Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Linda has not pushed me overboard or dropped me on a deserted island

I Just want to make it clear Linda has not pushed me overboard or dropped me on a deserted island. I haven't blog for the simple fact Linda is doing a great job and it is pure laziness on my part.  

To Recap the Blue View  

We finally left Turner Marina on a frosty morning and I'm not kidding it was frosty.  On the morning of Nov 28th the temperature was below 0C.  We released the dock lines early in the morning without fanfare and sadly left our friends Dave and Rita who had just arrived the week before to have some work done on Bliss.  As soon as we entered Mobile Bay we had the sails up.  We needed to get the wrinkles out of the sails and do some fine tuning with the running rigging. What a feeling to be finally sailing again. The feeling was short lived. After four hours we entered the Intracoastal Waterway.  We really wanted to sail in the Gulf of Mexico but the weather was not agreeable. Now remember the worse thing you can have while cruising is a schedule.  Well guess what we had! A Schedule! You can call it inexperience, lack of knowledge or just plain dumb.  We had made plans to meet Linda's brother and family and our kids in Cuba for Christmas. We had to push through Florida. Don't get me wrong we did some visiting and sightseeing but not as much as we wanted. We found some great and not so great anchoring (Carrabelle) but generally we had a good trip.  We picked up a friend in Fort Myers as she needed a
ride to her boat in Cuba and worked our way down to Marathon Florida by Dec 17th.  At this point we had a 96 nautical miles crossing to Cuba and we had to wait for a weather window. Remember our kids are supposed to be in Cuba and so is Linda's brother and family.  To say things were a little tense Is putting it mildly.  This was the first Christmas Linda was away for everybody and it showed. Her moods were, shall I say were less than her cheery self (trying to be politically correct here).  While waiting and checking the weather daily we did some chores visited marathon and resupplied DevOcean for Cuba. Finally early on the morning of  Dec 23rd there was a small 30 hour usable passage window.  Some of you will say "you only have 96 NM to do". Remember this is a sailing vessel and our maximum cruising speed is about six to six and half knots. About a 20 hour crossing.  That's if the winds, currents, waves and Neptune are all on your side.   Often they are not.  This is where Captain Marc had to make a decision, hoping for approval from Admiral Linda.  By this time it was ten am. We ran back to DevOcean to get her ready.   This was where being the one taking care of Blue Jobs really got crappy. My nemesis the famous fridge has never worked well, but when we sailed part time at home and DevOcean was plugged in all week it was not as big an issue (for me) But here in the hot weather of Florida the constant usage was not so good, on our batteries. I did try to get it fixed at home in Little Current before leaving and in Marathon but that another story (well my story anyway). Finally to get to the point my batteries are not holding the charge anymore and we were leaving for Cuba. Not a good place to get batteries

I dinged back to shore and thanks to Susanne and her car rushed to Napa. I bought four new batteries rushed back to the marina, loaded those heavy suckers on the Dingy, unloaded, change the batteries, reloaded the old batteries and rushed back to the store to exchange the cores. Phew I'm tired again just thinking about it.  By the time we sailed away it's 15:00 p.m. and the weather window is even smaller.  The winds were not totally on our side and due to the small weather window I decided to motor sail.So I raised the main sail to steady the vessel and motored to keep the speed up. 

It was tight but we made it to Varadero Cuba by 10 a.m. Dec 24th. We entered on a sea of glass and the expected heavy winds started blowing around noon.  
The kids could not make it to Cuba but Linda's brother and family did. We cleared customs, immigration, health department and the veterinarian department by noonish and were on our way to have a great Christmas.  

                                                 Good Warning On Our First Anchorage

Making Our Way On The Inter coastal Waterway

 Harbour Entrance Into Varadero Cuba

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tourists in Mobile

Arriving In Mobile Alabama

 Marc & I are  happy to be done the Inland Waterway 
and starting a new chapter in our adventure. 

After the long winding river entering mobile bay was a flurry of activity. There were barges upon  barges being staged. Tugs, ship yards, loading docks, cranes. The pictures do no justice to the men working and scurrying around on the enormous equipment. Often the equipment was so large men looked like ants. 

After traveling through the Industrial area we entered Mobile Bay. We were so lucky that it was a beautiful clear day. There were fishing boats every where! And Dolphins. Lots and lots of playful dolphins. As I write this much time after the fact I still haven't been able to capture a great picture of these playful and lovely mammals . Seeing the Dolphins quickly ended my sadness for leaving the river system. 

 Mobile Bay Welcoming Committee

When we first arrived in Mobile we rented a car and explored the surrounding area. We fell upon Fairhope a beautiful bay side town. Beautiful scenery and picturesque piers. While walking we stumbled on this amazing bronze statue. The statue was of Marietta Johnson. It was said that her spirit exemplified her hope for the future, education and children. For me my first thought was Miss Suzzie & her gifts. 

Can you see the difference? This was the first of many sunken and abandoned boats we have seen. 

Dauphin Island Alabama was a great way to spend the day
Just a few interesting facts. Dauphine was originally named “Massacre Island” because of the large pile of human skeletons found there when it was discovered. It was renamed in 1707 after the heir to the french throne. Whew, I think that was a good thing. Personally I just thought someone screwed up the spelling of Dolphin. Dauphine Island was at one time owned by the France, Great Britain, Spain. The US got their act together and gained control in 1813.

As we were leaving the marina we met a young man John who was just about to complete the loop. He was on his last leg before going home in Florida. When he heard what we were doing he asked to join us and of course we happily agreed. BTW John if your out there I lost your boat card. Send me a note. 

Fort Gaines Where History Spans Three Centuries

Without giving a history lesson the architecture and efficiency of this fort was amazing. You might recognise the famous line “ Dam the torpedoes, Full speed ahead” spoken by Admiral David Farragut 

This was not your everyday outhouse. It was a ten seater that connected by way of culvert to the bay. Once a day the tide would come in and out and flush the toilets. This was necessary being that over 400 men used the latrines daily. It was connected to the courtyard by a long tunnel and to the rifle lines by doorways to the left and right.  

 To the latrine

For the love of old buildings

For Mike Gulf Coast Hash House Harriers.

Condo living Dauphin Island

Marc says no pets

Often along the route we saw stops for boiled peanuts so we just had to try them. Ok so they don’t look so great. Just remember boiling kills anything. They are salty, who doesn’t like salty. 

I just loved this store window! Except I think it’s missing about 5 women. Gabe is in the red (except there is too much wine in that glass LOL). Shep in the pink. 

We spent a sunny Sunday exploring the USS Alabama Memorial Park just prior to Remembrance day or Memorial Day here. As a note we didn’t see any US ceremonies but listened to our capital hill ceremonies on CBC Radio (my Canadian life line) One thing that we have appreciated in the US is the attention they as a nation give to those who serve or served. There are signs and notices everywhere giving thanks. Discounts for just about everything is given to past and present service members. Did you know Lowes gives a 10% service discount! Now if only West Marine could help a boat out LOL. 

Interesting to know but the huge Battleship Memorial Park is not tax supported. The park was created by generous citizens of every kind and is self sustaining. We were talking to a gentalman from Alabama about our age that can remember taking penny jars to school in the 60’s to help support the set up of this park. It opened in January 1965. The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is dedicated to all Alabama Veterans who have participated in conflicts of the United States 

The park includes a tour of the Submarine USS Drum. This submarine was commissioned in 1941, is 311 feet long and 27 feet wide. Her crew consisted of 7 officers & 65 enlisted men. She earned 12 battle stars during WWII. Me and my claustrophobia stayed on land while Marc viewed her

I did tour the USS Alabama Battleship. Ok most but not all of her. She was commissioned in 1942. Earned 9 Battle Stars and shot down 22 enemy airplanes in World War II. She was 680 feet long, 108 feet wide and weighed over 45,000 lb. (90 million pounds). It was 194 feet high. The crew of the Alabama consisted of 127 officers and 2,200 enlisted men. Think about it. The stats are insane. I was overwhelmed by the size. I would tell you the armament but you would think an alien had taken me over. Ok Im going to tell you anyway. Nine 16"/ 45 cal (3 main turrets) accurate to 21 miles. twenty 5"/38 cal. Ten side mount guns, Forty Eight 40 mm guns (12 mounts) and fifty two 20 mm guns. Ok so I'm not interested in the guns. I was interested in the serving crew. How amazing. Did you know President Kennedy once said " Any man can be asked what he did in this century to make his life worthwhilecan respond with a good deal of pride and satisfactionI served in the Navy. I could be a little off but...

The ship had living space, galley, bakery, barber shop, laundry, post office, sick bay, radio room, cinema ect, ect, ect. Amazing. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Strange Sounds Are Never Good On A Boat

We were sitting in an anchorage by Cape Haze Florida drinking a tea (there has just been too much talk of rum on this blog) when Marc and I heard a strange and ominous sound. Strange sounds are never good on a boat. At first I looked up thinking it was light rain taping on the hatch. Nope there are stars out there. I wish I had, had the forethought to grab my camera because Marc was on all fours crawling around trying to identify the sound. It sort of sounded like many small electrical shorts, or crackling fire Mild panic! We have done a lot of work, could something be wrong? Marc rips out the floor boards nothing. He pokes, prods, empties storage lockers, nothing. He examines the electrical in out around, nothing. We crawl around every inch of the boat trying to detect where the sound is coming from. It seems to be everywhere and nowhere. Where the hull is thinnest it sounds the loudest. We have decided it must be outside. We still don’t know what it could be but last year when we were in Greece we had a fish manicure. While were seated comfortably giggling little fish gently tickled our feet and removed the dead skin. We are hoping that little fish are gently cleaning our boat. If someone knows what it is please help a girl out. I got up three times last night just to make sure we were still afloat. Yup all good, but the sounds were still here this morning when we pulled anchor. 

Follow up: We received an excerpt from the blog Seabbatical  

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Last night was the quietest, windless night we have had.  We could hear the krill clicking away at our hull.  We started experiencing this noise once we hit salt water.  We lay in bed and it sounds like a crackling fire.  At first we wondered if there was an electrical problem, but quickly learned it was water life eating away at anything on the hull.  Last night was the loudest.  Someone told us it was a sign of healthy water. 

Cape Haze Florida

Greece 2012

Fast times on the high seas today. I swear something always seems to be happening.

We were sailing in the beautiful sunny Gulf of Mexico when I say to Marc it looks like someone is para sailing out there. Well, as we got closer it was the coast guard doing exercises retrieving people from the water. We think it was a training exercise as there was no chatter on the VHF to suggest otherwise. There were two helicopters and a boat. Watching kept us engaged for over an hour. 

So we carry on for some time further to the Tamp Bay entrance when Marc says I think that helicopter is chasing that boat. I scramble for the binoculars. Sure enough I feel like its the 80’s watching Miami Vice. A large power boat is heading out to the gulf while the helicopter swoops down and cuts him off. The boat veers each and every way  with the same results. The chopper is relentless. He won’t let the boat go into the gulf and he won’t let the boat go to shore. Sometimes the boat appears to be coming our way but it never gets close. The helicopter makes it go wherever he wants. Was the boat hoping the helicopter will run out of fuel before the boat does? We don’t know but as they leave our line of sight we both have our bets on the helicopter. Fade the Phil Colin's music. 

The Blue View Is Catching Up! A Boat Face Lift at Turners

8 Dec 13 

It's been over a month since my last post and it's been busy that's for sure.  To recap!  We arrived at Turner Marina in Mobile Alabama and we had major plans for DevOcean.   We had local contractors come and give us estimates for a swim platform, bimini structure and new canvas for the dodger.  We did some research on the Internet.  Got quotes for radar, chart-plotter and running rigging.  We arranged to have DevOcean hauled out and sanded. You think this is a lot but I'm not done yet.  I still had to install LED spreader lights, LED mast head tri/anchor light and a rogue WIFI antenna.  To say it was a lot of work is an understatement. Right off the bat I will tell you we made a mistake. We planned too much in too short a time and ran ourselves to the ground.  Not only did we expect too much from ourselves but we also found Turner Marina was overbooked with work and could barely handle all of it.  Don't get me wrong.  The staff at Turner’s was wonderful and very helpful, but quotes were left unanswered and promises of timelines broken. Would I recommend Turner Marina to other Loopers?  Of course I would!  The dockage prices are great. The facilities are okay. If you want anything done you made sure you talked to Christie Turner. 

Haul Out

 Head Upgrade

Big Skipper Small Hole

The One & Only Bob! We Designed It. He Built It. Bimini & Swim Platform. 
We Highly Recommend Him

Buffer Training 101

VC17 Sanding. A Dirty Job But Someone Had To Do It. Thanks To Daniel 

Are You Done Yet?

This Poor Daniel, Not Our Daniel Was Happy For This Job To Be Over

While The Sanding Was Being Done I Was Busy With The Technical Stuff. 

Linda Where She Belongs. Every Inch Of The Boat Was Scrubbed
Please Don't Tell Her I Said This 

Base Coat

Anti Fouling 

Second Coat


Buffing There were A Lot Of Impressed Sailors With Miss Linda's Buffing Abilities

More Buffing


Adding Miss Linda's Swim Platform. She Was Very Excited To Say The Least

Isaac Hard At Work. Staff Extraordinaire 

Bob Almost Done

The Skipper Directing The Stepping Of The Mast 

Cory Hard At Work 

Almost A Sail Boat Again 

Our Friends John & Marilyn's Son Shawn Lucy Attaching The Standing Rigging 

Bimini Done. Solar Panels Being Installed. New Running Rigging. 

Drop A Line, Pick Up A Line

Drop A Batten, Pick Up A Batten  

 Pot Lucks At Turners Were A Highlight 

Thanks To the Turners For A Wonderful Thanksgiving Celebration