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WOW – the last six months back in Cleveland went by like a dream. Seeing family and friends was wonderful. Even though we had been gone almost a year, we were able to pick up like we never left since we had been able to keep in touch through telephone conversations, face time, face book and the myriad of other types of communication that are now available. We often thought about 1979 when we moved to Israel and how slow the communication was at that time. Weeks went by before an aerogram would arrive. We celebrated Lynne's milestone birthday with a lunch for 29 at the house and enjoyed a weekend visit from our sailing buddies Karen and Hugh.

The ladies at Lynne's birthday bash

Bob worked three days a week at West Marine where he loved talking boats all day. He enjoyed his relationship with the store manager (Kevin) and the other West Marine staff. He also started taking the wheel on the Holiday (excursion boat) chauffeuring people to football games and on cruises up and down the Cuyahoga River.

I went back to Jewish Federation working three days a week on special I/T oriented projects and helping to complete the 2018 audit. Unfortunately, staff turnover made my services even more valuable. I enjoyed not having to supervise people and feeling as if I was making a very positive impact.

Renting the house last time we were away worked out great although it is not something we will do again for the shorter winter month trips. It was just too much work, schlepping everything in and out of the basement. We found a wonderful situation for this winter with a house sitter – who will live in the house and pay the utilities but did not require us to move all of our belongings.

We left for Florida on the Monday after Thanksgiving. I cannot thank my sister-in-law Dona enough for hosting a warm welcoming and delicious Thanksgiving meal. Karen, Brian and the grand puppies, Bear and Riggs, stayed over our house Thursday night which made the holiday last a bit longer. Since we lost our own dog, having the grand puppies stay over was a real treat.

Bubby and Bob at Thanksgiving

Lynne and Dona at Thanksgiving

Cousins around the table

Bubby and Bob at Thanksgiving

Bubby and Bob at Thanksgiving

Riggs and Bear

We started the trip by having an uneventful drive to Myrtle Beach where we stayed with Bill Palliser’s son Brian his wife Alisha and the kids Carter and Kinsley. They could not have been more welcoming. We were in luxurious accommodations in their new home with guest suite over the garage. We spent Tuesday in Myrtle Beach and at Brian’s suggestion went to the Huntington Sculpture Garden. They were preparing the Christmas displays and I can only imagine how gorgeous the gardens will be with the 1000 lights they were setting up. If you are ever in the area it is a must see. Lunch at the Dirty Dog and dinner back with the Pallisers completed the day.

Palliser family

Wednesday morning bright and early we were back on the road. Another uneventful travel day brought us to Burnt Store right around dinner time. We will be staying in David and Rhonda’s house at Burnt Store as we prepare the boat for launching. It is a 45 minute drive to the boatyard but saves us the cost of a hotel – thank you David and Rhonda. Coming back to Burnt Store felt like a home coming to us.

Candle lighting for Hanukkah. This is the menorah that we made from a Palm frond.

We were a bit nervous to open the boat up and see her condition – having never left a boat in the humid Florida summer before. We had left two dehumidifiers running (draining into the sinks in the galley and head), taken everything that could get moldy off the boat and Keyan had checked the boat for us twice a month (thank you Keyan), Other than the carpenter ants which we had an exterminator take care of, Keyan did not report any other issues – but you never know. Our only surprise when we opened the boat was the frogs!!! There were a few good sized frogs on the deck, a few dead ones in the cabin and tens of little frogs under and around the dinghy – which had been covered and was sitting on the ground under the boat. We hadn’t thought about the possibility that the area might flood and it appeared that the dinghy had been sitting in some water for some period of time. When we took the cover off, it was covered with dirt and a bit of mold. Our neighbor’s boat also had about 10 frogs in his anchor locker. All in all we were pleased that there was no mold on the boat – it had stayed nice and dry and it only took a couple hours to clean up the dinghy.

One of our frog friends

So then we started the work of getting the boat ready for the water.

The most daunting item on the list was installing davits. This includes a set of stainless steel arms that jut out of stern (back) which allows us to lift the dinghy out of the water when traveling. This keeps the dinghy much cleaner and should allow us to go a bit faster as we will not be dragging the dinghy along behind us. We had to replace the hardware on the dinghy so that we had the right fasteners to which we could attach the davit harness. This took about 2.5 days – not bad.

Davits without the dinghy

Davits with the dinghy hanging - from land

The other prep items included washing, buffing and waxing the topsides (the area on the outside of the boat above the water line). We had never buffed the boat before and the blue hull was starting to look a little dull – not any more!!! I don’t know how Bob was able to lift his arms up after we were done. Watch out karate kid.

Polished topsides and polished propeller

We also had to touch up the bottom paint and empty out the storage locker we had so carefully packed up with the cushions, mattresses, towels, pillows and other items. We had been concerned about mold but I think the dehumidifiers did the trick and we may not need a locker next year. One of the boats sitting across from us in the yard did have quite a bit of mold so our concerns were not totally unfounded. They did not have a dehumidifier running.

Sheila unloading

We met three very nice couples who were also working on their boats at the Safe Cove yard. All three will be heading over to Burnt Store at some point. So depending on how long we are here and how long it takes them to get their work done – we will meet up again. This is one of the nicest parts of the cruising life.

After nine days of intensive work, on Saturday December 8th we set off for Burnt Store Marina. Safe Cove is situated on a canal so we motored about 1.75 hours down the canal to the single lock (lowers you about 2-3 feet) that separates the canal from Charlotte Harbor. The lock had been closed for a few days for repair but it was in good working order for us. The canal is shallow with areas as low as 5.8 feet even at close to high tide. Leaving the lock you go through a series of markers to keep you in the deepest water. The Boat US tow boat was sitting right outside the lock because so many boats get stuck in the shallow water both in the canal and right outside. We waved to the tow boat operator and proceeded through the marked channel. We thought we were clear but as we went between markers 5 and 6 we did touch bottom ever so lightly. Hopefully the touch was soft enough to not mess up my new paint job.

We arrived at Burnt Store about 3:30 pm and it felt great. We are docked in their north basin (last time we were in the south basin which is closer to the restaurant) which was new for us. One of the couples from Safe Cove and a dock hand were there to greet us and Bob expertly backed the boat into the slip. After some organizing and retying dock lines to accommodate for the falling tide, we met our niece Rachel and her friend Sarah for dinner at the Burnt Store Restaurant (Cass Cay).

One of my favorite Sheila and Bob pictures.

I have been fighting a cold the past three days so I am hoping that Sunday I will have the time to rest and get it out of my system. It feels good to be back on the boat. We will stay at Burnt Store long enough to get the list of things Bob wants to do on the boat substantially finished so that he can RELAX as we sail the Bahamas. More next time……

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