Sunday, August 22, 2010
Boy how time flies. It's hard to believe a whole year has gone by. On August 30th both Harley and I start back to work. Our leave of absence is officially over and reality is setting in. I'm quite sure that, by the end of next week, this past year will just feel like a wonderful dream. Thank goodness I kept a journal and took lots of pictures. They may come in handy when the mid-winter blues hit.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
It was a lovely trip up to Killarney on Wednesday. Our original plan was to stay in the Parry Sound/Pointe Au Baril area for a few more days but, given that we had perfect weather, we decided to make a run for it. Lucky we did because today is overcast with off-and-on rain.
We motored for at least half of the eleven-hour trek as there was very little wind, but in the afternoon it picked up and we had a lovely sail; the bay was absolutely flat. It's not very often we see that! We pulled into Killarney around 6:00 just in time for Fish n Chips. Anyone who has been to Killarney knows how we couldn't pass up that!
Stuffed to the gills, we waddled back to Blue Blazes and motored her over to Covered Portage Cove where we dropped the anchor. I can't believe I'm saying this after just returning from the Bahamas, but this is one of my favorite places. We are now in the La Cloche Mountain Range. The scenery is breathtaking with the windswept pines set against the white quartz mountains and tall cliffs right up to the water's edge. (Big breath) Life just doesn't get much better.
Covered Portage Cove
Monday, July 12, 2010
It sure feels good to be back cruising Georgian Bay; the land of wind-swept pines and granite rock....or as Harley affectionately calls it "God's country".
So far we have enjoyed beautiful weather and, believe it or not, very warm water. In Port Rawson area, for instance, the water was a toasty 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Today we are heading into Parry Sound to do a small reprovision and stretch our legs. From there we head north.
Huckleberry Island, Parry Sound
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I know. I know. The last time I wrote I said we were leaving; going wherever the wind blew us. Well it seems as if the wind blew us right back on the dock. (not literally) We've had a bit of a set back but, what can you do....**it happens. Everything is good now however and we are more than ready to take off.
On the bright side, with all the extra time we've had on our hands while ashore, we managed to clean and declutter Blue Blazes from step to stern. That is a good thing! It also gave us time to go car shopping. We are now the proud owners of a 2010 Toyota Prius.
On the down side, if we don't get on the water soon we are going to go broke. This land living is way too expensive.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
We've been home for 18 days now and today, for the first time in almost three weeks, we found ourselves looking for things to do. Our days have been PACKED with moving back into our house, getting the boat put back together, and reconnecting with friends and family...so much so that it's felt more like a whirlwind.
While on the subject, moving is one of our least favorite things (yet you'd never know it with how many times we have moved over the years) and even though this, technically, isn't a move it sure feels like it with all the painting and unpacking we've had to do. Also, getting Blue Blazes reassembled and ready to sail again after her road trip was a lot of work as well. Needless to say, we are ready to unwind.
But putting all that aside, adjusting to our life and getting our "land legs" again has gone well. Having said that though, we are anxious to get on the water again where life is much simpler. In the short time we have been back we can already feel the stress that land life holds. We find ourselves stressing over whether this picture looks better on this wall or that wall.....and we really should have our driveway redone because it's looking pretty shabby compared to the neighbor's. But the biggest stress comes from the fact that we have to buy a car. Unlike many people, we dislike cars and think of them as a necessary money pit. (much like most people think of boats...lol)
So it's confirmed....we are weird. Georgian Bay is calling us. We plan to set sail again the day after tomorrow and stay out until the end of August. There is no itinerary, no sail plan....we are just going where the wind takes us. I may post pictures along the way. See you in September.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I, for one, learned that cooking a meal while standing on a 30 degree angle is no big deal, it is possible to wash dishes in a cup of water, hot water and fresh water are luxuries, and sleep is over rated. I also learned that my head and shins are much tougher than I thought, and I am way stronger than I could have imagined. I proved to myself that I can live for eleven months in something smaller than a jail cell. As well, I will never underestimate the power of salt, will always check the bottom of a tin can before I set it on unvarnished wood, and forever keep a firm hand on my wine glass. I learned these lessons first hand, and so many more like them, and if you asked me if I enjoyed myself I'd say "you betcha!"
If anything, what we both have learned is how important it is to work as a team and keep smiling. Attitude truly is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure. Sometimes it is the passing of time that turns the ordeal into an adventure. Like when we go to tell the story of the horrible squall we sailed through. At the time that was an ordeal but after, well, it's a great adventure story. Even the story about the toilet backing up is fun to tell, but let me tell you at the time that was no fun at all.
The knowledge that we are bringing home with us goes way beyond boat handling skills or weather predicting but, rather, has much more to do with learning about ourselves and what we can handle.
There were times before we set out on this trip that we would sit back and dream about what it would be like to wake up every morning surrounded by clear blue water and a warm breeze. Now, that's going to be our brightest memory. It's sad to see this all come to an end but we were prepared for this and therefore feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity. What an experience.....What an adventure.......When can we do this again?
Blue Blazes is being picked up on the 8th of June. We fly home on the 9th.
Ten months.....gone just like that.....but the memories.......they will last a lifetime.
It's been a blast.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
She is not exactly in the prime of her life, but then again neither are we, but we still think she's a brave little boat to do what she has done for us. She's travelled away from her familiar waters of the Great Lakes for which she was created and took us out into the big ocean. She put in some very long days, and many times, pushing on long after we had run out of steam.
And she never complained...except for that one time when we ran her aground and broke her transmission.....that hurt! We felt really bad about that, but after we fixed her up and gave her a rest she performed for us like she was young again.
She protected us, sheltered us, got us through some very scary situations, and even some very rough seas. And when she would bring us into a harbour after such times we would wash her down and buff her up. She would really like that and would gleam like a shiny new penny. People would come by and comment on how pretty she looked and we would say to ourselves, "that's our girl".
When we ask her to go fast, you should see her go! She loves to show off, but it wouldn't be right to brag about her, so we tell people that she is a spirited little boat. She doesn't take offence to this though because she knows how proud we are of her without having to say it.
She's getting old now but she still has a lot of life left in her. Having said that though, we don't plan to do this to her again. We may have to adopt a new baby sister if we plan to do anything like that but we are ever so thankful to our old girl.
If it wasn't for Blue Blazes we wouldn't appreciate the simpler things in life and certainly wouldn't have realized that there is life without T.V., or a microwave oven. She has been trustworthy, faithful, comforting, and tireless to the end. To reward her we are sending her on a nice road trip home where she will, once again, bask in the beautiful waters of Georgian Bay.
Here's to Blue Blazes!
p.s. Blue Blazes is a CS 36 traditional
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Charleston is a wonderful city to visit. Thankfully we didn't know what we were missing on the way down or we might have been a little bummed out.
We arrived in Charleston three days ago. Are we stalling? Maybe, but there is so much to see here that we could easily stay a week and still not see it all. Given that Charleston is one of the oldest cities in North America, it is loaded with history and has a museum on almost every block. But, for me, it's the beauty that is capturing. Around every corner and down every lane way there are meticulously manicured gardens. Even right in the heart of downtown, the streets are lined with palm trees adding to the already fabulous architecture. The old mansions are magnificent and as I gaze at them I can't help but wonder what stories would be told if only the walls could talk.
Yesterday was our big tour of the city. Charleston is a very easy city to get around. We took public transit (the buses are very cute and look like San Fransisco trolley cars) and for $5.00 each we got to ride it all day getting off and on as often as we wanted. It was fabulous and we would highly recommend it. We could have gone on guided tours in a nice comfortable tour bus, or been driven around in a horse and buggy but that just seemed too organized. This way we got to experience Charleston the way we wanted.
From here our next stop is Georgetown, South Carolina.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I'm not sure why we are in such a hurry!
We high-tailed it up the I.C.W. to St. Augustine, (Florida), where we jumped outside and sailed to Beaufort, South Carolina. The wind speed and direction was perfect for the 130-mile trip and we had a great sail. Thankfully we left when we did as there is some nasty weather coming our way in the next few days. Believe it or not there was a little a method in our madness.
On the way down last fall we missed Beaufort so we were happy to be able to stop here this time around. This is a town that is very pretty and rich in history and we thoroughly enjoyed walking around and checking out all the sights.
Our plan is set in Jello so don't be surprised if it changes, but from here we hope to travel a bit further north....probably Georgetown, South Carolina...... where we will put Blue Blazes on a truck and have her transported back to Midland, Ontario... her home port. We are feeling that since we have already travelled the I.C.W., and don't really care if we do it again, we might as well take advantage of the time we have and spend the summer cruising our beautiful and familiar North Channel, and Georgian Bay.
Tomorrow (or maybe the day after) we plan to visit Charleston, South Carolina...another city we missed on the way down. We've heard lots of great things about Charleston so we are really looking forward to that. In the meantime we are still trying to get our heads around the fact that we will soon be back to our old life.
We're on the home stretch now.
One of the beautiful homes in Beaufort.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
After living on the boat for 10 months we must be looking rather rough.......
The first thing that we noticed as we sailed through the Ft. Pierce Inlet on Sunday, was the horrible brown colour of the water. Then it was all the weekend fishermen bombing around in their small power boats all hammered up....their bikini-clad girlfriends equally hammered. Welcome to Florida.
Our first two days here in the states were spent in Vero Beach, just north of Ft. Pierce. It wasn't long, however, before we were reminded why we didn't enjoy Vero Beach the last time through. Just like last time, it was hot and humid with barely a breath of air and man-eating no-see-ums. To escape it all we went shopping. There's nothing like shopping to cheer me up. We now have a boat full of food and a whole new wardrobe.
It was nice to be in civilization again, but like I said, we must be looking pretty bad after cruising for so long. Yesterday the girl on the cash at a fast food joint gave us the senior discount without even asking. (By the way, we are not there yet.) Then while shopping for clothes at Bells a lady came up to me and offered me her $10.00 voucher that she had to go toward her purchase. She said that she didn't need it as she has enough money. I must have looked like a charity case with my salt stained flip flops and my unruly hair that Harley has been cutting for the past 6 months. But the cruiser in me showed through....I gave her a hug and gratefully accepted it....lol.
Today we are travelling up the ICW to Titusville, but as soon as we can we will be heading out to the ocean so we can do some sailing in nice clean water again.
Titusville at sunset.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
It was with mixed feelings and a very heavy heart that we left the Bahamas. On May 14th we started our trek home. We left from Green Turtle Cay.
As we say good-bye to the Bahamas we can't help but reflect on the memories that will, no doubt, last us a lifetime. The magnificent gin clear waters, the beautiful and friendly people, pristine white sand beaches, conch fritters, rake and scrape, dancing, laughing, swimming, snorkeling, sunsets, starry nights, beach glass, long walks, sailing, wonderful sea life, dolphins, and even sharks are just a few. The list goes on and on. Even the negative things like dodging cold fronts, or sweltering in the heat, salt on the decks, sand in the sheets, and trying to find an Internet connection are all things I will fondly remember.
The experiences we've had and the lessons we've learned have touched us in a way that I am quite sure we are not the same two people who arrived here 5 months ago. We are very lucky people indeed and never, for one minute, did we take any of this for granted. We savoured every minute and fell in love. If we had our way, we would never leave but our life back home is calling us and the time has come.
By the time I post this we will be in Florida but right now we are sadly sailing across the stunningly beautiful Little Bahama Bank. The water is the most gorgeous shade of turquoise and we are having a fabulous down-wind sail to Mangrove Cay. We even had a couple of dolphins swim by the boat a few minutes ago, which was very special since we haven't seen that many here in the Bahamas.
We will stop for a few hours to rest at Mangrove Cay before we cross the Gulf Stream to Fort Pierce Inlet.
It's the end of a chapter........ but it's not the end. There is likely much more to come. We are still a long way from home.
See you on the other side..........
P.S. Had another great down-wind sail from Mangrove Cay to Ft. Pierce. The gulf stream was tame today. )
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Now surprisingly, even to us, we have completely changed gears. Sadly, the time has come to start thinking about coming home. We've gone from having fun in the sun to the 'lets get'er done' mode just like that. This leaves little time to properly say good-bye to the Bahamas, however, it looks as if there is a good weather window for the next few days and we may even leave as soon as tomorrow.
We sit in Green Turtle Cay tonight along with Bev and Arne on Scandia, which is a boat we will likely be travelling with . Tomorrow morning we will listen to Chris Parker (our weather guru) and make our decision then.
On a happy note, thankfully, we got to see Kevin for at least one more visit.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I can't believe it! Three weeks has gone by so quickly. Tomorrow Kyle is leaving us.
Having Kyle around has been great and has certainly kept things interesting. For starters, we wouldn't have done as much snorkeling and would have never rented a golf cart in Elbow Cay with someone "skitch'n" (skateboard hitching) along side. We would have missed the bar hopping (and the Hooter girls). We wouldn't have moved so much or sailed in such heavy weather all up wind just for the fun of it.......
Yup, it was so much fun and we are going to really miss him!
Friday, May 7, 2010
After our "Hooter Experience" the guys decided that we should stay in Great Guana Cay for another day. However, with the Hooter Girls gone, the next day wasn't nearly as exciting but we managed to enjoyed ourselves just the same.
From there we moved down to Hope Town to give Kyle the opportunity to see this unique little community. We checked out the town and the beach (where we picked up another pound of sea glass) stayed the night, and sailed to Sandy Cay the next day.
Sandy Cay is a "must" stop for snorkeling but really isn't a recommended spot for anchoring as it offers little protection. However, it was a pretty spot with an air of remoteness that drew us in like a magnet. The snorkeling here came well recommended as well so given that the weather is settled right now we anchored anyway and were very glad we did. Soon after we anchored we headed over to the snorkel spot.
As soon as we dipped our faces in the water we felt like we were swimming in an aquarium. The water was deep and clear. The massive coral gardens were like nothing I have ever seen before. There were a multitude of sea fans swaying back and forth with the motion of the sea and there was an abundance of fish of every variety. It was another one of those "pinch me" moments that I, for one, will never forget.
2. Snorkeling off the beach - Great Guana Cay
3. Looking out over the anchorage at Great Guana Cay
4. Hope Town Light House
5. One of the many snorkeling pics.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Our time in Green Turtle Cay was wonderful! Kevin showed us a great time and the Island Roots Heritage Festival was a lot of fun complete with entertainment, contests, music, seminars and enough food to feed an army.
Yesterday we sailed to Treasure Cay and being such a beautiful day we waisted no time checking out the fabulous beach.
Today we are in Great Guana Cay and again the weather is perfect. We took a walk over to the famous Nipper's Bar and to our surprise isn't there a Hooter's photo shoot happening. Here's Kyle, he hasn't seen a girl younger than 40 years old in over a week, and he gets to witness this! How's that for luck....lol.
1. Treasure Cay Beach
2. One of the Hooter's Girls
Friday, April 30, 2010
Yesterday we took a trip up to Manjack Cay and instantly fell in love with this small island. An acquaintance/friend from way back, Bill Harrington, lives there so it was really nice to see him again and his wife Leslie. Bill owns a wonderful piece of property (his own corner of paradise). He has built a fabulous home surrounded by beautiful gardens and overlooking a pretty cove on the Sea of Abaco. The home itself is a work of art. On the far side of his property is the ocean side of the island, which has a magnificent white sand beach that stretches forever. If I lived there I would NEVER leave.
We are looking forward to the Island Roots Heritage Festival, which starts today here in Green Turtle Cay. Should be fun!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
After Kyle arrived we decided to stay another day in Marsh Harbour. One thing we didn't know was that there is a very nice snorkel spot within a short walk from the anchorage. We enjoyed a nice afternoon there then after, in the evening, we went bar hopping. It's not like we were tourists gone wild or anything like that, but we got to visit a couple of the local hang outs. It was fun and, if nothing else, it was good for people watching.
Today we are sitting in White Sound, Green Turtle Cay where we have met up with Kevin. In true Bennett fashion Kevin has shown us all the high spots and things the normal tourist wouldn't see. He also took us on a tour of his home that he is constructing....all by himself. Let me tell you, when he is finished this home is going to be spectacular. No detail has been overlooked. We were totally impressed!
Tonight we have been invited (via Kevin) to a B.B.Q/Party/Bon Fire, which promises to be a good time. We will be staying in this area for a week so I am sure I will be writing more about Green Turtle Cay later.
1. Harley, Kevin, and I
Friday, April 23, 2010
Kyle arrived right on schedule and after our happy reunion we proceeded to show him around the booming metropolis of Marsh Harbour. I'm not being facetious when I say that. This area has the most built up town that we have seen since Nassau. There is even a traffic light! There are hardware stores and a GREAT grocery store complete with a wide selection of produce. We even found a wholesale fish market were we bought lobster for $8.00/lb. Guess what we had for dinner?
This afternoon we will likely move over to Great Guana Cay then tomorrow Green Turtle Cay (GTC) where, at long last, we will meet up with our good friend Kevin. Kevin has lived in GTC for many years but is a good friend of ours from way back to our single days. We have stayed in touch ever since and we can't wait to see him again.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I have a new past time and I am totally addicted. It's fun and as exciting as panning for gold. I call it beach glassing.
Most people, I'm sure, have seen beach glass before (also known as sea glass); and I'm sure most people would look at it and see a piece of garbage washed up on shore. But you know what they say, 'one man's garbage is another man's treasure'. I have admired enough beautiful beach glass jewelry and seen the value of it in the stores to convince me that it is a treasure to find and I'm determined to find it. So far I have filled a mason jar with the stuff and I am so proud of my collection.
Sea glass is glass that, for whatever reason, has been thrown into to sea. Over time this glass breaks and the pieces get ground smooth from the sand and the constant motion of the surf. A perfect piece is not shiny but is smooth and the sharp edges have been rounded. It comes in all shapes and colours. White, green, brown and turquoise are the most popular colours but sometimes you can get lucky and find red, blue or even purple. That's when I get really excited. Harley found a blue piece the other day and he contemplated trading it to me for sexual favours. (Funny guy.)
Yesterday we moved to Man O War Cay....another pretty spot here in the Abacos. The settlement there is very laid back and (like in Hope Town) the homes are sweet and very well kept. Today we sailed to Treasure Cay. We just arrived so you'll just have to wait to hear what this place is all about.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
It rained on April 12th 1980 in southern Ontario. How do I know this? It was on this date 30 years ago that Harley I tied the knot. I was told that it was a good omen to have rain on your wedding day. It rained here in Hope Town today as well. I want to think it's a good omen to have rain on your 30th anniversary too.
Rain or not, Hope Town is a wonderful spot. Actually right now the sun is shining bright and it's hot and humid. It rarely stays overcast for a whole day here in the Bahamas.
Hope Town is the cutest little village loaded with ambiance. The narrow lane ways are lined with very pretty and quaint cottages, unique gift stores, and a couple of cool pubs on the water's edge. The homes are immaculate and beautifully landscaped. The gardens are small but full of colour as everything seems to be in full bloom right now. To top it all off, at the entrance to the harbour, which can be seen from just about everywhere in town, is the prettiest candy-stripped lighthouse that you can imagine.
We will stay here for the next few days to wait out a blow. For now we plan to enjoy the sights and the company of the great people we have met. From here we will continue on to see what the Abacos have to offer. Looking forward to more good times ahead.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Because we liked it so much, we stayed another day in Governor's Harbour. This was such a quaint settlement with many beautiful homes and lovely gift stores. And on the other side of the island there was a very cool pink sand beach that I just had to check out.
Unfortunately , the extended weather forecast has changed our plans for the next few days though. We would have loved to spend more time in Eleuthra but we needed to push on to the Abacos before the weather socked us in. The prediction is for the wind to pick up and blow like stink for the next five or six days and since we are meeting our son Kyle in the Abacos soon we didn't want to risk not making it in time.
We left Governor's Harbour yesterday and sailed to Royal Island at the northern tip of Eleuthra. On the way we had a beautiful dolphin travel along side us, performing all his tricks, for about two hours. It was one of those "pinch me" moments. (Meaning: Pinch me. I can't believe this is happening.) It was so cool.
Royal Island is really a nothing anchorage but is a favorite harbour for cruisers making the Abacos-Eleuthra passage. The crossing from Eleuthra to the Abacos can be rough, and needs to be done when the conditions are good, so today we made the leap.
It was a good nine-hour sail and we are sitting in Little Harbour on Great Abaco Island today. Already I can feel the difference here. More cottagey? More prosperous? I am not sure why but I know I am going to love it here.
The Pink Sand Beach
Monday, April 5, 2010
Well, I don't want to jinx it but it looks like Harley's crazy glue repair to our wifi antenna is working, albeit intermittently, but for now it's better than nothing. Yeah Harley!
The wind today was much stronger than forcasted and we had an exhilarating sail from Rock Sound to Governors Harbor. Eleuthra is a long skinny island and it will take a number of days to travel the length of it but that's o.k. We are really enjoying this island. We are noticing that Eleuthra is more, dare I say, civilized than most of the other islands we have been visiting lately. There are actually cars on the roads. Today is Resurrection Monday and we have been told that it is tradition here for everyone to go to the beach. (That explains why the town was dead.) Apparently, at whatever beach they go to, they party all day and all night with bonfires and music and dancing. You have to love a tradition like that.
When we came back to our dinghy after walking around town these four Bahamian children were so excited to see us and as soon as they found out what dinghy was ours they jumped in. They all started talking at the same time asking us questions and one of the girls immediately put on a life jacket. They were just too cute for words and we were absolutely delighted to let them hang with us for a bit.