1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: December 2014

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Back to 'Real' Cruising...

Eleuthera - the next destination...
 The Rally is over. That's right, the SAIL Magazine ICW Snowbird Rally, which I had the honour of leading, is now over, a piece of history, a fait accompli. It was a wonderful trip, and I have many new and great friends as a result of it, people with whom I had the pleasure of sharing something magical and long awaited in their lives.
Now it's back to the everyday life of cruising....and I can honestly say that as much as I enjoyed the Rally, I'm equally glad to be done with its responsibilities. Now all I have to worry about is hauling the boat for a new bottom job, some fibreglass work, install a new furler, and...well, those are at the top of the list. If you own a boat, you know what I'm saying. The list never ends. And for those wanting more detail on the ICW Snowbird Rally, you can read my blog posts there at Snowbird Rally.
Talking about lists, I hope that Santa filled your stockings with every little thing your heart desired, and that you spent your Christmas with family and loved ones. In my case, Christmas was a potluck with Rally friends on their boat in Coconut Grove along with several others. It was a great time and a great way to spend Christmas.
This next week will be spent wrapping up the Rally - writing the story of the event for SAIL readers, doing a writeup for the brass with recommendations for next year, and planning for my next adventure.
That will be my long awaited exploration of Governor's Harbour, in Eleuthera, in the Bahamas. I stopped there but didn't go ashore some years ago during a delivery, and promised myself a return visit. That is now on the radar.
Cuba's south coast...
Following that, I'll be heading on to the Exumas, and then...on to explore the south coast of Cuba. The south coast, so I am told, is far more attractive and interesting than the north coast. The harbourmaster in Hemingway assured me that lobster walk on the bottom by the hundreds in thLa Jardine de la Reina, just waiting to become your dinner....mmmmm. Then there's the fascinating cities of Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad and Guantanamo, which I'll pass by...
This visit will be especially interesting due to the recent announcement by President Obama that the US will seek to normalize relations with Cuba. That doesn't mean that American cruisers will be able to sail to Cuba anytime soon, but it's one big step closer to that time.
What I'm really interested in hearing is the opinions of Cubans - if they've even been informed of these changes by their government in fact, since the press is very tightly controlled in Cuba. The only people who regularly get outside news - news not controlled by Cuban censors - are those working in tourist facilities where outside TV channels are broadcast. These same channels cannot be had by the ordinary Cuban, and only recently has the Cuban government made internet even remotely accessible to Cubans. Many sites are blocked, if they're even viewable, given the very slow speeds that Cuban internet operates at.
It promises to be a very interesting journey, and I look forward to sharing it with you here....in the meantime, here's to a happy, and healthy, New Years.

p.s. if you simply cannot get enough of sailing oriented reading, try my Facebook group, Sailing and Cruising. It's a closed group, with zero tolerance for trolls, spammers and the usual nastiness of so many Facebook groups. Group members are especially happy to help newbies with their questions, and no question is too trivial. Just remember,  since it's a closed group you have to request membership - the special knock at the door is rat a tat tat tat, and the secret password is 'green pickles'. See you there.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Florida - earlier than ever!

One thing about this SAIL Magazine ICW Snowbird Rally, it's keeping me moving. I typically hang out more than I have been while travelling south, and usually am not far beyond the Florida border by New Year's Eve. But at this moment, I am on schedule to reach Miami by this Friday, December 19.
That, for me, is amazing progress.
It's also been nice, as this fall has been a cold one. We've had some really chilly days - but today at Peck Lake, just past the St. Lucie inlet, we anchored up and went to the Atlantic shore, which was perhaps 100 yards away over the dunes - and in shorts no less!
Aduana got to chase shorebirds, roll in the sand, dig her way halfway to China, and generally stretch her legs after so much time on the boat. I sat and sipped a beer while looking at the waves roll in, and laughed at Aduana. She's now conked out beside me, one tired little pup!
Now that we're past Stuart, we're starting to see the stereotypical Florida powerboater - we were waked seriously twice today, and it will only get worse as we get south, and powerboater IQs diminish accordingly.
However, there IS sometimes justice. Earlier this week, a boat called Stardust was running the ICW, waking everyone very heavily, including our boat. Worse, according to the women, the guy running the boat was grossly overweight and naked - well, naked except for a captain's cap. Fortunately, I missed seeing that as I was below, cursing the idiot while hanging on as he went by.
So he gets to New Smyrna Beach just after high tide, and gets pulled over by the Coast Guard for excessive speed in a no wake zone. He gets a ticket, and along with it, since the Coast Guard likes to discourage these twits, a very close inspection of safety gear, etc., along with the appropriate comments about how many complaints the guy's boating caused.
Here's where it gets good: after the Coast Guard is done with him, the guy drifts onto a shoal, and the Coast Guard wouldn't tow him off. He had to call for towing, and since the tide was going out (3.5 feet!), he was stuck there for at least 12 hours. Karma does bite, doesn't it?
Now, here's where it gets magical - the following day, Stardust passes all the same boats he passed the day previously, but this time very politely, at slow speed, no wake, and, with a shirt and pants on - oh yes, the Captain's cap also.
Sometimes, you just have to smile!
Anchoring at Titusville...