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March, 2007: Florida and the Bahamas (Part I)

We had lunch at Coconuts yesterday, February 28, when we saw "fish jumping". The action in the water increased significantly, and soon, the pelicans were coming to get part of this unexpected meal. - Well, wrong thinking. It became obvious that it could not be fish jumping when the water kept bursting all over the bay of the marina and huge pieces of hail started coming down onto the restaurant's awning, with a sound of "gunshots". Everybody jumped off their seats as it was a disturbing noise but also as the spectacle became increasingly intense. The pelicans - by now hit by the hail plenty of times - disappeared as quickly as they had come. The cloud over us was as black as a starless night, the wind picked up to at least 35 if not more knots, and lightning rods surrounded us at almost uncomfortable proximity.

By the time the hail finally changed into pouring rain, the air temperature had dropped from the mid 80s F to around 50 degrees, if this much. Everyone in the restaurant talked to one another. Those who had their cameras with them were busy taking pictures. I - helas - had left mine on the boat as it for sure had looked like rain, and I did not want to get my camera wet. I was of course upset with myself and jealous of all those who COULD take pictures while I stood and watched.

March 2nd: We finally picked up our custom release form, the original, went to the largest liquor store in town to check their prices (comparing to the prices we paid when buying wine the day before and finding that we paid the same). We also went back to the gas experts who are in the process of rebuilding / cleaning our US propane connections for reinstallation and asked whether someone could come to the boat to dismantle the European system which, for some reason, did not work this morning. Juergen thinks it is the solonoid. First we were given a big huff and puff that the only "expert" was the owner of the place himself and his hourly rate $ 300. We should go elsewhere. When we insisted, he finally agreed to come to check it out himself and to fix our problem, reinstalling the US propane system at the same time. We also got rid of our dinghy tank which was still half full with two year old fuel - not a good thing - and bought a new tank.

In the evening, we went to visit Nancy and Wally on Freedom, the people from Maine, for cocktails and met some of their other boating friends who, like they, come to this marina every year to spend the winter months. It was a lively evening, accompanied by great food and wonderful wines. Juergen had trouble finding the exit door - it was very funny. I don't know whether I ever mentioned that our gas alarm kept going off every time we closed all the hatches even though we had already purchased two new 12 V batteries. Well, yesterday, we finally agreed to have all batteries replaced, including the two new ones, with AGM batteries. At least we won't have the acid smell any more and reduce the chance of explosion significantly. I am happy now. Unfortunately, since the gas no longer works and we had to turn off the charger while the electricians were working, we only had breakfast a little while ago (11 a.m.) after boiling water in the microwave oven. At least we have that and can help ourselves, avoiding to go out for breakfast (which we both don't like anyway).

Click on photos to enlarge!

Nancy, our host, on the left, with Carol and Juergen

the entire group sitting comfortably on deck of "Freedom", Nancy and Wally's boat or "floating condo" as they call it


Tonight, other "boater friends" will be visiting with us for cocktails, John and Coralia, I think I mentioned them before. We had met them on the SS3. They, too, plan on sailing to the Bahamas, but they have a catamaran and will not have to worry about the lack of deep water as much as we do. There is a lunar solstice tonight, a partial one only, still, the newspapers indicate it to be a spectacle. So we all will go to the beach around 1800 for about one hour. If we see it (assuming the clouds have disappeared), you will for sure see some pictures below.

John and Coralia from "Malbec", the cat also shipped from La Rochelle, visited with us last night - for a glass of wine. We went to the beach together to catch the lunar eclipse which, as we know now, was nicely visible in England and possibly other parts of Europe, not so at the beach. So, after waiting for about 45 minutes and staring onto the horizon, we gave up, went back to the boat and had yet another bottle of wine before they left.

March 6th: We still have Northerly winds which supposed churn up the Gulf Stream to 12 - 14 feet or more - unpleasant at best. Since we are not bound by any schedule, we decided to stay put at the Hall of Fame Marina, enjoying the sunny and much drier weather. We finally got the US propane system installed - it still does not work. Now we think it is a bad wire. Juergen is working at it after he determined that it was not the switch. We also went to the post office to figure out what to do so they forward our mail to the correct and complete (emphasis is on the latter) address. The solution, to fill out yet another temporary change of address card. Will it work this time??? Who knows. I don't know what else to do.

Last night, we went to the Marina's cocktail reception. There were only about 20 people, I don't think there were more. We introduced ourselves or were introduced by Wally and Nancy, talked about sailing, the Bahamas, the weather, photography, etc. It was fun. The Northerly wind, however, piped up as the sun went down, and so it became quite cool. Around 1900 or so, most every one had disappeared. The last hold outs, including us, sat for another little while but then decided to go back to their respective boats.

We talked to Christa who will have another procedure in the hospital this morning, called Bert to wish him a happy birthday, chatted a little, then had another small bite to eat - after no lunch and just a couple of deep fried shrimp and some conch fritters, we were still hungry. Then we went to bed early to read. Juergen is reading "The last Juror" from Grisham, I am close to finishing "Postcards" by Annie Proulx - very highly recommendable though not as fascinating as her book "Shipping News". We sent the latter to Lippi for his birthday. Now I am wondering about his reaction...

Today, we expect a former colleague of Juergen's and wife. We have to run a few errants, I will try to find more post cards, wrote the first 20 or so a few days ago. Unfortunately, I sent some away with the wrong postage. Now I am wondering whether or not they will ever make it to their destination. For those of you reading this and getting one with a penalty, I apologize. Let me know how much you had to pay so I can reimburse you. I did not mean to be cheap, just had the wrong information...

Click on photos to enlarge!

Bahamian Beer - Labels Inverted

Nancy and Friend

Wally covering his Mouth

I took a little walk along the beach, needed to shoot a couple of pictures to show those of you who have not been to Florida or at least not to Fort Lauderdale what the beach looks like at this time of year. I hope you like the couple of photos...

Click on photos to enlarge!

Impromptu dwarfed by "Freedom", Nancy and Wally's "floating condo"

View from our Dock onto the Bahia Mar Marina

View from our Dock North onto the Intra Coastal Waterway

Ft. Lauderdale Beach, just a few Steps away from our Marina

Lots of Activity on the Beach and even more so in the Water

Ft. Lauderdale Beach, near us, looking South

Ft. Lauderdale Boardwalk
More Beach Activity

Pelicans posing for me

Seagull and Pelican, peacefully together
Pelican Posing
Tarpon, almost 5 ft long - right by Coconuts

We decided to stay here till early Sunday morning. The 17th Street Bridge can be opened upon demand on the hour and on the half hour. Thus, when we leave - hopefully - around 0500, we will "catch" the 0530 bridge opening and be on our way to Grand Bahama Island, an approximately 80 nm trip. Our refrigeration system was fixed yesterday - we needed freon. Now, it is nice and cool, good for our food and beverages. The electrician was there again, this time to check out our issue with the solonoid. He seemed to have found it right away. We were elated. But then, this morning, when I opened the solonoid switch, I heard a noise like a fuse burning through. Guess what, it did. Now we are waiting for Damien to come back and check out why the fuses keep blowing. Again, we used the microwave for our coffee water.

Juergen had a miserable night. He woke up around 0200 this morning feeling sick. He blamed it on the fish. Since I ate exactly the same thing he ate, and I feel absolutely fine, I think it was (still is a little) a stomach virus. How he got it, I don't know. He is starting to feel better. But then, it is already 1100. Hopefully, he will improve fully very soon so we can enjoy our "free day" today. Tomorrow, I will have to do laundry for the last time before our departure. We need to visit Customs - a new procedure for US boats leaving the country. We still need to do some provisioning, things we have postponed to the last minute to ensure freshness. Also, we needed the fridge to work perfectly...

Unless something special happens that will be worth noting, this will be our last update in a while until we find internet access somewhere in the Bahamas, not impossible but difficult as mentioned previously.