Monday, December 29, 2014

Preparations for a Crossing to the Bahamas

The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse festively
decorated for Christmas. Just one of
the sights along the way to Lake Worth, Florida.
     It's 6:30 AM. Joe is making coffee. The crackling sound of the SSB radio being tuned is filtering into the aft cabin where I'm attempting to waken and disentangle the previous night's cobwebs in order to decipher Chris Parker's Marine Weather Center live broadcast for our upcoming crossing to the Bahamas. Cold front approaching in Beaufort...trough off Florida, upcoming possible crossing opportunities and...a deep sleep ensues. Once again Chris's mesmerizing radio intonation, a sure knockout drug has taken hold. When I finally "woke up and smelled the coffee" the broadcast was over. By that time Joe had written notes from the broadcast and made plans for our day.


Canned goods and other provisions stacked
three deep in storage compartments.
     Bahama crossings aboard sailboats require considerable advanced planning for provisions, spare parts, weather and sea state conditions. While spending time in Vero Beach we were afforded free public transportation in the form of mini buses from our mooring at the city marina for provisioning. Public transportation in Vero is excellent with stops at the beach, West Marine, Publix Supermarket, Fresh Market, ABC Liquors and with only one transfer, a stop at Walmart! The moniker for Vero Beach is Velcro Beach...for obvious reasons. Cruisers tend to stay awhile and it's tough to break free.


      Bus transportation was well used by us and everyone else at the City Marina. While riding the bus topics of conversations centered on "When do you plan to cross? Along with "Where do you plan to cross from?" running a close second. It seemed while we were all busy with one project or another everyone was preparing. Repairs, provisioning, washing clothes, jobs were being accomplished with one goal in mind. Crossing over to the Bahamas.

     One problem with advanced planning is that the weather window doesn't always materialize on time. Boats end up spending days or weeks waiting for the best crossing using up precious provisioning! This tends to be an issue on boats such as ours in the 40 foot range. The boat has great storage, but not as much as larger boats that have even more storage capacity. So, when it's time to provision for the Bahamas it has to be done a day or two prior to departure.

     So, here we sit at anchor in Lake Worth, Florida. Before dawn at 5:00 AM this morning the anchor was raised and Simple Life headed out Lake Worth Inlet in darkness bound for West End, Grand Bahama Island. At seven miles out with 15-17 knot wind on the nose, the seas built to a steep chop. It was ugly. The boat was motoring against the wind, seas and Gulf Stream at 3.2 knots. After consulting with Chris Parker via SSB it was clear that we needed return to port. Conditions were not expected to improve.

     No one likes to backtrack. Although, sometimes it's the best decision. Today was one of those times. Simple Life is back at anchor in Lake Worth. The wind has been building all morning. In fact it's howling! I'm grateful we returned. As of now it's uncertain when we'll cross. Winds are forecast to subside tonight with light and variable winds tomorrow. We may cross or we may head south to Fort Lauderdale to stage for an upcoming crossing from Miami. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Liebster Award Nomination

Simple Life at anchor in the Exuma Islands 2014

The Liebster Award is presented to non commercial cruising & sailing websites and blogs, as recognition for quality content and interest

      Thank you so much to Kathi from who nominated my blog for the Liebster Award! This nomination was awarded to us a couple of months ago, but this is the first opportunity I've had to sit down and answer the ten questions that accompany the nomination regulations.
Thank you to Kathi from MV Dyad!

1) Introduce yourselves and the boat you are sailing.

     We are a couple from Narragansett Bay, RI who dreamed of living aboard a sailboat for most of our marriage (over 30 years). Our home (sailboat) is Simple Life (we keep hoping).

2) What is your boat's name and why is she called what she is?

     Our boat is named Simple Life. We bought our first cruising boat in 1991 and her name was Simple Life. We loved the name and when we found our new boat in 2001 we named her Simple Life. Living aboard certainly isn't a simple life, but we keep hoping and trying to live up to the name.

3) What kind of boat is that anyway?

     She is an Island Packet 37. She's actually 39.5 feet in length including the bowsprit.

4) What made you decide to live this lifestyle?

     The dream was constant. It seemed everything we did while living ashore was in preparation for making the lifestyle a reality.

5) What is the best thing about your lifestyle?

     There are so many best things that it's difficult to choose only one. One thing I enjoy is self reliance. We primarily live off the grid. Our power source is a battery bank that is recharged by solar and wind power. We cook with propane and even have an on board fireplace for the occasional chilly morning.

6) What is the worst thing about your lifestyle?

     I would have to say that the worst thing about living aboard is the occasional need to remedy a clogged head...and I'm not referring to the human kind.

7) What has been the favorite place you've visited?

     We love the Bahamas especially the Out Islands.

8) What do you carry on board that is completely useless?

     Our boat isn't big enough to carry useless items. Everything must have a purpose. Each year I inventory items and if they were not used during the season they're removed.

9) Is there anything you really miss by living on a boat?

     I'd have to say a washing machine. Sometimes when traveling laundry can build up for three weeks!

10) What do you really use your binoculars for?

     I actually use them often. Joe is constantly pestering me for confirmation of navigational marks, boats heading toward us, etc. Of course they come in handy for finding friends in anchorages, too.

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Location: Deerfield Beach, Florida

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving in Vero Beach

Thursday happy hour jam at Vero Beach with the Salty Paws
Jim Austin and Bentley Smith
Michele Boulay on Bodhran
      Each year I find myself appreciating the gifts of life more and more. Maybe I'm getting more sentimental or perhaps age and some semblance of wisdom have something to do with it. At any rate not to sound sappy I am thankful for good health, wonderful friends, a great boat that generates abundant adventures, and a husband who is my best friend and protector. Thanksgiving although not a religious holiday, is my time of year to take notice of the gifts my life has been afforded and to give thanks to God. The Pilgrims really had a great idea! Eat lots of food and celebrate with friends who matter. Enjoy and be thankful for the life we have. What a concept! It must have been a great idea because we still celebrate today especially at the annual Vero Beach Cruiser's Thanksgiving Dinner.  
A pre holiday get together with the crew from SV Island Spirit
Radeen and Hayden with Michele aboard Simple Life

Dave from MV Dyad 
Thanksgiving dinner in Vero Beach



     This year as always the CLODS former boaters (cruisers living on dirt) provided cooked turkeys and ham for the 150 or so cruisers who visited Vero Beach for the holiday. Each cruising boater brought a side dish and beverages. This year my contribution was a recipe from Traditional Irish Cooking called Champ (mashed potatoes with green onions). It was a hit. If you're curious...see the attached recipe from epicurious
Michele Boulay SV Simple Life and Jim Austin of SV Salty Paws

Dave Register of MV Dyad 
     The food and conversations are always good, but my favorite part of the day begins after dinner when a few musicians who live aboard get together for a jam session. This year did not disappoint as the crew from SV Salty Paws, Jim Austin and Bentley Smith sang a salty mix of tunes performed on guitar and banjo. Dave Register from MV Dyad sang and played guitar while Patrick Hentschell from SV Holiday did a great job jamming with his collection of harmonicas. I provided the rhythm section with the Bodhran (Irish drum). A few other cruisers also jammed on guitar, but some came and went and I didn't catch their names.

Dave and Kathy from MV Dyad and Pat Hentschell from SV Holiday

     After Thanksgiving the cruising vessels head south on separate schedules. Some plan to spend the winter in south Florida and the Keys. Others like us will cross over to the Bahamas. Next November most us will gather once again in Vero Beach for celebration, good food and even better friendships.
Jim Austin & Bentley Smith from SV Salty Paws

All photo credits by Joe Boulay
            SV Simple Life

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