Friday, January 28, 2011

Sailing, peacocks, and banyan trees

We awoke this morning to the sight of a hundred or more sailboats headed out in Biscayne Bay for part of the World Cup racing, from Lasers to wind surfers passing by our boat. What a beautiful sight to see. The wind surfers were like butterflies, just flying across the anchorage. The wind was cooperating with a good 15 knot breeze this morning.

After spending the morning doing boat chores, we dinghied ashore to spend some time exploring Coconut Grove, small artsy town, just south of Miami, where Dinner Key is located. Those of you from Cleveland remember the guitars on several street corners, painted by local artists, and last year in New London, NH, there were Gnus. Here in Coconut Grove, there are peacocks, painted by local artists and then auctioned off to local businesses as a fund raiser. I have included a couple of the peacocks. The park near the marina is called Peacock Park, but I haven't seen any live peacocks yet.

Walking along the Main St there were these fantastic Banyan trees with roots that grow everywhere, including in the stone walls. I couldn't help but think that Swiss Family Robinson built their house in a tree like these. I had to call my sister, Sally, to get the name of the tree, so hopefully, I have the right name. By the way, the first time I was in Coconut Grove was in the mid-80's. Sally had just moved from Albany, NY to go to school at Florida International University and she was renting a house here. I never thought that I would be back decades later with our own boat in the Bay.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dinner Key Marina - Miami, FL

Well here we are at Dinner Key Marina, owned by the City of Miami. The marina is on the south side of he City and actually in Coconut Grove. After arriving today, we took the dinghy over to the office, and took a walk around town.

Found great brownie fudge at Johnny Rockets, so we had desert before dinner.
Joy found a couple of hair salons, but the price was double of what she normally pays, so no appointments were made.

The marina here is cheap, about $22 per day, which includes tax. The have a shuttle service from 9 am to 5pm, and a pump out boat that goes around. We will be pumped out before we leave for Key West.

Tried to sail down the coast line today, but no wind so we had to use the motor.
Joy got real close to a large container ship(see pictures). It was a little scary as we could have been pinned in between two large vessels, but she pulled it off and we had no problems.

Met a delivery captain today, Debby Thomas, 31 years in the business. She has been here at Dinner Key for a couple of months.

Jen and family arrive tomorrow, they should be glad to get out of the snow. They have no power, should be on by the time they get back on Feb. 1


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Windy Weather in Hollywood

Well today we woke up to winds. Winds so strong that we had a change of plans. We had planned on motoring back north to go up the New River to visit Alex and Faune in Ft. Lauderdale at Cooney's Landing Marina.

The long and short of it was that we decided that the wind was too strong to risk taking High Spirits out of its dock space as the fairway was very narrow, the wind was blowing against the wrong side of the boat. We would have had to back out and turn against the wind in a narrow space. So we rented a car and went to visit Alex and Faune via automobile.

A short 25 minute drive and we were there on their boat versus a 4-5 hour boat ride.
Picture of Faune in their huge galley. After some drinks and snacks we walked down the Ft. Lauderdale River Walk. Alex remarked how empty the entire area was. When they were here 4 years ago, there was hundreds of people going to bars, restaurant, etc. Now it was a ghost town tonight.

When we arrived at 4 pm or so, we watched this huge megayacht, probably 150 fee long, get moved around Sailpoint Bend by two Tow Boat US tugs. The tugs were both in front and behind this yacht. It was interesting to watch. Hard to get the feel for the size of the boat except to say the tugs were about 30 feet long.


PS Tomorrow we tackle the job of changing the primary and secondary diesel fuel filters.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sugar Reef Restaurant in Hollywood, FL

Our destination today was the Loggerhead Marina in Hollywood, through more bridges, and past Ft Lauderdale and Port Everglades inlet where all the cruise ships pass to sea. We will return to this area in a day or two to spend a couple of days up the New River in Lauderdale along the River Walk. After getting settled at the marina and relaxing in the afternoon, we took a cab ride to Hollywood Beach and the boardwalk. Strolling past numerous tourist shops and burger joints, we found a lovely restaurant, Sugar Reef; thus the title of today's blog.

Monday nights on the waterfront are slow, so we had a lot of attention from our waiter, who was originally from Bolivia, and the owner/executive chef, a native from France, who spent time in several countries. The owner presently oversees the menu and food preparation, and on the side cooks for a few people on their private islands in the Bahamas. This restaurant gets our top award for the food and presentation, as well as a friendly atmosphere! See the pictures! Fish stew with coconut and green curry for me, pork tenderloin for Joe, and Key Lime pie for both of us. The fact that they had an early bird special is what drew us into that particular restaurant, as well as the decor.

Of course, when we got the cab (Friendly Cab Company) to come back to the boat, he didn't know how to get us back, and was less than friendly to say the least. After asking several other cabbies, he finally figured out how to get us back, as we were very little help.

If its Sunday, it must be Pompano & Family

I am writing this early Monday morning to record events of Sunday, Jan 23(an odd day
so it is my turn to write).

We started off on an easy cruise down the ICW, easy in the terms of only going about 25 miles but we had 9 bridges to pass under. The majority of the bridges are on schedules and some of them on upon request. They have the scheduled bridges timed to open at staggered times so you do not have to wait too long if you get into the flow of the openings. The request bridges are a little different. You just call them and request an opening.

The only semi scary thing about the bridges is timing your approach so you do not get too close in case there is a bridge malfunction. You do not want to be too far away as that takes longer for the bridge to cycle, but it would be much worse to get pinned against the bridge if it does not open. There can be 2-3 knot current pushing as along even coasting,so several times we had to circle.

The family activity yesterday was dinner with Marsha and Steve. Marsha is Joy's second cousin on Gabe's side of the family. I had already mentioned them in the past but decided to include a picture of Joy and Marty( her nickname).

They took us to a delightful Italian restaurant in the next town north of Pompano. Along the way we drove past our time share place, La Costa Beach Club. We still have this one week in June, tried to sell it but no luck. Perhaps we will keep it.If anyone wants to use it is the first or second week of June, Sat to Sat.

The other items we noticed yesterday: BIG HOUSES and BIG YACHTS. It is something else to see a 110 foot yacht parked outside a 5,000 square foot mansion on the ICW with perfectly cut grass, a pool, and kids play equipment. I have to wonder where all this money comes from. And there is still new construction going on along the ICW.

Way too much house for two people to live in, it is not our cup of tea.

Today we are either going to Loggerhead in Hollywood or a one day delay to the New River in Ft. Lauderdale. Kind of depends on the weather over the next couple of days and availability of a spot at the Municipal Marina in Ft. Lauderdale.

Jen and family arrive this upcoming weekend.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bridges, bridges, and more bridges....

This part of the ICW in Florida is populated by bridges, every 1 to 3 miles, all with different bridge openings, staggered to hopefully eliminate long wait times for openings. We left Palm Beach Gardens and successfully (no engine problems) made it to Lantana, about 30 miles and 7 bridges in 5 hours. One of the bridges had mechanical problems, so when we arrived at that bridge we had to anchor until repairs were finished. Luckily for us it was about 10 minutes, as another boat had been waiting there at anchor much longer. This area is also very populated with many homes and large yachts along the waterway.

With the snow and frigid temperatures up North, it is not surprising that today was cool and blustery. We are sitting here at anchor with the wind howling outside, but are relatively warm and cozy inside. We dinghied ashore to explore the little town with several cute small pastel-colored shops and restaurants. We ate at the Old Key Lime, oldest waterfront restaurant in Florida, which went through serious rebuilding in 2005 after one of the hurricanes came through. The new roof of palms and wood, modeled after a Seminole Indian hut and built to withstand 130 mph winds, was designed by a Seminole Indian representative. Great history!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two Days - Jan 19 & 20

A lot happened over the past two days. Joy said I should write one blog for both the odd day and the even day. So here goes

Wed Jan 19 - we went to the South Florida Fair about a 25 minute drive south of Palm Beach Garden. Got there about 12 noon. Saw several exhibits, had lunch, and then I got a phone call from JAS Marine. Our parts had come in, so I left Joy and Madonna at the fair, drove back to the boat. Repairs took about 3 hours.

Basically, they replaced all the O rings in our cooling system. He took the entire thing apart and replaced the rings, and put it back together. We started up the engine, could not find any leaks, but the true test will be when we leave either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.

When I got back, I found Joy and Madonna sitting the the MOOTERNITY Tent, waiting for a cow to have her calf that afternoon. I think that out of the 10 hours we were there, we spent at least four watching this cow and another cow and her calf that was born before the fair opened. We had to leave at 10 pm when the fair closed.

Thursday- Jan 20

We spent the afternoon at the Juno Beach which was very nice and clean. It is right behind the Marine Turtle operation.In fact we think that Erin would like it a lot, and we might come down from Sally's for a day at the turtle place and the beach. I spent the morning before the beach shopping for more antifreeze, a visit to CVS, and also a visit to the local Verizon store.

We were told over the phone that there were no Veizon plans above 5 gigabits of data for our modem card. A Netflix movie is 800 megabytes long, and that at 5 cents per megabyte, a movie could cost $40. So since our wifi card stopped working, the Verizon guy solved the problem, and found us a 10 gigabyte plan for only $10 more that we are paying now.

Went to dinner at Guanabanas in Jupiter. Very interesting place, lots of palm trees. Atmosphere is a tropical island.

Taking Madonna to the airport tomorrow, she flies out at 12:30 pm. Then it will be just the two of us. It was great having her here. If anyone out there wants to come for a cruise, just let us know.


PS Picture explanations. Joy forgot to take her camera to the Marine turtle place so I shot a picture of the Loggerhead poster in the office.

Joy and Madonna sat in these foot vibrator chairs at the fair. I also tried it, and it was pretty intense.

At the fair they have a food booth that takes a Krisy Kreme doughtnut, cut it in half and put a cheesburger in it. They use the doughnut as the hamburger bun.

Picture of one of the cows and her new calf. Note that calf is nursing, just what two lacations consultants love to see.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Madonna, Joy, and the turtles

We found out this morning that the earliest repair day is Friday, as special parts (o-rings) needed to be ordered and won't be in until Thursday. Knowing this, we have rented a car at least until Friday, so that we can do some sightseeing with Madonna. So after settling into our new surroundings this morning and after washing the boat, Madonna and I set out to find an ice cream store and to see the Marine Turtle Center, here in Palm Beach Gardens. A wonderful Italian market is just up the streeet with wonderful gelato and after the boat washing was just what we needed.

The Loggerhead Marine Center has a display about sea turtles, their habitats, and efforts to protect them. There are several tanks with turtles that have been found injured in the ICW, that are brought to the center, treated with surgery, medication, and diet for about 3 months and reintroduced to the ocean. Turtles are given a name that had never been used before and range from a young 5 lb turtle to 193 lb mature turtle. The Jupiter/Juno Beaches are a major area where the turtles lay there eggs. When the babies hatch they return to the ocean, enter the Gulf Stream, spend part of their young life in the Azores, and return to South Florida to lay their eggs. A volunteer told us that one of the turtles they treated last year was found in Australia this year. Madonna and I were amazed at the number of volunteers there during our one hour visit- at least ten, young and old, who volunteer their time there. We were able to view a turtle that had just had surgery (his fin removed), who was still intubated. Another turtle was having a wound debrided in the surgery center. Most injuries are caused by boat propellors. Sad! Unfortunately, there are no pictures, even though we both brought our cameras. We were so busy talking to volunteers that we forgot to take pictures.

Madonna is becoming an excellent 2nd mate, cooking a vegetable fritata for breakfast, and scrubbing the deck.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Broken Down in Palm Beach Garden

Hello everybody. We are now in Palm Beach Garden, broken down and waiting for the repair technician to come back tomorrow. We developed a leak in the cooling system, and the engine started to overheat only 2 miles from where we are staying.

Yesterday we spent the day and anchored out at Peck Lake. Peck Lake is actually a wide spot in the ICW just south of Stuart. It took us about 2 hours to get there from Stuart. Ended up with about 8 boats anchoring for the night.

Left this morning for Palm Beach Garden,had a great ride until the engine problems started.

Included today are some picture of Madonna, Joy, and the Tow Boat operator.


ps Do not know when the parts come in, we will be here until High Spirits is fixed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Madonna sighting in Stuart, FL!

Today Madonna was sighted in Stuart, FL. Her publicist informed us that she would be arriving at West Palm Beach shortly before noon and we had better be there to welcome her to Florida. By the way, not Madonna the Material Girl, but Madonna the Lactation consultant, friend of Joy's for about 18 years.

We picked her up and took her to lunch at Harry the Natives in Hobe Sound. Picture of Joy and Madonna outside of Harry's along with one of their most famous sighs. The quote hangs over the front door.

Spent the day just hanging out, shopping for some oil for the outboard engine, and Joy and Madonna going grocery shopping.

Linda and Francis Miko joined us for dinner tonight. Note the special CVS designer glasses on Francis.

Tomorrow I am going to the Stuart boat show while the ladies are going to an art show in Jensen Beach, just north of our marina.

We plan on leaving Stuart on Sunday, weather permitting. Heading south towards West Palm beach area for a week. Then at the end of the month down to Miami area.


Monday, January 10, 2011


Well, we are on the ground here in Stuart, Fl and making progress at the Hinckley yard. Very nice people to work with, Tony is the service manager handling our project.

so far we have gotten the keel ground out where needed, put on some epoxy and repainted. that was on Friday. Today, John, our mechanic, fixed the packing issue, found a cross threaded engine mount bolt which he was able to repair by running it through a die.

Still to work on is tracing a fuel leak and the bonding wire problem which is causing our large anode not to function properly. the electrician should be back to work tomorrow.

We might even get into the water on Thursday!!!

bye for now


ps pictures tomrrow.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Well, we are back writing about High Spirits and our adventures both past and future.
We returned from visiting our children and grandchildren, along with siblings over a three week period. We travelled by truck and car from Florida to DC and Baltimore, then over to Cleveland, Ohio for Christmas, back to DC for Jen's 37th birthday and back to Stuart, Fl.

Well, back in Stuart, FL at the Hinckley boat yard we found out that we have some repair issues that were not on our list for winter projects. Our three anodes on the propeller shaft were eaten up but not the main anode. This leads us to believe that we some loose wiring in the boat which means they have to test out all the ground wires that lead to the main anode. I see serious extra dollars sign in my eyeballs. However this has to be done other wise the boat could suffer some serious damage.

Joe is going over to the yard tomorrow to help/watch the guys working on the wiring. In addition, we are having our stuffing box repacked, a broken motor mount fixed and a small leak in our fuel pump corrected. All in hopefully one weeks time.
Forgot about the rust on the iron keel that is to be ground out and repainted.

Certainly in better shape that some of our friends, one set is on the hard for the past 6 weeks up in St. Augustine as they had some serious propeller/rudder issues to deal with.

More later, with pictures. We are back in business