Monday, March 23, 2020

A Day in the life of Quarantine aboard S/V Alibi


Alarm goes off at 0600 for listening to the weather. Stumble to the bathroom to put in contacts to see. Then to the galley to make coffee. We still use a 12 cup stainless steel percolator on the stove top. 

Next, turn on the SSB radio and tune it to the channel and then wait for the broadcast to begin. The first segment is the weather in the Caribbean - all the way down to the coast of South America and up to the Greater Antilles. Going to make you Google that for your geography lesson for today. After about 30 minutes, the weather for The Bahamas comes on. I listen, take notes, and many days record this. The forecast period is for the next five days so we can decide if we want to move about or not. 

All the while, we are drinking our coffee and afterwards looking at news, weather on internet, and emails. Then at 0815, a cruisers net begins over the VHF radio. We obtain information about the local area, closings, introduce ourselves to others in the anchorage, and pass important information. 

So at around 0830-0900, the day begins. If we need to get any groceries, we begin getting the dinghy down for a trip to shore. We gather up our grocery bags, shoes, VHF radio, and any trash that we need to take in. We tie off at a private dock that the locals generously allow us boaters to use. We tie off along with around 10 other dinghies at the dock. We walk about 1/4-1/2 mile up the road to the grocery store. It is about the size of two convenience stores in the states. The store received a shipment on Wednesday so there are many supplies to be stocked and NONE of the shelves are empty. We pay and load our bags for the walk back down the hill. If we were not under orders for only essential services to be open, we would stop in at Sou’Side and have a beer (at least Ann would) - an open air bar and restaurant on the road. 

Back at the boat, we unload the groceries and stow them. Some are dated so that stocks can be rotated (remember Ann was a nurse). We have a cold drink or water and rest. I forgot to add that the dishes were hand washed and dried before going to the store. Nope, we don’t have a dishwasher. 

Since the recent changes, all our meals are cooked on the boat but that is not at all unusual for us. I’m sure many in the States are learning how to cook and plan meals right now. The biggest issue for me is that there was not a lot of time to prepare for the shutdown. Liquor stores and a few gas stations sell beer  none in the grocery stores. If I ration, I can have one beer per day for the imposed period!  AND if supplies get critical, I suppose some bartering among cruisers could take place! Surely someone needs SOMETHING sewed!! Lol

We read, watch movies we have on DVD (no TV reception here) that we have already seen before. We polish stainless steel there is a lot on our boat. We check social media and news and emails again. We nap, we eat lunch. We might go to the beach for a walk. Or Darrell goes spearfishing with a fellow boater and brings back bounty from the sea!!

Late morning, with good sun, we start up our water maker. We will run it every few days for around 2-3 hours to supply our fresh water for drinking, washing dishes, and showers. Having it since 2013 has given us freedom to roam about without worries of when and where to refill our tank.

With this fresh water, I am considering making extra. We do not have a washing machine on board so I am considering doing some more hand laundry. Many ports have a laundromat close so we frequently walk but the closest one to us right now is several miles, requiring a rental car or hitch hiking. We’re afraid no one is willing to pick us up because of the pandemic and we don’t want to ask for a ride. Normally, they are constantly stopping to see if you need a ride. It’s a long way to lug that heavy bag of dirty clothes and the cleansers required to get the job done. Fresh air is a great smell in your laundered sheets and clothes!

Now, it’s time for a nap. Lol









Sunday, March 15, 2020

February 9 to the Ides of March

Since arriving in George Town we have not had much spare time. This is a busy place. We have ventured over to Chat and Chill several times. We have done yoga. We have had guests on board a few times. We have crossed over to town and hitch hiked up to Emerald Bay Marina for Darrell to get a chiropractic adjustment for his left arm numbness. Taxi costs are $50 for two people one-way!  

We went to a flea market/book swap/ jumble sale. We went to a beach bonfire on Valentines Day. Darrell has been to some AA meetings and we even hosted a couple.  Of course, we did laundry and did some grocery shopping. The boat has been scrubbed inside and out. I have sewed some new cockpit cushions.  We placed some of Roxy’s ashes on one of her favorite beaches.  We went to several informative seminars. Like the net controller said — if you are bored in George Town it’s your own fault. 

However, after almost three weeks, it was time to leave. We had a fantastic day sail over to Long Island. Another of our favorite islands. Friday night Happy Hour for the cruisers found us with about 20 or so boat crews enjoying boat stories!  Saturday morning was the Farmers Market with delicious goodies and crafts.  Visiting with cruisers is so enjoyable - we are so diverse yet so alike!

Multiple evenings of get togethers. Including a beach bonfire, Mutton Fest, Tiny’s Hurricane Hole, Club Washington.  And yes, being stuck on the boat because it’s just too darn windy to leave!  

We are laboriously studying the weather in anticipation of heading south and east from here. There are some more remote islands that we want to visit before heading offshore to either Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, or Puerto Rico. There is no way we are even considering a departure before Thursday, March 12 with these windy days. 

Interesting twist of development!!  While our countrymen are busy buying up toilet paper, we are watching in awe!  We have not left Long Island, Bahamas. Weather has not been just right to leave in the direction we want to travel and with news of COVID-19 shutting down borders in some countries, we sit. 

As long as we can get meager supplies into the island by the weekly mailboat, we are set for however long it takes for this to all blow over. Yep, we have enough TP to last a month at least - that’s what living on a boat is!!  My man went fishing yesterday and speared enough fish to feed five of us and leftovers. 

As for traveling farther south to the Caribbean, we have to wait and see. But for now I’m going to go ahead and post this update to our blog so those of you sitting at home with nothing but time on your hands have something to read. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Island Life

A day in island life

On Monday, we arrived in Great Harbor Cay of the Berry Islands of the Bahamas. We spent the afternoon getting the paperwork completed to clear in through customs and immigration. Since we had done an overnight sail to get there, it was an early bedtime. 

On day two, we needed to get SIM cards for our phones so that we can communicate with all our friends and family. We rode the dinghy in to the government dock and asked the locals for directions. We began walking in the direction that they told us but we were a little unsure. We flagged down a car to double check that we were going the right way and he said he would give us a ride since it was pretty far. When we got to the phone office, we thanked him but he offered to wait for us and give us a ride back. His name was Chester. He was off work today from working on the island where the cruise ships land. They call it CocoaCay(the charts call it Little Stirrup Cay).  The people of these islands are so nice!!

The afternoon was spent on sewing projects that we brought along. Soon, we will have all new cockpit cushions. It’s nice to have something to work on because the weather is supposed to get messy for the next couple of days.  Rain and wind are forecast. At least there isn’t a weather alert for iguanas falling from trees like there is in south Florida!!

And then the winds and rain came!  We knew when we left south FL that there was some bad weather coming in the middle of the week and it did!  The cold front that caused all the falling iguanas in FL made it here in the afternoon and it blew like a madman all night and into midday on Wednesday. Several boats were unable to maintain their anchor position. Some drove around in the dark all night rather than trust their ground tackle. We had put out a second anchor in the afternoon in anticipation of the blow. I wasn’t going to have a repeat of what happened to me in Cocoa!!

After the weather settled down, we rounded the corner of Great Harbor Cay (pronounced key) for a place in the southern Berry Islands. We anchored in a place called Bird Cay to wait for one of our buddy boats to catch up. Then, we sailed across Northwest Providence Channel to New Providence (Nassau). Generally, we try to limit our time in marinas and particularly in Nassau. Next day, we were off the dock. And in two days were in the Exuma Islands of central Bahamas. Paradise!!

A day of relaxation, snorkeling, bottom cleaning and enjoying the scenery!  That night, the winds went from zero (glassy calm) to twenty knots from the west south west at around 20 knots with very poor protection! One of our buddy boats drug anchor at 2 AM (thank God Ann was awake to see them) but suffered no damage. Needless to say, Ann was fully awake for the rest of the night. Next morning, finding a calm spot to anchor was a priority. 

The cold fronts of the US bring us winds clocking around and blowing like stink. They do the same thing in the FL Keys. Here, one must be vigilant about finding an anchorage with wind protection from directions other than prevailing winds.  The waters are relatively easy to read for depth because the visibility is so great and with mostly sand bottoms the holding is excellent (if you have the right ground tackle and enough scope).

On board S/V Alibi is a beautiful carved wooden box. Our third crew member was promised to be released on a beautiful sandy beach for never ending joy. That will be a bittersweet day but we made a promise that we must keep.....


2019 and Beyond!

It has been hard to get motivated to write the blog. Roxy will always be missed by us - she was such a special dog!  I’m sure she is running free and enjoying lots of play time. 

After we picked up her ashes, we began the trip south in Alibi. It was beginning to get cold up there!!!  We made pretty fast time and were motivated to get to Cocoa, FL - where our pick up was and hopefully find a marina home. Not so lucky!!  We got to the Cape Canaveral, Cocoa, Merritt Island area just fine. Every place we called required insurance on the boat to rent a slip. Bummer!!

Also, on the day we had Roxy put to sleep, Darrell’s mom suffered two spinal compression fractures. We had a flight for him from Orlando to fly home to be sure she was okay to continue living alone. Ann stayed with the boat since we were unable to secure a marina berth. Except for one instance, all was well. Just a dragging anchor and singlehanded crew getting the boat safely squared away.  Mom was sufficiently rehabilitated to continue living at home with some home health nurses and therapists doing follow up. 

It was even too cold in central Florida for this wimpy south Florida girl!!  So we headed south to Key Largo. We needed to get some things from our storage unit and complete the paperwork for renewing our captains licenses. We arrived on January 1 and even got to see the New Years fireworks display from around Ocean Reef. 

Approximately two weeks to get all our appointments, papers, and moving stuff on and off S/V Alibi.  We even spent an exciting 24 hours with Darrell getting his heart checked out in Mariners Hospital.  Next to wait for a weather window for crossing the Gulf Stream.....  We had been able to stall around long enough for two boats that we met in Dowry Creek Marina to catch up to us. They want to travel with us. 

We enjoyed many reunions in Key Largo and came to the realization that Key Largo will always be home!  If we missed seeing you this time around, don’t worry - we will be back. We’re just not sure when....  This could be another Caribbean Cruise or just another trip to the Bahamas. Only time will tell!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Roxy



Roxy went to the Rainbow Bridge on Monday, October 28th, 2019 (nine years to the day since I lost my mother). We had a weekend of special meals and tons of love.  The transition was very relaxed and the staff at Pamlico Animal Hospital were kind, compassionate, and caring.  

On Friday, I spent several hours pouring over thousands of pictures of her taken over 14+ years.  We have had a great time being her peeps!!  She definitely has had a rich life living on a boat as a gypsy and watching divers’ bubbles on dive boats. 

She now is pain free and running - jumping like she did when she was young. Her vibrant and spirited personality will live on in our hearts and the many stories we have to tell of her shenanigans.  Her earthly body was reduced to ashes and they will be permanently placed on a beach in the Bahamas - someplace she loved.  For a happier post go back and read the blog post from February 2, 2014 - the blog is from Roxy’s perspective. 

She was always pretty good at making her wishes known and had become even more assertive in her senior years.  When she wanted me to know that she was still hungry, she had learned that knocking her empty food bowl across the floor of the boat would get my attention.  I'm quite sure that her entrance into the afterlife was probably punctuated with that action since the appointment at the veterinarian was at precisely the time she usually let me know it was time to eat.  


As for her peeps, they are trying to stumble through the days without her. Looking forward to the day we will be reunited at the Rainbow Bridge. Below are a few of the many pictures we’ve taken that show her huge personality through the years. Enjoy your white sand beach and turquoise water, Princess Roxy!





Roxy at 3-6 months of age.

Roxy at about 6 months to one year - still very hyperactive.
Roxy and Darrell playing in June or July 2005.  She was about six months old.

Roxy pointing birds on our deck.

Roxy on the S/V Lillian.
Long Island, Bahamas.
Roxy and Ann in the kayak in Marathon.











Roxy watching diver bubbles.


Roxy and manatee - photo credit John Greenwalt.



Riding on the dinghy.

Roxy and Darrell in the dinghy.
Roxy begging - what she does so well.
Roxy and Journey begging from mom - 2016.



A favorite - she was happiest on the sandy beaches!

At home in TX - I was that crazy dog lady!
Roxy tending lines on the sailboat.
On a walk on the beach.


Where we will meet again.






Road Trip from North Carolina to Texas

We rented a car for a trip back to Texas to visit family and friends. We decided it was about time to see some of the countryside around us while making a pilgrimage back to the Texas panhandle. The boat was safely tucked into a slip in Dowry Creek Marina bear Belhaven, NC. 

The only calendar on the trip was to be in Amarillo by October 18 - Ann’s Daddys birthday. So we loaded up the car with Roxy and her stuff plus lots of warm clothing. When we reached western North Carolina, we were not disappointed!!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a must see. Don’t be in a hurry if you take the route but plan on lots of beautiful vistas!  We spent about four hours going 100 miles and thoroughly enjoyed it. After that, we were ready to hit the interstate and head west. 

We arrived in Pampa, TX by Saturday morning to go see a flag football game starring our grandson, Lyric. Then we went to see my mother-in-law and on to see my dad. Sunday evening, we spent relaxing and visiting with the kids and grandkids plus their extended family. 

The week was filled with visits with friends and family. On Friday, a highlight was to be able to celebrate my dad’s ninety-second birthday. Saturday brought more football and baseball and last minute visits. 

On Sunday, we left to head east again with planned visits with friends along the way. Another short foray into the Blue Ridge Parkway was well worth the detour. The leaves had increased their fall color while we were out west. 

The last stop of the trip was a big highlight for us both but mostly Darrell. We went to Charlotte to the offices and shop of Joe Gibbs Racing Team. Jason Shapiro gave us a grand tour of the facilities. It is mind boggling!!  We spent the night and enjoyed a much overdue visit with Nicole and their girls who are growing up WAY TOO FAST!!


The next day we left late and still made it back to the boat by about 3PM. It was a wonderful trip but it’s always great to be home. 

Blue Ridge Parkway


Linley making us breakfast

Daddy and I - 92 years old!

Having a birthday celebration.

Blue Ridge Parkway


Darrell got to visit JGR Racing Shop!




Friday, October 25, 2019

Chesapeake Eastern Shore

Magnificent late summer and fall weather has been the case. Cool evenings and nights without the hundred degree heat indices during the days. 

While traveling, we saw and purchased a copy of Chesapeake by James Michener. What a great volume to accompany our travels!!  

Our next stop was the first on the eastern shore of the Bay. St. Michaels is a great little town that we were told by more than one person not to miss. They were right!!  And like I’ve already said, the museums just keep getting better. This one did not disappoint us. We had a seafood feast on the waterfront that was outstanding. 

Next stop was Oxford, another historic town noted in the book and mentioned by locals. Small but great historic buildings. Home of the oldest operational ferry in the US. 

Cambridge was just across the Choptank River from Oxford. We spent a few days there waiting on weather. A bus ride away from Walmart!  Fresh crabs 🦀 right off our stern. Live music one night from Snappers. Great town!!

As we headed south, there were fewer places to visit on the eastern shore so we were content to revisit some like Solomons Island, Reedville, and we didn’t want to pass up Deltaville. There was a crab feast being held at the Deltaville marina that was fantastic!

We waited for just the right weather conditions to leave for Norfolk and we were rewarded. We had a great downwind sail to Norfolk. This time around, the anchorage was pretty rough at night (midnight) from the barges so one night was enough. 

We had another good crossing of the Albemarle Sound except that the wind direction wasn’t the best. Fortunately though, the sea conditions were benign. We made good time and stopped again at Dowry Creek Marina - we just love it there. 

The nights are starting to be a lot cooler. Days are still warm. We sailed to New Bern, NC and were able to tour downtown. We got to go to a dinner there and visit with people we met down in the Caribbean several years ago. We would have stayed longer but they didn’t have space for us at the marina. 

We stopped overnight in Oriental and came back home to Dowry Creek Marina. Darrell pulled the propeller off the boat to have it changed to better match our new transmission. A shop in Beaufort did some change to the pitch and it might be enough. Otherwise, we’ll get a new propeller. 

We picked up a rental car in a nearby town yesterday. Now we’re getting ready to take a road trip east. We’re excited to see family again!!