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!!!

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