Sunday, March 30, 2014

Leaving Stuart, loving Stuart

It is time to go. SeaClearly has been here at Loggerhead Marina in Stuart for, what seems like, months. Oh, wait - it has been months. Two very eventful months. Junie had some time to fully recover from her surgery. She is doing great, walking miles at a time and feeling good. Fortunately, circumstances and weather kept us sort of pinned down here so she had little choice but to take it easy.

We came upon this marina, and Stuart, by chance through a recommendation from our friends Bejay and Mike on Carolina Moon way back in November. We returned here after the Bahamas trip to attend to Junie's surgery, the unexpected loss of Roux, and Jeffrey and Alyssa's wedding. We have found ourselves liking Stuart more and more as we have spent time here. The town itself is cute. The people are friendly. It is different than the Palm Beach areas. We have been comfortable. We have made friends here. I would bet that we will be back at some point.
The North marina from the pool
Dock office corner.
Our neighborhood. 

It occurred to me that, for all that, we have taken very few pictures around the marina. Given that we dealt with several major-league life events while we were docked here, that hardly seems fair. I think that it is partly due to the fact that we were focused on other stuff. Stuart served as the backdrop and, almost, a point of consistency while the world shook and moved, we came and went, and chapters ended and started. Even the horns from the passing trains have become ingrained in our minds. So, here are some pictures in an effort to give this place proper credit.

We didn't really get to use the pool much. But nice.

The long walk toward the Club House.
Roux was not very fond of this view.

St. Lucie River Bridge. Turns out, functional can be beautiful.

We had another unique opportunity while we were here. One of our Cabo Rico 42 sisterships - hull number 11 - showed up here at the marina. In what has become so commonplace for us on this trip that we can't even call them strange coincidences anymore, she came across from the Bahamas and into the same marina as us on the same day. For perspective, there are less than 20 of these boats in the world. She was going up for sale, has subsequently been sold, and we got to meet her new owner. We had lunch with Bob, got on each other's boats and shared notes. We got to do this with our friend Thierry on his Curlew (hull number 12) a couple of years ago. SeaClearly is number 14 (of course, there is no 13). It is such fun to see others in the family.

SeaClearly - Ready for sea
We are now prep'ed and ready to move on. We are anxious to get sailing again. SeaClearly has been taken out of 'sitting around the marina' mode and turned back into the blue-water boat she loves to be. We have attended to a list of maintenance tasks that always seems endless and overwhelming. (Thierry, we are still using our maintenance software and it is still spitting out two page lists of tasks for us every week). We have done everything from oil changes to toilet lubrication to safety equipment checks to HVAC filter changes. We have restrung the jacklines on the deck to keep us aboard when offshore.

The weather report indicates a 72 - 96 hour window of just gorgeous weather along the east coast. We plan to move north from here to Fort Pierce, anchor just inside the inlet and be ready to set out at slack tide on Tuesday. Our destination is St. Mary's Inlet at the top of Florida. It will probably be a two night offshore run - our longest to date - and will allow us to make a big leap north. It will be our first trip without Roux as a part of the crew and we are dreading the night watches without him. He was always there in the cockpit with you so you never really felt alone.

So, please, all of you up north - we are on our way. Do what you can to get the cold weather to go away. Before we make the next passage (Charleston) we will check to see if Spring has come to our next stop. If not, we don't move. Actually, while not in a hurry, we are glad to start the trek home.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Louisiana Saturday Night Wedding

The Groomsmen in Duck Dynasty beards. 
Jeffrey and Alyssa's wedding was awesome. Bill, father of the bride, described it beforehand as a 'Louisiana Saturday Night Wedding' and it was every bit that. From the quaint setting in a historic village to the line march  to escort the happy couple with parasols out at the end of the reception, it was a blast. The bride was beautiful. It was great to see old friends, old family, new family and acquaintances. There were a few unexpected surprises (see picture at right). I didn't get too many other pictures so I will have to post some later as they roll in. The food, of course, was wonderful and everything you might expect - gumbo, etouffe, alligator, boudin, bread pudding, and on and on.

We continued our non-stop feeding frenzy the day after the wedding with a stop to visit Junie's cousins - Kevin and his son Chad, and Leslie - in Metairie. Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. We had every intention of stopping in New Orleans for beignets at Cafe du Monde on Monday morning but we were both feeling a little woozy from all of the food so we decided to skip that stop. The food in Louisiana is amazing but we had to move on before our cholesterol spiked.

We stopped at a Costco in Tallahassee to re-provision some of the bulk items for the boat. We stopped for the night in Gainesville, Florida when we got tired (hotel night number 8 of this roadtrip on Marriott points - finally, some payback for all that business travel). Then we stopped at Lake Okeechobee to see friends Dennis and Marsha. They are Colington neighbors that are, currently, lounging by the lake in their motor home, looking relaxed, taking airboat rides and catching a tan.

Now, we are back in Stuart. It is good to be home. Which is exactly how it feels coming back to SeaClearly. We finished up the grocery runs, filled the propane tanks and, finally, dropped off the rental car. We have put over 5000 miles on rental cars in the last 6 weeks. We spent the last two days checking out SeaClearly's systems - run the engine, monitor alternator output, check the wind generator, top off water tanks, etc. We also had our staysail re-stitched while we were gone. Scott Loomis from Doyle's loft here in Stuart dropped it back off today. We love that staysail. When the weather turns snippy, that sail takes all of the abuse so we want to treat it well.

Junie, on SeaClearly, in Stuart, Florida
Junie's back is doing much better. I am still trying to get her to take it easy but it is getting harder to hold her back. Her best therapy is walking and we have been doing that since we returned. We have been playing with all of the dock dogs. We miss Roux.

Now, we need to decide what to do next.  The weather is being a little uncooperative. We don't see a great window to cross back to the Bahamas for, at least, a week. Then, it is a very small window. If we do make it, the weather in the northern Bahamas doesn't look too good anyway. The idea of making it to the Bahamas just to hunker down at anchor is not very appealing. And, it is halfway through March already. So, we are thinking about just pointing north and making a slow trip home. We would both be OK with that too. Fortunately, we have the flexibility to change our minds repeatedly and at a moments notice.

We do not, however, want to get too north too soon. We are enjoying the Florida weather, wearing shorts and having a glass of wine in the cockpit. We had some neighbors describe their strategy today. They are going to stay south of the Florida-Georgia line until it has been over 75 degrees in Atlanta for five consecutive days. Sounds like a reasonable approach. We may head up to Charleston and hang out there until we are sure it is warm back in North Carolina. However long that takes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Baton Rouge

I think this cruising thing has affected our brains. We were all set to get up early on Monday and start the Louisiana roadtrip. Sunday night, sleep just wasn't coming very well. So, with a reckless abandon that would previously have been considered foolish, we jumped out of bed at 1:30 am, did the final prep to leave the boat - closed through-hulls, shut down, locked up - and left. Snuck out in the middle of the night. We drove through empty streets to the empty Florida Turnpike, passed through Orlando, Gainesville and Tallahassee all before daylight. By 1:30 pm (Central time) we had arrived in Junie's home town of Baton Rouge.

Naturally, we were tired so we crashed for a while. Then, we got up and started the Louisiana feeding frenzy with Seafood Gumbo at Dempsey's. Then, a stop at Albertson's to pick up some dried  ground shrimp.

Now, about the weather. On Sunday, we were sitting in Stuart, Florida on SeaClearly. Sunny, 78 degrees. Yesterday, in Baton Rouge it was 30 degrees with freezing rain. The interstates were closed. We had to take surface streets everywhere. Not very good weather for Mardi Gras. I am sure it dampened some of the celebrations in New Orleans and across South Louisiana.

Redemptorist High School. Notice the sign that
indicates they are closed for Mardi Gras.

We did a brief nostalgia tour for Junie. We cruised through part of LSU, her alma mater. Then we went over to Delaware Street to see the house where she grew up. I recently saw a quote - "The only reason to look back should be to see how far you have come". Junie has come a long way.

Gail, Trevor, Cherie, Reggie (still recovering from back surgery),
Abigail, Jillian, Junie, Duane - Robert behind camera.
Tuesday was also visiting day. And more food. Cherie and Reggie's where we also got to see their kids and Junie's former neighbors Gail and Robert. Scored some Crawfish Pie from Tony's Seafood, Jerry Lee's Boudin and all the trimmings. We went directly from there to Loni and Thomas' house. They are long time friends of Junie's. More visiting, more kids and grandkids to meet, then - more food! Parrain's for Crawfish Etouffe, Catfish and more. Now, on to Coffee Call! Beignets and Cafe au Lait as a nightcap. Only 36 hours in Baton Rouge and I am gaining weight at the rate of about one pound for every waking hour.

Meanwhile, back in Stuart, dolphins
came to visit the marina. Photo
courtesy of neighbor Bill.
Lots of talking and catching up. Playing with puppies and missing our Roux. Everybody asked about our boat and our trip to the Bahamas. I am sure we bored them all to death but they kept asking questions. We miss our dog and our boat. We don't miss work. Retirement is a beautiful thing.

Of course, the reason we are in Louisiana is for Jeffrey and Alyssa's wedding in Lafayette on Saturday. Today, we move over there (assuming the roads open up). We need to look at the Rehearsal Dinner venue, pick up my suit, meet parents and help finalize whatever we can. I suspect we will also eat.