Not long after we sailed home from Guatemala, all our friends and family started asking us where our next adventure might take us. Joy and I had been talking and dreaming, but no real plans were set in stone, and we had no answer to those questions. We’d made the decision that as long as health and finances would allow, we would spend more time on the Angel and less time working and sitting at home. Cold winters ( 28degrees in Florida) caused us to set our sights further south.
In November 2009 we attended the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) Gam in Melbourne Florida where we made many new friends and had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with cruising legend and author, Beth Leonard. We were fortunate to share dinner with her on the last evening of the Gam where she and her partner Evans Starzinger were presented the prestigious Seven Seas Award, one of only 16 cruisers to achieve this international honor. Beth shared from her wealth of information with Joy and I one on one and in the several seminars she presented to the many cruisers gathered to hear her. It was an honor and privilege to spend this time with her, and to have her support and encourage our dreams. To top it all off, that last day was Beth’s birthday.
One of our favorite pastimes and smart ways to shop for boat gear is to scope out local boating flea markets. Like any flea market, there’s lots of junk, but lots of perfectly fine equipment, sometimes brand new. We shy away from electronics and potentially troublesome gear, but we often find new charts, new guidebooks, blocks and tackle, fabric – you name it – all kinds of gear that can’t wear out or go bad. At the Gam, Joy spied a new set of Explorer Charts for the Bahamas, the best charts on the market for that area, in our opinion. We grabbed those along with a large supply of stainless tubing, fittings, shackles, and other small items. If you remember, after our Yucatan trip, we had vowed that we would not leave home again without wind power, solar power, and a water maker. Installation of those items was already in the planning stages. In fact, I had already ordered and was taking delivery of our wind and solar equipment at the Gam from John and Libby Gamble of Hotwire Enterprises. So the gear I was purchasing was in anticipation of the upcoming installation. In total, we probably saved around $500 on our purchases, all new equipment. Perhaps you can tell – our cruising plans were taking shape. Our eyes were gazing south towards warmer weather and gorgeous sunsets.
As a prelude to our next really big adventure and a proving ground for all our new equipment (you’ll have to look at our equipment pages to learn more about that stuff), we had decided to head south to the Exuma Cays, familiar waters reasonably close to home should anything go wrong. So now, we could answer our friends questions, and here we find ourselves writing these pages as we work our way south on this equipment trial and extended cruising vacation.
Our first day of any long voyage is always a short hop to some familiar dock or anchorage, and we aimed for Venice Florida, as our first stop of this trip. On our way south to Venice while waiting for the Stickney Point bridge to open, we heard the vessel “Island Dream” call our name. Now where had we heard that name? Could it possibly be Pat and Darnell from our Guatemala trip? Yes indeed, it was! We passed them just a few miles south as they were making their way north to spend the summer in Panama City captaining a boat up there. We stay in touch by email on a regular basis, but neither of us had mentioned this year’s plans to one another. What an unexpected and happy crossing of our paths.
The first few days of our trip south in early March 2010 found us holed up at the Venice Yacht Club . Any Floridian will remember 2009-10 as the coldest Florida winter on record. Days of bone chilling winds, cold temps, and damp, wet weather combined to keep us huddled in our cabin with the heater blasting and the comforters snuggled around our chins. 40 degrees in March with 30 knot winds in Florida! Since when?
We finally got a break and decided we could handle one night on the hook with cold temps while making progress towards warmer waters. We found a wonderful anchorage off St. James City, just north of the Miracle Mile, and tucked ourselves in close to shore to ward off the stiff northerly wind. Prior to leaving VYC, we had toasted the cabin up to a balmy 80 degrees, and with the engine running all day down the ICW, the interior stayed reasonably warm. Planning ahead for the chilly night, dinner was oven baked bruschetta chicken, and by morning, the cabin was only down to 67 degrees while it was a chilly 52 outside.
Continue On Southward