Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Grand Bahama to the Exumas

Whrrr! The reel went Whrrr! is the sound for which fishermen everywhere live and die. Whrrr! “My God that fish is taking out line,” I said to myself. He probably had 300 feet by the time I made the twenty foot sprint from the helm to the aft deck. I could tell he was big, maybe even huge, just by the feel. Whrrr! the reel sounded and the line went out. “Okay,” I told myself, “just let him run.”Whrrr! “man, he is taking out line.” I looked down and he already had well over half of my 30# test and he showed no sign of slowing down. The reel was getting warm to the touch. “I have to do something,” I thought, “or he’ll have all of my line.” Ever so slightly I increased the drag. But I swear it didn’t make a whit of difference in the speed with which the line was zipping off the reel. “Ok, just a little more drag, I told myself.”
“Oh my God, was that him that jumped out there 500 feet away?” He was still taking line. Ann was at the helm and I told her to put it in neutral and come back to watch the show. The fish, at least five feet long and maybe more, leapt out of the water showing off his magnificent colors, gold on the sides and bright blues, greens and yellows on his back. Again and again he jumped, at least three or four times. He then began a series of lateral leaps kind of like a dolphin, almost skimming across the water. And then … Oops I’m getting ahead of myself. I was going to tell you about the crossing from Grand Bahama to Great Harbor. I’ll come back to the TRUE fish story.

Before leaving the Grand Bahama Yacht Club Harbor we met Kyle and Kathy who arrived a day or two after we did on their boat Now and Zen. In the last blog entry, you may recall, I vented about how unfriendly the majority of the Yacht Club members were. Kyle and Kathy were exactly the opposite. They were cruisers like us. They live in Fort Lauderdale and had just bought a second house with a 50’ dock in beautiful Beaufort, SC, right along the Waterway. They came over for drinks one evening and before any of us knew it, it was 10 PM. We really enjoyed their company and wish they had come a day or two earlier. We also briefly met Jerry and Billie who arrived aboard their boat Miss Liberty. They, too were on the way to Great Harbor and we spent a lot of time with them there. They will pop up frequently through this entry.

Anyway, we departed Grand Bahama at about 0745. For the first fifteen – twenty minutes, it looked as though the cruise was going to be a little sloppy. Spot retreated to her carrier, which is now her hidey-hole of choice. However, after we got far enough away from the island the water smoothed out and we had a very comfortable trip to Great Harbor. It was also very peaceful, that is until that huge mahi took the hook. The end of the story is kind of sad. When a fish has 500’ of line and shakes his head, he creates slack in the line. From there it is only a split second until he is gone. And that is what happened to me. Oh well. That is why they call it fishing, not catching. Maybe next time.

The night we arrived the marina staff had arranged a “chill and grill” for all the cruisers. Again, even though the weather had been beautiful, Ann and I were still a bit tired from the trip and we were both ready for a quick meal and bed. We met Billie and Jerry from Miss Liberty at the marina. They were planning to go the chill and grill so we decided to go too. Ann and I both had ribs, and they were well pretty well cooked (not as good as mine, of course). The problem was that at about 5:30 the noseeums came out. Both Ann and Billie were getting eaten alive so we all adjourned to Miss Liberty to finish our meals. You would think that would be it, and we would go to bed, but noooo. The gazebo where the chill and grill was held was about 50 feet from our boat. And what, besides food, do you need at a Chill and Grill? Apparently you need loud Bahamian music. 
to keep them straight, the staff
put faces on  them. The decaf,
needless to say, had the frowny face.
At Carriearl Ann and I both ordered a
 cup of coffee for dessert.  Ann ordered
decaf and I ordered regular ...
One of the real joys of going to Great Harbor is the opportunity of going to Carriearl, a boutique hotel (four rooms), owned, run and managed by two British ex-pats. They have lived on the island for years and they own the home where Mr. Blackwell (of the “worst dressed list” fame) where they serve dinner in the evenings and brunch on Sunday. We decided to go to dinner this year and were rewarded with two scrumptious meals. I had beef stroganoff and Ann had fettuccini with shrimp. I think hers was as bit better, but we both cleaned our plates.

The following day, Sunday, was the reason we had come to Great Harbor in the first place – the SUPERBOWL.  Now I don’t have a dog in this particular fight. I am not a New England fan and I really don’t care for the Philadelphia Eagles. But I am a football fan and football fans like to watch the Superbowl. Although we don’t have satellite TV on Traveling Soul, Jerry and Billie (one of the couples we met at Grand Bahama) have it on their boat. They invited us and a couple we had met the evening before, Rema and Chris, to watch the game on Miss Liberty. Well, we would have had a grand time even if the Eagles did not win. Billie and Jerry were excellent hosts, cooking a meal and providing coffee and desert for all. Yes, we provided some appetizers and Rema and Chris made a salad, bit the hospitality that Billie and Jerry demonstrated that evening was some of the best I have seen among cruisers. If you are reading this, Billie and Jerry, thank you so much for a wonderful time.

The next morning, we were on our way south. The seas were fairly calm and I fished almost all the way (no, again I did not catch anything). Our destination was an anchorage we had used the previous year, Alder’s Island. It is very picturesque and was about half way towards our next destination, the Berry Islands Club. The anchorage was a little more rolly than we remembered it ad we did not have a particularly good night’s sleep. Still, it did provide protection until we got going the next day.

Spot curled up into a ball of fur so she can't see the sea state.
If the seas on the day before were fair, for the first half-hour or so of our trip to the Berry Islands Club they were terrible. Eventually we would be going southwest and would have the wind and waves on our aft starboard quarter, then we would turn due west and have them on our stern most of the way. But to get out of the anchorage and get to our planned route, we had to head pretty much due east directly into the wind and waves for a couple of miles. Well, Spot didn’t appreciate that fact. As soon as the rough ride began, she looked for a place to hide. She eventually chose a place between Ann and me on the helm with her face buried behind the back seat cushion. After about 30 minutes, we made the turn southwest and everyone was much more comfortable. Spot, however, stayed on the helm with her head buried behind the cushion. Every time we tried to move the cushion we got scolded with a very loud “MEOW” that was telling us she was fine and we should go on about our own business and not bother her. Apparently, in Cat Land if you cannot see the rough seas and the bumping and banging going on around you, all is well.

This rainbow kept growing and adding colors as we watched it.
First it added blue, then violet.
We had planned to spend the night at the Berry Islands Club. It is a small place with seven mooring balls and the beginnings of a marina. Located in the southern Berry Islands we had heard it was a lot of fun and decided to check it out and at the same time to give them a little business. We tried to call them on the phone – no answer. Hey, ‘tis da Islands, mon, they could have not answered for any number of reasons. We got closer and called them on the radio. We did not get an answer from the Club, but a passing cruiser told us the club was closed. We went up to the mooring balls anyway, but it was so choppy in the mooring ball field that we decided to move on another 10-15 miles to the anchorage at Chubb Cay AND give the Club a bad review on Active Captain. So there!

Chubb Cay was a little rolly, but overall a nice anchorage. We downloaded our dinghy to take a look at the marina, which charges an (almost) exorbitant $3 per foot. The facilities are nice – actually it is kind of a swanky place – there is a Club House that we could have used, but didn’t, and according to reports, a small chandlery. But at $3 per foot we weren’t going to use the place and from the number of empty slips, we weren’t the only ones with that attitude.

The fancy-schmancy Chubb Island Marina.
It was too ritzy for us!
On Thursday we left Chubb and headed for Nassau. Here, too we were going to try out a new marina, Palm Cay. The marina itself was nice, except for the lack of effective wi-fi, the fact that they charged extra for use of the pool and beach, and the fact that they charged very high rates for water; Nassau is not the hinterlands of the Exumas where water is scarce. The reason that we will never return, however, has little to with all of this. Our assigned slip was on a concrete bulkhead. It doesn’t take a genius to note that fiberglass and concrete do not mix very well. We managed to get enough fenders out in time that we weren’t scarred, but why did they do that? There were a number of empty slips (I counted 11) that could have held us. I don’t get it.

The best thing about Palm Cay, however was the people we met. Fran and Frank aboard their boat At Last, Shep and Deb on High ZZs and Chris and Robin from Cerulean were all wonderful folks and we had a blast with all of them. By the time we left, all had departed except Chris and Robin who were instrumental in helping us get out of that damned slip. Without our wonderful deck crew (Ann) and Cerulean’s crew we night still be in Palm Cay. We hope we see you all down island!

So, here we are at Highbourne Cay in the Exuma Island Group. Ater we leave Highbourne and head south, we will not be very well connected. We’ll try to update our blog as often as we can, but it might be a few extra days.

Ann’s Notes: Michael is correct in telling you that we have had some pretty bumpy rides, and Spot will second that notion. I, however, like to be rocked to sleep, if that is what a baby feels being rocked in a cradle, I understand why it is so soothing and will sign up for that sensation any night.

We have done more exploring in the dinghy this trip and that is fun. The reason for more dinghy rides is because Michael is having some back issues and cannot walk long distances without a lot of discomfort. He spend a good part of last summer trying to isolate the cause of the pain, found a good neurologist, who gave him a serious of back injections with little or no relief, plus different medications. That being said, we are exploring the islands from a water view and not walking the beaches or making our way through low scratchy bushes. We will be able to explore once again by foot once Michael is fixed. We hope.

I have to say that we have meet some very nice people, Michael and I are not really joiners of groups, but we decided to make an extra effort this year to be more outgoing and meet more cruisers than in the past.  So far this has been a good plan, we have had many wonderful conversations, I have a few more friends on Facebook, and have a few more appetizer recipes.

The dinner at Carriearls was so nice, we went with Billie and Jerry. While waiting for our ride to the restaurant we met another couple that was also waiting. That is when we meet Rema and Chris, they had a very interesting story to tell about how they met and are now cruising together. For a younger couple they blended right into the older generation group. Their sense of humor was wonderful and kept us laughing with their commentary during the superbowl.

I have learned that while cruising you need to mix it up sometimes and explore new places. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes not so much. In the case of going to a new marina in Nassau, the “not so much” applies. The marina is lovely, the staff friendly and helpful, but the dock master needs to rethink where he is going to dock a fifty-two foot  boat  before he assigns  the slip. The marina has pretty much been taken over by a condo association and they just want money to keep the land portion out of the red column in the budget book. Their solution, I fear, is to make the cruisers pay, pay for water at 35 cents per gallon; we hold 200 gallons in our tanks. Even worse is the $15 per person for a three day pass to use the pool or go on their small beach. That just pissed me off and we did not pay that price, I did however go to the pool as a guest from my newly made friend Robin. They do have good WiFi, for free at the CafĂ© but the signal did not reach our horrible slip, so far away. They did have a courtesy car with a two hour limit, that was very nice. I wish we had a video showing us, literally wiggling out of our slip. Three dock hands, plus Robin and Chris got us out. Thank heaven for a great Captain, Michael, head sets for clear communication, and my line skills. That adventure made my heart race , but we did it together and I got a compliment from Michael that did not involve my cooking and food preparation.

All and All it has been a fun – sometimes more exciting than it had to be – adventure.

Traveling Soul…OUT

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Grand Lucaya (24 Jan - 1 Feb)

It has finally happened. My long-time readers will remember that about three years ago I warned about the imminent Canadian invasion of the Bahamas. Everyone ignored me – and some even laughed. Last year, when I again raised the specter of a Canadian-controlled Bahamas, I pointed out that the battle was nearly lost – by a count of 17 American to 15 Canadian boats (with one uncommitted French-flagged vessel) the Ocean Reef Club had already nearly fallen to the invaders. Still, there was no response. This year, I can say for certain that Freeport and Grand Bahama Island are gone, lost to the Maple Leaves. Here at the Grand Bahama Yacht club, I am not even sure the Americans put up much of a fight; I guess the Canadians just polited us to death. It is true that the Americans continue to bring in their HUGE Cruise ships, but cruise-ship people certainly aren’t capable of out-politing the Canadians. Grand Bahama is lost. 
The view behind out boat in the marina.
Okay, back to more peasant business. I was in such a hurry to get our last blog out that I failed to mention our new friends Ran and Bebe aboard their beautiful sailing vessel, Venture. They arrived at Old Port Cove about the same time we did and were looking to cross about the same time. Unfortunately they had some mechanical issues that kept them in port. (See, it is not just us!) I sure hope they can make the next weather window – whenever that is—and we can meet them in, what may then be, the Canadian-owned Bahamas. We also had a visit from our friends Sharon and Andy. I met Sharon years ago through the blog about their vessel Finally Fun and we have kept in touch since. They have sold their boat, moved ashore, and are now looking for another boat. It was great seeing them.

The Crossing
As you will remember we had been waiting for quite some time – and had spent quite a few bucks – at Old Port Cove Marina. On Sunday we moved into Lake Worth and on Tuesday we departed. It was a pretty narrow window and the weather didn’t look perfect, but if we were going to go anytime in the next two weeks, Tuesday was it. We launched at 0750.

The seas were … shall we say … far from perfect. That said, they could have been a LOT worse. We have been in rougher seas on occasion and, over the years we have been on Traveling Soul, we have been bumped and slammed around plenty. So, while this was not the worst ride we have ever had it was probably among the worst 10. Our cat, Spot, disagrees. She is generally wonderful on the boat. She kind of likes exploring the ICW and finding different kinds of birds along the way; she likes watching dolphins as they swim off our beam and she likes some of the different destinations we visit. However, she definitely likes the ICW more than the open ocean. As soon as the seas started to get a little rough, she checked out her hidey-holes one-by-one. She wasn’t satisfied until she was in her carrier as far back as she could get. She was a bit vocal, too. I could tell that some of her meowing was asking, “What the hell are you humans doing? Are you crazy? How about going back to Lake Worth?”  With all that, however, nobody was hurt, nothing was damaged and at the end of the day we were in de Islands, Mon!!!

We arrived at West End and pulled into our slip at 1600. We had very little time to fill out the paperwork and get to the Customs/Immigration Office before 1700. If we didn’t make it in time I was concerned that we would have to spend additional time at West End the following morning – when we wanted to leave as early as we could. I shouldn’t have worried as we made it with time to spare. As a note to those who follow, the Office has changed from years past. They are in a new building and had at least four Customs Officers processing paperwork while in the past they had only one. Moreover, they SAID they were going to inspect all the boats that came in before close of business. Now, I know the way bureaucracies work and I know that in the Bahamas ALL work stops at 5 PM. So, while I saw the boss send one inspector to check one boat (the captain seemed to have been evasive in answering his questions), I was pretty sure that they were not going to get to all of them that evening. I was right. Other than the one boat I saw inspected, I don’t think they checked any.
Usually we arrive at West End a little earlier in the day, and after checking in, we stroll around the property, go to the little beach bar and sometimes even eat at their restaurant. Not this time. All three of us – Ann, Spot and me – felt tired and literally “beat up.” We had a good dinner on the boat and hit the rack.

Grand Bahama
Our first Kaliks this year. MMMmmmmmmm
Remember when I referred to a “weather widow” before? That is because the one or two good weather days can be surrounded by nasty, windy days on either side. This was one of those short windows. Of the boats that crossed at the same time we did, several, including our friends Shay and Elizabeth aboard their boat Escape, went north to Memory Rock and were going from there to Great Sale to get a little rest, the start out Wednesday morning so they could make it to one of the marinas at Green Turtle Cay.  They had to make it on Wednesday because the weather was predicted to deteriorate throughout the day on Wednesday and become really nasty on Thursday. We, and a few others, chose to go the other direction. Rather than go north and head for the Abacos, we decided to go south and head for the protection of the marinas around Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island.

Many cruisers don’t like going to Freeport. The “purists” would rather spend their time anchoring and visiting the out islands than go to any touristy places. We understand. We also like anchoring and visiting the out islands. However, for us, learning about the Bahamas and its people is more important than maintaining purity. I am sorry, but you can’t learn about the country by ignoring its largest and second largest cities. (Nassau and Freeport) which together constitute about 80% of the Islands’ population (Nassau has about 255,000, Freeport 50,000 and the Bahamas overall about 387,500.) Besides, we enjoy sightseeing everywhere. 

We decided to stay at the Grand Bahama Yacht Club. Although it is a little more expensive than most in the Freeport area, it is also nearer the attractions. It is really well constructed, used to handling boats of our size and much larger, has a very nice swimming pool, is reasonably close to the International Marketplace (a dinghy ride away) and is on the shuttle boat route to just about all the attractions. And they have a shuttle bus to the grocery store which is only a couple of miles away. In short, the marina is great.
That said, I am not sure we have ever been in a marina where the resident cruisers are quite as snooty as they are here! In the first place, most of the people we have met so far spend the entire winter, or most of the winter, at the marina. One couple we met, for example, has been coming here every year since 2010, and almost everyone we met spends all or most of the winter here. Now, I really do get it; they are friends, close friends, who buddy around together and generally meet the sociologist’s definition of a “clique.” That would happen anywhere. Still, in most marinas where we have stayed, people will at least say “hello” and offer to show you the local sights. Not here. Okay, enough venting.

Ann taking us on a dinghy trip.
Port Lucaya and the International Marketplace
The International Marketplace is easy to describe: it is tourist central for Freeport – a location where cruise ships frequently stop. In fact, we met two ladies who were on a 3-day $99 cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport. The Marketplace was designed for them (though these ladies seemed far savvier than the tourist board gave them credit). It basically contains five types of shops: restaurants, bars, jewelry stores, bars and a straw market that sells touristy mementoes. Ann bought two little touristy memento magnets at the straw market that were advertised as “original hand-crafted Bahamian.” On the back of both, of course, were stickers that labeled the products, “Made in China.” Oh well.

One picturesque vies of the Grove's Gardens.
See the turtles on the log and in the background
We also did a bus tour of Freeport. we learned that Freeport doesn't really have much of a history, it was developed in the 1950's. We did learn several little tidbits about the island and the Bahamas generally -- but to learn about those you will have to buy us a drink. One interesting part of the tour was the trip to Groves Gardens. Groves was the guy who basically destroyed the Abacos and parts of Grand Bahama by deforesting them in the 30s and 40s. So why they named a garden after him I am not sure. Anyway, at the garden they discussed several Bahamian medical remedies for common ailments.

One of the most dangerous aspects of being laid up in a touristy location like Lucaya is that restaurants are readily available. My guess is that there are 20 or so in the Marketplace, some at the lower end of the culinary scale, several in the middle and at least one at the higher end. We went to three for lunch on various days, Agave, A Caribbean-fusion restaurant, Zorba’s, which serves Greek food and Daddy Brown’s Conch Stand. At Daddy Brown’s we had two cracked lobsters (cracked is basically pounded flat and fried) and some very good conch fritters for $15. Man, you can’t beat that. PLUS it was delicious.

Two dirty martinis at the Flying Fish. The view and the
 cocktails were to die for.
On our next-to-last night in Grand Bahama we went to Flying Fish, purportedly one of the finest restaurants in the Bahamas and rated #8 in the entire Caribbean and somewhere around #58 in the world. Our overall opinion? It was very good; not spectacular, not extraordinary, but very good. There was one exception. We had read that early in his career Chef Tim Tibbits had prepared a “calamari with brown butter” dish that, because it was chosen for the menu at the restaurant where he was working, “changed his life.” Now come on, if you think I am going to miss a dish that a renowned chef believed changed his life you are nuts. We had it as an appetizer and I gotta admit, it was delicious!!! In fact, Ann spent much of the following morning figuring out how to duplicate it. She even had me go to the store and buy some unsalted butter (which is apparently better in the preparation of brown butter than is salted butter – who knew?). The main courses we had were far less spectacular but were certainly very good. The service was good, though they rushed us a little bringing the main course out at the same time they brought a cocktail, but I guess that is better than being slow. The total cost was $187 (including tip). I have paid more and I have paid less for an equivalent meal, but when I think that I could have had 10 of Daddy Brown’s cracked lobsters and beer for one dinner at the Flying Fish, I gotta say I am not sure I would go back.
Finally, the weather had improved so tomorrow we are on the way to Great Harbor Marina in the Berry Islands. We plan on staying there through Sunday – and the Super Bowl – then meandering through the Berries a little longer before making the jump to Nassau. I don’t have anything vested in the superbowl, I am not a fan of either team. But hey, if you are a fan of the game – and I am – you have to watch the Superbowl.

Ann’s Notes: I really do not have too much to add. When we arrived we got the dinghy down when the wind was not too bad. The poor dinghy was one hot mess, dirty and just needed some TLC. Michael and I agreed that we would do some exploring every day and one or two small boat projects. Spreading the little “needs to be fixed” project over several days is a good thing. I did a lot of re-organizing the cabinets in the galley and putting labels on containers. You all know I LOVE to organize things, so that project was fun for me. The NOT fun project was cleaning the dinghy. I just dumped in a bunch of Simple Green soap, added some water and took a scrub brush. We both did the pontoons as well as we could. I fixed the oar mounts and used lots of good old fashion elbow grease. Spraying the water was fun with the wind slightly blowing; once you are wet you might as well finish the damn project. I will say once everything was dry, I am no longer embarrassed to be seen riding in our dinghy.
Michael was very correct about the Canadians not being very friendly… their loss, not ours. Americans that cruise are generally much more friendly and helpful.

I have enjoyed our time in Lucaya, the marina staff is wonderful and the Bahamian people so pleasant to be around. It is very much a tourist spot for cruise ship people and right now we are tourists.
The dinner at Flying Fish was a treat, I thought the food was different and the service was good. I like a fancy dinner every once in a while and I like to try and duplicate a food item that was yummy.

I also want to thank Sharon and Andy for coming across the state of FL to visit us. They are such fun to spend time with.
The tour of Freeport was different, they have a very complicated car license registry, I will read up on it and try to figure it out. Like most semi- third world countries … the rich are very rich and the poor stay poor… although ... I think in the larger cities there is a working middle class. They must have a good social welfare system because everything is expensive, food, fuel, and utilities.

That is about all, I never think I will type that much but once I get in front of the computer, I just GO.

Thank you all for following us.

Traveling Soul…OUT



Monday, January 22, 2018

Old Port Cove near North Palm Beach, FL: 22 Jan

Yes, ladies and gentlemen we are back. After wonderful – though rather hectic and very cold – holidays with our family and friends, we are back in Florida. This time of the year it should be a bit warmer here, but hey, anything that gets us out of wind chills in the single digits is a good thing. Our next step is the Bahamas.

The view from our condo just as we left.  BRRRRRRRR

We have learned, however, that before you leave for the islands, you should make sure all your maintenance is done. Nothing is easier abroad. So, as we came down the Waterway, we made a list of what needed to be done. It started with a simple list of four things.
·         The batteries for the port engine needed to be replaced.
·         The dinghy outboard needed to be serviced and the carburetor cleaned.
·         Our aft air conditioner was acting up. We needed to have it checked and gassed up.
·         For some reason, our anchor chain was twisting as it came into the anchor locker. We needed to untwist it.

When we got back to that boat, we added to that list.

·         The Boat needed to be cleaned.
·         Our water pressure pump failed when we got back from the holidays. Why? The boat gremlins, of course.
·         We discovered the aft shower sump needed to be repaired.
·         The handles on our kayak needed replacing.
·         Ann’s IPOD needed help. (You may not think that is “boat stuff,” but when at anchor, that music sure comes in useful!)
·         And, of course, we had to re-provision both the boat and our refrigerator.

 Don’t worry, we didn’t actually do all that work ourselves. As true believers in the Greek aphorism, “know thyself,” we determined that there were some things we would do ourselves and some we would pay to have done. Those of you who now me know that I know next to nothing about outboards and air conditioners, so we chose to contract those tasks out. As 67 year olds who aren’t as strong as they once were and don’t bend as well as they used to, we decided to let someone else clean the boat. That still left plenty for us to do.

The batteries should have been a simple task. However, in boating there is no such thing as “simple.” First, I had to coordinate with two different Batteries Plus Bulbs stores to get the kind of dual purpose marine batteries we wanted. Moreover, connecting them is not quite as easy as connecting car batteries. First, of course, the three batteries had to be connected in parallel to deliver the same number of volts and extra amps to the engine. Additionally, one of our heads and our windlass use the port engine batteries to function (No, I didn’t know that. I had assumed – and had no reason not to believe – that the heads and the windlass were connected to the big honkin’ house batteries we have. I guess fixing that is another project for next summer.) Anyway, somewhat surprisingly, I bought and connected the batteries without any additional trips to the store or straining to understand instructions that are usually written by and for the Chinese workmen who originally built them.
After the batteries it was replacing the water pressure pump. The old pump had been acting up for months – even before we left home. So, “just in case” we purchased a spare and kept it in the generator room. When the old pump finally failed, I knew what had to be done. Now replacing a water pump is, “in theory,” pretty simple. You have a low pressure hose coming in the pump that needs to be connected and a high pressure hose coming out. Then, you have three wires, a positive, a negative, and a ground that have to be connected to the positive, negative and ground wires of the boat. This, of course, is “the theory.” In reality every boat component is in a very confined space and requires some major contortions and major finger and toe strength to get to the hoses and/or the wires. The water pressure pump is no different. However, here, too, after gathering the appropriate tools, screws and plumbing connectors, it only took four or five hours to replace the pump. The most difficult part was tracking down the last little leak on the high pressure side. After spending better than an hour trying to find the problem, it turned out to be it turned out to be the simplest of screws on a steel band clamp. But the important thing was that – TA DA!!! Another project bit the dust.

We were not finished with pumps, however. Boats with showers have to pump the used water overboard. To do this, the used water drains from the shower and collects into a “sump” that holds the water, then a float switch turns on a pump when the water reaches a certain level and the pump forces the water overboard. When we discovered that our aft shower sump pump was not working another little project made the list. Again, it should have been a simple project. I am not going into detail on this one other than to say some of the screws used for the electrical connections are itty-bitty and my fingers are not. Moreover, some of the required connections are not intuitive. After several hours and some help from Ann we finally fixed the sump.

Replacing the handles on the kayak should have been the easiest job of all. There are two handles that needed replacing. Each was held in place by two screws. Simple, right? Take the screws out, replace the handle and put the screws back in place. Not so fast. Three of the screws came right out. Okay, maybe they required some muscle power, but they came out eventually. The fourth screw, however, wasn’t budging. I twisted, I pulled, I used different screwdrivers. Nothing. Ann came home and volunteered to take a turn. She twisted and turned and … uh oh … the screwdriver twisted on her hand and cut her right between the thumb and forefinger. I won’t tell you some of the language she used, but I will tell you that after a while we got all the blood off the deck and out of the carpet. From this point we weren’t playing games. We got out the dremel and started to work on the screw’s head. It didn’t take long, maybe about five minutes, and eventually we had cut enough away that we could get the damn thing out. We then replaced the handle and voila! Another job that should have taken thirty minutes was completed in about three hours. The lesson we re-learned from this episode is that Boating ain’t for sissies.

I will let Ann tell the details of the incident I think we should call the “Apple Episode,” but I will set it up. A few years ago, Ann spent hundreds, maybe thousands of ours loading CDs onto her iPod. She downloaded from iTunes and (legally) copied CD we bought. For years we enjoyed listening to that music. Country? Music from the Islands? Oldies? We had it all. Then the iPod broke. Surely the “Geniuses” from Apple could fix it, right? No, because it was five years old Apple decided not to support Ann’s particular iPod. We had two choices. Leave Apple forever or buy a new multi-hundred dollar iPod that Apple would probably abandon in another five years. We really tried to leave Apple. But we could never get more than a few thousand songs on any device we bought. Eventually, it became clear that if we wanted all that music we would have to pay homage to Apple and buy another Apple product. The story of how the Apple “Geniuses” and even their “Super Geniuses” managed to get the music back is Ann’s, so I will leave it to her.
The view from our boat as we wait in Lake Worth. You
will notice: NO SNOW
After all that, here we are. Having paid our extraordinary bill to Old Port Cove Marina, prepped our boat as well as she is going to be prepped, here we are, anchored in the middle of Lake Worth waiting for the next weather window -- which we hope will arrive tomorrow -- so we can start our 2018 Bahamian Adventure and share it with you.

Ann’s Notes:

I am going to do some back tracking and cover a little more on our Christmas holiday, which was wonderful. We did spend a lot of time in the car driving between VA and MD, even Spot has stopped complaining and meowing during the trip. She knows that her other cat condo is waiting for her at Dave and Joan’s house. We celebrated Christmas Eve at Tim and Carrie’s house with Caylin, now 11 years old, and Gavin who turned 8 years old on the 2nd of November.  Dave and Joan, also a part of our family enjoyed yummy pizza that Carrie is now in charge of (thank you Carrie)…pizza on Christmas Eve is a family tradition that goes back to Michael’s childhood and is being carried on by our older grandchildren. That just makes my heart happy to know that a silly thing like pizza will be carried on to future generations.
Nik our oldest grandson graduated from ASU early and is now a 2nd Lt in the Marine Corp and going to his basic course in Quantico VA. We got to spend a little time with him after the New Year. He has the use of our little Miata , there is another story there but we will tell that only after a few cocktails. Needless to say ... it was a few trips to a Notary to have our signature witnessed in two different states. Love you Nickolas Applegate.

New Years Eve was celebrated with Dave and Joan at one of our favorite restaurants in Falls Church VA, if you have not been to 2941 and have some extra money, the food is first class fare. We all managed to stay up until midnight, had some champagne and were in bed by 12:10 am in the year 2018.
It is good to be back on the boat and have all systems running. I have a story about the sump for our shower. Michael is in the generator hole working on the fresh water pump, so I thought I would get a head start on emptying the sump. The sump is just a  square bucket that holds the water before it get pumped over board, the call is ‘grey water’ for a reason…not really yucky, but semi-yucky. Anyway, I get a cup and start baling the water out and putting the water down the head sink. The more I baled the quicker the sump filled up. The conversation went something like this..

Me to Michael…"Hey babe ... does the sink empty out of the boat? Because the more I bale the faster the sump fills up."

Michael to Me … "Yes, it goes overboard ... the water coming into the sump is probably just water left in the pipes."

Me: "OK" (as a continue to bale and empty in the sink)

10 to 15 minutes go by…

"Babe are you sure the water goes out and off of the boat?" 

Long pause from the man in the generator hole. "Well…maybe not, the sump should be empty by now, it does not hold that much water. Why don’t you try another sink."

10 more minutes later… the sump is empty, of course, because I put the grey water down the middle head sink, that does , by the way, exit to the outside. I had ben filling up the sump as fast as I had been emptying it. So … how long have we been cruising on Traveling Soul?

So about that screwdriver…never use a tool for something it was not designed to do AND always use tools that can stick into you, pointed away from fleshy parts. Good lord that hurt, and my dad was a sailor so I know a few sailor words. I am all healed and lessons have been learned.

The iPod story…grrr…I checked in a 10 am, got an appointment for 11:15 am and departed at 4:30 PM. Our songs are sorta back, the iPod still needs some tweaking but we do have music again. Shawn did a great job, he was the “genius” that was helpful and friendly. I did spend ALL DAY in the Apple store watching my music being downloaded from my computer and Itunes on to the new iPod.

I hope you all have a Happy, Healthy and Blessed New Year…
Traveling Soul…OUT

Friday, December 15, 2017


It was cold in Saint Augustine, maybe the coldest day they had all year. Ann and I were on the transom, preparing to lift the dinghy. The wind was biting and when it hit our flesh it actually hurt. Our fingers were so stiff they were almost useless as we prepared to lift our dinghy to the upper deck. But all was right with the world because you see, the night before ARMY HAD BEAT THE HELL OUF OF NAVY IN FOOTBALL.  We not only beat them, we crushed them, we stomped on them, we destroyed them. Ok, maybe the score was 14-13 and maybe the fact that Navy’s kicker missed a field goal in the final seconds contributed to our victory, but in Army-Navy football a “W” is all that will go in the record books. Twenty years from now if you ask an Army football player what the team’s record was in his senior year, he might remember. If you ask him how the Bowl game went, he will probably remember the score. But when you ask him about the Army-Navy game he will be able to recount every play. Go Army, Beat Navy.
This Arctic Ranger was dressed appropriately for most of
our journey -- especially St. Augustine. it was c-c-c-cold!
Okay, now that I have that out of my system, let me tell you what has happened since our last entry from beautiful Beaufort, SC. With few exceptions, we have been on the move almost constantly. We stayed one night each at Thunderbolt Marina, the anchorage at New Teakettle Creek, Brunswick Landing Marina, and the anchorage at Ft. George. We then stayed three nights on a mooring ball in St. Augustine on the last of which we watched ARMY BEAT THE HELL OUT OF NAVY! (You didn’t really think I got it out of my system in one paragraph did you?). We then spent one night each at the anchorages at Fort George, Rock House Creek and Palm Shores before we stopped at the marina at Ft. Pierce and finally, our destination at Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach, Florida. Let me break it down a little.

Originally we had planned to anchor at an anchorage near the little town of Beaulieu on the outskirts of Savannah. But, on the way we had a little problem. I need to go back a little ways to explain what happened. You see, after they put the extra batteries in last year, the boat developed a slight list to port. You probably couldn’t notice it unless you were looking for it – but, of course I looked for it. I was talking to a friend that had a similar problem. He told me that he controls his list by controlling the amount of fuel he puts into his wing tanks, i.e. a little more fuel in the light side and a little less in the heavy side. It sounded like a good idea to me, so to find out how much fuel I should put in each tank, I ran an experiment. On the way to Beaufort, I set the system up so it would draw fuel from the port tank (the heavy side) to run the port engine and draw fuel from the aft tank to run the starboard engine (the light side). I would draw no fuel at all from the starboard tank. I would then check the list and see if how much fuel I would need to keep in each of the wing tanks to re-balance the boat. After there was about a 50 gallon differential between the starboard and port tanks, I put everything back to normal – or so I thought.

Now, in my own defense, I ask you to remember that I ran the experiment on the way to Beaufort, and we stayed in Beaufort for three days. About 2/3 of the way between Beaufort and Savannah, GA the starboard engine stopped. Originally, I had no clue what had happened. I knew I set up the fuel flow correctly and it had run just fine for a day or so before arriving in Beaufort, so I knew that couldn’t be the problem. In any event, we decided to go to Thunderbolt Marina. There, I would be able to get down in the engine room and figure out what the problem was. If I could not, the marina would know where I could get a decent mechanic. After I thought about it for a while though, I realized that it didn’t take a mechanical genius to figure out what had happened. I had screwed up. After a few trips to the engine room, I realized that we had simply run out of fuel in the port tank. As soon as I changed the draw from the starboard tank to the aft tank (and cranked the engine several times), the engine started right up. You see, each tank has both a “from” valve and a “to” valve. (Diesel engines draw more fuel than they need, then return the excess back to the specified fuel tank). Anyway, I had apparently left the valves in the position that was drawing from the starboard tank all right, but was returning it to the aft tank – which filled up the aft tank but drained the starboard tank. (If you were here right now, you would hear a deep wistful sigh, for this was another lesson re-learned. I had done something similar about four years earlier)

By the way, I know I spent way too much time on our little incident, but after I started I couldn’t stop. Then it became something of a challenge explaining what happened. But no, since I have a lot to cover, I’ll write a little faster.

Spot, watching the birds at New Teakettle.
After Thunderbolt, we anchored at New Teakettle Creek in Georgia. The area is full of great anchorages, but we stopped at New Teakettle for two reasons. First, it is a truly beautiful anchorage, especially if you like the Georgia low country as much as we do. You can see over the golden saw grass for miles, giving you the impression that you are the only people on earth. Additionally, there are all sorts of birds to entertain Spot. Her eyes and head follow them just like radar, just knowing that she could “take” them if given half of a chance. the Even more important, however, is the fact that about ten miles south of New Teakettle is a relatively small body of water called the Little Mud River. Little Mud can get VERY shallow at low tide – in fact it is about the only place on the ICW that really scares me. For that reason, we anchored at New Teakettle to catch the Little Mud at high tide early the following morning. Even then our depth finder showed only about six feet of water along the way, but we made it through without incident (we need 4.5 feet).

After New Teakettle we spent the night at Brunswick Landing Marina. We had intended to fill up with fuel (Brunswick Landing generally has the cheapest fuel in the area), but since we had taken on diesel at Thunderbolt – after my fuel tank faux pas – we just enjoyed a night plugged into electricity and water. From Brunswick we went to the anchorage at Fort George. Usually when we stop there we visit the National Historic Site at Kingsley Plantation, but this time we were just passin’ through.

After Ft. George we stopped and took a mooring ball at St. Augustine. We had been planning to stay at St. Augustine for three days specifically because we were sure we could find someplace to watch the Army-Navy game. Did I mention that Army beat the hell out of Navy? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). Anyway, the first two days we explored the historic district of St. Augustine – as we have several times in the past – and prepared for the game. We also used the opportunity at St. Augustine to test out our dinghy, which we had not used for several months. Well, we got it started and it took us to and from the dinghy dock at the marina, but we learned that we needed to have the carburetor either cleaned or rebuilt. In fact, there was one scary moment when I was testing out the engine and it just stopped. Now, this can be a bit dangerous because with the currents in St. Augustine harbor, you are not going to be able to row against the current back to the boat. To make a long story short (yes, there is another “Dumbass Mike” story here, but to get it you will have to buy me a drink some evening), I managed to get the motor re-started and return to Traveling Soul.

To watch the Army-Navy game we usually avoid sports bars. Not only can they get noisy, but a lot of people would rather watch different games. So, unless we could get a personalized table and TV, we would be out of luck. Instead, we have learned we can go to Carrabas, a chain Italian restaurant with pretty good food, sit at their bar, eat a few appetizers and drink a few beers, and enjoy the game. This year we went at 2:00 (the game started at 3:00), got to know the bartender, assumed control of the remote and watched a game the results of which I guess I should not gloat quite so much. Anyway, it was a good game and we had a great time.

After St. Augustine, it was on to the anchorages at Rock House Creek and Palm Shores. It was smooth sailing to both locations with nothing very interesting to report. We then headed to the Fort Pierce City Marina. We were stopping because it had been a while since we had been to a marina and because we needed fuel. The good news is that, although expensive, the fuel we took on at Ft. Pierce was going to get us to the Bahamas and around the Abacos. Moreover, Ft. Pierce had the cheapest diesel we could find in southern Florida (from reports both the Waterway Guide and Active Captain). The bad news is that the terms “inexpensive” and “Southern Florida” are mutually exclusive. Let’s just say the fuel was VERY expensive and cost us a little over a Boat Unit ($1000).

At Ft. Pierce we renewed our acquaintance with David Jansen, the gentleman who a year ago found Spot in the furled sail of his boat Fifth Quarter. I think Ann will describe our encounter in more detail below.

On 13 December we finally arrived at our destination – Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach, Florida. Here, we will relax for a few days, then leave the boat and drive up to Maryland/Virginia for Christmas, return to Old Port Cove in early January, provision the boat, and wait for a weather window in mid-January to head for the Bahamas.
Nik receiving his "first salute"
from his step-Dad,
Sergeant-Major Higgins
December 13th was also momentous for another reason. Our eldest grandson, Nikolas Applegate, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. It is interesting to note that, from this moment on, I will know more about what is happening to Nik than anyone else in the family. After his Basic Course and possibly other schooling, Nik will, presumably, become a rifle platoon leader in the Marine Corps. Although I was in the Army, I was also a rifle platoon leader – in the 82nd Airborne Division. Actually, I led several platoons in the division and was eventually an Airborne Infantry Company Commander – the Army equivalent of a position to which to which Nik will aspire once he figures out how the Marine Corps works. Anyway, Ann and I both want to send our congratulations to Nik as well as my daughter, Lisa, and son-in-law, David, for the manner in which they have raised this young man.  

A better picture or Nik and Dave
(Dave is the one with all the medals).
Ann’s Notes: At last we are in, what is supposed to be, warm and sunny Florida. It is actually rather chilly outside, though not as cold as it is in VA and MD. Michael didn’t mention the fact that we ran into some pretty heavy fog while traveling in GA. However, we have done the ICW more than a few times so I have many notes on my charts. Plus, we ran the radar and I had my binoculars glued to my eyes, so we did fine.

We stopped at one of my favorite anchorages, Rockhouse Creek, where I can see the Ponce de Leon light house shine at night. I truly love light houses.

I am going to back track to Beaufort S.C. where we linked up with our good friends Becky and Mark Covington on their boat Sea Angel. Becky and I had a wonderful girl’s day out. We went to a farmers market – that was actually a farmers market and not a craft fair. I bought some fresh vegetables, the most yummy blue cheese I have had in a long time, and a warm baguette. We then went into the beautiful little town of Beaufort, SC did some shopping and went out to lunch. The day was topped off with a trip to the new Walmart on Lady’s Island. All-in-all it was great to reconnect with a great cruising friend. Thank you Becky for making it a special day.

The picture on this blog is Spot with the gentlemen that found Spot in his sail last year when we were at Emerald Bay Marina. He recognized the boat name and asked how Spot was. We were busy filling up with fuel so I was rather distracted and didn’t recognize him. However, we think some good came out of Spot’s escape attempt; she will now wear a new tag while in the Bahamas. This one has her name on it, our boat name and our Bahamas phone number, just in case she sails away on another boat.

David Jenson, the an who saved Spot from a life
of servitude on his Catamaran Fifth Quarter last year after
her near escape from Traveling Soul
We are getting ready to pack up and drive back to VA/MD…let the Christmas celebration begin.
Congratulations to our first born grandson Nik and his new rank of Lieutenant in the Marine Corp … Semper Fi … Nik.

Maddy, our granddaughter, will be graduating  from ASU in the spring and hopefully enter a Veterinary College.
Trent will finish up his first year at ASU in the spring, he is following both his brother and sister as an ASU Sun Devil.

Michael and I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year in 2018.

Traveling Soul…OUT

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sun at Last!

Sun at last, sun at last, thank God Almighty, we have sun at last.
It was almost freezing at the marinas in Belhaven and Beaufort North Carolina. By the time we got to an anchorage just north of Charleston, it was almost warm. But it wasn’t until we arrived in beautiful Beaufort, SC that it was FINALLY warm enough to take off our sweaters. Getting to Beaufort, however is what this story is about, so let me go back to the beginning.

We left Beaufort, NC the day after Thanksgiving. We could barely walk after stuffing ourselves with Ann’s Thanksgiving meal, but we didn’t have to walk, we were on a boat and we were on our way to anchor at Mile Hammock Bay, which is just outside Camp Lejeune, NC. Mile Hammock is one of our favorite anchorages and we have stayed there a number of times. There is nothing to do, it is just a protected place to spend the night. There are usually at least a half-dozen boats with us and there have been as many as fourteen. This year, however, there was only one other boat – showing that we left Maryland later than we should have.
It was c-c-cold at Mile Hammock, but we do have reverse cycle air conditioning which can provide heat, so we turned on our NEW EXPENSIVE GENERATOR and the heat to take the cold bite out of the air. (Four years ago when our son was with us we seldom turned on the generator. We did that to show him how tough we were and to make him suffer (Shhh, don’t tell him.) Since he wasn’t with us this year, we turned everything on and were toasty warm. Anyway, in the morning when we got ready to turn on the engines the starboard engine went “Crank!” just like it should have. The port engine when “CR” … Oh oh, the engine didn’t start. Again it went “CR” ... again and “CR” … yet again. Since I had a similar problem last year, I figured (and hoped) it was the batteries. Luckily, I have a switch set up which allows me to put all six starting batteries to work starting either engine. After I threw the switch I heard the appropriate Crank! coming from the port engine. Yessss. Okay, the engine is now running. We went down the waterway a few miles and came to the marina where we had planned to get fuel (the lowest price on the ICW, by far). The question was, dare I stop the engine and have to start it again or do we just drive on and find a fuel stop later. Most of you know that I am both a cheapskate and gambler at heart, so we stopped … refueled … and the engine started right up again. Yesss.
Jim and Bess Treadwell as well as your truly and his OAO.

A few days prior to the engine incident I had been e-mailing with a friend of mine. Jim Treadwell was three years behind me at West Point, but was in the same company that I was. Moreover, he was a platoon leader and later the executive office of the company I commanded in the 82d Airborne Division. It turns out that, although Jim lives in Florida, he has a summer house in Ocean Isles North Carolina AND he was going to be there for a week or so around Thanksgiving. We had to link up. And we did.
Originally we were going to re-connect at St. James Marina, but we ended up going to Southport. Southport, you see, has mechanics just in case I would have needed them for my difficult-to-start engine. Anyhow, we met, had a drink, went to dinner and generally had a blast. As is so often the case with my West Point contemporaries and/or my former Army colleagues, our conversation started up where we left off 20 years ago. Ann, of course, knew Jim (but hadn’t seen him for 40+ years. Neither of us had met his wife, Bess, but when we did, we decided she was the perfect woman to keep Jim under control. It didn’t take much calculating … they have been married for 30+ years.

In addition to my toes (unintended) you can see
how difficult it is to check the vents without moving the cables.

While at Southport, I also gave the batteries a good once over. As you can see by the enclosed picture, many of the cables cover the vents and vent caps. To check the water and electrolyte level, I had to take off some of the cabling to get at the vents. It was a time consuming process. Since I did replace quite bit of water, I am assuming that it was, in fact, the batteries (plus the cold weather) that led to the slow start on the port battery. We didn’t need a mechanic after all, but I am glad we stopped at a place where we could have found one if needed.
Because we had lost two days at Top Rack waiting for the Albemarle to calm down, had lost a day at Beaufort to enjoy Thanksgiving, and had lost a day at Southport for our battery problem, we decided we would “pick up speed” for the next several days to get back on “schedule.” Actually, we do not have a schedule per se. We have the chart you can see below.  It tells us how many miles we have to go, the average number of miles we have to achieve and, most importantly, the number of 60 mile days we have in front of us (we generally travel around 60 miles per day when in the “move out” mode).

Night of
ICW Mile Marker
Miles covered
Miles to Destination
Days left
Avg miles Required per day
Number of 60 mile days left
Beaufort, NC
Mile Hammock
Beaufort, SC
Beaufort, SC
Beaufort, SC

The beautiful Enterprise Anchorage  off the Waccamaw
River in South Carolina
 Anyway, we spent the following three nights anchored first at what I call the Enterprise anchorage, and subsequently at the Adendaw and Toogoodoo anchorages (don’t you just love to say and spell “Toogoodoo?” We didn’t have any engine starting problems or any other kind of difficulties – other than the fact that they were pretty long days and it was damn cold outside. We cooked on the grill for the most part and enjoyed the wonderful (though chilly) South Carolina air. Oh, one note. Some of you know that we don’t have a satellite or any other special, expensive kind of TV system. We do have a regular old antenna-based system, however, just like you have when you were a kid – well, provided you are as old as Ann and I. Our old fashioned antenna cost $100 or so at our local West Marine store. I just want you to know that even in the middle of the South Carolina Low Country we could get some channels. Some locations had more than others, of course, but we always had ten or more. 

On 30 November we docked at Lady’s Island Marina in beautiful Beaufort, SC. We love Beaufort, it is a beautiful town with a lot to see and do, PLUS we have good friends here in the person of Captain Mark Covington and his wife Becky aboard their boat Sea Angel. Seeing them again was great – and the fact that they lent us their truck and went out to dinner with them was icing on the cake. We used the truck for a trip to Walmart, Publix, and the local hardware store, Grayco (one of Ann’s favorites).

Tomorrow we are on the way to St. Augustine. Yes, we will have several stops along the way, but we are looking forward to a few days at one of our favorite cities along the waterway AND to watching Army beat the hell out of Navy on 9 December. GO ARMY!

Ann’s Notes: This is the first entry on the blog I have done in a while…I was not fast enough for the first one Michael sent.
We had a busy summer full of doctors’ appointments, dentist appointments, a few medical procedures, a surgery on me, meeting neighbors at our condo and still settling in to our new home town of Solomons, MD. We were also busy preparing for our presentations at the Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous. We had to drive there and stay at a hotel, that was not as much fun as going by boat, however both Michael and I did a good job and I am glad we went.

I am glad to be back on the waterway and heading south. One morning I went out to do my normal anchor job and there was a thin layer of ice on the bow and deck of the boat. Good thing I walk slowly, I was able to feel the difference on the deck and did not slip. At that point I had to agree with Michael that we needed to get further south.

Meeting old and new friends is such a blessing, we always meet the nicest people while we are on Traveling Soul.

I heard the cutest statement while we were at Top Rack Marina in Chesapeake, VA. This couple was on a forty-ish foot sail boat, their home port was somewhere in Canada and they were only at the marina to get fuel. The dock hand asked them where they were going, her response was wonderful…she said, “ I want to go south so my butter is soft in the morning” That really made me chuckle. And THAT is where we are going.

Thank you for following us.

Traveling Soul…OUT