Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year

I've never gotten much into New Years as a celebratory event. Solstices, equinoxes full moons and the like seem more worthy of celebration. At any rate 'Happy New Year' seems in order.... May you live long and prosper.

So it's New Years on the boat .. We got back to the boat about noon as the marina charging and WiFi area was closing early so the staff, I suppose could party down and celebrate the annual event. I'm in the V berth and after getting this ready to post tomorrow I'll watch a movie on my iPad and go to sleep.

The wind really started howling about 2:30 pm and it rained a bit.. Still it's maybe just under 70 degrees. Sounds like some real cold temps coming to northern Minnesota. It's odd how the various folks down here who used to live further north react to the cold forecast up north. Like referring to those still living up there as 'suckers'??

Word is the next weather window is January 5th.. I'll have been here a full month on that date. I do hope we do set out then but I'm completely prepared for yet another postponement.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Out and back

Ok, today we finally set out. After showers and a final weather check the captain announced we were heading back to get the boat ready to set out. The big chore was getting the outboard off the dingy and the dingy up on the bow deck. We used a spare halyard but it was still pretty heavy. Then we went through the check list and set loose from the mooring. Forecast called for 10 knot south winds and seas 1 to 3 feet. We tried putting out the headsail but our heading was straight into the wind so we rolled it in and motored. The waves were a bit bigger than 3' and our progress was about 2 knots. The captain decided after going out maybe 2 miles that we needed to head back.. I'm not sure conditions haven't improved since we were out there but no matter.. We gat the same mooring and took the dingy off the bow and put the outboard back on and went back to the marina. It's very calm now and likely the seas have laid down as well.. Wind was to switch SW during the night which would have allowed us to sail or at least motor sail.. Oh well.. Now we wait for the next weather window.. We were planning on Mexico after all.. I hope that thought continues as I'd really like to check out the original route.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Destination unknown?

Well yesterday was interesting as the captain had heard of the situation in Mexico.  From my research it seems more about the various official agency's in Mexico finally tightening the enforcement of rules.  It first happened with cars owned by various foreign residents who enjoyed the lax enforcement and were not bothering to get the proper import paperwork.. Vehicles were confiscated etc.. Now the same rules are suddenly being enforced on foreign boats visiting Mexico.  Mexico has it set up were you can pay online for your individual tourist visa and just show the paid receipt to receive when you check-in to the country.  You can also get the TIP Temporary Import Permit which costs $50.  You also need to have the boats registration papers etc.. It appears you best stay with your boat until the AGACE, a sub agency of Hacienda..which appears to be like the IRS makes their visit to the marina you are at.. I say this as some boats, even with all the proper paperwork check-in as far as clearing with customs/immigration and quarantine but have yet to be visited but AGACE.  If they are not available when they visit it sounds like they assume you are not compliant and put your boat in a precautionary embargo... There are apparently 338 visiting boats under this status.  You are not allowed to leave what ever marina you are at and if you do the marina is obligated to report you.  

Well the cruising community is putting Mexico on their 'do not visit' list rather than take a chance at getting on this precautionary embargo list.  Some are using terms like Mexico is seizing boats but they are not being taken and impounded somewhere.  Owners still live on them at the marinas waiting? And it sounds like some have been waiting for some months now?  

I feel if I had my own boat and was sure I had all the required paperwork.. Excluding the TIP! I would visit Mexico if that was my plan.  Who knows really as I don't have my own boat.  Well the captain/owner of the boat I'm volunteer crewing on is quite concerned and fears loosing his boat/home due to some official making up their own rules?  From my research it seems safe enough to get all the paperwork secured and not leave the boat until visited by the AGACE.  At any rate it's looking very much like we won't be visiting Mexico.  There is talk of heading to the Dominican Republic.  That's where I spent the majority of my 2 months crewing last winter.  The route would be totally different, perhaps stopping in the Bahamas on the way?  Then who knows maybe the captain would head west to the Rio Dulce?  I must admit I was really excited about visiting the Rio Dulce.

Links to the situation below



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Dinner

Believe it or not we are still in Marathon, Florida waiting and waiting for a weather window to head south. As it was Christmas we decided to check out a Christmas pot luck an area restaurant/bar 'Dockside' was hosting.. They were to provide turkey, ham and potatoes and guests were to bring something to share. It was advertised via posters and word of mouth that the pot luck would begin at 3 pm but the bar would open at noon. In addition to what food you would bring, a $5 donation was requested. We chose to arrive at 2:45 only to discover the hordes who had arrived for the bar time attacked the food as soon as anything was set on the table. We found that the turkey was gone and so were the potatoes, though I did manage the final spoonful of them. There were several nice salads and plentiful pies and cookies which seemed to increase as others arriving even later than us added their items. I sought coffee to go with my plate of pie and cookies but no such luck.
We brought a pie for each of us at $7 a piece so the total cost was $12 so yeah...not a good value.
I got soaked on the dingy ride there into wind and waves and we got rained on when we went back to the boat....which was not nearly as wet as the way there. I think we were at the pot luck 50 minutes tops?
We left as the live music was to begin...?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cleaning the dingy bottom

Yesterday morning we took the dingy over to a channel through the mangroves that leads to the ocean. Later the usual WiFi, charging devices and showers...plus another lunch at the hospital cafeteria.

The latest in a weather window appears to be mid day Friday. I sure hope this one holds by the time Friday comes. Some new scenery will be nice!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Another mooring field sunset

It's yet another evening on the boat. Often someone or 2 blows a conch shell at sunset. Last night, the night of winter solstice the conch shell blowing carried on a bit longer. Tonight was brief.

Another Sunday

I think this is the 3rd Sunday I've been here since arriving December 4th. I've refrained from joining the football watching group and have just wasted away the afternoon online.

We had or second breakfast at the nearby American Legion Post which serves a $7 breakfast that's quite a value. It's funny but I guess in Florida you can smoke in bars in fact I've seen it at restaurants too. A few I assume regulars to the legion are there at the bar smoking and drinking Bloody Mary's and the like.. Last time someone even got a pitcher of beer.. This at 8:00 am Sunday. Anyway the breakfast is good.

Another value place to eat out has been the cafeteria at the nearby Fishermen's Hospital. Interesting name for a hospital. $5 for a pretty decent lunch that would be more like $10 at least in a restaurant. We only eat lunch out as we are in doing WiFi, showers, etc.. Generally we head back to the boat about 3 or 4 pm.

Also, I finally figured out how to download torrents on the iPad with the installation of a couple apps. It's a very popular thing here with the live a-boards.. Movies to watch when on the boat.

Our new potential departure day is now Thursday but who knows. It's fine that the boat owner/captain is cautious...but I'm really looking forward to some new scenery !

Saturday, December 21, 2013

What would you call this Rig?

One of the sailboats docked right at the marina complex is an interesting rig. I know a boat with the mast way up at the bow is a cat rig...not to be confused with a catamaran sailboat. But this boat has a main mast and missen mast (if that's how you spell it?). I asked my captain if that boat was a cat rig but he said no it's a schooner as the main mast is aft of the missen mast.  I knew that concerning the masts but that doesn't take into consideration the way forward placement of the smaller forward mast....missen. Note also these are mast with no stays or shrouds.  First time I've seen a sailboat with the carbon fiber free standing masts.  Does any body know just what sort of rig this boat would be considered?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. It's been interesting to hear the discussions of many of the live aboard people here. One issue is boats with the federal coastguard registry from out of state don't feel they need to have an additional Florida registration for their boats? The issue that seems to be the hotter topic is whether or not dingys should be required to have navigational lights.. It seems back in Grand Marais if the dingy has an outboard it should have the stern white light and green and red bow lights.. Down here the live aboards seem to imply the FWC is just making up the rules as they go? It's been said the sheriffs department used to oversee such things but handed it off to the FWC ? FWC would be like Minnesota's DNR which it seems to me oversees both boat registration and navigation lights though the later is also enforced by the coast guard and sheriffs water patrol if there is one? It's a big issue and they're having a special meeting tonight at the marina, though we didn't go. A few dingy owners just when ahead and bought a set of solar charged battery operated nav lights and have no worries about confrontation or potential fines. Most dingys did get a stern white light but there was some rule about if the dingy was capable of doing 7 knots you needed the bow lights as well. Most dingys can do 7 knots though no one runs wide open so they're going more like 3 to 5 knots .. Anyway I have no idea what the law is but the majority of the live aboards here feel the stern light is all they should be required to have. I wanted to check out the meeting out of curiosity but the captain wasn't interested.

I guess we will set out Monday though I'm not sure what time. New horizons would be nice!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Consuming the Caribbean

It looks like we'll be here at the Marathon City Marina until at least next Sunday. Another week in paradise. At least it's considered paradise by vacationers who come to southern Florida as there destination or stay the entire winter as a retired snowbird as they say. We are anxious to head south but the captain wants a window of calmer conditions to cross the Gulfstream. Apparently these months December and January are the times with the most and frequent 'northers'. It's also the beginning of the cruising season for the Caribbean so most boats heading south from Florida are going now. We're not the only boat waiting for calmer conditions to cross and I'm sure some have gone excepting the rougher crossing. As we sit on our mooring this Monday morning the wind is howling and the sky's look likely to rain. I had to wear the windbreaker on the dingy ride this morning.

Anyway about the Post Title 'Consuming the Caribbean'. It's a book I've been reading that was on board from the give and take library at the Marina. It chronicles the consumption of the Caribbean region that began with the arrival of Columbus and continues to this day in the form of tourism destinations in 'paradise' for the wealthy surrounded by the excluded local population with only those employed in the service industry allowed. Sure there are ways to experience the local culture as a tourist, cruising for example, or seeking out other than the all inclusive resorts where the tourist remains isolated and protected from the locals? Speaking of paradise..that was what these islands were for the indigenous people before the arrival of Columbus and the genocide that followed plus the hundreds of years of slave plantations as Europe and later North America couldn't get enough of sugar and cocoa and later tropical fruits. Aw yes the wealth accumulating, exploitive, imperialist years of the Triangle Trade. I'm only about half way through and now reading chapters detailing the more recent 'banana wars'. Were it not for the stifling effects of money, we'd all be rich.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Heading south tomorrow 12/14??

We had originally planned a Wednesday evening departure but due to a change in the wind forecast we now plan to set out tomorrow, Saturday, December 14. That is of course unless the wind forecast changes yet again. Since Wednesday we've had quit a bit of rain mostly yesterday and last night. Today was nice but it's raining again now..6:30 pm Friday. I would assume we've gotten several inches of rain.

We want fairly light winds when we cross the Gulf-stream the flows west to east an average 3.5 knots. Winds against a current create much rougher, steeper seas. It's going to take us a while to get to Mexico and we wanted a window of lighter winds. That seems hard to come by this time of year. It might be quite a few days until we have Internet again. I'll be posting this tomorrow morning. The daily showers and Internet have been nice but I'm anxious to see what's next.

This just in!!

Ha.. After checking the latest weather we won't be departing today after all. It looks like we might be waiting another 10 days and may even end up sailing to up Miami and crossing the Gulfstream it's narrower to the Bahamas. Then work down around the east end of Cuba and hit the Dominican Republic...I suppose Jamaica and right for Belize or Guatemala? I'm glad the boats owner is cautious. It's his boat.. It's an OK place to hang out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rainy day

Today was the day we were to leave on, although at sundown. Our departure is now looking like mid day this Saturday. I had a nice morning reading as Larry made 2 trips to buy gasoline. His boat has a gas Atomic 4. We topped up the tank and have the 3 five Fallon jugs full. That's 40 gallons total. As I stayed back on the boat I made coffee for the first time and only the second time since leaving Minnesota. Who says coffee..caffeine is addictive? I guess it's because lately I only have one mug each morning unlike the past. I enjoy the taste and like it but here I am using generic instant on an every now and then basis. It was threatening rain all morning but held off. Larry made one more dingy run to bring his boat neighbor Al to the marina to catch a bus. The dingy is a 2 person ride. Once we were both on our way to the marina it began to drizzle and after showers when on the Internet we had heavy rain for quite a while. It provided a longer than usual online session. It finally let up so back to the boat, then off again to another dockside restaurant. They made really good hand squeezed lemonade. That's 4 times now we've eaten at a restaurant.

Speaking of boat neighbors, we are on one of the first moorings in a field and north of us is an anchorage area. Many of these boats are long time live-aboards that never move and have thick build ups of marine growth. Some are home to people working near to the marina. Two of the closer boats are interesting in that one is only used as a storage vessel and the owner has another boat anchored or moored nearby to live on. He comes in his dingy either storing some new junk of taking some item he had stored. Then there is a boat which had it's mast tip over and it's just lashed across the deck. It's been like that a few months and toppled over due to un maintained standing rigging. He only lives on it so it's not like he'll step the mast again. He has 2 pet cockatoos who you can hear squawk now and then...especially when he comes home to his boat... They welcome him and you can hear him say things like "you better not have gotten into anything" as if they are free in the cabin not in a cage? It's a very entertaining place. It's interesting to note that the marina charges $330 a month for a mooring which includes a lot of services but the anchorage fee is not that much less at $275 a month, I assume for the same services.

The captain and his boat neighbor Al in the bow waving good bye. The nice French catamaran is Al's. He bought it new in France and sailed it across with a couple volunteer crew. He's just living here not about to set off as we are. He was flying back to New York for family holiday time.

The boat to the left is the storage vessel and the de-masted boat has the 2 cockatoos on-board.

Marathon Boatyard

Before I arrived to Florida, a couple of Canadian Brothers had set out for Rio Dulce, Guatemala.  They had planed to cross to Cuba and work along to the west end and then cross to the Yucatan Channel.  We recently found out they only made it out 30 miles and their drive shaft broke. Apparently it had been broken once before and repaired. They had hit some crab pots and had cut the rope loose that had wrapped around the shaft but the mechanic didn't seem to think that caused the break. They sailed back and eventually were towed to the Marathon Boatyard. We dingied over and chatted with them the day they were to have the boat taken out. One brother was helping the other sail down there. He plans to live down there. It sounded like it would all end up costing about $5,000. He still hopes to get down to Guatemala in time for his brother to fly home for Christmas.

I hope our boat don't have any similar problems. A change in the wind forecast has us leaving mid day this Saturday rather than tomorrow, Wednesday. We want a window of calmer winds to cross the Gulf Stream.

Here's the Canadian's boat. Note the missing driveshaft and propellor

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Marathon Live-Aboard Community

I've already briefly posted about the Marathon City Marina where the boat is moored. It's really a large number of boats moored here like 280 when full and another maybe 100 anchored. They are all live-aboards according to Larry.

I decided to walk around today and take a few photos of the marina. I guess renting a mooring is $330 a month and you get a lot for that. It's not all retired people in fact not even mostly. There are a lot of couples and families and pets. Everybody is friendly.

There are 2 dingy dock areas, an outer one and an inner one. We've been using the inner one. There is a nice thatched roof palapa and office building with a large area with tables, outlets and WiFi. Also, there are 2 areas for TV watching with theater seats. A group was very into watching the football games especially the 2 in the snow storms in Pennsylvania. Next comes a large repair and maintenance area with various tools, work stations and storage lockers. In the few days I've been here there's been outboard repairs, dingy patching, sails sewing or some kind of sewing. Boat resident's are the main users but they have staff that will do repairs as well. Then comes the laundry and bathroom/showers. They have recycling stations for the usual things, as well as all the various fluids and lubricants used on boats. There is a couple of parking lots for those with cars and several large bicycle racks. The marina is next to a city park with baseball and soccer fields and 4 tennis courts. There is an amphitheater off the end of one of the soccer fields. There's also a skateboard park.

Various stores are a walking distance including a West Marine and Home Depot.
Yes it's very convenient here and I could live here but I can't wait to start sailing south and checking out a less convenient life aboard. We still plan to set out Wednesday evening so we have 3 more days to get ready

I won't label the following photos...they're obvious and previously described.

Oh...This photo I did not mention. These are the 2 pump out boats that go around on a scheduled that gives each boat one pump out per week...or more if requested.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Marathon City Marina

I've had 3 restful nights aboard my host's sailboat and one time out sailing and a few visits to the marina facilities. There are nice showers and laundry of course and a big group area with WiFi and a couple TV viewing rooms and huge library. I'm learning I'll have minimal Internet time as we are going here and there.? Planning to head out for Mexico next Wednesday weather permitting.
There are like 280 mooring balls and it cost about $330 a month which seems pretty good.. Includes the facilities and one holding tank pump out per week.
We've been doing little projects but basically the boat is in great shape.
This manatee comes regularly to the fresh water hose for filling water jugs in your dingy hoping it was not tightly closed.. I saw one guy and later some kids giving it water and he seemed very happy for that. I guess it's technically against the law?

Friday, December 6, 2013

On the Boat

Other than my pickup shuttle being late and the landing in Charlotte being aborted seconds before touchdown, the flight to Miami was uneventful. I finally arrived to the Marathon City Marina by Greyhound about 9 pm.
Larry and I met in the darkness and took the dingy out to the boat. We were up until 1:30 am chatting and I slept quite deeply having been up since 4:00 am. I wasn't expecting the V Berth!
The boat is quite nicely organized and equipped. Sounds like we will hang around here a week doing some day sailing and final prep. Then head to the Yucatan, Mexico by way of the Dry Tortugas.

My V Berth is not so well organized : )

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Day After Tomorrow

Not the silly movie but my departure for the Caribbean via Florida. It's snowing this evening at my mom's apartment in Minnetonka.