Saturday, October 24, 2015

Summer Update

I can't believe it is October 24th time flies!  After we returned from the Bahamas in June we made one of life's big decisions....we committed to putting Tie A Knot up for sale. Borrowing a time line from a fellow boater there are four stages in a cruisers life.......
Stage 1......Sailboat
Stage 2......Trawler
Stage 3......Motor home
Stage 4......Rest home
We skipped Stage 1 and now we have decided we are ready for Stage 3.  The current plan is to travel west and do some National Park exploration and spend the summers in Michigan where Gary can finish the restoration of our 25 foot Chris Craft Sea Skiff that he started some 20 years ago!! It seems that we are always ready to mix it up a bit!  Finish one bucket list and start a new one, did anyone, I ask, say you can only have one??? 
Patsy Cline......Crazy  (possible name op?)

Six weeks from early June to mid July were spent in hot and steamy South Florida in the boat yard getting the boat ready to put on the market.  That meant another coat of wax on the hull, paint the bottom and take ALL of our belongings off the boat and put them in storage. Not an easy task when you are going up and down 15' of ladder with loaded boxes! But I have a pack mule on my side....that man can figure out the logistics of anything and we got 'er done.

The STUFF in our life.....all stuffed into a 5x5 storage unit!

Our long climb to the 'summit'....notice Gary lowering bags on a rope from the side....just one of
the crazy things we put up with!

Since using the gas stove heats up the already hot cabin even more (our borrowed window air unit couldn't keep up with the high 90's heat in the cabin) Gary improvised .....this is NOT a sight one often sees at the Merrill abode.

A couple of weekends found us in Naples at Cory's house where the 'project car' was waiting for some attention......Gary & Cory bought it a year ago and since we are gone a lot it is a slow going project.  BUT.....this time they finally had the time and parts to finish building the engine. lots of sweat and 'bonding' later they muscled it into the car....Jess and I even got a few chances to do more than give advice :-)  Girls have muscles too, well, in my case...kind of.

The 454 engine built on the block Gary brought from Michigan 18 years ago. I am eating crow,
after a lot of heated get rid of that thing conversations over the years.
As you can see this is the technical part.

                                                                        1970 Chevelle
Cory, come on, a jar of mayo after all that work??

After this accomplishment we closed up the boat gave the keys to the broker and headed for Michigan for some cool weather and time with family.  On the way we stopped in North Carolina at our good boating friends Wayne and Colleen whom I have mentioned many times in my blogs.  They live near Charlotte on Lake Norman. We had a lot of fun eating, boating and crafting at Colleen's Craft Camp !

Dinner at Wayne's world...succulent sweat corn and yummy steak...and fabulous view!

               The fruits of our crafting....fabric Christmas Star ornaments, origami paper box and microwave bowl holders.
                                     That girl sure can come up with the craft ideas.....we had a ball.

After a couple of days in N.C. we headed north through Louisville and Indiana into  Michigan.  We had a lot of quality visits with family and friends and every time we go back I find I miss everyone even more....we have been in Florida for 18 years but our Michigan ties are a way it is still "home".  Hopefully our plans will come to fruition and we will be able to spend more time there.  This time we were thankful to have family and our very good friend, Jerry Lozen ,in Algonac for putting a roof over our heads and taking us on even more boat rides.  This was a bonus year for boating that is for sure.
We are so grateful.  

With my sister Jill and brother Mark at Young State Park, Boyne City, Michigan

                                                  The beautifully restored Lighthouse on Lake St. Clair  
                                                                    one of the "Twin Sisters"

Algonac Memorial to Gary's great grandfather ,Christopher Columbus Smith,
founder of Chris Craft Boats.

We returned to Florida mid September.  We spent a couple of weeks moving minimal stuff back aboard and putting another coat of wax on the hull.  Then we launched her and moved to Laishley Marina in Punta Gorda on September 25th.
We accepted an offer on Tie A Knot last week and are now waiting for the results of the survey.  An interesting limbo once again.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The End Of Another Adventure....

We are back at Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage after a rolling trip across the Atlantic and a smooth trip across Lake Okeechobee.  We have retrieved our truck and are busy with preparations for a few months in storage while we head north to escape the heat. For the last three years we have motored north in the boat. Since we have a new boat insurer and the boat can stay in Florida, this summer we are taking a road trip, and checking out some things 'inland' or in our case 'onland'! This is exciting as it is a change but the next few weeks getting things buttoned up here are going to be anything but exciting...more like grueling with the heat and rain.  Yuck. We will definitely be tieing another knot in our rope of life. I don't think 'heat in a relationship' is an advantage in this case. :-)

Sooooo...I could give you a history lesson on the Abacos, but I'm not going can Google thing I did find (Google of course) is the story behind the pronunciation of Cay/Key in the Bahamas....courtesy of Abaco Forum....

Paul Albury, in his The Story of the Bahamas, notes that the word "cay" is originally derive from the Arawak "cairi," which simply meant "island." The Spanish adopted the phrase and it became "cayo," (pronounced KAI-yo, almost like kayak). For the later English it became "key;" somehow the o was dropped. So we're stuck with the English pronunciation "KEE" and the Spanish spelling, "Cay."

We learned fast that it is KEY not K , but after all it is really an 'Island' much for 'tutelage'  

                                                   Times to remember.....                                                  

                                 Yvonne serving up her Plymouth Punch...mmmm good!
                           Jack from Trixsea our Aussie Friends on our last day in Green Turtle
                                       enjoying Yvonne's delicious rum concoctions

           The Sunday Pig Roast at Nippers touted by all as a not to be missed event. 
We all declared it probably more fun drunk and 30!               

                                      Joanne, Tim Gary, Sue, John, me at Nippers
                                              patiently waiting for our 'grog'
                                  Nippers on Pig Roast Sunday...before it got busy!!

                                                  Pete's Pub ....Little Harbour

The Trip Back across the big pond....
    We were nowhere near this close to this cruise ship...gotta love that zoom!
but, I did have to straighten the picture a lot...we were truly "rocking the baby"
too bad for Gary I found the best way not to get sick was to lay down and close
my helm action for me....except for "pottie breaks"

                             A dolphin in the gulf stream....water color is not enhanced
                    this is where they get the color 'marine blue'...and clear like I couldn't believe!

The Okeechobee Waterway
A Dive Site and Marine Habitat being built for Deerfield Beach on the Okeechobee Waterway

Unfortunately the story does not have a happy ending.

                                   Sunrise on the Okeechobee Waterway at Morehaven
                                          and finally....Sunset on Charlotte Harbor

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waiting on weather....

Plan B (again) with a new return route .... with the winds we have had I chickened out of the Eluethra/Bimini/Miami plan. The captain agreed to make me happy and we ended up getting to spend another week with Sue, John and Lucy. 
We left them in Hopetown waiting to head to the Exumas with Carol & Royce on 'Escargot'. We had a good day last Saturday and headed back around Whale Cay to Green Turtle. We are still here waiting for the winds to die down.  Hopefully this weekend will be the opportunity to come back to the states.  We are closely watching the weather. Once we leave Green Turtle we will be without Internet again.  Lots of traffic staging for this window so we should be able to get a weather update when we get to Great Sale Cay from another more technologically advanced boat!!  This trip has been a learning curve on communication in the Bahamas.  How did they do it before Internet and Cell Phones?....  (We are finding that out :-)

The Abacos......Clear turquoise water...white sand beaches....friendly skies...Kalik Beer...Cracked Conch...Rum Punch...Conch Fritters...Coconut Bread

It has been a memorable six weeks......

Heavy winds and heavy seas at Little Harbour

One of our very best days, Tahiti Beach

                                   Now THIS is what I have been waiting for!!!

 Lucy too,  getting into the Bahama Groove!

    Offerings from the Farmer's Market in Hopetown 

                                                      Oh no, I don't think so!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Life on a Rock

Here is our Route Map. The shortest jaunts would have been crisscrossing the Sea of Abaco but weather has dictated our every move so far.  We started last week going around the Whale and down to Marsh Harbour and then across and a little further southeast to Elbow Cay and Hopetown. It looks like the weather is going to start looking up so tomorrow we are heading to Man O War 
and then up to Guana where we will hopefully be able to anchor and make it to the Sunday free for all at Nippers. We were told in our first planning stage we HAD to go on Sunday. Obviously something special is in store if we can make it.  I am looking forward to being surprised.  After Guana (weather permitting) we will make a stop at Treasure Cay before heading back to Marsh Harbour for water and any needed provisions before heading south to Little Harbour and then Eluethra, The Berry Islands and Bimini where we will cross back over to the states south of Miami.  The time frame is still a little loose we are not in a rush.

We have had a great time in Hope Town and even Tuesday's down pours had an unexpected bright spot. While we hid inside reading and staying dry there were 5 young couples (that would be in age not 'at heart') on a rented Catamaran who were having a BALL! They had a French playlist of I would have to say it was Club musicand they were singing, shouting, and dancing up a storm on the aft deck. Then they would jump in the water, cool off and start all over again.  One of the girls aboard had a birthday and they all sang Happy Birthday in French. We really enjoyed it, it reminded us of all the fun we had when we were young and boating with our friends.

                                    On Monday we rented a golf cart to tour the Island 
                       The wind had started to kick up the Atlantic for this weeks bout of nasty weather.
                                                   Tahiti Beach on the south end of Elbow Cay
                    Lunch at Poppa Nasty's BBQ...and experience, hopefully not to be repeated.
                                       A better choice might have been'On Da Beach'......
                                    a bar and grill on the Atlantic...but  closed on Tuesday
                                                   One of the 'miles to' signs along the narrow highway
The Hope Town school...we found out that high school students take the ferry to Marsh Harbour .We talked to one man whose children were going to school in North Carolina where his wife is from. He told us that education in the Bahamas is not very good.  They only teach Bahamas history and when his A student kids got to N.C. they were way behind in everything. So he visits them every couple of months and the family spends the summer in Hopetown once the kids are out of school. 


                            Eight of the French Crew of Ten they were all smiles because Sue had taken pictures of them and offered to email them. Wish we would have thought to take some of their "party"!

Most of the houses we have seen on the Island are for rent. With price tags of thousands a week.
The man we talked to about the school was a property manager, a very good business to be in here.We asked who owned the houses and he told us mostly Americans with some Canadians and Europeans thrown in.

More of the beautiful foliage. A yellow Mandevilla with 4" blooms! The plants everywhere are so vibrantly colored it is a wonder when you figure they are growing on islands of rock that are covered in sand.

One of Hope Town's little critters a Leiocephalidae  (wow I could barely spell that let alone say it )
more commonly known as the 'Curly Tail Lizard '
native to the Carribean and ranging from 4 to inches.

                    A beautiful final resting place on a bluff looking out onto the Atlantic many of the graves were from the 1800's as far as we could tell. They were in pretty poor shape from the salt
                                                  and sand blasting over the century.

                               Poster child for the tropics.....A Coconut Palm against a vivid blue sky.

Even Princesses have to have baths......
this is one of the many indignities Bob the boat dog doesn't have to suffer!

It is the dawn of a new day and we are off to MAN O WAR for another beautiful day 
in 'da Bahamas!!