Wednesday, August 31, 2016


This weather system which originally was called Invest 99-L, then Tropical Depression 9, and may turn into a hurricane named Hermine, is scheduled to hit the Big Bend area of Florida tomorrow afternoon.

So don't worry, we will be fine, but I can't say the same for my friends in St. Augustine. Be safe, dear friends, be safe.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rain Delay

We have two of the solar panels bolted onto the Bimini and we were working on the other two this morning, but
this came through and put an end to our project. It's on the northeast edge of what used to be called "Invest 99-L" which has matured into a tropical depression named "Tropical Storm 9"
and is pulling massive amounts of moisture towards Florida. Rainfall up to 3" is projected in some areas in the next few days. So we wait and work between the showers.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Solar Panels Have Arrived

We started our cruise two years ago with pretty much what was on the boat and functioning, so we had old Grunert refrigeration, a generator, typical 12 volt lighting, and an inverter. We changed a bunch of lights to LED, added a watermaker and off we went.

Over the months, being only at anchor, we ran the generator every day for the refrigeration and occasionally ran the watermaker at the same time. Since we came back from California in May the generator hasn't run and we are still in the middle of the longest generator rebuild in history thanks to Westerbeke's lackluster service.

With no generator we have no refrigeration, no battery charging, and no watermaker, but we are surviving by getting ice daily, running the main engine, and going to the fuel dock for water.

We decided we needed another energy source so we ordered solar panels the other day. They arrived yesterday and we played with them a bit this morning.

We are impressed. In full sun one 22" x 44" panel puts out 19.7 volts. And even with the shadow of the boom blocking almost half of the panel it still puts out 18.9 volts. It's magic! We are excited about these and will keep you posted on the installation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

St. Lucie River Cruise

In the two months we've been here at Sunset Bay Marina, we've been motoring over to the fuel dock every two weeks to fill our water tanks. We slip the mooring lines, motor 500', tie up for 30 minutes with the engine idling, then go right back to our buoy.

This morning as we backed away from the dock a large blue-grey cloud wafted out of our exhaust pipe. How embarrassing. We haven't been running the engine at high RPMs or under load for quite some time and we decided right then and there to go for a little ride.

So we headed up the North Fork of the St. Lucie River and ran her up to speed. Not only was it good for the engine, it was good for us to get out too. Being a weekday, there was very little traffic, but we did cross wakes with one large sportfisher. Luckily it was gentle and none of the generator parts fell off the quarterberths.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lightning Capital of the USA

We are still here in Stuart, Florida waiting for generator parts. We've been here since June 22nd, and according to the Westerbeke Parts Department, we'll be here until at least September 10th. It wouldn't be so bad if the water was clean enough for swimming....or we could go out sailing....or if Florida wasn't the Lightning Capital of the USA!
But those are the facts, so here we sit, surrounded by filthy, unswimmable water, with generator parts strewn all over the quarterberths, and thunderstorms ever threatening.
The chart above explains why thunderstorms are so common in Florida. Thank goodness we are under the grey arrow on the east coast where there are ONLY 15-20 flashes per square mile per year. That is way better than Tampa and Orlando, but every time I hear thunder I still cringe.

This next map is especially sobering. It shows average yearly deaths from lightning by county. Again, we are in a relatively safe area, Martin County, which is the yellow county just to the right of the blue blob.

Being from California with its clear, dry summer weather, we have found that this climate takes some getting used to. Back home we'd make a list of chores and forge ahead, confident that the weather wouldn't interfere, but here we find ourselves making frequent weather adjustments.

We plan our chores by looking to the East. If we see huge clouds, we do the inside chores first and hope the weather improves later. If its clear, we bike to the store, sand some varnishwork, or polish some stainless. And we get plenty of exercise opening and shutting the hatches several times a day.

Even with all this uncertainty I've found some beauty in Florida weather. The sky is a constantly changing tableau of gorgeous clouds. Especially at sunrise and sunset when the sun adds it's magic to the canvas. And when there's no wind, the water mirrors the sky's beauty.
I frequently sit on deck early in the morning with a cup of tea, admiring the view, watching the birds, and taking photos. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Fun Family Weekend

We spent a wonderful relaxing weekend with family in Tequesta. Granny, the girls, and I made tarts and had a tea party one day.

I also got to do the bedtime book reading for two nights and I loved it. That's one thing we always did with our girls and it's a great way to bond, relax, and create a love of reading.

Late Saturday afternoon Daddy, Popah, and Uncle Malcolm arrived from Key Largo with the new boat. The girls were so excited.
In no time at all, the girls were in their boat coats, and took off for their first ride in the new boat.

Sunday, after an early morning fishing trip, the rest of us joined the endless parade up the ICW. Being the last weekend before the start of school, it was especially busy.

Although it wasn't as busy as this photo I snagged off the Internet, Tequesta Sandbar was still hopping. This seems to be a unique Florida thing; drive your boat onto the sandbar, turn up the music, pop open the ice chest, and wade around partying all day. Or until the lightning sends everyone scurrying home.

Our goal for the day wasn't to party at the sandbar, but to run up to Stuart to see Thistle and drop us off. Its an easy 25 mile trip on the ICW. Along the way we saw lots of osprey nests.
Eventually, a front built north of us. We endured the rain for a while, but when the lightning started the new Captain wisely turned around.

We arrived safely back at their house, raised the boat on the lift, flushed the engines, changed into dry clothes, had dinner, and eventually were driven home in the car. Flexibility is the name of the game here in Florida. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Elliott Museum

We've been working awfully hard on boat projects lately, so we thought it was time for a day out. Yesterday we visited the Elliott Museum which is just a few miles north of the Stuart in Jensen Beach.

The first thing you see when you walk in is a Foucault Pendulum. Funny thing is, there is a Foucault Pendulum at one of our favorite museums about 3000 miles west of here; the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. These pendulums are made to demonstrate the Earth's rotation, but just watching it is mesmerizing and relaxing. It took a while, but I finally got a photo that wasn't blurry.

The Elliott Museum is well know for its bicycles and cars.
This is a 1903 Stanley Steamer. It doesn't look much different than a horse buggy from that era.
This is the front of a 1903 Cadillac.

Here is a 1926 Bugatti race car.

They also have a replica of the Pelican hanging from the ceiling, which was designed and built by a local adventurer Hugh Willoughby.

The museum also has a nice collection of ship models. This one is the Coast Guard Ship Eagle.

The museum has some interesting Seminole items too. These are stomp dance rattles. Originally the natives made them with turtle shells, but they changed to condensed milk cans. The women would wear several around each ankle as they performed in the stomp dances.

I got a kick out of this old poster for Lydia Pinkham's vegetable compound. It says to take one tablespoon every four hours throughout the day. At 15% alcohol, I'm sure it was very, um, popular!