Reflections on Season Three

Had a wonderful nine months at sea and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.   So much so that, although we love coming home and really enjoy catching up with family and friends, we both wanted to just keep on going…..  We don’t like leaving Morphie on the hard – and I get quite emotional about it every time – and now I spend any spare time watching for developing storms. Currently Tropical Storm Erika is flexing her muscles as she approaches the islands and is very large with winds extending 105 miles outwards.   The majority of the models show Erika heading towards the east coast of Florida…..  Obviously it is not an exact science and she may not survive beyond her interaction with her first landfall – but fingers crossed for everyone out there right now!   Stay safe Morphie.

So this year’s trip was different to season two in that the majority of the islands we visited were new, which we really enjoyed. The cruising lifestyle enables us to explore new places and to move around freely when the mood takes us.   Overall we covered almost 3,000 miles from Curacao to Florida via the US Virgins, the British Virgins, the Spanish Virgins, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos, the Bahamas and across to Florida.   We visited 45 islands with multiple anchorages in each destination.

So what was different this year?   Well, we spent more time in marinas.   This was a necessity in some places – particularly the Dominican Republic where the customs and immigration system doesn’t really allow for exploring the coastline in the way we normally do.   That said the Haitises National Park anchorage has to be one of the highlights of the season. In the Turks and Caicos we couldn’t access land from the anchorage in Providenciales so needed to pull into a marina to explore.   Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas was for a different reason – no working outboard engine because of our prop!     And Fort Pierce was our usual end-season marina visit to prepare Morphie for storage.   Another difference was also the use of mooring balls in the Bahamas – they are pretty well maintained and enable more boats to get into an anchorage than would otherwise be able. Plus the bonus was only $20 a night rather than the $30 a night charged in the BVIs.

What else? Well, we spent more time alone than we have been used to as most of our cruising buddies remained down island, with a couple of them swallowing the anchor for land-based adventure.   That said, the notable exceptions, were meeting up with Lyle and Julia on Orion who we spent Christmas and New Year with – followed by our annual reunion with Ron and Carolyn – in the BVIs. Then shortly afterwards we met up with Eric and Pat on Cutter Loose who we enjoyed time with in the Spanish Virgins and later in Puerto Rico while we were waiting for weather to cross the Mona Passage.   And of course we made up for it when we got to Florida with our delivery crew reunion, our reunion with Sha Sha, and our end-season land trip to Canada.

Anything else?  First thing was HUGE FISH…. Richard kept the freezer pretty well stocked with his Mahi Mahi.   Also the cruising grounds of the Bahamas are beautiful but many of them – particularly the Exumas Land and Sea Park have no infrastructure, no bars, no people – just great water, good snorkelling and deserted anchorages….   This was new for us and we didn’t realise just how difficult it would be to get basic provisions – luckily we had stocked the freezer before we left – but underestimated the need for beer and wine, so ran out a few times.   But that was good for us from a health perspective LOL. Oh yes, and we were disappointed not to get any diving in this year, but at $300 for a morning for both of us, we decided that we had other things to spend our money on.

Oh yes, and of course, the sailing conditions.   Skinny – ie shallow – water was a feature, particularly in the Bahamas and our depth comfort zone had to move accordingly. Couple of feet under the keel – no worries! Then there were the thunderstorms, the strong winds / waves, and the tides / cuts to navigate. So technically a more challenging year all round – which was a good thing.   We have come through without any damage to either us or Morphie and feel quite proud of what we have achieved – and more confident in our abilities for the future.

So – next season. Well, we return to Florida at the end of November.   Not sure of our passage plan yet – we’ll probably explore the Florida Keys, return to the Bahamas, and then meander around until we get to Panama where we plan to store Morphie again in preparation for a trip through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean in early 2017.   Options include Cuba, the Caymens, Cozumel, Guatemala, Roatan, San Blas islands…..   Any destination is up for grabs – but we need to research safety, customs, currents etc etc…. So there is some serious passage planning ahead of us while we are home.

So I leave you with some memories from this season and say a final bye for now. Please come back to visit again in November…..


Fun in Canada and back home in the UK

Tuesday afternoon we took off from Tampa on time.   Hurrah!   But when we landed in Chicago the gate wasn’t ready to receive us so we sat on the tarmac for 15 minutes.   Damn….timing was very tight….we had less than 40 minutes before our next flight took off now.  So – just like last year – we ran through Chicago airport. We arrived at the gate only to find that the next flight had been delayed, but they didn’t know for sure when it would be going so it was not recommended to leave the gate. So we made do with a sandwich while waiting in the queue. Finally we boarded the next flight and we were off – very smart small plane for American Eagle with all leather seating and very spacious legroom.

Plane to Toronto

We arrived into Toronto to face a huge immigration queue as a large Asian international flight had arrived just in front of us.   Eventually we were in front of the immigration officer and were cleared through very efficiently. The advantage of the queue was that our bags were waiting for us – so quickly through customs and to our reunion.   It was quite emotional as we hadn’t seen the Campbells for three years.

We arrived at their beautiful home, quickly got ourselves settled in, and headed out to the deck for a few drinks and nibbles.   The deck was being constructed by Sam last time I was there – and it is pretty much finished now – and beautifully furnished.   Very impressive!   Well….the time went quickly with much catching up and laughter…and suddenly it was 2am and we called it a night.

Fantastic deck furniture

Wednesday morning and we awoke to rain….   Oh well – never mind.   We went out shopping for some supplies and then returned to a lazy afternoon and evening.   Oh yes and Jayne cooked an amazing roast dinner for us – including Yorkshire puddings – as Richard had mentioned that this was the one thing that he missed from home.   Yummmm….   We ended up having an early night as doing nothing had made us pretty tired!

Thursday morning and it was a nicer day.   So Sam opened the pool for us and, after a leisurely morning, we had a bobbing session.   The gardens to the house are fantastic and all landscaping and building has been done by Sam on his own – there are still works in progress but OMG what an amazing job he has done….   Absolutely spectacular!  We had another evening on the deck with Sam working the grill – lovely day.

Bobbing in the pool Part of the back garden - lovely pool! Back of the house

Friday morning and it was a bit cloudy and grey again.   So we went out shopping in Jayne’s new car to the local mall admiring the quiet roads, lovely scenery and old buildings on the way.   We brought a few things – and Richard enjoyed trying on some Canadian hats LOL.

Jayne's new car

Old buildings in Orangeville Out and about

In the mall Silly hat time

On the way back to the house we stopped in the British shop – a regular haunt for Jayne trying to supplement her Canadian shopping – and we gorged out on Topic bars and Hula Hoops…   Funny how we manage without them when away but can’t resist them when put in front of us!

Visit to the British store

In the evening a couple of Jayne and Sam’s friends came over for dinner and we had a lovely evening.   They also emigrated to Canada from the UK a few years ago so it was interesting to hear how they had settled in.   Obviously we ended up with another late night.

British visitors

Saturday and we awoke to another stormy day. So we had a lazy one before going out in the evening to the Mohawk race track.   This is horse racing with small traps – and the set up is very much like that at home at the dogs (greyhound racing track for my international readers) although on a much larger / grander scale.

Mohawk night out Mohawk night out 2

Was very exciting – we won a few bets and lost a few bets – the all-you-can-eat Italian buffet was pretty good and we appreciated the TV monitor on our table as the windows steamed up when the heavens opened for yet another thunderstorm.   Although was a bit strange to hear shouts and cheering as the Toronto Blue Jays were playing baseball that evening too – some of the tables even had their TVs tuned to that rather than the horses. Why not go to the game instead?!?  Was a great evening – thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mohawk night out 3 Mohawk night out 4 Mohawk night out 5 Mohawk night out 6 Mohawk

Sunday morning we went further afield to a very large mall. Wandered the shops and got a new rucksack and some luggage straps – to replace those “lost” in the TSA inspection process – and then had a lovely lunch out at an Irish pub after admiring the cars in the car park!   Great grub….

Nice car Lunch venue

Back at the house we had another bobbing session in the pool.   Lovely way to cool off….   We then followed that by a lazy evening watching a movie. The season caught up with us and we were pretty snoozy pretty early!

Monday morning we were up early and headed off to Niagara. Richard had not visited before so he was pretty excited and loved the drive down there.   The roads are pretty quiet and deserted until you get to the main freeways and then you see the fancy trucks– and driving across bridges and alongside huge lakes with lock systems – it was pretty scenic.

Smart trucksSilliness in the car Lock systemDriving to NiagaraArriving into Niagara and we were impressed by the high-rise hotels and the manicured gardens.

Approaching Niagara At Niagara Manicured gardens

We wandered over to see the Horseshoe Falls first and the mist was so high it was tough to see at times – and, of course, sods law means that this was a scorching hot and sunny day.   We thoroughly enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Canadian falls and the US falls on the other side of the river – and the bridge which joins the two countries together.

Horseshoe falls In front of the Horseshoe Falls Horseshoe falls 2 Horseshoe falls 3 In front of the Horseshoe Falls 2 In front of the Horseshoe Falls 3 US side of the falls US viewing bridge Visitor centre Visitor centre 2 Panaroma of the falls Us at Niagara Niagara selfie

Bridge across to the US

The sight of the boats steaming into the falls full of red or blue tourists is a sight to behold.   The Maid of the Mist is now operated on the ‘blue’ US side – with the new boat the Hornblower operating from the ‘red’ Canada side. We were chatting on the rail and were given four free tickets for the boat by a Korean family. They had purchased a package and couldn’t use these before they left the area – and they didn’t want any money for them either.   I was sceptical that they would be invalid as we obviously couldn’t provide ID in the correct surname – but we went to the booth and they were valid so we only had to purchase one additional ticket. Fantastic result!   What kind people…..

Hornblower Maid of the Mist 2 Maid of the Mist

Hornblower in the falls

So we queued with our fellow ‘red’ people for the Hornblower and tried to get close to the front.

Waiting for Hornblower

Richard was very excited as he had never done this before. As typical boaters we did end up debating the size of the boat’s engines and the speed of the current LOL. Thoroughly enjoyed getting soaked and getting up close and personal with the falls – what an amazing experience!

Hornblower trip - US side 2 Hornblower trip 2 Hornblower trip 3 Hornblower trip 4 Hornblower trip 5 Hornblower 6 Wet but happy Hornblower trip 6

We then walked into town and had lunch at the Hard Rock café.   We were planning to go out to dinner later so we all shared meals…. which was just as well, because the portions were huge!   We enjoyed looking at the memorabilia too…

Hard Rock cafe Hard Rock memorabilia 1 Hard Rock memorabilia2 Hard Rock memorabilia3 Hard Rock memorabilia4 Hard Rock memorabilia5

Heading back to the falls we were going to do the tour ‘behind the falls’ but, unfortunately, they couldn’t offer us any tickets for at least two hours – and we didn’t want to hang around that long.   So we headed off but not before we had had some fun in the gift shop, where I was puzzled and fascinated by some traditionally-dressed Amish people purchasing some tourist tat. Wouldn’t have thought that was their thing!

Gift shop silliness

Trip to Niagara

Heading off we then went to Niagara on the Lake admiring the beautiful lakeside homes along the way – could fancy one of those that’s for sure!   The town is very picturesque and quaint and we enjoyed wandering around – followed by a drink in one of the hostelries…. Very nice too!

Leaving NiagaraStunning lakeside views Lake views Niagara on the lake 2 Niagara on the lake 4 Niagara on the lake 3 Niagara on the lake 5 Niagara on the lake Niagara on the lake 6

We headed back towards the Campbell’s home town and decided to continue straight on to the Chinese restaurant where we had reservations.   This is a huge place split between many small dining rooms so it doesn’t actually look so big once inside.


Richard liked the koi carp and I liked the giant panda climbing the greenery LOL.

Koi carp Save a panda

Once seated it is an all-you-can=eat buffet so we all went up and back as many times as we liked….and were entertained by a diver feeding the fish inside the massive aquarium along one wall.   Really nice evening and fantastic food….

Fish feeding entertainment Mandarin 2 Enjoying the chinese Mandarin 3

Back home we didn’t stay up long before heading upstairs to bed.

Tuesday morning and it is our last day. We were hoping for a pool day but, unfortunately, the weather decided not to co-operate. And the cable tv fell over.   So we watched movies, munched chocolate, ate English crisps and generally chatted and chilled. Oh yes and I helped Sam cut the grass – well, actually, I was pretty useless but I loved driving the tractor!

Cutting the grass

Then all too soon we were off to the airport and it was time for a very emotional teary farewell – can’t believe the week went that quick.   On the plane to London and had our usual ‘chicken or pasta’ dinner before trying to get some sleep.

Wednesday morning we arrived into London, picked up our waiting taxi and caught up with all the gossip on the way home, and then we were indoors and working our way through the mountain of post.

Coming into the UK Back on terra firma

Wow what a trip!   Nine months at sea…..and now back into our non-cruising life….all seems a bit surreal. Wednesday night we went out to visit friends and thank them for looking after things for us – as usual the house was beautifully clean and the garden was very tidy.   So grateful to them for their help and support.

Thursday and Richard went back to work on a short-term contract!   Leaving me with the unpacking, the washing and the sorting…..   He came home eventually to his dinner on the table and the scene is set for my domestic goddess duties!

Friday and another day of getting on with jobs while Richard was at work… In the evening we went to our local community centre to watch a couple of live bands – 60s style.   The first band was the 60s Project who were pretty good – although I did have to try not to laugh at the faces made by the drummer when he was playing!

60s Project Drummer pulling faces

Then The Rapiers came on – they were a backing band from the 60s and had two original members – think The Shadows and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.   Fantastic night!

The Rapiers The Rapiers 2

Saturday morning and it’s time for shopping…..and in the afternoon we picked up Mum for the weekend.   We had a lovely Indian curry on Saturday night followed by wine in the garden and enjoyed the balmy heat – yes, really, it is hot and humid here in London right now.

Sunday – today – and Richard has done some DIY jobs in the garden while mum and I have prepared the veg for our traditional roast beef dinner later today.   Now I’m on the sofa blogging……   Not planning to blog while back in the UK but will do a final round-up for this year’s season soon.

Bye for now


Morpheus delivery crew reunion

Friday lunchtime we headed off across Florida and chose to go cross-country which was a more direct, albeit slower, route.   The roads were empty and the speed limit went up and down – and we were conscious of the possibility of the local Sheriff hiding in side roads – so Richard had to curb his racing driver tendencies and stick to the limits.   Unfortunately no-one told the locals who were constantly overtaking us – on both sides – and speeding LOL.   Vast swathes of green countryside and lots of cows in the water-filled ditches keeping cool….and occasional swerve to avoid the tortoise crossing the road!

Route across Florida

We got about three miles from Brad’s address and, of course, that is when we got lost. We’d done well up to then!   We found a friendly local and got final directions and made it into their beautiful gated community.   Got cleared in by the security guard and drove to their place – we had planned to drive past and then return later – but, of course, they knew we were here now!   So we arrived an hour earlier than we had planned. Thankfully they were very pleased to see us – we finally met Sandy, Brad’s wife, and their daughter Kristen.

We then had a wonderful salmon dinner cooked by Brad – who it turns out is a bit of a chef!   Didn’t know that about him….   Had a lovely time – met Cassie the dog and the three cats.   Two of the cats kept themselves scarce but Cassie was all over Richard as always happens….. Lovely evening and so to bed – had been a long day.

Saturday morning it was nice so – after a fantastic fruit / omelette breakfast provided by Brad – we took Cassie for her walk around the estate.   Their house backs onto a golf course and the estate is immaculately manicured and around lakes – all very pretty.   Sadly I’ve just found out that the camera has thrown a wobbly and the card has corrupted – so I’ve got very few actual photos that I’ve taken over the weekend.   So here are some photos of the estate – sadly not taken by me!

Gated community Gated community 2 Gated community 3 Gated community 4

Saturday afternoon the storms came through and the rain persisted for a long time….. So we ended up learning a new card game and I won!   Beginners luck!   Was very pleased…..competitive or what?!?   We also had a monster sandwich / salad lunch….. so ruined ourselves for dinner LOL.   The rain finally cleared and we headed off to Siesta Key to meet Blaine and Maria.   This is a real tourist area and there is a strip of bars and clubs….   First stop was the Oyster Bar where we enjoyed some snacks and a few drinks and met many of Blaine’s friends.   This was the first reunion of the Morpheus delivery team in seven years – amazing how time flies – and evidences how long-lasting friendships can develop at sea!   Again photos lost….  Sad…..

Siesta Kay Oyster Bar Siesta Kay Oyster Bar 2

Brad, Sandy, Richard and I left Blaine and Maria to it and bailed out – but on the way back to the car we came across another of their favourite performers so we stopped for another beer and enjoyed Ben Hammond’s music for a little while before returning home quite late.


Sunday morning we had a fantastic fresh fruit breakfast – love the way that the whole family work together at meal times to prepare the food.   And Brad is making his second batch of bread of the weekend!   We were truly spoilt – they had even worked out our favourite tea – and had found a very good version in their local speciality shop!     After Callie’s walk we ended up in the pool and then the Jacuzzi….   Lovely.   And this is one photo that survived…. Yay….

Jacuzzi Time

Later on Blaine and Maria came by – and Brad, Blaine, Richard and I did our traditional bottle race in the pool to work out who got the next round in. A tradition we had started in St Thomas all those years ago – LOL – although the current in the pool wasn’t quite the same as being in the sea – but we managed!   And of course Brad won – so remains the champion – until next time…..   He did sink Blaine’s bottle though but I guess all is fair when your champion status remains at risk!!!

We had a fantastic steak dinner cooked by Brad and had a wonderful sour cherry pie cooked by Sandy.   She was worried about this – and the seepage of the juice on the crust meant that it looked like a Halloween face…..   So, now, this pie is known as the Scary Cherry Pie LOL.   Was incredibly tasty and I realised – to my embarrassment – that is probably the first cherry pie I have ever tried!

Scary Cherry Pie

We crashed and burned pretty early after that….so had an early night.   Wonderful day.

Monday morning and we walked Callie again – and decided to continue with our staycation – so back in the pool / Jacuzzi / pool and that is where we stayed!   Kristen came home from work – she is an intern biologist – and I cooked curry while Brad prepared the wonderful sticky rice. The bowls of food looked huge – but we managed to eat it all – and, of course, it was all topped off by Brad’s wonderful buttercream covered / layered chocolate cake.   Phew – stuffed!   Amazing food all weekend.


And then we realised it was our last night… we said a sad farewell to Sandy who would be leaving before we got up in the morning – and went to bed once we’d packed our bags again.

This morning – Tuesday – and we were up early. Did the final packing and said our sad farewells to Brad and Kristen – and even Cassie the dog looked sad that we were leaving….   We have had a wonderful time – thank you to the whole family for their incredibly generous hospitality.

We drove away and found the route to Tampa Airport – across a very impressive bridge to St Petersburg – and admired the views ahead. And yes, of course, the camera managed to capture these non-important photos!   Sigh……

Bridge to St Petersburg Over the bridge On the way to the airport

We arrived at Tampa – returned the car in the airport car park – and headed to the AA self-service kiosks. Surprisingly, as we are so early, they allowed us to drop our checked bags off. So we headed to the Marriott Hotel which is in the airport itself and have just had a very good breakfast.   We are now sitting in their lobby making the most of the free wifi before we go through security to the gate.

We are flying to Chicago today – followed by a flight to Toronto (fingers crossed as the connections are tight thanks to American Airlines changing the schedule….) – and we are excited about our reunion with Jayne, Sam and Katie….

It is lovely to finish our sailing season by visiting good friends – we started the trend last year by going to Wisconsin – and we think the trend should continue!  Although it seems forever since we left Morphie in Fort Pierce.

Bye for now


Goodbye Morphie – love you….

Wednesday morning we were up bright and early and went to the boatyard after a very nice breakfast in the hotel.   Today was the day we were going to start being a little more demanding – we need quotes and we need schedules to be fixed – and we won’t be in the boatyard after Thursday night. We are always surprised by the lack of urgency of boatyard staff – for example, we had someone on board looking at our whisker pole / boom vang requirements almost two weeks ago and we are still waiting for the quotation despite numerous reminders.   Sigh…..

We arrived at the boatyard – and found out that the detailing company Tip Top were going to be along at 10.   Great – things are finally moving….   They turned up, they crawled all over Morphie’s hull, cleaned her up beautifully and applied some wax to protect her from the elements in the yard.

Getting washed and waxed

We also organised them to clean the topsides once a month as there is a lot of dust here from the nearby freight railway and the birds are very partial to the rigging LOL!   And the final thing for them was to schedule to remove the wax and machine polish the hull just before we splash at the end of November. All sorted – yay!   And then the guys came along and tied Morphie down with her hurricane straps – so all ready to be left now that she’s fully secure.

Strapped down

Working down below in the heat is like being in a sauna – but it is important – so we have to grin and bear it.   You may wonder what we have to do so here is a shortened version of the ‘on the hard’ list of jobs we have been working to:

  • Run fresh water through the engine
  • Run fresh water through the heads
  • Secure boom
  • Canvas over the binnacle
  • Check prop / rudder
  • Screen through hulls / dorades
  • Clean interior teak with old English polish
  • Clean interior fibreglass with water and vinegar
  • Clean shower bilge
  • Clean main bilge
  • Fridge / freezer cleaned and lids open
  • Vacuum pack clothes / bedding etc
  • Open all lockers to air
  • Disconnect gas bottles
  • Close seacocks and “work” others
  • Spray lubricant into seacocks from outside the boat
  • Engine intake seacock closed
  • Overboard discharge seacock closed
  • Macerator discharge seacock closed
  • Remove knot meter to stop boat drowning from inside
  • Spray the engine with rust inhibitor
  • Spray the alternator with WD40
  • Remove engine impeller
  • Scuppers clear
  • Empty bins
  • Remove batteries from electronics
  • Vacuum pack and stow all electronics
  • Secure all lockers and hatches
  • Check and top up main engine / house batteries (fully charged)
  • Turn off electrics
  • Put out damp rid
  • Bomb the boat (bug killer)
  • Check props / tie downs
  • Give key to boatyard
  • Organise quotes / work to be done in our absence

By 2pm we had had enough – and had got most of our list ticked off – just final tasks for Thursday so we went back to the hotel, showered, and went out again to the huge Vero Beach outlet centre where we both picked up some new summer clothes and a couple of swimsuits = happy people!

On the way back to Fort Pierce we went out for dinner at the Red Lobster and had a veritable seafood feast…. Ginger and chilli crispy shrimp with lettuce for me; seafood stuffed mushrooms for Richard; and yes, I did start eating the salmon before I remembered the photo – it was that good!   After a nice evening and a couple of glasses of wine we returned to the hotel for an early night.

Crispy shrimp Seafood stuffed mushrooms Tasty Alaskan salmon Out for dinner

Thursday morning and we had a bit of a lay in.   Jobs for the day were to go to West Marine to pick up our final spare parts we had on order; to go to the Post Office to return some parts that were not quite right; to go to Customs at the airport to deposit our registration document which they require on file when a foreign-flagged vessel is left in the US without its owners in the country; and the final push at the boat yard and with the office.

Everything done – including taking delivery of our new Spinlock Deck Vest 170N Lifejackets – and we arrived at the boatyard to find that we had some quotes.

New liefjackets

Not all that we had requested but we’re getting there….. and even some work has been scheduled in.   I’m confident that we will get there now – and will deal with all the rest via e-mail going forward.   So….what are we having done? Just a few things:

  • Install a boom vang
  • Install whisker pole
  • Install serpentine belt
  • Renew the exhaust mixing elbow
  • Recondition the heat exchanger
  • Replace the zincs
  • Clean the prop
  • Renew anti-foul on the waterline and leading edge

Frustrating that we can’t do some of these ourselves – but this is a full-service yard so there isn’t a choice.   Never mind….have had enough of boat jobs for a while LOL!

At the office we paid our debts so far and gave them Morphie’s key. We did the final checks – then headed to the showers and the marina laundry to get everything clean and dry – then returned to Morphie.    We then said our final sad farewells and pats….   And of course I blubbed as usual!!!   Gets harder and harder each season to leave her behind and I’m feeling quite emotional even typing this…

Final goodbye

To cheer ourselves up we headed to the Harbor Cove to say our goodbyes and got a great send off.   The new owners are about to remodel the place so it will be interesting to see it on our return at the end of November. Then back to the hotel for another early night.

This morning – Friday – and we have had breakfast and packed up our room.   We have reflected on our sailing season. It was certainly exciting – with some challenging conditions – and loads of new places visited.     Nine months on board and almost 3000 miles covered.   Some wonderful reunions with old friends and we made some new ones along the way.   But that isn’t the end of this season – we have some more reunions to come.

Later on today we are heading over Sarasota way to visit Brad and his family.   Brad helped us deliver Morphie down in 2008 from the Chesapeake to St Thomas – and we haven’t seen him since.   So very excited about seeing him again and meeting his wife Sandy, and they are kindly putting us up too. It should be a fun-filled long weekend.

Then next Tuesday we are flying to Canada to visit Jayne, Sam and Katie – our old neighbours and great friends who emigrated many years ago.   First visit to Canada for Richard too…  He’ll need this Canadian holiday to prepare himself for work – he’s had a very good offer for the three months we will be home – couldn’t say no and it helps to offset all the spending we are doing with Morphie’s upgrades!

So all very exciting…..and I’ll keep on blogging…. Bye for now


Fun interrupts working hard in Florida – part 4

Wednesday morning we were up early and busied ourselves with more boat jobs….. By 2pm we were in our new hire car and enjoyed the drive across the state to Orlando.

Our new car

We arrived at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort and quickly checked in. We had a lovely large bed- some great complimentary toiletries – and an impressive bathroom.   Not too happy though that it costs $15 to use the fridge so we left that locked up – assuming that the minibar was hidden in there too!

Huge hotel bed

We went to the concierge desk and collected our tickets – City Walk passes for free access to the venues that charge entrance fees; two day park-to-park tickets giving us unlimited access to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure; complimentary water taxi to and from the parks; and complimentary express tickets so we could go in the shorter queue. We were surprised that they charged us for the lanyards to hold the tickets though….

After organising ourselves we wandered around the hotel admiring the Balinese-themed décor and the Orchid Lounge before heading off on our first water taxi ride to City Walk.

Loews Pacific decor Loews Pacific landscaping Orchid lounge Loews Pacific decor 3

Loews Pacific decor 2Water taxi transport

We visited Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and his plane; checked out the Mexican restaurant and Bubba Gump; before having a quick meal at the fast-food Chinese.   Full up we headed over to O’Briens to listen to the Duelling Pianos – great fun.   Didn’t stay out too late – had been a long day – and we got back and had a pontoonie in the hotel before we retired to bed.   Jacks Bar was a strange place, not least because we had four people who decided to crowd us into a corner, when the bar was empty! And I mean crowd us – one guy even had his arm on the back of my chair LOL.

Universal welcome

Full moon at City Walk View from City Walk 1 Jimmy Buffett's plane City Walk venues 1 City Walk venues 2 View from City Walk 2

Duelling pianos at O'BriensThursday morning we were up early and hopped onto the water taxi.   We arrived about 8.30 – fingerprinted up – and entered a very busy Universal Studios.

Ready to go.....

Universal studios entrance Busy at Universal Studios

Anticipating lots of speedy rides I was wearing my contact lenses rather than glasses – but made reading the map a bit of a challenge…   We admired the scenery as we walked around and spotted our first ride – the huge roller coaster called the RockIt. Almost walked straight onto the ride and wow – it was straight up / straight down and then lots of twisting, turning and inside out / upside circles.   Both of us felt a bit motion sick at the end of it – and said never again!

Rocket ride Rocket ride 2

We enjoyed The Revenge of the Mummy, the Terminator, and Shrek 4D.   We thought Twister, Disaster, Men in Black and ET were a little dated but the good surprise was the Minions.   Showing our age – we didn’t know about these little critters before – other than in adverts.   Jaws still exists but only as an exhibit – sadly the ride has gone.  Some interesting street entertainment too….

Universal studios 1 Universal studios 2 Universal studios 3 Universal studios 4 Universal studios 5 Universal studios 6 New friend Universal studios 7 Universal studios 8 Universal studios 9 Universal studios 10 Universal studios 11 He loves Lucy Universal studios 12

Revenge of the MummyRichard got Jaws!

Moving on we came across London – which is where Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley is located.   Neither of us had read the books or seen the films so wasn’t sure what to expect – and certainly not expecting to be chatting to a cockney clippy, hanging out at Leicester Square, walking past the Mansion House or going on a train from King’s Cross.

London! Kings Cross Leicester Square Mansion HousePiccadilly and the Knight bus Chatting with Clippy and Head

Inside Diagon Alley was also familiar – with some of the shops looking a bit like the shambles in York and the inside market must have been modelled on Leadenhall.   All very familiar and a bit surreal – especially eating Cornish pasties with HP sauce in an old school hall. I did have to laugh though when the server tried to explain to me what cottage pie and bangers and mash were as food options.

Inside Harry Potter Inside Harry Potter 2 Inside Harry Potter 3 Inside Harry Potter 4 Inside Harry Potter 5 Inside Harry Potter 6 Inside Harry Potter 7 - Leadenhall Market Inside Harry Potter 8

Dragon on Gringotts 2 Lunch Harry Potter style Cornish pasties and HP sauce

The main ride is in Gringotts Bank (the one with the dragon on top which does actually spit out fire every now and again) but it was already showing a two hour wait – no express line available here – so we left it for the day.   We explored Simpson World for a while…..

Krustyville Simpson land Simpson land 2

Then rain stopped play so we returned to the hotel for a few hours in the afternoon – and then went out again in the evening, did a few more rides, and stayed in the park for the parade.

4D selfie for Shrek

Parade Parade 2 Minions Parade 3 Minions 2 SpongeBob

Sadly the pyrotechnic spectacular was cancelled due to the weather – so we headed back to City Walk.   We decided to go to the Mexican for dinner – as they advertise a mariachi band each night – to find that they stopped playing at 9pm.   We stayed for dinner – wasn’t anything to write home about – and then tried the Bob Marley tribute club.

Statue at Reggae venue

Well – they wanted ID. Hmmmm….. we are on a night out and don’t tend to carry this around with us…..   So we showed her what we had – photo ID passes from the parks / City Walk passes and the hotel keys. Eventually she let us in without charge – but not very graciously.   We went in – and it was absolutely empty!  I wonder why???   The band was really good but there was no atmosphere at all – and the beer was pretty expensive at $9 a bottle.

Band at Reggae venue

So we headed back to O’Briens again – and enjoyed another duelling piano partnership – and even requested songs from our favourite guy….   We got back to the hotel about 1 am – having been the only people on the water taxi.

Favourite piano player Only ones on the water taxi

Friday morning up very early and hot footed it into the park just before it opened to the public – determined to go on the Gringotts Bank ride.  But first we tried out the Rock It ride again just to remind ourselves why we were not going to repeat the experience – and actually really enjoyed it second time round as we knew what to expect!   Well, glad we made the effort to get to the Gringotts Bank ride – it was fantastic. Although again very surreal experience as I worked in a very old bank in the City of London and I’m sure some of the designs of the floors, the counters and even the clerks – albeit without the elf ears – were eerily familiar!

Inside Gringotts BankRecognise these clerks

After this ride we headed off to King’s Cross station to get the Hogwarts Express over to the Islands of Adventure.   The station is a pretty good replica and the steam train was great – all aboard – who remembers these carriages on our old London trains eh?!?

Inside Kings Cross Station Waiting for the train to Islands of AdventureAll aboard the Hogwarts Express Remember these train carriages

As you go along the windows depict scenes so you leave the City and the Gherkin behind, end up somewhere in the country, before arriving at Hogsmeade Station which brings you to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.     Great set…..

Wizarding World station Entrance to Wizarding World

We went on the duelling dragons ride – the red side – and felt motion sick again….   Didn’t fancy the blue side after that!   Then we went on the Quiddich flying broomstick ride which incorporates 3D and roller coasters inside and outside the castle…. An incredibly good ride – but not on top of the dragons – so we decided to be a little more sedate after that.

Inside Wizarding World Inside Wizarding World 2

We headed off to see Jurassic Park and went on the River Adventure water slide. Well we got soaked and as we got off the ride the heavens opened. Torrential rain. We ended up having to purchase rain ponchos and carried on. We ended up on another water ride and got even wetter…   Finally we wandered to Doctor Dooms Fear Fall – which was pretty tame – followed by the Incredible Hulk Coaster. Now this was our favourite of all of them…..   You get shot out of a tube at incredible speeds upwards and straight into an upside down twisting bit…. No motion sickness here – just great fun – although I do admit to screaming a little LOL.

Islands of Adventure Islands of Adventure 2 Islands of Adventure 3 Islands of Adventure 4 Islands of Adventure 5 Islands of Adventure 6 Islands of Adventure 7 Islands of Adventure 8

Finally – wet, tired and cold – we returned to Hogsmeade for the train journey back to King’s Cross.   Took in some more rides on the way through and finally back to the hotel where we collapsed.   We couldn’t be bothered to go out again – so we decided to eat in the Islands Restaurant in the hotel. This is a wok place where you select vegetables and the chef cooks it for you with your choice of meat / fish / seafood / rice / noodles etc….   We had salad first, ordered wine, and waited in line for the chef. He was clearly in a bad mood because he quite surly to the group in front of us – then berated us for using the wrong bowls for our vegetable selections. How are you supposed to know without signage?? Anyway…. I ordered beef, Richard ordered chicken, that got cooking and the veg went in.   The chef asked what sauce – we both asked for Szechuan – and I asked if I could have my rice in a separate bowl. Well – I don’t know what he thought I said – but he promptly emptied my wok full of food into the bin!!!   What?!?!   Finally – with no apology – he asked me what I wanted and started over.   If we hadn’t already had some food we would have walked out.   The food was actually really good…… and we were entertained too……

Islands Restaurant entertainment Islands Restaurant entertainment 2

Going back for a second try and the Chef was very keen to make my curry a good one – but all a bit insincere and I think he realised that he was out of order previously.   Was a bit of a shame – we were looking forward to a chilled romantic last dinner here and this marred it somewhat.   I do, however, admit that I have shared this with the hotel via their feedback survey!

Saturday morning up early and we checked out – retrieved the car – and drove back to Fort Pierce, keen to see Morphie again.   We arrived around noon and she was there waiting for us. We got on with our final boat jobs that we could do in the water and collected all our goodies from the office – was a bit like an Amazon Christmas!

Shopping Shopping 2 Shopping 3Oh yes – and, as we cancelled the factory tour, Island Packet sent us our new sliding doors – as a goodwill gesture.   Much appreciated and will post ‘after’ pictures once we’ve filled in the hole left by the dead microwave.

Microwave space

Later that afternoon we headed to Harbor Cove for a few beers before bed and caught up with Chad.   An early night for sure….

Chad the bartender

Sunday morning up at the crack of dawn – we got all the canvas off and stowed; the main off, flaked and stowed; and I finished waxing the topsides while Richard scrubbed all the cockpit cushions. Oh yes – and Richard managed to drop the handle to our dodger into the water – so he ended up having a snorkel in the horrible black water. When he dived down – in only six feet – I couldn’t actually see him. I also chose not to remind him about the snapping turtles that I had seen previously LOL. Yuck!

Got it! Wash down

Finally – we are ready for hauling on Monday morning – and Morphie looks very naked in her slip.

Morphie naked and ready to go

Monday morning we slipped from the dock at high tide and we reversed safely into the concrete slip inside the lift….. I even managed to chuck a rope a good distance in a straight line….   All that practising with Blaine paid off!!

Up we go

Here she comes

Then we were being lifted – until finally we had to get off – and Morphie was out of the water. Nervous times these….. Her bottom was filthy – thanks to the water in the marina as we had cleaned her just before we left the Bahamas – but looked a lot better after her jet wash.  Getting a wash Getting a wash 2Then she was on the move to her summer position – she was chocked up – and the guys then started the krypton factor putting together the connector / rod cradle system.   Finally all done and we are safe and sound.

Stands on - now for that cradle

Cradled up

Off we went to the hotel – not allowed to stay on board on the hard in this marina – and checked in. Basic place but it only a bed after all…..   No restaurant / bar so we ordered in a takeaway and had an early night in front of the TV.

Today – Tuesday – we returned to Morphie and worked hard all day. Chasing the boat yard again for things to be done prior to our departure as always….   Still waiting on some significant quotes too…. Ho hum….   Oh yes, and of course, we don’t have the hurricane tie down straps in place yet…..   Back in the hotel now blogging and we are heading out for dinner soon – and another early night is definitely on the cards. Working down below on the hard is always very tiring in the heat but the list is getting significantly smaller. Who knows maybe I’ll even get a chance to get in the pool one of these days….

Bye for now