A STUCK WEEK February 27, 2015Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Finishing up on projects and settling in the lagoon. Been windy and the seas have been high. Therefore we have stayed put. There was a small weather window Wednesday, but there were other things to do and here we are. One outgrowth is that one of the cruising ladies is putting together a discounted trip to Saba island by ferry. We will stay another week to go to Saba. It is basically a small rock. It has a population of around 1200 and is mostly straight up and down. Been written about a few times in “National Geographic”.
We have a friend from Gulf Breeze who is coming for a visit in the BVI’s in about 5 weeks. Therefore, we still have a month for a weather window.
We also have a lot of friends who we have met the past year who are here. They are either going home, going a little further north or heading south. This has meant to many happy hours, too many dinners out, and a rapid depletion of the cruising kitty. Going to have to start saying NO, before the mate forgets how to cook. But we have craved more social interaction and more eating out. Just went from one end of the spectrum to the other. Soon enough we will be off sailing by ourselves, so we will enjoy while we can.
St Martin is a gathering place for several reasons not only for the cruisers but also for the mega yachts. The large yachts use this as a place between charters. It is in the middle of the Virgin Islands to the west and the Leeward and Windward Island to the south. It is also a duty free island. That means no fees and taxes on things that you order for delivery here. You save money on things like Anchor Windlasses. There is also a large number of craftsmen to work on your boat. All this at a reasonable price. It also is a good place to reprovision at a good price. The Virgin Islands have become ridiculously expensive to do anything. The islands to the south usually do not have the facilities or trained craftsmen to do the work. Hence, we are being stuck in a good place.
Still no WiFi. The only drawback to the island. You can buy internet service, that is expensive and the service is still slow. Another reason to go to Happy Hour. Bars have free WiFi.
ON THE MOVE AGAIN…, KIND OF February 18, 2015Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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We were happy, kind of in Simpson Bay, other then it gets rollie once in a while. It can be very annoying bouncing off bulkheads and having to always hang on when moving around the boat. Most days we rolled some, but our good luck was running out. Wednesday the mate went to a woman’s luncheon. It was rough going in, but we were running with the waves. As the afternoon progressed, the seas shifted to the south east. They were running 9 feet and began to wrap their way into the bay.
About 4 pm I get a call on the radio to pick up the mate. They had there luncheon in the lagoon that is attached to the bay. The lagoon is quite large and always choppy. Today was very choppy. Means you get wet from the spray. I picked up the mate and a friend who was hitching a ride back to their boat in the bay. Going into the bay you pass through a channel and under a draw bridge. The waves in the channel were about 3 feet. Going into them they are quite bumpy and very wet. I told the ladies they had not seen anything yet.
The bay had 4 foot swells coming into it and a strong breeze to help blow the spray. After getting to the boat one has to get from the dinghy to the boat. The boat was rolling about 15 degrees from side to side. We get on our boat via a ladder on the side. So, while the dinghy is rising and falling with the passing swells, you must time your step to the ladder when the boat is fully rolled to you and the dinghy in on the top of a swell. Then you can step on the top rung of the ladder and step on board. When your timing is right. This is one of those thing you have to do right or can get seriously hurt. Well we make it onboard with no more then a few swear words.
About 3 am the seas are still building and the wind blowing and then it decides to shift from the south to the north. The wind shift is fast enough that you wake up from a fit full sleep from having your body constantly rolling back and forth. But you wake up knowing thing are not good. One grabs some clothes, and goes to the cockpit. This is not good. It is raining but not hard, the wind is out of the north and has dropped from the mid 20’s to around 10-15 knots.
The islands we are in are in the trade wind area. The wind blows from the east, +/- 20 degrees. It blows this way day in and day out. It does not change other then velocity. People understand this and anchor knowing the trades will be steady. This is the heart of the tourist season and the anchorage is very crowded. Because there is very little swing, people anchor very close to you.
Now, we have had a slow 80 degree wind shift during the afternoon and now an quick 180 degree shift. Behind me were 2 boats that after the shift would be trading fiberglass. The last one to anchor picked up and moved. We ended up in front of a day charter boat by about ½ a boat length. That was way to close, but I was not moving in the middle of the night in a crowded anchorage. I did stay in the cockpit till 5 am insuring we did not drag and get mixed up with the day charter boat. By 5, the wind and squalls had passed and the wind showed signs of moving back to the east.
That afternoon we moved into the lagoon. It is pretty flat, but we are a long ways from anything. Thank goodness gas prices have fallen about $2/gal. The dinghy which gets great mileage, still needs it’s 3 gallons twice a week. Other problems, no WiFi. And we can not make water. The water is very clear, but the towns dump their sewage into the lagoon. The fecal count is suppose to be astronomical. Thursday we plan to go out into the bay and anchor for the day and run the water maker.
We are still trying to get to Saba Rock. It is an island that is very unique. Then we must do an overnight to the BVI’s and meet a friend for about 10 days of so of sailing. We are really looking forward to that visit. Then our daughter and family may come. She was looking for something reasonable in St John’s USVI. That is an oxymoron.
You will get this when I get it off. Remember, no WiFi on board. Oh, the new windlass worked like a dream.
MAJOR PROJECT COMPLETE February 9, 2015Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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You will have to go to Facebook to see the results. But we got a new electric anchor windlass. No more getting up an hour before the other boat buddies and cranking for a half hour plus to get under way with or behind them. The electrician was here this morning to clean up and put on wire ties etc. He was the best worker I have ever seen in the boat business. We actually got it finished late Friday afternoon and tested it out. All worked as it should on first try.
Had cocktails, ate dinner and then went to play with my new toy. Had to load the chain that we had to pull out and flake out on deck. I do not think the last 50 feet of chain had ever seen water since we had it galvanized. There were still links that were pretty galvanized together. They would not even go through the hose pipe. Had to beat them loose and the windlass still did not like them. To much metal to fit the new chain sprocket. Beat them again. Both the windlass and parts of the chain are going to have to break in together.
Saturday, we went to a boat swap and took the old windlass and sold it at the last moment. The guy got a great deal and I did not have to bring that 60 pounds if bronze back to the boat and figure out where to put it and how to tie it down. Not something you want rolling around. It must have been a good deal for both of us, he was shocked at how little we would take for it and I was overjoyed to get rid of it. There was a charity group that raises money for the school system by selling boat gear that has been donated and I was going to give it to them before taking it back to the boat.
Saturday afternoon there was a party for cruisers at one of the big beach bars. Went there from about 3 till 9 pm. Great time with great friends. We ate and drank the sale price. A great day.
Sunday got to play with my toy, mounted a holder for the controller and played some more with my new toy. Now we are free to get moving again. If we had some place to go. We will probably be here for another week and then may go to St Croix, USVI. Have not been there and it is suppose to be very nice. Then back to the BVIs and pick up a friend for a visit. Then back to the USVI for a visit with my daughter and the GRANDDAUGHTER, or not. One never know about there schedule. Then we start heading back south to Grenada. Can not believe how fast this year is going.
STILL HERE February 2, 2015Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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We should finish our projects this week. That will be good. I would like to move on, but where. Saba Rock still beckons from the horizon. The mate found there is a ferry that goes there in the morning and returns at night. Now she has to find the price. I would like that because you have to have a perfect weather window to get ashore. You also have to tie to a mooring ball. It is to deep to anchor. They have only a few balls and you could make a day trip and have no place to tie up and have to turn around and come back.
I also wanted to go to Anguilla. That is a British island about 12 miles north of St Martin. I would like to go, but the fees are ridicules. I am not a rich man and we would only spend a day or two there. I could always go back to St Bart’s. That’s right, I am not a rich man and we did about all you can do for nothing. Besides we will be back in May.
We could always move on to the BVI’s. Medium fees on getting in, but very few anchoring places. Almost all require you to be on a mooring ball. Nice balls, just $35 per night. That is every night and we do not have to be there till the end of March.
If everything goes perfectly, we should finish our projects late this week. We will then move to the French side of the island and anchor there for a week or two. Many good restaurants and I know where the bakery is at in town. The prices here are not to bad. The only problem is the bay we want to stay in is open to the north. With the cold fronts you have been spinning off the east coast every few days, generating large swells from the north. They roll right into the bay with no place to hide.
The bay we are at has nice clear water for the water maker. But it is rolly. The last few days the wind has been from the island, which is east and the stern faces the swell which makes you pitch. That is not as bad as rolling. There are suppose to be 9 foot swells coming onto the island, from the north this afternoon and evening. That size they will rap around the island and enter our rolly bay with waves from another direction. That gives you a wash machine effect. Wonderful.
Hopefully next week we will be able to tell you about a new harbor on the other side of the island.
FAT AND BROKE January 27, 2015Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Racing, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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I love that island, St. Bart’s. After a week we are satiated with pastries. We also ate twice at our favorite restaurant, found another at the ”beach”, found another beach that is 100 percent seashells. We also shopped and walked from one end of Gustavia to the other.
About the “beach”. It starts at a cliff, goes about ½ miles runs into another cliff with a resort perched on it, follow by another short stretch of beach. It ranges from about 20 feet wide to maybe 80 feet. The sand is tan and nice and soft. Not much beach. The water is crystal clear. The land side is either resorts, restaurants or shops of various kinds. It is a bust if you are used to the beaches at Pensacola Beach.
There are a couple of unique features of the beach. One is cultural the other is the island airport. The runway ends about 10 feet above and 200 feet from the waters edge. You can land both ways, from the water side, up hill or from the hill side, down hill. You can only take off down hill. The aircraft are mostly airlines of the one and two engine variety. The type you would expect to see in Alaska flown by bush pilots. You can also see the small jets of the rich and famous. When taking off, you get to your roll up point pull up hard and turn left , hard. That helps you miss the hill on the other side of the beach. Remember cliff, This one has another resort on it with the rooms facing the runway.
Landing has its own little excitements. Less then a mile from the end of the runway you pass over the saddle of this hill at 1-200 feet, dip down, pull up hard, touchdown and slam on the brakes. One of our boat buddies said it is an memorable experience.
The cultural feature, French women occasionally go topless on the beach. Perfectly acceptable. Some are young and attractive and some are my age and not so much. It is a rare occurrence, but we are batting 100%.
Along the beach and a block inland you can find all kinds of interesting shops from typical beach shops, art studios to very expensive boutiques. I am not a shopper, but it makes it fun and interesting.
We left St. Bart’s and went to the Ile Fourchue. It is a very rugged private island that no one lives on. You can go ashore and hike. Hiking is of the up and down variety. There are about a dozen boats on mooring balls and that is it. It is a sanctuary for everything. And the night is the best. It is dark. I mean really dark, like a cave. But there are billions and billions of stars. So many you can not find the stars of the night that you are used to. It is an amazing, beautiful experience.
The next day we sailed to Simpson Bay St. Maarten. We will be here through most of February. We are here for repairs and additions. Minor repairs and a big addition for me.
Simpson Bay is one of the most rollie anchorages we go into. It is close to the shops we need and that is good. We do have WiFi. Ohh soo sslloooow. Lets see if it will work.
ST BART’S II January 19, 2015Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Yea we were here in May. This is my favorite island. When we were here in May we were outside of the tourist season. Only the local beautiful people were here. Now is tourist season and everybody is here. Looked out the hatch this morning and behold a cruise ship. It was anchored about a half mile away. Cruise ship people are my age or more. Not in the best of shape and have partaken of too much of the food they feed you. You can pick them out like you can we cruisers.
Gustavia is the main town on the island. It is 10 blocks long by 10 blocks wide with a harbor taking about 1/3 the area, out of the center. We have casually walked the entire length going around the harbor. Put 1500 cruise ship people into town and it fills it up. Tomorrow we have a large cruise ship and a mini cruise ship in. We are going to try to get a taxi to the beach I mentioned last week. Got to go early for 2 reasons. First, we learned last time to get the best pastries, you have to be early to the bakery. Secondly, got to beat the cruise ship people to the taxies.
There was a yacht anchored near the cruise ship The yacht was maybe 100-150’ shorter then the cruise ship. The yacht was easily in the 300’ plus range. It is the biggest I have ever seen outside a magazine. They had a 40 mahogany tender. That is the dinghy the guests take to shore. It had an outside seating area and an inside seating area. Nice boat. Probably cost two to three times what my whole boat cost. God only knows what the big yacht cost. There are probably over a dozen of these world class yachts here. Most a lot bigger then were in Antigue.
We also found our favorite restaurant. Same menu as in May. We will do dinner again. Eat the same thing. Looking forward to that. It was really good. It is the mates belated birthday dinner. Saturday was her birthday and we were in Barbuda. Her birthday afternoon was spent getting ready to leave at 4 in the morning.
Barbuda is a gem. It is poor and unspoiled by development. It has the largest Frigate bird rookery in this hemisphere. We took a boat tour there Saturday morning. Something you will not soon forget about your birthday.
Then we walked on their beach which is miles long and you pretty much have it to yourself. The beach is famous because it has a pinkish cast. This is caused by millions of very tiny pink clams that was up and get pulverized by the surf. It is really nice. The town is small, poor, very clean and very friendly. Everyone has a chain link fence around there house. This is to keep the wild donkey and the horses that roam free on the island out of your house. The horses do belong to people, but they just let them roam free.
Why no development? There are two widely diverse reasons. Politics and attitude. Not the thing to be discussed in this blog. But interesting.
St Bart’s was hit by an cat 2 hurricane this summer. The island was on the edge and the only thing that can be seen are a couple boats up on the rocks and not matching new shingles on some of the older homes. Most homes here have red tile roofs. There is definitely a French look to their architecture. I am happy for them not being hit hard. This is a beautiful unique place.
JOLLY HARBOR, ANTIGUE January 13, 2015Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Well, never heard from either the manufacturer or the local service guy about my water maker. Looking at my numbers I may be within there tolerance for a year old system. I just think the tolerance is a little broad. But who am I.
We are in Jolly Harbor. It is about 15 miles NE of Falmouth Bay, where we were. We have been here since Wednesday. I was very happy to move, even though it was only 2-1/2 hours to get here. It is enclosed on 3 sides with an inner harbor that has a marina and the town.
Friday we went to St John, the island capital and its largest city. We went by bus and went out to a store that is a small scale Wall Mart. The grocery is bigger and better with top quality products. The general store section is mostly clothes and a pharmacy. There was a strip mall across the street and we got some shopping done there also. We have been out for over a year and things like drawers ware out. Shower curtain, other general household stuff. We loaded our selves down. The big store has a grocery only in the town of Jolly Harbor. We went there Saturday to fill in a lot of stuff we did not get in St John. This store has all the meats that Publics has. Also all the fruits and vegetables. The boat is restocked. Should last till we are in the Virgin Islands.
Other than that, we have been sitting out another session of Christmas Winds. Winds gusting into the 30’s and a lot of rain squalls. They last maybe 5 minutes and then are gone. Open up the ports and hatches and wait about 15-30 minutes for the next one. Button up the boat and wait till it is over. It takes about as long to close and dog all the ports and hatches as it dose to rain. There are many times when I will hail the mate to stop closing everything and start opening back up. This can go on all night. But we are lazy and just button up, put the fan on and go to sleep.
Tomorrow we go to town, check the email at a restaurant (no email in the anchorage) pick up the laundry and pull anchor. We will go to Five Island Bay. It is about 15 minutes away. There is nothing there. We will ride around in the dinghy and explore the bay.
The next day we will sail on north past St John to a little bay and stage for going to Barbuda for a couple days. We are hoping the winds and seas have subsided enough to make this possible. It looks like we will have a weather window that will allow us to then get to St Barts. My favorite island. It is French. It is the Paris of the Caribbean. It is where the beautiful people go. That is why you will find me there. Can’t stay there long, it is very expensive, but worth every penny. I am still looking for someone who will donate to me enough big bucks to allow me to maintain the lifestyle that I was meant to have. The people there seam to spend most of there time at the gym, go eat a fufu lunch. (that is a lunch that is not enough to eat but looks pretty and taste great). Then they go back to the gym. They must, they all disappear. You have to live like that if your going to be a beautiful person. Then about 8 pm they start gathering at their favorite haunt for a fufu dinner. I do not do the gym, I have a boat. Hard enough. We have done the fufu lunch and dinner. Both excellent, not enough to get you fat and will lighten your billfold about as much as the dinner weighs.
There is a beach on the NE side of the island that we want to visit. Supposed to be one of the best in the world. Do not know if there talking about the beach or the people. I will check it out and let you know. If you do not here from me again I found a young rich starlet or supermodel that wants to take care me for the rest of my life. Bigger yachts, jets, fast cars, cool clothes. The normal stuff of St Barts.
From there it is on north, I think. The mate has been reading about an island to the west, called Saba. It is a old volcano that raises from the sea bed to 3000’ elevation, almost straight up. There are only 2 places you can get ashore. One by kayak, the other you have to pick up a buoy because it is too deep to anchor. 1200 population, 20% students at a med school. They provide fresh gens into the gen pool. We will see. We have some acquaintances that stopped there. Said is was very interesting. Google it.
IT WAS A GREAT NEW YEARS January 5, 2015Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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We had the open house and it went very well. There were fireworks at the Dockyard at midnight, and we decided to watch them from a friends boat. It sounded like a better idea then battling crowds to see the display. Good call. The fireworks did not last 10 minutes. I do not even think there was a Grand Finale. More fun was had on the friends boat.
New Years day some friends from Pensacola came for lunch at The Admiral’s Inn at the Dock Yard. They arrived on a cruise ship. The restaurant as very picturesque. A nice location to see old friends and catch up on their lives. Pictures of all the above are on facebook.
We are still in Falmouth Harbor. We are having our second session of Christmas Winds. The wind is steady in the low 20’s with gusts in the 26-27 range and that is in the harbor. Outside, the seas are running 6-10 feet. Tomorrow it is suppose to start settling down. We want to go to a harbor north of here about three hours away. Some friends left for there today and that’s is where I got the sea state report. We have a couple items that we could not get till tomorrow. Therefore we will not leave till Wednesday Morning. It was OK, it allowed me, today, to top off the fuel.
Tomorrow we get to run around and pick up supplies and get the boat ready to sail. That will be good, we have sat for 2 weeks and I got cabin fever. Got to move on.
Been having trouble with the water maker running at about 63% of designed capacity. Ran tests Saturday and have some theories of what the problem may be. Talked to the local service man and have to send him our results. We also have to send the manufacturer the results and see what they suggest. Always something.
Have a Great New Year
CHRISTMAS WAS OK December 29, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Weird but ok. We moved the 23rd to Falmouth Harbor because some friends said this was the place. It is about 15 minutes away and on the other side of Nelson’s Dockyard. It has 2 grocery stores, a neat dinghy harbor, a boat store and a marina that can handle boats with 19-foot draft. All right. So here we are. I decorated the boat by finding pictures of how we decorate the boat in the past. I printed them out and taped them in the appropriate places. The mate also found 2 churches for Christmas Eve services. One had a 10:30 service and the other at 5 AM Christmas Day. Unless I am seeing 5AM from the midnight side, 5 AM is not a good time. That seems to be a way to run off your congregation. The 10:30 was the time of choice.
Problem. The grand kid is opening her presents at that time. 3 hour time difference to Colorado. We watch and talk on Face Time. Not quite like being there, but better than nothing. Scratch the 10:30 service. No we did not go the 5 AM. We did a little devotion thing like we do often when we do not go to church.
I will not go over the rest of the day that is covered in our FaceBook writings. It will bore you with boat pics. Really big boats. Around December 10, Antigua has a charter boat show. It is for those arranging charters. It seams many of the big, big boats wait till their Christmas charters show up to leave the area. Cost a lot to move a 200+ foot boat. So they were hear. Wow.
We are still here. We want to go around the island to about 3 other harbors to visit. We also want to visit Barbuda, Antigua’s sister island. Our weather window seems to be closing around the 2ed for a week or so. We will stay here for the time being. We had planed to spend the better part of a month in the area, so no big deal.
We are having 2 sailing couples from Pensacola, visit on New Years day. They are on a cruise ship and will meet us for lunch at Nelson’s Dockyard. We are looking forward to that.
New Years eve we are having an open house (boat) till about 11 PM and then go to Nelson’s Dockyard for a big time fireworks display. We hope.
Hope everyone has great New Year.
If you do not know about Nelson’s Dockyard, Google it. It is big in history from the 1500’s, that includes our own history.
CHRISTMAS…, ALREADY December 22, 2014Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Not yet. We went to Les Saints last week. These are a nice small group of islands. Has a nice bay and is a very friendly place. It is French and has a nice bakery. What other reason is there to have French islands in the Caribbean. Our trip there took about 8 hours and was one of the best sails yet. 14-19 kts of wind on the beam and 2 foot seas. Unheard of. We spent a day and then went to a neighbor island, Marie Galant.
We went to St Louie on Marie Galant. What a bust. Worst place we have been on the trip. It is a small town and it is closed. The guy in the tourist office never stopped reading and acknowledge that we were there. The bakery was as bad as the rest of the town. Tried to rent a car and the lady running the place said she did not have time to rent one to us. She then closed the door on us. That was it. Back to the boat and back to Les Saints for the night.
The next morning we left at 9 am for Denhaies, Guadeloupe. That is pronounced DayHay. One of our favorite spots with one of the best bakeries, period. We stopped there to check out of the island and go to the bakery. Nice little town, friendly and working at getting more cruisers to come there. Love it.
Yesterday we motorsailed to English Harbor, Antiqua. Crowded. Had to squeeze in to anchor so we could check in in the morning, get money, laundry and some groceries. This was where Lord Nelson had his shipyard. Very historical. They have turned the old buildings into shops, restaurants, etc. After meeting some friends, they convinced us to move over 1 bay to Falmouth Bay, It is on the other side of the shipyard. Therefore, we went around and anchored over there. We came here primarily to go to church Christmas Eve. There are 2 churches in the area. One Anglican with a 10:30 pm service. The other a Methodist with a 5 AM service, Yep, that is AM. Both those are hard on us old folks. Oh well, keeps the crowds down.
This place is crowded for a few reasons. There are 2 regattas going on the next two weeks. This is a great deep harbor that the mega yachts can come to a marina. You can also get about anything done here. We will move around to site see the various bays on the island and go to the sister island of Barbuda. Will probably spend several weeks between the two islands. It is nice to be in a place that everyone speaks English.
Merry Christmas to all.
This is the most unChristmas I have had. The stores have been playing carols, but they still sell the same tee shirts. Not much decorations. It’s 80 degrees and you jump in the water to cool off. We who normally decorate the boat inside and out did not bring any decorations along. No one else has either. No room for something like decorations.
Our gift to one another is an expensive dinner at one of the fancy restaurants at the shipyard. There are some presents, but they will not get here till April when my daughter comes to visit.
For all you freezing up north, it is not that bad here. After all it is paradise.