Week Five and just a little Crabby!

Week five brings us to Key West and our month long stay at Stock Island Marina Village.  The cruise from Faro Blanco in Marathon to Key West was a wonderful day on the water. We had following seas of three to four-foot waves that gave us a boost

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

from our usual 8 miles per hour to 9 ½ miles per hour.  Our trip was pleasant, and we were able to share memories of the different keys and places we had previously visited.  While reminiscing, we were constantly changing course to miss the innumerable crab-pots strewn along the way.  Crabbing in Florida and the other seafood offerings as well as an economic mainstay for the state. In 2014 Florida ranked seventh among U.S. states for fresh seafood production with 99.2 million pounds harvested with a dockside value of $257.7 million.  Florida however, ranked first by value with grouper, pompano, mullet, stone crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters, and Spanish mackerel.  Florida fishermen caught 92% of the above species.  When we speak with other cruisers about the number of crab-traps, we have to avoid I now see why.  In 2015 Stone

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Photo by Jean Coleman

Crabs and Blue Crabs brought in $36,498,363 million and $12,106,862 million respectively.  In pounds, the Blue Crabs outpaced the Stone Crabs 6.6 million pounds to 2.8 million pounds respectively. I thought we had a lot of crab-traps in Pinellas but was amazed at the number here in the Keys.  While Pinellas County caught 8.1 million pounds of combined crabs with a value of $23.6 million, Monroe County hauled in 12.6 million pounds with a value of $71.2 million dollars.  I have a love-hate relationship with crap-traps; I hate having to constantly course correct to miss the crab-traps but love the dinners they can provide in the evening. https://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Marketing-and-Development/Education/For-Researchers/Florida-Seafood-and-Aquaculture-Overview-and-Statistics


Jean and I are enjoying our month-long visit in Key West very much. We go exploring every day. The Key West Botanical Gardens was a great visit for example, where we learned about the local area environment and its ecological history.   Hurricane Irma made a complete mess of part of the site, but the staff has made many repairs and improvements.

Before we departed on the loop, Jean and I bought two compact and foldable bikes. I highly recommend to those considering the loop or any lengthy travel (RVer’s included) to bring bikes along.  The bikes increase our range over walking by a factor of four as well as the time you can spend at various locations.

Jean and I noticed an odor in the aft stateroom that we could not locate, so we begin to take apart the bunks and closets and found a persistent leak under Jean’s bunk that brought a few gallons of standing water in every six hours or so.  We decided to haul out and have the repairs done at Three D Boatyard a quarter mile from our

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

berth in Stock Island Marina Village.  I thought that I could repair the leak once the transom dried out but found that the port trim tab bolts had rusted out and burrowed a hole in four places.  Upon that discovery I had them remove all the trim tabs and glass over all the holes.  We have never used the tabs nor do we cruise at a speed that the tabs assist us.  When we took off the starboard tabs, we could push four of the attaching bolts through by hand.  It was only a matter of time before I had the identical leaking problem on the starboard side as I had on the port side. We found a marine contractor that knew what he was doing and set about making the repairs.  I have learned that fixing one problem will lead to many others that need correction also.  As we sat on the hard (mariner speak for “out of the water” and on blocks and stabilizers), we saw that Makin Memories bottom was in desperate need of a paint job.  The price quote was extremely reasonable, and we have at least 5000 miles to go yet, and we knew that at some point the bottom would need to be addressed but had delayed for the time being.  Makin Memories now has a beautiful blue bottom.


Our marine contractor said they would be done today and we should splash (mariner speak for “dropped back in the water”) tomorrow at 10:30. I am looking forward to being back at the dock and then can begin the clean-up.  Any time your boat is in the boatyard, she will become dirty, dusty, and just plain grimy.  We have friends coming to visit this weekend and would like to have Makin Memories ship shape.

Week Four on the Loop

As week three came to a close, we enjoyed our time exploring the North Miami Shores area as well as the visit to the Miami aquarium with an early dinner in Little Havana.   Saturday morning we departed Pelican Harbor Marina City Docks and began our cruise to Biscayne Bay to the Dinner Key mooring field in Coconut Grove.  It was a short trip of just over 14 statute miles but very scenic and exciting as we navigated through the Port of Miami area.  There was not the amount of traffic operating as compared to Port Everglades that day, and we quickly navigated through without delay.


Dinner Key has 225 mooring balls available at a reasonable rate which includes amenities such as a dinghy dock, showers, laundry, with wifi in the lobby area.  The field had a few cruisers moored on lines, but it was mostly sailboats, many of which were waiting for the wind to abate so they could cross over to the Bahamas.  As we approached we knew we were going to have our hands full of trying to hook the eyelet and thread our line through and safely moor.  The wind was a steady 20 mph gusting 30mph.  It took Jean and me five attempts to navigate the moored boats, cope with the wind gusts, and dodge a sailboat race and their support craft that were using the mooring field approach path as a shortcut.  The night on the mooring ball was one of the longest nights I have had while in the loop.  Wind and waves made this choice of overnight a sleepless one, not because of the fear of pulling loose and drifting, but of the noise and commotion of the waves pounding the stern, which of course consists of our new swim platform and dinghy! The boat was bathed and crusted in salt by morning. No more open mooring fields when high winds are forecasted, only marina tie-ups or snug little hidy holes from now on for us.


And at the crack of dawn when there was light to navigate by, we untethered ourselves and headed out of Biscayne Bay into Card Sound and found a great little hidy hole called Pumpkin Creek.  Just off of the sound entrance to Angelfish Creek, there is a small cut that has plenty of water and wind protection.  We threw out two anchors, dinghied around to see the local area and then slept like babies through the night.


The next morning we pulled our two anchors and began a slow cruise of 21 miles to the bay side of upper Key Largo.  The winds had not wound up yet, and with a few showers that helped clean the boat of salt, we made our way to our next anchorage in Tarpon Basin.


Tarpon Basin is a good place to anchor out and enjoy the scenery.  The dinghy allowed us to motor in and visit Key Largo and Uber down to Tavernier for a Rotary Lunch.  The Lunch was fun and was held at Craig’s restaurant.  Afterward the meeting, a man asked to speak with us and told us a story of when he was in college he captained the 72′ “Coastal Queen” around the loop.  She is an older ship with beautiful, graceful lines.  When we asked him how long it took, Jean and I smiled when he grinned and said that it took four years to complete. I could see where you might not want the adventure ever to end.


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Photo by Jean Coleman

From Tarpon Basin we cruised to Islamorada and tied up at Islamorada Yacht Basin alongside Lorelei’s bar and grill.  It was a small basin completely protected from the wind, and we spent a few quiet down days. When in a marina, the boating life is not that dissimilar to living in an apartment complex, of course, you are on a boat and floating, but your neighbors are very close, and curiosity, questions, and conversation are constant.  It is a tight community, and you make friends quickly with invitations to visit from all over the eastern seaboard.  Jean and I used our bikes to explore some of the local out of the way places and witnessed the destruction Irma caused this small community.  The rebuilding and starting over is everywhere you look. The scrapped empty lots are the worst.


As a side trip, Jean and I dinghied to Lignumvitae Key to explore the botanical gardens. Lignumvitae is Latin for “tree of life” and has a very interesting history. You can get to the key only by boat and once we arrived we could see that Irma once again had taken a toll.  The public dock was in disrepair and hazardous.  Jean and I tied up to the one remaining piling and took a quick stroll around the house and some outposts.  Rain approaching from the southeast threatened our ride home so we left before we could enjoy a tour by a ranger. Maybe next time.


Our cruise from Islamorada to Marathon was windy but beautiful. I use both paper and

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

electronic charts as we navigate from one place to another. The names of passes, channels and cuts, are always interesting to me.  As we navigated from Islamorada to Marathon we passed by, over, or around, places such as; Bowlegs Cut, Old Dan Bank, Old Sweat Bank, Rachel’s Bank, and Washerwoman Bank. I love the names and I am sure there are many interesting and colorful stories on how they came to be.  Once we arrived at Marathon, we stayed at Faro Blanco (The White Lighthouse) overnight. We fueled and visited the local West Marine for supplies.  Jean and I tied up in Marathon last year and we re-visited a small restaurant called Burdines.  We enjoyed a couple of sandwiches and a rainstorm as well as a beautiful rainbow afterward.  As we walked to dinner, we were able to witness some of the devastations that Irma brought to Marathon.  One of the boatyards in Boot Key was used as a boat graveyard. It was very sad to see the floating homes of people so damaged that their owners were left homeless.  One of the boats had a gaping hole in the aft cabin section, and you could see the clothes still hanging in the closet.


From Faro Blanco Marina in Marathon, we cruised to Mozer Channel and headed outside to the Atlantic, turned right and followed Hawk Channel down to Key West. Our destination is Stock Island Village Marina where we will winter until early March.


We have holed up in Islamorada for a few days at a fun marina/restaurant/fishing guide haven called Lorelei’s Marina and Cabana Bar https://www.loreleicabanabar.com/marina-and-fishing/ . We have driven by this place for years and never knew it should be stopped at!!! It is right across from what used to be the Islander (which is being renovated and now is only inhabited by Iguanas who love the iconic old sign!)0201181228b
and a block north of Cheeca Lodge. They have a beach, great food and local Islamorada beer on tap! We have had great live music each night and even a surprisingly good magician. They shut all of this down by 9 PM so you all know that works for us! Our marina neighbors have lived here since May, evacuating for Irma but otherwise are happy to be here for the foreseeable future.
We are now far enough south to see the damage from Hurricane Irma. The people here are very optimistic about the rebuilding and growth that is going on and it is amazing to see many brand new homes and businesses that have sprung up since we were here in June of last year. Lots of new paint and upgrades have been made to existing structures as well. It looks clean and well maintained and we are so happy to see this resilience in our beloved Keys. 
The flora has not fared nearly as well. Many large trees were lost and new ones have been planted and staked to take their places. As we came south through mangrove areas, we could see that the leaves had been stripped from most of the bushes and trees (other than the palms) and were just starting to come back. The mangrove rookeries were desolate looking, just bare sticks and branches with a very few leaves that have managed to come back.
We will be here through tomorrow and then will head south.  Not sure if we will even see the Super Bowl – no real loss.
Plan to spend 3 weeks or so at Stock Island Marina Village, possibly a trip to Marquesas and Dry Tortuga if the wind will ever lay down and lots of walks and bicycle trips into Key West.  We are looking forward to seeing friends who will be down in our area during the month of February and catch up on what’s been happening at home.


A Windy Week Three

It was an early morning departure for Makin Memories and her crew this Sunday from River Forest Yachting Service. River Forest is a quiet, clean, well-maintained place to moor before locking through St. Lucie. After a coffee and tea to wipe away the night’s sleep and with the preparation for departure routine completed, we were on our way to the last lock-through on the Okeechobee Waterway. The St. Lucie lock has a 13-foot drop from the Caloosahatchee to bring you back to sea level. The cruise across of the remaining Okeechobee Waterway was a quite one with wind and wind gusts steadily increasing. We made our way through the St. Lucie River and past Stuart, turning right and cruising through Hobe Sound. A beautiful stretch of the preserve on the ocean side and beautiful homes on the west side. Jean climbed out and up on the hard top and shot photos of the Jupiter lighthouse as we passed a very busy cross section of bridges, rivers, and boaters.

Our destination for the day was Palm Beach Gardens, and a marina stays for a couple of days while we dealt with the repair of our inverter. We rented a car and delivered our unit to a certified repair depot in Ft. Lauderdale was thinking that we could pick it up as we passed by on the way south but were pleasantly surprised that they had the necessary control board in stock and we brought the unit back with us the same day. A thank you to David Romero of eMarine Systems of Ft. Lauderdale and his great customer service. I would also like to thank Louie and Shane of Louie’s Marine Electrical, Holiday, Fl. (727-222-3932) for talking me through the systems test and reinstallation of the inverter. The two of them spent a lot of time on the phone over four days teaching me how to find a possible workaround till I could get the unit repaired.

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

Leaving Loggerhead Marina at Palm Beach Gardens, we cruised through Lake Worth and tied up at Lighthouse Point Marina at Lighthouse Point, Fl. (just outside Delray, Fl.), for the evening. The next day’s cruise was sunny, but still very breezy, as we passed Boca Raton, Hillsboro Inlet, Ft. Lauderdale, and the amazing Port Everglades where the harbor was full of cruise ships, mega yachts, tugs, barges, and container ships. We were able to clear most of the bridges without having them stop car traffic, but there were several that we had to wait alongside sailboats for the scheduled opening. The wind was a challenge to stay on point, sometimes waiting 25 minutes.

Jean and I found a city marina in North Miami

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

(Pelican Harbor Marina) that has reasonable, and we could wait out the 20 to 25 mph winds, gusting to 30/35 mph for a few days. The facilities are commensurate with the rates and the location not bad. We could walk to several restaurants, and Uber’d to The Miami Seaquarium and Little Havana.

Week three was a windy one, and it looks like week four will be much of the same as we enter the upper keys.

Notes From Week Two

Cabbage Key Resort is a walk back into old time Florida.  The old inn and the grounds take you back to a time when the rhythm of life was much slower.   Jean and I tied up on Cabbage Key as a last-minute alternate due to losing light and the wind blowing 20 mph gusting to 25.  Setting the anchor in Cayo Costa was proving impossible for us and becoming a dangerous position to be caught in with darkness fast approaching.  Cabbage Key was close, and after a phone call we tied up 30 minutes later with the help of a young couple.  In high winds, Makin Memories can be a handful for the two of us to tie up due to a significant amount of surface area she possesses.  We stayed two days and enjoyed the peacefulness with long walks and reading.  The food is outstanding, and every flat space is covered with signed dollar bills, some from famous people such as Randy Wayne Wright and Jimmy Buffet.

Leaving Cabbage Key, we cruised to Sanibel Island where we tied up at Sanibel Marina.  Jean and I met up with family and enjoyed a unique dining out experience at the Bubble Room further out the island in Captiva.  The Bubble Room is a fantastic blend of antique toys, mannequins, puppets, and clowns.  It is a multi-level museum of old times serviced by a staff wearing boy scout uniforms.  I was especially intrigued by a large model monocoque airplane hanging from the ceiling as you first walk in.  The food was outstanding and definitely worth the trip.

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Photo by Jerry Coleman

Back at Sanibel Marina, we received our care package from home and said our goodbyes to family.  Jean and I walked over to Grandma Dot’s and shared a sinfully good piece of chocolate cake.

From Sanibel, we cruised to Fort Myers and began our journey along the Caloosahatchee River and The Okeechobee Waterway.  The Caloosa Indians used the river as a highway to reach deeper into their hunting grounds and trade with other tribes. The river is beautiful with plenty of room for two way traffic, and Jean and I enjoyed the peaceful cruise to our first lock through experience at Franklin.  Locking through at Franklin was a pleasure with the helpful lock attendants giving instruction and advice for the future locks to come.  We were the only boat in the lock and were in and out in twenty minutes.

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Photo by Jean Coleman

La Belle was our destination, and we tied up at the La Belle City Wharf for two nights.  You can stay three nights in a row but then must vacate for at least eight days until you can come back for the next three.  La Belle is an old city in the midst of renovation and fun to visit.  Jean and I enjoyed the Bridge Street Coffee & Tea shop where we warmed up on coffee and tea and had dinner at the Forrey Grill, a great little family restaurant also on Bridge Street.  The folks at the library were accommodating and helpful with places to see and visit.  We stopped by the Harold P. Curtis Honey company and learned about the many different types of bees and the resulting honey that they sell.

From the LaBelle City Wharf, we made our way along the river to Moore Haven.  They provide a city dock just before the Moore Haven Lock that one can tie up to with power and water and facilities a short walk away. Moore Haven is a small town struggling to remain relevant.  Our inverter died, and after hours of speaking to

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Photo by Jean Coleman

installers and factory techs, we came to a place where we think it is an AC board that failed.  The closest service dealer is in Ft. Lauderdale, so we will drop it off and have it back in working order next week…hopefully!  More about the inverter later.  The good part of this is we can still charge batteries while the engines are running and have power when connected to shore power, so all is not lost, just chilly lately.  We learned that we could turn on the stove and it will warm up the cabin as quickly as a space heater does.  The bonus was scrambled cheesy eggs for breakfast!  We fueled in Clewiston at Roland Martins Marina (a must visit) and ready our selves for the trip across Lake Okeechobee, newly christened by us as the “Okee-cocoa Lake.”  The lake looked seriously like Hersey’s chocolate milk; even the white caps were brown.

The crossing of the great chocolate milk lake was uneventful, and we entered the Port Mayaca Lock early afternoon.  As the day wound down and we cruised along the waterway, we found parts that reminded us of the African Queen movie with Humphrey Bogart and elements that were reminiscent of the Heart of Darkness

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Photo by Jean Coleman

written by Joseph Conrad.  It was both beautiful and silent.  We are currently tied up at River Forest Yachting alongside an immaculate and well-kept mooring with power and water for a reasonable price.  The facilities are close by and keep clean as well.  The folks here are friendly and accommodating.  As the third week of this adventure begins, I have a bilge pump to replace and then a few additional small repairs to make.  We will head to the last of our Okeechobee Waterway locks today and then head south to even warmer climes.

Back Yards


The last couple of days I have been thinking about the way people delineate, protect and shape the space that is known as a back yard.  People didn’t always have these private spaces; they have evolved over time and have evolved in different ways.

As hunter/gatherers, the world was our back yard and we were free to roam it, hunt it and explore it freely, alone or collectively.  As people learned to cultivate crops, they needed to remain in one place and the idea of owning land evolved and with it the idea of “my” land came into being.  With that notion came the desire to protect and preserve one’s ownership and exclusive use of that back yard space.  And so, people planted hedges and erected fences and walls in an effort to keep others out and to preserve the illusion of private space in their back yards.

Then towns became cities and people crowded together and moved into smaller homes and apartments where they lost even this small ability to connect to their own private outdoor land. Window boxes and balcony planters became the only way to get their hands into the earth.

I remember being charmed by the community gardens outside of Zurich where city people had a very small plot of land, fenced and unique where they could become country people, if only for a little while.  Most had a diminutive cabin which could be used to store tools and to spend the weekend in, close to the land.  Some spaces contained miniature gardens, sporting small statues and perfectly manicured, pea gravel walking paths amongst multi-hued blooms.  Others were more utilitarian with rows of rosy tomatoes and green peppers, mounds of zucchini and yellow squash blossoms and beans tendrilling their way up string trellises. Still others were miniature arboretums, where their owners fertilized, pruned and shaped small trees into lovely providers of green-textured shade.

Our own backyard has been a source of psychological sustenance for us.  It has evolved from a steeply sloped grassy hill, where our boys learned to muscle a lawnmower across the dew-slick slope even, as it tried to kill them by enlisting gravity’s aid to roll over on them.  Now it is a less lethal, terraced space with paver-surfaced walkways and patio areas flanked by a multitude of bee and butterfly attractors. 29

(photo credit: Jean Coleman)

Some birds migrate through while others are full time residents, delighting us with their calls and posturing as they take advantage of the free and abundant food provided each morning.   The stream wends its way under a small bridge to dash against artfully placed rocks and then tumbles into the pool below the waterfall, where only goldfish have survived to swim in lazy circuits of the pond.Backyard shots Feb 2015 (1).jpg

(Photo Credit: Jerry Coleman)

We have shaped our space to nurture our need for quiet contemplation.  Appreciation for the flora and fauna has blossomed as we have loosened the need for complete control over what lives and visits.  Native plants have been allowed to volunteer and have replaced beautiful but less hearty varieties once installed by an optimistic landscaper.  The armadillos now plow through the vegetation, mostly unmolested.  Raccoons and we suspect one otter have tried to snack on our fish with only minimal success.  It has become much more of a “live-and-let-live” space than it was in the beginning and we have become good with that.

And now we have left that space behind for a year in the capable and enthusiastic care of a young couple whose first act of occupation was to install an additional birdfeeder, which we consider a very good omen.  We have traded an enclosed and private space for a backyard that will have no limitations and little privacy and again, we are okay with that because it will change every day or two to expand and contract with the location in which our boat is moored or docked.

So far, our back yards have been: misty, watercolored shades of gray where nothing is distinctly discernable even though we know there are boats and buildings nearby in that fog; a tall ship from New Hampshire being restored by a team of scruffy but dedicated liveaboard young men in St. Petersburg’s downtown city basin; a lovely and historic Inn situated upon a long-abandoned Calusa midden dating from 100 B.C.

We have shared our backyards with multi-million dollar yachts in the Sarasota Marina, with a flock of mallards who call Cabbage Key home, with ospreys, pelicans and cormorants hunting for breakfast and with dolphins jumping for the sheer joy of it.  17(Photo credit: Jean Coleman)

There are magnificent sunrises and sets and views of flats lying exposed by ultra-low tides, ripe with the pungent scent of sea-life in distress.6

(Photo credit: Jean Coleman)

The human neighbors are no less amusing.  We have met Loopers who can talk the hind legs off a donkey and recluses who are never seen outside the confines of their vessels.  And then there was the couple who waved a hearty good-bye to us yesterday, put their dinghy up on plane and at full throttle made the fatal mistake we were warned against by a fellow live-aboard who advised us, “Don’t ever drive where the birds are walking!”

Sure enough, their speeding dinghy abruptly grounded herself, throwing both occupants damn near clear of their vessel! They were too far away for us to actually hear the ensuing conversation but the postures and gestures made it abundantly clear that the woman had lost faith in her captain and he in his scout.



First Week on the Loop

Week one of America’s Great Loop cruise is now in the books; literally in the; logbooks, personal journals, and postings to our social media sites. Our itinerary began with our leaving on Saturday the sixth and cruising out to Anclote Island for our first anchorage. It was a blustery night with waves noisily pushing on our stern all night. I do not sleep well when we are at anchor continually checking our position and making sure we are not pulling our anchor out and drifting silently into shallow water or someone else. When it is windy, our anchor has been known to become unanchored.
From Anclote Island, we motored to an anchorage just west of the Sunshine Skyway causeway and dropped the hook in 14 feet of water and spent a very peaceful night. I checked our position only five times that evening! We used our dinghy to explore local marinas and find the “facilities.” We try to use other facilities when we can so that we do not have to pump our black water out of our 40-gallon tank as often.
After a leisurely morning, we cruised into the Vinoy Basin and tied up to a mooring ball. We love St. Pete city and its beachfront lifestyle. Jean and I dinghied onto the city dock and walked the downtown area, visited with family, and took in a movie. The St. Pete Municipal Marina service and facilities (Wi-Fi, showers, etc.) are clean and included in the price of the mooring ball. 53
We left the Vinoy Basin in fog with one-mile visibility heading south using the radar and chart-plotter to navigate from one-day marker to the next. We could not see the Skyway bridge until we were a half-mile away and then only as we passed under it as it disappeared off the stern a half-mile out the other side. From the Skyway, we cruised to Anna Marie Island and anchored in a small basin called Jewfish Key. Jean and I dinghied into a the Mar-Vista restaurant and walked to the beach for a beautiful sunset. Fog settled in not long afterward and blanketed the entire area. While we were firmly anchored, the mist can create the illusion of drifting, and I was checking our position throughout the night. The next morning Jean and I dinghied over to the city dock and rode a trolley around the north part of Anna Maria Island and enjoyed a walk around Coquina Key Park. With winds forecasted to increase, we decided to head to Sarasota and tie up at Marina Jack’s.
The cruise to Sarasota was a breezy one with fog settling in from the north and chasing us into Marina Jack’s. We had tied up here before and knew that we would enjoy their service and facilities. Tying up at Marina Jack’s gives us an opportunity to refresh our batteries, fill our fresh water tanks (120 gals), wash the boat, and perform maintenance as needed. It is also a great joy when you can enjoy a hot shower instead of a quick sea shower.
We used an Uber for the first time in Sarasota as we needed a ride to a Friday morning Rotary Club meeting. Jean and I are fortunate to be ambassadors for Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust, which provides cutting-edge research for scientists finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. The Sarasota Sunrise club is a very energetic and a fun club to attend. Jean and I gave a quick overview of our loop trip and how Rotarians can help battle Alzheimers through the C.A.R.T. organization. Sarasota is one of our favorite cities to walk and enjoy dining out.
76 longbeach morroringin fogOur intended destination out of Sarasota was going to be an anchorage near Venice, but throughout the day and with a steady stern wind (9 to 10 miles an hour), we decided to stretch out and cruise to Cabbage Key and tie up for a couple of days. And here we are. Bright sunshine, chilly, and windy as all get out. White caps on the water.
Staying at Cabbage Key for a couple of days gives us a chance to catch up on household chores, writing, planning the next week’s journey, and some walk around exercise.
I want to share a few thoughts and insights on week one’s adventure. Economy stands out as being an integral part of cruising. Safety is always first with me, and I tend to be conservative in my choices as far as the safety of crew and vessel go. When I speak of the idea of economy though, I mean saving in size, amount, duration, and speed. When you live in a house, there is typically room for everything we accumulate, but on a boat, space is at a premium. I have too many clothes, too many notebooks, too many shoes, too many everything. Jean and I are learning that any item onboard must perform at least double duty, if not triple duty. Speed and duration are also at play while we cruise and since this is a marathon and not a sprint I am learning not to wake up and immediately start the engines and go with the intent of “getting to the next destination” as soon as possible. A hard lesson for me. I am learning to slow down and smell the salt air. It is the journey and not the destination that is key. I will insert a caveat here: we will either stay or go dependent on weather. I read somewhere that a captain has a book of intentions mitigated by weather and mechanical and will act accordingly.
Size does matter, and it matters very much. When space is unlimited, you can store things in “out of the way” places, not so on this boat. There simply is not enough room. Recalling the above thought on an item performing triple duty, smaller is also better. A rare thought for land lubbers.
Lastly, I want to talk about how important communication is when cruising (actually, it is5 always important). Communication is one of the keys to a safe and enjoyable cruise. Sharing ideas, feelings, and dreams is a big part of the trip as are the doubts, fears, and nightmares. Being open to discussing all the above without judgment is paramount.
This week we are planning to cross the Okeechobee Waterway and turn right towards Miami.

Mission Trip Takes Off in Sarasota!

Jerry and I wanted to make this Great Loop adventure have a deeper meaning than merely being a wonderful travelogue and so became Ambassadors-At-Large for CART – Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust.  This is a Rotary program aimed at funding cutting edge research to find a cure for AD.

This morning, we ubered to the Rotary Club of Sarasota Sunrise and had a GREAT time!  President Bhuvan Unhelkar welcomed us, as did the members of his club and the 4 DGE’s from 3 different continents who were there prior to attending training California.83

We shared a bit about our trip to raise awareness for CART – Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust (www.CARTFUND.ORG) and even raised $63 towards finding a cure!

84We thank the members of RC Sarasota Sunrise for partnering with us and for being so warm and welcoming.  We even got to help put stickers on the Dictionaries that the club is donating to the local elementary school!


We hope to see all of you again soon! Thanks for a great morning!

News on Our Departure



TARPON SPRINGS — The journey began on Saturday, Epiphany, in Tarpon Springs.

When it concludes, in about a year, Jerry and Jean Coleman, a married Tarpon Springs couple, will have traveled more than 5,500 miles by boat, following a route known as America’s Great Loop.

The trip, however, is more than just a bucket list adventure. The Colemans, both past presidents of the Rotary Club of Tarpon Springs, are using it to raise awareness at other Rotary Clubs along the lengthy route about CART — Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust. CART is a Rotary program that funds cutting-edge research aimed at finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Jerry Coleman lost his mother to the devastating neurological disorder last year.

“We are blessed to be able to make this trip of a lifetime and we wanted it to be about more than just us. We wanted it to be about something really meaningful,” Jean Coleman wrote in an email. “So many families are challenged with caring for their loved ones through a disease that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. If we can’t find a cure, this disease has the potential to devastate our current health care system. We see this as a way of being part of the solution and the fact that the boat is named Makin Memories seems wonderfully appropriate.”


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Tarpon Springs couple Jerry and Jean Coleman will travel along America’s Great Loop, a sailing route that will have the captains journeying more than 5,500 miles aboard a 41-foot trawler.

The Colemans, who operate Stillwater Counseling Center, in Tarpon Springs, and are health and fitness counselors who specialize in older people, are making the trip in conjunction with the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association, a group that includes experienced Great Loop sailors to those ready to embark on their first journey. Aboard their “tiny house that floats” – a 41-foot trawler – they’ll take a route that heads south around the Florida Keys and up the Eastern Seaboard before cutting west toward the Great Lakes. The circuit completes itself by heading through the Midwest’s river system from Chicago to Mobile, Alabama, before re-entering the Gulf and heading back to the docks of Tarpon Springs.

The CART Fund originated when members of the Sumter Rotary Club, in South Carolina, created it in 1995. After a successful eight-month testing period, the initiative was introduced the next year at the Rotary District 7770 Conference and adopted by numerous other clubs. Since those early days in the late 1990s, participation in CART has spread to Rotary Clubs around the country.

According to www.cartfund.org, 100 percent of donated funds go toward Alzheimer’s disease research and the effort’s awarded $5.8 million in 34 grants to recognized U.S. research institutions.


A few weeks ago, some colleagues, of various ages, were discussing the seasons of life.   One commented that if life expectancy were graphed, she was astounded to find herself about two thirds of the way to the finish and in what some call the “winter” of her life. She remarked that her younger colleague was just finishing “spring” and entering the “summer” of her life.

It struck me as a pretty presumptuous way to think of one’s life and the amount of time one has left to live it, especially since, in this age of distracted drivers, mutant strains of drug-resistant viruses and handgun-toting maniacs none of us knows exactly how much time we have left.

I remember talking to the man who is now my husband when I was in my mid-forties.  He asked me if I had considered what I was going to do with the second half of my life.  Given that the women in my family live well into their nineties, I hadn’t even considered myself to be at my life’s midpoint yet and smart-assed him that I’d “let him know when I got there.”

But now I have successfully managed to live into my sixties and things are changing in ways I never anticipated.  My memory has become unreliable and in some cases treacherously betrays me.   And my body, which has historically been strong and capable now tires a lot more easily and has developed some aches that portend to be chronic even as I try to ignore them out of existence.

The upside of all of this is that there is no more need for speed.  We are no longer bent on getting somewhere at a certain time; we are relaxing into the beauty of the moments that string together to end up being called a journey.  We are slowing down and are finding a joy and wonder in our new found stealth mode of being.

We have traded a fast boat for an aged and stately boat, which magically and reliably draws dolphins to ride her bow wave.  She allows us to remain eye-level, on the wingtips of pelicans in flight as she propels us sedately forward.

We have traded 12 speed racers for collapsible bikes with 12 inch wheels.  The pace is commensurately slower and has allowed us to witness deer jumping the fence in front of us and remaining at the sides of the trail, unfazed by our quiet presence as they alternately forage and keep watch for the faster bikes that send them flying for cover.

We have watched an eagle fight to bring a tangle of Spanish moss larger than himself back to his nest in an impossible sequence of problem solving steps until he finally defied gravity by shear will and muscled himself and his burden in ever ascending spirals towards his beloved.  Just when we thought he would fall victim to gravity’s relentless pull, he mustered enough inner fortitude for  one last beat of his mighty wings, and collapsed over the edge and into his nest, his present for his waiting mate secure.  We let out the breath that we hadn’t known we were holding in sympathetic effort for his struggle and cheered for him and his success. Remounting our bikes, we congratulated ourselves for witnessing something that, had we been on faster bikes, we would have missed.

And so, we gratefully enter this new season of our lives.  Not fall or even winter but the season of slow.  A season so pregnant with possibilities that we can hardly even imagine what this next year will bring but we anticipate it the way that children anticipate birthdays and Christmas.

DJI_0024Photo Credit: Leland Sandberg