Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sisters, Sisters!

November 11-15, 2016
Hammock Beach at Palm Coast, FL

We’d been waiting for this a long time. Eleven years ago, my three sisters and I went to New York City on our first Sisters Trip. It was so much fun we said we should do it again. Soon! We had no idea it would take more than a decade—or how our lives would change between then and now. Finally we made it happen in Palm Coast, Florida, staying at the condo building next to the marina where Pelican is docked.
L to R: Jeanne, Joanie, Joyce, and Jan
Yacht Harbor Village, next to the marina
The pool at the condo
Even though the weather didn’t offer up iconic warmth and sunshine, making us reach for our jackets, we were able to do everything we wanted: sightseeing, walking the beach, seeing the super-moon rise over the ocean, soaking in the hot tub, eating out, shopping.

At Flagler College in St. Augustine
In the rotunda of Flagler College
Soaking in the rays and wind at the beach
Rest from sightseeing
We even bought the matching T shirts.

These three were there from the moment I first became aware. They helped me learn how to share, how to love, how to be part of a family. They got me into and out of trouble. They were fiercely loyal growing up and have been strongly supportive ever since. It was a gift to reconnect with my dear sisters and enjoy concentrated time for deeper conversation, sharing each other’s hearts, praying about each other’s burdens.

In honor of our mom, who was an expert seamstress and taught us all to sew, this quote describes our sisters’ bond:

“We are more than just acquaintances...
it’s as if we are cut from the same fabric. 
Even though we appear to be sewn 
in a different pattern, 
we have a common thread that won’t be broken—by people or years or distance.”

Splashed and Settled

November 4-10, 2016
St. Marys, GA to Palm Coast, FL

And we’re off…it’s another new snowbird season on Pelican. On October 6 when Hurricane Matthew blew through, we wondered if that would be the case this year.
Last-minute touch-up
Ready to splash
View of the beautiful Georgia marsh
“The storm” is still a frequent topic of conversation here. Our boatyard was spared by the timing of the hurricane. It hit at low tide, and just two feet of water flooded the yard. At high tide, with the seven-foot tidal range in southern Georgia, the storm surge would have floated all the boats off their jack stands.

Once we splashed and moved south, storm damage was unmistakable. The fearsome force of the surge snapped docks like popsicle sticks and tossed boats like toys. Fernandina Beach Marina, a favorite of many boaters on the northern edge of Florida, is closed indefinitely. St. Augustine was hard hit. Dozens of boats were carried into the marsh and stranded, while others fared worse or sank. Marinas that are up and running are filled to capacity.
Not the prettiest or quietest anchorage ever
Happy to be under way
We’d made reservations last spring at Hammock Beach Marina in Palm Coast or we might have been turned away. Our project this fall is to have a new Bimini made with a frame that will accommodate solar panels, giving us the luxury of more electrical power at anchor. We’ll settle in here while the work is done.
The Marina at Hammock Beach Resort
Settled in for a while

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Full Up!

Nassau to Great Harbour Cay
March 29 - April 12

Nassau is a can’t-miss stop for us. Because Keith lived there from ages 10-15 and we spent part of our honeymoon there, our associations are all positive. Unfortunately, many cruising friends don’t stop there at all because of the high crime rate. We’ve heard stories but never had problems ourselves. In fact, people we’ve encountered have been friendly and helpful.
The market at Potter's Cay in Nassau harbor
Land crabs at Potter's Cay
Skinny of Skinny's Place on Potter's Cay. Great conch salad, and a great guy!
It was a quick stop, but three of Keith’s school friends from forty-some years ago made time to see us. One was his best buddy who introduced him to sailing at the Nassau Sailing Club. It was fun to hear them trade stories of the shenanigans they pulled off.
Drew and Penny with their son, Ben
From Nassau, we crossed to the southern end of the Berry Islands. Our view at anchor was a private island, Little Whale Cay. One of the best landscaped and maintained private cays, it is surrounded by a handbuilt stone seawall, graced by a coral-stone church.
You can rent the island of Little Whale Cay for weddings or vacations
Keith achieved the trifecta of fishing in less than a week, catching the three most delectable kinds of fish he trolls for (counting the mahi shown in the previous post). We spend most of our time on the shallow banks where catch-and-release barracuda are about all you can expect. During this week we transited deeper water three times and on each trip Keith caught a winner. He also speared lobster and dived for conch. Our bellies and freezer are full!
Blackfin tuna

Yellowfin grouper - the best! 
Now we are at Great Harbour Cay Marina at the north end the Berry Islands, waiting for benign conditions for a Gulf Stream crossing. Our trip is drawing to a close and we are full up with memories and gratitude.
Manatee with a dinghy at the marina
New moon spring tides are more extreme; the "low-low" tide allowed us
to walk to Haines Cay and Hawksnest Cay...
...and access this tunnel on the ocean side of Hawksnest Cay
The magnificent beauty we’ve seen has filled our hearts and senses. There’s no counting the number of times we’ve said, “Wow, that’s gorgeous!” or “This is just stunning!” Usually it has to do with the color of the water, shimmering shades of aquamarine and sapphire. Often when we’ve seen yet another spectacular view, the words come out spontaneously, “Thank You, God, for the privilege of being here and seeing this!”
The caves on Great Harbour Cay - awe-inspiring
Lovely water colors
Just another perfect beach
Look at that color!
It reminds me of the three essential prayers Anne Lamott writes about: Help, Thanks, Wow. “Thanks, God, for the wonderful season we’ve enjoyed! And Wow, what a wildly wonderful world!”

Friday, April 8, 2016

Five-Star Exumas

Great Guana Cay to Roberts Cay
March 15 – April 3

The islands of the Exumas have quite a few five-star destinations written up in all the guidebooks. We’d already hit most of the highlights where cruisers and, increasingly, tour groups and mega yachts stop. This year, we tried to sail farther off the beaten path and anchor in places we’d never been before—less publicized locations every bit as much worth a visit.
Pelican off the beaten path
Do you see the white horse?
A day so calm the horizon disappeared
Cave on Great Guana Cay
We swam in the pool in the cave
Extra excitement! An extra-big wave almost washes Keith out to sea
Beautiful and powerful
For a few days we traveled with Kim and Cathy from Quiescence. We’d first met them in South Carolina two years ago and had kept in touch ever since. Keith loved having a dive buddy for spearing lobster…and species unknown.
This was a first! A Clinging Channel Crab,
aka King Crab -- delicious!
Kim and Cathy
Our paths keep crossing with people we've met before. We ran into friends from previous years and made new ones.
A familiar boat showed up in a secluded anchorage
At Little Darby Cay it was time to reverse our heading and go north, with a first stop at Cave Cay Marina to sit out a storm. They maintain beautiful gardens there; last year vine-ripened tomatoes were at their peak. But the island's generator burned up almost a year ago and they weren't able to desalinate enough water for the gardens, so the plants died out.
This banana tree survived
Beach on Cave Cay
A conch shell, intricately and
wonderfully made on the inside
Next stop, Little Farmers Cay and Ty's Sunset Bar and Grill
A Haitian vessel that washed ashore (see "Easter Greetings" post below)
Easter Sunday we celebrated the hope found in Jesus’ resurrection at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church on Staniel Cay. It’s the only church in town, and a number of cruisers joined the local congregation for an exuberant service with lots of singing.

A little farther north at Big Majors Spot, the swimming pigs are definitely on the beaten path and well fed.
Are you kidding?! You brought me veggies??
Well, okay, maybe some cabbage
Lobster season was set to end March 31 to give the crawfish privacy while they make babies. Before then, we scurried to the northern Exumas, Keith’s favorite hunting grounds. On the way there, he caught a mahi mahi. The next day he speared a lobster. What a great way to end our month in the Exumas: enjoying five-star dinners in the cockpit in a first-rate chain of islands.
Several delicious dinners
One fabulous meal