1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Too much fun - Boat Shows to Bahamas edition

It's been a busy couple of months and, I admit it, I've been careless about keeping up the blog with so many other things to do...like enjoying the warm Florida sunshine...so...
A quick recap - after the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally ended in Miami in mid December, I spent a couple of weeks recuperating at No Name Harbor. I then cruised back north to Cocoa Florida, where I am still, to park the boat while Aduana and I went up to the Toronto Boat Show. It was great fun to meet up with so many of you there, and also later on at the Miami Boat Show.
Returning from my annual dose of winter weather, I got to work on some deferred maintenance issues - as in VERY deferred maintenance, like repairing a soft foredeck.
Lesson learned - when you install a windlass, or do any sort of work that involves breaching the deck's fiberglass skin, always drill out the area, fill with resin, and redrill the holes. Otherwise you end up with a very challenging repair job a couple or so years down the line. I should have known better, so now you can learn from my experience.
On the bright side, my Quik windlass is now very strongly mounted on a very solid foredeck, and the electrical connections have all been upgraded. I'm quite pleased, even if it did take what seemed like forever. Ok, I've been taking life easy....I admit it. That's what you're supposed to be doing, out here, when you're not fixing your boat.
The next must-do project is a new genoa, using a Sailrite kit. Some of you will remember I also sewed my own mainsail several years ago. This project will be a lot easier with that experience behind me. Be watching for an article in Cruising World on this project in the future.
For those planning on doing the ICW, this next item will be something of interest - in September's Sailing South issue of Cruising World, be watching for my article on 'the Highs and Lows of the ICW'.
This article will address the issues of bridge heights and shoaling problems on the ICW. With cruisers purchasing larger, 'ICW friendly' boats, masts are now very commonly over 60 feet off the water, with the controlling height of the ICW supposedly being 65'. Well, that isn't quite true, and I'll be discussing it, and how to deal with the problems of low bridges and tall masts.
As well, I'll be discussing the current state of ICW shoaling, the problem areas and how to deal with them.
If you, or anyone you know, is planning an ICW voyage, this will be a must have issue - and I told my editor I'd tell y'all that! Don't let me down!
The 2017 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally is coming along very well, with just under a third of the available slots sold as of the beginning of March.
I've upgraded the site so that you can now sign up and pay directly from the site, along with other changes promised last year - so you see, I really haven't been that lazy after all. 
As in years past, we will have the one day Annapolis seminar, the great parties, the sundowners, touring and all the rest of that great stuff that makes doing the ICW so enjoyable. For more details, check out the 2017 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally page
The Rally is so enjoyable in fact that I will let Sail to the Sun ICW Ralliers Frank and Mary Grace Stitch tell you about the S2tS ICW Rally Reunion held recently in the Exumas. Several of the Ralliers who were stateside flew in for the event, and...well, here's the link to Let It Be's blog article - Sail to the Sun Rally Reunion. Just to give you a taste of the fun these guys are having, the photos here are from Marg's blog above, linked here again.
S2tS Rally members hanging out...
Tom and Louise in the Exumas...
This particular Rally group has been hanging together since the rally formally ended in Miami in mid-December. Several of them crossed the Gulf Stream as a group, and they've been meeting up in the Abacos and Exumas for the last several months - snorkelling, sailing, dining aboard each other's boats, dining out, basically destroying their livers if you really want to know...but they've been having a blast.
This is of course what a Rally is supposed to be about - the cameraderie of good friends having a great time together. I cannot tell you how proud I am to see this....and almost as proud as I was when I found out from the group's FB page that they were entering the races in George Town, Exumas, as the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally team! They placed third in their class, which was pretty darn good I think - and rumour has it that had they not taken time to sit down for lunch together rather than tend the sheets, they just might have come in first. This is a bunch that understands what the priorities are!
That's it for now - as always, you can follow the adventures of Aduana and myself via the Sailing and Cruising page on Facebook.

S2tS Ralliers snorkelling over the reefs

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Great White North - aka Toronto Boat Show

Hi everyone - for those of you attending the Toronto Boat Show, I've appended my speaking schedule below. Hope to meet lots of you while I'm there - please don't be shy about introducing yourself. Neither Aduana nor I bite!
If you're planning on doing the ICW this coming fall, don't miss the two hour seminar - it's got lots of the information you need to know. For those for whom the ICW is more distant, the one hour seminar will probably satisfy your current needs, and you can get back out quickly to buy more boat stuff!
This year, I've got a new seminar, on the Bahamas, how to cruise them, how to get there, provisioning and just a whole bunch of useful tips to help you enjoy yourself in that turquoise paradise.
If Cuba is in your plans, check out my Cuba seminar, in which I discuss how to enjoy your time there, as well as some of the quirks of this superb cruising grounds.
Naturally, there's lots of time for your questions, with a Q&A session after every seminar. And if that's not enough time for all the questions, there's a couple of on-site pubs we can head off to after the seminar! Not quite sundowners, but close enough...
I'll have copies of each of my seminars available on DVD for sale after each presentation. Remember, each purchase helps keep me out of Canada from October to April, doing this neat cruising stuff that I get to share with you at seminars and here on LiveBlogging.
Note - if you're interested in the 2017 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, I'll be available to speak with you anytime during the show that I'm not speaking, eating, drinking or sleeping. Ok, scratch drinking from that...
We are already 20% subscribed for this year's Rally - if you're interested, don't hesitate to get your deposit in to guarantee your place. For more details on the Rally, click through to Sail to the Sun ICW Rally

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Rally That Just Won't End!

Well, we made it to Miami, those for whom Miami was the goal anyhow, on December 12 as planned. A few of the boats stopped earlier, having reached their winter destinations, or to tie up their boat to go home for Christmas.
We then had a great last blast at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club in, where else, Coconut Grove in Miami. Beautiful spot, beautiful views, great meal! Thanks to Commodore Janice and the staff, who helped make it such a great time.
Let me back up now a bit before getting to what's going on now.
The Sail to the Sun ICW Rally had a great time exploring Savannah and area before heading out into a lovely warm day on the ICW. There were stops at Fort Frederica, Jekyll Island, Cumberland Island, St. Mary's for a great Cruisers' Thanksgiving dinner with over 100 other cruisers heading south. Then we were on to Fernandina Beach, with the city, after Hurricane Matthew, finally getting round to providing a dinghy dock for those anchored out. Fernandina is one of my favourite stops in Florida.
From there, it was on to St. Augustine, a proverbial favourite for all. You can see how well that went from this video featuring our Sail to the Sun ICW Rally Dancing Queens singing at karaoke....
and we spent several days there before continuing south to Cocoa.
Note - the rumours of my having sang 'It's a Beautiful World' in the style of Louis Armstrong are entirely false, and there is no video of such an event - and neither did I pay to purchase any non-existent video of something that never really happened. Honest!
Our local hangout - Ryans Pizza Pub!
On to Cocoa... as they did last year, Cocoa rolled out the red carpet for the Rally, with a swag bag including a great burgee, a mayor's reception, and some great dinners. There was also a tour of the Kennedy Space Center which everyone just loved, another of local brew pubs (!) and several nights out for dinner at some great restaurants. It was with some sadness that we departed Cocoa. The great reception and the friendly locals are always a highlight here.
Now a hint - look for the Cocoa event to be even BIGGER in 2017, with some events planned for all cruisers, not just the ralliers. Look for a special two day event....with a major media sponsor and things happening that will be of interest to everyone in your crew. This will be a 'don't you dare miss it' kind of event in other words.
So the day after our closing dinner at Coconut Grove, I and Mauna Kea headed off to No Name Harbor. They needed some sewing on their dodger and I needed a haircut. I only wish my sewing was the equal of the great haircut I got... (thank you again Laurie!).
Sweet Pea on a buoy from the Bahamas....
Then, what do our wondering eyes does appear , not reindeer - but Valentine, Blue Lady, Sweet Pea and Let It Be - four of the other rally boats that were in Miami. Suddenly, No Name Harbor looks like a Sail to the Sun Rally Reunion, as everyone waits for a window to cross over to the Bahamas.
And this wasn't happening just in No Name. Back in Daytona, Reflections II and Osprey were getting together and planning to finish their trip south before crossing over. Several of the group were ensconced in Marathon, enjoying life in Boot Key Harbor. This group was really hanging together...and my liver was suffering badly as a result!
Finally, the big day - night really - came, and I woke up to an empty harbor, since I won't be leaving for the Bahamas until after the Toronto Boat Show
(You can see my schedule for speaking there from the link - I'll be discussing the trip south from the Great Lakes to Miami via the ICW, and also Cuba, and a new seminar this year, Cruising the Bahamas!)
I was able to watch the fleet's progress to Bimini via their AIS units and it was truly interesting to see how well they did for first timers heading over. The conditions were challenging for the first third, laid down a bit for the second third and were positively great for the last part of the crossing.
So, another fun filled, safe and successful Sail to the Sun ICW Rally comes to an end. I'm already missing these folks as they continue to Sail to the Sun! Fair winds....
As noted, I'm speaking in Toronto during the boat show there later this month. Don't miss it if you're in Toronto and be sure to introduce yourself.
The Sail to the Sun ICW Rally website has been updated with information on the 2017 ICW Rally, and we already have three boats and crews signed up to go. Don't wait if your plans include heading south this fall, as this year's Rally will be even better - see the 'hint' above, along with some other exciting details I'm working on now. If you'd like a Rally brochure, email me at ICW.Wally@gmail.com and put Rally Brochure in the subject line.
Until your trip south, here's some photos of the 2017 crew to 'whet' your appetite until you wet your hull!
They look like they're up to something!

There's sailing and there's how Let It Be sails

Our Bloody Mary delivery on Thanksgiving Morning at St. Mary

The crew of Blue Lady

Captain of Blue Lady...

Frivolity in Cocoa!