1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: February 2016

Saturday, February 20, 2016

TIme to Fight the Anchoring Ban - YOU Are Needed Now!

Ok everyone - as noted by Mike Ahart (anchoring ban) the next hearing on the anchoring bill is this Wednesday coming up. I've copied all the relevant emails below, so start bombarding these people, let them know this isn't acceptable.
Two things I'd ask you to note - the first is that we're making some headway, the last vote was 5-4 rather than unanimous against us. The second thing - more than half of this committee is made up of women. Let's keep it civil please. Use strong arguments, NOT strong language, please. Here's the list - copy and paste it into your BCC on your email program, and it won't look like a group mailing.
Next, please be sure that you share this blogpost with every boater you know and on every social media site you can. The more people talk up against this bill, the better our chances of defeating it.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Time to Catch Up...and Go Sailing!

The Miami Boat Show - bling, bling, powerboats and still more bling and a few sailboats....but despite the fact it isn’t a sail oriented show like Annapolis, it’s still a good show.
This year, the big deal is the new location for the show - the former Miami Marine Stadium, over by the Richenbacher Causeway. It’s huge, and the best part of that is that the aisles are wide and uncrowded, even on Saturday. It’s also where a lot of the stuff you want to look at that isn’t sail focused, like anchors and electronics, is located. That means a show sponsored water taxi ride between the two. Count on two full days to explore both sides of the show, and three wouldn’t be amiss. 
Next year, I’m told the Strictly Sail show will move over there as well. In my opinion that will be a huge positive, generating much more traffic for all. It’ll also be a lot easier on me not having to bounce back and forth between the two venues, so I approve :)
I even made the news this year, you can read all about it here - New Times article.
This year, I’ve anchored out alongside the Venetian Causeway due to the new location and dinghied into the Strictly Sail show, a ten minute ride that takes me across Government Cut and the ICW both. Returning tonight after the Cruising Outpost beer and pizza party ought to be ‘entertaining’....(it was....ran into a good friend from Annapolis on his boat, and was waylaid onboard to drink still more beer! Thanks Tommy!)
I did a seminar on cruising Cuba on VIP day here at the show, and the attendance was impressive. Every seat filled, and people standing three deep at the tent’s entrance, and everyone with lots of questions about the topic. Just the stuff of a speaker’s dreams - a focused and excited audience engaged with the topic. You can purchase a copy of that seminar at www.thesailingchannel.tv/cuba
And Cuba Bound, the new north coast Cuba cruising guide which Waterway Guide has just published and of which I am a co-author, has been a huge hit here at the show. 
The biggest thrill for me however is the number of people who have stopped by Authors’ Corner just to say hello, people I’ve only known previously from the online Sailing and Cruising Facebook site. It’s so nice to be able to put a face to those tiny wee thumbnail photos. Thanks to everyone who’s come by!
Once the show is over, I will be starting on some ‘deferred maintenance’ on Gypsy Wind. Deferred maintenance is the term for work you should have done before but were too busy sailing or having a good time to get around to. 
Among my projects are a new dodger and bimini, but made out of plastic, not canvas this time. The genoa, which suffered damage in a 40 knot wind squall, needs some time under the Sailrite. 
As well, I’ll be working at putting together the details of this year’s Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, which will be leaving from Hampton VA in mid-October and ending in Miami in mid-December. I can tell you this much at this point in time - if you thought last year’s Rally was amazing, you’ll be astounded by what’s coming up this time. All of the great destinations we visited last year - Belhaven, River Dunes, Albermarle Plantation, Swansboro, Beaufort NC and so on - will again be front and center as we travel south. And let’s not forget that amazing welcome in Cocoa, FL - we’ll be stopping by there again. I’m also hoping to add another great stop and event in Florida at a location I’ve personally come to admire very greatly. Think free dockage, great pubs and restaurants, a fun and funky downtown and a pub with several hundred varieties of beer!
If you'd like more details on the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, you can check it out at www.ICWally.com, get a brochure with details, and contact me directly from there, or by using the pop up here on LiveBlogging. If you're interested in joining up, don't wait too long - we're already 25% sold out and it's only February - eight months away from the Rally.
If that’s not enough....well, there’s two other exciting projects I’ll be working on that you’ll hear about in the near future - one of which will save you considerable money on boat related purchases from deck shoes to deck repairs. Stay tuned for details.

For those following the Florida anchoring fiasco, the first of three Senate hearings is being held this coming week in the Senate. The Senate bill is even more restrictive than the House bill - the SSCA press release follows, and your help is desperately needed in contacting these members and expressing your opposition to this bill. Email links are included below.

The Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee of the Florida Senate is scheduled to take up SB1260 which is a threat to your anchoring rights on Wednesday, February 17. This is the first time this bill will be heard in committee this session. The bill is similar to CS/HB1051 but is more restrictive.  It provides for a total anchoring ban in Middle River, City of Ft. Lauderdale; Sunset Lake in Miami-Dade County along with three other areas and Crab Island near Destin.  While the bill is limited to only six anchorage, Seven Seas Cruising Association along with many other boating organizations oppose this bill. 
The main two reasons is that it sets a dangerous precedent that leaves the door open for other communities to add no anchoring areas through amendments before the session ends or come back next year with another list to add.  Secondly, it is premature for these three areas to receive special treatment to create outright bans on anchoring without any state oversight or review.  Since the Florida anchoring pilot program will end in July 2017, it is best for these three areas to wait until a statewide policy is created and passed next year. 
You need to contact the committee members today to express your concern about this bill.  You need to be sure that if you are a Florida resident and boater to identify yourself as such.  A phone call is the best followed up by an email.  They may not read them all, but they do count and if the phone is ringing off the hook you bet they at least know that is major opposition.
You can use the following as a part of your email and you may add anything else you wish.
“I am a boater and resident of Florida and am writing in opposition to SB1260.  Boaters who cruise Florida’s waterways have a right to reasonable opportunities to anchor our boats for recreation and to stage for longer voyages.  This bill proposes to remove five major anchorages from South Florida which will have a negative impact on the jobs created by business that rely on these cruisers who purchase fuel, food, supplies and seek repairs of their boats.
We also believe that this proposal to provide only three communities the chance to be exempt from the Florida Anchoring Pilot Program that you established in 2009 and extended in 2014 is premature.  These communities had the opportunity to participate in the program in 2009 and chose to opt out.  Now they want to be exempt from the program while many other communities are waiting until next year when the legislature will have to address anchoring provisions for communities as the program expires in 2017.  After that it would then prohibit any community from regulating anchoring.    We ask you to simply lay this bill on the table so that these three communities can participate in the process next year along with all communities in Florida.“
Here are the emails and phone number for the member of those committees. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

2016 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally

Yes, it's official now. The Sail to the Sun ICW Rally will begin on October 17, 2016, and end in Miami on December 15, 2016.
For those who followed the Rally this past fall, you already know about the great time we had. Here's the big secret however - most people presume that one goes on a rally of this sort for competent guidance, assistance in navigation and other boating related issues. All true, but....
The big reason people choose to rally south is for the friendships! Think of it...you've left your home, your job (YAYYY!), your children, your friends and family, your social groups....you and your partner are all alone on your boat now and facing some very new challenges. What better way can you think of to face those new challenges other than with a rally full of new boating friends doing the same thing as you are?
What you'll discover at the end of the Sail to the Sun Rally, or really, any rally of this type, the Caribbean 1500, the Salty Dawgs, and so on - as so many others have - is that you have a wonderful new group of friends with whom you've shared sunsets and sundowners, sunrises (too many of them for some!), challenges, great anchorages, fabulous parties, wind, weather and really, everything you go cruising to experience.
When you have problems, you have help available. When you have concerns, you have advice from caring friends. When you have a birthday or other event, you have friends to party with.
Two years later, the ralliers from my first rally still maintain an active private Facebook site and keep in touch, visiting with one another whenever possible. Some are well into the Caribbean, others are back in the Great Lakes, but they keep in touch and share their goals, dreams and plans with one another.
My most recent Sail to the Sun ICW Rally has a public and a private Facebook site - you can see the fun we had last fall right here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/WaterwayGuideSailtotheSun/ You'll have to scroll back a bit, since the Rally ended in December, but it's worth it to see the good times we all had, from Deltaville VA all the way to Miami, and points inbetween.
Along with those new friendships comes lots of great parties, and formal welcomes from the many communities and marinas we visit - such as our huge blowout bash in Cocoa, FL....
Mayor Henry on the left....Cat and Brad with him.
even Mayor Henry came out to greet us. We also had a waterfront pizza pub as our local sponsor - talk about a cruiser's dream!
Let's talk about the practicalities... what about all those difficult areas of the ICW you keep hearing about? Well, dealing with them, that's my job.
I plan our passages so that our boats will be able to safely and without any drama transit the shoal and difficult areas of the ICW. This past trip, we had two boats with 7 foot draft, and no problems at the most serious problem areas.
I also leave adequate time for us to manage weather issues, should they arise. With luck, it's sunny and warm with balmy breezes all the way south, but when it's not - there are adequate lay days available that the bad weather doesn't have an impact on our trip.
On top of that, in the months preceding your trip, I'll be providing tips and suggestions to help you get ready - provisioning, boat setup, navigation requirements and so on. And if you have a question, I"m there to answer it, or find the answer for you.
It's all about living the dream - living YOUR dream, on your terms. I understand that, having been a full time cruiser for nearly 15 years now. I know the challenges you face because I've been there and dealt with them, and helped others through those same challenges as well. It's all about the experience.

Let's get to working on your dream, starting this fall. For more details on the 2016 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, go to the Rally Page and use the links there to request a brochure. If you have questions, you can email me from that page, or via the popup on this page.
I look forward to hearing from you, and having you join us on the 2016 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally - and helping you realize YOUR cruising dream!