November 1, 2013... We're Back!

Five months without sailing -- the longest break we've had in 5 years. So, this is our story.

In May, we were in Belize. After snorkeling for a few weeks we went to Placencia, a sailing hub in the southern part of the country. Word of mouth was that this was one of the best places in the Western Caribbean. We stayed a week, kayaked, provisioned, ate in town, and wondered what it was that recommended this place. What was it that we were missing? It just didn't seem so fabulous. So, we were planning our next moves to Honduras, Providencia, and Panama, and just decided to can the whole thing. After 4 months in Mexico and Belize, we couldn't really see going further. We heard not wonderful things about the Honduran islands and though Panama looked beautiful in the cruising guides, the stormy weather and lightning seemed a poor alternative to hurricane season in the north. It was difficult and maybe crazy, but we decided to turn the boat around and head north again.

The hunt for the weather window began. We finally had one, but wow, the Yucatan Channel can be mean. Ended up with the worst passage we ever had -- incredibly rough; broke our rigging, bent our rail. Had to overnight in Espiritu Santo and jury-rig something so that we could continue on. Then of course the weather changed and there was no wind for days. So we motored to Florida, anchoring again at Big Pine Key. Hello America! So happy to be back. Then we had squalls and got stuck on the boat for days, but having had the miserable passage, we didn't care. We were safe.

In June cousin Debbie was getting married in New York and niece Lauren was graduating high school in Virginia. We thought, why not go? Let's celebrate with family. We may have been overly dramatic, but we really thought that last passage from Mexico would do us in. So, we got flights, booked a slip at Cooley's Landing in Ft. Lauderdale, and planned to spend time with Patti's parents in Delray Beach. We chugged up the New River, put the boat away, and made it to Renee's birthday dinner.

While Anhinga had LOTS of work done, we had our Virginia and New York journeys. It was mega-culture shock coming from Placencia, Belize to New York City. We soaked up every second, walking miles from midtown to the village and back, up the west side, visiting our brick at the Alvin Ailey school, seeing the Ailey performance at Lincoln Center, and of course the wonderful event of Debbie and Bill's wedding at the Essex House. So beautiful, great music, and the family all together. We were so happy we didn't miss it. The icing on the cake was back in Virginia at Karen and Ronnie's seeing little Lauren, the peanut, graduate high school. How is that even possible? Well, let's not talk about how quickly the years go by.

We took more 'shore excursions'. Once driving across Alligator Alley to the FL west coast with Renee and Irv, stopping in Ft Myers, Sanibel Island, and Bradenton, visiting the Ford and Edison estates, looking for wildlife that must have been somewhere else...hmmm, and seeing Les Miserables. We also took advantage of Anhinga being in the slip and went to two blues festivals -- one in Davenport, Iowa, and another in Daytona Beach. It was great to see bands we used to follow like groupies. And hear bands new to us too. Not having access to professional live music was one of the things we missed most when cruising. We danced for hours, saw places we'd never been before, loved it all.

Back in south FL, we spent some time taking care of ourselves, those medical appointments, new glasses, contact lenses, etc. Mass transportation was our friend -- the Tri-Rail system got us back and forth to Delray for stays with Renee and Irv, and the Broward county buses got us all over Ft Lauderdale (when we weren't walking MILES for exercise!). We saw John III a couple of times, once with Aleja, Sarah, and Evan too. It had been so long, and this was our first time meeting Evan! We also cheered for Jay and the Global Formula Racing team as it competed in Europe this summer, winning at the HockenheimRing. Yes!!

But we started to miss the water like mad. And, nights in a slip in a marina don't hold a candle to being at anchor. We needed to go. Finally, we got everything back together on Anhinga and planned our escape. In the dark, 6:30am on Halloween, we back away from the dock, went through the bridge openings on the New River, under the 17th St bridge and out the inlet, back on the ocean. Sails up, off we went. We didn't forget how to sail (our big fear after all that time) but we were rusty. Luckily the conditions were forgiving, we got our sea legs back, and in 6 hours we were headed into Lake Worth inlet after a fabulous sail (with some lift from the Gulf Stream!). Down the ICW and anchored at West Palm Beach -- one of our favorite spots. Ecstatic. We did it. We're home.

West Palm Beach: 26d42.143'N. 80d02.904'W