31 July 2015

Fried Chicken & Murals At The Seminole Inn | Indiantown, Florida

Would you spend $8.99 on fried chicken?

One of our entertainment splurges during June was a visit to the Seminole Inn in Indiantown, Florida for lunch. If you love fried chicken, then $8.99 will seem like a reasonable price to pay for the all you can eat buffet. If you're not a big fan of fried chicken, then you might want to order a fried green tomato sandwich or cheeseburger instead. Personally, I think you can't go too far wrong if you deep fry something - especially chicken. So, I think you can guess what I opted to order. I ate a lot of chicken. I did manage to squeeze some other bits and bobs on my plate from the Southern country-style sides on offer. Corn bread slathered in butter? Yes, please and keep it coming.

Florida, the way it used to be.

In our travels around Florida, I've seen other places use this phrase, "Florida, the way it used to be." There's a certain nostalgia for the old Florida, where the Deep South meets the tropics in small, quiet towns. You can find a bit of old Florida in Indiantown. After all, it is a small, quiet town. You won't find a Walmart here, people ride their bikes to the library and grocery store and the streets are never congested. 

The Seminole Inn prides itself on preserving a slice of old Florida. Opened in 1926, the inn was envisioned to be the focal point of a planned community which would serve as the southern headquarters of the Seaboard Airline Railways. Today, you can still see how the Mediterranean Revival architecture would have charmed visitors. It still does today. The fried chicken doesn't hurt either.

A brush with royalty. Kind of.

Wallis Warfield graced the gala opening of the Seminole Inn. You might know her better as Wallis Simpson, the divorcee who Prince Edward abdicated the throne for in order to marry her. She was the niece of the President of the Seaboard Airline Railroad and, as a popular socialite, she must have glammed up the place. They have a picture of her above the fireplace in the lobby which is kind of interesting to check out.

But the picture I liked better was this one of Cracker the bird.

This is what Cracker looks like in real life. He has shifty eyes and seems like he might bite off your finger if you got in the way of his food. I actually think he has a good heart. He just gets tired of hearing everyone talking about Wallis Simpson and probably wishes they would pay more attention to him. I'm assuming he's a boy bird. You never really can tell with birds.

Work off your fried chicken by walking up the stairs.

For me, the highlight of our visit was checking out the murals on the second floor depicting the history of the Seminole Indians. Indiantown was first settled by the Seminoles in the early 19th century. Did you know that the Seminoles are the only tribe which never signed a peace treaty with the government? 

As you make your way up the staircase, there is a large sitting room with books on local history, old photos and other bits and bobs like this Seminole dress. 

And then, there are the murals painted along the wall of one of the wings of the inn.

I can see why the Seminole Inn is a popular place for weekend trips, as well as for people to stay before and after they're putting their boat in storage at the Indiantown Marina. Fried chicken, murals, a talking bird and a bit of "Old Florida" - a pretty good combination. 

Have you ever experienced "Old Florida"?

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29 July 2015

The Time I Sent Someone Porn. Accidentally.

Yes, you read that right. I sent someone porn. Accidentally. Let me emphasize that - it was an accident. A very embarrassing accident.

You're probably thinking to yourself, "Hmm...how do you accidentally send someone porn? That sort of thing never happens to me."

Well, that sort of thing never happens to me either. Until now. Yes, I'm a porn distributor, a purveyor of filth, a dealer in smut, a dispenser of naughtiness, if you will. Oh, the shame. Oh, the horror. My face is turning bright red even now as I think about it.

So, here's a top tip. If you're going to forward something on, make sure you read the whole thing first. Especially the top part. You know, the top part - the part that most people normally read first. Don't do what I did, which is skim right down to the bottom part, think to yourself, "Oh, that's interesting. I bet so-and-so would find that interesting too." Whatever you do, do not hit send. Do not forward the link on to so-and-so. Please, trust me - DO NOT hit send.

Oh sure, they'll find it interesting too. Just not for the same reasons you thought they would.

So how did this happen? I was doing some research for some equipment we want to buy for our boat. Just an innocent Google query, which pulled up a list of innocent links. Or so I thought. Clicked on one. Did not read the top part. Then I hit send.

The next day, so-and-so said to me, "That link you sent me was a little risque at the beginning, didn't you think?" I actually didn't know what so-and-so was on about and given my middle-aged hearing issues, wasn't actually sure if so-and-so said the link was risque or the link was gray. "Maybe so-and-so doesn't like gray font?", was what went through my head. Here's one thing I've learned about what people who are losing their hearing do - they just gloss over things and move on. I've become that person.

So, I ignored the whole risque/gray comment and moved on. "Did you see that list at the bottom? Wasn't that interesting?" 

I'm pretty sure what so-and-so was thinking was, "Isn't it interesting that she doesn't think what she sent me was risque. Wow, she's into some weird stuff. Let me just keep smiling and try to end this conversation as quickly as possible. This one's a nut job."

Later that day, I went back and clicked on the link to check out the information at the bottom part again. Unfortunately, this time I read the top part too. And it was naughty. Very, very naughty. Wow, who thought something you could buy for your boat could be used for such {ahem} interesting purposes.

Since then, I've apologized to so-and-so with a very bright red face. Fortunately, so-and-so just laughed it off and said it was funny.


Moral of the story. Make sure you read things carefully before you hit the send button. And, if I send you an email, you might not want to open it up.

True story. I wish it wasn't.

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27 July 2015

Goo. Sticky Goo. Icky, Sticky, Goopy Goo. {Or, How To Procrastinate On A Boat}

While Scott's away in the UK, he's left me with a long list of boat projects, many of which are unpleasant. Like scraping adhesive off of the cockpit. The previous owners used velcro to hold up the seat back cushions. Seems like a great idea, except for one major flaw. The intense heat in Florida melts the adhesive over time and turns it into icky, sticky, goopy goo. 

I get to scrape the goo off. Not only is it icky and sticky, it's gross, what with all dead bugs and other bits and bobs stuck in it. And its proving tricky to take off. I can only do a little bit before I find a way to procrastinate away the rest of the day. Like trying to channel Dr Seuss - I'm sure children everywhere would love a book about icky, sticky, goopy goo.

Icky, Sticky, Goopy Goo

Goo. Sticky goo.
Icky, sticky, goopy goo.

Goo on my shoe.
Like glue is the goo.

Sticks to my fingers.
Gee whillikers, how it lingers.

Goo day after day after day.
The crew just wants to play.

Boat projects suck.
Cleaning up muck.

Procrastination, you say?
Why not. Let's go out and play!

Let's play on our boat.
Let me fetch us our coats.

Oh no! My coat is covered in goo!
Oh no! My coat was brand spanking new!

Goo, oh, how I hate you.
Oh you, sticky, icky, goopy goo.

You covered my coat.
And now look how you gloat.

I can't go away.
I can't go and play.

No play, just goo.
This icky, sticky, goopy goo.

See what happens when Scott isn't here to supervise me? I think tomorrow I'll procrastinate by working on illustrations. Not sure how to draw goo though. Anyone have any experience with this?

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24 July 2015

Cruising In The Abacos, Bahamas | Shakedown Recap

Now that we've finished a whole slew of posts telling you about our adventures taking our new-to-us sailboat down to the Abacos, Bahamas, I thought I would do a little recap of our month-long shakedown cruise. Want to know what we loved about the Abacos, where we went, what surprised us and how our boat held up? Then, you've come to the right place!

Our Route & Where We Went

We started off at Indiantown Marina in southern Florida, made our way through the Okeechobee Waterway to the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and down to Lake Worth near West Palm Beach. We anchored for a night and then braved the Gulf Stream to make our passage over to the Bahamas. Turns out it was an easy crossing, but a long one. After close to 22 hours, we dropped the hook at our first Bahamian anchorage - Mangrove Cay.

Mangrove Cay was the first of 24 nights we anchored out in the Bahamas. Well, 23 really. We cheated a little and picked up a mooring ball at Man O'War Cay one night. We skipped marinas entirely. The cost of marinas in the Bahamas doesn't really fit into our budget and we found the anchorages to be relatively uncrowded and with decent holding while we were in the Abacos.

We then made our way back the way we came and had another easy passage across the Gulf Stream. Over the course of a month, we logged a total of 527 nautical miles, burned around 40 gallons of diesel (to be honest, this is a total guess), consumed around 70 gallons of water (a more accurate guess) and ate way too much coconut bread.

The Good, The Surprising & The So-So

Some people talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of things they've experienced. Fortunately, we didn't experience anything bad or ugly (unless you count the trash strewn on some of the islands), but we did have a few surprises and some so-so experiences. I find when I read some blogs, it sounds like folks are living in paradise. Nothing ever goes wrong. It's all tropical slushy drinks, magical sunsets and smooth sailing. I don't know about you, but as much as I wake up every morning expecting to have the best day ever, in reality this is our everyday life and sometimes things are just so-so. It isn't a bad thing, it's just life. For us at least.

So what was good? 


This is the top of my list. In general, the Bahamians that we met were incredibly friendly, warm and open. You felt like they were happy to see you. From the shopkeepers helping you find what you need to the cute little kids asking you for a ride in your dinghy to the folks on the street who shout out a cheery hello as you walk by. Wonderful people. The only place we didn't experience this to the fullest was at Man O'War Cay. People seemed to be more reserved there. Maybe that's just the way they are on that particular island. But, I get it. I'm pretty reserved too. That's how I knew the Bahamian people were so special - their infectious spirit even got someone reserved like me smiling and saying hello to complete strangers.


I had read about the bread in the Bahamas before we went there (and in fact it was one of the few things I knew about the Bahamas, but that's more a commentary on how little planning we did for this trip, which is probably a whole other post.) Guess what. This is an example of where all the hype does meet reality. The bread is delicious. The coconut bread is super delicious. French toast made with coconut bread is super, super delicious. I think you get my point.


It's generally just a hop, skip and a jump between anchorages in the Abacos, so you can usually find what suits your mood. There are many uninhabited islands where you'll find just a few other boats anchored at and you can have all the solitude you want. Or, if you need to re-provision or want to grab a drink or a bite to eat, there are plenty of picturesque towns to stop at. Our favorite town was New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay. Chock-full of those friendly Bahamian folk and Miss Emily's famous Goombay Smash rum punch. A winner.


The water was warm. This might sound kind of silly to you, but when we were living in New Zealand, we only went in the water a handful of times. It was just way too cold, even in summer. So, being able to hop in the water and not start shivering within two minutes was delightful.

So what was surprising? 


To be fair, I don't think we did enough snorkeling to really get a feel for what the underwater life is like in the Abacos, but I expected to see so much more. The only other times I've ever snorkeled have been in Thailand and Tahiti and I was overwhelmed by all of the critters down below. I expected the same sort of thing to happen when we went snorkeling this time around. It didn't. We've talked to some people who said that there are better places to snorkel in the Bahamas and other folks who have said that the fish population has really declined over the past few years and it just isn't as good anymore.


The Bahamas are flat. Flat, flat, flat. If I had done any sort of research about the Bahamas before we went, I probably would have been prepared for this. As it was, when we anchored for our first night at Mangrove Cay, all I could think of was, "Wow, this is so flat." For some reason, I had it in my head that the Bahamas would be full of these tropical islands with rocky cliffs and paths leading you up hills to the top of picturesque overlooks. I never did find those islands of my imagination.

And finally, what was so-so?


Don't get me wrong, the Abacos are great cruising grounds. But we just didn't have the wind in our favor much of the time. So, we didn't get as much sailing in as we would have liked. We only have ourselves to blame, really. If we had let the wind dictate where we would sail to and when we would stay at anchor, then we probably would have had our sails up a lot more. Instead, we had that noisy engine of ours running way too much.


Marsh Harbour is a largest town on Abaco Island and it has everything you might possibly need, but we found it kind of dull. It lacked the charm of some of the other towns we had visited. Our time there was just so-so. It did, however, have a laundromat and a can opener. Two things we needed. So our time was well spent. Kind of. I'm sure there are other parts of Marsh Harbour that are great. We just didn't find them.

Shaking Down Tickety Boo

We needed to take Tickety Boo out of Florida for tax purposes. Plus, we really just wanted to get our there and play on our new boat. We could have headed up to Georgia for a while to cover off the tax issue, but going to the Bahamas was a much better idea and really gave us a good opportunity to shake down our boat and see what worked and what didn't.

So, how did she do? The short answer is that she's still floating and we're still glad we bought her. The longer answer is that she did great, we love the layout, she sails fine and, as expected, there are a number of things which need to be addressed. It would be kind boring to list all of them here, so you can see some of the things that need to be sorted out on our Boat Projects page, if you're so inclined. I will say that we had one major issue crop up at the start of our cruise and that was the windlass breaking. The windlass is the magic machine that drops and picks up your heavy anchor. Poor Scott. He had to suck it up and do it all manually during our cruise. It's top of the list of things to fix!

Overall, It Was Fabulous!

And why wouldn't it be fabulous? Spending a month on a sailboat in the Bahamas beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick any day. In fact, I might let you poke me in the eye with a sharp stick in exchange for going back to the Bahamas for a month.

Want To Know More?

If you want to read the nitty-gritty details of what we got up to, then check out our Bahamas page for links to posts from our time cruising the Abacos and if you want to see a detailed breakdown of what we spent on our shakedown cruise, then check out this post.

Next up on the blog...to be honest, I'm not sure. Now, that we've shared our Bahamas adventures with you, we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming of random posts about stuff like living aboard a boat, some Scamp travel adventures that we haven't shared with you yet, procrastinating boat projects, daydreaming about next season's travel adventures and daily life in Indiantown. Oh, yeah, we'll also tell you about the time I sent someone porn. Accidentally. What an embarrassing fiasco.

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22 July 2015

Sailing In The Dark Without Any Cookies | Gulf Stream Crossing To Florida

You might find this hard to believe, but we did the Gulf Stream crossing without any cookies.

After a relatively uneventful crossing to the Bahamas with some rather mediocre cookies, I was feeling pretty comfortable about crossing back to Florida despite the fact that we didn't have any cookies whatsoever onboard. What if things turned to custard? What would I eat to calm my nerves? In a pinch, I guess a granola bar would have to do. If only I had bought the granola bars with chocolate chips in them instead of the boring honey and oats kind. {Sigh.}

There's an important provisioning tip. When stocking up your boat, make sure your snack foods have chocolate chips in them. Except for your potato chips, obviously. Although, now that I think about it, potato chips dipped in chocolate - that might be worth a try. Has somebody thought of this already?

We weren't really sure about the weather. But, we went anyway.

Now before you start thinking that we're a couple of idiots and leave us comments about how important it is to check the weather before you cross the Gulf Stream, let me explain. We had struggled to get weather information while we were making our way to Mangrove Cay, our staging point for the crossing from the Abacos to Florida. While we were in the southern Abacos, we could get our daily forecast on the Cruisers Net on our VHF radio. But once we headed up north, we were out of range and there really aren't any other sources of weather unless you have internet access or SSB radio, which we don't. However, once you get closer to the States, you can pick up the US marine weather forecast on the VHF.

When we were at Great Sale Cay (the last anchorage before you hit Mangrove Cay), we managed to get the US weather report in and it looked good for crossing on Sunday. So we pushed on to Mangrove Cay and tuned in again to get an update. Problem was, it was completely different than the one we had gotten earlier that day. Bizarrely different. If I didn't know better, I would have almost thought the weather folks were playing a practical joke on us. And the worst part was it looked like our weather window was pushed out now until much later in the week.

No cookies, running low on water and only icky things left to eat.

There was no way we could spend days at Mangrove Cay waiting for the weather to change. Without enough snacks, the crew might mutiny. That's always a worry, especially as I'm the crew. I guess getting some more water might have been an important consideration too.

We were debating what to do. Head back to Green Turtle Cay to stock up? Check out Double Breasted Cay instead? We hemmed and hawed. Then we listened to the weather again. It was looking like if we left right that minute the weather would hold out just long enough for us to make the crossing. So we picked up the anchor at 11:00 AM and headed off towards Memory Rock, the final waypoint before you start the crossing. We figured we could check the weather again as we got closer to Memory Rock and make a final decision then - proceed or turn back.

Easy, peasy. No cookies required.

Turns out the weather was fine. The crossing was easy. And the crew had just enough snacks on hand not to mutiny. We put up the sails for a while, but the wind just wasn't willing to play ball, so we ended up motoring. Bummer. We were making great time too and starting to talk about how we might be at the Lake Worth inlet before the sun went down. I know. One should never say things like that out loud. Tempting fate and all that.

Things got really weird at the border between international and US waters.

And I'm not talking my usual "I see aliens and spaceships!" weirdness. No, this was more your garden variety drug runners and poachers. Pretty much the entire time we were crossing, we didn't see one other boat. Then, the minute we hit the border, it was like they all came out of nowhere. Of course, it was pitch black, so boats always freak you out when all you see are their lights coming out of nowhere.

That is, if they have navigation lights on. We were happily motoring along, when a speed boat whizzed across our bow without any lights. I had been starting to feel sleepy before that. Thank goodness for that shot of adrenline - that sure woke me up. I'm thinking drug runner - either dropping off packages of "goodies" to be picked up by another boat or collecting them.

Then off of our starboard, a sailboat popped out of nowhere. They hadn't had any lights on whatsoever, then boom - they were all lit up, right next to us. Were they picking up the packages that the other boat left behind? Did they turn on their cabin lights so that they could stash the packages in their secret hidey holes?

Then there were all the other boats that looked like they were fishing. Lights seemed to be optional for these guys too. Poachers maybe? It was crazy. I almost was wishing for aliens instead. They would have been so much easier to navigate around.

Then we crossed into US waters and we were all alone again.

Remember that don't tempt fate thing? We really shouldn't have talked out loud about how fast we were going, because whoever is in charge of the Gulf Steam heard us and decided that we were getting a bit cocky. So they did something to the current to push the western edge really close to the Florida coast and turned up the dial that regulates the current flow. So we slowed down considerably. It was long and hard slog to make it to the Lake Worth inlet, but fortunately it was flat calm everywhere and we made our entrance easily.

We found the spot we anchored at Lake Worth before we left for the Bahamas and dropped the anchor there easily at 3:00 AM. There's times when you're happy the wind isn't blowing and anchoring at 3:00 AM in a mooring field is one of them.

I guess the border folks don't work at 3:00 AM. Can you blame them?

We're registered with the Small Vessel Reporting System with US Customs & Border Protection. That means that we just need to make a simple phone call to check in once we arrive back in the States. Turns out they don't answer the phone at 3:00 AM. They don't even have an answering machine on. And every time you press the button they tell you to on the call menu, it takes you back to where you started. Nothing like an endless loop on an automated government phone system at 3:00 AM. It's a lot of fun. We tried our best to check in and then we gave up and went to sleep. After a few hours of sleep, we woke up and tried them again, got through to a human and got our arrival number.

It's really hard to sleep when the sun is shining and you're hungry.

So we got dressed, found a place to park our dinghy (for free at the Palm  Beach Sailing Club), walked to a nearby bodega and bought some incredibly cheap chicken. Not sure why it was so cheap. We don't speak Spanish and the guy at the butcher counter didn't speak a lot of English, so we couldn't get to the bottom of why they were selling it off so cheap. Sometimes, it pays not to ask too many questions. I'm not sure I want to know why it was so cheap. It tasted good and that's the important thing. Right?

Then it was time to head back to Indiantown Marina. Boo.

When we made our way from Indiantown to Lake Worth on our way to the Bahamas, I kept thinking how much of an adventure it was. Our boat was new to us. Going through locks and under bridges was new to me. Making your way down inland waterways was eye opening. It was pretty exciting. This time though, heading back to Indiantown, it was kind of disappointing. Probably because we knew our cruising was done for the season. Cue the cruiser blues.

LOGBOOK NOTES | Saturday, 6 June - Tuesday, 9 June 2015
  • Nautical Miles -135
  • Anchor Up - Mangrove Cay, Abacos, Bahamas (Saturday)
  • Anchorage #1 - Lake Worth, Florida (Sunday)
  • Anchorage #2 - Pendarvis Cove, Florida - across from Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart (Monday)
  • Final Stop - Indiantown Marina, Florida (Tuesday)
  • Total Crossing Time - 16 hours (Saturday-Sunday)
  • Number of Cookies - Zero 

Next time on the blog...we recap our Bahamian adventures and feel a little blue that our shakedown cruise is over. 

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20 July 2015

Rotting Our Brains While It Rains | Allans Cay & The Little Bahama Bank

Anchored on the Little Bahama Bank to do some snorkeling.

Personally, I like rotting my brain with movies and TV shows. 

I spent so much time in school cramming in boring facts which have proven to be useless in real life (despite what my teachers said). Is it really important to know that there are 88 counties in Ohio? Nope. Is being able to explain fungible currencies helpful? No siree. Is knowing how to do semiotic analysis useful? Not a chance. And math. Don't even get me started on math.

All of these useless facts and theories are just clogging up my brain. They need to go. And the best way to get rid of them is by watching lots and lots of movies and TV shows. Preferably, ones that don't require any thinking on my part.

Rainy days are perfect for staring at a screen. 

You always hear people complain about the weather (and, yes, I'm one of them), but to be honest, sometimes a good old fashioned rain day forces you to slow down, chill out and relax. While we were in the Bahamas, the weather was pretty close to perfect. Except for one day at Allans-Pensacola Cay when it rained and rained and rained. So we got out our trusty portable DVD player, popped in True Detectives and had ourselves a little TV marathon.

Until the battery ran out. And as we run on solar power, when the sun isn't shining, things can't get charged and the fridge doesn't run. So, once our marathon was over, we got a little bored. There wasn't even any cold beer to take our minds off of things. So we napped instead. I had nightmares about fungible currency monsters roaming around the rural counties of Ohio and kidnapping people and forcing them to do semiotic analysis. It wasn't a very good nap. That's what happens when you watch creepy TV shows before nap time.

We got the DVDs off of the free table at Indiantown Marina.

We love free tables. Obviously, because all the stuff on it is free. I love how cruisers leave unwanted stuff for other cruisers to make use of. You find things that you wouldn't normally buy, but which are fun to try, because they're free. Like quinoa and creepy TV shows. I wouldn't normally have bought something like True Detectives, but heck it was free. Turns out it was pretty good, except for the last episode which kind of let the whole thing down.

The weather was proving to be a big mystery.

I don't think even Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson could have solved this one. Well, they probably could of if they had a SSB radio and could pick up weather forecasts. Armed with only a VHF, which couldn't pick up anything at Allans-Pensacola Cay, we were clueless. Being clueless about the weather isn't a great thing when you're on a boat and want to make your way back to the States. But clueless we were.

We headed off to Great Sale Cay in the vague hopes that we could pick up the weather forecast from the States once we got there. First off, we made a little detour to do some snorkeling in the midst of the Little Bahama Bank near Pawpaw Rock. It was a great little spot in the middle of nowhere with not another boat to be seen. Except for the one boat that came out of nowhere, just as I was changing out of my swimsuit in the cockpit. Perfect timing.

Despite standing on one leg holding a fork, we were still clueless about the weather.

When you're trying to get reception on the VHF, holding utensils and contorting your body into weird pretzel like formations while balanced precariously on an object not designed to hold your weight will sometimes work. It didn't for us when we were anchored at Great Sale Cay that night.

The next morning, Scott managed to the weather. I'm not sure whether he was holding a fork, a knife or one of our useless can openers. To be honest, I didn't really care. I was just happy to have a forecast which told us that things were looking good to cross back over on Sunday. We headed off to Mangrove Cay to stage ourselves for the crossing. Once we got there, we tried to get another weather forecast. No luck. Of course.

We did, however, see a magical sunset with two setting suns. I'm not sure how or when our solar system became a binary one, but there they were - two separate suns going down on the horizon. We weren't sure if the other sun has always been there, but is usually obscured by comet dust or something. We gave up trying to figure it out and went to sleep wondering if having two suns was going to affect the weather patterns for the crossing back.

See how practical I'm getting the more time I spent on boats? I don't even think about whether aliens have transported another sun into our solar system as part of some preparation to colonize our planet. I just wonder what the weather is going to be like for sailing. Maybe I am getting just a little bit salty.

LOGBOOK NOTES | Wednesday, 3 June - Friday, 5 June 2015
  • Total Nautical Miles - 61
  • Anchor Up - Allans-Pensacola Cay
  • Snorkeling Stop - Near the Fish Cays by Pawpaw Rock
  • Anchorage #1 - Great Sale Cay (Thursday, 4 June)
  • Anchorage #2 - Mangrove Cay (Friday, 5 June)
  • Weather Forecast Frustrations - Plenty 
  • Oops Moments - Leaving the bung in the dinghy during a downpour and having to go out in the middle of the night to undo it.
  • Number of Barracuda - 2 (all released)

Next up on the blog...we finally get a weather forecast and decide to go for it and cross back to Florida. This time without any cookies. 

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17 July 2015

Going For A Walk: Allans Cay, Bahamas {Or, Graffiti Cruiser Style}

It's been ages since we've done a "Going for a Walk" post - those posts with lots of pictures where we take you on a little walk with us. It seems like forever since we've gone a proper hike or even a leisurely stroll. These days, the heat is just so oppressive, the last thing we want to do is go outside for a walk and melt into pools of slimy goo on the sidewalk. While we were in the Bahamas, anytime we were remotely active, it was in the water, swimming, snorkeling and trying to stay cool. But, while we were at Allans-Pensacola Cay in the Abacos, we decided to suck it up and head out for a walk to see the signing tree. 

It's pretty easy to figure out where to land your dinghy. Just look for the shack on the beach. 

Previous visitors to the island created this shack - otherwise known as the Allans-Pensacola Hilton. It's made of all sorts of crazy found stuff, like driftwood, old tires, a pizza sign and fishing nets. My favorite bit is the real estate guide box next to it - is it possible that washed up on shore? And if so, from where?

Conch is a big thing in the Bahamas. People love to eat the slimy critters. Personally, I'm not a big fan, but I do think their shells are pretty. You see them everywhere - even used as a fire ring. 

After you meander down the beach, you'll find the path which takes you to the signing tree. It isn't far and it's all flat. An easy walk, which is perfect if you're a bit out of shape and pudgy from lack of exercise and eating way too many cookies.

Within minutes, you're on the other side of the island and there it is - the signing tree!

Cruisers leave their mark on the tree to show that they've been there. It's a bit like graffiti, cruiser style.

Some signs are really creative. I like this one - I wonder where they got the paint from?

Usually, people make signs with their boat names. But, we did see a few folks advertising their blogs - like this one from S/V Shiloh. You can see all the effort they put into their sign, as well as pictures of making and hanging it here. See, their advertising totally worked - I went and checked out their blog!

Of course, we put no effort whatsoever into our sign. We just scribbled out our boat name and date on a swing someone had made. I wonder if other people have done the same thing since we were there? It would be neat to go back there in a few years and see who else has made their mark on the swing. 

Is this some sort of sunsmart bikini? You wear your bikini top over a shirt?

I grew up in Cleveland, so I was intrigued to see a sign for the Cleveland Indians baseball team. Did someone bring this with them or did it wash up on shore? We ran into Michael and Heidi from S/V Heidi Ho when we were out walking. They put a bit more effort into their sign than we did into ours. 

After checking out the main signing tree, we continued our walk along the beach. Folks have decorated other trees all along the beach. As we wandered, Heidi was looking for the perfect glass bottle to put sand from Allans-Pensacola Cay into. She collects sand from all the different places they go to and the various bottles remind them of their travels. Pretty neat. 

Heidi and Michael pointed out an old missile tracking site on the island. It was way too much effort to hack our way through the brush to get to it, so we just took their word for it and headed back along the path to our dinghy. 

If you ever find yourself on Allans-Pensacola Cay, definitely make time to go check out the signing tree. A very interesting little walk. And, I'm sure you'll be far more prepared and creative than us with your signs. Send us a picture!

If you want to see other of our "Going for a Walk" posts, just click on "Walk" under "Labels" on the right hand side of the blog. 

LOGBOOK NOTES |  Tuesday, 2 June 2015
  • Total Nautical Miles - Nil
  • Water Situation - running low, put our last five gallons of water from our jerry can in the tanks, but we still have some drinking water in jugs
  • Bread Situation - we're all out! (we've had to resort to eating pancakes for breakfast instead of French toast made with coconut bread - the horror of it all)
  • Number of People Seen at Allans Cay - 2 (Michael & Heidi)
  • Emotional State - sad, now that we've parted from our buddy boat (S/V Wild Blue)

Next time on the blog...it rains, it pours and we hunker down. Eventually, the sun comes out and we start to make our way back to the States.

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!

15 July 2015

Boy Racers | Making Our Way to Allans Cay, Bahamas

Wreck off of Powell Cay

Boy racers are obnoxious. 

I don't know if boy racers are a problem in other parts of the world, but when were were living in Scotland and New Zealand, we would often hear on the news about how the police were trying to clamp down on their crazy antics on the roads. We would also hear the boy racers roaring down the street in their modified cars with their music blaring and their engines revving. So annoying. So obnoxious.

There are some girl racers, but it seems like the boys cause most of the problems, at least in New Zealand. They seem to have a need for speed and a need to compete with each other. Racing feeds that need. 

You can find boy racers on water too.

I think Scott has some boy racer tendencies. He loves to race on sailboats and he obsesses about how he can make our boat go faster and faster. When we're out sailing, he'll look for any opportunity to race someone else. Even if they don't know that they're racing against us. 

"See that boat over there? I bet we can reach that buoy over there before they do. Come on Ellen, bring in that sail! Crank it! Crank it!"

Yeah, that's pretty typical chit-chat on our boat. 

The problem with the Bahamas is lack of wind. Or, wind coming from the wrong direction.

We really didn't get to do as much sailing while we were in the Bahamas as we would have liked. The wind just wasn't in our favor and we ended up motoring much of the time. If Scott has one complaint about the Bahamas, it was having to use our engine so much. Which isn't really the Bahamas' fault. We could have let the wind decide where we would go or where we would stay. But, as we were only planning on being in the Abacos for a month or so, our need to get around and see new places meant the engine was roaring more than the sails were soaring.

Fortunately, that all changed when we headed from Spanish Cay to Allans-Pensacola Cay. Not only did we have a good sail, Scott got to embrace his inner boy racer. I'm pretty sure the other couple didn't know that they had entered a racing competition. But anytime there's another boat heading the same direction as you, the race is on. At least in Scott's mind

We had met Michael and Heidi from S/V Heidi Ho the previous day when we were out strolling along the beach on Powell Cay. They were out paddle boarding and we stopped to chat with them. Nice couple. He's a diver with one of the Florida fire and rescue units. Some of the stories he told us about what's involved in his job were fascinating. Such a dangerous profession. I wonder what drives people like Michael to do what they do? Firefighters are amazing - they willingly risk their lives every day to save other people.

We ran into Michael and Heidi again at Spanish Cay. They seemed surprised that a night at the marina cost them almost $300.

But by the time you add up the slip fee, the electric and water charges, dinner at the restaurant and a case of beer, you can easily get to $300 for just one night. This is why we don't stay at marinas in the Bahamas. We do think spending our money on coconut bread is a wise investment though. Coconut bread makes us happy. That's money well spent. So we stopped briefly at Spanish Cay and splurged on a $6 loaf. 

Spanish Cay Marina - a pretty, but expensive place to stay at.

Then we all left Spanish Cay and the race was on!

We were all headed to Allans-Pensacola Cay. Michael and Heidi have a catamaran which meant they had more options about how to get there. While we have a relatively shoal draft, we still like to avoid hitting things and grounding our boat, so we picked our route carefully. Turns out we chose our route well. Turns out Michael and Heidi chose poorly. They hit a spot where there was no wind whatsoever and just floundered, while we zipped along.

And we won!

Thank goodness. If we hadn't won, then Scott would have spent hours afterwards dissecting the "race" and where things went wrong. Scott still spent hours thinking and talking about the race, but with a smile on his face. He's cute when he smiles.The next day, Michael came over for a visit and congratulated us on our win. I guess maybe we were racing after all. Scott smiled some more.
LOGBOOK NOTES | Monday, 1 June 2015
  • Total Nautical Miles - 15
  • Anchor Up - Powell Cay
  • Provisioning Stop - Spanish Cay
  • Anchor Down - Allans-Pensacola Cay 
  • The first annual Spanish/Allans Pensacola Cay Regatta was held and victory was ours!
  • First prize - French toast made with coconut bread the next morning

Next up on the blog...we go for a little walk on Allans-Pensacola Cay to see the famous signing tree.

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi! 

13 July 2015

Frank & Pantsy Feeling Sad | Green Turtle Cay & Powell Cay, Bahamas

Evy the Sailing Cat

It had to happen sooner or later. Our buddy boat, S/V Wild Blue, abandoned us to make their way back to the States. They originally tried to abandon us at Marsh Harbour, but we tracked them down at Green Turtle Cay. Like mosquitoes and noseeums swarming around you and leaving you with nasty, itchy bites, we can't be gotten rid of that easily. 

We didn't expect to see Charlie and Jane again, so imagine our surprise when we took our dinghy to the Green Turtle Club marina to get some diesel and water and there they were, hanging out with their cats. Their cats are adorable. Sugar, Smokey and Evy are their names, just in case you ever run across S/V Wild Blue and want to say hi to them. Sugar and Smokey will probably ignore you, but Evy will happily come over to your boat, make herself at home and take a nap in the v-berth.

Okay, that's probably enough about cats. Scott gets a little tired of me yammering on incessantly about how cute cats are and how we need one for out boat. He likes to remind me that Charlie and Jane's cats sometimes puke on rough passages and how would I like to clean something like that up. That's usually enough to get me off the whole boat cat idea, at least for a little while.

We got our diesel and water and made plans to meet up with Charlie and Jane at the Wrecking Tree for a bite to eat. Apparently, we had missed all the excitement a couple of days prior when Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and their kids were visiting Green Turtle Cay and had lunch at the Wrecking Tree. Jane said that everyone left them in peace to enjoy their meal, but as they left Jane tried to snap a sneaky photo of Nicole. All she ended up capturing was a picture of her handbag. I don't think she's going to get a job as a paparazzi anytime soon. Jane showed me the photo and, I have to say, it was a swanky handbag, especially in comparison to the tattered dry bag backpack thing I cart all my stuff around in.

At lunch, we sat in the very same seats that Nicole and Keith occupied previously. I kept hoping that some sort of pixie dust residue was left on the chair and that I would miraculously get long legs and pretty hair. I looked down to see if the magical transformation was happening. Nope. Same short, pudgy legs covered in bruises. I checked my hair to see if I had smooth, shiny curls. Nope. Same frizzy mess as always. 

To console myself, I had some mac n'cheese. You might be aware of my current obsession with Bahamian mac n'cheese. If not, trust me, it's delicious. And it's also a frugal lunch option. They serve it as a side dish, but one square was enough to fill me up (along with some fries I pinched from Scott's plate). Scott got a conch burger and we resisted the lure of Kalik beers and just drank water. Between the two of us, we had a great lunch for $16, which is fairly reasonable for the Bahamas. Better yet, we had the company of good friends.

Eventually, it was time to say goodbye - to Green Turtle Cay and to the crew of S/V Wild Blue. Tears were shed as we all dinghied off to our boats. We heard Charlie and Jane yell out, "Bye Frank and Pantsy! We'll see you back at Indiantown!"

Now, you may be asking yourself, "Who the heck are Frank and Pantsy? Did I miss something? Did they get a couple of kittens and name them Frank and Pantsy?"

No, we didn't get any kittens (see, I couldn't help myself with talking about cats again). Scott and I changed our names to Frank and Pantsy. Or rather, Jane and Charlie renamed us Frank and Pantsy. I'm pretty sure it happened that night I wore a toaster on my head.

Turns out, Jane and Charlie give everyone nicknames. Especially people they haven't met yet and don't know what their names are. Before we got to know them back at Indiantown Marina, Jane and Charlie would talk about this crazy lady who wore pants around the marina. They thought it was a bit odd that someone would wear pants in the intense Florida heat. So they called me "Pants Lady". Personally, my legs are the last part of me to get hot and I find loose pants comfortable, even in the heat. And keep in mind I have short, pudgy legs. They look better covered in pants.

{Note to our British readers - pants in this context means trousers, not underwear. Please don't worry that I was walking around the marina in my pants. I mean I was, but the type of pants you wear over your pants. And I had pants on under my pants. Make sense? I hope so, because both Scott and I have had some very embarrassing moments when we lived in Scotland talking about pants.}

The night of the toaster wearing, they told us about my alter ego - Pants Lady. Somehow, it got shortened up to Pantsy and, somewhere along the line, Scott acquired the name Frank. We even signed our new names on some wooden clothespins that Charlie and Jane had hanging up on their lifelines. Now they can always remember us when they hang their pants up to dry.

I actually think signing clothespins is a pretty neat idea. Every time you have friends over to visit your boat, have them sign and decorate a wooden clothespin as a little souvenir. Then whenever you're doing the wash, you can remember the fun times you had with them. I'm sure Martha Stewart has already thought this one up and is making millions selling clothespin decorating kits. Oh well, another money making opportunity lost.

After saying goodbye, Frank and Pantsy headed off to Powell Cay. It was one of the places we had missed when on our way down to the southern Abacos. We had a nice little sail, found ourselves at a pretty anchorage and managed to snug ourselves up close to shore without grounding ourselves. The perfect place for Frank and Pantsy to get over their buddy boat blues.
LOGBOOK NOTES | Saturday, 30 May - Sunday, 31 May 2015
  • Total Nautical Miles - 12
  • Anchor Up - Green Turtle Cay
  • Anchor Down - Powell Cay
  • Water & Diesel - Bought 5 gallons of drinking water and 6.2 gallons of diesel at the Green Turtle Club marina 
Next time on the blog...we meet some new folks at Powell Cay and Scott turns into a boy racer as we make our way to Allans-Pensacola Cay. Tune in to see if he won or lost.

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10 July 2015

Happy Birthday Mr Blog & Random Thoughts On Blogging

It's time to bake a chocolate cake - someone is having a birthday! Mr Blog turns two years old on Sunday. Can you believe that we've been blogging for two years now and that this is our 331st post?

When Mr Blog turned a year old, I reflected on what makes a good blog and shared some tips that I had gleamed from others (see here). This year (in addition to having chocolate cake), I thought I would celebrate Mr Blog's birthday by sharing some random thoughts about our blog and blogging in general.

Oh, and by the way, even though it was a huge flop last year, I've decided to reinstate the Mr Blog the Cat competition, in honor of Mr Blog's birthday. Mr Blog likes cats. Scott won't let him have any. Mr Blog isn't going to share any of his chocolate cake with Scott. The big meanie. Okay, here's how it works. If you want to enter the competition, email a picture of your cat (or dog or other fluffy animal, heck, even your pet armadillo is welcome to participate) to thecynicalsailor (at) gmail (dot) com. The winner will get the dubious privilege of having their critter's picture posted on the blog. Maybe there will be other prizes too. Or not.

It turns out Facebook is fun!

Who would have thought that Facebook could be fun. After having resisted Facebook for years and years, I went to the dark side last year in order to access some sailing related groups. After that, I created a Facebook page for our blog, mostly as another way to publish links to our blog posts. Turns out you can have so much more fun with Facebook! You can see in real time what people are up to in places you want to go to one day. You can read inspirational posters people create and then get inspired to create some of your own. You can even "talk" to people through comments and messages. Who knew? I'm such a late bloomer when it comes to social media, or is that a slow learner?

Don't even think about putting us in a box.

When we started this blog two years ago, we created it specifically as a sailing blog, whatever that means. I didn't even know what a blog was until three years ago (remember, I'm a slow learner). The first blogs I ever got into were sailing blogs. Scott had sent me links to a few to get me onboard with this crazy "buy a boat and go cruising" dream of his. 

I absolutely loved reading about other people's adventures - their mistakes, their successes, the funny things they got up to, what kind of boat they had etc. I absolutely hated seeing the pictures of all of the girls in bikinis on tropical beaches. They made me feel pudgy. Especially when I was eating brownies while reading the skinny girls' blogs. Fortunately, I found out middle-aged women also write blogs. Some of them were even pudgy too. I figured, heck, why not start a blog of my own. A blog about our own journey to become cruisers. The first year or so of our blog is pretty much about that - because that's what I was a little bit obsessed with at the time.

Guess what though? Turns out, our life is about more than just sailing. As time went by, I found I started writing posts about lots of other things, mostly travel related, but also some quirky posts that don't have much to do with anything (like polar bear spotting) or some reflective posts as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

When we were between boats, we ended up buying a 13' Scamp travel trailer and headed off on an extended land cruise around the States. I started reading tons of RV blogs and starting blogging about our teeny-tiny camper and our travels on land. Suddenly, things were starting to look less like a sailing blog and more like an RV blog. Some earlier followers who were primarily interested in boats stopped popping by the blog, but we also got new followers who were interested in our RV adventures. 

One day, I worried about this while eating a brownie. What type of blog are we? What genre do we fit in? Is anyone still interested in what we write about?

Then the plate of brownies was gone and I stopped worrying about it. Because I remembered the whole point of this blog - it's about us, our experiences, what makes us laugh and the nonsense we get up to. You can't put us in a box because we're about more than sailing or RVing or brownies. Our blog is about our random life and whatever we're currently obsessed with. Some people may enjoy reading the randomness. Some people may not. Some people may be into boats. Some people may not. Some people may be into RVs. Some people may not. Of course, everyone is into brownies. That goes without question.

So there you go, you can't box us in. Unless the box is filled with brownies. Then, I'll happily jump in.

There are some big meanies out there. Boo.

A blogger I know showed me an email one of her followers had sent her. It was downright mean. This person was unhappy with what she was writing about and how she was going about it. I seriously couldn't believe it. Although we've had a few comments over the past couple of years that border on nasty (and surprisingly are always written by the same person - Mr Anonymous), we've never gotten hate mail from our followers. I'm not sure people get it - if you don't like someone's blog, don't read it. It's free entertainment after all. If you're not entertained, then go elsewhere. 

By the way, the blogger in question wrote a very polite email back to this big meanie. I'm not sure what I would have done. What would you have done?

For me, writing is thinking through my keyboard.

I started making "inspirational" posters a couple of months ago. They're fun to make - like arts and crafts on the computer. And so easy to do - take a photo, slap on a quote that inspires you (or makes you laugh) and presto, you've created your very own poster. 

I particularly like this one because it really captures what I like about writing and says is so much better than I ever could. Which kind of sums of the difference between an ordinary blogger like me and a proper writer like James Michener.

I'm an introverted thinker, which means I process my experiences and my emotions inside of me. Then I spill them all out randomly when I talk. Usually without any context whatsoever. No wonder Scott always looks so perplexed. What I love about writing this blog is that it is a great way to think through my keyboard and articulate our travel adventures and other nonsense in the written word.

So there you go, some random thoughts on our blog and blogging. What do you think about blogs, blogging and big meanies?

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