Off to Sea

After dancing the Duty Free Fuel Tango with Bermuda customs, we did indeed fill the diesel tank tax-free! Thus loaded with fuel, we added water and a box of Gosling's Black Seal rum, and by these vital supplies well burdened, we were well and truly ready. So we set out to sea at 15.30 yesterday, Thursday June 16th, and with light winds, we have been motorsailing due West, which is South of our direct line; but we are playing "Believe the Forecast" once again, and expect Sweet Southwesterlies to join the party and blow us on the beam into the Chesapeake. We are all well and looking forward to turning off the motor and sailing. Hayden has been snapping pics galore when not playing with his Gizmoids, and Radeen is coping well with a slightly bumpy ride. She has her happy smile on, and we think she is enjoying her second passage across the Bermudian waves. Nancy finds sleeping easy on the weather cloth, and now has a bright chirpy face after her morning coffee! Last night was bright with a full moon, which did not set until after sunrise. At 0430 I was just about awake on watch when I jumped quite high at a big splash just feet away! Then I was wide awake and was treated to a Dolphins by Moonlight show! The ocean keeps on finding new ways to surprise me.
Best to all, Hayden, Radeen, Nancy and John
JFK 0710 Friday June 17 '11 3231N 6637W Motorsailing at 6.7 kts in bright sunshine. Wind light WNW Seas 4 feet

Bermuda Harbor Radio

Inside Bermuda Harbor Radio, Aiden watch keeper

We hiked up the hill to Fort George, the site of the world famous Bermuda Harbor Radio who guides every ocean sailor into the port of Bermuda. After days at sea, it is welcomed voice to hear Bermuda Harbor Radio come up on the VHF and make contact with each vessel arriving the island. We called from a local hotel after hiking 1/2 way up to the fort and they told us that Bermuda Harbor Radio will NOT give a tour. We kindly asked if they would call up to the fort and ask if we sailors could hike up for a tour. They responded and YES…come on up, so we hiked across the golf course and up the hill and arrived at the door of the mote surrounded fort. After crossing the plank high above the mote, the watch keeper looked out the window above and unlocked the gate. We climbed the stairs to the top building and were presented to the state of the art facility. Aiden, the on watch keeper was actively working a yacht that had run out of fuel, and he told us to stand by and he would be with us soon. After dealing with this yacht, Aiden gave us the tour of the technology and the ocean sectors they manage as well as all ocean search sectors. What a treat for us, we spent about 30 minutes inside the fortress and were amazed at the data management. We will be heading out to sea today and Aiden will be on watch as we clear out…

Bermuda Harbor Radio NOC

The Logo on the Building

The MOTE around Fort George, the bridge is the access to BHR

BHR on top of the fort

The view of BHR from the harbor…Thank you Bermuda Harbor Radio!

Bermuda Docks

Hayden and Radeen Bermuda streets

We are side tied to the customs dock living aboard Larking About and enjoying Bermuda as we wait for a weather window to sail back to Maryland. St. George’s is a quaint and lovely English Town with the famous White Horse Tavern just off our stern and the town square to our beam. We can easily walk to beaches, the dinghy club and of course many shops in the town. We had the honor of meeting Bernie, the honorary host to all arriving yachts at Bermuda. Bernie arrived on his moped and shared stories over a cup of coffee and a lovely visit. We plan to depart Bermuda on Thur or Friday, most likely Friday as this presents the best window for sailing home.

Larking About at the Customs Dock

Bernie visits team Larking About

One of the beautiful beaches we walked to for a swim

The Customs Dock with Larking About aft the pilot boat

Last Night, a beautiful night time shot

Adventures START

Hayden, Jason and Whitney

 We have started off our year of cruising and travel with a full set of adventures beginning with a family wedding in Philadelphia. A fantastic reception at the Constitution Center was perfect for a history teaching Groom and a BEAUTIFUL Bride. Jason and Whitney’s wedding was incredible and made us proud to be included. After this capstone event, we returned home to swap the wedding clothes for our ocean sailing gear and begin our trek towards BERMUDA. We will crew on, an Island Packet 40 footer returning to the Chesapeake Bay.

Up she goes onto the AAA tow truck

We loaded our bags, digital devices, laptops, iPads, GPS SPOT, sailing harnesses, gloves, night watch caps, fleece, and wind pants, tossed in a few t-Shirts, swimming suits and shorts and we were off. We luckily planned to spend the night at the airport which would allow us a place to park our car for 2 weeks and then not have to deal with the AM traffic rush. What was NOT planned was a car break down in Essington, south of the Airport, where our starter decided to stop working.

We tried jumping it as well as beating it with a hammer attempting to get the starter over the “flat spot” issue it seems to have. FORGET IT, let’s get this thing towed to the hotel, where we were staying just one block down the road and deal with it when we get back. Enter AAA tow truck driver, STEVE, and we have a new suggestion. Steve picked up the car and took it 4 miles away to where they will replace the starter while we are away. PERFECT solution!

“Goldie” gets her first ride on a tow truck

So, our year has started off with excitement and adventure and that is what it is all about. This little episode reminded us of our motivational quote…

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

We think we reacted well to this small curve ball. After all, we didn’t miss the wedding and we didn’t miss our flight!

Tomorrow it will be far, far away as we arrive in Bermuda and meet John and Nancy aboard Larking About!

Radeen with Debbie, mother of the Groom

Compound & Wax

Island Spirit, an IP 35 Under Shrink Wrap

Finally we have begun the spring prep on Island Spirit with a weekend of compounding and waxing the boat. We have done this now for 20 years, and every year I say NEVER AGAIN….but then I forget and I do it anyway. Well, let me tell you, compounding and waxing an Island Packet 35′ sailboat is like waxing a tractor trailer. I am always glad we did not buy a larger boat at this time of the year.

Last year was the best year for doing this job because we WROTE A CHECK! Jeff, my good buddy and I decided we had enough of this waxing process and called Clazey Detailing who gave us a two boat discount and charged us $325.00 to compound and wax. WHAT A DEAL, but this year, no deals, the fee was $500 and we decided to do it our self once again. It really does not take that long, but it is tough on your back, arms and shoulders. The times it takes is….2 hrs to compound one side and 1 hr to wax one side, for a total job of 6 hours. So for $500 that equals $83/hr for my work. Not great, but I will take the savings.

Here are some photos of the fun….

Radeen helps with SLX fiberglass cleaner and etches and cleans the waterline

Cut the cover up to the deck, and wash the hull. This give us a few more weeks under cover.

Climb up on scaffolding and compound the hull, round one

Round two….wax the entire hull, we use Collinite Cleaner and then Fiberglass Wax

Radeen with Island Spirit

These small buffers get heavy after a few hours of working overhead

VERY rare scene….Island Spirit is LAST in the empty boat yard

NEXT TASK….Fly to BERMUDA and crew on an Island Packet 40 called Larking About sailing her back home to Rock Hall, MD. Our Trans-Atlantic voyage on her has been canceled due to a very serious illness in the owner’s family. We will cross the Atlantic next summer.

So, we will stay on schedule with our flights out to Bermuda on June 13 and instead of heading EAST out of St. Georges Harbor, we will head WEST for the Chesapeake Bay some 650 miles away. Once back, we will launch Island Spirit on June 21, first day of SUMMER and our program will begin.

Summer plans are to enjoy Rock Hall through the July 4th events and then sail for Acadia Maine for the summer…in the Fall we will move to Annapolis, MD and then November we will make the run south to the Bahamas. ….welcome to Island Spirit season #10….the blog is up and running again!

Building LOFT railings

The access ladder up to gym

More fun was had building a new 3rd floor LOFT / Gym railing. This room is up on the third floor and is reached via a very cool handmade ladder up into the room. The room is our gym where we have a treadmill, bike and weight bench with dumb bells. The room is 12′ x 15′ with cable TV and a 4′ x 4′ sky light. It is a great room and we have enjoyed it for years, now it was time to finish off the railing. Here are some photos of this house job. Soon, very soon…..we will move aboard and be back sailing the sea…

Looking up into gym, with new railing

In the Gym / loft with the new railing

New gate and latch

The gym

Prep for House Sitter

Usually when we move onto the boat for the summer, we simply let our home empty, but this summer, when we move on, we will be living aboard for over a year! Starting in JUNE, we plan to live aboard Island Spirit for 12-15 months as we sail up to Maine then down to the Bahamas and maybe back up to Maine! We will be living the CRUISING DREAM that we have planned for many years.

We learned about house sitting from one of our best friends who has a brother that provides this service. His current house sitting position was ending and it fit into our timing, so we decided to offer the opportunity of house sitting our home for the next 12 months. House sitters do not pay rent, they simply move in with minimal items and they “pay their own expenses” and in return they look out for your home and property. Honestly, it would have been far easier to shut down the house than to move someone in, but this does seem like a win/win situation. We are excited to see how this works out.

So in prep for this, you tend to look at your home in a new light, and you work on projects that need completed, for example…

Maintain the landscaping, deck finish, and mulch beds…done!

Install a new dimensional roof ….DONE…

Empty a bedroom, closet, paint and re-paint…..DONE

Re-build a utility staircase and railings in the garage….DONE
Paint staircase in the garage down into the basement woodshop…DONE

I do know how to make staircases….here is the OAK one I built with a walnut inlay in the house…!

So….as you can see, the prep for a house sitter is progressing, and we have a few more projects on the list. Overall, this is really exciting to think about moving out of your home for 12-15 months and to go off cruising….WHAT A DREAM, and sometimes it does not seem real.

Blogging via Gmail

I have added a SPOT Satellite transmitter and I have been
experimenting with the process. The goal is to create Google Maps and
Pin locations of our sailing adventures. Being new to this technology,
I have made a SPOT page above where our most current map will be
embedded. I also have learned that these GPS coordinates will be
deleted after 30 days, so that is very disappointing and I will have
to log in at SPOT and download the coordinates for my own records. I
have much to learn about SPOT and I will be exploring this as we
sailing the Islands over the next week aboard LA40.

A second technology I am exploring is Google Blogging via email. This
blog post was sent into the site via an email. The goal here is to be able
to send in updates when we can only send text emails and when we have
no access to the Internet. We will be sailing across the Atlantic in
June 2011 and with SSB, we will be able to send text emails. So, this
is a test of that system.

We also have learned that if you attach a picture to the email, then it will be posted into the blog. So
this email has a small picture attached (320 pixels wide, 18K) in the hopes that it too will
appear on the blog. If this works, then we should be able to send blog
updates from the middle of the Atlantic along with a small picture.

Dreams Begin, RETIREMENT starts!

After many years of planning, we have reached our goal of EARLY RETIREMENT! Our cruising dreams will begin this 2011 season with many exciting sailing adventures planned. For starters we will enjoy springtime on the Chesapeake Bay where we will NOT have to rush home on that dreaded Sunday afternoon. We plan to enjoy the Bay in April and May and then our biggest adventure will happen in JUNE 2011.

We have signed on as crew to cross the Atlantic, sailing from Bermuda to Azores to Falmouth England. We will be sailing on “Larking About” an Island Packet 40 with the owners, John and Nancy. We are very excited to take on this adventure. After crossing the Atlantic, we plan to return to the Bay. We will then resume our first year of cruising, making the standard ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) run south to Florida and into the Bahamas for the winter. In the spring we will make the northbound run up the ICW like we did in 2008, enjoying the many wonderful towns along the way. 

We are motivated by the Mark Twain quote used so many times in the boating world, but still worth reviewing… 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Map of Atlantic Crossing (click to expand)