2015 RV trip to Canada. We’re blogging again.

The plan:  Get up to Nova Scotia, then over to Ottawa, then to visit friends Rick and Edyie in Ontario, the to Niagara On the Lake, then to Mackinac Island, MI, then home.  We plan to see friends along the way—the Blinns at VA Beach, Marc Bowerman in SW Harbor, ME, and the Hawkins at Deer Island, ME.  That with a little site seeing mixed in.  Probably about 4000 miles in all.

We pulled out of Cartersville on May 26th to start our trip north.  Started by going south around Atlanta and up to Greensboro, NC for a quick overnight pitt stop.  We didn’t even unhook the trailer.  The first pic is the trailer in the down position ready for towing. DSCF0085 Then Greensboro Campground for an overnight. DSCF0086 Next morning it was on to Virginia Beach VA to visit our friends Norm and Kathy.  They are great hosts and both are gourmet chefs.  You will see a little of this.  They picked up a lot of this while living in Naples, Italy.  Norm is a retired Navy Captain, and this we had access to most to the naval bases around the area.  That was fortunate because some of the historical areas are located around a restricted base at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. DSCF0107 Located on the base were the original and replacement Cape Henry light houses that was the second light house constructed by the U. S. DSCF0091 DSCF0090 DSCF0088 On the base are also located the historical markers and monuments commemoratng the Jamestown settlers first landing on American soil in 1607. The erected a wooden cross to mark the spot.  There is a monument there with a beautiful cross. DSCF0095 Another part of the history around the mouth of the Chesapeake has to do with the Navy battles to keep the British out of the Chesapeake Bay to resupply General Cornwallis with troops and supplies.  Cornwallis’ back was against the wall at Yorktown.  The French fleet had sealed the Bay.  As I like to say, Admiral de Grasse saved out ass.  Here are some monuments commemorating that battle. DSCF0093 DSCF0100 DSCF0101 Most all who know me know that I can’t do the east coast without a little history worked in.  We were camped for two nights at First Landing State Park.  It is hard to find a campground in a more natural setting.  The campsites are nestled into the live oaks just inside the dune line of the beach..Great privacy, but be prepared for much sand. The Blinns brought dinner to the campsite.  They provided a great breakfast of crab cakes and eggs the next morning. Then Norm and I headed to the Mariner’s Museum at Hampton to check out the new Monitor Exhibit. Exhibit.  There is a boat load (or should I say RV load) of pictures, but this is all tonight. MARINERS MUSEUM Hampton VA WOW! what a wonderful job they have done on exhibiting the relics from the Monitor site.  They also did a great job in telling the story of the recovery. Now, for the question of the evening.  Let’s see if anyone can guess what this is and does. DSCF0141 Here are some pictures from the Monitor Exhibit.  There will be a bonus question at the end. DSCF0131 The above is one of the guns from the Monitor in the preservation tank.  To stabilize and preserve some of the items may take as long as 20 years. DSCF0119 The above is a photo of a scale model of what the Monitor looked like before sinking. Now for the bonus question.  How many tons of coal could the monitor carry? Then it was back to the Blinn’s home for a scrumptious meal and good company.Norm and I took his aluminum john boat with a trolling motor for a spin around several coves on the lake behind his home. DSCF0115 NormDSCF0149 Lou DSCF0148 Norm smoked cedar planked bacon wrapped scallops on the grill. DSCF0151 Kathy at her table.  What a wonderful meal.  Superb! DSCF0152 We hate to leave after such a short visit, but there is much ground to cover in the next month.  So next morning we were off to stay near Hershey PA.  Here are a few pictures from there will be posted tomorrow.  We are now at Mystic Ct. for two nights before heading to Maine.  So stay tuned there should be lot’s more. Desert and coffee on the porch.  The end to a great day. DSCF0153 On to HERSHEY PA for our chocolate fix. Hershey where the street lights are chocolate kisses. DSCF0155 DSCF0156 DSCF0157 DSCF0158 Then the ladies at the campground office recommended a little restaurant about 5 miles down the road that served wonderful home cooked meals.  They weren’t wrong.  What I call it is comfort food, and plenty of it.  We couldn’t eat much over half. DSCF0159 We have now made our way to Mystic, CT.  We did the Mystic Seaport Museum today along with a little shopping.  Many pictures of which a few will be selected for posting. SPECIAL NOTE:  CLICK ON THE PICTURES TO ENLARGE.  CLICK YOUR BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THE PAGE. We are off to Freeport ME, home of LL Bean, tomorrow.  June 2nd and we made it to Freeport.  We will be here for a couple of days to cure our shopping habit, and rest up.  We have been going a little hard.  Time to slow down, and savor what Maine has to offer. Yesterday was a cold, wet, and dreary New England day We went into Mystic to visit Mystic Seaport Museum and then go across the bridge to eat and window shop.  That is such a beautiful area to roam around, and the history is great.  I will just post several pictures of the Seaport and surrounding area.  They will speak for themselves. DSCF0161 DSCF0162 DSCF0164 DSCF0165 DSCF0166 DSCF0167 DSCF0168 DSCF0172 DSCF0173 DSCF0176 DSCF0178 DSCF0182. FREEPORT, ME The home of LL Bean and their Flagship Store.  A pretty little town and shoppers Mecca.  The LL Bean complex is spread over a couple of city blocks.  Then there are many, many outlet stores spread out around the city streets.  Just to mention a couple Northface and Vinyard Vines.  It is active and outdoor activities and clothing paradise. We ate a late lunch at Linda Bean’s Restaurant across from the main entrance.  Linda Bean is the granddaughter of LL Bean.  Lou had crab cakes and real whipped potatoes.  I had a 16 oz. mug of seafood chowder and a garden salad.  It was all delicious. (This was posted for Norm) Here are a few pictures from the day DSCF0184 DSCF0185 DSCF0187 DSCF0188 DSCF0189 oo. We will lazy around here tomorrow morning.  Then do a little exploring of the area.  The the next day June 5th we plan on heading up to camp around Ellsworth.  We will take the slow way around the coastal areas.  We hope to meet up with David (dwhatty on TF) at Deer Isle and Mark Bowerman from TF at Southwest Harbor.  Mark will probably have made it by then.  He winters his 48′ Defever trawler in the Florida Keys,  and summers in Maine.  That’s a tough billet for sure. Here’s hoping for lobster rolls from roadside stands tomorrow. Today we did a little exploring.  We went up to Rockland to see a real working harbor.  On the way we passed through what I think is one of the most beautiful villages in Maine, Wiscasset.  While there we stopped for Lou’s first lobster roll.  The lobster shack is called Red’s Eats.  It is just before the bridge, and is small.  One windo to take your order and serve.  No parking, and people line up on the sidewalk.  They put the meat of an over one pound lobster on top of a top split hot dog roll.  It is overflowing.  Red’s comes highly recommended as one of the top 10 shacks for lobster rolls.  It is even recommended by some who will not eat lobster.  You know who you are.  Here’s Lou and her first lobster roll. .DSCF0193 Now, for a little serious talk.  We have taken an extra day here mainly to give Lou a rest.  Her rheumatoid arthritis has flaired up,  and there is no point in continuing the trip if she can’t  enjoy it.  So, in the morning we will start the long trip home.  Depending on the route it will be 1400 to 1600 miles.  “Funky Lady” the voice inside our GPS will hopefully get us there.  That is if she can understand Don’s southern drawl or Tennessee twang.  Understanding these Mainers would be far beyond her capabilities. So, the good/bad news is that this will probably be our last post on this trip. LIVING LARGE AT THE WAL*MART Just had to do one more post.  We made 420 miles today.  We asked “Funky Lady”, the voice in our GPS, to find a campground on route near us.  Not much to offer, so we asked her for a Wal*Mart Super Center.  8 miles down the road at Pittston, PA was one at the exit.  I asked at the service desk if they allowed over night RVs.  The lady said sure do at the outer edge of the parking lot.  Soooo, we are boondocking (camping with no hookups) at the Wal*Mart.  Ain’t life great!


This is really true.  Most Wal*Marts, Cabellas, and truck stops will allow it.  Most truck stops and Cabellas even have dump stations and sell propane.  These places a good for a quick over night when you are trying to do a fast trip.


Land Cruising to Canada Page 3


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Leaving Quebec City to spend a few days with our friends Rick and Edyie.  They live on Mazinaw Lake near Coyn, Ontario.  A beautiful lake, and 2nd deepest in North America at 555′ with the exception of the Great Lakes.  They were so gracious as to tour us around the lake in their boat, and then do two days of cruising around the area by land.  We did a lot of the Trent Severn Waterway including the Peterborough lift lock.  Ate in some great places then stopped by Dooher’s Bakery in Campbellford to pick up cream filled glazed donuts that are the best ever.

Next day it was over to Cananoque for a boat tour of the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We did a fast tour of Kingston by car.  A beautiful city with many stone buildings, but had no real time for photos.  Then Rick and Edyies’ daughter, Jenny. was kind enough to look after Trois for several hours while we did the boat tour.  Jenny is a nurse at the hospital in Kingston.  She and Trois seemed to have a great time together.  Pictures follow.




















Fort Henry


Kingston across the Rideau River from Ft. Henry.



So, now the tour of the Thousand Islands where we went to pick up some salad dressing.  You will recognize Bolt Castle.  The “cottages” with American Flags are on the US side of the St. Lawrence.  The Canadian Flags are on the Canada side.  What a beautiful area.













This was the power house for Bork Castle.



This is the boat house for Bork Castle.  It is built on the land side.  When it was built they were using large steam powered boats.  The Roof would open up to let out the smoke when the boilers were fired up with coal fuel.



Mean while back to the cabin.  The sunrise over Mazinaw Lake the next morning.  Then leaving for home with stops at Niagra on the Lake and Niagra Falls to show Trois.



Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagra on the Lake.  What a beautiful little town.  I have never see so many flowers in one place.  Then it was on to take Trois to Niagra Falls like we promised.













We crossed the border back to the US at Fort Erie coming out at Buffalo, NY.  There Trois learned that he was not French after all.  So now he is back to being just plain Troy.

Badea, badea, badea that’s all folks.

Land Cruising to Canada

Note: Photos can be enlarged by clicking on the photo.  Click again for farther enlargement.  The back button should take you back.  Enjoy.

Bonjour from Quebec City.  Lou, Troy, and I have driven up arriving yesterday.  Great drive but long.  Stops were Staunton, VA and Glen Falls, NY.  We saw the Frontier Culture Museum at Staunton.  Pictures follow.  Whew!  Lots to see up here.

First the Frontier Culture Museum.  It is a large area made up of farm steads depicting where settlers were from.



The first was a 1600s English farmstead.


A 1700s Irish blacksmith



An 1800s Irish farmstead



Helen with her hen Larna at the Irish farmstead.



German farmstead


American Indian village


Early homesteaders cabin



There were several more American farmsteads mostiy from the 1800s.  A facinating and well done collection.  However, we must get on out way.  Quebec is a long way from Virginia.


Quebec City doesn’t really look this good.  It is only  my superior photography skills that saved the city from looking so humdrum.  Hopefully, I have been able to make it look as good as it can.


The City Wall and Gate of Old Quebec City










The Hotel D’Vieux Quebec where we stayed.  Loved the place.









City Hall

IMG_0317 IMG_0317



Catholic School




















Life aboard Moonstruck

We have received private messages requesting more details about the boat and cruising it.  Moonstruck has been an extremely reliable vessel for our cruising and exploring.  Here you will find more about her, and why we enjoy her so much.  We will show additions and upgrades that we have made and a little of what it is like to be on the helm deck.  We hope this is of interest and informative.  All boats are a compromise.  Picking a vessel is not easy.  We picked Moonstruck with our cruising style in mind as well as a size that would accommodate us and or guests with comfort.

First is a picture of the saloon area with settee and TV.  It is the hub of “down below”.  The galley is to port or left as you descend.  The electrical controls for circuits and generator are to starboard.  The guest stateroom/den is to starboard, the head is to starboard, and the master stateroom is forward.

Notice the overhead hatches.  There are 8 total, and open with screens and shades.  At anchor these usually provide a breeze throughout the whole boat.  Six are down below and 2 are on the helm deck.  In addition the port lights open with screens, and the windows and windshield open on the helm deck.  More on that when we get up on the helm deck.


A table was in front of the settee.  Since we had another table on the helm deck, and we wanted more comfort, we removed it and put a leather storage ottoman in its place.  This gave more space and storage area.  The TV is mounted on the wall opposite the settee.

The queen size berth of the master stateroom is visible forward.  There is hanging locker, drawer storage, and lockers along the wall.  Plenty of storage.  A TV and reading lamps as well as overhead lighting give great light.

The guest stateroom/den also doubles as an onboard office.  A fold down desk has been added with computer connections that can be put away.  The single berth/settee can be expanded to a double berth, and there is a small hanging locker and drawer storage.  This is everyones’ favorite place on the boat.

Keep scrolling down under this picture.  For some reason it has left a big blank space.

Moonstuck Office stateroomThe galley is small with a 2 burner ceramic cook top, an under counter fridge/freezer, a microwave/convection oven, and of course sink and storage space.  When anchored we do much of our cooking on the propane grill.  The more we cruise the more we realized that we enjoy the solitude and beauty of anchoring as opposed to marina stays.  We have now set the boat up more for that type of cruising.

As stated the main controls for the electrics on the boat are on the starboard side of the companion way leading from the helm deck to the saloon.


The large electrical panel has the 12 volt circuits above the bar, and the 120 volt circuits below the bar.  Shore power, generator power, or ships battery power can be selected.  There is a 60 amp battery charger that operates on shore or generator power.  The generator is a 12kw diesel powered model.  To the right of the main electrical panel are the controls for the generator, the true sine wave inverter, and the battery state of charge meter.  We are presently upgrading the 12 volt engine charging system.

The whole boat has been converted to LED lighting.  That has cut down tremendously on power consumed at anchor.  The inverter takes care of power for the refrigerator, ice maker, and TVs while on battery power.

The head has a separate stall shower.  The marine sanitation device (that would be a toilet on land) is connected with a hold or treat system.  This gives flexibility for overboard treated discharge or hold in zero discharge zones.

To move more toward the business end of the boat, the engine room is under the helm deck.  It has nearly 6′ of head room between the two diesel engines.

Moonstruck's Engine Room

Moonstruck engine room

Yep, I’m standing in the engine room.

Now for the helm deck.  This is the nerve center while underway.  It is comfortable with two Stidd seats for pilot and navigator.  An L shaped bench around the large table, and a comfortable jump seat next to the wetbar with ice maker.  It is very comfortable for several people for a gathering.

The first picture was made while my grandsons were younger.  You can see that they were seriously at work piloting the boat down Broad Creek at Hilton Head.

Moonstruck deck officers

As you can see everything needed for piloting is available right in front of the pilot–radar, depth finder, chart plotter, auto pilot, compass, and radios.  Here is a picture of what the pilot sees.  This was taken exiting Tampa Bay via under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

SW FL 10-09

Below is the view from the pilot seat showing the instruments and their relation to what is seen out the window.


The visibility from the helm deck is 360 degrees.  Here is a shot of the rear visibility while cruising on the Sea of Abaco with dinghy in tow.  Notice the open windows and fishing rods.  The visibility is awesome, and the ventilation is great, too.



Here is another taken crossing the Gulf Stream to the Little Bahama Bank.

Here’s LuLu in the jump seat as we cruise through the Gulf of Mexico on the way to Marathon in the Keys at 27 knots.


Troy seems to enjoy travelling on Moonstruck.  Here he is crossing the Gulf Stream.



There will be much more added to page as time allows.  If interested please check occasionally for new updates.

Living life on the anchor or mooring ball makes the method for getting to shore very important.  Moonstruck has a 10′ inflatable dinghy with a rigid hull.  It is powered by a 15 hp engine.  It is important to Troy for getting to shore for his daily rituals. When travelling the dinghy is carried on the stern as here in Shelter Cove at Hilton Head.

Here’s the dinghy in travel position on the stern.  It still allows access to the transom door.

Moonstruck with dinghy

Chesapeake Trip '11 065


Bahamas 2012

On Tuesday May, 29th Moonstruck pulled out of Fort Pierce, FL headed south/southeast to cross the Gulf Stream to White Sand Ridge to enter the Little Bahama Bank.We left the Ft. Pierce Inlet sea buoy at 8:00 am.  We were quartering into seas from the Southeast and making 22.5 knots.  Upon reaching the Bank, we found about a 2′ steep chop, but held our speed.  We arrived at the Green Turtle Club at 3:15 pm.  That covered 165 NM at an average of about 22.5 knots. Moonstruck has every hold and locker stuffed with supplies for a month cruise.  Norm and Kathy from VA Beach are starting out with us on the crossing and flying home from Marsh Harbour June 4.  They are great boaters, and cruise their own 37′ Duffy in the Chesapeake Bay area.  So, if Lou can stand me for the duration of the cruise, we will be here for a few weeks. We are now in Marsh Harbour waiting for an electronics guy to see why we lost our depth readings.  Then we plan to get back out to the remote Cays for anchoring, snorkeling, beaching, and relaxing.  The waters are awesome. We did a direct run from Fort Pierce to Green Turtle Cay.  We rented a golf cart.  I went down to New Plymouth to clear customs for us and Troy.  Wednesday night the Gully Roosters played at the Green Turtle Club.  During the day we toured the Cay and New Plymouth.  We stopped at the Lizard Bar for some cool drinks.  The food at the GTC is excellent. We then went down to Bakers Bay and anchored at the north end of Great Guana Cay.  We took the dinghy around to a beautiful beach.  When the wind picked up we went into Guana Harbour and stayed on one of Dive Guanas mooring balls.  The pizza and wraps at Grabbers were the best.  Guana is a great little village with good beaches and reefs. Then it was on to Hope Town for one of Vernon’s key lime pies.  Dinner at Harbors Edge, and touring the village.  The harbor at Hope Town is the best in the islands.  We only stayed one night for Norm and Kathy, but will return for 2 or 3 more nights.  When the wind is from the right direction, we want to go down to Pelican and Lynard Cays for a few nights at anchoring in this remote area.  We just want everyone to know that Don and Lou are at your service taking care of business down in the out islands of the Bahamas.  No thanks necessary.  We do it as a public service.  Seriously, we are thankful every day that we can do this. The water color on entering the Bank is some of the prettiest I have seen.  Here are a couple of pictures of some of it.nl Note:  You can click on the pictures for enlargement.  Click again for full size.  Back button will return to blog. We have been “stuck” in Marsh Harbour for a few days.  It seems the battery charger has packed up on Moonstruck.  All is not lost as it is still a great place to be.  I have ordered a new and larger charger to be shipped via FEDEX by the first part of next week.  In the mean time we have been enjoying the hospitality offered by the Marsh Harbour Marina and Jib Room Restaurant.  Their Saturday night steak special and Wednesday night rib special are wonderful.  Tom and Linda along with Stephen, Jason, Marvin, and Desmond are most accommodating.  Marvin is a great chef.  He works his magic for lunches as well as the special nights. I won’t say who ate them, but here is a clue. We thought that we would take a run in the dinghy across the harbor to the Union Jack Dock to pick up some groceries in town.  It has been raining, so we thought we would try it between showers.  At the dinghy dock Ashton helped us tie up.  Here is a picture of Lou with Ashton. We didn’t quite make it between showers as it was raining when we came out of Maxwell’s Grocery Store.  With about 3 blocks to walk on the narrow roadway, we were loaded down like pack mules.  On getting to a main intersection, we took shelter under the covered walk of a small strip center.  A nice young couple was taking shelter also.  We struck up a conversation, and found them to be delightful people.  Here is Lou with Tony and Ashley. Just hanging out in Abaco with a few friends.  Click on the link, turn up the sound, and put it up full screen.  Somebody has to do this job, http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/ministry_of_tourism_updates/VIDEO_-_Miss_Universe_visits_Abaco_in_The_Bahamas7327.shtml “Then I visited Abaco, and there I got stuck”,  Stone McKewan With the new battery charger arrived and installed, we left Marsh Harbour Marina on Thursday, June 14 at 3pm.  We anchored behind a spit of land between Matt Lowes Cay and Point Set Rock.  12′ of clear water with the wind from the NW the breeze was delightful.  Later the wind shifted 180 degrees leaving us with no protection of the lee shore.  We pulled up anchor, and headed for a mooring ball in Hope Town Harbor.  The wind got very still, and the boat got stuffy.  We fired up the generator for about 4 hours to charge the batteries and air condition the boat. We may be here a couple of days.  As I write this, the breeze is picking up, and it is comfortable.  Here are a few pictures around the harbor showing the cruising boats.  Funny thing is that the large passagemaking type boats are tied to the marinas.  Others are on the mooring balls . LIFE IN THE OUT ISLANDS In the out islands of the Bahamas there are no bridges and few air strips.  All freight is brought in by boat.  Usually a ship will come into Marsh Harbour to be broken into smaller shipments.  In the Abacos you will see small freight boats that haul it all.  They handle everything from medical supplies to bulk items such as lumber and cement.  Palm trees and other plants can be in the mix.  Here are a few pictures of one of the interisland freight boats at work.  These guys are pros.  They can tie up, hook the crane slings on the pallets, unload, and be gone in five minutes time. Just about everything the Bahamians can buy is imported.  There is freight over, import duty, then another freight charge to get it to the island.  Most things cost 133 to 200% of US prices.  The exception is those products from other British Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand butter and lamb.  Then of course rum is fairly inexpensive.  Groceries are very expensive, but the local bread is reasonable at $3 to 4 per loaf.  The Bahamian coconut bread is delicious.  We will have some toasted for breakfast this morning.  Diesel fuel here in Hope Town today is $6.13/ US gallon.  You guessed it.  Same process to get it here.  The Bahama Banks (we are not talking financial institutions here) are so shallow that deep draft vessels can only get to a few islands.

No income tax, no sales tax, only an import duty.  It makes things simple as what you see marked is what you actually pay.  While everyone pays their fair share, the burden is especially heavy on the lower income people.  They pay at the same rate as everyone else.  Thus, a higher proportion of their income goes to taxes.  As the saying goes, “paradise ain’t cheap”.  You would really need a good income to live a good lifestyle here.  However, by living off what the sea provides, no air conditioning, and raising a few vegetables one could live fairly cheaply.

Electricity is extremely expensive here.  In the out islands it is not so reliable.  Low voltage and even power outages are considered “normal”.  Our marina bill and electric bill are usually about the same.  Is it paradise?  for some yes others no. Watch your restaurant tickets.  Sometimes gratuity is included, but it is listed as “tax” on your ticket.  That is because of the registers mostly being made for US use.  Food is mostly good.  Surprisingly, the beef is excellent Argentinian meat.  The baby back ribs I’ve had are a good as anywhere.

Fresh water is another expensive item.  All the fresh water in the islands is caught from rain and stored in cisterns or produced from the sea by reverse osmosis.  Reverse osmosis plants are run by oil.,  That makes it expensive.  It can cost $40-60 to fill Moonstruck’s water tanks.  Water is not wasted here.

The sea, the beautiful waters, the delightful people and glorious reefs are what make the Bahamas special.  They make it worth the bother to get over here, and the expense of staying., By the way, when the wind dropped with rain showers, it was time to drop the mooring ball and head over to a marina.  We found a pretty good deal at Light House Marina at the harbor entrance.  We will be here a couple of nights.  Air conditioning is good.

Much of the labor in the Abacos is done by Haitian immigrants that live near Marsh Harbor in very (by our standards) impoverished conditions.  One of their communities is out near the airport and is called The Muds.  They are ferried to the outer cays each day and back at night.  Even at their low standard of living, it is easy to see why they would risk their lives for the opportunity to be here or the US  There is little or no hope in Haiti.  Here is a picture made this morning of one of Albury’s ferries dropping three people off at our dock.  Not much to do here.  The ferry pilot swings the stern around, backs up to the dock, the people jump off the stern, and off he goes to the next stop.  The reverse in the evenings.  No tying up.  That is just a waste of time and energy  Things here are done differently than in the states.  The Haitians provide a much needed cheap labor force, and they are living better than in Haiti. Sorry about the poor quality of the picture, but it was barely daylight and shot from inside Moonstruck.  I think you can still see the load of workers to be dropped off at different places. A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE I’m talking living and view here.  On our third visit to Hope Town, we decided it was time to climb to the top of the light house.  Boy, does the world look different from there.  However, it is easy to see the attraction of the Bahamas.  Here are several pictures made from this different perspective. Some times life decisions are tough.  We are sitting in Hope Town waiting for the winds to die down for our trip home.  Such is life in the out islands.  Our big decision was do we move up to Man-O-War  Cay for some of Lola’s cinnamon rolls and coconut bread, or do we stay in the delightful village of Hope Town.  Tough choice indeed.  We elected to stay in Hope Town.  We watched a DVD last night, and Lou has downloaded a new book onto her Kindle.  We had TV at Marsh Harbor, but the signal is blocked by a hill here.  Troy seems contented with our decision as he has already selected his favorite “spots” on shore (if you know what I mean).  So, we will just enjoy where we are and take care of a few chores. HANGING AROUND HOPE TOWN Since it could take a few days for the wind and seas to die down, we are here at Hope Town.  We took the dinghy across the harbor to the village for lunch and a little fill in grocery shopping.  We at lunch at the Sugar Shack.  Not much was expected because it looked more like an ice cream place.  The deli sandwiches were delicious and for here a good value.  We would do it again.  Here is Lou at the Sugar Shack, and a shot of the harbor from their deck.


Lou has a friend from Georgia that married, and has moved to live permanently on Man-O-War.  She has lived here for the past 22 years.  Lou also taught her daughter in first grade. Her friend Charlotte and her husband Rawlin are great people.  Rawlin is a member of the Albury family of boat building fame.  Retired now, he and his brother restore some of the boats that they built in earlier times.  He and Charlotte have also built an absolutely beautiful home right on the harbor on a very private piece of land.  They have a dock and railway for hauling boats up to the shop for restoration.  Following are pictures of them, their home, and their boats.  We wish to thank them for the hospitality shown us.


We started our trip home this morning.  We left Man-O-War and ran past Great Guana.  We had a good ride around the infamous Whale Cay Passage.  What a difference a couple of days and a wind shift can make.  We have pulled in at the Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle Cay.  We replenished the 328 gal. of diesel that we consumed.  Now, Moonstruck is ready for tomorrow morning’s departure for the 165 NM mile run back to Florida.  Seas are predicted to be 3-4′ with occasional 5′.  No terrible, but a little more that we wanted.  However, the weather looks much worse for several days after that.  We are feeling the need to get home, so we will take this.

Inspite of some problems with the battery charger and inverter it has been a good trip.  We will jot down some final thoughts later.  For now here are some pictures around Bluff House



It seems all good things have to come to an end.  The weather report seemed to be holding, so at 8:00 am we left Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle for the long run back to Florida.  The Sea of Abaco had about a 1′ following sea which made a nice ride.  When we Crossed the Little Bahama Bank there was a 2-3′ sea on our port quarter.  Crossing the Gulf Stream that were 3-4′ quartering seas with an occasional 5′ one.  Moonstruck loves to run in almost any sea from the rear.  We held a 25 knot cruise speed for the whole way.  We did the 165 NM in 6 hrs and 20 minutes.  I call that an express run.  Lou thought it was a good ride, and that is important.

When entering the Ft. Pierce Inlet, that seas were from the Southeast.  They were breaking on the sand bar on the south side of the inlet.  That put breaking waves diagonally across the entrance channel.  There was a ripping ebbing tidal current coming out the inlet.  The whole thing was like being in a washing machine.  Not dangerous, but no way to run straight in.  Just let one of them pass under, skew us around, then straighten up and do another.  It was Lou’s first experience running a boiling inlet.  Now she knows what one is.

Farmers Market in the morning.  Then straightening the boat up to leave Sunday morning.  All in all a really good trip.

Scenes from the Ft. Pierce Farmers Market in the park next to the Marina.



Around Hilton Head ’11—updated 6/1/11

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Monday, May 30th.  We packed up and headed home.  The Memorial Day weekend traffic was better than expected.  When we dropped Aliya and Hannah off at home, it was quieter in the Suburban.  Those kids kept something going the whole trip.  Griffin was helping Aliya and Hannah to learn to play his ukulele.  Then we dropped Troy and Lou off in Cartersville for a well deserved rest.  Lou had done a fantastic job of looking after us all.  Troy may find it a little quiet after all the stimulation.  He is a great PR dog.

Sunday, May 29th.  We drove over to Caligny Square and turned the kids loose to shop and look around.  Griffin found something he liked that I picked up for his birthday.   Then it was the Market Street Cafe for lunch.  Everyone enjoyed their meal.  Troy rates this restaurant  four stars plus as they brought him a LARGE bowl of water and TWO treats.

Then it was back to the boat for the kids to take the dinghy out to cruise the marshes in search of Dolphin.   They were successful and saw three.  For the last night they were hanging out all around the harbor listening to music and talking and laughing.  Griffin even took his ukulele up to play while sitting on the wall.  Troy was as usual our goodwill ambassador.  Many people can’t pass by without commenting or reaching down to pet him.  He loves Shelter Cove.

One note about Troy.  He doesn’t like to go into restrooms.  It seems that he thinks it is dirty to use the restroom inside a building.  He may have a point.

Saturday, May 28th.  The kids rode their bikes to the beach and pool.  Then it was back to the boat for riding the new dinghy.  Captain Griffin was at the helm as he has had the boating course.   It was Gisseppi’s Italian for dinner.   Troy rates Gisseppi’s 3 stars.  They are dog friendly, but no water bowl and no treats.  Thus he couldn’t rate the cuisine.

These are pictures of the new dinghy followed by a couple of pictures of the old dinghy.  One is when the kids were smaller.  One is last summer in the Bahamas.  It is readily apparent why the new dinghy was needed.

New Caribe dinghy

Earlier times in the old dinghy

Lou and Don's Saturday wine and sunset cruise in Moonbeam

Thursday, May 26th.  Well we did it again.  The Suburban was loaded with Griffin and Harrison and their bikes.  We went down to Cartersville and picked up Lou and Troy.  Then it was on to Marrietta and picked up Hannah and Aliya with their bikes.  All the gear and bikes loaded, we were ready for the drive to Hilton Head.  It was a good drive down, and we ate at Parrots Cove—-one of Troy’s favorites.  They bring him a bowl of water and a dog biscuit.  Troy rates this restaurant four stars.

Friday Lou and I stocked up on groceries, and the kids rode their bikes over to the beach.  Dinner was hot dogs grilled on the boat.  Saturday Griffin was checked out on the new dinghy.  The kids rode their bikes to the beach.  Later it was dinghy riding with Captain Griffin at the helm.

Griffin, Hannah, Harrison and Aliya


"08 Hilton Head trip just for comparison

Grandkids at Posieden statue at Shelter Cove

The Shannon Tanner kids show is an institution at Shelter Cove. Our kids have outgrown it.

There are usually at least three venues for live music around the harbor.  We can sit on the stern or bow of our boat and hear different ones.  It is a very pleasant place to be in the evenings.  The restaurants are excellent also.  Troy likes them because they are dog friendly. 


Stay tuned.  Lou and I have the four grandkids for the long Memorial Day weekend.  Heading down to the boat for a few days of fun.  Since the time will be fairly short, we will probably not be cruising.  There is plenty to do around Shelter Cove.  The beach is a short bike ride away.  It should be great fun.

In the mean time, here are some pictures to show some of the beautiful landscaping and restaurants that are all wthin site of our boat slip.  It is a very pleasant place, indeed.

Oh yes, Troy especially appreciates the fact that the restaurants have patio seating, and are very dog friendly.

You can click on the picture for a larger view then again for full size.  Return to the blog with the back button.

Boca Grande to the Chesapeake ’11 (with a twist)


Note: you can click on the picture once for enlargement and twice for full size.

Friday April 29, 2011 we drove down from Chattanooga to Gasparilla Marina to Moonstruck.  Eleven hours, but not a bad drive.  After dining at the Fishery Restaurant, we stayed the night on the boat.  Saturday morning was extremely busy.  We had the engines and generator gone over for their annual service.  That was an all day job.  We installed the bow locker arc on the dinghy and figured out he best way for hoisting and bracing.  We picked up some hardware and dropped the rental car.


Gasparilla Marina. Moonstruck's home the last 18 months Moonstruck ready to travel


 With Moonstruck readdy to travel we were set to leave on achedule at 0800 hrs. May 1st.


We went by Miss OSB on the way out.  Suffice it to say that she is one of the most unusual boats I have ever seen.

Miss OSB

Trivia for you Seinfeld fans—–the del Boca Vista condos in the background.

Miss OSB

 . . . . . . . . .and we haven’t even gotten out of the marina!
We arrived at Ft. Myers Municipal Yacht Harbor at 1000 hrs. fueled with 152 gal diesel at $4.08/gal.  Then at 1035 hrs off to the Franklin Lock for the 1300 hr locking.  Then a fairly uneventful crusie throuh the Ortona Lock and Moorehaven Lock to Clewiston for a stay at Roland (whoa son) and Mary Ann Martins Marina.  I understand that Mary Ann got the marina through a very expensive divorce.

the preachers wife operating the Fort Denaud Bridge on the Caloosahatchee River part of the waterway


Roland and Mary Ann Martins Marina at Clewiston, FL


Part of the shallow channel going into and out of Clewiston


Entering Port Mayaca Lock leaving Lake Okeechobee


We cruised on down to the St. Lucie Lock to make the 1300 hr locking.  Then it was down the St. Lucie River through Stuart to the junction of the OWW and the ICW.  We turned North on the ICW and headed to Ft. Pierce.  We wanted to check it out as a place to winter over next year.  I think that Lou has given her approval of the Marina and the town.  It has a great inlet for jumping off to the Bahamas.  Here are a few pictures of the town and around the marina.  Ft. Pierce and Stuart probably have the best sail fishing on the East coast.  You will probably tell from the marina photos this is a fishing town.

Moonstruck with the charter boats

  1. There is a little story to tell.  Troy our rescue dog has never been in the water.  He has grown very attached to Lou.  Lou left the boat.  AFter a while I thought that Troy could come out of his crate.  As you can see the port side of the boat has no dock next to it.  When Troy got out of his crate, he bolted in the direction Lou had left.  You guessed it.  He ran to the port side, up 2 steps, the jumped over the side.  He was one surprised puppy.  He came up coughing and paddling.  I got him to swim near the swim platform and grabbed him by thhe scruff of the neck.  He had a look of horror on his face.  He was rinsed off with fresh water and sampooed.  Not a bad dive at all especially for his first.  I rated it a 9.5

We left Fort Pierce this morning with calm winds and flat water.  However, the forecast for the afternoon was freshening winds and choppy waters.  We elected to stay inside.  In spite of speed limits and long no wake zones we still made the 190 miles to St. Augustine.  We have a couple of things to do on the boat, so took a slip instead of a mooring ball.   We are here for two nights to catch up.  We are about 65 miles from the FL/GA boarder.  Tides were extreamly low in the northern portion of the trip.  We saw two boats aground.

Surprisingly, there were several late snow birds heading North.  We had to work our way past those.

Beach near the Ft. Pierce Inlet


Pelican on the jetty at Fort Pierce Inlet


Sailboat anchored at dawn Ft. Pierce


Daytona Beach bridge columns decorated with mosiacs of dolphins and manatees


On Wednesday we covered about 195 miles to make it from Ft. Pierce to St. Augustime.  St. Augustine—–what a fine stop on the ICW.  We had a couple of probems to get sorted out, so took a slip for two nights.  If you are going to get stuck somewhere doing work on the boat, there are allot worse places to be.  Great restaurants, history, beauty, and ambience.  It really doesn’t get much better.

Eye candy everywhere (hey, I’m talking boats here).  All kinds of boats and people.  Just a great nautical stop.  Many pictures will follow as we get time to upload them.I have spent a good deal of time in St.Augustine including picking up a new boat from the factory and outfitting it there.  What is so special about being in St. Augustine on a boat?  You are immersed in the town.  The marina or moorage is right on the waterfront.  When you step off the dock, you are in the middle of things.  You don’t feel like you are visiting the town, but are a part of it.  So much to see, concerts in the park, and good restaurants abound.  There is always something going on. 

St Augustine Municipal Marina at dawn looking toward the water


Moostruck in St. AugustineDawn at St. AugustineDawn at St. Augustine


David Dalton, our good friend and crew for the first leg of the trip. He is standing by one of the lighter weapons carried on Moonstruck.


                                                                                Some of the “eye candy” on the dock

Thursday, May 6, 2011

A morning waiting for the Xantrex inverter to come in on over night shipment.  When that is changed out, we plan to leave out for Fernandina Beach or Jekyll Island, GA.  This will depend on the time we finish up.  In the mean time there are more photos of St. Augustine.  There will be even more later.  You could fill a book with pictures of this wonderful ICW stop.

Bridge of Lions at night St. Augustine

View of town from out slip


More St. Augustine photos.

Cathedral at St. Augustine


O. C. Whites garden restaurant


St. Augustine Visitors Center


Basilica Cathedral at St. Augustine


Old Mill St. Augustine


Old Towne St. Augustine street scene




Old Towne street scene

After leaving St. Augustine at 1335 hrs on Friday, we fueled with about 275 gal at FL Petroleum at Fernandina Beach.  We then proceeded on to Jekyll Harbor Marina arriving at 1830 hrs.  We lost a half day changing out the inverter that was shipped over night.

Moonstruck at Jekyll Harbor Marina, GA


Sea Jay's Restaurant at Jekyll Harbor Marina

At O830 hrs, Saturday May 7,2011 we left out of Jekyll Harbor to try to make it to Hilton Head Island, SC.  Our crew member, and navigator for the trip, David Dalton was scheduled to pick up a rental car for the drive home.  We arrived at 1530 hrs.  David picked up his rental car for the trip home Sunday morning.  Sunday is kind of a sad day for us for we will miss David and his good nature.  He was great on the trip, and is up for anything. 

Now here is where the story takes a new twist.  Saturday was a beautiful cruising day.  As we exited the Cooper River into Callabogie Sound the sun was shining brightly, and the water sparkled.  We called around for a slip, and found one at Shelter Cove Harbour on Broad Creek.  This was probably a mistake.  We have had four extended stays at Shelter Cove.  When we walked in the office, Pam was on duty, grinned and said, “welcome back”.  We have loved staying at Shelter Cove.  The harbor is the best.  The area is the best. The facilities are the best.  8 or 10 restaurants within walking distance.  I have recommended it to others.

Many of you know of the recent storms that have torn through the South.  In one of the early ones, a very large white pine tree split and fell across the roof of Lou’s cabin.  This whole trip she has been on the phone and e-mail with the insurance company and contractor.  It is not settled.  We have been having a problem to get the four grandkids together for a time long enough to take them to the Chesapeake.  It looks like the only time their schedules will allow all four together is Memorial Day weekend.  With getting the mountain cabin put back together and less time to spend on the Chesapeake, it seems that another time would be better to go on to the Chesapeake.  We love it up there, and want to spend allot of time when we go.  That all being said, we asked about another seasonal stay at Shelter Cove.  They didn’t have a slip that we wanted, so it seemed like that was out—-but wait, there’s more.  They said they would move a boat if we will stay again.  This is truly unexpected, and above normal service.  So, we caved and said sure.  We will be at Shelter Cove until November when we plan to go back to Ft. Pierce, FL for an extended stay.

We were checking out the Ft. Pierc e City Marina to see if we wanted to stay there for a seaon.  The Ft. Pierce inlet is a good one, and it is a good jumping off point for the Bahamas.  It will save the 400 mile round trip from Boca Grande to the east coast.  So, there you have it folks.  New plan!  Shelter Cove is a 6 hour drive from home.  Maryland is an 11 hour drive.  This will allow us more short trips.  It will give us time for taking care of some things and, hopefully get the cabin painted.  We have been wanting to do that.  What was it Jimmy Buffet said?  “I got too much stuff.”    Well “stuff” happens.  We could have been happy either way.

Not only that but my son’s boat is down here now.  It is great for offshore fishing.  The dinghy is great for fishing along the marsh grass at the edges of the creeks.  This will give us more time to see them,  There is also entertainment around the harbor at night.  Sometimes 3 live bands going at different places.  The kids love it.  There are bicycle paths everywhere.  No need to get on or cross the main road.  We can be happy here.

The following are some new pictures of Shelter Cove—–Moonstruck’s home until November.

Moonstruck back "home" at Shelter Cove Harbour


Shelter Cove Harbour entrance


The harbor at Shelter Cove


For those of you that would like to see the rest of the Waterway to the Chesapeake, please visit our three trip webpages for the “07 Boca Grande to the Chesapeake that takes us all the way down around the Florida Keys to Washington DC.  There is also the fall of ’07 cruise from the Chesapeake to Hilton Head Island, SC.; Then there was Hilton Head to Boca Grande ’08which has quite abit about Key West.  We had different stops on each trip, so they will give three different views of the ICW.

the Crew: David, Lou, and Don



Troy loves Shelter Cove

Just thinking out loud here.  We have found that there are few cruisers other than full time live aboards that do our style of cruising.  We think having the boat on different parts of the coast is really a beautiful thing.  However, coming “home” to Shelter Cove started me thinking about the two kinds of boating.

We are snugged in our slip with our very own electrical and cable TV connection. We know and have the numbers in our log book of the various service providers.  We know where restaurants, marine stores, hardware stores, and bakeries are located.  All this plus we have the luxury of our very own dock box for storing extra stuff.  Capt. Jim Warren looks after our boat when we are away.  The boat is stored in the water, so it is ready when we get here.  There are allot of good things about being semi-permanent.

On the other hand we will miss the stops along the ICW.  We will miss cruising the Chesapeake Bay and above all the magical time of fall on the Chesapeake.  That will have to wait for later when we have more time to enjoy that.  Hearing the sounds of a night flight of geese flying over the anchorage——there is nothing like it.  Did I mention the crab cakes?  Everyone knows they are the best you can get.  Galesville, Tangier, Oxford, Chester Town, Solomons, Annapolis, Baltimore, and all the great anchorages will still be there if and when we can make it back.

SW Florida Cruise ’11 update 3/6/11

Local Cruising

Arrived at the boat on 2/25/11 to do some chores and local cruising.  We got the Weaver Leaver installed on the dinghy and noted needed parts to order.   Then it was to go down to Boca Grand for a couple of nights, Cayo Costa for a couple of nights, then to an anchorage behind Useppa Island.  Beautiful weather temperature wise.  Wind picked up to 20-28 mph.  A little much for anchorages exposed to the east wind.  We went into the south end of the Boca Grande Canal, and dropped anchor.  We took the dinghy to secure a line to the mangroves on the east side of the canal.  With our stern snuggled up against the mangroves, we had the perfect anchorage for the conditions.   We anchored there for four nights—-the longest we have stayed anchored in one spot.

We read  and relaxed for four days  Pictures of Boca Grande and the anchorage follow.

Boca Grande Canal Anchorage looking south

Boca Grande Canal Anchorage Looking North

Moonstruck at Anchor across from the County Dock

Whidden's Marina at Boca Grande---a touch of "Old Florida"

Whidden's store entrance with the sleeping dog to step around and my favorite recliner on the dock.

Boca Grande Marina----New Florida

Our dinghy landed at Whidden's

Lou and Troy in the Village of Boca Grande

Bougainvillea in bloom on Boca Grande

Troy, the rescue dog.  He is the dog we rescued, but he thinks he is the dog that does rescues!

Pink Elephant Restaurant across from our anchorage

Moonstruck at anchor in Boca Grande Canal

Boca Grande Canal south anchorage

BAHAMAS TRIP May/June ’10 update 6/17/10

Courtesy:  motuiti.com

Abaco Welcome Committee—–Photo by the kids

courtesy motuiti.com

A little video to get you started.


If you want to get in the mood with a little Bahamian Music, click on the link.



Please note:  The most recent post is at the top.  To view the trip in chronological order, scroll to the bottom and read by day.  We welcome your comments.  Just click on “leave a comment” at the head of the comments section.  We love to hear from our readers!

You can click on the photos to enlarge them.  Click again for more enlargement.  Back button returns to blog.


The kid’s’ underwater pictures are up.  You will just have to scroll through the blog to see them all.


Everyone is home and settling into summer.  Aliya is at theater camp in New York state, Griffin is starting basketball camp, Hannah is getting ready for her counsellor training at Camp Toccoa, and Harrison is doing summer reading.  As for Lou and Don, we are catching up on chores and getting ready for the cool temperatures of Lou’s mountain cabin.  Kevin McGary is taking care of a few things on Moonstruck.  Just about our summer routine.

Did I mention the only negative thing about this trip?  From our temporary home base of Gasparilla Marina it requires about a 400 mile round trip to get to the East coast of Florida.  So, this morning at 7:00am sharp we pulled out of the Manatee Pocket and headed West at 16-17 knots—-that is another story.  After 12 1/2 hours, 5 locks, 2 bridge openings, and 90+ degree temps we are back at Gasparilla.  It was a long gruelling day,  but we needed to get home.

Everybody is safely back, and that is the important thing.  There is one thing for sure, though.  Next time we go over it will be for a longer stay.  The real beauty of the islands besides the beautiful water is the laid back life style.  We need to experience that more.

We are still waiting for the kids to write their impressions of the trip.  Until then, let’s keep on cruising.


Lou and I have just returned from presenting outselves at the Home Land Security/Customs Office at the Port of West Palm Beach.  We must be shifty looking characters, as they took a very long time of looking at computer screens before OKing our re-entry into the US.  Capt. Bill Evans said that it was probably a mistake to be legal, as we are losing all kinds of government benefits.  Maybe next time we will be smarter.  I think that they were profiling us.

We will return the rental car this afternoon, and be ready to depart in the morning for Gasparilla Marina, our home port.  Here is one picture from our last stop in Stuart that did not get in.  it is of the Whistle Stop Cafe near the Stuart Corinthian YC.  It is a good breakfast place.  Yes, it is near the railroad track.

Whistle Stop Cafe between A-1-A and the railroad track in Port Salerno at the South end of the Manatee Pocket


We are back in the States.  We left Great Sale Cay this morning at seven_thirty am and arrived St Lucie Inlet at 1140 am.  It was a great crossing.  We started out with 2 footers and it calmed down to 1 footers about half way across.  That was alot better than the 5′ head seas going over.   We also made 25 knots instead of the 14.5 knots going over.  The water was beautiful.  I tried to take pictures of the water where the Little Bahama Bank meets the Gulf Stream.  The mixtures of the Bahama aqua color with the Streams cobalt blue are just beaufiful.  Unfortunately, the color differences are so subtle that the camera does not pick them up well.

We have checked in with Homeland Security and have been given our arrival number.  We now have until 1:00pm tomorrow to present our bodies and our passports at the Homeland Security Office in West Palm Beach.  We will have to rent a car to drive down.  I certainly am glad that they are exhibiting this much due diligence  getting Lou and me back in the country.  I just wish they could keep terrorists off airplanes.  Being the good citizens we purport ourselves to be, we will present ourselves and go through whatever more red tape is necessary.

Hopefully, back to Gasparilla on Friday, clean the boat Saturday, then the real world Sunday.

My attempt to show the colors where the Bank meets the Stream

If you look carefully at the above picture, you may be able to see the cobalt blue of the Gulf Stream mixing with the aqua blue of the Little Bahama Bank water.  It is alot more brilliant when you are there.  If you would like to see more detail, click on the picture then click it again.  The darker areas are not shadows, but are the areas of the darker Gulf Stream water swallowing the aqua colored water of the Little Bahama Bank.  Click the back button to go back to the blog.


We departed Marsh Harbour Marina at 0900.  We made out way past Great Gauna Cay to the infamous Whale Cay Passage.  Because it was more of a wussy than a lion today, we road its ocean swells at 25 knots.  We have had two good runs at it, but never fail to respect this piece of water.  It can take you out.  At 1000 hrs we were at our waypoint at Green Turtle.  We entered White Sound and were tied up at the Green Turtle Club at 1030 hrs.  This is a great stop, and rather than spend two nights at Great Sale Cay we thought this would be nice.

We had lunch at the grill where Lou conched out on conch fritters.  These were supposedly for David Dalton, but she looked as if she was enjoying them.  They are the best I’ve ever eaten.

Because we had skipped the village of New Plymouth on the way down, we rented a golf cart to check it out.  We had a lovely time, and took some great photos.  Lou found out what a Goombay Smash is.  We stopped at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar to try one of her original concoctions.  It’s amazing how clear things become after having one.

LouLou can “see clearly now”.

The village is charming.  Lou said that she could live there.  She also says that most everywhere we go.

New Plymouth Street

New Plymouth Village

New Plymouth the path to Verl’s ship model shop

New Plymouth House

New Plymouth deserted beach—how did that get in here?

New Plymouth

the Methodist Church in New Plymouth

The Wrecking Tree Bar in New Plymouth

Entering the village of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay

Don found his piece of property on a secluded beach.  Here he is enjoying relaxation in his favorite recliner.  Now, if he could only find his remote control.  Oh well, it will show up in island time.

thanks for the drink. Now, where is my remote?

“It just don’t get no better than this”

Cream cheese brownies at the McIntosh Bakery and Restaurant were brought back to the boat for desert with coffee.  Life is sure tough in the islands, but someone has to do it.

New Plymouth McIntosh Bakery and restaurant


Just some notes about the islands of the Bahamas in  general>  When away from the glitz of the tourist areas of Nassau and Freeport parts of the Bahamas can resemble a third world country.  Not where we were.  We always felt free to go where we wanted and let the children explore.  Where we were there were no big hotels and few resorts.  Groceries are expensive at about three times US prices with very  limited choices.  You eat what the supply boat brings in.  Can you imagine a super market in the US with no milk, bread, or vegetables on the shelves.  it happens here frequently.   In many places, water is metered at 25 cents per gallon.  It cost $40.00 to fill Moonstruck’s water tanks.  Electric power is expensive and undependable.  The average charge for a marina to hook you up to electric is$22.00 per night.  Hanging on a mooring or at anchor, which we did several nights, is much cheaper.  Diesel fuel in one of the cheaper places, Marsh Harbour, is about $4.50/gal.  You can figure up what 300 gal. cost.  That is about 40% higher than in the States.  The whole trip took about 9o0 gallons.  When I say the electricity is undependable believe it.  The power company will cut off power anytime they feel a need.  It can last from 2 to 4 hours then come back on.  No one seems perturbed by this.  They just go on like nothing special is happening.

In spite of all this, it is a special place.  It is all about the water.  The small villages or towns are facscinating.  Seeing how simply the people live is enlightening.  Man-O-War Cay is our choice of this group of islands.  It has a great harbor, the beaches are not to be believed, and the people live simply.  It is a working island.  If there were any hotels or resorts on this one, we didn’t see any, and we walked most of the island.  We could live there.

Tourism is the life blood of the economy.  Many people own second homes in the islands.  You probably should own a boat as the only other access is by ferry. There is little or no industry.  They fish, catch conch, or work in a service business such as a boat yard.

If you are looking for a flashy all luxuries resort go to Nassau or Freeport.  However, if you have a sense of adventure go to the out islands and get off the beaten track.  These are the Bahamas we love.

Now back to the trip.

We hope the kids will write their impressions of the trip to be posted later.  They did not see any teenagers during the whole trip.  They were the only ones visiting the Abacos as far as we know.  They had no TV, cell phones, or video games the whole week.  Did they get bored?  Not so as we could tell.  They were interested in most everything they saw.  They took the dinghy to the towns by themselves, climbed the Hope Town Light House, and swam at beautiful beaches that they were the only ones there.  How special is that?

This is the day that we all knew would come.  The kids fly out today.  They packed up, and we checked to see that “their peppers were in order”.  We called Brenda, Taxi 151, on channel 16 of the marine radio (marine radio is how everyone communicates here).  She picked us up, and delivered us to the airport.  The kids are quite the internatioal travelers, now.  They went to the counter with their tickets and passports and took care of business all by themselves.  We saw them get on the plane.  Then Brenda took us back to the boat stopping by the Price-Rite Super Market for a few last minute items to get us back to Florida.

the Kids leaving the boat for the airport

Brenda’s Taxi to the Airport

Kids taking care of business at Marsh Harbour International Airport


Harrison and Aliya waiting at MH for plane to Nassau

Griffin and Hannah in MH waiting for plane to Nassau

The kids will fly to Nassau on Bahama Air, Orlando on AirTran where they go through customs, then on to Atlanta and their parents waiting arms.  Yep, quite an adventure for them.  They have handled it well.

Looking at the long range weather, the best days for crossing back to Florida seem to be Wednesday or Thursday.  We will look in the morning at the weather again.  If it is favorable for getting around Whale Cay Passage, and the forecast holding other wise, we will head out of here tomorrow.  The plan is to anchor Monday  and Tuesday nights at Great Sale Cay.  then get an early start for the crossing on Wednesday.  It looks like Lou and I will be doing this one alone, as we have no one with us and no buddy boat crossing.  We will not be able to get weather forecasts at Great Sale.   It is just too remote for radio or internet.  We will just have to see how it feels.  Any light wind out of the southern quadrant is what we are looking for.  Cruising this way is fun, but make no mistake about it, it is serious business.


We cruised slowly back to Marsh Harbour.  We took on 300 gal. of diesel fuel and 160 gal. of fresh water.  The engines are checked, the dinghy stowed, and the boat is ready for the return trip.

Leaving Man-O-War Cay with dinghy in tow

That is the dinghy’s shadow on the bottom in about 6′ of water

The kids wanted to snorkel the reef one more time.  We got the gear and turdged over to Mermaid Reef.  The water was brilliantly clear with the sun shining brightly.  It made the colors of the fish almost glow.  There were so many fish in front of our faces that Hannah got a little frightened that they were so close.  Of course, we were feeding them.  There was every color of parrot fish, groupers, angel fish, yellow tail snapper, several small fish of many colors, and a school of ballyhoo that seemed to just swim around my head.  It was spectacular.  We had some cheap underwater cameras that may or may not have gotten some good shots.  We will see when it is developed.  The kids had a great time.

Fish on Mermaid Reef


Many, Many Fish

Saturday night at the Jib Room is the big steak cookout.  We took the kids up for the food, music, and dancing.  They had a wonderful time dancing and doing the limbo.  Griffin even got his big 6’5″ frame under the bar four or five times.  The kids had a great time.  We did too.  We will miss this place.

Marsh Harbor Marina and Jib Room


We have spent the day here at Man-O-War.  Went to the beach again.  The water is so gorgeous that it is hard to describe.  When you are in it, it feels so soft that it is almost like silk.  We bought Mahi-Mahi and grilled out for dinner.  Lunch was at the Dock and Dine here at the marina.

Harrison says that this town sure has alot of boat yards>  It sure does.  They do good work at reasonable prices here.  It has been interesting as well as entertaining watching the town work.  There are no cars on the island.  The streets are only wide enough for two golf carts to pass.  Yet they have a gridded street pattern of sorts.  The homes are all different and on small lots.  At 5:00 there is a rush hour of sorts.  Most of the transportation is by ferry boats and freight boats that serve the island.  The freight boats look like landing craft with cranes.  They can dock, off load big pallets of materials, and be gone in 5 minutes time.  They stop at alot of islands and docks on each island.  It works.  We even saw them delivering palm trees.

There is a full moon tonight hanging over the harbor.  It is really kind of making us sad that this trip is sort of winding up.  The kids leave Sunday to start their summer, and we will be working our way back to Florida and home.  Paradise really is all that it is said to be.

No pictures with this, but some were added to the blog below.  Just schroll down to see what was added.

Back to Marsh Harbour tomorrow.  Later.


Some of the pictures are up.  You can go back to Hope Town to see some of the area.  We pulled in today at Man-O-War Marina on Man-O-War Cay after three days of hanging on a mooring and the hook.  We had lunch at the dock grill, and the kids are off to explore the town.  A brief rain shower just passed through.  We like this place.  Oops, have I heard that somewhere before?

Welcome to Man-O-War

As the lady here at the marina said, all the islands are different.  This one sure is.  After a long walk, Lou and I discovered this to be one of our favorites.  It is more of a working island than some of the more touristy ones.  It has a wonderful sheltered harbor, and the marina is great.  The marina also has good WIFI.

A friendly full service marina

One of Albury’s hand-crafted wooden sail boats. Exquisite!

Man-O-War Beach

Man-O-War Albury’s Sail Loft

Man-O-War typical residential street


Man-O-War Beach

Man-O-War the path to Lola’s Bakery

Man-O-War Lignum Vitae the Bahamian national tree

At the risk of boring you with more water pictures——naa, it’s our blog so we do it anyway.

Yep, I still like to look at the water.

I am writing this swinging on the anchor behind Baker’s Rock at Tahiti Beach on the South end of Elbow Cay.  The water is calm and gently rolling with an almost full moon hanging in the sky like a lamp behind me.  Sound idyllic?  You bet it is!  All six of us laid on the bow to watch the stars and moon reflecting off the water.  Absolutely one of the most pleasant nights that I have spent at anchor.

Tahiti Beach is one of the most beautiful places in the islands.  The beach is lined with palm trees, and the clear, aqua, shallow water seems to go forever. It is truly in the words of Jimmy Buffet “One Particular Harbor” where the children play on the shore each day, and all is safe within.   Aliya said that it is knock dead gorgeous.

Tahiti Beach looking toward Tilloo Cut

Aliya and Hannah at Tahiti Beach

Moonstruck anchored at Tahiti Beach

The kids at Tahiti Beach

Aliya with one of the two golden retriever dogs at Tahiti Beach

Hope  Town with two nights on a mooring ball, was all it was “hoped it would be”—-a great harbor with a picturesque, candy-striped light house, and a quaint town around the harbor.

Hope Town Light House

Hope Town Street Scene

Hope Town Back Street

Hope Town Beach Scene

Hope Town kids coming back with Harrison’s braids

Harrison’s braids

Hope Town Harbor looking East

Hope Town kids at Capt. Jack’s

Moonstruck at Hope Town Harbor

Moonstruck on the mooring ball at Hope Town

Hope Town Harbor Sunset

We have been in Hope Town on Elbow Cay swinging on a mooring for 2 nights.  A great place.  The plan is to anchor at Tahiti Beach tonight and be in Man-O-War Cay Friday.   We have had very spotty internet, so no real updates.  We have alot of stuff to add as we get better connections.  So far so good!


Big day for us today.  The kids Hannah, Aliya along with Harrison and Griffin, arrived at the Marsh Harbour Airport.  Yes, indeed, it was a big day!!

Kids arrive at Marsh Harbour Airport

We arrived to pick up the kids via our taxi driver of choice, Brenda.   She provided them an educational tour of the town (not the regular kind of educational tour).  She did this while introducing all but Hannah to driving on the left hand side of the road.  It is a little off putting to say the least.  We picked up a few groceries since the supply boat had come in.  Then it was back to Marsh Harbour Marina.

We did dinner in the Jib Room with music and dancing.  Their Saturday nights are quite special with dancing and limbo.  We all had a great time.


Aliya under the Limbo bar

Harrison under the Limbo bar

Kids doing the Cha-Cha Slide

This morning we got out the snorkel gear and headed over the Mermaid Reef.  Here is Hannah to describe what they saw
The water was sea foam green where there was sand underneath, and where there was reef was a dark blue. At first, I thought the fish were hiding, but then I stumbled upon a group (I wouldn’t say school because all the fish were really different) and I fed them some of my Honey Nut Cheerios.

There they are

Cheerios float, so they all floated back to my face, and before I knew it I had a bunch of fish eating right in front of me. It suprised me a little so I started swatting the Cheerios to make them go away and a fish bit my finger. Not hard, but enough to get the message across.  I think it was the big black and blue fish that did it, but it might have been his little orange friend.

Black and Blue Parrotfish

Aliya will post for more.
 Aliya here! Today I went snokeling for the first time! I was so lucky to have my first dive in one of the most famous reefs in the world, Marsh Harbor, Abaco.  Well, I can’t say it was bland. I saw at least 50 types of  fish. And many underwarter plants and even a few crustatians.

Surrounded by fish

 Like my sister, I was bitten by a fish. 😦 it was the stealthy black angel fish.

The Thief—–that is Angel Fish

 I can’t blame him, I had a Cheerio. It just took me by suprise… But overall my snorkeling experiance was great. I now know how to  rule the ocean. Cheerios. Maybe I will go back in the morning before high tide, so the water isn’t as rough.  I can’t wait to get more snorkeling time under my belt! See you tommorow!
The kids had under water 35mm cameras.  Their underwater shots turned out amazingly good!

The kids ready to snorkel at Mermaid Reef

The Jib Room here at the marina had their famous BBQ’d rib dinner last night.  We never thought about there being good BBQ in the Bahamas, but it was absolutely delicious.   Lou ate a whole rack of baby backs.  We had great company at our table as Lou was invited to sit with two ladies that live on the island, Sue and Kay.  Kay owns a dive shop and knows Steve Newman——small world stuff!  Marvin, one of the staff at the marina, did a great job of the cooking.

Update 5/21/10

The Jib Room is a happening place on Wednesday and Saturday evening.  The locals make their reservations early for the good food.  Even though Marsh Harbour is the third largest town in the Bahamas, it is still a very small town.   it is the best place in the out islands to provision.  The supply boat for the grocery stores came in today.  There should be some fresh dairy products and vegetables after the shelves are stocked.  The electric company turned off the power today for 5 or 6 hours.  It is said that they cannot produce enough power for the needs, and it happens frequently.  We are starting to get into this island life style!   Once you get into the rhythm of the islands, it is not too bad.

Sue and Kay at the Jib Room

We went grocery shopping yesterday and did laundry here at the marina today.  Mundane tasks in paradise are not even bad.  Grocery prices are sky high and choices some what limited.  The largest super market in the second largest city of the Bahamas had no milk or hamburger buns.  With the high prices, it must be tough for the average workers here to feed their families.

We will straighten up the boat to get ready for the kids arrival on Saturday.   That will be a big day for all of us!  Here’s hoping Hannah can shepherd them through customs and changing planes in Nassau.
By the way, here is a link to the navigation chart showing the area of our travels.   http://explorercharts.com/images/Chart_NB.jpg

When you click on the link, you should get a magnifying glass cursor that you can put over the area that you want to see enlarged.  The area that we are in is located  on the Little Bahama Bank.  Marsh Harbour is on Great Abaco Island to the far right.  We will be in the area of the Sea of Abaco with the kids.  Lots of great places to see and snorkel.

It is important to note that the depth numbers on the chart are in meters—not feet.  The depths off the Bank are from 2000-20,000 ft. deep.  That is over your head, folks.

Update 5/18/10

The Abacos!

David Dalton arrived at SCYC at about 10:00pm Friday evening.  It is a good thing as we have now found a buddy boat to cross the stream tomorrow (Saturday) with.  Mr. Maxi a 55′ Searay berthed at the YC was planning to cross.  They asked if we would like to buddy up for the crossing.  My answer was “would we!!!!”.  So at 6:15am we pulled away from the dock and headed for the St. Lucie Inlet.  5-7′ rollers in the inlet with 20knot easterly winds on the nose.  We had 3-5′ seas for 3 hours at about 14 knots to cross.  A little rough, but a good crossing none the less.  David Dalton said he would not want it much rougher than that.  Lou did great, and slept for a good part of the passage.

We dropped the hook at Great Sale Cay at 1:30pm after an easy cruise of 18 knots across the Bank.  Took a swim in the cool, clear water, and grilled for dinner.   It doesn’t get much better than this.  We slept like logs with a cool breeze blowing through the boat>  We were up early for the 2 hour run to Green Turtle Cay.  What a great place.

Stuart Corinthian Yacht Club Dock

Mr. Maxi our buddy boat for the Gulf Stream crossing

The anchorage at Great Sale Cay

Cobalt blue water of the Gulf Stream

White Sound Green Turtle Cay

Kevin and the Gully Roosters perform Wednesdy evenings at the Green Turtle Club.Click on the link and scroll down for the dancers.    Let’s Go Go to Abaco!


When finished hit your back button until back here.

Lou and Don at Green Turtle Club. Happy yet?

Moonstruck at Green Turtle Club flying the yellow quarantine flag before clearing customs

David Dalton full of conch fritters at the Green Turtle Club

We would loved to have stayed at the Green Turtle Club for a few days, but we have a schedule to meet the grandkids in Marsh Harbor.  Monday morning looked like a good time to get around Whale Cay Passage,  So we headed for Treasure Cay arriving at noon.  Treasure Cay has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  The place was full of German tourists.

Treasure Cay across from our slip for the night

Abaco Treasure Cay morning across from our slip

Treasure Cay Beach

Treasure Cay Beach

Then this morning it was off to Marsh Harbor to await the grandkids arrival.  We love this place.  Marsh Harbor Marina is a small friendly marina with a Rib BBQ tomorrow night and steak BBQ Saturday night complete with island music.  There is a pool and a great snorkeling reef with small private beach about 200 yards away.

Moonstruck at Marsh Harbor Marina flying the Bahamian Courtesy Flag. We cleared customs and are a legal vessel.

Waters around Mermaid Reef that the kids can snorkel from shore

It was kind of sad today.  David Dalton took a cab to the airport to head back home.  We had a great run.

Hanging Out in Abaco

Click on the link.  You can put it up full screen.  How’s this?  Stone’s music and the contestants for the Miss Universe Contest.  When done hit your back button.


Update 5/14/10

Lou and I along with Kathy and Norm Blinn left Gasparilla Marina at 9:40am May 11th.  We cruised down to Ft. Myers for fuel, lunch, and a grocery stop at Publix.  Then it was up the Caloosahatchee River and through the Franklin Lock to Rialto Harbor>  Rialto Harbor is a beautiful stop with its moss draped trees and meandering paths.  We walked up to the main highway for some Pizza at a small convenience store.  It was surprisingly good.  Norm and Kathy said it was the best they had since living in Naples, Italy.

Norm and Kathy

Lock on Okeechobee Waterway

Docked at Rialto Harbor

Scene at Rialto Harbor

Moonstruck early morning at Rialto Harbor

Don and Norm the Sunbrella cap twins

Wednesday morning it was time for some serious cruising as we made it all the way across the Okeechobee Waterway to Stuart.  We arrived in the Manatee Pocket at 3:00pm.   A great crossing from the West coast of Florida to the East coast.  We fueled and tied up at the Stuart Corinthian Yacht Club.  Here we are awaiting a weather window to cross to the Bahamas.  Sunday or Tuesday look to be the best days.

David Dalton could not stand cowering behind his desk in Chattanooga any longer.  He has decided to venture out and drive down to rescue the winsome Miss Lou from the dastardly captain of the Moonstruck.  He plans to make the crossing and fly back to get his car in Stuart.

Stay tuned as the weather forecast is changing daily.

Update 5/6/10

Both Lou and I have been busy getting personal stuff taken care of for the next month or so.  Kids passports and travel documents are taken care of.  Their flight reservations are made.  We are registered with customs for our return.   We international travelers like to say that our “papers are in order”.  We are taking care of banking and packing tomorrow.  Then it is drive down to the boat Saturday.  Clean the boat and stock up with groceries Sunday.  Norm and Kathy are coming in on Monday.  Hopefully, we will be able to leave on their arrival for a short run to get a head start on the crossing of the Okeechobee Waterway.——–Stay tuned.

Well, plans are fiming up for the crossing to the Abacos in the Bahamas in May.  We are bracketing the trip around the only week that the 4 grand kids are available.  So, the day after school is out they are flying into Marsh Harbour for a week.  Our job is to get the boat over to meet them there.  Just takes a little juggling around.  Now, it is in the hands of Mother Nature.  Ordinarily, in May the weather fronts are mostly through, and the winds have shifted from northerly to the easterly quadrant.  That should make crossing the Gulf Stream more pleasant.

The plan is to move over to Stuart to wait for the weather to be favorable for a Gulf Stream crossing.  The route planned is St. Lucie Inlet to enter the Little Bahama Bank at White Sand Ridge.  Then a course North of Great Sale Cay to either Spanish Cay or Green Turtle Cay to clear Bahamian customs.  From there it is working our way down to Marsh Harbor to meet the kids.

Stay tuned as this is a pretty big adventure for the kids.  Lot’s of swimming, snorkeling, and dinghy exploring..  Just getting the arrangements for the trip is quite a deal.   Coordinating and putting on supplies are like preparing for an expedition.  We are all getting pretty excited about being there with the kids.  That makes it very special for us.  Norm and Kathy Blinn are planning to start out with us to do the crossing of the Okeechobee Waterway.  As we get settled in the Abacos Jan and Bill Evans had planned to fly in, but have now had to cancel.  We are disappointed in that because  they are dear friends, and have cruised many, many miles with us.  It looks like Lou will just have to put up with me with no relief.  Our schedule is just not firm yet, and probably won’t be until we make the crossing and get by Whale Cay Passage.