Christmas In Stuart FL

…Radeen enjoying the marina..

We have been enjoying our time “stuck” here in Stuart, FL, at Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage as we test out our new gear and installations. This marina has the number one best customer service and the best marina facilities of ANY place we have ever stayed. We have sailed from Acadia, ME to Key West to Tampa Bay to Georgetown. Exumas, and no place has better customer service than Sunset Bay Marina!

With that kind of service, we find ourselves “stuck” in Stuart, FL. We are not disappointed. Yes, we are frustrated that our plans of sailing over to the Bahamas for Christmas did not work out. We had planned to spend Dec and some of Jan at The Jib Room in Marsh Harbor, but we stayed here working on our refit and using our car to get items for the refit and now we are into a seemingly endless loop. We have always said, “The hardest part is simply leaving!” That is the case here once again. One thing is for sure, Radeen and I are goal driven. When we set goals out in front of us, we write them down and we work toward them. This season we are setting the goal of sailing back into the Exumas and then pushing onward into the Caribbean Sea, where we plan to base for the next 4 to 5 winters. That is our goal, that is why we did the refit and we will push to make it happen.

Sailing on Christmas Day, a dream

Our Christmas was peaceful and calm. On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed the marina party with catered food and professional singers caroling. On Christmas Day, we went sailing in the morning, something we have always wanted to do, and then we enjoyed a cruisers potluck on the marina porch with about 50 cruisers. There are cruisers here from all over the world. Many of them have just sailed in from the Caribbean or Bahamas. Others have completed the Great Loop around the entire Eastern USA and the Mississippi down to the Gulf and around Florida. There are some experienced cruisers here and some that are just starting out. It is fun visiting with everyone.

Sunset on our boat, Christmas Day

Our next task is to move onward in about another week so we can truly test out our new autopilot and radar. We plan to sail outside down the coast to Biscayne Bay because we really love Miami and South Beach and Coconut Grove and the sailing there. This will give us a few more weeks to test out the gear, fix what breaks, and to commission the new watermaker. (It is finished and ready to go, but once it is started, it needs to be flushed every 5 days. So, we have decided to wait until Biscayne Bay.)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and peace to all. Here are a few photos….

The Stuart Riverwalk on our daily 3 mile walks

Our Christmas Day Champagne for Breakfast


Nothing says LOVE like a bilge pump for my Gift 🙂

Our home, an Island Packet 35, 1994

Santa found us

Naughty Santa…

The best deli in Stuart
ahhhh so good

Merry Christams from the boat, our happy place

Sailing Christmas Day

Santa and a Sailfish

The Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage
First floor store, cafe, office
Second Floor Jumbo TV room, computer lounge, hot popcorn machine

Somehow, someway. someday, we will leave this wonderful place called Stuart, FL! Thank you all for following along.

Refit Work Completed, Here is the List

…There it is… 4G RADAR, AIS, B&G Zeus…

What was I thinking?! Refitting our Island Packet 35 while on a mooring ball in Stuart, FL. Really, what WAS I thinking? After one month, we have completed the most extensive project to date on Island Spirit. We wanted to replace our old 1994 and 2002 B&G electronics with new B&G gear and to add a Spectra Ventura 200t watermaker. Plus we installed new head sails from Mack Sails. All of this since we launched the boat 4 weeks ago. To add to the challenges, we did it all while NOT at a dock!

The view of our mooring ball, 2nd one on right

We completed the work while on mooring ball #25 at one of the best marinas we have ever encountered, Sunset Bay Marina and Anchorage in Stuart, FL. We are really thinking that Martin County Florida is #1 in Florida. They simply have it figured out. The town is well planned and we find very nice people live here. Top that off with a marina staff whose number one focus is customer service and making the grounds and facilities spectacular, and we have found a perfect place to refit.

Mack Sails for all your refit work

Add the full support and constant encouragement of Colin Mack of Mack Sails along with my fantastic B&G rep Steve Hamber and these are the reasons we have been so successful with our projects. If you have any need for refit, sails, electronics, chain plates, etc, I highly recommend that you contact Colin Mack and give him your list of items. Colin will work with you and he will get you the best price out there. I never knew that they did more than sails, but they do and they can do it all. Mack Sails has become THE place to go for Island Packet Yacht refit work. Thank you Colin for all your support and help. Your company is amazing! Your attitude is wonderful, your team is well respected!

People have been asking us what have we added? So here is the list:

B&G Gear:

  • 2 Triton2 Data Displays
  • 4G Radar on the mast
  • Zeus2, 9″ Multifunction Display
  • DST, Depth Speed Temperature sensor in a new 2″ thru hull
  • 508 Digital Anemometer on the mast head
  • NAC-3 Digital autopilot computer
  • Rudder Reference
  • Compass 9
  • Autopilot control head at the helm
  • GPS on the bimini frame
NMEA 2000
  • New backbone run from mast head to nav desk, to qtr berth, to sail locker, to helm NavPod
  • 2 end terminal resisters
  • 11 tees 
  • 50 feet of Simrad/B&G shielded Ethernet cable
  • New SailPod with Zeus2 cut to the right
  • Autopilot control cut to the left
  • New RAM Mic added to the pod
  • 2 USB ports
  • 1 12 volt port
  • 1 RAM Mic port
  • 1 LED table light
  • New Standard Horizon Explorer VHF with built in GPS
  • New RAM Mic wired to the helm
  • AIS antenna upgrade
  • AIS wiring new 8x coax end fittings for best signal
  • VHF GPS output wired into ICOM 802 SSB for position feed
  • Spectra Ventura 200t, 8.3 gallons per hour at 8-9 amps 12 volt DC
  • New dedicated 3/4″ thru hull in the galley floor for watermaker saltwater feed pump
  • New plywood epoxy platform built to mount the 35 lb Clark pump
  • Feed pump and filters mounted up high on outboard side of cockpit seat ice box
  • 1/4″ product water hose teed into sink hand pump
  • 1/4″ sample water hose coils into cockpit ledge, pulls out to flow into cockpit drain
  • Product/sample valve just under cockpit sail locker lid ledge
  • Gauge mounted next to valve
  • Brine discharge teed into cockpit ice box drain

So, now it is time for us to prepare this boat for sea trials to shake down all the new gear. We may do that as we sail out, but we really think we need to make some offshore runs testing the pilot install and the ability to sail to wind via autopilot. We do that frequently and we want to make sure this boat sails as well as before on autopilot. We also need to work out the new reefing system yet to be installed. We have the new sails on, but we have not even opened them up to see them and test them. Refitting is nearly complete, now it is onto prep for departure.

Here are some photos…

Running the old RL70C from a 12 volt plug
to download our 900 waypoints….oops, we forgot!

Success, we downloaded them and my B&G rep converted them to B&G waypoints.
Then we uploaded them into the new system.

While doing refit, we are working with our friend and customer
who is buying an IP 38. Sea trial is next, very exciting!

Our sunset views from the porch where locals and cruisers share wine and snacks.

Our beautiful porch and comfortable teak furniture

Rewiring the underside of the helm with
new RAM Mic and new Radar control wires.

Every day, it seems, we go to West Marine. This one is in Ft. Lauderdale the mega store.
(Bob and Nina of Moondance, where are you??  We ran into you unexpectedly the last two times we were here!)

Diversion to Ft. Lauderdale downton to see Team SVDelos

The Ft. Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade was a pleasant surprise!

The last water hose needed, 1/2″ to connect fresh water to the watermaker flush.

Back to Stuart West Marine

Here is the white 1/4″ sample product water outflow hose.
I spent about a week working the sail locker.

Connecting the 1/4″ product water into the hand pump hose.

We added a shut off valve to keep the hand pump usable in an emergency.
Thanks for the good advice from our plumber in Pennsylvania, Fred!

This was the last job of the refit.

We are now labeling all items.

The product valve. Sample water to measure salinity, then
product water plumbed into the water tank.

10 AWG wire with a 15 amp breaker powers the watermaker.
This is wired directly to the battery charger, which is connected to the battery bank.

The direct power feed, 15 amp breaker, 5 micron filter and pressure cylinder,
all mounted on the back side of the cockpit ice box.

We are so relieved to be finished! Overall, when you look at this work, one month for two people is not too bad, especially when out in the harbor. We can now return to our regular program of routine maintenance, provisioning, sailing and traveling. Again, our goal is to sail into the Bahamas and then onward to the Caribbean Sea where we will base for the next 3 to 4 seasons. These are exciting times. Thank you for sailing along.

Fla West Coast Tour

…Sharon and Greg drove to visit Island Spirit…

What a welcome break from boat work! A few days of seeing friends and relaxing together gave us a real mental boost and a physical rest…much needed!

First of all, Greg and Sharon IP40 Dream Catcher visited Island Spirit to see our boat projects and to discuss future plans. We shared a really delicious dinner at The Sailor’s Return next to the Sunset Bay Marina here in Stuart. Thanks for coming!

The next day, we had a casual cookout with locals and guests including Terri IP38 Sailbatical, Trish and Bill IP 40 Island Bound and their friends Kurt and Sharon aboard Byrd Ketcher and Matt and Nonnie of Sophia Jean. The evening was capped off with music by Bill, which everyone enjoyed around the fire pit. We hope to see you all again soon!

The Sunset Bay Marina fire pit is FUN FUN FUN

Next, it was a real thrill to see Tom and Lesa aboard their boat IP35 Panacea. One year ago, Hayden was their broker as they shopped for an Island Packet. She is a real beauty now! We loved seeing the many substantial upgrades they have carefully planned and accomplished, while enjoying wine, cheese and the breeze together. Someday, we will share an anchorage!

Hayden, Radeen, Lesa and Tom, IP35 Panacea

That night, it was our pleasure to meet our friend, Nicholas and his girlfriend, Caitlin for a delightful dinner. Believe it or not, they are not IP owners! He is a Ph.D. student at USF and she is a nurse at a children’s hospital. Then, onto Craig (former IP 440 Charmed) and Liana’s for their customary kind and comfortable hospitality and many laughs. (Sorry! no photos of the fun we had together shopping and at the Fish Camp restaurant.)

Doc Junior Nicholas and Caitlyn

After a visit to our Florida dentist (who is a Temple grad), we drove to IP420 Flatlander’s beautiful new house for lunch. Alan and Kathy took a break from the condo they are renovating – their winter tenants will be delighted with the results! Alan grilled burgers and baked for us and then they gave us a lively neighborhood tour.

Bahamas Buddies IP 420 Flatlander, the Kansas Kids

The fun was not yet over! Onward to see John and Nancy, formerly IP40 Larking About, now IP420 Adventuress. After a lovely evening of delicious dining and dancing to excellent live music, we spent the next day touring their complex by bike, swimming, talking about sailing, and enjoying a sunset buffet meal. Ever the perfect hosts, John provided the cigars for a golf cart tour with Hayden, while Nancy and Radeen enjoyed visiting.

Gruet Champagne when we visit, Thank you!

On the way back, we stopped to see Jim and Loretta of IP380 Plan Sea. They made a yummy lunch for us of grilled mahi by their pool. We discussed our Bahamas plans and are talking to them about tagging along with us as we push into the Caribbean Sea. We hope they continue south with us.

We always have so much fun with Team “Plan Sea”

We arrived back in Stuart at dusk and borrowed a dinghy from a happy couple celebrating their completion of the Great Loop, which is a voyage along the East Coast, through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Our fast and fun “vacation” concluded with a visit from former IP 38 Oceana owner, Kathy, who just returned from an amazing Habitat for Humanity trip to interior Guatemala, where her team built latrines, ovens and friendships!

World Traveler Kathy stopped by for a visit, thank you!

Here are more photos of the fun time…….

A hand made angel brought to us from Haiti by Hayden’s cousin, Sherry, is mounted at our nav desk

Alan is a great baker and chef, and he made this carrot cake. We hope to be together to celebrate Alan and Radeen’s
March birthdays once again, but Alan made the cake now, just in case that doesn’t happen.

The carrot cake was 4 layers thick. WOW….delicious!
John and Nancy taking a break from the dance floor 

Our room’s lanai, overlooking the golf course

Biking where the speed limit is 20 mph makes Radeen happy!

Nancy and Radeen always take a great photo.

Bad Boys will smoke cigars….

Bad Boys will drink too much scotch….


Our new Delorme InReach tracking system tested on land. This was our route.

We are indeed fortunate to have so many wonderful friends who live in such interesting places and who do the most fascinating things. Thank you for making us feel incredibly welcome! Our apologies to those we did not see…we had to hurry back to show an Island Packet for sale near Daytona. We hope to see ALL of you somewhere wonderful in 2017!