Month: March 2018

Weeks Six through Eleven

KennedySpaceCenterWeeks six through eleven have been a whirlwind of activity for Jean and me and catching the blog up will be a challenge. We ended week six in Three D Boatyard in Stock Island (Key West) by having the hull painted and the trim tabs removed and the holes fiberglassed over. Both repairs were necessary for the next 5000 miles of our journey. We lived on the boat while the work was being performed and while pleased with the work, we were delighted to splash again on Friday the 16th and spend the remainder of the day cleaning up the boat from stem to stern. Boatyards can be very dirty.
Having the boat clean and ready for our company arriving on Saturday was a challenge, but we were able to do so and enjoyed our guests and the time exploring Key West together for several days immensely.
The wind was blowing a steady 15 to 20 mph for most days, and we watched for a window of opportunity so that we could make a side trip out to the Marquesas and Dry Tortugas. That window opened on Sunday the 25th allowing us a cruise 85 miles from Stock Island to the Dry Tortugas in 9.5 hours. The wind and the waves laid down some, but we still encountered waves five to six feet high. Arriving the Dry Tortugas late in the afternoon, we anchored overnight and toured the island the next day. It was a windy night, and the anchored had trouble holding till we found a place next to a group of crabbers that provided secure holding in the wind. Jean and I traded watches throughout the night to make sure we held tight.


Heading to the Dry Tortuga’s

The next morning we dinghied in and toured the grounds for several hours and then headed off to the Marquesas to spend the evening on the hook there.
The Marquesas were beautiful, and the water was SMOOTH, and the wind had died down considerably. We anchored and dinghied around the area for a little sightseeing. The Marquesas are uninhabited by humans and are beautiful, even after the devastation of Irma.
The water on the trip was remarkable. At least three colors of blue and the Gulfstream a resounding royal blue. I would submit that for me, the blues of the water was the most striking sight of the cruise.
After we pulled anchor the next morning, we made our way back to Stock Island and prepared for our departure north along Hawk Channel to Marathon and the Faro Blanco Marina for an overnight stay. But, before we could go we had a soft spot in the galley floor re-planked by a professional shipwright and once finished we cruised to Marathon. The next day we traveled north to an anchorage north of Key Largo called Steamboat Creek in Barnes Sound. It had excellent anchor holding, but the wind was such that we set up an overnight anchor watch just to be on the safe side and am happy to report that all went well. It is here that I came down with bronchitis and Jean took over as captain and guided us through the congested Miami shipping lanes as well as Port Everglades just outside of Fort. Lauderdale complete with all the small bridge openings along the way. I am incredibly proud of her skill in negotiating the ICW traffic and the handling of the boat, navigation, and radio. I was pitiful and not of much use. The next day we headed to North Miami and worked our way up the coast staying overnight in Delray Beach, Jupiter, and Fort Pierce. The wind was such that we decided to tie up instead of keeping an anchor watch every night. From Fort Pierce Jean and I cruised to Melbourne where we rented a car to drive home to Tarpon Springs for two days (and a doctors visit for me) bringing the paddleboards and other items we did not need to have on board any longer. Melbourne is an excellent place to leave the boat for a couple of weeks while we visited home and facilitated a 5G Power Skills Certification cohort with Rollins College in Winter Park for five days.
I just finished up changing all the fuel filters and cleaning the bilge, and Jean finished painting the inside of the stern bilge area. Jean and I are waiting out a cold front that is bringing high winds and rain, and then we plan on heading to an anchorage in the ICW in New Symrna and then ports further north.

The Sounds of Time

Sometimes it drags as slowly as it did when I sat in study hall, watching the second-hand creep until the bell finally freed me. Other times it is fleeting, disappearing like mist in the summer sun.  It passes now in similar ways depending on conditions but I find that time is more audible when living aboard.

33Always, an early riser, anxious to spend the last moments of moonlight in quiet contemplation of the coming day, I find myself sleeping later, becoming more attuned to the actual rhythm of daylight.  Still awake before the sun rises, but just barely now, I consider the different ways that time is marked in the various places we have been.

This morning it is the Osprey announcing that he is starting his day by dismembering a freshly caught fish, perched high atop our next-door neighbor’s mast.

In the Tortugas, time is never silent.  Over 100,000 Sooty Terns call the islands home and while they quiet during the night time, there is an omni-present muttering of birds stirring or settling, bickering over the best roosting spots.  Their decibel level rises with the sun andsooty tern continues throughout the day as they swoop and wheel overhead, providing a constantly audible backdrop to the beauty of the island and its surrounding waters.  As the sun sinks into the Gulf Stream, their racket softens into a drowsy murmuring once more.

In the Fort Pierce City Marina, time again makes itself known.  A series of whooshing thumps against the hull right next to my berth startles me and I can’t imagine what might be making that sound.  A fellow live-aboard sheds light on it the next night, pointing out the huge Jacks chasing fingerling mullet up against our hull for their evening meal.  You can almost set your watch by the sounds.

The time around shifting weather conditions also has a sound.  We can see the approaching storms on our phone screens. We know what time they will arrive and how strong they will be from these scientific predictions but putting the phone aside allows us to hear the moments that announce an approaching storm.  The wind starts to smack the halyards against neighboring sailboat masts and their wind turbines spin a crazy song.  Strong0321180808c gusts whuff against our isinglass curtains making them breathe in and out and finally the rain arrives sounding very much the way that it did against the tin roofs of our Camp Ton-A-Wandah cabins when I was a child.  Thunder booms across the water and spray is kicked up against boat hulls and as quickly as it came, when its time is up, the storm rumbles away leaving us in an eerie silence.

Other places, time is marked more by man than nature.

In Islamorada, the Lorelei Marina has live music, marking the coming sunset at the Cabana Bar.  71People sing along to Jimmy Buffet, Bob Marley and Beach Boys covers.  Well behaved and enjoying a camaraderie built on shared appreciation of being outdoors, tourists and locals alike join in communal celebration of the sun sinking into the calm, Gulf waters.

The historic town of Eau Gallie (Rocky Waters) marks time in a more European but equally musical way.  St John’s Episcopal Church and Palmdale Presbyterian have dueling carillons that softly echo across the water to each other. Strains of almost-familiar hymns mark noon and dusk in a hushed refrain of bells, but only if one listens closely.  It is easy to lose the melodies to the more obvious sound of the nearby roadway.

 On the West coast of Florida, we have no trains. Not so when one navigates up the Intracoastal Waterway on the East coast.  Here, trains are not far from the water and announce themselves at all hours of the day and night.  Remaining in one spot long enough, allows me to subconsciously absorb and identify the schedule that starts at 4:30 AM, in some spots, with the deep blare of a horn and heavy rumble of an approaching locomotive.  It isn’t unpleasant, just different and once acclimated, it is in fact reassuring, marking the rhythm of the approaching morning.

Time is ephemeral, its experience dependent upon the conditions under which it is contemplated.  In each instance, it is my conscious choice to attend to the sounds of time or to ignore them completely.  But I feel that these sounds add to my belief that “the joy is indeed in the journey.”   While sights are what we remember most, perhaps more concentration on the nature of sound and how it helps to mark time in our worlds, would give us just that much more to appreciate.

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