We Think it’s Time to Head South

We’ve spent nearly a month at the Vero Beach City Marina Docks, (We needed the access to AC power for air conditioning.)  and so now we feel ready to head out. We’ve not been traveling by boat for five months. We’re anxious to begin traveling once again. September in south Florida can be pretty hot and humid. In fact, this is the rainiest month down here. Then, of course, September is the peak of hurricane season also. In spite of all that, we’re ready to move.

We’ve provisioned as much as we need for a relatively short trip (about 225 miles at 7 mph). We’ve also completed a few boat repairs including bimini repair, VHF radio rewiring, and moving the fluxgate compass to a better position so our auto pilot might function better.  Sandra has made a few pillows and added other touches to the interior.  Of course she also has been busy making baskets as well as knitting an afghan for one the grandchildren. Meanwhile I’ve added spare parts we may need along the way.

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            Sandra’s latest creation

Because we find that so many of the aspects of travel by boat are easily forgotten after several months, we decided to run the boat down to Ft. Pierce and back. We could check on many of the systems while also reminding ourselves of a few of the aspects important to safe travel.

We learned the value of such an effort the hard way a couple of years ago. Let me begin with a bit background info for those reading this who are not boaters. The Coast Guard puts out navigational aids to define the boundaries of channels. They are red or green. If you are coming in from the ocean, the reds will be on the right and the greens on the left. The markers defining the channel coming in to this Marina follow that arrangement. However, the markers on the ICW do not follow the same system. When heading south, the reds are on the right and the greens are on the left. So when one leaves the marina and turns onto the ICW, the markers switch sides. 

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These are examples of the navigational markers.

Now to my story. Two years ago I left the marina, having been off the boat for months, and didn’t give thought to this change. At the first red marker on the ICW, I kept it on my left as I had in the marina channel and steered out of the channel and went hard aground.

So now we both review as much as possible before heading out to help us avoid issues early in our travel.

The run down to Ft. Pierce and back provided us with the chance to get our heads back into proper thinking for boat travel. We didn’t run aground or do anything else as foolish. The boat’s systems worked well.

As I write this we are heading out. This will be a short day due to the possible daily thunderstorms and weekend traffic on the ICW. (It’s really a bit crazy on the water in south Florida on the weekends.). So my next entry should be a progress report of our travel.  Until then…

Captain Bob
Carpe Diem

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Prepare: Is it Coming?

As I promised in the last entry, I’m using this entry to share our experiences as we prepared for the possible tropical storm/hurricane that recently developed in the Atlantic.  The early forecasts suggested that Danny would not ever materialized beyond tropical storm and would probably not bother Vero Beach. We found there was a Tai Chi event going on in Marathon, so we decided to go down there on Friday night and participate on Saturday. Jeff and Beth Pinkus offered for us to stay at their place and all looked good.  We’d be returning to Vero on Saturday evening, which would give us time to prepare for whatever came our way probably on Monday. We planned to put the boat on a mooring in case anything came our way. The docks here are not floating, so preparing at the slip was difficult with the concern of the potential for several feet of storm surge.  Given the forecast several days ahead of the storm, it appeared that the storm, if it came, would be just off shore to the east, bringing winds to us out of the north, so we’d take mooring ball at that end of the mooring field to ensure that other boats wouldn’t blow into us if they came loose.

Then the forecast began to change. The forecasters reminded all that the storm was a difficult one to predict. By Thursday, we decided that the drive to Marathon was was no longer advisable. It appeared that Danny still might become a hurricane, but it would likely travel directly toward us. This meant winds out of the southeast and a different mooring choice. Still, there were a number of moorings available, so this was not a problem. I took down the jib and added more dock lines just in case it appeared that we might be able stay at the dock after all. Then we waited for the next update from the hurricane center. They were coming at three hour intervals, and each one offered a slightly different scenerio.

All the talk on local TV and radio was about the coming storm. The grocery stores were busy with people stocking up. One probably would be hard pressed to find a portable generator anywhere in south Florida. And of course talk at the marina was all about who’s plan for securing the boat was best.

By Saturday evening, it became clear that there would be no hurricane. We would receive only rain. We stayed at the dock safely with no wind and only a little rain.  Hurricanes are still a bit of a mystery even for the forecasters.

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These are called spaghetti models representing the results of different computer models. Even as late as Saturday morning, the models offered a variety of outcomes.

But of course we are now only reaching the peak of the hurricane season. September is a busy month in the Atlantic, we’ll have keep an eye on the weather apps for a few more weeks.  We already have two additional storms that surfaced after Danny.

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Fred appears not be a threat, but Grace has potential.

Of course we deal with the daily threat of thunderstorms here in south Florida as well. While they pose a threat no where near as dangerous as hurricanes, we must pay attention.

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Until the next update…
Carpe Diem
Captain Bob

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Travel continued in the mountains away from the flatlands

After spending a bit of time in the mountains of North Carolina and western Virginia, we moved up to New England to spend a weekend with our grandchildren and family in the mountains of New Hampshire. We had a great time with one and all camping in Franconia and hiking in Franconia Notch along the Cascade trail near the Basin.
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The view looking down the Cascade trail

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Looking up through the Notch

After visiting Sam and family for another two weeks in New Hampshire, we left for the coast of Maine and spent a week camping at Acadia National Park. This gave us the opportunity for reminders of why we love the coast of Maine so much. Jennifer joined us for the last 3 days of our visit there and did some preparation for her next long trail run. We hiked around the rocks, enjoyed lobster and generally took in the sights at Acadia, the rather mountainous island along the coast of Maine.
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Why cruisers both love and fear the Maine coast

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View of Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands from the top of Cadillac Mtn.
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Our view as we enjoyed our first lobsters of the trip

We stopped by to visit Sam and family once again briefly before heading south to Virginia. On the trip, we managed a stop at one of the many wineries in Virginia – always worth the stop.

Following a few days more visiting with Jenn, we traveled up to the Shenandoah National Park for a couple of days camping in one of our favorite spots. We then drove up to North Central Pennsylvania to meet Jenn as she competed in her next long trail run, this one a full 28 miles on very, very rugged, hilly terrain.
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At our campsite in the Shenandoahs, deer were frequent visitors.

And then it was another brief visit with Jenn at her place before we headed back to Vero Beach and the boat. We are now preparing for the possible arrival of Tropical Storm Ericka. My next blog entry will include a report on how that went. Until then…

Carpe Diem
Captain Bob

From Flatlands to the Mountains

As we traveled north from Vero Beach, we remained near the coast and therefore in the eastern flatlands up to North Carolina where we stopped to visit Priscilla Temple and her husband Jerry. Our stop was brief, but we enjoyed the visit, and Priscilla had a big bag of longleaf pine needles for Sandra’s basket making. From there we headed west toward the hills and mountains of North Carolina.

After a brief stop to visit with Sandra’s sister Kim, we continued on to the Hickory area where we stopped for a visit with my sister Kathy and her family. They took us up to Grandfather Mountain for a day trip. What great views we enjoyed from this mountain that is one of the tallest mountains in the East. We even crossed a walking Bridge at exactly 1 mile high.

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The swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain

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Looking out at the Blue Ridge Mountains

After that enjoyable visit, we headed back east to the flatlands and Newport News, Virginia where our daughter Jennifer lives. After only a brief stop here, we went back west into the mountains again to support Jenn in her newest interest – trail running. For those unfamiliar, I should tell you that this trail running is really a race over mountain trails. This one was a 25k race. Since these courses are over rough trails, often requiring one to scramble over boulders, it takes significantly longer to complete the run as compared to road race of the same distance.

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A short bit of the race was on a road.

This race had a small group of runners – about 36 – and she was pleased to finish in the middle of the pack. She was surprised, however, to learn that she was the second finishing woman and therefore received recognition for that accomplishment.

The race was held in a state park in the southwestern corner of Virginia described as the Grand Canyon of the South. Apparently this Gorge, at a depth of 1000 feet, is the deepest Gorge east of the Mississippi.  The race, called the Rhododendron Run, was timed at peak season for this beautiful flower to be blossoming.

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More beautiful vistas.

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Lots of Blossoms in the woods

This Park was, however, not easy to reach. The roads in the whole area of the state are steep and windy with lots of switchbacks – not great for those who might get car sick easily.

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We found kudzu vines crawling everywhere in this part of the state. We understand that in the south kudzu now covers more than 7 million acres.

Since we have traveled nearly 1000 miles north of sunny, warm Florida one would think the temperatures would be cooler. Not so. Other than our time in the mountains, since arriving in North Carolina and Virginia, we have seen temperatures regularly getting into the ninety’s – occasionally up around 100 –  and it’s still only June. I guess we’ll have to continue travelling all the way to New England to get to some cool weather.  We’ll be doing just that in a couple of weeks.

Till the next installment, carpe diem

Captain Bob

Our Stay at Vero Comes to an End

We are in our last week for this current visit to Vero Beach. As I think about our stay, that which we especially like about this place and activities we continue to enjoy, I can’t help but think about the plants we see that are so different from all that we grew up with in NE. A walk around the neighborhood is all it takes. Live oaks (pictured in the last post) dominate the scenery followed closely by a wide variety of palms.
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Sandra loves hibiscuses and buys them whenever they become available. But here they grow as large bushes or even as small trees.
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Add to this the variety of other flowering bushes and trees and you get some idea of our appreciation of the beauty of this area of the country.

What dominates the wild side along the shore is a variety of mangroves. They can be seen everywhere there is quiet salty or brackish water. They don’t need dry ground, so the tides bother them not at all. Creating a complex system of prop roots, they extend into the water and protect the shoreline from the ravages of storms.
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Their importance to the coastline is recognized. Thus they are protected in many areas. Down in Florida Bay by the Keys, they even grow were there is no dry land. Thus over time they create islands. The Bay and the Everglades have now thousands of such islands.
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We get our best views of the mangroves from the water – here by kayak.

Aside from enjoying the beach with surf and warm water, we also benefit from Vero’s proximity to West Palm Beach where my sister Mary Jo and her husband Scott, along with their son Toby, live, and another son Peter and a daughter Jill live with their respective families. We spent part of the last weekend down there visiting them all – great fun.

A nearby attraction we also recently visited was the Navy SEAL Museum. we had heard good things about it and were not disappointed with our visit. We got to learn about the history of the Seals and how they were established by President Kennedy in 1962. We saw examples of their equipment and weapons. Exhibits also included the 911 aftermath, the rescue of Captain Phillips made famous by the recent movie and the successful attack on bin Laden’s compound. This museum in Fort Pierce, Florida is worth a stop.
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Later this week we will move the boat to a mooring from its present slip in preparation for hurricane season. That means taking the gear off the deck including bimini. We will also empty the fridge, close through hulls and secure the dinghy on deck. We have arranged with a local boater to watch the boat during our 2 months absence, and he’ll probably move it to a more protected spot among the mangroves if a hurricane actually threatens during our time up north.

While my upcoming blog posts will not focus on life aboard Carpe Diem, they will continue to share reflections of a liveaboard sailor even while away from the boat.

Until the next post…
Carpe Diem
Captain Bob

Enjoying Vero While We Prepare to Leave

As the title suggests, we are still in Vero Beach.  Our daily ficus has been on getting the boat ready for our next adventure on the water. This translates into cleaning, waxing the hull, repainting the anchor for added rust protection and addressing several annual maintenance projects on the boat, on the dinghy and the outboard. The bikes required repairs as well. Since we are currently at a slip, these tasks are a bit easier to manage.

But our next adventure isn’t on the water. Were preparing to leave the boat here for two months while we drive north to visit family and friends and also do some tent camping. (I defined the type of camping, since a few of you may consider our life on the boat to “camping.”)

All that said, as written in the last post, we have also enjoyed time with cruising friends who have stopped by during our stay here. We have been out walking and biking as well.wpid-wp-1433086053448.jpeg We all like the biking – even Maddie. Some of the neighborhoods are quite stunning with vegetation we never see up north. The live oak trees are everywhere, sometimes creating a canopy over the street.

I’vewpid-wp-1433086158905.jpeg also gotten a little sailing in while we’ve been here. Those unfamiliar with the travel up and down the ICW may not realize that, even though we are on a sailboat, we don’t get to sail much. So I get my sailing in using our dinghy. It’s really lots of fun and more challenging than sailing the bigger boat.wpid-wp-1433087854209.jpeg
Continue reading Enjoying Vero While We Prepare to Leave

Our Mobile Community

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, we have some difficulty answering the question about where home is for us. Our standard answer these days is usually “the east coast.” That said, we do feel pretty much at home in Marathon as well as Newport News, New Hampshire and our present location of Vero Beach. This familiarity comes from time spent in each location as well as the friends and family we spend time with while there.

However, not all our friends are attached to a single geographic location. Many of our friends are cruisers, so we meet up with them in different places. Sometimes these meetings are expected or even planned, while at other times they come as a surprise. 

Our experience this spring in Vero Beach is a perfect example of such meetings.  We’ve now been here for a bit more than a month.

We arrived in late April to find Derrick & Sharon on Yknot, friends who’s company we’ve enjoyed in Marathon each year. Not long after they left, Dick and Libby on Tarwathie stopped in for a short visit. Both couples were on their way north from Marathon to Green Cove Springs, Florida, where they will each store their boat for the summer while they travel to see family and friends.

Not long after they left, Bob and Deb, formerly on River House here in Vero, stopped by the marina, and we were lucky to catch up with them. They are no longer cruisers but are now CLODs (cruisers living on dirt) and own a house in this area. 

And then Larry and Terri on Vixen stopped by on their way back to their home in Jacksonville from the Keys. While we often see them as they visit Marathon in late winter, we first met them several years ago when we were invited to spend the night at their dock just off the St. John’s River.

Our most recent visitors were Steve and Kathy aboard Kit. While we had spent time with them in Marathon, we thought that we wouldn’t see them again until next fall upon our return.  So this was a pleasant surprise. They left  this morning headed to Jacksonville where they have decided to leave the boat for a bit as they do some family visiting and also spend time in northern Florida before heading somewhere south in the fall. We might meet up with them at that time…or not, depending on their travel and ours.

So you see, we’ve gotten together with a number of friends here who are not really part of the Vero scene. This is just one of the ways a cruiser’s life is a bit unusual. We do enjoy feeling at home in a variety of places, although we are never quite sure who we will meet up with while there.

Till the next entry,

Captain Bob
Carpe Diem

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A view of life from the perspective of one who lives aboard