Happy New Year from Fort Lauderdale

Christmas Eve we went to the bar around four as they were closing early.  Had a lovely time and were back on board by around 8.30 so had a few pontoonies in the cockpit before heading to bed.   It was quite magical to see all the birds roosting in the bushes for the night and the lights twinkling in the rigging.

Merry Christmas from the Cove

Time for bed

Christmas morning we opened our cards and then got down to our sausage roll and cheese puff production line.

Christmas morning

Sausage rolls

Then at 11 we took our goodies to the pot luck or rather two large bowls of sausage rolls – the cheese puffs were too good to give away and we’d eaten them all LOL. There were quite a few people there and we drank our champagne and orange juice, ate nibbles, and chatted.   The sausage rolls were a success – people didn’t know what they were – so a bit of a novelty factor thrown in.   About 1pm we headed back to Morphie – had a nap – then sat in the cockpit for a quiet evening enjoying the full moon.

Pot luck Christmas Pot Luck Christmas 2 Pot Luck Christmas 3

Boxing Day – Saturday – and the marina started to get busy as people returned to their boats from the holidays. We went early to the lounge as we wanted to check the latest weather…. Well – our planned Saturday or even a Sunday departure didn’t look fun.   The wind is currently coming from the south east so it’s going to be a beat into wind and waves and the gusts were stronger than we fancied for our first overnighter…. So we decided to put our departure back to Monday – we are paid up in the marina until then anyway – when the wind looks a lot kinder…

Decision made we phoned Fort Lauderdale to make reservations – there are a couple of anchorages but quite a long way from the boardwalk and the beach – so it looks like we’ll need to go into another Marina to explore properly.   Well our first choice was full – oops – and the city mooring field (with only 10 balls) is on a first come first served basis with no reservations allowed which is taking a bit of a risk so we started to ring around.   Well it goes from the cheapest – $55 a night in the heart of downtown to $160+ a night near the beach / shops etc.   Did some research on the downtown ones up the New River and came across a cruiser review who said “they were a little put off by the number of homeless people that sleep nearby”.   Hmmm – don’t fancy that then. So we ended up booking the Hall of Fame Marina which is close to all the amenities and should be a good place to celebrate New Year from.

Hall of Fame marina

Not moving on now so we carried on doing jobs – we did the laundry; cleaned and protected all the upholstery; ran the engine and did all pre-passage checks; and still confused by the freezer’s intermittent issues did more research.   We also looked at charts and pilot books to see where we will stay after Fort Lauderdale.     We have never been so prepared to go to sea.   In the evening we headed to the bar and had a nice evening with Tim and Jack….

Sunday morning and Richard was looking at our hatches – a couple of the locks had broken.   He utilised the locking pieces from inside the anchor locker – we don’t need to be able to lock that from the inside LOL – and managed to find a way to fix them and actually made a spare too. Genius!  I carried on spring cleaning – today it was the heads (ie bathroom)…. Everything got scrubbed and polished.   Then I tackled the cooker, the galley and paid special attention to the taps.   Morphie is sparkling!

Sparkling clean Sparkling clean 2

Richard carried on trying to troubleshoot the freezer and use his new gauges, but nothing changed – all food still frozen though – so starting to suspect the thermometer is giving false readings. We then went to the lounge to double check weather and download the appropriate NOAA charts.   Still looking good for a Monday departure so we returned to Morphie and put in our waypoints and set up our route, checked bridge opening times, tides etc.

Refrigeration gauges

After dinner on board we were just heading to the bar when Chad came by…. followed shortly afterwards by Tim… so we had an impromptu cockpit gathering over a few beers and dark and stormys.   Then we legged it to the bar for closing time as we wanted to say our goodbyes.   Had a lovely send off by everyone – they have looked after us very well during our stay here.

Monday morning and grrrr the freezer is playing up again and has got very iced up overnight – so I quickly defrosted it while Richard played with the gas levels again. The compressors started first time and the temperatures dropped appropriately – so hopefully, fingers crossed, we have fixed it this time.   We then filled up the water tanks, did our final weather download, and got ready to leave the slip.   Tim came to see us off with a gift of a bottle of bubbly for New Year’s Eve – thanks!   And so we slipped out with Tim and Jack both waving us off. We’ll miss these guys – we’ve had a laugh with them.

We headed out in the channel – disturbing a pelican sleeping on top of the piling – and into the ICW.

Leaving Fort Pierce

Sorry did I wake you up

We dropped our hook and got a good set and then settled down for a restful afternoon – departure time set for 4pm.  We were very happy to have finally escaped LOL.

Happy to be at anchor

The wind was howling and much stronger than forecast….and we listened to the radio to get more information….but the forecast we had downloaded was still the one being announced.   We decided to continue as planned and, after a snooze and a quick cook up, we headed off out the inlet into the Atlantic.   The waves were raging and it wasn’t pleasant but it wasn’t too bad either so we decided to carry on.  We then turned on the autopilot – and, oh no, it wasn’t working.   We have checked, double and triple checked everything on Morphie and, guess what, we forgot this.   Dingbats!!!   Well…that means we are hand steering….great.   So we decided not to follow our normal three hour shift pattern and do an hour about instead – it was only for 18 hours after all.

The wind was 25 knots on the nose – what happened to the forecast easterly direction? – so motored into it.   The waves were coming at us at double the forecast height….and it was damned uncomfortable.   But, hey, these things happen. So we carried on switching shifts and hand steering.   The sun went down and, for a minute, the seas smoothed and things were looking more comfortable.

Sunset at sea

Ha ha….what a joke! The sea was battering us from all directions – we had green water over both sides and over the bow – and we couldn’t sleep on the cushions in the cockpit as it was too dangerous so we put a seat cushion on the cockpit floor and hunkered down there to get some rest between shifts.   It worked really well and was much safer although Richard did take a tumble and punctured his leg on a shackle so we had to do some emergency first aid too…

Richard's damaged knee

Oh what fun. Finally the light started to come through, the sun came up, and I went flying this time but only got grazed. Of course we are wearing lifejackets and are harnessed up so no harm done other than some bruises and to our pride LOL.

Sunrise at sea

Later in the morning – about an hour out of Fort Lauderdale – the sky is blue, the seas are flattening and the wind switched around to an angle we could actually sail. But we were tired and fed up so carried on motoring just to get there…… The huge buildings are quite a sight to see from the Atlantic.

Nearing Fort Lauderdale

We approached the wide open inlet and turned the corner – and the timing was perfect – as the 17th Street bridge had just opened.

Heading in Towards the 17th street bridge

We radioed and the bridge operator agreed to keep it open for us to pass through and, yay, we are now in a serene waterway surrounded by luxury homes and loads of superyachts. It is very pretty and an enjoyable first view of Fort Lauderdale.

Heading through the bridge Bridge closing behind us Opulent homes line the waterway

We found our slip at the marina and managed to get in without any difficulties despite the wind blowing us onto the dock.   Tied up safely I went to the office to sort out the documents and Richard cleaned the salt off Morphie.   He carried on tidying while I rang customs to let them know we had moved on – as a foreign flagged vessel with ‘aliens’ on board we have to ring every time we move down the Florida coast. All done and legal – we cleaned ourselves up and went to bed for a while – both pretty tired.

Around 6pm we got ready – enjoying seeing Morphie looking safe, clean and snug – and went for a walk.

Snug as a bug

First stop was Coconuts which is a pretty cool place although was very busy and, would you believe it, we got talking to some tourists from the UK.   Moving on we wandered to the beach boardwalk and found a place to sit down, enjoy a beer, and had something to eat. We returned to Morphie via another bar – but tiredness got us – and we were tucked up back on board pretty early.

Tired but happy

This morning – Wednesday – and I’m blogging in the cockpit while Richard has been trouble shooting the auto pilot in quite an awkward space – but it was only a fuse.   Yay!

Autopilot fixed

We also noticed during our passage that the bilge pump came on more often than it should, even though the bilge was dry, so he checked that out too.   Identified as a dirty sensor he cleaned it up and fixed that as well.   Oh yes, fingers crossed, the freezer is now working well too.    Richard’s getting pretty good at this maintenance / fixing lark!

When I’ve got this published we are heading out to explore and to find a place to go for New Year’s Eve.   So I’ll leave you with this image and wish all our family and friends a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016. Bye for now.

Happy New Year


Happy Christmas from Florida

Happy Christmas

Monday morning we were up early to check the UPS status.  Oh dear….our parcels are still stranded at Stansted airport (in the UK).   They’ve been there for two days now with no obvious reason why they haven’t moved….   So we phoned them and apparently they are going on a plane to the US early evening and supposed to arrive here in Fort Pierce by Thursday.   All things flexible are crossed and, feeling hopeful, we started looking at the weather forecasts to spot a window to make the offshore overnight passage to Fort Lauderdale.  Hoping to spend New Year’s Eve here….

Fort Lauderdale

We then received a wonderfully kind and generous offer to go over to Brad and Sandy’s for Christmas.   They were offering to do a six hour round trip across the state to collect us for Christmas and return us after.   Amazing…  Thank you both soooo much.  If the parcels do arrive on time, however, we need to be here with Morphie on Christmas Day as it is looking good for a Saturday afternoon departure.   Feel very sad to decline but we do need to get out of here….

The rest of the day we just relaxed and headed to the bar for sundowners – was planning a quiet drink and maybe some interesting conversation. Well, it turned into a bit of a session, and we ended up keeping the bar open and getting a really late night.

Having a chat

Tuesday we had a lazy start to the morning and then went to the marina boardwalk – to pick up a stronger internet signal – to talk to friends and family before Christmas.   Was lovely to catch up with Rachel and Kiera – sadly little Finley was having a nap – and also to talk to my mum.   Had messages from others too….it is definitely feeling like Christmas now. Even the sun came out and the temperature is rising – yay!   In the afternoon we walked up to the supermarket for last minute supplies and popped into the office to find a parcel waiting for us – and there was one.   What??!!?? Expecting two from Lewmar – one order only – and it’s been stuck in the UK allegedly.   Turns out it was the autohelm steering arm and it had got separated from the other parcel – let’s hope the rest turns up!!!

The afternoon was spent un-pickling the watermaker; removing it; taking it apart; replacing the cracked cylinder; changing filters and re-installing it.   Was an awkward job at times but we managed it and, wonders will never cease, it actually worked first time with no leaks.   We were very proud of ourselves LOL.

Old cylinder The cracked cylinder Watermaker repairs

Richard persuaded me to go out again after dinner and we had a nice few hours in the bar and managed to avoid going on with the staff to the local Inn – they were definitely up for a party!   The decision not to go was probably assisted by the very heavy downpour as we returned to Morphie.

Wednesday we got busy – the boat is back together again now – and we are fully provisioned up and all spares are stowed. So time to get cleaning – rugs bashed, floor hoovered, and all woodwork polished up.   And then we get a UPS alert – the parcel was being delivered – we rushed to get it and, finally, we have our spare autohelm. Sooo excited although it is too late to move on for Christmas but definitely straight afterwards – so weather watching goes up the priority list!

New autohelm

That evening was going to be a party night in the bar so we were getting ready having had an early dinner on board when we realised that the freezer was playing up! Really?!?! And of course it’s full of food – so we did some quick tricks that we have learnt along the way and one is to do a partial defrost as it can clear any blockages in the pipes.   Woo hoo – it worked!   As a result we were late going out and missed Happy Hour but we saved the food.   Had a lovely evening and decided to sign up to go to the Christmas Pot Luck with a few others – so I’m now making sausage rolls for a get together instead of just for us on Christmas Day.   It starts at 11.00 am so will not go on for long and we can chill after.

Christmas Potluck

This morning – Thursday – and it’s Christmas Eve.   It’s back to domestic duties – and the freezer seems to have had a hiccup this morning after a stable night so we need to do a bit more investigation of that….   Richard has just gone off to get fuel cans filled up and I’m feeling a bit emotional.   It happens every year and drives Richard bonkers….   Anyway it’s time to say a bye for now and wish all our family and friends a very special Happy Christmas.   Love you and miss you all….

Merry Christmas


Delayed in Fort Pierce

Tuesday afternoon while I was off blogging Richard carried on tidying and ordering the boat down below as the marina guys were doing Morphie’s final wash, wax and polish of the topsides which had been delayed by bad weather….    Doesn’t she look lovely and shiny?

Looking shiny and polished

We ate on board and enjoyed sundowners in the cockpit as the bar – and lots of other local restaurants – remained closed due to the City gas leak.

Wednesday morning we were up early as we had to return the car.   So back for the final time to Publix for some last minute groceries; on to West Marine for more supplies (varnish and hoses this time); and then to Enterprise to drop the car off.  All sorted, bill paid, and then we were given a lift back to the marina. It wasn’t the best car we’ve ever driven but we’ll miss having our own wheels. We went into the office – our refund had finally been credited to our card – and checked through the parcels.   Nothing for us, although the outboard spares are imminent according to the tracking information.   But we still had not received an update from Lewmar about the delivery of our autohelm unit. So we chased the guy by phone – but nobody appears to be answering….  This is all so frustrating.

Later on we installed the new dodgers;  re-installed the lifesling;  and then Richard reinstalled the wind generator while I got on with some paperwork. We then collected the cradle parts from the boatyard; dismantled them; greased them up; and put them away in a storage hole we had cleared.   Frustratingly there were four parts missing but, hey, never mind we still have enough to put it together again if we need to….

Dodgers on

After dinner on board we went to the bar – which had reopened in the afternoon – and caught up with the staff and regulars who had all been out scavenging huge amounts of oil, coffee, ramen noodles and wine boxes from the coastline as a result of a shipping container spill.

Anyone for coffee

Thursday morning we were a little lazy and had a lay in.  I went to the office and picked up the spares for our Tohatsu outboard – just waiting on the autohelm now. Richard got on with his woodwork projects – the beading for the ex-microwave cupboard and the new TV stand – both items needed to be sanded and sealed.  Cupboard looks pretty good…

Finished new cupboard

I set up the office in the salon and printed, copied, scanned and sorted out all spreadsheets / banking etc.  Richard managed to get through to Lewmar who apologised – there had been a mix up – so the new part was now being sent directly from the UK to us here in Fort Pierce.  Still not convinced that it is actually going to turn up!

Mid-afternoon and Richard was down the battery hole again – the US inverter is playing up so he removed the melted in-line fuse – and identified a couple of other things that needed attention.   I was chopping vegetables and cooked a huge tray of Mediterranean roasted vegetables for my contribution to the holiday potluck.   All done and freshly showered we headed to the Pavilion for the event.

Pot luck at Harbortown

Was OK but most people are long-term residents so lots of groups.  Our table was the “left overs” and we sat with a nice older lady who was alone on a trawler waiting for her husband to arrive…  And she won the raffle!

Time for the raffle

The lucky winner

Then we chatted to our old neighbour Jack – and his friends – and they won the raffle too!  So we sat next to both winners… shame we weren’t lucky… I fancied the spa vouchers / Amex gift cards… with Richard coveting the Sea Hawk bottom paint!   There was a huge array of food with some very generous people – including the marina who supplied the entertainment, the ham and the deserts – whilst others just supplied bags of M&Ms and crisps.   And some even came empty handed at the end for the pickings – was surprised at the nerve really, but hey, nothing surprises me anymore.

Rose from Harbortown Pot luck entertainment

After the official event ended we decamped to the bar and kept them open for a while…listening to good live music too….

Live music in the bar

Friday morning – lazy start again – and we’ve received an invoice and tracking info for our autohelm from Lewmar – can’t believe it, it is actually on its way, although Southampton seems a very long way for it to travel from!   But will it get here by Wednesday when the marina business office shuts for Christmas?  It looks like we are going to be here for Christmas after all…. Oh well….  All is not lost though – as I did manage to get ingredients to make home-made sausage rolls – and I’ve got bubbles on board too LOL. And yes, it’s raining cats and dogs again now and getting cold again – back to the fleeces…

Another rainy day

Friday night we headed to the bar wrapped up warm and ended up chatting to other marina dwellers and singing along to the music.

Friends in the bar Another music night More friends

Saturday morning and we were picked up by Jim and ShaSha as we are going over to their place in Okeechobee for the weekend.   Was cold, cloudy and grey but Richard and Jim were stoically wearing shorts LOL.   We stopped at the Dolphin Bar for a lovely lunch and enjoyed watching the boats traversing the ICW – then went outside to feed the seagulls and talk to the baby pelican who was sitting there watching the world go by. It was lovely to see them again.

Dolphin Bar Jim and Richard Jan and Sharon Baby pelican Feeding the birds on the ICW

About half a mile from their place Jim needed the bathroom so we all traipsed into the local Tikki Hut bar which was filled with bikers wearing colours, some confederate hats and flags….   Wanted to take photos of them in their outfits but didn’t think it was necessarily a good ideal LOL.   Great place for people watching!

Bikers bar

Moving on we popped in to see ShaSha’s mum and were amazed at the difference in her place and her – the cabin is lovely now that it is finished, and mum appeared 10 years younger.   We finally arrived back into Jim and ShaSha’s gated community and was met by a very excited Molly who seemed to remember Richard!

Gated community

The Burke lot Look that way Molly

We took Molly out for a run – well we drove around in the Golf Buggy – while Molly runs like a loony here there and everywhere. She is a really cute dog….

Beautiful grounds of the community Coming back from the walk# Molly

Back to their plot and we were honoured to be the first overnighters in their little guest hut – which they call the shed.  It was far from a shed with TV, lovely futon bed, air con and heating, full cooking facilities and bathroom. They have done a great job in such a small space. Amazing!

Our guest suite

We settled down for the evening in the Tikki hut and, although it was cold and we kept our jackets on, we didn’t really notice with the alcohol and memories flowing…..

Relaxing in their Tikki hut

This morning, Sunday, after a really comfortable night’s sleep, there were more chats in the Tikki Hut before ShaSha’s mum turned up.

Sunday morning chats

We all drove off to the airport – where there is a diner on the runway.   We had a wonderful home-cooked breakfast which was made quite interesting with the helicopter and small plane activity.   Lovely time had by all and, then, all too soon it was time to say our farewells.   They are hoping to drive down to see us when we are in the Florida Keys in the New Year so this wasn’t a sad moment…..

Breakfast venue ShaSha and her mum

Back to the marina and we checked the tracking again – there has been a problem in Stansted so the package has stalled in the UK – with still no information about its arrival date / time.   We talked to the marina guys and they think they can slot us in somewhere for a couple more days if we need it – so watch this space!

Richard has just finished the TV stand and I’m blogging down below…. We’re going to have another movie night tonight – hoping for some warmer weather tomorrow….    I want to go in the pool!

Will blog again just before Christmas – so this is only a short “bye for now”.


Boat jobs and reunions in Florida

Having finished the blog I returned to the boat on Sunday and found Richard with his head in the panels replacing bilge light bulbs and installing terminal posts to the battery bank for our UK inverter.Electrical DIYAnd, of course, it was raining again.… Later on we had dinner in the bar – enjoyed the great music – but got really cold so didn’t hang around too long.

Musical talent

Monday we went shopping – purchased a small Epson printer – and extended our car hire for another week. We also tried to get some money out of the bank.   Guess what – the card appeared to work but no money came out!!!  Luckily I got the card back though….   So I telephoned both the ATM and our bank and found out that the transaction had failed because the ATM did not have a chip reader inside it. Surprisingly chip readers are not common here in Florida – it’s still a swipe and sign environment.   To make sure that this was actually what had happened (not that I’m a cynic or anything) we tried another bank on the way back to the marina and, yay, it worked as it should.   Very relieved!!!

Arriving back we picked up our parcels – this time it was a carbon selfie stick; a replacement “Q” (meaning quarantine) flag; a replacement Y valve; spares for our Peek-a-Boo blinds; and a replacement pole for the one that got damaged in the post.     We also picked up the new pads for the fridge and freezer and they look pretty good. The straps for the spare fuel cans were ready too – so back to Morphie where Richard quickly started installing them onto the boards.

Pads for the fridge & freezer

Rail straps

We then headed into the cruiser’s lounge and set up the Bad Elf, successfully. This means we now have chart plotter capabilities and full satnav capabilities on our iPad and iPhone.   Amazing….   Back on board we reviewed our lists and realised that there was still no news from the chart plotter chips guy. Not impressed at all with this service. I gave up at this point recognising that I was way too fed up to be polite – so Richard left a message for the guy to call to take the order.   Let’s see if that works…   Feeling a bit tired we had a movie night in and resorted to fleeces as it was so cold.

On Tuesday Richard put the finishing touches to the new fuel can set up while I took down all the blinds – cleaned and serviced them replacing items as necessary – and reinstalled them.   They look lovely and clean again now.

Servicing boat blinds Reinstalled blinds

The fuel cans are looking pretty impressive too – just waiting on a few more from West Marine. We are starting to look like a cruising boat that’s for sure!

First cans in place

We finished working early today so that we could meet up with Blaine who had driven over to pick up an Island Packet for a West Coast of Florida delivery.   We had a nice time catching up in the bar although disappointed by the size of our chicken sliders and the disappearance of buckets of Corona from the Happy Hour drinks menu LOL.

Wednesday morning and we followed Blaine to the airport so that he could return his hire car – and then took him back into town via Walmart so that he could do his provisioning for the four-day run to St Petersburg. Obviously we took the opportunity to get some stuff too….   And, of course, the boys had to play trolley dodgems on the way back to the car LOL.

Trolley wars in Walmart

We then decided to go to the Captain’s Galley for a (huge) breakfast before returning to Morphie.

Captains Galley

We stowed our purchases and then went to help Blaine release his lines. We said our farewells and then came back to the boat and got busy again…   We cut the new 3 inch bed foam topper to match the coffin-shaped mattress and remade the bed.   We are still working on getting the boat straight and making lists of things to do and buy.    On this occasion we realised that our flares were expiring in February 2016 – so we ordered some more from West Marine. Thankfully they had them in stock.    We then chased the life raft service guys – who confirmed that it’ll be ready on Monday afternoon – and Richard rang the chip guy again.  Still non-responsive – going to have to start this research all over again. Grrrr……we have wasted a lot of time on this.   We really can’t believe that a business can turn away a $600+ order by not replying to emails or phone calls.   On a brighter note the sun came out today – so at last it actually feels like Florida!   Having had a long day we had another movie night on board.

Thursday we went off shopping to West Marine – picked up our flares along with some rope and shackles for the new preventer system – although still waiting on the final diesel cans.   Then we went out to find the Marine Liquidator Store which was amazing. This is two massive warehouses containing used and liquidated new marine and diving equipment – like a combination of a second-hand shop with a touch of CostCo thrown in and all for boats.   We wandered around and found two new stainless Scandvik transom shower caps, which I’ve wanted for ages but don’t really need LOL.   Plus a new transom shower rose that we did actually need. Of course there were some electrical accessories which Richard needed.   We were delighted to pay less than half the retail price for these new items – very impressed – so we’ll definitely be visiting again on another day.

Huge boat warehouse

Returning to Morphie we carried on sorting and storing – doing some useful things like preparing our new life jackets for when we set off to sea – hopefully soon.   We still have four items we are waiting for in the mail – including the autopilot unit.   After another tiring day we decided to stay put and watched a movie before having an early night.

Friday morning we awoke to a bright and sunny day – so we made the most of it and got the outboard off the rail and re-installed it on dink. Richard was rewarded for all his hard work winterising items as both the outboard and the generator started first time. Yay!!   We then took a call from West Marine that everything had arrived – so took ourselves off again…   This time it was the diesel jugs and some spare gas struts for the fridge / freezer / lockers and purchased a spare navigation lightbulb – which cost a staggering $25 for a single bulb.   On our arrival back at the marina Richard fixed the cans to the rail – job done.   Looks great!

New cans

In the meantime I chased the marina office again. They promised to put our refund back onto the credit card – but still haven’t done it.   Grrrr…..   We are almost ready to go to sea now – just the watermaker to be fixed and the last of the spares to get.   The watermaker part has now finally arrived and, while we were out, the boom vang turned up and was fitted.   It looks pretty smart.

Boom vang

We had an early dinner on board and decided to go to the bar for happy hour. The water looked pretty tonight and love was definitely in the air when we asked the bar staff for a photo!   Live music again – Jimmy Buffet singalong really – so not so keen….   And, of course, it started drizzling and we got cold. Never mind, good time had by all.

Sundowners time Bartender hugs Another music night

Saturday morning and we were up with the lark as we were driving the 150+ miles across to the state to see Brad and Sandy.   We used the Bad Elf and the very posh English man talked us through the route door to door.   We only deviated from the instructions to stop in Dunkin Donuts where we picked up a traditional American mobile breakfast LOL.   We had a great drive through some picturesque historic villages like Fort Meade; citrus fields; cattle ranches and a lot of very scenic tree-lined highways. It was lovely and sunny all the way too – yay!

Historic houses Historic Fort Meade Empty roads Fort Meade

This was our first weekend off since we had arrived in Florida so we were quite excited.   We arrived on the west coast to the lovely gated community and a great welcome from the family – and the assorted pets – but that may have something to do with the treats we came bearing LOL. We caught up over lunch which included copious fresh strawberries as the season has just started – we have never seen strawberries this red before. They are really sweet and delicious.

Gated community Fresh strawberries Treat time

Afterwards we enjoyed a very welcome Jacuzzi bob – followed by a fantastic home-made Thai green curry by chef Brad who is very talented in the kitchen!   Afterwards we departed to the patio and played a very complicated and ruthless board game – with both Richard and Brad picking on me.   Was a lot of fun….and we ended up having quite a late night.

Jacuzzi bobbing time Brad at work

Sunday morning we had a wonderful breakfast before heading out to the famous Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium A Xmas hammerhead

We were honoured to have a tour behind the scenes and were very impressed by the great work that is going on here….. We learnt lots of new stuff – for example, who knew that dolphins can suffer from congenital scoliosis??  Afterwards we went to the public aquarium areas and enjoyed the variety of fish and mammals on display and, of course, my personal favourite will always be the turtles and the manatees….   Was very informative and enjoyable – the coral displays were quite something to see.   Sadly, at this point, Christin had to leave us as she was called to a sighting of a potentially injured manatee further up the coast.   I am pleased to report that the manatee was OK.

Aquarium 1 Aquarium 2 Aquarium 3 Aquarium 4 Aquarium 5 Aquarium 6 Aquarium 7 Aquarium 8 Aquarium 9 Aquarium 10 Aquarium11

We then headed to downtown Sarasota and went into Marina Jacks where we had a nice lunch – it was a shame that Christin missed out on this. Having relaxed over a couple of beverages we headed back towards the house and collected Christin on the way.

Marina Jack, Sarasota Out in Sarasota Out for lunch at Marina Jacks

Back home we played the complicated settlement game again and I think we did slightly better – but, of course, the reality was that they beat us quite easily.   We then played some more board games one-on-one – was a fun end to a great day. All too soon it was time for bed – really couldn’t believe that the weekend had gone so quickly.

Playing games

Monday morning we were up early to say sad farewells and for the drive back to Morphie – stopping for petrol and coffee. And spotting the really over-the-top Christmas decorations on some houses.

Fort Lonesome Christmas decorationsRichard started fabricating a mobile wooden stand for our TV to be attached to – as he doesn’t want to screw permanent holes in the cabinetry – and I stared blogging.   In the meantime we have a young man up the top of the mast giving some loving care and attention to the stainless blocks which were identified as needing some cleaning during the rigging survey – certainly glad I didn’t have to winch Richard up there after all LOL!

Later on – having confirmed that it was ready – we headed back out down the coast to Riviera Beach to pick up the life raft.   We arrived and were presented with the bill – and we both nearly passed out.   It was $970 – really – it can’t be true – it was only a service and it passed all elements being only three years old!!!!   Absolutely shocked by this…..   We also asked for the out-of-date flares to be returned to us that had been replaced inside the life raft – but were told ‘no’ not allowed.   What a rip off – the life raft only cost us $3k – although are now retailing at closer to $5k.   I know they have to replace things inside – like batteries for the beacons / water supplies / seasick pills / food supplies etc etc…. But the biggest part of the bill was the cost of the recertification….   Leaving the place we were both pretty fed up – and then, of course, the heavens opened.   Great absolutely great.

We drove across to the waterfront at Riviera Beach to see if this is a place we’d like to spend Christmas as it is only a nine hour sail away from our current location – but the answer was definitely a no.   Didn’t fancy it…..   Driving home in the torrential rain and rush-hour traffic on the highway we decided it was time to hit the bar when we got back.   So we quickly got changed and headed down the marina walkway to find it closed because there was ‘no gas’.   Not happy….so went to the local Chinese to get a takeaway.   That was shut too because of a city-wide gas leak!   In the end we went into Publix and picked up their last box of chicken which we devoured in the cockpit aided by a few glasses of wine….

Publix chicken

This morning, Tuesday, and we were up early as this is the last day we have the car.   So it was time for a proper provisioning run including a stop at the liquor store.   Job completed and we popped into the marina office to see if our parcels had arrived – we are down to two outstanding now – but no.   We want to be back on the water but we are stuck here right now.   When we got back and had unpacked and stored our goodies, Richard rang Winslow to complain about the cost of the service – they thought it was reasonable!    Oh well…..

Until the spares turn up it looks like we’ll just carry on working through the ‘things to do’ lists….   Bye for now


Boat jobs in the rain

Tuesday morning I started the day in the boaters’ lounge and ordered some more spares online. This is a nice place to work quietly with a great internet connection.

Boaters lounge

Richard stayed on board Morphie waiting for the rigger – expected at 8 am to fit the whisker pole – so continued to work hard to find places to stow things. Anyway….by the time I had finished and returned….it was clear the rigger wasn’t coming. So Richard left a message in his office and we headed off to the supermarket for some dry goods / essentials – we have loads more provisioning to do – but will leave much of it for later when we have the fridge and freezer operating properly. As yet they are being stubborn and falling over every time the compressors start.

During all this I received a fraud alert on my credit card – oh no… not again!!   Luckily it was only because the two marina offices had both charged the card at the same time and it looked suspicious.   Well it was genuine as one was for our splash / launch bill and the other for our slip in the marina.  All sorted – phew – that would not have been a good start to the season.   We popped into the marina office to collect some parcels – this time it was new Mares dive bags and a gas fitting that had turned up – and I realised when she gave me our final statement that they had charged us twice for the November storage. Hmmmm…. over to them to sort out…. luckily I had printed copies of our credit card statements with us in case of any dispute – glad I did!

Later on in the afternoon – in between rain showers – the cleaners came by and finished polishing the stern for us.   And of course the rigger never showed up at all – not sure why I’m surprised when this happens…. Oh yes – and I found a local source for Garmin datacards to take us beyond Panama so tried to order them on line…. But the online ordering system requires a US or Bahamas billing address for the credit card so I called them.   He was on the road and said he would get someone to call to take my order…   Fingers crossed that this works out as these cards have been discontinued by Garmin without any prior communication of this – even though we are registered on their site as owners of plotters.  We are very angry about all this – if they had given us warning we would have ordered everything we needed at that stage.   So we were facing a decision about whether to swap out one of our plotters to accommodate the new type of chip that Garmin are now supplying.   So to find a supplier who still has them in stock here in the US has cheered me up no end!   After another busy day we had dinner in the bar and had an early night.

Wednesday morning and it was raining again….   This curtails some of the jobs that we want to do so we are focussing on work down below right now.   The rigger – of course – didn’t turn up again but he did contact Richard finally and agreed to come Thursday morning to fit the pole.   Sadly the boom vang has still not arrived and no details on estimated arrival dates.

Rainy day

Anyway more important things to sort out – our liferaft needs servicing.   We rang Winslow at their headquarters and they gave us a local company who they recommend – so we got in the car and drove to Riviera Beach to drop it off.   The service was due end November 2015 and can only be done in the US so good timing or what?!? Anyone would think we had planned it LOL. The drive down to Riviera Beach was about an hour away and we were dogged by serious rain squalls all the way – and, again, we were amazed by how quiet the roads are here…..

Empty roads in Florida

On the way back we popped into West Marine to pick up our order that had arrived – very exciting – new anchor and some serious parts like a duo charger and a spare alternator.   Arrived back and picked up our post from the marina office – fire extinguisher holders only had arrived this time.   We also spoke to the canvas shop and they are now making us new insulation pads for our fridge / freezer tops and straps to hold the spare diesel / petrol / water cans on the rail – all designed by Richard.   Will be interesting to see them when they are finished….

Duo Charger Spare alternator

In the rain I emptied the water tank…..and refilled it…..and emptied it again.  Then the heavens opened so we abandoned the final fill for another day. Good job water is not metered here!    We chased the watermaker warranty part again – as it was supposed to arrive before Thanksgiving – only to find out it hadn’t actually made it into the postal system yet.   Thankfully we chased otherwise we could have been waiting here indefinitely for that one.      The rigger was still not around although he had agreed to come Thursday morning to fit the pole.    Richard climbed into the cockpit locker to give some loving attention to the refrigeration system and – yay – with a little more gas he managed to get the fridge working perfectly.   Amazing – just the freezer to resolve now – as it remains stubborn and falls over constantly.   So switched it off and will try again another day. Again we headed to the bar for dinner and enjoyed the music night.

Evening entertainment in the bar

Thursday morning and the rigger turned up – hurrah!  The rigger check was completed – no major problems apart from some rust on the stainless at the top of the mast fittings so some high-level cleaning required – and they re-tensioned the backstays.   Finally the new pole and associated rigging was installed. Is much bigger than we expected but thankfully it doesn’t weigh too much….

New pole on the rail

While they were doing that I took the car out (on my own for the first time) to get some fresh produce now that we had a working fridge and got our card credited by the marina office for the overpayment. Glad that’s sorted.   The rigger also confirmed that the boom vang had shipped – so still playing a waiting game but at least it is on its way.

While I was out Richard installed a new Merlin controller to the freezer….. He altered the refrigerant levels and the freezer kicked into action and the temperature started tumbling.  My hero!   Fingers crossed that it remained stable overnight.   Then we put the new primary Delta anchor on – and refilled the water tank again. And of course it is windy and raining again….

New anchor Rainy day 2

So we went shopping again – this time for rope for the anchor snubbers amongst other things….   When we got back Richard started making a new cupboard to fill in the gap left by the removal of the microwave.

Hole left by the microwave

We then realised that the Y valve to the overboard discharge was leaking – we have it switched to the holding tank right now – so just another job to add to the list. I refilled the water tank again for the final time. We then made some more phone calls as we need autopilot spares – and ended up ordering a new unit from the manufacturer.   Something else to wait on being delivered…..   We then went shopping again and purchased some meat for the freezer as we are now confident that it is going to carry on working.   Phew feeling tired.  While I cooked dinner Richard made a snubber and we ate down below and had an early night listening to the wind howling and the rain beating down on the coach roof.

Friday morning and the weather remained dreadful. There was a cold front coming through with strong winds predicted….  So we checked our fenders but we are snug in our slip.   Richard finished the new cupboard – looks lovely – just need to do some beading to finish it off.

DIY in action

New cupboard

The fridge and freezer are both operational and the meat froze during the night – what a result – well done Richard!   Forced down below by the weather we continued on small jobs – Richard re-installed the bathroom shelf that had been removed in August when we struggled with the hoses.   I made another anchor snubber….. More shopping arrived – this time it was our new Bad Elf.   This satellite gps gismo adds capabilities to our iPad as a back-up chart plotter.   Very exciting to get that operational and its first trial will probably be as a road satnav on Monday.

Bad Elf

Other stuff arrived too: more gas cartridges for the refrigerator system; a new foam topper for the bed; and an emergency line cutter.

Emergency line cutter

We swapped out the leaking Y-valve with the one from our spares so ordered a replacement and had another frustrating call to the company that is supposed to be supplying Garmin datacards. “Will get the guy to call you back immediately – so sorry” and, of course, he didn’t. Grrrr…..   Very frustrated – thought I’d solved a problem here – but losing confidence right now!   You would have thought they would be keen to take the money though, wouldn’t you?!?

Friday night – in the rain – we headed to the bar for a light dinner.   Was very noisy and busy but we enjoyed just chilling for a while before heading back for another night of listening to the fenders being squashed on the poles….

Saturday morning and we had a lazy start listening to the rain…… This is getting tiresome – apparently so far this December Miami has had record rainfall – and it doesn’t look like it is going to abate anytime soon.   Chilly too – we have resorted to a blanket on the bed and going out in jeans!!!    We went off to the supermarket to get provisions as Brad and Sandy are coming over for dinner this evening. They like live music and a favourite of theirs – Danielle Nicolle – is playing at the Fort Pierce Sunrise Theatre this evening so we are going along with them. We love live music so looking forward to this very much and very pleased to be invited.

We got back – I prepared food – and then we cleaned up the best we could by piling everything into the aft cabin to give some semblance of order LOL.   Brad and Sandy turned up and we caught up over an early dinner on board.  Down below, of course, sheltering from the rain…. Then we headed off into historic downtown to find the theatre. We parked up – and wandered back – and went in.

Danielle Nicole Sunrise Theatre

We were surprised that the ‘Black Box’ part of the theatre was so intimate and couldn’t seat more than about 100 people.   We got a drink and the band arrived.

Black box at Sunrise Theatre Waiting for the show

They did two sets with a short break in between and people were dancing in the aisles by the time they called it a night after two plus hours on stage.   Was a really good night – we thoroughly enjoyed the Blues and were very impressed by Danielle’s performance.

Great voice

Said our farewells to Brad and Sandy – we are going to see them again next week so not too sad – and headed back to the marina.  On the way we got stopped by a monster freight train coming to a halt on the cross-roads just in front of us – not seen them stop before – so obviously something was wrong. So we turned around and made our way along a parallel road until we could cross back to the marina in front of where the train was stationery.     Bit of excitement to end the day!

This morning – Sunday – and we have had a lazy start. The sky is grey and the clouds look full but – hey – it is not raining – yet!!!   I’m in the boaters’ lounge again blogging and doing laundry at the same time while Richard is trying to fix some of our hatches which have sprung leaks…..

Marina laundry

Not sure what is planned for the rest of the day but I’m voting for an afternoon of rest LOL.    Bye for now


Reunited with Morphie in Fort Pierce, Florida

We arrived at Heathrow earlier than needed on Tuesday morning as we were expecting much longer security queues and checks.   We were travelling business class – love using our airmiles – so were pointed to the Fast Track.  Of course, I got picked up by the scanners and got very seriously patted down – including a quick grope – not sure what she was looking for but I definitely didn’t have anything to declare!   Richard sailed through as usual….

Into the lounge and we enjoyed Mimosas watching the planes out on the tarmac. All too soon it was time to board and we were ushered upstairs to our seats.   Nice to look at each other and be able to chat in between putting down the lay-flat bed for a snooze – watching great movies – and being fed and watered a lot!   Amazed how quiet the new A380 plane was…  It was a great experience.

Double-decker plane

Arrival at Miami and it was chaotic as usual although, unusually, the immigration queue wasn’t too bad.   It took us a while, though, to find our bags and then to locate a sky cap to help us. Finally onto the courtesy bus to our hotel – got welcomed back which was a nice touch – and then we crashed and burned after a couple of obligatory and recuperative beers in the hotel bar.

Wednesday morning and back to the airport – flying to Tampa this time. Seems mad to be flying to the West Coast when Morphie is actually on the East Coast – but the flights were booked before that decision was made and the price differential from Miami and Tampa car hire firms meant that it was worth the effort of getting back on a plane.   Through enhanced security and then into the American Airlines lounge – which is totally unimpressive – although my Mimosa wasn’t bad. Richard had to make do with a virgin Bloody Mary though as he was driving later.

We arrived into Tampa – the bags came quickly – and straight out to the rental carpark.   Picked up our car and then drove across the state without satnav and didn’t get lost once!

Our hire car

We went straight to the boatyard to see Morphie and to make sure security knew that we were going to be around for the holiday weekend.   She was looking good but we were seriously unimpressed that the boat yard had moved her and not reinstated the cradle. Luckily the weather is benign and we splash on Monday – but even so – all that damn fuss to get it sorted for named-storm insurance compliance in the first place and, for all we know, she hasn’t been cradled for a while….   Will be having words about that once we are safely back in the water.

What, no cradle...

Having had a long day we then drove to the hotel – checked in – and crashed having first had a Chinese delivered to our room for dinner.   Nice to have a microwave and fridge for our leftovers LOL…


Our hotel

Thursday was Thanksgiving and we were pleased to find that Morphie was mould free and the stainless didn’t look too bad.   We were very pleased that our pre-storage hard work had paid off. Yay!!!   We checked the work that had been done for us – and everything was done apart from the boom vang and pole which still need to be installed.   On the way back to our hotel we were looking for somewhere to eat – but we had underestimated how important this holiday is to the US. All we could find open were grocery stores and fast food outlets.   So we ended up with a microwave meal in our room…..

On Friday we headed off early to customs to collect our (original) documents which had been retained by them during our absence.   We checked progress with the boat yard on the outstanding works and climbed on board – we unpacked some more of our belongings and started organising ourselves   Early afternoon we decided to call it a day – feeling frustrated by the ‘full service’ yard restrictions as, in other years, we would be reinstalling our canvas, cleaning stainless etc prior to splash but this is not allowed here….    When we arrived back at the hotel our room hadn’t been cleaned – and when I phoned reception – was told too late….   Hmmmm….

In the evening we had dinner with Pat and Eric (Cutter Loose) and Hayden and Radeen (Island Spirit) as they passed through on their way south. Was a lovely evening and great to catch up with Pat and Eric again – and to meet Hayden and Radeen for the first time, even though we have been ‘virtual’ friends for a long while….

Out for dinner with friends

Saturday we took more of our luggage over to Morphie for unpacking – and also collected a lot of parcels from the marina office.   Sadly one item was damaged which we need to sort out – and we are still waiting for some – but it really felt like Christmas.

Some of the parcel contents

The guys also turned up to remove the wax and polish the hull.

Polishing the hull

We left early afternoon and did our first West Marine run of the season – loads more on order now – and, in torrential rain, returned to our hotel.   Back to find our room still hadn’t been touched – not impressed!   So we went down to the lounge – complained to reception – and made sure it was done while we did more online ordering…. Later on we headed back to the marina for a couple of drinks and to say hi to the staff. But we were tired and not really in the mood so ended up having another early night.

Harbortown Marina bar

Sunday morning and we headed back to Morphie. Her hull was looking lovely and shiny although they haven’t finished the stern as they got rained off.   We did our pre-launch checks like working Y valves, thru hulls etc etc….and carried on unpacking again….   Had quite a busy day and felt that we were ready to splash so went back to the hotel to find our room hadn’t been cleaned again.  And the cleaning staff had all left.   So again we had to make our own bed, empty our rubbish and recycle the towels – not sure what we were paying for!!!

Later on we got cleaned up – made a formal complaint which fell completely on deaf ears – and walked around the corner to the Red Lobster for dinner.   Enjoyed some good food and nice wine – but still can’t get over the size of the portions here so over-ordered again. Reckon I’ve put back on all the weight I lost while at home. Must try harder!!!

Monday morning we were up early – checked out.   We drove over to the boatyard – left the big bags in the car and got ready waiting for Morphie’s lift.   In the pouring rain – please stop!   It did – yay – and then here it comes….. Feeling nervous….. Be safe Morphie!

Lift coming for Morphie Being strapped in

Thankfully they picked her up OK….and got her moving to the slip.  Splashed safely – thanks guys!

On the move In the water

We had company on board from the boatyard as they wanted to check that everything they had done – engine wise – was working as it should.   And it was – perfect.   We motored into the marina and, by 10.30 am, we were in our slip and tied up safely.   And relax…..phew….hate that bit!!!

I started getting the lines ready for our sails to be hoisted while Richard collected them from the loft. The rain had abated and there was no wind so we got going quickly – and reinstated all three sails.   Then it was time to re-inflate the dinghy and get it moved off the bow and into the water.   Done…. Then it was time to hoist him – yep – another tick in the box.   Now that the bow was free I washed down Morphie and she didn’t look too bad at all….. Then the rain started again – so we reinstated all the canvas.  After a short break we got the rest of the luggage from the car and did some unpacking – and then made the bed- and were pretty tired by then.   So we called it a day – having worked solid for 10 hours – and headed to the bar for a couple of beers and dinner.   But we were both physically tired and aching so headed back to Morphie pretty early.

Harbortown Marina

This morning – Tuesday – and another day of boat jobs awaits…  Doesn’t she look pretty??

In her slip

Bye for now