One Year Later…

One year ago today (Dec 28), Cindy, our daughter, Mariah, and I arose early to finish cleaning our home, finish packing the moving truck, and finish lining the street with oversized bags of trash. We then made our way to the realtor’s office to close on the sale of our home. Afterwards, we drove the truck to Palmetto, rented a storage unit, placed the bulk of our few remaining possessions in storage, drove to Regatta Pointe Marina, unloaded the rest of the truck into Beatitude, and began living aboard a sailboat. This all happened on our youngest daughters 19th birthday (By the way, Happy Birthday, Mariah!)

One year later and Beatitude feels like home. Fortunately, I love being with my wife because we have a lot less space than we did in our old home. But, the boat is plenty big enough for the two of us. Our bed is very comfortable (in fact, as comfortable as our old bed and more comfortable than any hotel room). Would I want to live on this boat for years without cruising? No. Part of the allure of living on a sailboat is the ability to move your home wherever you want and explore all sorts of interesting places. We are now halfway through our two year wait before we begin our existence without a location which we call home. Home will be where Beatitude floats. Patience! Patience!

I’m rather pleased with our success in making long term plans and working to see those plans brought into being. From all the reading and education, to taking sailing lessons, to selling our home and one of our two cars, to buying a sailboat, to living aboard for a year, to making progress on becoming debt free, to all the other things which we’ve accomplished over the past year or two, we’ve come a long way.

Today, we decided to take Beatitude out for an anniversary sail. It had been six weeks since we last had the opportunity to leave our slip. Shortly after ten o’clock this morning, we eased out of our slip, made the one hour journey down the Manatee River, crossed Tampa Bay, and made our way out the southwest passage and into the Gulf. After journeying five or six miles out into the gulf we turned her around and returned home.

A rare picture of Beatitude on the water with her crew (Thanks to our neighbor, Karen!)

A rare picture of Beatitude on the water with her crew (Thanks to our neighbor, Karen!)

Maneuvering Beatitude out of our slip to begin our day's adventures

Maneuvering Beatitude out of our slip to begin our day’s adventures

No busy agenda or stresses, but just a relaxing sail to shake the rust off. It was a pleasant sailing day with highs in the upper 70s and overcast skies. Winds ranged from 9-14 knots generally from the southeast. We had the sails up and the engines off for several hours of smooth sailing at mostly four to five knots. Our only real problem all day occurred when I saw a line swinging wildly from the top of the mast with a shackle attached to the bottom. It took me a couple of minutes to realize what had happened before seeing that it was the topping lift which had become unattached to the rear of the boom (The topping lift is a line which leads from the cockpit, up the mast and then angles to the back of the boom to support the boom. Without it the boom goes boom! When the mainsail is up, it holds up the boom and the topping lift is not needed… fortunately.)

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink

Wind in our Sails

Wind in our Sails

Chillin' in the Cockpit

Chillin’ in the Cockpit

I did have another fish on. It was big, of course, although I can’t tell you how big. It got away. I am still a novice at fishing by trolling off the back of a sailboat. It is a logistical puzzle to figure out how to bring a boat to a stop under full sail, while trying to bring in a fish. Today’s (almost) catch just kept taking more and more line. I was worried he would take all of it, but, before that happened, sad to say, he broke my wire leader. The sharp teeth I’ve seen on many of these salt-water fish are crazy sharp, but, the loss may have been due to an older wire leader which was a little rusty. Oh well, live and learn!

Fishing with an Afternoon Sun

Fishing with an Afternoon Sun

Re-securing the Topping Lift

Re-securing the Topping Lift

Shrimp boat, Mattie Fay, on the way out of Tampa Bay and into the Gulf

Shrimp boat, Mattie Fay, on the way out of Tampa Bay and into the Gulf

The following is a short video of a cool bell-ringing buoy. The first we’ve encountered. It doubled as a sunning station for a group of Anhinga, also known as “snake-birds.”

An Anhinga in the Gulf

An Anhinga in the Gulf

The Ringing Buoy, Green No. 1

The Ringing Buoy, Green No. 1

Up the Mast and On a Kayak

It’s been longer than I prefer since the last blog post. Not a lot nautical has been happening during the past three and one-half weeks. But, I did undergo rotator cuff surgery on December 3. I have been rehabbing and working (a lot) since then.

Today, the Christmas decorations came down, including the 35 foot tree of Christmas lights which were suspended part-way up the mast by our gennaker halyard. Since taking down the tree required at least a 30-foot trip up the mast, I thought I’d take care of a couple of other issues.

Looking down on Cindy removing decorations.  Strings of lights that constituted the tree lying on the cabin top.

Looking down on Cindy removing decorations. Strings of lights that constituted the tree lying on the cabin top.

A view from above.

A view from above.

Removing lights (and showing off her "mallet finger" splint)

Removing lights (and showing off her “mallet finger” splint)

At the top (I must confess I was having fun.  It felt like a grown-up's jungle gym.)

At the top (I must confess I was having fun. It felt like a grown-up’s jungle gym.)

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Our anchor light stopped working some time ago. I bought a 12-V portable anchor light which I’ve used the last couple of times out at anchor. Upon testing the previous light, the bulb seemed okay. Today, I reinserted it into its socket at the top of the mast, and it is working (but doesn’t seem as bright as it should be). While atop the mast, I discovered that the globe which surrounds the bulb is missing. That explains the broken pieces of plastic I found on deck a while back. Pesky ospreys!

A view of the top of our mast, the preferred resting place of Ospreys.  (You can see our anchor light, sans globe, on the right side of the mast)

A view of the top of our mast, the preferred resting place of Ospreys. (You can see our anchor light, sans globe, on the right side of the mast)

I also removed the broken TV antenna which the previous owners had placed atop the mast. One less piece of junk that we don’t/won’t use. On the way down, I re-secured the SSB antenna which is basically a long wire which is attached to our port spreader ascending 30+ feet into the air. A few of the wire ties snapped and it was flopping around.

Up in the clouds

Up in the clouds

Removing the broken antenna (which is seen circling behind me)

Removing the broken antenna (which is seen circling behind me)

More fun on the mast

More fun on the mast

You know what they say about all work and no play, so, after accomplishing the above, Cindy and I took our Kayak out for a test run. Just before my surgery, we purchased a Malibu II XL Ocean Kayak in anticipation of our cruising future. We’ll use it for exploring anchorages and reefs around the world. It was torture having the Kayak on deck, but unable to use it due to surgery. Today was the day. I guess my shoulder is doing pretty well, since 3 weeks post-op I climbed our 65′ mast and went kayaking! We had fun paddling around the marina for a few minutes before putting her away for future fun. Once again, Cindy was stretched. She has always been afraid of these kayaks and was hesitant to get aboard this one. She courageously acquiesced and took her position in the front of the kayak. After a few nervous first moments, she relaxed and enjoyed herself.

Our Malibu II Ocean Kayak on the foredeck of Beatitude

Our Malibu II XL Ocean Kayak on the foredeck of Beatitude

Beatitude in the Background

Beatitude in the Background

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Gliding through the water

Gliding through the water

Nasty, Disturbing, Uncomfortable Things!

Cindy and I have started reading Tolkien’s The Hobbit together. Early on in the book, Bilbo Baggins is visited by the itinerant wizard, Gandalf, who has chosen the hobbit, Bilbo, for an adventure. Bilbo, a very respectable hobbit, will initially have nothing to do with such a proposition.

Bilbo protests, “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them.”

When Bilbo recognizes who it is who is speaking to him, he retorts, “Not the Gandalf who was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures. Anything from climbing trees to visiting Elves – or sailing in ships, sailing to other shores! Bless me, life used to be quite inter – I mean, you used to upset things badly in these parts once upon a time. I beg your pardon, but I had no idea you were still in business… Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning!”

The reluctant adventurer

The reluctant adventurer

It was quite apparent to the both of us that we were living this scene in reality. Cindy plays the reluctant Bilbo Baggins, who despite her earlier reservations, willingly sets out on an adventure “sailing in ships, sailing to other shores!” I play the role of Gandalf, who is always proposing new challenges and adventures.

Well, our adventure continues… at times a nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable thing. But the rewards are well worth the risk.

We have just finished our first hurricane season living on a sailboat in the hurricane belt in Florida. Thank God that it was a mild season! Tropical Storm Andrea visited us in early June, but not even the slightest threat after that. We will have one more season to endure with Beatitude a sitting target for hurricanes. After the 2014 season, the plan will be to be outside of the tropics during the tropical storm season.

The path of Andrea

The path of Andrea

Andrea as she makes landfall over Florida.

Andrea as she makes landfall over Florida.

We decorated Beatitude for the holidays today. Our 4 foot tree is up in our salon. We made a ~30 foot tree out of white lights which are suspended from our spinnaker halyard partway up the mast. Merry Christmas to all!

Our Christmas Tree

Our Christmas Tree

Beatitude Stands Out

Beatitude Stands Out

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Cindy standing by the well-lit helm station.

Cindy standing by the well-lit helm station.

Working on the 1800 lights which make up our outdoor tree

Working on the 1800 lights which make up our outdoor tree

Hugging the Mast with my legs while weaving the strings of light through shrouds and lazyjacks

Hugging the Mast with my legs while weaving the strings of light through shrouds and lazyjacks

Sorting out a string of lights

Sorting out a string of lights

Icicles around the cockpit

Icicles around the cockpit

The Tree

The Tree