April 3 / 9 - Sunday / Tuesday
This week is the final push to prepare for the Bahamas. We have completed all boat work (that we are doing before we start lots of traveling) and filled all tanks (water & diesel), purchased all cloths and food that will last us for the next couple of months. We finalized cleaning the boat and making sure everything works. We have been delayed 3 days waiting out weather systems that seem to keep marching across the country – but everyone knows about the snow in the north and the rain in the south. We are planning on moving up the keys to the Miami area (No Name Harbor) on Apr. 6 – 7. It will be a little breezy on Wednesday but slowly calming down for Thursday. Then cross the gulf stream to the Bimini Islands (Alice Town) on Friday. We should be able to check in with Bahamas customs on Friday – pay our fee and be legal. We will continue to the Berry Islands (Chub Cay) on Saturday and then shoot across the Tongue of the Ocean to Nassau on Sunday (we’ll be in Nassau for about 3 days). Then we’ll cross the Exuma Bank to the Exuma Cays. We will be in the Exumas for about 4 weeks. We will have very limited communications ability so don’t expect an update until later in April or early May. We should be back in the US the week of May 15. Have a good spring – we’ll think of everyone as we are in blue waters, snorkeling, and enjoying a relaxing time.
March 27 / April 2 - Sunday / Saturday
We are up to plan three for our Bahama trip. We changed from plan one to plan two on Sunday because we heard that the DeFever group wasn’t leaving for a week. We went to a Bahama Bound party Sunday afternoon (four hours of talking about the trip with the group) and changed plans again. We really like the idea of traveling with fun people so we are chilling out this week. We will take three days and drive to Cape Coral to see relatives and return on Saturday. As it turns out the weather has deteriorated and we have a front coming through that will hold us up anyway. Our new plan means more time in the Bahamas so stocking the boat will be interesting (how to stock for 7 weeks vs. 4 weeks). Fresh food will be more difficult to find, especially produce and dairy. I’ve got some of it figured out, but have this week to finish shopping lists. With the car I will be able to do shopping at various places more quickly – Walgreens, Buell’s, hardware, and liquor store. Hopefully the weather will quickly move out and we will be able to leave by mid week of April 3.
March 13 / 19 - Sunday / Saturday
We are starting a week of boat cleaning. We did remember to set our clocks ahead so it is dark now when we normally get up. The weather is in the high 70’s and there is constant sun. We are working in the shade as much as possible. We did go to a AGLA meeting Monday afternoon (4 hours) to get information concerning the Florida to Newark, VA intercoastal run. Got lots of information about places to stay (anchor and marinas) and shallow areas along this route. We also had the bottom washed this week. A diver went down and found only two barnacles (YEH! We spent a lot of money on the bottom so this was great news). We had to replace some zincs but that was to be expected. All in all we are starting our lists for departure, cleaning bikes, fenders, doing last of painting and varnishing. Of course we had our weekly activities of laundry, grocery shopping and trips to various stores to get Bahamas supplies. On Friday we went to Tides In for lunch – six this week and a wonderful group of people. More talk on the Bahamas. The weeks are passing quickly – the weather is ok. We can’t complain about cold and snow – hear from family and friends that winter isn’t nice this year up north. It has been a great winter in Florida this year and everyone here is happy. The spring breakers are starting down so stores and roads (all of highway 1) are crowded.
March 11 / 12 - Friday / Saturday
It is Friday so we had a DeFever group lunch – went to Seven Mile Marina to the Grill. Only 4 of us today – rest of DeFevers are at the rendezvous. We talked about Bahamas trip. Did a little boat work in the morning. We didn’t do much on Saturday – enjoyed the good weather with a bike ride.
March 10 - Thursday
We did the last of the shopping early in the morning and then Dave returned the car. Today the excitement was on the gas dock. About 11:00 Hallelujah started rolling violently. Dave was on the swim platform working on the outdoor shower. I jumped up to make sure he was ok and found that the parking lot was full of fire equipment and an ambulance. There were three boats (coast guard, US tow boat and a dive boat) at the gas dock. We are unclear as to what happened except that a diver drowned and they were trying to revive him while coming in from the reef. The rolling of our boat was caused by the fast speed in which these boats entered the bay and pulled up to the gas dock. The man (from Michigan) was pronounced DEA. We had our first really heavy rain in the afternoon along with strong winds. Dave had to adjust lines once and got soaked.
March 9 - Wednesday
We were up early as we had to go to Key West to the customs office. We found the drive to be ok today and when we arrived we didn’t have to wait long for our Fast Passes. We then went to old Key West and walked around for a few hours. We had lunch at Margarittaville Grill (this is Jimmy Buffet’s first restaurant) and thought of all the boaters from Michigan that talk about this restaurant. We returned to Marathon to run a ton of errands which required a car for large items. We made a big haul in just a couple of hours. I’m learning to shop fast in stores. Had a nice short cocktail with other boaters on the dock this evening to help celebrate a birthday.
March 8 - Tuesday
Today we rented a car – first time since December. We had to drive to Miami (actually the north side) to get to a bank. It was a long 2.5 hour drive but we made it fine. We borrowed a GPS unit from a fellow boater here at Berdines. Then we stopped at a JoAnn fabric to get some supplies and also WalMart to get my frozen bread. It was a long day and we put many miles on the rental car. We were both very tired when we returned to the boat in the early evening.
March 7 - Monday
Today I started to create a ships store listing of all food items (and other grocery store / drug store) on Hallelujah. This was a daunting task, but it will be helpful in keeping track of what food we have and how to declare it when entering the Bahamas or back into the states. We have been told that in the Exuma’s (the middle Bahamas) there is very little in the way of major food stores. We are to carry most of what we need as there will be a lot of anchoring. Some of the boats will be fishing (we won’t) so that is a main staple for the Bahamas, but we need to carry other types of foods and hope to purchase dairy and produce while there. Many people take bread machines but I will be carrying frozen Rhodes dough which is very good and easy to work with. So today was spent listing all items aboard and those that I would usually buy at the grocery store.
March 6 - Sunday
We started doing engine work this a.m. Changed the engine zincs (slow process as we weren’t sure where they were and had to refer to manuals), and checked the impellors only to find that they have started to break. This led to finding that we didn’t have two impellors so we could only replace one – had to order more impellors. Sounds like the Give a Mouse a Cookie book. One thing leads to another and yet more until we finally get to finish the job later in the week.
March 1 / 5 - Tuesday / Saturday
Highlights from this week: I finished an article for the DeFever Magazine - they liked the draft so I finished it. Will have to wait to see if it really is put in the spring, 2011 edition. We have started serious work on preparing to leave for the Bahamas at the end of this month - time goes so quickly that we sat and made a list and then started widdling away at it this week. We have to have boat documentation, homeland security clearance, and we can get customs documents that allow us to return and not have to physically go to an airport. We started all of this process this week. We went to a small DeFever luncheon on Friday (most of the boats have left for the rendezvous in Sarasota - we elected not to attend due to cost). They will be back to get us at the end of March. The winds have been strong this week from the east / southeast so no beach days. But we have had to wash the boat to get some of the grit off of it.
Feb. 28 - Monday
Last day of Feb. and we can't believe it! We've been here almost two months. We biked to shopping mall (which is about 6 miles one way) and bought more bathing suits, hats, tops and shorts. I also found some cloth table napkins. These are items we will use heavily in the Bahamas. Stopped at grocery on way home and met up with Pam and Stephen. They told us about a box wine to try. We bought and tried it tonight – not to bad. This is much easier to carry in the Bahamas. I spent the afternoon finishing the last no-seum screen for the kitchen window. We now can have windows open in the evening without having bugs in the cabins.
Feb. 26 / 27 - Saturday / Sunday
The weather turned hot this weekend. We did inside things like switching out winter cloths for summer and finishing books we were reading. We did go to a movie on Sunday and saw the Kings Speech which was lots of fun. We met other Loopers there that we knew.
Feb. 25 - Friday
Did the big two week shopping as Joyce took me to the grocery store this am. I am looking to move faster when shopping but still didn’t remember everything. We are experimenting with various foods that we can carry without refrigeration while in the Bahamas. Friday evening we had a dock party hosted by 6 boats at the marina (we are one of the 6) and some people who were visiting or who used to have boats here. Nice cocktail party that turned into dinner.
Feb. 24 - Thursday
Keys Boat works back to finish up sanitation system. Finally completed about 11:30. Barb quickly cleaned front cabin area and head from his last mess. Boat is smelling better but pump out is still not working well. We went to a Looper cocktail party at Banana Bay Resort (rode with looper couple from our marina who have a car here). There were about 60 people. We talked to many old friends and met some new loopers. Lots of food so we didn’t have to eat when we got back to the boat.
Feb. 23 - Wednesday
DeFever talk about Bahamas
We spent most of day at a DeFever luncheon. We rode with Jim and Robin from Adventurer to Summerland Key. Had a great lunch and did a lot of talking about our next leg – the Bahamas. Learned a lot of good information and found out that there will be multiple boats traveling together. Got aboard a DeFever 40 and they had a washer and drier (portable). We talked about getting the washer but decided to go with wearing less cloths and washing by hand while in the Bahamas. Do need coral shoes and snorkeling gear for Barb. Pictured are Stephen (Tides In), Jim (Adventurer), Dave (Hallelujah), Bob and Stephanie (September Song). There was a womens group talking about clothing and food stores to take. Others were aboard Bill Rudy's 49 DeFever looking around.
Feb. 20 - 22 - Sunday / Tuesday
The weather is hot so we complete all work early in the a.m. The humity really gets to us. The Keys Boat Works is completing the instillation and alterations to the sanitation system so we are also smelly! it isn't a great three days without the use of the toilets and having to clean bildges frequetly as they work.
Feb. 13 / 19 - Sunday / Saturday
The weather is imrpoving this week - nice days in 70's and low 80's. We continue to have marine plumbing work done - not a very fun job! We also completed work on the swim platform and reassembled it. On Thursday we got back to the beach – tried a new beach umbrella and chairs. Had a great time with friends! We also made the decision to stay in Marathon until the end of March before heading toward Miami and the jump off point for the Bahamas. Dave also made reservations here at Berdines for next year. We will have our same slip next year. We had more looper friends recently arriving in Marathon come over to say high. What a great marina to be in. Everyone (really!) comes to Berdines for the restaurant. It has the very best hamburgers and french fries on the keys. The parking lot is always full. And then they walk the docks - lots of people stop and talk or see Hallelujah and come to say high.
Feb. 7 / 12 - Monday / Saturday
Highlights of this week include the raw sewage system failed - we spent days trying to get it back into working order - but were not very successful. We finally called in a marine plumbing company on Thursday. We did ride bikes a few times this week. On Monday we ventured to the other end of Marathon (about 5 miles one way) to a mall to do some shopping. Then on Wednesday we rode to Pigeon Key (saw sting rays in the water from the bridge) and had lunch out. We also started maintanence on the swim platform ladder - needed rust rub out on stainless and revarnishing on wood steps. This took a few days of hard rubbing, sanding before we could see some improvement. The first rain in a while (just about 1/8 inch) came on Saturday. There is a drought going in southern Florida so we are asked not to use fresh water to wash the boat. But we are really enjoying being here and daily (even thought the weather has been a little cool (in 60's) we are soooo glad that we are not in MI.
Feb. 2 / 6 - Wednesday / Sunday
Most of this week was spent quietly aboard. On Thursday we did take the dinghy and go to the beach for lunch with friends. I got a bad sunburn by sunn reflecting off the sand. It was also hard sitting in the sand – not very comfortable. We quickly ordered beach chairs and a beach umbrella. We spent the rest of the week inside the boat so I was out of the sun. What a bummer! But I did get to knit faster (am making a baby blanket for my niece).
Feb. 1 - Tuesday
Sunset over gulf
Highlight of today was a kayak trip to watch the sunset with other DeFever boats. There were four that actually made it by kayak and about 4 dinghy’s with lots of others who joined us. We went out again tonight for dinner with a group from our marina. This was the first time we actually went in cars after dark to dinner. Had a good time and ate pizza (first since Oct).
Jan. 31 - Monday
Elegante - all wood craft
Yesterday Elegante pulled into Berdines Marina. What a surprise. This boat (see picture) was in the Michigan storage shed over 09-10 winter right next to us. We got to know Jack and Rene over the winter and when they were docked next to us in June at Whitehall Moorings. Jack and Rene just bought this all wood 60 foot boat from the former owners and were here to pick up a charter. We went out to dinner with them and had a great time talking about their adventures over the past 7 months.
Jan. 30 - Sunday
Took the bikes to the grocery store and also to home depot. We said goodbye once again to Osprey – we haven’t seen them since Grafton IL at the looper potluck dinner. They went to Texas with their boat while we did Chattenooga. We are beginning to see more loopers we know as we sit at Berdines. Quite day aboard. The weather is good. We have been visited by a Manatee off and on this past week but we haven’t been able to get any pictures.
Jan. 25 / 29 - Tue / Sat.
In reviewing my notes, this is a cold week. We did work on the boat and had various mechanics aboard. The water maker is again working and we had new filters installed in an easy to reach place in the engine room. We set the dinghy so it can be run after dark - got portable running lights. Next door neighbor graciously took us to the grocery store on Wed and we loaded up his car with lots of heavy groceries. We were running low on coke, water, etc. The highlight of this week was a pot luck dinner at Sombraro Marina (about a 2 mile dinghy ride) with about 30 Looper couples on Friday evening. Spent most of evening talking with people about Bahama leg of our trip.
Jan. 24 - Monday
I took my bike this a.m. and did a number of errands including having my hair cut. This was a new experience because I went to a Barbershop to have it cut. The price was good and the lady did a great job of cutting short hair. I had heard this from various people so tried it. We also had a mechanic on board to look at the water maker again – found that we needed to change the water filter (it had clogged up after the first couple of uses). The mechanic suggested moving some of the parts around so that it was easier to work with the water maker filters – so we had this done also. Now Dave is happy as he can get to the various parts of the water maker very easily. I started a knitting project today – haven’t knitted in a long time so a fellow boater helped me out with some questions I had.
Jan. 23 - Sunday
First craft project finished :)
We took a bike ride with friends – did 16 miles in about 2.5 hours. We toured parts of Vaca Key that we hadn’t seen before. It was a great ride. I also finished a cross stitch picture I’ve been working on for years. The hardest part was finding time – I did well in Lake Michigan but not well on the river system. The last part of this project (the outlining) took a lot of time. It is going to my niece for her young children. I’m not starting my next craft project – knitting a baby blanket. Hopefully I won’t be years doing this project. Dave is reading up a storm but also found some Kindle games that he has downloaded so he is entertaining himself.
Jan. 22 - Saturday
Cold out today – spent the day on the boat and did some cooking. I made bread and Dave made cookies – boy did we smell good inside. The wind today was above 30 knots – but we don’t move much in our slip as we just barely fit between the posts. These northern fronts are coming about every three days – so we don’t have many warm days to speak of. Glad I didn’t decide to put away our winter cloths just yet.
Jan. 21 - Friday
DeFever boaters in Marathon.
Our big outing today was a DeFever lunch at a local restaurant. Everyone goes to Hurricane because of the $5.00 lunch menu. There were 17 people at the lunch and most had larger boats than ours. We knew four of the 8 couples and there was one single handed boat represented – a woman who captains her own 48 foot boat. I was in awe! I don’t think I could single hand our 44 let alone 4 more feet. We hope to meet with this group again before too many of them leave Marathon.
Jan. 20 - Thursday
We took a bike ride to Pigeon Key in the morning before it got too hot and humid. Sure don’t think all of you up north need to hear me complain about heat J We did see a sea turtle while on the old Seven Mile Bridge (it was way below us). While I had the camera, I forgot to take any pictures L In the evening we went to a dock party here at the marina. The people are very nice and have lots of interesting information for newbie’s like us. The couple next to us went fishing and caught a lot of mangrove snapper. We both enjoyed the fish very much – great taste! We are finally beginning to settle in and feel like we belong.
Jan. 19 - Wednesday
Had to make one trip to the grocery store – we are lasting about 5 days and then need to replenish as we can’t carry much in back packs. This exercise takes about 2 hours – it is about 3 miles one way and when riding into the wind we go slower.
Jan. 17 / 18 - Monday / Tuesday
Rained most of Monday – weather cold. We veggied out on the boat. Tuesday we worked on the wood repairs and did some cleaning. Not very exciting life but it is relaxing. A new venture is that I have been asked to write an article for the DeFever Magazine – I’m letting the topic percolate in my head and hope to start putting words to the computer this week. Interesting topic that I hope others like – Living aboard as Partners. Something I’m finding that both persons living aboard don’t usually do – knowing all there is to maintain safety aboard a boat.
Jan. 16 - Sunday
Did paint work before we could play. Took the dinghy down and motored around Boot Key Harbor to look at boats and other marinas. There are hundreds of boats in this area – what a sight. Stopped and talked with old friends and met some new Loopers and DeFever Group members. Lots of nice people here. Then we biked to a small Looper party at a nearby restaurant. Had a great time hearing what others have been doing and where they are going next. Also found out about some great kayaking here in Boot Key harbor.
Jan. 15 - Saturday
Weather is getting better – in the 70’s during the day. We start repair painting on the cap rail today. Dave got two coats of primer on before evening. Also did house cleaning on the inside – we do have to try and keep dust to a minimum.
Jan. 14 - Friday
We had our first shopping experience with the bikes in Marathon – there is no real bike trail so we use the narrow sidewalks that run right along highway 1 – lots of fast traffic. It took us two trips each (about 4 miles each way – total of 16 miles) to get groceries to the boat. We even managed to get ice cream back without it melting – Dave is a speed demon when he wants his ice cream. There is a Publix, K-mart, Home Depot and West Marine. No Walgreens or other pharmacy. No clothing stores, but a lot of little restaurants, fishing stores and marinas. We looked around at other marina’s and decided that we really can’t do much better than where we are at. Some are very exposed, and others don’t have a lot of facilities – like a laundry. We were pretty tired from the biking today so did some napping during the day.
Jan. 13 - Thursday
Not a great exciting day – just did boat work, laundry and relaxing. Getting to know our environment and all there is to do here.
Jan. 12 - Wednesday
We figured out a way to get our bikes off the boat – use the dinghy davit and swing them towards the dock. We are bow in so we have no use of steps or gates. We just squeezed into this dock and to put the stern in means we can’t use the dinghy for adventures like going to the beach. So we will do what others on the dock do and climb over the railing at the front of the boat. We took a bike ride, stopped and saw friends on Tide’s In and then on our way back had an interesting experience. A car pulled in front of us and started yelling Dave, Dave. It was old friends from Whitehall Landing – our old boating neighbors. What a small world. Gordon, Ellen and Christopher followed us back to the marina and came aboard for a short visit. Timing couldn’t have been better. They were driving north from Key West. What a great day this turned out to be.