (although, with a motorhome and sailboat, we are always in our own bed! ) , Thursday, we visited the family doctor who explained that I must have had a TIA – Transient Ischemia Attack. He ordered a Doppler, an ultrasound of veins in neck to look for blockages, and an echocardiogram. We didn’t accept the diagnosis of TIA as the first word is Transient, usually quick and showing no symptoms after a few days, and this was getting worse!

So, on Thursday April 21st, we drove to University Hospital in London, ON and checked in with ER. They ordered another CT and called for a neurological exam. The neurologist was very concerned about my gait and the likelihood of falling. I was admitted to Neurology that afternoon. Lots of blood tests were ordered and, eventually, they found a slot for another MRI. This one was done of my head and neck. That took place about lunch time on Sunday. Just before dinner, a neurologist came to give us the results – I needed immediate surgery! Maybe even by tomorrow. Dr Ng came the next day, showed me my MRI and explained what had been happening to me. Due to arthritis, my vertebrae were compressing my cervical spine. That was causing the symptoms that I had been experiencing. He was concerned due to rapid advancement of my symptoms and would be doing the surgery as soon as there was a spot on the OR schedule. They would be opening and fusing four cervical vertebrae. If left untreated, this condition would result in partial or complete paralysis.

Surgery was eventually scheduled for Wednesday morning at 0900 and was to take about 3 hours. That schedule got re-arranged when it took an hour and a half to get a second iv line in. Thank goodness, by then I was knocked out. It was a geneIMG_0021_2ral anesthetic and surgery was done with me face down on the operating table.

I came to, wearing the hard collar depicted.

By Sat, I was allowed to go home to complete my recovery. The collar stays on, except for showering, for 6 to 8 weeks. Yes, there is pain, but there is also an increase in feeling in some fingers and maybe more strength in my legs.

My sister, Karyn, has been a great support through this trial. First, she popped down for a visit – from North Bay to London. That is quite a “pop”. Then, when surgery was planned, she came down and stayed nearby until I came through.

And, my rock, Murray, came to visit every day, although he hates hospitals. He held the basin when I had to vomit, avoided the rough roads on the way home, woke every two hours through the night to give me my meds, is doing the cooking and cleaning and basically taking wonderful care of me. Thank you so much my darling!

The outlook? Well, the surgeon’s hope was to stop the advancement of the condition. Then perhaps, some improvement might be noted.

Maybe we will manage to get that 20th year of cruising under our belts after all!
Hugs to all
Murray & Heather
hard aground again

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


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!
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.
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


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.

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

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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

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