Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Day in Alice Town

We spent the day exploring Alice Town. North Bimini is not exactly the biggest of islands. Terry rented a golf cart so we could tour around a bit. That's when we discovered that we could go around the entire island in about a half hour- if we didn't stop. However, we had to stop and look at lots of things. We visited the Dolphin House. The owner is an incredible builder. He is recycling in a serious fashion. 

This is the upstairs apartment over his small island museum. He rents it out as a vacation rental. You can see all the things he has gathered to make up the walls and floor. The ceiling is hung with floats he collects on the beach after storms. He collects tiles from any building projects with leftovers as well as the dump. It was an incredible collection of recycled goods. He's been working on this apartment for 10 years.

We also visited the resort at the end of the island. It's a really high end resort with a Hilton hotel, lots of villas, and two pools. One is an infinity pool overlooking the ocean. The other is just a really big pool with a beautiful bathhouse. 

BTW, you can even play chess here.

The resort also has a small casino. We actually ended up eating dinner in the casino. Come to find out, there's not much open here on Sundays! We had planned to eat in the lovely restaurant next to the really big pool. But, it was closed. So, we decided to give the casino a try. The food was great. The service was impeccable. And, the prices were not unreasonable - for food on an island. It was so funny, though. There were more employees than customers in the casino. In fact, we started dinner as the only people in the restaurant. Later on, three more tables were filled - for a total of 11 more people. We found out that the high season is not until March and April.

Tomorrow, we plan to head out east. We'll be anchoring out, so there may not be a blog tomorrow. With that, Dear Readers, I am off to rest up for tomorrow's adventures.

Bimini for the Day

We plan to spend another day here in Bimini. It looks to be a lovely day already.

We're hoping to check out the local market and bakery. We would like to visit the museum and the Dolphin House. However, it is Sunday. And, we are in the islands. Yesterday, the bartender said things might be open - somewhere around 8 and maybe close around noon. Well, we'll at least get to walk around a bit.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Bimini Bound

We did it. We crossed over from Florida to Alice Town today. We arrived around 2:30. Then, we sat on the boat for quite a bit while Terry cleared customs and immigration. Pictures tomorrow. We're all a little tired today.

On Our Way

You may wonder,  Dear Readers,  why I might be blogging at 4:20 in the morning. Well, the weather window changed once again. Today is our best shot at getting to Bimini. It's a 10 hour trip from here, so we are up and on the move.

This change in plans will mean less web service for a day or two. I will write when I can.

In the meantime, here are some early morning photos. Peggy is already hard at work making tea and coffee. The helm station is dark- except for the glow of the electronic instruments. And, Fort Lauderdale is awash with lights. But, I bet most of them are still snug in their beds.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Toward Fort Lauderdale

It is 6:30 AM, and we are on the move. Here is the scene from inside the boat. No, my Dear Readers, I am not going out on the deck. However, my intrepid crew is hard at work. There are LOTS of bridges between LUX and Miami. Timing is critical to make each one in sequence.

Today's trip is not all about the journey. It is a speed race to make each bridge in its allotted opening time. The water around the channel is shallow, so our pilot must be swift and sure. You have to rush up to the bridge. Then, you have to back off because you cannot pass the outer edge until the bridge is fully raised.

Now, at 9:29 AM, it's starting to get exciting. The Ocean Avenue bridge is having a slight problem. It doesn't want to open. Maintenance was called at 9. They managed to get one span open for the last opening. We hope the 9:30 one goes smoother.

Meanwhile, we did hear an interesting message on the radio. It was a warning by another boater in the area. It seems someone is busy taking potshots at boaters who make too large a wake with a pellet gun. Luckily, LUX does not make much of a wake.

The 9:30 opening was a success. We spent the day cruising down the ICW past amazing houses and gigantic boats.

We have finished for the day here in Fort Lauderdale. We'll stay overnight. In the morning, we'll head out toward Miami.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

West Palm Beach

Good morning from West Palm Beach. Today's forecast is warm with thundershowers. I can tell it's warming up because Mike is back in short sleeves. 

I can tell it is REALLY warming up because Peggy has pushed her long sleeves up. 

It is so humid that everything seems to be melting. It's just drip, drip, drip....

As to a weather forecast made by using the clothing on our crew? Don't try it.

Because the weather is so iffy, we'll be staying another night here in the New Port Cove Marine Center. Many of you may ask what we'll do with our day. We'll begin with really great blueberry pancakes cooked up by Peggy. 

We used Krusteaz blueberry pancake mix. We love Krusteaz. You just add water, and it makes great stuff. You can kick it up a notch, like Peggy did, by adding fresh blueberries.

While breakfast was being prepared, we got distracted by the arrival of pelicans.

Yes, just for Susan, the pelicans lined up on the poles across from us.

Top of the list today will be laundry. It will be a long day since this marina only has one washing machine and one dryer. Right now, we are having an interesting discussion about the order for washing machine use. I keep coming up with really great suggestions like using the numerology of our names. The rest of the crew just keeps staring at me. Hmmm...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

It's Liquid Sunshine- or so They Tell Us

Good morning from the dark side

It is 6:53, and we are busy raising the anchor. Today will be a long day on the water. We need to get much closer to Miami. As a result, we were all up at the crack of dawn.

Making the run to Bimini can be tricky. The weather has to be just right in order to have a safe and comfortable passage. Mariners have been known to wait as much as two weeks to get the right weather window.

Right now, we think we have a decent window in two days. But, we need to be a lot further south. So, we are off and running south. The weather is not kind today. It is raining on and off. And, it is very foggy. 

Mike started the day off with a short sleeved shirt. But, he has put his jacket back on. The temperature is actually 67 degrees, but it feels cooler because it is so very damp.

We did continue on in the fog and rain until 4. Along the way, we passed the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.

We have ended up here in Palm Beach. Initially, we had thought to go over to Freeport tomorrow. However, a call to the marina there led us to recheck the weather. There is a front moving in which will make travel somewhat uncomfortable. Another call to Chris Parker, the Caribbean weather guru, has led us to decide to wait until Sunday to cross. So, Dear Readers, it appears that we shall be hanging around southern Florida a bit longer.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Headed for Ft. Pierce

We did not leave Titusville yesterday until late in the afternoon. We spent the time installing our new batteries. We now have three new batteries working in fine order.

We also used the time wisely. We did laundry. Boating is like camping- an available washing machine is literally a gift you cannot ignore! The laundry room at Titusville Marina is nothing to write home about in terms of ambience. But, it has 3 working washers and 4 dryers. We had them all to ourselves! Even better, someone had left a Yahtzee game in there as a giveaway. So, we whiled away our time waiting through the cycles by playing Yahtzee. The game was a hot one - even though the laundry room was not!

We arrived at the Cocoa Village Marina around 6:40 PM. It was an excellent spot because we met up with friends from Annapolis Sail and Power Squadron. Jackson and Barbara have relocated down here in order to be closer to family- and it got them away from the cold north. We went out to dinner together to one of their favorite spots - Ryan's. Ryan's is quite the place. It's an Irish pub with an Italian dinner menu. Jackson assured us that the food was great - and he was right.

We went back to their condo after dinner. They were kind enough to offer us a tour of their new home with its spectacular view of the water. I tried to take pictures, but it was very dark!

This morning, it seems to be setting in to be a gray day. But, the outside temperature is at 60 degrees. Yay! We might be on the way to a warm up. Today, we are headed off to try to get to Fort Pierce.

And, indeed we made Ft. Pierce. Not only that, but the weather has begun to warm up. As you can see, Mike is in short sleeves. Tonight, he has also changed into shorts. Reality check - Carol is still wearing fleece, as is Terry. Peggy and I are still in long sleeves. Tonight, we are anchored out near the Ft. Pierce bridge. Tomorrow, we head out at first light. Tomorrow, I promise more on wardrobe updates.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Marina Happenings

While Terry was busy trying to get the old batteries out, Big Daddy was on the move -sort of. It appears that this old tour boat needs some work. It was being pulled and shoved out and on its way. Since it was docked one pier over from us, we had a front row seat to all the excitement.

Terry is Definitely Back

Things are really hopping here on LUX. We started the morning with a french toast bake recipe found on Facebook. That was followed by a flurry of boat work. The electricity is off. The old batteries are coming out. One of the propane tanks is out for filling. And, tools are appearing everywhere. Just another day on LUX.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Terry must be back

Hmmm...Peggy's bunk has been taken apart. The settee has been opened. There are large batteries on the deck. Yes, Terry is back on the boat.

Leaving Daytona Beach

With great winds behind us, we made it to Daytona Beach before 4 yesterday. And, yes, we had the jib up! It was a great run. But, it was so cold. Yes, Dear Readers, I know it is nothing like being on Maryland or Colorado right now. But seriously, freeze warnings in Daytona Beach? With the wind chill, it was colder than I ever imagined Florida to be.

We chose to stay at Daytona Marina and Boatworks last night. We had stayed here on our last return from the Bahamas. Susan and Tony may remember it as their taxi stop. It was certainly convenient for dinner last night since the Chart House Restaurant is on top of the marina offices! We had a lovely dinner. Then, we scampered back to the boat in record time. It was rather chilly out there!

We left the dock at 7:40 this morning headed for Titusville. That's where we pick up Terry. He's been hiding in California pretending to be working. I think it was actually just to avoid boating in cold weather.

Today's picture is from inside LUX. It's to cold for your intrepid chronicler to be outside.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

We're Where?

Here we are in not so sunny Florida. It is 56 degrees here in the cabin.  We don't want to think about the outside temperature. We are about 20 miles from Daytona Beach. Chili for lunch today. And, we reheated the cornbread in the oven just to warm up the cabin. But, it's not snowing. However, you couldn't tell that from Carol's outfit.

Leaving St. Augustine

It's hard to believe that we are in Florida. The wind is still blowing this morning, but it's down to six knots or so. The skies are very gray. And, it's COLD! Mike has on a flannel shirt and a jacket- a sure indication that it's really cold.

We are on the move today. We're headed toward Daytona Beach. Hopefully, it will get warmer.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Out to Dinner

We could not resist. We went out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants-  A1A. Not only is the food good, but it it just across the street from the marina.

Yes, the food was as good as it looks. And, all four of us indulged in the grilled banana split - as you can see below.

Yes, we ate it all.

Afterward, we went for a stroll around the town square. Everything is still lit up from Christmas.

 But, we did not tour all the lights. The tours now only run on the weekends. At this point, you might be remembering that I have mentioned we might be staying here more than one day. So, Dear Readers, you are wondering why we are not planning to take the tour ride through the lights tomorrow. Well, we are staying because the weather is supposed to get nasty here. No, it is not anything like Maryland is expecting. But, there will be wind and rain. So, we will rest warm and snug on LUX tomorrow. The furthest we might wander is up to the laundry in the marina. On a boat, one must take every opportunity to keep up with the laundry.

Good Morning from St. Augustine

It is 11 AM as I write this, so I had better get a move on if this is to be a morning post! Although we are not expecting snow, the forecast does call for thunderstorms and strong winds. If you look out to the east, you would think that it is going to be a nice day. 

But, just take a look back to the west.

Oh my! I think we will wait a little longer to do laundry. No since paying to dry it if you plan to soak it on the way back to the boat!

Back to this morning-- today we tried a recipe Peggy found on Facebook. It was a sausage and egg bake Peggy was right. It was very yummy. Have a look.

We made it a little boat friendlier by using pre-cooked sausage crumbles. It's always nice to avoid grease splatters! Also, it eliminates one step in the process. Each step I eliminate is time closer to feeding a hungry crew. It's also one more way to lessen the amount of necessary clean up. So, it also saves on water as well as time. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

We're Here in St. Augustine

It's not even 4:30, and we are docked in St. Augustine. It was a beautiful day with a high of 52. I know, Dear Readers, that most of my followers are in the frozen north. So, I tell you that it's only in the lower fifties so you are not upset that we are lolling in the heat whilst you freeze.

The dock hand was impressed that we so neatly docked our LUX with nary a bump. He reported that earlier today, someone pulled out and t-boned another boat. Yes, it's not only for cars.

Currently, our plans call for a two day layover due to weather. It's supposed to be rainy and very windy. So, we'll just stay put.

Yummy Soup

Yesterday, we had soup for lunch. It's no surprise that boaters like soup. If it is a chilly day, a warm soup is just the thing to warm you up. It's manageable- you can actually just drink some soups from a mug while you are at the helm. And, the choices for soups these days is amazing. 

Usually, the fact that we had soup would not be news. But, here's a clever recipe for you! I had found a lovely recipe for a Butternut Squash and Apples Fall Soup. It involved lots of chopping, frying, cooking and mashing Luckily, I had an inspired moment in Dollar Tree. On the shelf was Dole Organic Sweet Potato Soup - in a box! We love little boxes. They fold up so nicely when you throw them away- less trash volume on a cruise is always a good thing. So, I bought some. Here's the recipe.

Gee's Sweet Potato Apple Soup

2 boxes Dole's Sweet Potato Soup
2 individual sized servings of chunky applesauce
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix and heat. Serve.

Yes, that is all there is to it. And, it was so yummy. My applesauce was organic and no sugar added. That kept it from being overly sweet. This recipe is great for boats- quick, easy, and delicious!

Leaving Fernandina Beach

It is just barely 7:30, and we have left the dock at Fernandina Beach.

The white dot in the water is a sleeping pelican. Yes, we left before the birds even bothered to start their day. The other small picture shows that we truly are still in the lowlands. The shoreline is just where the grasses end.

Today is part of the weeklong celebration of National Fresh Squeezed Juice week. For trivia today, I offer three true or false statements.

1. Beet greens have more iron than spinach.
2. Lemons counteract the affects of acidity on the body.
3. Pineapple is good for maintaining strong and healthy bones.

And, yes, Dear Readers- I did not forget that you want the answers to yesterday's trivia!

1. There are 17 species of penguins.
2. One way penguins get rid of the seawater they ingest is by sneezing! They also can have a runny beak.
3. Penguins do have ears. They are just not visible. By the way, they also have excellent hearing!

Yesterday, we passed a pleasant afternoon roaming about the town of Fernandina Beach. We managed to escape with only the purchase of ice cream. It was not an easy task. Every shop was filled with charming displays meant to be very tempting. Even the buildings themselves were charming! It was somewhat like visiting Annapolis- only with a lot more trees!

And, just for Susan - Pelicans hanging around the dock!

Last night, we ate dinner on the boat. It was followed by the first of our killer card games. Then, a long day caught up with us. We all went to bed early!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

COD Time in Georgia

Dear Readers, it is early in the morning here at Morningstar Marina. We are up and busy getting ready to face the day. It was a challenge getting away from the docks. The lines were stiff. The docks had a bit of a frosty coat. Even LUX had a little layer so that Carol could leave footprints as she walked around trying to remove the lines.

As you can see, it is a clear morning with sun on the way. I took another photo of our 'iceberg' creations here in the marina just to convince you that it is really cold - even here in Georgia. But I know, Dear Readers, that you follow the blog. You know that's just sea foam. Still, it makes for a lovely story, does it not?

In other news - it is National Penguin Awareness Day! Be sure to take some time to toast our tuxedo wearing friends! They would think you very clever if that toast was made with hot chocolate. BTW, a shot of Godiva chocolate (the percent kind) in that hot chocolate would not be a bad addition. To keep your brain going, here are today's trivia questions.

How many species of penguins are there?

How do penguins get rid of the seawater they ingest while hunting for fish?

Do penguins have ears?

Answers will be in the next blog!

Currently, it is 32 degrees. The high today is supposed to be 55. We left early to get around the famous Jekyll Island. Usually, it is famous for once having been the playground of the rich and famous in the winter. There is an incredible hotel there- a remnant of its past. But, for boaters, it is famous for the shoals that occur in the passage. At low tide, it can be less than 4 feet. Even LUX finds it hard to negotiate in waters that shallow. So, we plan to be there as close to high tide as we can get. Unfortunately, high tide today is either 5:37 AM or 5:59 PM. There's still not much light at those times of the day. So, we will get there as fast as we can to avoid low tide- which is around noon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On the Boat

Today is National Popcorn Day! To get you started, here are some facts about popcorn.

Americans eat around 17 billion quarts of popcorn every year. This amount would fill the Empire State Building 18 times.
Nebraska produces an estimated 250 million pounds of popcorn per year
more than any other state. This is equivalent to a quarter of all the popcorn the United States produces every year.

Popcorn is the official snack of Illinois. 

Since 1958, there has been an annual “Popcorn Day.”

We began our day in Santee, South Carolina.

Yes, we are supposed to be in the south. And, yes, the morning was that cold. We did hop in the car and head on to Georgia in hopes that it would be warmer. Lucky for us, it was somewhat warmer - all of 40 degrees or so. We thought it was even warmer because we were really busy. 

Mike and Carol got to work immediately on prepping the boat. Gee and Peggy went out hunting and gathering so we don't go hungry on this extended voyage.

We started at Bed, Bath and Beyond. We really need a new carafe for hot water here on LUX. Ours is no longer keeping water hot. Those of you who have sailed with us know that we like to keep a pot of hot water readily available. You just never know when the urge for a lovely cup of cocoa will strike! But, Dear Readers, NEVER try to ask someone under the age of 30 in Bed, Bath, and Beyond if they have a thermal carafe. Not one of the three people we asked had a clue. The closest we came was the one salesperson who offered to look it up in the catalog. Seriously? And, yes, we tried all the synonyms  we could think of for carafe - thermos, hot pot, pump pot, etc. They all just stared blankly at us. You would have thought we were speaking in some unknown language! In other words, we did not buy a new carafe at this time.

It is now the end of the day. Groceries were gathered. Sails were put up. Rental car was returned. And, we had a lovely dinner purchased from the hot bar at Harris Teeter. We would have indulged in a lovely meal at the restaurant here at the marina. Coastal Kitchens has a lovely menu. We just won't be sampling the food. Once again, Mike and Gee visit closed America. Coastal Kitchens is closed until Wednesday.

We won't be here on Wednesday - even though that's only tomorrow. We'll be leaving at the Crack of Dawn in order to get around Jekyll Island before low tide. If we don't get the timing right, the next report from us will be as we wait for the tide to lift us off the sandbar!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Headed to see Our LUX

Yes, it is only January- much earlier than our usual spring trip to get LUX and bring her home. But, seriously, check out home.

This morning, it really was 21 degrees. And, yes, it did snow yesterday. Lucky for us, we have a great plan for this spring. We're going to bring LUX home via the Exumas! Yes, we are Bahamas bound. This will be our longest trip yet. And, we plan to spend about a month in the Exumas. 

This has initiated a flurry of planning on all our parts. Carol has been busy sewing a sun shade for the front of the boat. Mike and Terry have been busy planning repairs and upgrades. And me, I have been busy planning menus for that long of a trip. Even more importantly, I have been planning what we need to actually take with us to avoid having to purchase really expensive groceries in the islands. This is not a trivial task. Food in the Bahamas is mostly shipped in, so it is incredibly dear. All cruising guides recommend bringing in your food. So, I have not only been busy figuring out what we will eat but when and where I should buy it in order to get the best prices. 

Since the boat is in a location that does not have a Sam's Club, BJ's, or Costco, I did do some shopping before we left home. Mike keeps making jokes about how it was a really good idea to get a minivan. And, yes, I did fill up a large portion of that back space. But, I scored some rally great buys. For example, today I bought canned crab for less than $2 a can! Yay! And, that was a short stop at the Christmas Tree Shop on the way south. Hunting and gathering is the only way to go when you are trying to feed a crew of 5 for a month!

Meanwhile, we are supposed to be heading south. So, what's up with this?

Yes, there was snow on the ground in North Carolina. And, it was 32 degrees. I certainly hope it begins to warm up. Otherwise, you'll be reading lots of stories about how I keep insisting on baking muffins for breakfast!