Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Peck Lake, FL 27º06.924N | 80º08.616W

Memorial Day passed with us successfully tucked into north Lake Worth, away from the weekend revelers. Early yesterday morning, we headed north through the final gauntlet of south Florida bridges.

From the first time we came south on the ICW, we had heard Peck Lake is a great anchorage for visiting the beach, just a few hundred yards over the dunes. We tucked into the shallow water in the lake midafternoon just ahead of a nasty squall spewing rain. Chip dropped the anchor between downpours.

No beach day yesterday, but who's in a hurry?

After having a quick look at the beach, we designated today our beach day. Despite the fact that we've been so close to the ocean the last few months, we haven't had a single beach day.

Look at that gorgeous, sprawling beach with NO houses. We had it completely to ourselves all morning except for two runners passing by.

The most comfortable beach chair I've ever had!
Gazing at that flat-calm sea all morning got us jonesing to head offshore, which we briefly entertained. Unfortunately the weather is terribly unsettled right now, squally with storm cells developing late afternoon and during the night. Pairing that with inconsistent wind, which would probably mean motoring anyway, we've decided to keep heading north up the ICW, dodging thunderstorms. Next decision point: Ponce Inlet, three days north.

Jazz toes.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Lake Worth, FL 26º50.357N | 80º03.238W

Is the timer working????
Chip called his best friend from high school today.

"We're in Palm Beach, where are you?" he asked.

Ed and his wife Crystal live in central Florida, about 200 miles away from where we are anchored in Palm Beach. As it turns out, they are in Boynton Beach for a family reunion, 25 miles south of us!

They buzzed over to pick us up from our dinghy "dock."

We spent the day lolling at the Rizzo house in Boynton, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, soaking up some air conditioning.

Ed and Crystal dropped us off with hugs and kisses and a big pan of meatballs and lasagna. We have a good life.

Chip, Ed, Crystal and me.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Lake Worth, FL 26º50.357N | 80º03.238W

Impatient people should not be sailors. For traveling north, we had these two options:

  1. Wait for a good weather window to go offshore. With a tropical storm developing east of Georgia, that might be a week. It might mean waiting two weeks, which requires a great deal of patience.
  2. Start moving north on the ICW through the gauntlet of bridges in south Florida. The first day from Lake Sylvia to Lake Boca, we traveled 17 miles in 8 hours through 8 bridges, which requires immense patience.
Today's trip was much easier but still meant going through 11 bridges in 29.7 miles. We made it in 8 hours!

The first set of bridges yesterday opened on a time schedule, which is why it took so darned long. I don't know who decides the timing, but they certainly aren't sailors. We couldn't make it between bridges for the next opening and were often left to crawl at 2 knots or less to get there at the right time. If not, we had to do the bridge dance, idling, spinning, reversing until time for the bridge to open.

Today, the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, was a good reminder of why we don't travel on the ICW on weekends, especially holiday weekends. In the afternoon, the amateurs started hitting the water on various types of watercraft, running around willy nilly, completely oblivious to the rules of the road.

I can remember using our warning horn only once in two years. Today I had to use it twice.

First, I was doing the idle dance, waiting for a bridge opening when a trawler passed under the bridge and pointed right at me. He kept coming closer and closer and closer. Getting our boat moving is akin to pushing a refrigerator still in its box. When the trawler was about 20 yards away and still pointed at me, I started honking and threw the boat into gear. He was coming at my port (left) side, so I had to decide in a flash whether to turn to port (without knowing if there was traffic coming around him and risking his overcorrection, turning INTO me) or turn to starboard where, fortunately, I had some deep water but would still be in his general path. I chose starboard when another horn blared from the power boat coming up behind me. He saw quickly what was happening and held off. The trawler slowed, but all three boats were within about 30 yards of each other. Not trusting the trawler, I did a 180 and headed south until he got his shit together and passed me.

About five miles later, near the Lake Worth inlet, a 25' fishing boat was coming at me at a good clip. When he got uncomfortably close, I laid on the horn as he just kept coming. This time, I had a shoal to starboard, nowhere to go. It appeared he had lost steerage (we saw him spinning his wheel) but didn't think to throttle down. He missed us by about 10 yards, maybe less.

Photo by Chip
Boy, was I happy to get the anchor down as more and more revelers came out (one waylaid by a police boat). We will be celebrating Memorial Day in the peace of our anchorage, back on the move Tuesday once everyone has gone back to their day jobs!

That tropical storm is gathering steam offshore, so, once again, we'll be trolling up the ICW. Only 7 bridges on our next leg -- and the successful completion of Florida's bridge challenge.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Lake Boca, FL 26º20.684N | 80º04.420W

When we are in one place for more than a few days, a real lethargy seeps into my bones, the longer the stay, the deeper it seeps. At some point, natural law takes over, and inertia seems to turn up the gravity under my feet. Even the boat gets sluggish, weighted down, the bottom, the rudder and the prop start looking like a dang chia pet. The anchor chain grows heavy with slimy green algae. I guess that's what happens to my psyche: it gets green slime all over it. Ick.

It takes real focus to shake it off and get underway again, but I have to admit, I'm an addict, completely hooked on a drug called 'movement.'

Moving the boat a few hundred yards is enough for my drug-of-choice to kick in, filling me with energy, hope, optimism, industriousness, adrenaline, creativity. Any lingering lethargy is left behind with the algae in that slimy patch of water. Everything's fresh again.

Before getting underway, we put the boat in order, stowing loose objects, getting out the tools of piloting, raising and securing the dinghy. When all these minor chores are done, it's like having a packed suitcase by the door with your passport sitting on top. It reeks of readiness and the promise of adventure.

The pouring rain in Fort Lauderdale could not deter us this morning. I raised the anchor with my slicker on, hosing a month of slime off the chain as it rolled in. The anchor came onboard with a glorious CLANK. I do love that sound. Chip pointed the bow north.

We're excited to visit great friends and destinations along the Florida coast on our way to Georgia, where we'll keep the boat safe from hurricanes for the season.

Our first stop tonight, Lake Boca, is a lovely spot where I only ran aground twice (!)(really just kisses) trying to enter. And with the anchor down, the ultimate reward of traveling by boat kicks in. The rain has moved offshore leaving us a perfect, cool evening ahead, energized and content from a day of travel, and we never left home! Our beautiful house is right downstairs -- no suitcase required.

Enjoying my last New Mexico treat.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Lake Sylvia, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Land life certainly has its creature comforts, but after a few days, the land feels terribly stationary, the air dry, my feet restless.

What a rich feeling coming home to Chip and Cara Mia. I am wealthy indeed. 

We are sluggish, we three, and ready to get moving, north for now. Cara Mia is expected in Brunswick, Georgia, for hurricane season; Chip and I have a date with Paris June 19th.

Mother Nature has decided to kick up a fuss offshore, forcing us to meander up the ICW. No worries. No hurry. First stop: Lake Boca.

Goodnight, Lake Sylvia, goodnight.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


From New Mexico

My Aunt Hazel here in New Mexico asked me the other day if we had a way of covering up our household belongings when it rained. I guess she thinks we live on a Tom Sawyer raft, but that's my fault, isn't it? I clearly haven't done a good job of describing our boat or living quarters.

Yesterday my sister brought over a jigsaw puzzle, and everyone was surprised to hear that I do puzzles onboard. "You have enough room to do a puzzle???"

Well, bad for me.

Here's some proof, if not flattering proof, that we can do puzzles onboard:

Puzzling on Bell Island with Karen & Dale from Jessie Marie.
We can entertain guests:

Our kids with Chip's parents, Nancy & Ted.
They're being affectionate, not crowded.

We have entertained as many as eight guests below (in the living room/kitchen) without feeling too cozy.

We have room to make our guests do chores:

Remi & Casey doing chores in the Exumas.
We have a full kitchen where we can both work at the same time:

This is an old photo. I promise another one soon.
Three burner stove, double sink, big refrigerator and freezer.

We have a beautiful bedroom with a queen-size bed:

We have a complete bathroom with sink, toilet and shower, and another bedroom with a queen-size bed -- and it is all covered by a roof!

I realize that by land standards, this is very tight quarters, but for a cruising sailboat, it is quite spacious.

And our backyard is spectacular.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


A Sailor Visits New Mexico

That looks a wee bit like a palm tree, doesn't it? But, no, these are yuccas, the state flower of New Mexico, two particularly towering ones.

I went walking about here in my hometown and had quite forgotten the feel of that dry, crisp wind, all sparkly and tingly like Champagne. I ponder whether this dry breeze is sturdy enough to fill a sail but that seems too foreign to imagine. I believe the wind agrees. It will be long spent before it reaches any sea.

The unfettered sun, crackles warm on my skin. I reach my hand out over a green lawn to feel the cool moisture rising off the grass, the sun and wind gobbling it up before it rises any higher.

Heavy clouds on the horizon march toward us carrying water from who knows where. It should be no surprise that the clouds dump it all at once after carrying it so far.

The splashes of green are vibrant, a moving contrast to brown on brown. Super-green.

I'll be back to the palm trees and blue-on-blue soon enough, but not before my senses replay a childhood whiled away outdoors under a bare naked sun, cooled by a sparkling wind.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


New Mexico

... The simple joys of land. More of what I do on land and no longer take for granted:

  • Use fast Internet. WOW.
  • Sit in a desk chair.
  • Heat up leftovers in a microwave.
  • Run gallons of water over the strawberries.
  • Leave a nightlight on, even if it doesn't keep boats from crashing into me at night.
  • Do laundry, right down the hall!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


New Mexico

What does a sailor do when she sets foot on dry (very dry) land?

  • Flush the toilet just to watch.
  • Take a long, long shower.
  • Watch Bonanza on TV. (TV!)
  • Eat a peanut patty (okay, only in New Mexico).
  • Wash my face with cold water -- by choice.
  • Sit on a poofy couch and then in a recliner. Aaahh.
  • Drive to two different grocery stores in a car.
  • Adjust the whole house to my desired temperature. Oh, yeah!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Does it seem like we just did those toe rails? Yeah, well, we decided to coat them again before a summer of blaring Georgia sun. A sailor's work...

We decided to get this off our TO DO list. Chip and Cara Mia will be staying here in Fort Lauderdale while I fly to New Mexico for two weeks to see my mom. When I return we'll start our northern trek to Brunswick, Georgia, where Cara Mia will hide out for hurricane season.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Fort Lauderdale, FL

My first column debuted this week in Classic Yacht magazine, a beautiful ezine published every two months. If you've never seen the magazine before, you're in for a treat.

I will be writing about the lessons I have learned while following a dream. We'll see if they promote me from 'novice sailor' somewhere along the way!

Friday, May 4, 2012


Fort Lauderdale, FL

On the first day of 2010, I turned 50. We were poised precariously on the edge of our sailing life. The TO DO list created all the way back in 2008 looked like this:

1. Sell the wine shop
XXXX2. Sell the house -- July 31, 2009
3. Sell the current boat
4. Buy our cruising boat.

Not such a great pace we had going when you look at it that way. But in December 2009, we had made an offer on an Island Packet 380 and were waiting for the Chesapeake to thaw out enough for a sea trial. If all went well, we had one item keeping us from sailing away: Sell the wine shop.

Here's how it happened: OUR STORY: 2010.

In case you missed it, the first two parts are here: 2008 :: 2009

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Fort Lauderdale, FL

What were you doing in 2009? Let me remind you what was going on in the news.

In late 2008, the world economy had taken a 'downturn.' That's 'downturn' as in base jumping. In January 2009, Obama was inaugurated amid total economic chaos. That month 598,000 jobs were lost, followed by  697,000 jobs in February. For perspective here, that's like everyone in Denver losing their jobs in January, all of Detroit in February (perhaps not far from true).

In March? 742,000 jobs. That's Fort Worth. All this was following the loss of 1,738,000 jobs in 2008. That's Philadelphia PLUS Birmingham. From September 2008 to March 2009, 3 million 775 thousand jobs lost with no sign of it stopping.

Also in March, the Dow fell below 7,000 for the first time since 1997.

Everyone was hunkered down, some probably bunkered down to wait out the crisis.

And what were we doing? Trying to sell our house, our business and our old boat.

Here's Our Story went in 2009.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Fort Lauderdale, FL

We've had some rainy, rainy days here in Fort Lauderdale this week, leaving me lots of time to primp up the blog. There's a new link over there on the left called Our Story, a trilogy.

How did we get from being two ordinary, middle class, middle-aged folks with two teenagers, a house, a business and two cars to living on a sailboat?

Curious? Part One: It all started back in 2005....