Wednesday, July 1, 2009

1st Year Departing Abacos & North to NYC 2009

April 20 through April 23, 2009      
Arising early with all our friends gone and no special plans for anything, we looked around, checked the weather and said…’Let’s go!’  The weather gods were smiling and access across ‘the Whale’ was good.  Seize the moment!  We gulped our coffee, pulled the anchor and off we went…smiling and heading back to the US of A and the beginning of our Great Loop Cruise up the East Coast of the US, through NYC and up the Hudson, via Erie Canal and Great Lakes to Chicago, heading back South via Mississippi and over to Cumberland River in KY and down TN and Tenn-Tom Rivers out of Mobile, across Gulf of Mexico to Clearwater, FL……arriving there by Thanksgiving.

We pushed the throttles forward through the Whale and then the weather turned a bit, so we hunkered down in Green Turtle (Green Turtle Club) for a couple of days til the weather settled.  Again, pushing forward, we went all day – and I mean all long long long day to West End.  Arriving late, we still took time to hose down the boat as that sea salt builds like crazy.  We grabbed a late meal in the dockside restaurant there, content to just sit and be waited on.  Pooped.

So much water & still junk floats in it
Pulling out early, we had a calm, uneventful 9 hour crossing back to the US, arriving on the 23rd.  Again, no luck this time fishing.  Caught nothing but lost all my line and lure completely by some big something that hit and ran.  Good thing stores sell fish, or we’d never get any…

April 24 through 25, 2009
Spending time anchoring in Lake Worth again and in a marina in Palm Beach, we were able to get our couch repaired by the manufacturer - warranty issue with the way the cushions sat on the frame - and to spend time with friends in the area.

This is the best part of cruising ---- the ability to catch up with friends all along the way…friends I would not be able to see otherwise.  We had a great time with Lila and Joel --- their inside look at Palm Beach and the impact Ernie Madoff’s  financial disaster had on this area was both fascinating and heartbreaking.

April 26 through April 30, 2009
Uneventful cruising back north up the ICW to Jacksonville.  Slow, slower and more slow with more manatee slow zones than I can count.  No problem, we love and admire these fat ugly creatures.  Making this trip up and down the ICW is becoming 'old hat', routine, easy but always enjoyable.

Near Daytona on the ICW

Never tire of the scenery along the way

Mom aboard Finally Fun
May 1 through  May 4, 2009
A great time had in St. Augustine and in Jacksonville spending time with my Mom and sister and celebrating Mom’s 87th birthday.  Again, the benefit of cruising….family and friends all around.

Sharon, Anne & Mom

May 5 through May 23, 2009
Well, ‘best laid plans’…..after spending hours building an itinerary of places to see and do along the East Coast as we moved slowly northward on our Great Loop cruise, we got THE CALL.  One of our beach condos had a fair and reasonable offer – with closing within 30 days.  As it had been for sale for 3 years – we took it.  We never planned to live in it and it was becoming a hassle to be an absentee landlord. 

Our condo on Clearwater Beach
View from our condo - will miss that!

Again, pushing that throttle forward, we traveled 9 to 10 hours a day, never getting off the boat, just trying to make time and get the boat back where we’d purchased her the year before at Kent Narrows.   Our plan was to leave the boat back at Mears Marina, have some warranty and other work done on her while we flew to FL to pack and store all our furniture and personal possessions.

Bottom line, we have traveled the East Coast now from Mears to FL and back from FL to Mears and seen basically nothing…no small town sight seeing to speak of as both times we have been under time pressures…ah well, there is always another time……another year to do so.

May 25 through Jun 10, 2009
Packing, packing, packing.  After downsizing three times, why is there still so much STUFF?  Finally got it all packed, finishing the night before the moving van arrived.  We are absolutely exhausted.  Would you believe, not all our STUFF would fit in the big van.

Storage unit (one of two) piled HIGH


On the date of closing, the movers were still hauling STUFF out --- second trip to the storage warehouse.  Made it in time, barely, and closed……Great feeling to not have to worry about an unoccupied and fully furnished condo.  Now, everything we (think we) need is aboard Finally Fun……wonder if the water line dropped down any??? Too much STUFF.

So much fun, reconnecting and visiting with almost all our friends in the Clearwater area, with many a dinner party.  And of course, spending lots of time babysitting and playing with Pickett.  We especially enjoyed the condo pool and the beach with the baby – bonding throughout.  A great time off the boat.
Pickett w Mommy in the condo pool

Geeze, if only I had a LONG tongue I could eat it all

Think I'm tired........asleep with my eyes open
Top of the list for repairs

Jun 11 though Jun 18, 2009
Andy flew back to the boat to pick up a big stick so he can move the ‘To Do’ list along with those charged with fixing things. 

Mom and I enjoyed a great road trip from Jacksonville to Scottsboro, AL, to see family for the week.  A great mini reunion (not all my 22 first cousins from that family could come) was had by all.  Grandma and Grandpa Devers certainly left a legacy of family….7 children; 23 grandchildren and not I don’t know how many great grandchildren there are… big clan.  I love the sense of family.  I even had lunch again with gals I’d gone to elementary school with in Scottsboro, living there three different times briefly while we waited for housing to open in some foreign land where Dad was stationed.  The kids in Scottsboro remembered me well….I was probably the only person who came and went in that small town, so the memory of me ‘stuck’.  Lots of fun catching up, sharing fond memories of times long ago and getting to know these interesting ‘grown up’ friends they became.

Jun 19 through Jun 21, 2009
Fun weekend in Jacksonville, when daughter, Stacey, flew in for a short visit with me, and with her Grandma.  This has been a wonderful five weeks, catching up with so many friends and family!  The reunions are always so great!

Monday, June 22, 2009
The travel day from hell, reminding me yet again why I retired.   Weather delayed my Delta flight, then after reboarding for the second time after 6 hours, there was a mechanical problem.  Long story short, at 2 AM, after 10 hours,  I got to Atlanta from Jacksonville, spending the night in a nearby hotel with no luggage.  Finally, onward to Baltimore some 20 hours plus later than planned.  Quick shopping to re-provision  before turning in the rental car and to bed early to depart.  Finally on our way.  So glad to be back on the boat after a month off Finally Fun.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Should stop speaking so soon.  Should have KNOWN!  Damn boat!!!  Two hours out of the marina, the Chart Plotter continued to fail every 5-10 minutes…incessant beep beep beep and NO data available to us.  Remember, this is the same RayMarine Chart Plotter that has given us problems since birth and one that was in for repairs for weeks while we were off the boat.
 So annoying …same crap about “well, it’s a boat”.  Yeah, well, I still expect some standard of performance and this isn’t getting it.  We pulled into a marina along the way and awaited the arrival of Rick, by auto, to try to fix it.  After a couple of hours of cursing, and no apparent resolution of the problem, we headed BACK to Mears, losing yet another two days of travel at least.

Much discussion of short term fixes vs long term repair – translate that to mean six weeks without a chart plotter….which means we can’t go anywhere…or spend $600 +++  to hotwire something from the helm station below to get us going.  All about throwing good money after bad as far as I’m concerned.  Would you believe, the thing WORKED all the way BACK to Mears.  The guys believe it must be a wiring problem and Rick jiggled something as he tried to repair.

I would SO ENJOY ripping all this OUT!
Me, I’m convinced the dang thing is very much aware that I am at the point I’m going to rip its innards out, wire by painful wire pull. 

I hope I instilled fear into this piece of crappy electrical spaghetti and it will continue to work.  I know I instilled fear?, consternation? amusement? into the hearts of Andy and the repair folks….they are surely tired of my bitching about it…Just FIX it please.

Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009
Pulled out of Mears Marina in the afternoon, after hours tinkering with the Chart Plotter….here’s hoping it works.

Finally Fun off Bob's house

On our way to overnight in Chesapeake City to visit Andy’s high school friend, Bob and his wife.  Uneventful travel, anchoring off Bob’s home on the C&D Canal, making very certain we were well out of the channel with all the HUGE barges that travel through in all hours of the day and night.  Bob picked us up for dinner in a rowboat dragging a canoe behind him for our transportation to shore.  Being used to a stable (ha!) dingy, one step into the rowboat and I nearly flipped it and me over into the water.  I enjoyed my dinner in spite of my wet fanny….

Thursday, June 25, 2009
Cheating death we thought was to cruise along the Delaware Bay…..We’d read so much about the potential hazards of this body of water and were relieved to have good weather with amazingly calm seas.  An uneventful couple of travel days!
Shrimping is huge up and down the East Coast

Friday, June 26, 2009
Cruised around the Bay into Cape May, NJ, getting about 500  gallons of fuel at Utsch Marina and then docking for the night.  Coming into this Marina is a heart pounding exercise as it is tight and narrow.  No backing in is allowed (thank goodness!)  Coming in bow first is bad enough!  Andy has gotten so very skilled at close quarter maneuvering.  Me, I always have a fender ready to grab should I need to protect us or some other object as we come in.  Thus far, never needed it thanks to Andy’s skills acquired over the past year!

Cape May is an absolutely quaint, charming town, with so many historic homes, reminding me of a stroll through Charleston, SC, only the architecture is so different.  We strolled for hours, never tiring of seeing what might be around the corner on the next  street!  This is a great town to spend more time in.  A must on any sightseeing list!

Saturday, June 27, 2009
Departed Utsch Marina early, heading ‘outside’ into the Atlantic Ocean for three days of travel along the NJ coast.  We draw too much water to be able to safely navigate the NJ Intercoastal waterway.  Another uneventful travel day, watching the Jersey coastline go by, about three miles off our port side as we cruised north to Atlantic City, the first available inlet we could traverse safely inside in order to spend the night.

Finding a great anchorage just off the main drag of Atlantic City, we settled in for the night.  Ooops, the generator failed to work.

Welcome to Atlantic City - they need a God of Casinos instead.

Honkey Tonk Atlantic City
Andy spent the next couple of hours in the zillion degree HOT engine room replacing impellers so we could have power for the evening and allow the batteries to get recharged.  He got the old impeller out, got all the little pieces of the broken impeller OUT and feeling proud of himself, flipped the generator on.  Zoom Zoom.  It worked.....for one second.

At the moment the generator shut itself down, Andy realized he had NOT turned the water on that cools the system.  Yup, Andy patiently fished out the tiny pieces of impeller from the NEWLY installed impeller, replaced it with another new impeller and YES, turned the water on.  Success.  All works now.  A great feeling of satisfaction when the job was completed…Another skill mastered by Andy!  Talk about hot and sweaty, however!

Sunday, June 28, 2009
Pulled anchor early, headed to Brielle Yacht Club in Manasquan Inlet., the only other inlet safe enough to travel through from the Ocean.  We shot through the crowded, busy inlet with no problems, although we were both a little intimidated by the whole thing.  We had a great time at dinner with one of my former bosses and later, peer VP, from Novartis, John, his wife, Lori and two sons and John’s parents who were visiting from Illinois, all staying at their beach house not far from the Inlet. We had a wonderful time catching up with all of them.

Monday, June 29, through July 1, 2009

Awe inspiring to cruise up the NY Harbor, one of the busiest harbors in the world, into one of the largest cities in the world!  Seeing the Statute of Liberty and then the NYC skyline from our boat was exciting and elicits such a feeling of pride in our country.

I had the helm coming in and was frankly a bit (?!) nervous looking at the AIS blinking constantly at me, warning of barges, tugs and ferries nearby on collision courses with Finally Fun.  Those NY ferries are like gnats in your face at a picnic --- buzzing around EVERYWHERE, darting across the channel back and forth.  I was never certain which way they were headed or when they would make a turn to head into a wharf to dock!

Docked at Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club, with our bow pointed directly across the NY Harbor at the Empire State Building, we had quite a view of the city – the skyline changing as the sun went down and the lights started coming on was so very beautiful!
View from our bow at Lincoln Harbor Marina, NJ

I, especially, had a great time entertaining friends from my former life at Novartis on board Finally Fun, catching up on news, gossip and friendships.  I missed a few, which I look forward to catching up with on our return trip back down the Hudson in September.

Sharon, Linda & Ilene

Novartis' finest:  Sonny, Adrian, Lisa, Maria & Sharon

Having been into NYC so many times while living in NJ before I retired, neither of us felt the need to go sightseeing, spending time cleaning and catching up on the ‘to do’ lists and awaiting the arrival of Chase, Andy’s 13 year old grandson.  He’ll cruise with us for six weeks, flying back to Oklahoma City on August 14 from Montreal, Canada.  I hope he has as much fun aboard as I know we will with him here!

Having been into NYC so many times while living in NJ before I retired, neither of us felt the need to go sightseeing, spending time cleaning and catching up on the ‘to do’ lists and awaiting the arrival of Chase, Andy’s 13 year old grandson.  He’ll cruise with us for six weeks, flying back to Oklahoma City on August 14 from Montreal, Canada.  I hope he has as much fun aboard as I know we will with him here!

View from our NJ slip
As soon as Chase is on board, we will pull out, heading north to the Erie Canal and through what is called the Triangle Loop through Canada and back into the USA through Lake Champlain.
Chase says This Is NOT Oklahoma!!!!

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