Saturday, March 31, 2007

Indian Cove to Pine Island, FL

43.6 nm
Wind: SE 10-15 knots
Seas: moderate chop
Maximum speed: 7.8 knots (because of wake)
Average speed: 4.6 knots
Latitude: 27°43.30’N
Longitude: 080°23.93’W

It was a very eventful day. For one thing, we went more than forty miles. Karl’s complaining about sunstroke, but if we go less than that tomorrow we’ll be in St. Lucie, with the computer! Very exciting.

Our other major event was almost being boarded by a Brevard County waterborne Sheriff. He didn’t actually board us, but gave us an inspection and asked for our documentation. We passed almost everything with flying colors, except I couldn’t find our Coast Guard documentation! I had put it in a very easily accessible place when we left Marion, the top drawer, but five months of cruising later it had been shoved to the back corner and forgotten. Luckily I remembered where it was at the last minute and we were able to prove our legality. Still, it was a little nerve-wracking--our first brush with the law!

We’re having some challenges because of our lack of charts, too. We’re used to depending on our electronic charts, and we took the bargain basement route when it came to paper charts. Instead of buying the full-fledged chartkit (for a cool $150) or even the entire ICW chartbook (for $65) we wen the with the Florida Waterway Guide at $40, figuring it had enough chartlets in it to keep us on track. Well, it has a lot more gaps than expected, mainly at all the good anchorages, though every marina is dutifully mapped. So we’re at our first completely uncharted anchorage tonight. We had to sneak our way in between two trawlers, peering at the depthsounder and praying that Skipper Bob knew his stuff. Sailing without charts is freaky--like flying blind. Especially when the channel’s barely eight feet deep, four foot on either side, and there’s no tidal drop to float you free. Anyway, one more day of this, and then we’ll be back to normal. Charts! GPS! Computer! I can’t wait.

It was a beautiful day of motoring, though it was frustrating watching all these boats drift by under sail. There’s no way we can sail without charts, not to mention our missing block, and I miss it desperately. It’s great watching all the pleasureboaters out on their boats for the weekend, though some of them throw a lot of wake. Today we saw entire families of four on jetskis, sailboats with their sails still up beached on little islands with their captains casting lines into the surf, campsites set up on tiny beaches with kids running around gathering firewood. We wanted to anchor off one of the little spoil islands, so called because they’re made from the sand dredged out of the channel, but they were way too shallow. We found another deserted anchorage tonight, though, in a little cove with just those two trawlers, hidden behind a wooded island. I can just see the evening star poking through the companionway, and smell the night breeze off the water.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Titusville to Indian Cove, FL

17.2 nm
Wind: E 10-15 knots
Seas: choppy
Maximum speed: 6.5 knots
Average speed: 4.6 knots
Latitude: 28°21.51’N
Longitude: 080°42.88’W

We’re settling back into the boat’s routine, and it feels oh so wonderful. As much as I enjoyed the time spent with our Daytona friends, I know the boat is where we’re supposed to be. I knew that the whole time we were there, too, which was what made it so hard. But now everything in the universe is setlling back into its right place.

Even little things, like listening to the weather on the VHF in the morning, setting up the handheld GPS for the day (even though it’s not the computer), planning the day’s anchorage and food, make me content. Karl says we needed a break from the boat to start over, and he’s right in that we’re working much better together as a team now. Almost everything has a home on the boat, and we know what fruit and vegetables will last, how long ice will keep, how long we can wait for a pumpout. We’re like a well-oiled machine. And we appreciate everything so much more.

A major thing that’s different now from before is the weather. We’ve bypassed spring altogether and have hit full-fledged summer. Karl complains about the heat, but I adore it. It’s in the upper 70s, maybe 80, in the day, pleasant, with a breeze, and it goes down into the 50s or 60s at night--just enough of a chill to need a blanket in the morning. We’re breaking out the sunscreen, something that hasn’t seen the light of day since last August in Massachusetts.

We stopped early today because of rain. Florida needs it. It hasn’t rained in weeks and weeks here, and every morning they talk abou the danger of wildfires. The rain was nice for us, too. A little coolness in the air gave the sunburns a chance to calm down and us a chance to chill out on the boat and enjoy the sunset. This is, after all, why we’re here. To live a stress-free existence, to escape the cares of modern society, to see new places and experience new cultures, to meet new people and tell them they can live this kind of life, too. We’re getting back on track. There’s nowhere to be, nowhere to get in a hurry.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sheepshead Cut to Titusville, FL

28.3 nm
Wind: E 10 knots, building to 15
Seas: light chop
Maximum speed: 6.7 knots
Average speed: 4.1 knots
Latitude: 28°37.66’N
Longitude: 080°48.38’W

Life is good. Perfect, in fact. Karl’s cooking us up a pot of spaghetti, there’s fresh garlic bread in the oven and a green salad on the table. I’m slightly sunburned, but just enough to make me remember those glorious childhood days at the beach. I can see the sun painting hte sky peach just out the companionway, and a cool breeze is blowing through the forward hatch. We’ve opened a lovely bottle of Shiraz to share with our dinner, a celebratory bottle we’ve held onto for months.

We saw manatees today. At least ten of them. Karl yelled at me as I was doing dishes--“look, a whale!”--and I ran up the stps to see the rounded black-gray tail of a manatee dip back below the surface. After that, all day today, we saw them--surfacing, circling around the boat, feeding on the vegetation in the water. Dolphins have surrounded us since we’ve been back on the boat, too. We saw about twenty groups of dolphins (porpoises?) today. Plus: our first flamingos, two of them, flying over the boat. Pink birds make you think something’s gone awry in the universe. And a raccoon fishing, white pelicans, which are, evidently, rare, and blue ibises, and a space shuttle under construction in the distance at Cape Canaveral.

We checked out our budget last night, and--miracle of miracles--we may have enough money for another four months. If we’re careful. Every doubt has been quelled. Whatever we decide--the Bahamas, the Gulf Coast, the Keys, even staying in Florida and earning some more freedom chips--we’re back on our path. The right one.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Daytona Beach to Sheepshead Cut, FL

11.6 nm
Wind: E 5-10 knots
Seas: light chop
Maximum speed: 5.8 knots
Average speed: 3.6 knots

Our first day back in motion. Words cannot describe how amazing it feels. I’m overwhelmed by happiness. I’m journalling on paper right now, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to get anything online, but I’ve decided to log what’s going on anyway, in hope and faith, that someday soon I’ll have the internet again. We have a computer waiting for us about 160 miles down the coast, that allegedly works, and we just have to get there and decide what to do next.

We got back to the boat on Monday, two weeks to the day from when we left. I’m in awe that we left the boat for that long, anchored with the barbecue and the solar panel outside, without any problem. We anchored there, off Daytona, for the first time on February 1. That’s almost two months! I don’t know how that much time got away from us.

This last week, after we ordered our second replacement computer, we tried to help out our friend Dan as he recovered from hernia surgery. He and his girlfriend Sam had done so much for us--letting us stay in their house for almost two months, off and on--that the least we could do was watch their kids a couple of times and help him move around his DJ equipment.

That, and we became addicted to his Tivo. I’m a television addict in the best of cases, and if you throw in unlimited recordings and commercial fast-forwarding, it’s a lost cause. If I had control of one of those things, I’d never leave the house. One of the reasons I have to keep adventuring is that I have to escape the irresistable attraction of television rays.

Being in Daytona really made both of us doubt our purpose. Karl became obsessed with his abandoned dream of motorcycle racing. As much as I was willing to encourage him, I’m not ready to give up the boat yet. We haven’t even got our feet wet yet. Well, literally, we have, but I still feel like we’ve barely started.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Deland, FL

I'm kind of sick of saying, yup, still in Deland. Make that extremely sick. But it's the truth. I'm beginning to feel that we've been sucked into someone else's life and don't know how to get out. It's a little depressing. Karl's even been offered a job here--he could've started working today--and Paula, Danny's mom, found us a free spot to stay at the marina where she works. That would mean backtracking up to Jacksonville and then coming down the St. John's River, about 230 miles, which would take us about a week. Still, it's a very tempting prospect.

But not that tempting. I'm still more tempted by the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean. I almost typed Mediterranean, and I'm tempted by those too, and Australia, and New Zealand, and Thailand and all those other far away places that we'll never get to because we're simply too goshdarned lazy. Or that's how it feels right now.

I'm beginning to wonder if all of our obstacles and stumbling blocks are due to a severe lack of motivation. We can be motivated enough to pound away at a boat for a year, and motivated enough to cut the docklines (allegedly the hardest part) but give us the taste of a four-burner range, Tivo, and occasional hot showers, and I'm all done in.

As things stand now, we're trying to buy another computer online and have it shipped down the coast. But even that ordeal might take us several days, or up to another week. We've been here for another week already, when we planned to be here for a night. I've given up hope on us leaving quickly. It turns out that the one we bought online was dropped. It must've been severely, because it wrecked not only the logicboard but also the hard drive, which was half the value of the computer. Fairly ridiculous.

Still, I'm willing to trust eBay again. I guess. We really could have gotten our money back, if we hadn't thought the computer was somewhat salvageable. But I better go. Karl's hovering over my shoulder, with love, and I'm at the computer store pirating internet yet again. Thanks for all the encouraging comments. They really, really do help.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Daytona, FL

Yup, still here. At least we're back on the boat, which is progress. It feels good to be home, although it's going to take a while to have it feel like home again. Little things like having the coffee where it's supposed to be, putting the life jackets away, getting all the sand off the floor. It feels great to be back, but I'm still frustrated and stir-crazy. I want to be on the way to the Bahamas, not still stuck in this same old harbor!!

So the update is this: I flew back to Orlando and we got back to the boat the next day. We're still in touch with our friends in Deland and I hope we can use their car if we end up needing to, but as of now I hope we can keep staying on the boat until we can leave. The problem is still, as always, the computer.

We keep debating just buying paper charts and keeping on going, but it would cost us $60 in paper charts just to get to our next contact, in Port Ste. Lucie. It would cost us at least $600 in paper charts to get to Trinidad, our original hurricane season goal. The Bahamas alone are covered in four chartbooks, which each cost $150. That's just to give you an idea of how expensive they are. We've known all along that being reliant on electronic charts exclusively was a bad idea, but, then again, cruising with our miniscule budget was always a bad idea.

Karl's done a temporary fix on our computer, and we may just get it working, if we spend another week here in Daytona. Now our problem is that we don't have the original software that came with the computer. The software for our old computer is too old, and the updated operating system that we bought is on a DVD, and guess what? The new computer, unbeknownst to us, is DVD-drive-less. Argh. If it ain't one thing, it's another, right?

So our options are:
1. Buy paper charts.
2. Fix the computer, at unknown cost in time and money.
3. Buy another computer, and resell this one as-is. But dare we trust eBay again, once burned?

I guess nebulous option four, hovering on the horizon, is to haul the boat, or rent a mooring ball somewhere, and actually--heaven forbid--get jobs and work and live for a while, without moving. Fate worse than death, right? Maybe I should start an online poll. I have no idea what to do. I guess right now we're leaning towards option 2. We've already been here a month and a half, what's another week? Karl's a little more antsy than I am. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated after my two weeks with my family. Ready to go, yes, but a lot more at peace than I was before.

I am still frustrated with this blog thing, though. Without the computer, my only journalling time is snatched from library sessions. The Daytona library charges you five dollars--five dollars!!--for two hours of daily internet access. Ludicrous. Libraries have become a lot more exclusive since those young, dewy days at the dawn of the information age. I understand, though, what with funding shortages and everything. Still, though, at five dollars a day, that's one expensive website. I've even found some blog entries from before the Big Disaster that I thought were lost, but I don't know how I'm going to ever find time to post them. At least not until we get this computer thing straightened out. So bear with me.

On the plus side, it's beautiful here. Eighty degrees, sunny. I'm wearing a tee-shirt and sunglasses, and a dolphin greeted us this morning, not ten feet from the boat. Life is still good. And we finally saw our Canadian friends on Sea Belle again the other day. They stopped by to visit us, and we had a great night revisiting old times. It's good to know that they're just as bewildered about what to do as we are. Hurricane season is throwing everyone for a loop. Chances are, we'd be in the same boat (ha ha) even if we hadn't had this computer problem.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Chattanooga, TN

Or Chattavegas, as we used to call it, back in the day. I must say, everyone, I'm floundering a bit. If I have any readers left. I'm wondering what to do with this blog o' mine. I feel a little bit lost about it, as I do about everything else. It doesn't seem possible that one tiny little loss should have changed my universe so drastically, but it really has. Without a place to journal, a place to record my thoughts that I feel is mine, I'm having a really hard time being motivated.

Why am I keeping a website anyway? To massage my own ego? To delude myself that my introspection is really extrospection? As a travelogue? I keep thinking that the computer situation will work itself out, we'll cast off from Daytona, and everything will go back to the way it was. But I don't know if it really can.

I've been home for a week now, and drove up to see my lovely sister in Chicago and her beautiful baby Sophia. It's been great to be with family again, to relax a little, and to even get to hang out with friends a couple of nights. It's crazy how much colder even Tennessee is than Florida, and it was bizarre, driving north, seeing the first drifts of snow. Somehow, skipping winter has made me believe that winter didn't exist anywhere, and the shock of hitting a serious winter was surprising. I didn't even bring a coat to Chicago.

It was great to be in a city again, too. To ride around on public transportation, to peruse the local listings of events, to take Sophia to the huge well-funded Shedd Aquarium, to eat Belgian food and drink Starbucks and listen to the burble of radiators. I miss the city. Not always, just sometimes. What's weird is that before the Appalachian Trail I even called myself a city person. Now, here I am, choosing about as rural of a life as possible. Or at least a life as far away from the city as possible. I still fantasize about cockroach-ridden, drafty, exposed-brick loft in New York City, where I could go to avant-garde plays and watch foreign films and eat Afghan food. But then again, I could never afford a loft in New York City. And I've barely even been there.

I suppose it's just another symptom of always wanting what you can't have. Right now, the main thing that I want and can't have is a replacement computer. Today I went so far as to go on Apple's website and contemplate shilling out $1100 for a brand spanking new one. Even though we got half our money back, the computer is no closer to repair now than it was two weeks ago, and I'm very, very afraid that I'll be in exactly the same situation when I get back that I was in when I left. What should we do? Fork over the bucks for another used computer? Try to repair the one we have? Buy a brand-new one? Or but a paper chart and just do without, head on down the coast, footloose, fancy-free, and blogless?

And then, I'm reminded of the horror of June, lurking full of hurricanes just around the corner. I don't know what to do, and I'm no closer to a decision now than I was a month ago. Maybe I should try an online poll and let you decide. In the meantime, I'll just try to enjoy the time with my family that I have. Everything will become clear eventually. I have faith.