I Promised to post a few pics so I came ashore to the marina Had a lovely long hot shower and am trying to charge my computer's battery...but so busy on line and on Skype (Danielle & Cat&Mike are now with it) that I am afraid I am using juice faster than it is going in!!!!

Not in particular order.

Here we go a sunrise ...not sure where ...but I promised you lots of them!

A little bird came to serenade us .....wish I could have recorded the concert.

The skipper on Skype...it's been working remarkably well.

Sharon practicing on my conch....I think this is a girl conch ...it does not work for the guys.

The view from the helm...going down Haulover Cut I think!!!

Ruger's best friend!

The buddies (boats that is).

Walking down the street on our way out to lunch.

My mother in laws don't have flowers ...

Tony, do you know what these are called?

A fine example of spanish moss.

The Christmas day pot luck at Vero Beach. David is talking to Paul (Yara) he and Kira came with ARC last year.

Steve, Kira and Sharon waiting in line...hope they don't run out of good stuff!

The anchorage At Velcro Beach taken from the bridge.

Boxing day dinner on Indian Summer

Feeble attempt at decorating Soli


Still in Vero came in for laundry, showers and wifi...but I forgot my camera.
So there are a couple of new posts below but pictures will be uploaded next time.
If I don't speak to you before ...our very best wishes to you for very happy holidays and a wonderful, healthy and prosperous 2010!


2009.12.22 Vero Beach

They do nickname it “Velcro Beach” as it often is difficult to tear yourself away….and it is living up to its reputation!

Yesterday morning, Monday 21, we cast off at 0700 and as soon as we put any load on the engine I heard the squealing of a belt, told David and he saw no RPM reading on the tachometer.

It was out of the question to leave on a 9-10 hour trip with possible belt problem, sooooooooo back to our buoy with Indian Summer having turned around also right behind us.

Steve came on board and the guys armed with a crow bar and ratchet set went at our belt and tightened it, the consensus though that we would feel better if it was checked by a mechanic.We called Atlantic Mobile mechanics and Danny came within a couple of hours, he is the nice young man who had changed our raw water pump last year.The belt was still too loose so he tightened it some more as well as the fridge compressor belt…. Now, we had just had all these belts changed in St Augustine and did not know that new belts can stretch.

We dinghied to shore and went for a nice walk and lunch and over cocktails planned on leaving the next day subject to weather.

This morning, again, we were all gung-ho and ready to go, we put our long johns (yes you heard right and this is FLORIDA!!!) made some tea and turned on the SSB to listen to our weather guru Chris Parker at 0630….well, it was all gloom and doom, winds 25 to 30 from the North , choppy waters 5 to 6 feet waves.

David called him and we were told that today was “the least bad day” to cross but we were not in position still one day away from our jump off point in Lake Worth, from then on the weather was deteriorating ….so it looks like it is going to be Xmas in Vero Beach this year.

Sharon and I took the bus (it is free all over Vero) and went shopping. In the bus we saw a couple of ladies, obviously cruisers, so we started to chat.

One of them said “You are Catherine from Solitaire1” …Sharon was very impressed hanging out with a celeb! This lady was Jeanette from Myosotis, we had shared a mooring ball last year and she saw us coming into the harbor and of course dug up our card and knew my name. The cruising community is so friendly, we keep running into the same people, “We saw coming in from the ocean at St. Augustine Inlet” . Then they told us there was a Fresh Market in town…my favorite food store, so Sharon and I made a bee line for it …it was torture as we wanted to buy everything in sight, it all looked and tasted so delicious,but we had 2 problems, have to carry it back on the bus and the dinghy and have to stow it away. We managed to ward off most of the temptations…but it was hard as we are planning Christmas dinner on board at a mooring…that will be a first for us.

Last year we had Xmas dinner with Harriet and Skip (Moondance) Angie and Mike (Lady of Lorien) and Joe (Onward) as well as Harvey and Mary Helen (Gone Away) in Westend, Bahamas.

We came home and went for another walk with Ruger to the bank …RBC USA has a branch near the marina, very handy and I was able to use my card and did not have to jump through loops to get money like I had to in Savannah.

Meanwhile the boys were busy launching our dinghy, getting fuel but mostly solving the problems of the world and talking about …you guessed it BOATS. They were so busy sitting in their dinks and talking that they did not hear our phone calls asking to be picked up at the dock with a bag of ice that was melting and a big dog that wanted to get home.
Hopefully fishing 101 taking place!!!



On our way from Titusville to Vero Beach

We seem to be five days and twenty minutes behind last year….our slow progress was due at first to a number of repairs/upgrades to Soli and then due to miserable weather. This cold front with strong winds and heavy rains is not very enticing to travel for long hours braving the elements.

Yesterday morning we were scheduled to head out at 0700 …at 0615, a soft knock on our hull, it was Sharon reporting on NOOA’ s weather report which was quite discouraging and a consensus was reached ….we are staying another day…We contentedly went back to sleep in our warm bunk

I am still a useless brat but David and the crew onboard Indian Summer are freezing at the helm, I try to redeem myself by making tea, hot soup etc.

Let me try and recap a little since our last entry…we had planned on making another outside passage from St. Augustine to Cape Canaveral but the coast guard who was on our dock said there was heavy fog up to 20 miles from shore, which is not very pleasant to navigate in or come into an unknown inlet and marina…so we headed down the good old ditch.

On Tuesday the 15th, we left Camachee Cove and everything was all right for a while until we reached the infamous “Matanzas Inlet” well known for its “skinny waters” or the worst place on the ICW!!! .

We knew that unfortunately since it was just one day before the new moon, when the tides have their biggest swings (as well as on full moons) that we were going to get there at a very low tide. A boat who was ahead of us tried to “get through” and just could not …in sheer disgust he went back ALL THE WAY TO ST. AUGUSTINE!!!

Anyhow when we arrived a few boats were anchored waiting for the tide to come in, we thought we would have a go at it and were told to hug the greens but we touched bottom, David was going ever so slowly and he was able to back up Soli without going aground….we went back and circled for a quite while until we felt the tide was starting to come in…..tried again “hugging the greens” and we ran out of water again…David then decided to go to the red side of the channel while all the VHFs were telling us we were doing it wrong…he inched his way cautiously watching the depth sounder and found enough, just enough water to get us through…Indian Summer was following our progress and decided to follow us and got through also.

I had made reservations in Palm Coast Marina but by the time we got through Matanzas we were traveling at night in a waterway with UNLIT buoys…our wonderful chartplotter warned us of upcoming buoys and I would flash our high power light on their reflectors to see them and David’s night vision is absolutely amazing…I guess all these years at sea are paying off now.

By the time we arrived (1915) the marina staff had gone home but had left word with wonderful boaters at the Marina and they guided us and caught our lines made us fast and welcome.

After a skipper’s meeting on Soli with the crew of IS we made absolutely no decisions but enjoyed a couple of drinks to calm down Sharon’s shattered nerves….she drives most of the time and is a STAR!!!

Wednesday the 16th we left Palm Coast at 0800 and had a good run. We went through the Ponce de Leon inlet which has been known as having skinny waters in the past but never saw less than 13 ft five hours after high tide.

The Coronado bridge which in the past had a somewhat “difficult” bridge master must have a new one as he opened the bridge for us even though we had just missed the 1330 opening…nice guy!!!

We decided to stop at Smyrna Beach (David hates the name) to explore somewhere new and also we knew we would not make Titusville before dark and our rum reserves could not stand another bout of shattered nerves calming. Just joking of course, I was reading on the internet all about Mr. Henry Flagler, whose name appears everywhere…he was quite an extraordinary gentleman, after being one of the founding members of Standard Oil (now Exxon) he had a second career…basically developed Florida by opening hotels further and further south and building a railway to take people there. This is when America was the land of milk and honey for men of vision and with lots of guts.

Thursday the 17th we had high hopes of making it to Cocoa Beach, so I made reservations with them but to be on the safe side I also kept the ones with Titusville.

We pulled out the genny and did some motor sailing on Mosquito lagoon, then took her in before the Haulover Cut.

The weather was deteriorating rapidly with nasty and very dark clouds so we made a joint decision to tuck into Titusville before all hell broke loose. Matt expertly guided and caught us and IS into our respective slips where we proceeded to hunker down to weather the front.

Titusville some of you may recall is home to a herd of manatees.....they came to visit, Ruger was not at all sure

Last evening Sharon and Steve (and Ruger of course) came over for cocktails and dinner…I made spaghetti carbonara, it was my first time trying Tom Cruise’s recipe!!! It came out pretty good, not just another pretty face (Tom Cruise’s of course!!!).!


Today was the day of the Mikes…outside Mike who installed our brand new life lines, I now feel quite safe leaning and hanging on to them, they are beautiful.

Also inside Mike came to install the new thermostat on our freezer…to say that we are very pleased with the way it is performing so far would be quite an understatement .. it may just save our marriage or at least eliminate the only tension we had …last winter there was a lot “shut off YOUR freezer, it is sucking all the amps out of MY batteries” and “do you want all OUR food to go bad and have to be thrown away”… hopefully there will be no more of this …

Thanks Mikes you both did a great job…David said it was David Hudson caliber and that is saying it all!!!!
and on a Sunday to boot, Camachee Cove is one good place to have your boat looked after http://www.camacheeisland.com/ .

Well I better stop I am starting to sound like an advert!!

Yesterday was another interesting day, David was off to the showers in the morning when we saw Sharon and Steve in the throes of hoisting Steve up the mast to do what guys do best….mess around with boats, off course we had to stop and help and after an hour or so of figuring out different devices for going up the mast, D finally hoisted Steve up with the windlass motor…it worked a treat…..then Sharon and Lynne and I went shopping (NOT FOR FOOD …I HAVE TO SIT ON THE FREEZER LID FOR IT TO SHUT!!!) in an absolute downpour…beautiful downtown St Augustine was almost deserted save for us 3 drowned rats!!!!
St Augustine is the oldest settlement still in existence in the USA....it was founded in September 1565. A very historical and quaint town.

Last night was the annual party at the marina, all the merchants etc had an open house with all kind of delicious foods and wine so we worked our way through from one to the next sampling oysters, shrimps, chili, wings and all kinds of delicious home baked deserts….as I’ve so often said “nothing like southern hospitality”. We ran into Angie and Mike (Lady of Lorien) they are now on their way to meet up with Moon dance http://moondance38.wordpress.com/

This is almost like another Vero Beach aka Velcro Beach, (hard to leave) but somewhat more expensive especially when you are busy fixing stuff on the boat.

On Friday night we were invited on board “Indian Summer” for sups…Steve made a delicious beef stroganoff with rice and we brought cherry pie and HD ice cream…I do seem to always talk about food….I am afraid our life revolves around sailing, maintenance and eating!!! No television, nor do we want one, no newspapers, I remain blissfully ignorant of all the calamities around the world to my father’s horror…am only interested in hearing news of family and friends…interestingly enough our daughter in-laws are more involved in our blog than most!!

GTG skipper is getting hungry…

First sunrise picture of this cruise, this one is over the Usina bridge in St. Augustine...there will be more I am sure and sunsets too...no escaping those!!!


December 11th

Just a quick note to ask if anyone noticed the new format of our blog, ie size of text and especially pictures...I am trying to make it easier to read and hoping the pics will give a little colour to some of our dryer postings...feedback most welcomed...



It is 1940 on Monday evening December 7th 2009….we are 9 and a half hours into a 22 plus hour passage on the Atlantic.

We (the royal we of course) decided we were not going to do “the ditch” on this leg of the trip….we were going “outside”…to encourage him further, a boat tied up just astern of us, “Indian Summer”, had exactly the same idea….”we’ve seen enough Georgia marshes…enough golden reeds!!! They all said, but I like meandering through the golden reeds of Georgia…I was outnumbered and I gave in, graciously, I hope.

I tenderly secured my herb garden...

We left Thunderbolt Marine at 1000 this morning with "Indian Summer" happily following.

So here we are in the middle of a dark night on the Atlantic with nothing in sight but the faithful bow lights (sometimes red sometimes green as they are getting tossed around a bit) of Indian Summer directly astern of us….the “buddy boat concept is a great one, David just called them on the VHF to advise them of a course change of 5* to starboard to avoid some bad area.

Their auto pilot is not working, which is really a bad bit of luck on such a long trek, so they are happy to follow Soli’s guiding light. Sharon has been hand steering for a good chunk of time, her arms are aching! I am a spoiled brat and have not had to drive yet….also I am not very good at it because I don’t enjoy it or I don’t enjoy it because I am not good at it! But I did go forward on the cabin top to reef the main (being well tethered in of course)…I feel much more comfortable doing deck work, even in rough conditions, with D at the helm than the other way around…if I fall in I trust him to do a MOB (man/woman over board) maneuver and rescue me, if he falls in, he is history(and so am I!)!!!

Had to go and record our 2000 position and plot it on the chart, although we have very good electronic equipment on board, on passage we always have a paper chart at the ready with a plotted position on it as a backup, in case all the teckie stuff should die on us….we will at least know where we are!!!

Sorry if I am repeating info that you long time followers already know but we have a few new friends who don’t yet know the lingo and the drill..

Another reason, I was told, is that by doing a sea passage, we are saving a few nights dockage at marinas, which of course since we are in “R” mode is a consideration…true, I say but what about the AMAZING new anchor and windlass D is itching to try…that would not cost anything….they could start earning their keep!

Do you get the feeling I am unhappy, not at all; I’ve been told I like to complain….MOI??? complain! But I don’t see myself doing this for three weeks such as an Atlantic crossing, although I’ve heard the first couple of days are the toughest after that it gets easier.

D just called “Indian Summer” to advise of another 5* to starboard to avoid an UNLIT buoy…that would be quite nasty, not a bump in the night.

I’ve just been asked if there was any tea left…now I knew I was good for something, braving the elements, ie a kettle dancing up and down as the boat heels this way and that, full of boiling water, that I am monitoring out of the corner of my eye, at a respectable distance waiting for the whistle and then I shall make the Cap’t a cuppa.

You may think I am bored, this could not be further from the truth, I have spent a good part of my time, keying in waypoints with lat and long on our chartplotter, 37 to be exact and we are approaching number17, and planning a route, so D would have a nice line to steer along ..kettle is boiling…back in a sec!

Well I’ve managed another thermos of tea making mission without scalding myself….not to be outdone but Sharon informed us on the VHF that Steve had treated her to a supper of chicken and beans! Hummmm... but can he make tea, and with ginger snaps too?

I’ve taken time off to record and plot our 2100 position and am pleased to report that after some calculations I have logged a progress of 7.5 nm (not a typo, it stands for nautical miles) in the past hour….

Well, “another damn buoy! “ from the helm and also we are starting to see more traffic, ie lights on the horizon which show up  aspurple blotches on our radar screens,  it is quite nifty, you can track them and the chart plotter will tell you how far they are, how fast they are going and in which direction and their bearing to your vessel. Bored, did you say, nah!!!

Just checked our route….72 nm and 10hours and 23 minutes to go…this might be a very long blog, albeit a boring one unless of course you are saved by my battery dying…do not fret I have a 12 volt charger!

9th December 2009

D here since the usual blogger is busy making us supper.

Since Catherine stopped writing we have travelled the 72 nm safe and sound with wind and swell dying down in the early hours to a fairly comfortable pitch and rolling motion. We got to the St Augustine outer sea buoy at 08.00 hrs 8th where the official sea passage ended and then carefully threaded our way down the entrance channel with breakers on both sides of us – it would be silly to do something daft like running aground at this late stage, wouldn’t it? Thence into the calm of the bay, turn to starboard, under the bridge and turn into the marina that we have booked – Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor http://www.camacheeisland.com/

First a quick stop at the gas dock to top up our diesel, For those of you interested in such information, we used 14.2 gallons in 23.2 hours of engine running time and covered 132 nm . Our consumption was less than our usual gallon per hour since we ran most of the way at reduced rpm to stay close to our buddy boat. Once onto the dock that had been assigned us we went through the usual tasks of putting the boat to bed…. On this occasion it included raising the main again to take the reef out since we had not bothered to do so when we dropped the main at sea. By the way the main was reefed not because of bad weather or strong winds, there was, in fact, no need to reef, other than it saves us from having to do this at night in the dark and perhaps under more pressure should a squall appear.

As we were putting the boat to rights the telephone rings and it is the office asking where I was. Anyway to cut a long story short the company that Tony and I had started 17 years ago has been sold and I had to sign the director’s resolution to sell the company. Fortunately Catherine was ever on hand to snap a couple of shots of me signing my “ John Henry “ to this (for us anyway) historic document !! Not very dignified kneeling on a concrete dock with the boat boy waiting to take it back to the office to fax it back to Montreal.

An end to an era for me – officially retired as of 31st December 2009. I shall undoubtedly miss the people that I have worked with, but the work….. no I don’t think so. As the Lionel Bart musical show said “ Fings aint wot they used ter be “ !!! Meantime we have the boat and all her attendant problems, cleaning, scrubbing , servicing etc etc etc !!

Today we have had the alternator taken away for testing as I was not happy that it was working properly . We shall see tomorrow whether I am just being a nervous Nellie. Taking it out of the boat means also that we can renew all of the belts (three in all) for those haven’t been renewed for several years. Only one was truly worn but we intend to have new throughout to be on the safe side.

Whilst doing the passage Catherine also broke one of the lifelines, a possible serious matter, although not in this instance. They have now been inspected and all are to be replaced tomorrow using the old stainless steel fittings as and where possible. What price safety ??

So the list goes on and now my supper is ready and I must go. Binow!

Dec. 10th…

We did not have wifi yesterday so I could not post, sorry!

I woke up yesterday, quite refreshed and ready to attack a day’s work on Soli…and it was going great,  then Jim arrived to take apart our alternator (D felt it was not putting out as it should) and before long I had the familiar sight of two men lying on the floor of the boat with grease up to their elbows, pushing, pulling, grunting to remove it…it was worse than giving birth!

Needless to say, the boat was upside down and the rest of the day was busy putting everything back so it would look relatevely neat again.

Last evening we started our cruising life in earnest by going over to our dock neigbours and traveling companions, Sharon, Steve and Ruger the boat lab (Indian Summer).
It was very nice as we had all worked hard on our boats all day to just relax, share a drink, munchies and get to know each other better.

Today, rebelotte with the alternator, it came back with a clean bill an of health and was reinstalled with a little less struggle than it was to remove it… it was then decided that the regulator was the problem, so we have one on order and the saga continues.
We also have Mike the rigger changing the life lines, not sure if I mentioned that during the Atlantic passage as I was coming back to the cockpit after furling the main, I just touched one of the life lines and it broke, fortunately I was not leaning on it and was tethered to the boat or it would have been me in the drink in the middle of the night….now that would have been a good exercise for the skipper to find me and fish me out!!! Anyhow safety first ...they are all being changed…so much for stainless steel not rusting…it just rusts LESS!

Today was a polishing job for the two of us… we did all the stanchions etc, since the life lines were out.

I am sorry, all this is sounding a little too technical and boring but that is our life at he moment, soon we hopefully will send pictures of beaches, sunsets and coconut trees but we have to get there yet and getting there is half the fun,so they say!!!

Today a man walking on the dock stopped and said to me “you live the life I dream of” ...that was so well put and touching, so I replied “you dream of polishing and buffing?” all kidding aside it is all pretty amazing and I am so grateful to be able to live our dream!

Must go make sups …talk to you soon ...will try and post a few pics later so come back and ckeck!

Marysa, this one is for you ...not very exiting am afraid!!

And dear Joan this one is for you.


We are back in our room after a fairly productive day...we seem to be progressing with the commissioning of the good ship Soli.
This morning we did bend on the mainsail without any problem, she is awfully heavy but we did manage, not so old and weak after all.

We had stopped at a Raymarine dealer on the way, asking for someone to come and look at our chartplotter/radar and they promised they would come this afternoon, which was reassuring….I was afraid they would say Monday and we want to try and leave on Sunday.

After doing the main we had a look at the radar screen again and after fiddling with it for a bit….voila we had ignition…all good and ready to go and it still knows its place, the unit at the nav table (mine) is the master and the one at the helm (David’s) is the slave!!!

The rest of the day was spent doing what I do best…coordinate (read: chase after people to get things done, or some may call it nagging but it works!!!) settle up our bill and say our goodbyes to the crew at TMI…hopefully we will not still be here when they return on Monday morning!

The inside of the boat is now looking reasonably clean and tidy, the fridge has been on and all systems are go to receive and swallow all the provisions I plan on making tomorrow…it is the scariest feeling to shop for food for 5 months and have to worry about WHERE you are going to put it away. I probably won’t buy as much as previous years, we need to support local businesses in the Abacos.

David is talking of “going outside”(on the Atlantic) for some legs of the trip down to save time …he is quite eager to get South as fast as possible…I am more partial to doing “the ditch” (Intracoastal waterway) as I fear it might get quite cold on the ocean in December…..we will decide later.

Well, we are off to get a bit of supper and an early night…TTFN

PS we are back from supper and I am ashamed and flabergasted to report that I DARED order the oldest item on the menu which was a ham, turkey and cheese sandwich grilled , dusted with ICING SUGAR with a side of RASPBERRY JAM for dipping....the waitress assured me i would love it and if I didn't she would change it...so here is frenchie and the french typically never mix savoury and sweet, daring to try this awful thing and I loved it!!!


Welcome to the 2009-2010 cruise of Solitaire1 (aka Soli ).

We arrived in Savannah on Monday night, or should I say Tuesday morning, by the time we got our rental car…a red CHEVROLET!!!  and got to our usual pied a terre “La Quinta” on Abercorn Road where the price is right for a comfy bed and a nice hot shower in the morning…they even throw in breakfast, although we like to go next door to Denny’s.
I tried grits yesterday as Cindy said she LOOVED them…they were pretty good once the waitress told me to add butter salt and pepper... LOOOOVE Southern hospitality.

We also like to go next door to Bennigan’s (because it IS next door) . We were actually CARDED there, quite ridiculous…welcome to retirement, maybe we looked too OLD to drink! Last night was hamburger night; we had 2 delicious burgers, 2 beers and 2 glasses of wine (2 for the price of one) for a grand total $21. Including gratuities, fits nicely into our retirement budget...will try not to mention the "R" word too often.

Enough talk about food, today Soli was launched, yes she now has a wet bum and looks very happy about it. The launch went very well…

Kevin was fretting around the travel lift like a mother hen looking out for her chick…the engine started on the first try and we were off across the harbor to tie up just astern of “Blue Moon” as usual.

Blue Moon is a gorgeous 250 ft+ Fedship and David lusts after her… I lust after her crew of 14, mostly young, blond and very energetic young men…..they can come and fix my boat any time…..especially after a day of scrubbing, rigging and wondering “what happened to our nice boat…it looks like a bomb went off and I am aching all over".

By the time we left, she was starting to look somewhat better…the jib is curled up on her furler but we left the main for tomorrow... hate to think how much she weighs….and she seems to weigh more every year, but once she is up we don’t have to worry about her for the rest of the season.

David’s new pride and joy is our new windlass (the thingy that pulls the anchor up and lets it down….nothing to do with the wind!) and our new 45lbs Manson Supreme (Lloyd’ approved) anchor. We hopefully will not drag …eat your heart out Madcap!

On the down side we found out late today that our trusted Raymarine chartplotter/radar is not behaving very well….and since David no longer carries a sextant on board, we kind of rely on it ...A LOT…so we need to get someone to look at it…. DAVID HUDSON where are you?

We were too tired to go out for sups tonight so we opted for pizza and plunk in our hotel room…actually both pretty good …not counting calories but after the energy expanded today …no guilt!

We will try to be better about blogging this year…I know I said the same thing last year but we will try…promise!!!if we get a little feedback from you it will motivate us somewhat...how's that for laying on the guilt!


25th April 2009
Well things are winding down with a vengeance and we are slowly assimilating ourselves into a land based world once again !!! We now have a car, courtesy of Mr. Avis!!
Since Catherine last blogged we have had a very peaceful and unexciting (thank goodness) trip back up the ICW with no alarms or excursions – "Solitaire 1" has behaved impeccably, doing all that was asked of her.
We have tried to spend time at different spots on this northward trip. When we last blogged we were in Amelia Island (home of the cats Port and Starboard) and from there we by passed Jekyll and stayed at Lanier Island. We stayed there an extra day, wonderfully served by Melissa, the dock master, since the wind blew like stink and it just seemed to be too uncomfortable to venture into the Georgia marshes. We were able to use the courtesy car to explore a little and to do some last minute shopping. Courtesy cars are something that several of the marinas here have. You sign up for an hour or two hours and they are completely FREE !!! If you wish to do some shopping or just explore a little they are a wonderful way of getting around and seeing a little bit of the area that you are travelling through.
On the 21st however we left and had a splendid leisurely cruise through the marshes in gentle breezes and warm weather to Kilkenny Creek, a quaint area of Georgia with nothing there except an old fishing pier and hundreds of egrets which return in the evening to perch in the trees for the night.
A final four hour trip on the 22nd took us through the notorious Hell’s Gate – which we passed about two hours after high tide. At low water the reported depth is four feet, which would not be enough for us but the tide was another four feet so we thought we would be safe with six feet or so. Fortunately we were passed by a couple of power boats shortly before we arrived there and they reported the depths that they saw back to us so we carefully kept to the channel and had no trouble at all, the lowest depth that we saw being six and half feet. In fact just after we cleared the area a large inland passenger boat "American Glory" came by the opposite way and went through at full speed….. glad that we didn’t meet her in the middle, that might have been a little troublesome as the channel is not very wide and it shallows extremely quickly at the edges.
So, we were back in Thunderbolt (it really does seem like home) and tied to the gas dock.
Fill up the diesel tank and add additives to prevent the diesel oil from deteriorating over the summer and then pump out the holding tank. Finnicky couple that we are, we washed that tank through four times before we were satisfied that it was once again clean and would not be a smelly mess when we return in November. Fortunately there was no one waiting so we were able to take our time and do the job properly and unhurriedly. From now on we will be using shore side conveniences !!
Then it was out of the marina and onto the Thunderbolt Marine dock to await haul out which is scheduled for Monday (27th) morning. Since the weather was calm we took the opportunity to take the sails off the boat and pack them in their sail bags and they have now gone off to our friendly local canvas shop for storage until they are once again needed for the next adventure.
No arrival at Thunderbolt is complete without a celebratory dinner at Tubby’s and this was where we headed that first evening – for me a couple of pints of Bass Ale on draught
with grilled shrimp and for Catherine the same with wine followed by sharing a Pecan pie . Absolutely delicious!!!!!
Since then Catherine has worked like mad to take stock of what food (mainly cans) we have left aboard, what we will keep for another time and what we will give away as their expiry (or dead ) dates are over the summer. Some bags are packed and awaiting the car’s trunk to come home with us but there is still much to do…every locker is emptied and disinfected…. we are determined that we will not find any pesky little critters in the boat upon our return, they would not find a crumb to nibble on!
We cleaned out all the water filters yesterday and even found a small fish in the raw water filter, quite dead I am pleased to say. Today was the engine’s turn so after heating the oil well we changed the oil and the oil filter – actually we are getting quite slick at this job and it is not nearly as messy as when we first did it. We also changed the air filters on the engine, which considering that, according to the records, had not been changed in four years were remarkably clean. We also changed our Racor fuel filter, which was quite dirty. Having changed everything we then, in trepidation, restarted the engine and our faithful Westerbeke, purred as happily as ever. Great sighs of relief and absolutely no oil or fuel leaks, for we are but amateurs at things mechanical, although gathering more confidence as we go along as Catherine has mentioned in her last posting.
Then it was a long shower and off in a taxi to see Mr.Avis, who has graciously loaned us a motor car, something called a Dodge Caliber. We went for a drive to Tybee Island for lunch to a small restaurant for a bowl of their delicious crab chowder (yes we had been there before) and both had shrimp Po boys, a sort of sandwich with shrimp lettuce, tomato and onion in it. A drive along the beach front – it was about 85* today , a clear blue sky and little wind so the beach was a busy place with much to see and not all of it too inviting!!!
Tomorrow, Sunday, we shall be doing more packing and re arranging I dare say, all in preparation for our haul out and eventual departure for points north. If possible we would like to leave here on Wednesday and maybe get into Montreal on Thursday evening, but we shall have to leave that for a later posting.
G’d night y’all!


Sunday, 19th April 2009

I’m baaaaaaaaaack!!!
Not that I have anything exciting to report but I think we have had enough of that for now, don’t you?
Running a boat is never without a dull moment though….David and I were talking last night and remembering... when we first acquired Soli, how so much more sophisticated her systems were than our previous boat…it was actually quite bit intimidating. Now a few years down the road we are intimately acquainted with all of her and although we do not have the expertise to handle and fix all her “issues” we have learned to do quite a bit by ourselves…
Do you remember I said “ it’s always something” ….first the auto pilot did not want to work because the knot meter was not operating and they are all linked …the knot meter is like the speedometer in your car, except it is a small wheel with paddles on the bottom of Soli’s hull and little aquatic critters love to lodge in there and prevent it from turning…we cleaned it as well as we could without actually diving on it, but to no avail…so David found a way around it so the pilot would work…it actually cleared itself as we were crossing…guess all the marine life in the cavity were dislodged or jumped ship…is it any wonder!
Then a couple of mornings ago as we were ready to get underway…no instruments at all!!!! I had removed the cover of the network tack display and the whole thing came out with the cover…David replaced it but some connection was loose, so out it came again... D had a fiddle with the wires and voila fixed!!!!
Then yesterday morning as I went to do the breakfast dishes , no fresh water anywhere on board , since we had already changed the water pump (ourselves!!!) in Hope Town …it was very disheartening. David was driving, as usual, and said we would look at it when we arrived at the marina….I then by chance opened the locker that hold our water heater and saw that everything in there was wet, after investigating I found the culprit, one of the hoses from the rat’s nest of hoses that live there had come loose from the T fitting and of course we had lost all pressure in the system…I reconnected the two and tightened what my husband loves to refer to as a “jubilee clip” just to confuse everyone at Home Depot and is merely an adjusting clamp. The system was then able to repressurize itself after much spitting out all the air that had gone in….and I could do my dishes…
One of the most loved gadget on board is a head lamp…I use it constantly when working in cramped dark areas where I need both hands….we actually have 2 , one was given to us by Andre and Louise and the other one we brought back from Joan’s house, probably a thoughtful Xmas gift to her from a smart member of the family….thank you whoever you might be!!!
We spent a couple of days in St. Augustine, as there was a refrigeration technician who had come highly recommended …he changed a couple of parts in our Sea Frost, the pressure valve and the dryer…I had been doing battle with it all winter, it was having to choose between draining our batteries with our amps guzzling fridge or loosing our food as it would have gone bad….it seems to be working well now and we have decided to install a digital thermostat for next season so I will keep my hands off the calibrating screw…it will no longer be there!!!
Last evening we stayed at a different marina, Amelia Island Yacht Basin, we are trying new places all along the way just to give David a little more challenge and so far not succeeding, he has been docking like the pro he is…although I always tell him “This is not the Queen Mary!!!”
Today is our grandson Jack’s birthday….Master Jack is a very grownup seven years old and although I have tried to call him several times I cannot get to talk to him …So herego Jack cyber wishes and hugs …we’ll see you soon!!
Tonight we are staying at Golden Isles Marina instead of Jekkyl Island…another thing which I have had to master is working with tide tables…today for instance we had to leave early in order to get through the channel back to the ICW without going aground and we will have to kill a couple of hours before we go through the very shallow channel, north of Jekkyl Marina…we will probably fuel there and have lunch while we wait for the water to come back up to a more hull friendly level. I still remember last year, David leading the way at a very cautious speed and Heinz fuming behind us as he wanted to plow through it all, as he could have….Ah the difference between fin and wing keels!!!!

There you are up to date…we are now passing Cumberland island, which is famous for its wild horses…David always promises me that we will stop and anchor there “next” time….this is our sixth time passing it ….seven times lucky!!!
We saw “For Pete Sake” anchored by the island and had a chat with Robert over the radio….maybe I need to jump ship if I want to explore!

Sorry if this posting was not as exciting as the last one….we’ll try and do better next time….NOT!!! Oh, I forgot to tell you, last evening as we were having a chat after dinner below in the cabin, David interrupted me with “oh a grey cat just went by on its way to the v-berth”…could not believe it…we had been boarded by a cat (better than a rat, as L’Equipe had experienced in Westend) …anyhow after investigating with our dock neighbours we were told that her name was Port and she was one of the two marina cats…you guessed it …the other one was called Starboard
And they board your boat, inspect and leave…I guess we passed as she left without chewing on anything!!!! She was back on deck this morning as we were preparing to cast off and it was all we could do to invite her to step off as we did not want a stowaway cat
However cute she might be …bye Port!!!

By the way I have a horrible cold, the works, red nose running non stop, eyes tearing, sinus headache and cough….just hope D does not catch it… I keep washing my hands with Purell …don’t know where I picked it up..guess it’s time to return to the Abacos!!!!


16th April 2009  Hello, my name is Catherine Allin, you may remember me, I once, a long time ago, promised I would be a prolific contributor to Soli’s blog this year ….I LIED…well, actually I did not exactly mean to lie, for one thing there was not much to report but that never stopped me babbling away in the past …the main "bad" reason is that when my Baby Dell crashed on Xmas day, I lost my blogging companion and when David had it resurrected in February, WORD was not loaded on and I could not tuck it on my tummy while cocooning in my bunk and come to chat with you…I am now using D’s computer which works brilliantly outside in the sun, it has a non reflective screen …but it’s not my BD….enough of that! I had a quick look at our files and it looks like D’s last posting was one month ago today…I cannot and won’t try to recap the past month but give you a few highlights. As David said we had a very social time with old and new friends, we had Susan and Rolf over for dinner a couple of times when they were "boat people" and spent a wonderful day at their house…our dink engine died and Rolf graciously towed it back home at the end of the day….always something !!!! We attended a couple of talks at the lodge, Rolf talked about indigenous vegetation on the Cays and how people should try to preserve it and restore it…a lot of foreign plants and trees have been introduced which are harmful….Susan gave an inspiring and passionate talk about her carrier as a talented architect…they are both so "green" it is just great to see them live what they preach in their own house. Such as collecting rain water. We saw quite a bit of Mary Helen and Harvey, although "Gone Away" had been moved to Man-O-War Cay for repairs after she went aground on the reef outside Hope Town.
We also spent a lot of happy hours with John and Jerrie ("Trinity"), Val and Reg ("Aquabella"), John and Jo ("Heartbeat"), David and Hannya ("Dovolena"), Steve & Karen ("Sea Echo") and Gail and Bruce on board their new trawler "Orient Express2". The last week in Hope Town was busy socializing every night as all the cruisers saw the season come to an end ..Altogether too much to remember and to bore you with….
We also met Robert, a Montreal policeman, who had similar ideas about the crossing so we made plans to meet up further along the way…always good to have a buddy boat!
On April 3rd, we said a fond farewell to Hope Town and her people and cast off our beloved mooring buoy….we sailed to Man-O-War (very short sail) and picked up a mooring in the East harbour….the next day was great festivities as "Sojers" (natives of the cay and the name of a type of crab David just informed me) celebrated their heritage.
We met up with lots of friends visited Mary Helen and Harvey in their little tree house.

Harvey fancied himself helming the "William Albury" very similar to "Gone Away" ...

While I fell in love with some flowers...

David fell in love with this piece of real estate on Man-O-War... I though it was a bit of a fixer uper but you know what they say...location...location...location!

After a couple of days it was time to continue making our way back slowly, and the next Cay on our island hopping was Green Turtle….we took a dock at the Green Turtle Club and met up with Val and Reg and went for a couple of gorgeous beach walks on David’s birthday….it was quite windy and we were quite happy of the big pontoons on our dink as we crashed through the waves …Val & I still did get quite wet, our husbands being protected behind us!!!!!

We were treated to this special (aren't they all) sunset on Green Turtle Cay and this magnificent frigate bird flew over Soli...I had quite the job getting his pic.

Then it was time to plan "the crossing"…we spoke to Chris Parker who predicted SE 10 to 15 knots winds, which was great as we were still planning on going to Cape Canaveral, and the wind would give us a nice push up along with the Gulf Stream.
Robert was in a bit in a catch 22 situation as, one the one hand he wanted to give his daughter Tiffany a few days in the Bahamas and on the other hand still come with us during this "favorable weather window" of Easter weekend as a the couple more fronts that were expected by Monday were now being expected on Sunday.
We had in the meantime made radio contact with a few other boats who were also crossing on that day, Kokopelli, Scaramouche, Russ2 and Blue Blazer…amazing how at the very last minute boats connect to cross!...Robert, in the meantime had gone to Manjack and was still undecided as to what to do so we started off at 0830 on Good Friday, pretty much on our own….around Little Sale Cay we caught up with Scaramouche and Russ2, a couple of CS36 traveling together and kept in radio contact with them though the whole adventure…
We passed Great Sale (our jumping off point in past years) at 1600 and were motor sailing…we decided not to stop and continue and make the crossing, but at that point noone was planning on going to Cape Canaveral, so we decided to go along to Fort Pierce, in the meantime the wind was freshening up more and more and the 10-15 was becoming 15-20 knots….Soli had to slow down some to keep pace with our slower moving traveling companions ….and the wind was freshening up some more…20-25 knots with very confused and quartering seas on our port quarter…so we were rocking and rolling and pounding…not a very comfortable sail for Soli or her crew….David was afraid that James, the auto pilot, would be overworked (we heard someone say he had blown the fuse on his) so he ended up manually helming the boat pretty much the whole way…at that point we were wearing our PFDs (personal floating device) and David had the tether hanked on to the jackline …..and the wind was freshening up some more still 25-30.
We had fortunately at the beginning singled reefed the main, as Scaramouche and Russ2 were reefing and we thought that would be a good idea….by now we had rolled up the genny completely and were doing 7 knots under reefed main alone!!!! Quite the ride.
At 0100 on Saturday morning we jumped from the bank at the Little Bahama Bank waypoint into the abyss of the Atlantic ocean…. Hoping the depth would make the ride easier…we traded quartering, confused seas for six foot swells and force 5 winds…Soli was trucking but unfortunately not in the direction we wanted to go… the strong winds and current of the Gulf Stream were pushing us North and we needed to make a more westerly heading for Fort Pierce….Scaramouche, whose radio worked amazingly well, keeps us all in radio contact and relayed for Robert who had decided to go on to Cape Canaveral although Blue Blazer was trying to talk him out of it.
So, Soli was basically crabbing sideways with a west heading of 270 and still making a northerly course… we had to reduce speed to 4.5 knots to stay with our buddy boats and also not to get slammed to hard.
This is our sunrise.....things were looking up!
It was a long night, poor David was at the helm the whole time as I did not think I could keep her on course while doing battle with the wind and the seas…I was getting hammered below and going up and down the companionway stairs as I was plotting positions and logging it all and doing what I do best in stressful situations... that's right make tea...and that was pretty dangerous!.
Anyhow after 29hours we passed the Fort Pierce sea buoy on Saturday afternoon 1300 and made our way to the Fort Pierce marina…I had called them to reserve an "easy" dock please and I won’t go into too much detail as to going aground as they had skinny water due to full moon tides, to a dock without a ladder so I could not get off etc…not happy campers we!!!
Then it was the other fun part of this arrival, checking into the USA by phone first and then in person, our cell phones could not connect to US 800 numbers, although they did last year …so we went to a pay phone and checked in and a nice cab driver took us to the airport to see our friend Mr. Lopez (whose name is not Lopez at all) who was actually very nice and accommodating ( I suck up so well!!!) , then back to dear Soli who had worked so hard to bring us to a safe port.
The next morning we met Sue and Ian (Kokopelli) on the dock and hugged like long lost friends although we had just met…then three dinks came alongside Soli’s stern and there they were …the other warriors, Jim and Krys (Russ2), Maj-Lis and Don (Blue Blazer) and Alan & Marilyn (Scaramouche aka the voice in the night that kept us together) ….just as they came to us, our phone rang…it was Robert!!!!, we were so happy to hear from him as we had tried to raise him all night on the radio and had lost contact but heard through another relay that he was headed to Cape Canaveral and then nothing...he was in Cape Canaveral with a born again Christian daughter (she never prayer so much in her life as she did that night) .. leave it to the Montreal police!!!!
We left FP on Sunday morning and went to Melbourne, giving Vero a miss, we wanted to try a different place, very nice marina, we gave Soli a long well deserved fresh water shower so she did not look like an "old salt" anymore.
Monday morning saw us making tracks for Titusville and we docked at the marina next to a French flagged sailboat…they left France in 2005 and have had many wonderful adventures. They had just come back from a day at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and gave us their tickets which were good for 2 days. We booked a rental car from Mr. Enterprise, since the weather forecast for next day was pretty awful and we had decided to stay put for another night.
Tuesday morning we were off to KSC, which was an absolutely AWESOME experience…I wish that word was not so misused and abused as it looses all meaning when it is so suitable….I was so moved by the whole place and exhibits I wanted to cry, but most of all we so wished for our grand children to have been there…I do hope they get to see it soon. …We did and saw most of what they had….even went on the shuttle simulator….after that crossing I can handle any ride! We met astronaut Jon McBride who gave a great talk and slide presentation and saw an Imax film about the moon expeditions of the Apollos..did not realize the Americans went to the moon NINE times! Abolutely great…amazingly I had to keep David from nodding off .. I think he was having a delayed reaction to some 40 hours without sleep. It was a good thing we decided to stay put another day…2 tornadoes went through the centre while we were there!!!
That brings you up to date to the minute… David is driving us to our next port of call which is Daytona beach ….we are going through the heavy currents of New Smyrna beach (our dink flipped here last year) and maneuvering through the shoals of Ponce de Leon and I am sitting in the cockpit boring you all to death !!!!
I think I might have made up for my long months of silence…you might wish for me to repeat this silence again….will see!!!