Warmer Weather at Last

It has been an unseasonably cool March in Florida. In my 13 years of existence as a Floridian, I don’t ever recall so many cold fronts following on the heels of another dropping highs into the 50s and 60s and lows into the 30s and 40s. Now, to all my northern friends, this may seem like a little bit of whining about a little bit of nothing… but, it has been cold! I believe the final plunge of arctic air made its way into Florida this past week. The weather forecast for the next ten days is for highs in or near the 80s and lows in around the low 60s. Ahhh!

Yesterday, we took advantage of the warmer weather to take our friends, Jim and Marcie, out on a day sail with us. Jim and Marcie live aboard a beautiful Island Packet 380 in Regatta Pointe and will be leaving this next week for a trip around Florida, to the Bahamas, and wherever else. Hopefully, they make their way back here in the next year or so. We will miss them. They have been our closest friends at the Marina in our short live-aboard lives. Neither of them have ever been out on a catamaran and expressed an interest in experiencing sailing with two hulls rather than one. Fortunately, I was off yesterday and we were able to go out.

Jim and I as we make our way down the Manatee

Jim and I as we make our way down the Manatee

Marcie and Cindy under full sail in the Bay

Marcie and Cindy under full sail in the Bay

The four of us sailing along at about 7 knots with 14-15 knots of wind

The four of us sailing along at about 7 knots with 14-15 knots of wind

It was a very pleasant day which was topped off by a birthday party on E-dock for a friend, Margaret. We enjoyed adding a few more friends from E-dock. The day was finished off with Jim and Marcie on Beatitude for a delicious dessert which Cindy whipped up, along with a quite palatable 2007 port.

The Birthday Bash

The Birthday Bash

Beatitude from a new perspective (The end of E-dock)

Beatitude from a new perspective (The end of E-dock)

Today, Cindy and I celebrated the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth at All Saints Church in Lakeland. It was truly wonderful!

Beautiful Stained Glass above the Altar

The Resurrection Window above the exit at the back of All Saints

Cindy at the Helm

A view down C-dock from the top of our bimini

A view down C-dock from the top of our bimini

It seems that opportunities to take Beatitude for a day out on the water are few and far between. But on Tuesday of this week, Cindy and I decided to go sailing. It was a beautiful March day with a high in the low to mid-80s and plenty of sunshine.

Cindy at the helm leaving the marina.

Cindy at the helm leaving the marina.

At 4'10", a little help is needed to see over the helm station.  We'll have to see about a more sturdy solution to the problem.

At 4’10”, a little help is needed to see over the helm station. We’ll have to see about a more sturdy solution to the problem.

Exiting the mouth of the Manatee River with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the background

Exiting the mouth of the Manatee River with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the background

One of our goals over the next one and a half to two years is to get Cindy comfortable with handling the boat. We both took and passed ASA sailing courses 101-104, but Cindy has had far less time and experience behind the wheel. Up until now, I’ve been at the helm and handled the vessel while she assisted. So, this day we started with Cindy helping me prepare to leave our slip at the Marina: Sails were prepared, navigations instruments turned on, and we decided which lines to release first as we left the slip. I let her take the wheel as we were leaving and she piloted us down the Manatee River to the Bay. As best we could, we played reverse roles throughout the day, with Cindy doing the jobs I would normally do and with me doing the jobs she normally does.

There was less than 2 knots of wind upon reaching the Bay, so there would be little sailing, but we did practice raising the mainsail. She pointed Beatitude’s nose into the wind and raised the sail while I stood atop the bimini to make sure the battens did not catch on the lazyjacks.

Looking up the mast and into the sun.

Looking up the mast and into the sun.

Perhaps the best investment yet for our new lifestyle: Steps which we bought primarily for getting aboard, but also double  (as seen here) to step up on the salon roof and bimini to manage the mainsail.

Perhaps the best investment yet for our new lifestyle: Steps which we bought primarily for getting aboard, but also double (as seen here) to step up on the salon roof and bimini to manage the mainsail.

Given complete calm, we shut down the engines and floated aimlessly in the middle of Tampa Bay for a couple of hours. This gave us adequate time to enjoy a delicious lunch of bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches. Soon, it was time to return home. Cindy lowered the sail, fired up the engines and brought us home. She gained some valuable experience with the GPS and autopilot. Her confidence has been raised a notch or two. By the time we are ready to sail away in 21 months, I feel confident that she will be competent at the wheel.

Sunset through masts and forestays back in the marina.

Sunset through masts and forestays back in the marina.

Dinnertime!  Asian marinated chicken on the grill, grilled corn on the cob and a spring salad.  (Of course, with a nice bottle of French wine.)

Dinnertime! Asian marinated chicken on the grill, grilled corn on the cob and a spring salad. (Of course, with a nice bottle of French wine.)

Family

Over the past three or four weeks we’ve been blessed to have been visited by several family members. This was the first time for any of them to visit our new home.

First, our oldest daughter, Julie, accompanied by Tracy, flew in from Pennsylvania to spend a weekend with us. Once again, we completely surprised my Cindy. She had no clue. When we came home from work in Lakeland around 1 a.m., she was startled to find someone sitting in the cockpit of our boat. It’s always fun to see her joy and surprise at seeing them both. We were able to go out for a 2 day sailing adventure, anchoring overnight in the protected confines of DeSoto Point.

Julie, Cindy, Tracy on the morning after arrival.

Julie, Cindy, Tracy on the morning after arrival.

Captain Doc leaving the Marina.

Captain Doc leaving the Marina.

Dolphin!

Dolphin!

How to tie a cleat knot and other important line tying lessons.

How to tie a cleat knot and other important line tying lessons.

Breakfast at anchor.

Breakfast at anchor.

Photo op with Beatitude.

Photo op with Beatitude.

Another photo op with Beatitude.

Another photo op with Beatitude.

Julie "Juan DeSoto" Carey

Julie “Juan DeSoto” Carey

Beauty along the way.

Beauty along the way.

More Beauty along the way.

It's a Picnic!

It’s a Picnic!

Sunset at Regatta Pointe.

Sunset at Regatta Pointe.

A couple of weeks later, Cindy’s mother and father, Don and Jean, paid us a visit. They are both in their 80s and not quite as mobile as many of our guests. We had some apprehension about their ability to get onto the boat, get used to the manual heads, to get in and out of bed, and all of the other challenges of living on a sailing vessel. They did quite well! We had a great time and we are glad that they were able to visit.

Dad, Mom, Barry, Cindy

Dad, Mom, Barry, Cindy

Still in love after 62 years.

Still in love after 62 years.

Resting during the long walk to Beatitude.

Resting during the long walk to Beatitude.

Dock Party Hoedown!