I am now sitting in my home office catching up on mail and other business which waited for our return. The night shift in the Emergency Dept. awaits me this evening. When I last left you, we had awakened from a night spent in the Marathon Marina. I’ve concluded that I’ll be spending less time in marinas and more in anchorages when cruising. It cost us $133.00 to tie up next to a dock for 1 night. Comparing that to our $668.00 for 1 month at Regatta Pointe (where we will keep Beatitude) makes our permanent home look like quite the deal.
Well, we left Marathon at 1 in the afternoon. The morning was occupied by my taxi trip to the local Publix for a few more provisions and utensils, and some general upkeep of the boat. Shortly after leaving the marina, we sailed under the famous 7 mile bridge. With a clearance of 65′ and a mast height of 64+’, I experienced anxiety and palpitations looking up to the top of the mast as we motored under the bridge. I was certain we would lose our mast (which we didn’t, thank God)! The rest of the day was spent motoring in light and variables winds approximately 20 miles off the gulf coast of southern florida. The only aquatic life we saw up to this point was a few flying fish removing themselves from the path of our yacht. Around midnight, we spotted the lights of an oil rig off to port (left side of the boat facing forward). At 7 am we witnessed a beautiful sunrise over Naples. Shortly thereafter, we were greeted with the company of a pod of dolphins who playfully swam beneath our boat before heading off. After 28 hours of motoring (we motorsailed for about 12 of those with the mainsail up), we anchored in a beautiful anchorage in Venice. See the foregoing discussion on anchoring vs. marinas above. The Crow’s Nest Marina wanted $175 for us to tie up to their dock for the night. And there was no nearby restaurant as in Marathon.
Friday morning, we were up early so that we might journey up the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) the rest of the way from Venice to Bradenton. It was a beautiful, peaceful trip on which we saw all manner of waterfowl and several dolphin sightings. We pulled into our home port, Regatta Pointe Marina on the Manatee River around 3:30 in the afternoon. After securing Beatitude to the dock, washing down the boat, and generally putting things away, we had a celebratory dinner at the marina restaurant.
All in all, the trip was wonderful and we feel really good about Beatitude and our future plans. More on that to come. Following are some photos of our first passage (Click on the photos for a larger version):
After 21 hours of sailing, we completed the more than 26 mile trek to Marathon (Roughly 100+ miles). We’ve had beautiful weather today with lots of bright sunshine and finally, around 7:30 this morning, turned off the engines and sailed. The sails were up all day, but were supplemented with some diesel fuel for a couple of hours when the wind shifted around to our nose once again. Around 4:30, we pulled into Marathon Marina, refueled, and spent an hour washing, cleaning, and airing out some of the lockers. Whew!
The rest of the evening we relaxed and ate dinner at Porky’s BBQ and Seafood… a little slice of Americana. Live entertainment consisted of a couple of old guitarists singing a mixture of (most songs we had never heard) bluegrass, Jimmy Buffett, and who knows what else. Actually, they weren’t bad. The food wasn’t either… Ribs, Conch Fritters, and Shrimp.
Well, it’s 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Breakfast is cooking and we are preparing for another full day of sail, another overnight passage, and then a stop on Thursday evening somewhere within range of a day sail to Bradenton. Until then…
After getting underway at 4:06 p.m., we navigated through Port Everglades, avoiding the large container ship and its tugs. As of 7:27, we are about 2 nautical miles off of Miami Beach.
Early this morning, we flew to Ft. Lauderdale. Captain Dale picked us up at the airport and we spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon getting reacquainted with Beatitude and provisioning for our maiden voyage upon her. We will do an overnight passage tonight and hope to reach Marathon, in the keys, tomorrow evening where we will have dinner ashore and spend the night in port. We have a 5 day window (set by my work schedule in the hospital) in which to travel safely to our home port in Bradenton.
Unfortunately, the wind is on our nose (blowing directly from the direction we need to go, for you non-sailing folks) so we have been motoring and not sailing today. That may continue overnight. We’ll see about tomorrow. We’ve had dinner aboard and are preparing for our 3 hour on/3 hour off watch schedule for tonight. Pictures to come at some point when good internet access is available. I am able to put this post up from my iPad thanks to excellent 3G from 2 miles offshore.
Reactions to our decision to sell it all and sail away range from, “That’s awesome! I’d love to do that!” to “Why in the world would you ever want to do such a thing?” Most responses tend toward the latter. Well, when asked similar questions, a number of liveaboards and cruisers offered several explanations (Liveaboards live on a boat but may never leave the dock while cruisers actually cruise from one adventure to another while living on the boat.):
1. If you have to ask why, you probably won’t understand the answer.
2. Dolphins (Manatees, other wildlife) and bioluminescence.
3. Being rocked to sleep at night.
4. If we don’t like our neighborhood, we can just move our “house” to a different neighborhood.
6. Global Warming (You’ll be prepared)
7. The night sky.
8. My home has a moat and gangplank.
9. I don’t have to cut grass or shovel snow.
10. A simpler life.
11. The in-laws hate boats and water. (Not, I repeat, Not my reason!)
12. A greater awareness and appreciation of nature (tides, currents, winds, weather).
13. An alternative to a consumeristic society (There’s not much room on a boat for lots of “stuff.”) Or, “It’s more fun collecting experiences, memories, and friends than it is collecting material things.”
14. Adventure and Independence.
15. Oceanfront property.
16. To save money.
17. To live a spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthier life.
18. Fellow cruisers.
19. A means to travel to foreign countries without having to pay hotel bills.
20. The pure pleasure of sailing.
The reasons we decided are mostly contained in the above comments: A simpler, less materialistic life. A chance to enjoy, appreciate, and be challenged by God’s great creation. A love of travel and adventure. Here are a couple of more reasons why we are making this change (from a recent overnight sailing adventure):