Sunday, December 30, 2012


December 30th 2012

Position N 27° 22.225’.
                W 82° 37.075’.

Longboat Key Club Moorings, FL

Well, here we are still in the Sarasota area, our delay to ‘get going’ and be in the Bahamas for Christmas begot more commitments! When we found out we were to be at our marina here in Longboat Key for Christmas we obviously made plans and the plans have committed us to be here now until at least the 15th. My planning goes on and the spending goes on. Eric our canvas man stopped by ‘Partners’ a week ago and a conversation concerning the window covers around our pilot house turned into an order! We had and still have solid matching blue custom covers that completely block all light from entering the pilothouse and make the area unusable as it is so dark and any view is obliterated. Eric made a suggestion of screens that give 95% protection of the harmful UV sun rays, obscure being able to see in but allow us to see out, oh, and not to mention, light comes in. Long and short, we ordered them! They arrived yesterday and look beautiful; we had them made in white so they are far less noticeable as the solid blue ones they are replacing. Now we have our pilot house back! We can now enjoy the new cushions on our pilot house bench seat and as a bonus have a view!
I am filling the time we have here at the dock with going over the possible routes we can take to wend our way through the Bahamas and continually refresh myself with the coastal hopping methods and skills using the nocturnal katabatic wind effects as suggested by Bruce Van Sant in his book the ‘The Thornless Path’ for traversing east along the north coast of Hispaniola. I am only educating myself on the voyage to the Virgin Islands and am not concerned with the journey beyond. I think that we will spend a good time in the Virgins and probably will not head south from there until May. We realize that we will not be able to stop at all the islands on our way to Trinidad where we will be spending the hurricane season; it is our intention to return north through the Windward and Leeward Islands come November and have extended visits to all the Islands in the chain on our way back to the Virgins. (Our insurance company requires us to be south of 10° N between July 1st – Oct 31st during what they consider to be the worst of the Caribbean hurricane season). The Bahamas are a concern because of the shallow water, ‘Partners’ has a draft of 5’ plus which will restrict us from many areas. I am not experienced at ‘reading’ the water yet and while I learn want to be sure that we choose safe routes across the numerous shallow banks that we will be encountering.

Tomorrow is Saturday 29th December and HT and I have bought tickets for 11 of our family to attend the Sailor Circus in Sarasota. Known as the “Circus Capital of the World,” from the John Ringling days, now Sarasota claims its own resident hometown circus. The Sailor Circus Originated in 1949 as a small high school gymnastics class, Sailor Circus has grown into a spectacular, youth training program serving students 4th to 12th grades. Through extremely rigorous, interdisciplinary performing arts and psychomotor skills programs, students develop life management skills, gain self-discipline and bolster confidence, all in a circus atmosphere. For over six decades, thousands of students have completed the Sailor Circus program. Each year, students train countless hours per week with dedicated coaches and volunteers to create performances that have become a major tourist attraction in the Southwest Florida region.

Sailor Circus is known worldwide as, The Greatest “Little” Show on Earth with more than 1 million spectators attending performances of America’s oldest youth circus. Sailor Circus students are recognized as future leaders and major contributors to the circus legacy in Sarasota. The Sailor Circus is most definitely worth a visit if you are visiting the Sarasota area. It is about a one mile walk from the bay front, Marina Jack, mooring balls and anchoring area.

It is getting cold and I can’t help wishing we were a little further south, last night we had temperatures in the mid 40’s whereas Key West, for example, had a low of 68°, a big difference. Georgetown in the Bahamas was 73°, wow! The cold cramps our style, boating and cruising to us is all about being in warm weather and warm water our water temp here is down to 69° which is uncomfortable! Not long to wait though we will be on our way soon... 

Sunday 30th

After the Circus 11 of us having fun back on 'Partners'!
The Sailor Circus was well worth the visit; the children absolutely loved it and were totally engaged for two hours. I was impressed with the level of accomplishment these young performers have attained, they were really good! At the end they all stood around the edge of the arena to receive the crowd as we all left. They were, without exception, so gracious in receiving their praise, as I said before – very impressive.

I really can’t add much more to this other than to wish you all a very Happy New Year and may your dream, whatever it is, get a little closer in 2013. We will begin 2013 and our dream by sailing away into the sunset on our own personal adventure. Please remember the inimitable words of John Mason..."You're born an original. Don't die a copy."

Saturday, December 22, 2012


December 22th 2012

Position N 27° 22.225’.
                 W 82° 37.075’.

Longboat Key Club Moorings, FL

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Black Friday – not normally a day which would gain much of my attention, I am not a shopper and definitely have not in the past been a ‘bargain’ shopper. To document our travels I have felt for some time that we should have a decent camera. A good friend of mine Bill owns a Nikon and has travelled extensively capturing some wonderful memories and has produced some fantastic coffee table books where he has added narrative to connect everything together. I am thinking that I could do this not only to produce a record of our photography but also to keep my blog organized. I, like most other people with a mailing address, pawed through numerous flyers advertising Black Friday deals. In one of them I saw a D5100 Nikon ‘bundle’ which included the camera, two lenses, a carrying case and a few other accessories, wow, was this the deal that, for the first time, would get me to go shopping on Black Friday. Well, it did, not one minute after midnight I hasten to add but at 10:30. Soooo, I am now the proud owner of a beautiful Nikon camera. Good digital cameras are now mini computers and are capable of far more than the average user understands. It came with two CD’s offering instruction and tips, neither of which I have had time to view yet but will. During the exploratory and learning period there is an automatic mode, thank goodness! 

Jim from Marina Electronics in Port Charlotte is installing a redundant autopilot along with an AIS unit both to interface with our Nobeltec navigation software. The team arrived...well, they initially proceeded to ‘tear’ the boat apart; from our closet in the master stateroom to the lazerette was affected. The reason, wire runs. The pilot head is obviously in the pilot house and the rudder control is in the lazerette so everywhere in between is affected as far as laying the cables for all components to ‘talk’ to each other. By the end of the day the installation was complete but in the process the steering system, a Capilano/Teleflex system had to be tied into; there lies a problem! After connecting the new hydraulic hoses to the steering system first Jim and the ‘team’ could not get the air out of the lines. No matter how many times the upper and lower helms were turned lock to lock the presence of air remained. A phone call to Teleflex enlightened Jim that some systems require an electric purging unit to be connected to achieve success. After enquiring about the availability in the area of a machine and finding out the cost of the daily rental it didn't take long for Jim to determine that it would be more economical for him to buy one. After waiting a week for the machine to arrive an appointment was set to finish off the job, or so we all thought! Jim did get the air out of the steering system but when he performed the autopilot set-up tests the autopilot advised that the test failed due to the rudder moving too slowly. After talking to Simrad they determined that, perhaps, a larger pump on the new pilot would be the solution. We are still waiting for the larger pump! A word of warning to those who may see an advantage to having a redundant pilot...put plenty of absorbent blankets down under any parts of the steering that could leak steering fluid while being worked on and connected to. We unfortunately were not fully prepared and a large quantity of fluid escaped the system both at the upper and lower helm, from the lower helm area the fluid found its way down to the guest cabin and made quite a mess there! On the boat deck the fluid drained from the flying bridge helm station all over the deck and down to the companionways on the main deck. The admiral was beside herself! (Mild description). Our plan to be in the Bahamas for Christmas has obviously been scraped; the latest news from Jim is that because of the ‘Holidays’ it is unlikely that the new larger autopilot pump that we need will arrive before the New Year, so we are 'Stalled!' and are making plans for Christmas and New Year here in Sarasota. Not all bad but we are anxious to get going and we are ready!

We had arranged  to sell our cars, both of them to the same person which is very convenient, yesterday was the day for my car to go. I have owned one of the last diesel 'big' bodied Mercedes, a 1993 300 SD, that were imported to the US, she has been the most wonderful car, to the point that I have not wanted a different car and have not thought to change since I bought her; my trusty friend has safely and reliably delivered 317,000 miles! Well, the day before yesterday, one day before the sale 'Murphy' paid a visit, I caught the front of the car on one of those big parking blocks and yes, you guessed it...ripped the @%&$%#;* front air dam off! The net result was a reduction of mucho dineros, $500 to be precise - not a good day. I explained the delay in us leaving and requested a delay in giving up Lavinia's car so we would at least be able to get around while the autopilot and steering debacle gets fixed. No problem...our buyer is Sam Hazeltine of S & S Mercedes Service & Repair, great people by the way, they have serviced both our cars for us over the years. So, we still have Lavinia's car, a Toyota Corolla station wagon which we bought new in November of 1991! Yes, from reading this you can see we have not been 'car people' over the last 20 years. Have always had better things to spend our money for example! 

The WirieAP
All cruisers would like to have an Internet connection all of the time for weather information easy e-mail capability and just for general information. The cost, however, is prohibitive for most as to receive this kind of service it requires satellite connection at an exorbitant cost. The WirieAP is a wifi booster which will find and amplify signals from great distances. Whereas not providing a continuous service it certainly increases the ability to have an Internet connection much more of the time than would normally be the case. The unit is of good quality and is specifically made for outdoor installation and the marine environment. As we cruise I will report more specifically concerning the effective operating range and its durability. Installation is simple and the unit’s performance so far is great, with a signal being obtained from approximately two miles distant. I would recommend to anyone. 

I ordered a Warn 800 Hoist which we will install on the mast boom to assist in the raising and lowering of the dinghy. I ordered a remote control accessory too. Installation is planned for next week sometime so more to follow. Oh, the decision to buy the Warn was as a result of reading other cruisers reports on the Krogen Cruisers net, a great resource and most helpful.  

Lavinia, (aka HT, the Admiral) made an executive decision to have the pilot house bench seat and convertible pilot berth recovered, she also, after a visit to the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show last fall, envied one particular boat we boarded which had a beautiful decor and in particular a certain type of wallpaper in its pilot house. I found out only recently that she has a good memory and one day last week she arrived home after a shopping expedition with the very same wallpaper? Sooo, by deduction I guess I had better get on board with the notion that the pilot house is going to be redecorated to match the new cushions! The ultra suede really looks great and does transform the appearance of the space. 

Dock Party (Dec 1st) Jeff, Ron & Pam our neighbours suggested that all of us who have boats on N dock should have a dock we did! About twelve brave souls attended and we had a great time, everyone brought their beverage of choice and we had fruit and veggie platters, homemade sausage rolls, made by Lavinia, some with curry in them (ooh, yummy!) my favourite, hamburgers on the grill (we christened our new grill), various salads, potato and pasta and last but not least Pam’s baked beans! We started at around 15:00 and, I have no idea how, but managed to keep it going until 23:00. Yes, you guessed it a thumping headache the next morning...was it worth it, you bet, we had so much fun with great stories and cheek aching laughter. 

As we near our leaving date it is appropriate to remind readers of our purpose here. I started this blog as I wanted to record our lives in retirement, our adventures and travels; secondly to encourage other would be cruisers to take the plunge. We have firsthand experience of the difficulties to actually ‘do this’, by taking the first step of buying the boat, then actually selling everything to completely free one’s self from the land and finally, actually leaving the dock. We personally feel that not having any land ties is the way to go but to be fair there are many cruiser who do maintain a land base and return to it, usually, for periods of each year and continue to alternate between home and boat. With no disrespect to those cruisers who do this successfully, we feel the total freedom route is the one. ‘Partners’ our 42’ Kadey Krogen boat is our home not just a boat on which we spend part of a year, it is the only home we have and that makes the approach different, all of a sudden we have become a citizen of the world and to have the ability to move her to new horizons on a whim is thrilling and exciting. If we owned a home too I don’t think our approach would be quite the same. To us we would still feel tied to and tied up in the land lubbers’ rut and only a citizen of that particular country who was temporarily taking a sabbatical to cruise for a while. Going back a number of years our retirement plan was to sell the family home in Sarasota, FL keep the small condo, also in Sarasota, and buy my dreamboat a 50’ Flush Deck Grand Banks and eventually, once retired, follow the sun south. My dream became Lavinia’s dream too so in 1998 we bought a 50’ Grand Banks and names her ‘Partners’. We sold the family home and indeed bought the small condo, we were on our way. Both of us were working full time and contented ourselves with local weekend trips. We did decide to renovate the boat and ‘Partners’ spent two years at Marlow Marine in Palmetto, FL being made brand new again. What a wonderfully job they did, the boat was magnificent. Our dream faced a setback and in 2002 I was diagnosed with prostate and bladder cancer, on the same day! The two years of treatment and surgeries I received took its toll and the upkeep of the boat became too much so she was sold. An Englishman bought her and took her to the UK. Our dream became shelved for several years. Gradually as time passed we started to plan ‘the dream’ again and in 2011 we bought our Kadey Krogen 42’ and named her ‘Partners’, (we firmly believe we are), and our dream was back on track again. We gave ourselves a year to move aboard and dispose of all the land based trappings. We became full time live aboards in December 2011. Our next goal was to become long distant cruisers by the end of 2012. We are now fully retired and, for us, have made the right decision. We now can't imagine not to have taken the plunge to become free and totally in charge of our lives. If you are tempted to follow this lifestyle do it as soon as you possibly can don’t stay working just to accumulate a few more dollars. A fellow long range cruiser Scott Flanders who has completed a circumnavigation in his 46’ Nordhavn once wrote “We all learn from each other particularly from ourselves. The one person you can never fool is yourself.” He further wrote… 

“A prime example, we had good friends from the Keys who retired 4 years ahead of us. He was a boat builder building beautiful wood/epoxy custom sport fishermen. He sold his business and property then bought his Keys house paying cash, had previously built three fishing boats for the Keys and had bought a new Porsche for his wife. Within three years they were the unhappiest people you could imagine. Yes, they lived in paradise but when you get up each day and ask yourself 'what's next?' it really gets boring. When picking up palm fronds and driving to town to pick up the paper become part of your routine, it's sad. This is just one example of lessons learned among many that fostered our decision.” 

A friend of mine Bernie, during one of our regular breakfast meetings, said to me “you are the only person I know who is actually following and living their dream”. Wow, really, pretty sad too! If you have a dream, a real passion to do something with your life and time, please, as Nike would say, just do it! You’ll figure it out, what I am saying here is don’t stall at the dreaming and planning stage; I think so many people do and never get going and you too will end up “picking up palm fronds and driving to town to pick up the paper” Remember familiarity breeds contempt, it is so easy to just continue working, living the same routing accumulating more money, so many people just think they need more and more of it, you don’t! Change is exciting, it is good for your relationship and I don’t think that Lavinia and I have talked to another cruiser who has not been ecstatic about their decision to ‘go cruising’. I am sure that it will extend our lives as we are active every day. Living on ‘Partners’ is like being on a stair walker 24/7, up and down, up and down, it absolutely amazes me how many time a day one actually uses all the steps we have! I have lost 22 lbs in a year… 

Going to close now and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year…