At Sea, At Last!

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Dear Friends and Family,

I am sitting at the navigation station typing on our computer as we are sailing along the Florida coast south toward our destination.  This is Thursday, February 24th.  It is about a month later than we had hoped to leave when we conceived this trip months ago but events have conspired to delay our adventure and probably rightly so.  It would have been hard to accomplish all we have done in less time.  When we left, though working to the last minute, we felt pretty secure that we had done all and packed everything that we would need.  Everything that we were meant to experience was taken care of and the weather that we hoped to have for a good passage should be what we experience this week.  We will let you know as the next days proceed.

While I may not have much to write about during this three day passage, we will send out regular position reports.  I talked about those in the last log. The link is at the beginning of this message and you can check it at any time you wish.  It will allow you  to track our passage about every several hours and if you click on the balloon, it will give our wind and wave conditions.  Hopefully we won’t encounter anything greater than 4 feet until maybe Saturday night when it might get more rough in the channel between Cuba and Mexico. By then, we will be almost there.  We anticipated arriving some time, probably Sunday morning.

Bon Voyage!

We actually left our home dock on Wednesday about 2 p.m.  Our next door neighbors must have been watching for the boat to leave as they ran out to their dock and held up a sign that wished us a good trip in Spanish.  I guess they had to go to a Mexican restaurant to get the translation.  They waved us off and it was so nice of them to do so.  We had lots of friends stop by, phone, e-mail or feed us in the last weeks before we left.  It is hard leaving people behind but so nice to know that they will be there for you when we return.  Last calls have been made to family but with internet so easy to find these days, we will probably Skype when we get a chance.

We motored to Pelican Bay yesterday.  It is an anchorage at the south end of our harbor and close to the pass that allows access to the Gulf of Mexico.  You can see that route on our link.  It was unusual, but we were not the party boat last night.  Chat-Eau with our sailing buddies Nancy and Steve, rafted with another Manta, Anything Goes, with Peter and Julie aboard. 

Rafting in Pelican Bay

They are Australians that we met and made friends with last year.  They had hoped to make this trip with us but for several reasons, they decided to head to the Bahamas instead.  That is certainly not a bad option!  The two rafted boats hosted about 18 all together.  We had a wonderful complete meal of appetizers, salads, pasta, breads fruit and desert.  What a group!

Our friends Pam and Don Brandt spent several seasons in the area we are going and have been helpful in our planning.  They were there to see us off.  Pam made a presentation.  She talked about when they are cruising that they get “elevenzees.” 

Pam Presenting Pretzels

At about 11, they get a little hungry so they split a ginger ale (the ginger helps with sea sickness) and each have a handful of pretzels.  She presented Chat-Eau and Catalyst with a large bag of sour dough pretzels which we can use to fend off the “elevenzees.”  I have a feeling that whenever I get the munchies on the boat, I will always think of Don and Pam no matter what time it is!  As we lifted our anchor and got underway this morning just after 9 a.m., it was Don and Pam on their boat, with Pam playing the conch horn in honor of our departure that set the tone.  The conch horn is usually reserved for dedicating the sunset so we feel honored that we were given as great an honor!  Waves and shouts of bon Voyage from several boats made this a wonderful farewell experience.  As we set off to new adventures and new friends, it is nice to have memories of the ones we will return to.

We are aided in this journey by a friend, Russ Hills.  He had a Manta before it was destroyed in Hurricane Charlie and is an experienced blue water sailor and racer.  He is serving as added crew with the Johnson’s and will help get us to Mexico.  He has made this trip several times to our once and so we are happy to have his body of knowledge along.  We had a picture taken of the five of us last night. 

Ready to Set Sail!

It will also mean more sleep for Nancy and Steve but even with just the two of us, we don’t seem to get tired when we are good about standing our watches and sleeping when we can.

Many have mentioned that some people worry for us being attacked by pirates.  They site the recent murder of 4 cruisers off the coat of Somalia. 

While pirates are something to consider, Somalia, which seems quite dangerous these days, is off the east coat of Africa, south of Egypt and connected to the Red Sea which feeds in to the Suez Canal.  A lot of cargo ships and cruisers use this shorter route to get to where they want to go  rather than go around the tip of Africa. 

Hopefully The Only Pirate We'll See!

We will be cruising the east coast of Central America and eventually heading to the Panama Canal (though not going to the other side).  While attacks have been reported, it is commonly being in the wrong place alone after warnings not to be or because the a cruiser has been causing trouble ashore. 

We take every precaution and  try to be aware of where we are and who we are with.  Of course, something could happen but hopefully the only pirate we will see will be in a movie of The Black Pearl with Johnnie Depp!

We will be checking our e-mail regularly and welcome personal comments.  Remember to contact us on the link on the blog or if you don’t hear back from us, reply to the blog master and he will forward your message to us.  You know what is going on with us, we would like to know the same from you!

As we set off on this adventure, we will be watching for the space shuttle launch this afternoon.  I was a bit nervous this morning thinking of our three day passage in the open sea.  I can’t imagine what those adventurers must be feeling.  Puts our little trip in to perspective!  To all those people out there, stretching the envelope of their comfort zone, however that comes about, safe passage and God’s blessings!

Fair Winds,
Sue and Rob
Underway at last!
Going to have my elevenzees now!

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