One of the first lessons of boating: DON’T MAKE PLANS

OK, maybe not entirely, but it is a good thing to remember – plans need to be fungible, because things like weather, boat systems and pandemics can disrupt the best laid schedule. So can getting injured. Although not completely unpredictable (Kathleen did find out that our friends in CO had bets going on when and what her first injury would be – sprained ankle/broken toe for the win!), we’ve definitely hit a larger snag. In January, while washing the boat, Kathleen slipped on the side deck stairs, grabbed the rail and dislocated her left shoulder (again – this is actually the fourth time it’s been dislocated in less than 15 years…). Just like all previous times, the shoulder went back into place on its own. After a visit to a doctor who said all that was needed was some rest and PT (yeah!), we were excited to only have to delay our departure to the Bahamas… until Saturday morning when Kathleen dislocated it again, this time requiring a visit to the ER. After finding an orthopedic surgeon, scheduling (and having to re-schedule) MRI’s and appointments, we finally found out that it’s kind of a bigger deal and Kathleen needs Remplissage surgery for a Hill-Sachs depression (just google it). We’re hoping surgery can happen in early April. If so, it’s three months of recovery and three months of rehab… so… no Bahamas, no New England…(heavy sigh).

We plan to stay here at Loggerhead Marina in Vero Beach until after the New Year 2022 but if weather cooperates in Sept – Nov we will cruise south to the Keys for a few weeks. Over Christmas/New Year we also hope to be able to get back to Colorado and (if the border opens) visit family in Vancouver.

It has not all been grim here however! Christmas on the boat for the first time was different, but nice. Kathleen decorated a small tree and hung lights on our windows, while playing Christmas carols on the guitar and on the radio. Kathleen was able to sneak a cross stitch of a phrase that we had seen earlier in the summer, and frame it as a gift for the boat. She also had a friend back in Colorado make a beautiful framed line drawing of our Granuaile that we really enjoy. Tracy is very talented, and if any of you would like something done like this (she does houses, cabins, etc), just let us know and we’ll get you connected.

Granuaile at slip in Vero Beach decorated for the holidays
New Granuaile artwork

Christmas was hard as it was the first time we had not been with any of our kids, but it was fun in that we zoom-called several times over Christmas Eve – Christmas Day, visiting with our kids and with Neil’s family. Katie, Mike and Meghan were all together in Vancouver, which was excellent, and Sean was safe in Denver with his puppies and best friend, Aren. It’s also been a very long time since Kathleen has had a warm Christmas, and the first one for Neil. We both prefer colder weather for the holidays, but we agreed it was unique to be wearing shorts on Christmas day!

Keeping warm by the fire while preparing Christmas dinner

New Year’s Eve was also rather subdued, but we had a nice dinner with our dockmates, Christine and Joe. Kathleen went Mexican with the cooking, and we capped off the evening with sparklers, courtesy of dockmates Doug and Suzanne. OK, so it might have been 10:00 pm, but it was New Year’s somewhere…

Sunset from our boat deck

Before the shoulder incident, we bought a two person kayak. It is a lot of fun to use, and slips through the water so easily. Neil has had more practice with it than Kathleen, but we should be able to get another ride in before too long. Our friends, Paul and Shannon, fellow Canadians who were with us here in Vero until a few weeks ago to head to the Bahamas, gave us lots of tips, pointers, and places to go once we finally do get to cross over. One of the simplest, yet coolest contraptions that they recommended is a breeze booster, which attaches to your port hole or hatch to direct cooling breezes into the boat – absolutely essential in the warm Carribean (but not as useful here in Vero where we are constantly bombarded by no-see-ums, tiny biting evil minions that seem to come out just as the wind dies down…). We once again realized how unique and lovely the boating community is, with everyone so willing to help out – whether it’s with handling dock lines, friendly chats, information and hints for travel, or just a friendly wave. This transient life can be tough when being far from family, and this community is an amazing group.

Neil heading out for a morning paddle on the ICW
Practice flying the new drone before risking an over water shot from the boat

We’ve been keeping busy with trips to the beach and pool (ok, not busy, but fun), Kathleen doing what she can to stay fit (doctor approved), knitting, writing, playing guitar, and binge watching various series (currently watching Homeland!), and Neil working on the “boat to-do list” of things to look at, fix, adjust, replace. So far have replaced the exhaust mixing elbow and impeller on the wing engine, repaired the pilothouse aircon compressor (blown capacitors), re-caulked a number of items on the boat deck and pilothouse roof (need a good rain storm or two to confirm fix for a water leak into the engine room!), main engine and transmission oil and filters change, dinghy motor annual maintenance, repaired a seized spotlight, and staying on top of the myriad of preventive maintenance tasks tracked with our Wheelhouse maintenance management app … And Neil took a diesel engine/generator maintenance course offered via Zoom by manufacturer Northern Lights. The learning never stops.

Kathleen working out in the salon. Neil practices boat yoga in the engine room and lazarette while contorting himself to work on difficult to access equipment.
New vs Old exhaust elbow for the wing engine. Replaced before severe corrosion inside the elbow caused a cooling water blockage that would lead to hose blowout or much worse.
Diver discovered that the stern thruster props were damaged during some unknown encounter with debris in water. Had diver replace with new props during next bottom cleaning.
Lesson learned: Use Gopro camera to conduct periodic check of thruster props

We have been exploring beaches in the area, enjoying the nice milder weather while we have it, and mostly watching the Atlantic rather than swimming in it (every day so far has been a “red flag” day, which is a no swimming day especially if you have an injured limb). We have seen the return of Portuguese Man O’War jellyfish on the beaches – very pretty, but very painful – we give them wide berth when we see them on the beach, as even dead ones can still sting.

We have taken the boat out twice, once with Christine and Joe along when we went into the ocean from Ft. Pierce to test various systems, and once just the two of us for a four hour jaunt on the ICW to exercise the engines and just have a fun day. We have also been on a few dinghy rides (including a breakfast picnic to celebrate our anniversary on March 6th!). There are a lot of really pretty areas to explore here on the Indian River, as long as you have a shallow draft (like the dinghy!). We’ve seen our share of manatees, dolphins (including mamas teaching their babies to fish), pink flamingos, turtles, rays, juvenile sharks, pelicans and so many nesting ospreys. The wildlife here is amazing and abundant (although we do not go exploring loud splashes near the mangrove lines on wild islands – we still have a healthy respect/fear of bothering alligators).

Out for a day cruise on the Atlantic, off Ft Pierce
Returning home to our Vero Beach marina at sunset
On our way out of marina for a short cruise north on the ICW
Early morning ride to a quiet anchorage for breakfast
Baby dolphin with mom
Alligator basking in the sun, at Turkey Creek Sanctuary near Palm Bay, FL
Nap time after enjoying lunch while anchoring off the ICW just north of marina

After figuring out that our cruising season was not going as planned this year, we decided to buy a car, as we need one for necessary shopping runs and also to be able to explore more of Florida. We are now once again proud (?) owners of a car – a Mini Cooper, which is a lot of fun to use to run around the area. Most recently, we drove over to the Gulf side of Florida, visiting Ft. Myers, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island. Although the traffic on the islands can be insane (we quickly learned the value of getting to the beach no later than 9:00 if we wanted a parking space), the beaches are beautiful, the water refreshing and gentle, and the sun toasty warm. We had hours on the beach, swimming in the water, and just relaxing. We had a couple of wonderful evenings enjoying local seafood and beverages. It was great to be able to sit by the water and watch the sunset, with local flavor around us (OK, the Karaoke bar was a bit much, but still…). Best of all, we definitely used sunscreen judiciously, and no one ended up sunburned.

Beach on Captiva Island, on the Florida Gulf Coast
Lighthouse Point beach on Sanibel Island

The days are already starting to turn very warm and the humidity is rapidly rising. It’s funny that Spring hasn’t even started yet, but February and March are definitely two of the most beautiful months in Florida. Staying here through the summer will be a new “experience”, and we are very thankful for aircon on the boat. Still, living on our wonderful floating home, in a very secure “hurricane hole” marina is not a bad way to spend our time. As our cross stitched frame hanging in the galley reminds us, Home is Where the Anchor Drops. Or in our case for now, where our lines are tied. The adventure continues.

3 thoughts on “One of the first lessons of boating: DON’T MAKE PLANS

  1. I’m sitting in a restaurant in Abbotsford waiting to go to the local border crossing to help with COVID testing for the Red Cross and reading your blog. Thanks! It’s really good to hear about your particulars and see your beautiful sunny beach pictures, even though you’ve been dry docked!
    So here’s breakfast. Love you guys!

    Like

  2. Thanks again for the updates, sorry to hear about Kathleen’s shoulder. You will have to let me know your thoughts on SW Florida, Julie and I are looking to move to the Ft. Myers area and buy a Catamaran so we can continue our sailing pursuits.

    Stay safe, look forward to hearing more as your odyssey continues.

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  3. Thank you for the updates. So sorry to hear about Kathleen’s injury. Hopefully you will heal quickly. Love your pics and stories. We love the area you are in now… Please take care, be safe and continue your journey.

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