Firefly Cabin

Firefly cabin. that kind of has a ring to it. I think my new site will be fireflycabin.wordpress.com. Let’s see if anyone has it.

Dana

Baraga, MI

We are living in my parent’s motor home parked next to their cabin. It is a bit bigger than the boat. Sam is living inside my parent’s cabin in the loft. We are actively looking for some new digs. We like hanging out with the parents, but need our own space. We are tripping over each other over here. Real estate up here is limited. Our choices are either prefab, custom, cabin or modular home with or without land.

I have scored a job! I will be working as a clinic nurse with about 50 minute commute one way. Not ideal, but at least it is not Houston traffic. Actually there is no traffic, maybe I will pass 5 cars during my beautiful drive with Lake Superior on one side and trees and small towns on the other. David is patiently waiting for Halliburton’s HR to contact him so he can start earning money. As it stands right now, I am the top earner in the family, something that hasn’t happened since we were initially married. That means I get to make all of the money decisions for the family. Watch out! I just bought a pink fishing rod and reel. The reel even lights up when I spin it. Those fish will be too busy laughing to put up a fight.

The skid steer guy showed up today to clear our property. The guy actually let David drive the thing. It was pretty cool. It was a bit depressing seeing the trees getting pulled down, but I quickly got over it. Sam cut some saplings with his hatchet and then towed them with his new bike back to the cabin. We burned brush yesterday and on into the night. Mom and I had marshmallows around 10:00 while the men slept on the couch watching the hockey game, darn Penguins. David bought a chipper to help get our land cleared, there is so much. There are some problems with the chipper. Apparently, the three antique tractors that my dad has are pretty unreliable. David, of course, asks me every day if he can buy a new tractor. The answer is still no!

Well, I am back to work. No more vacation for a while. I am a bit sad that our sailing adventure is over, but living with David is always an adventure.

Final answer?

Alright, here it is, the next stage in our lives. Some of you will say that David and I are gluttons for punishment. Let’s see, first we will get rid of all of our worldly goods and quit our great jobs and go cruising. Then, we will explore the Bahamas on a small sailboat. Now, we will move near my parents and build a log cabin in the woods in Baraga, Michigan. Obviously, there are some great things in there along with the difficult stuff. Man, we do like to test ourselves and our relationships. Sam will go to public school in the fall. I am in the process of looking for a job and changing my nursing license. David has a great opportunity at Halliburton, telecommuting, hopefully.

We owe some of this decision to our good friend Andrew. We went up to see he and his wife a couple of weeks ago in Phoenix, MD. David was telling him about the plan to build up in the UP (Upper Peninsula) someday and Andrew asked, “what are you waiting for?” David and I looked at each other and couldn’t come up with a good answer. We decided to go visit my mom and dad from Baltimore. After getting there, we realized that this was a good time for the building of the cabin. Every thing just clicked. I had a few job contacts in only a couple of days. We called the family (esp. Chelsea) and looked for approval of the new plan. Chelsea was cool with it, even though we seem to get further away from her. David’s mom and sister weren’t too surprised, they knew we were thinking of doing this someday. My parents seem to be excited. Chris (my brother) and Rebecca (his wife) are very supportive (now they only have to travel once to get their family obligations done).

So that is that. We will see how long we last up in the UP. Until the next adventure….

The voyage to Charleston, SC

We made it in approximately 60 hours from start to finish. We left the harbor/marina at 0430, coffee in hand and feeling pretty good about ourselves. It was blowing around 10-15 kts from the East with some leftover swells, but not too bad. David is itching to get up the main and has asked me a couple of time to help him get it up, but I plead for him to let me finish my coffee. Finally, I relent and get up the main. It doesn’t look right (even in the dark), so I go put on the boom vang. It still doesn’t look good so David went up there and really yanks on the boom vang, but the sail still looks wrong. It turned out the boom was not attached to the mast, the pin had fallen out! David came back to the cockpit to report the problem. I remembered that after we arrived in West End during the clean up of the deck, I found a washer and thought “this is bad”, but didn’t investigate, bummer. David turned the boat around. We both think the show is over and we are going to be stuck in West End. Then we get our senses back and I go below to find a spare pin or bolt so we can improvise. I find some suitable replacements, get my head lamp on, clip in and go forward. While I am working, I just happen to look down, low and behold, I find the original pin! I am beyond excited! I put it in and we are saved! The voyage continues….

The wind never shifts throughout the day like forecasted, but it does build. The swells are pretty significant, but not too bad. We got into the stream and flew. Auto (pilot) got an 11.7kts for the all time speed record. The shifts we agreed upon were, Dana 7p-10p, 1a-4a, then get sleep whenever possible during the day. David was 10p-1a, 4a-7a, then whatever. Sam filled in when he could. Of course when my shift started at 0100, we are still flying, lightning was everywhere and thunderheads in front of us. I was a little nervous (ok a lot nervous). I had never driven in a storm before, at night, in 20kts of breeze. I imagined that when we got to the storm it was only going to get worse. I was correct. Auto is still driving, which was good and bad. Having it drive was good in the lightening because I wasn’t touching metal when/if we got struck. Having it in the storm was a bit scary when the puffs hit from crazy directions. Thank goodness for the boom preventer (it stops the boom from jibing/tacking when we don’t want it to). It starts pouring, the wind is blowing around 30kts, I am huddled in the cockpit just watching the numbers go up (speed, etc). I decided to take the wheel, not the best plan as it turns out. We get a huge puff and I steer a little too far down. The boom tried to come over and whack the boom stops. I drive up a bit to alleviate the problem. David comes rushing up, the rain has slackened. I turn Auto back on. The lightening is all around us. I asked David to hang out with me, I was really freaked. He helped calm me down and pick holes in the storms. We made it through and he went below to get more sleep.

The next day the wind shifted to the south as predicted, no wait, a few hours later shifted to NW. Minimal rain, minimal breeze and motor on. Easy day, sleep when you can, relax and wait for the miserable night. I even heated up some chili that I made prior to leaving. Hot meals are very comforting. Night came and everything was fine until my shift, of course. We get the radar going on XM weather and see that there are two very large storm systems going eastward south of Charleston. Hmm, that happened to be right where we were! We tracked the storm every 10 minutes. Things were not looking good. We were scheduled to arrive to Charleston at dawn, but this storm looked very scary. We ended up skirting the two storms and got drizzled on and cold. Then the fog set in. We waited outside of Charleston fearful of ships coming out in the fog for about 30 minutes. We talked to our friend Mike (a pilot) who said go NOW (he was monitoring the radar too). We also needed marina directions so we called up JoAnn for help. She got us in touch with her boss, who gave us brilliant directions.

We got into Wapoo Creek and there was one bridge we had to get opened prior to getting to our marina. Of course, it opened at 11:30, that meant we had to wait for 30 minutes in the now pouring rain with very dark skies ahead. We waited and waited, finally we went through. We arrived at the marina, got dry and had a lot of rum.

Our good friend JoAnn let us camp at her place for a few days and lent us her car. We explored a little and ate/drank a lot. It was good to be back home in the U.S. of A.

Gulf Stream Crossing… back to reality

Here we go back to the land of the employment and responsibility. Even though it will be nice to have an income again (hopefully), I will miss our new Bahamas friends, sun, water and white beaches. I am looking forward to seeing our family and friends, long hot showers, and cheap groceries.

The Eleuthras were pretty Bahama-like. We loved this tiny anchorage in Alabaster Bay and a resort called Cocodimama (mama’s baby in Italian). We went there for lunch and ended up staying the night. I figured out that I like resort living. We kept going up the west coast of Eleuthra all the way to the Glass window. Winslow Homer depicted it in a famous painting so we had to check it out. It was not awe inspiring, but an interesting land feature.

Janet and Vincent Ruder came for a visit while we were in the Eleuthras. We had crappy weather, but a wonderful time. Spanish Wells was a unique place (dry island), very interesting. We anchored near Rio Dulce and had a great time on and off the island with them.

We are preparing for our Gulf Stream crossing tomorrow. I need to go get gas, water and ice for the trip. David went to go look at a boat for a friend that happens to be in Freeport. Sam is working on a couple days school, since he will not be able to during the crossing. We are not sure where exactly we are going to hit land (weather dependent), but we are aiming for Charleston, SC. It looks to be a 3-4 day trip. Hopefully, we will get enough sleep and food. There are about 10 boats leaving the same day as us, but everyone has a different destination. Daisy may try to get to Charleston also. It will be fun to buddy boat.

We are spending Easter with Chelsea in College Station. She will be completing her RCIA class and becoming a full fledged Catholic the day before Easter. Joey Krafft is sponsoring her and is organizing a beautiful day of celebration for Chelsea. Most of our family will be there, but I am especially looking forward to seeing “my girl” again. It has been tough being away from her during this tough transition for her into “adult” life. I am proud to say that she is figuring it out, on her own, slowly but surely.

Rum Cay and beyond…..

David diving

David diving


We went from Clarence town to Rum Cay. Rum Cay was spectacular. The southern anchorage, not so much, in fact, it kind of sucked. The day trip to town was nice. We had a lovely walkabout. But then the suckage happened, as it usually does, when we went to bed. We had SE swell from the depths of hell. Our boat rocked so hard, I thought we were going to capsize or break something. I got no sleep what so ever. It was miserable. We moved the next day to Flamingo bay at the northwest side of the island. It was a treacherous anchorage, but well worth it, not much swell at all. The coral heads/reefs were 6-8 ft high, above the waterline at low tide and they were numerous. Numerous, hell, they were everywhere. We were surrounded! This made for a cool anchorage since we didn’t need our dinghy to explore, we just jumped off the back and went to the nearest head. This is where we saw our first real shark (not a nurse or lemon). The fish and lobster were huge. David was ready to kill something when I pointed out the shark. He decided to call it a day. He did shoot at a lobster (the size of Sam) right between the eyes but didn’t even scratch the surface. We overheard a conversation on the SSB that Sports Illustrated was doing a photo shoot at Rum Cay the next day, but decided to head out to Conception Island instead of sticking around. David and Sam were a little disappointed.

On our way to Conception we discussed which side of the island we wanted to anchor on west or east. There was a front coming in soon and the wind was going to shift from SE to NE. We wanted to make sure we weren’t on the west side, when it shifted, inevitably, in the middle of the night. So we anchored on the East side and unfortunately the front didn’t come until the following day, once again, suckage. After it finally came the anchorage was quite pleasant. We met the family from Socia (never figured out the meaning). David and I had a big day, dinghy trolling for the first time, saw dolphins and osprey. David caught one and a half fish (one half was eaten by a barracuda). Even after sharing with the barracuda, we had enough fish to share with Socia.

Sweet

Sweet

We raced Socia (fast Catamaran) all the way back to Georgetown. Ok maybe only for an hour or two, until they kicked our butts. Our motor gave out (clogged fuel filter) when we got into the harbour and we sailed onto the anchor (loads of fun tacking thru 180 degrees close to 100 boats). There were over 300 boats in Georgetown, way more than when we left a month prior. We hooked up with old friends and made new ones. Charlie and Lizz were finally there! We had a fabulous time hanging with them.

Mike McGagh came in to visit for a couple of days. David and Mike had to get their liver enzymes checked due to major abuse. Mike earned his keep by cleaning out the head intake while snorkeling in the clear water around our boat. Mike and David attempted to hunt and fish with Dick, Brian and Scott, but got skunked.

Sam enjoying his day.
Sam shares a birthday with one of the kids from Rio Dulce (AnnMarie), same exact date. So MaryAnn and I planned the day for both kids. Sam woke up with the kids singing happy birthday to him while serving him green eggs and ham/turkey (Ham was unavailable). We retaliated with our special birthday song to AnnMarie and nearly drove her to tears (probably our singing). We had a day of games and cake and ending with a bonfire to end all bonfires. It was fun and I’m sure Sam will remember it always.

We also participated in some of the “regatta” events. Kid’s day was a very big deal. We helped set up a “field day” kind of thing for the 4th and 5th grade of the local school. My friend Gayle (s/v Priority) and I co-led a team of 5 kids. We had to come up with a cheer. Our color was red, so naturally the kids came up with Red Hots. The kids had fun. We weren’t supposed to stress the competition, but our kids won every event (how do you like them apples?). We watched the boat parade with the kids. I was very impressed with the manners of these kids.

There was a Texas Hold ‘em competition that David and I signed up for. The buy in was $8, which was a little steep, but with 88 players, the pot was nice and big. David, unfortunately, went out early. I got to the final table of ten. I got 8th place and a bottle of wine. It was nerve racking, but exhilarating. I think I have found my calling.

We left Georgetown at the beginning of Regatta week on March 9th. We said our tearful good-byes to the cruising families we have been hanging with for 3 months. It was pretty sad, but hopefully we will have a reunion soon. We departed Georgetown headed for Cat Island (NE). It was an easy day with plenty of breeze and moderate seas, i.e. nobody got sick. We stayed at a marina (Hawk’s Nest Marina), in the south tip of Cat Island. It was so nice to have hot showers (I even had two in one day!). We were able to use the bikes laying around to tour the area, which was good exercise. Sam and I used the marina’s kayaks to voyage the creek and collect more treasures. After two days of spoiled marina life, we headed up north to find food and tour the hermitage (see picture). After running out of money and being unable to find good food, we headed out for Little San Salvador. LSS is a tiny island owned by the cruise line Holland America. It is set up nicely for the thousands of people to descend. It is almost theme-parkesque. Sam and I checked everything out after the cruise ship left. They had horse trail rides, roped off swimming areas with trampolines, lawn chairs for days, art shops, massage tables overlooking the bay, etc. We only spent the afternoon there and left the following morning at 0700 when two cruise ships pulled up. And now we are in the Eleuthras, Rock Sound to be precise.
Beautiful sunrise at Hawk's Nest Marina

It is almost over. Our cruise of the Bahamas is nearing it’s end. We will keep going up the Eleuthras to the Abacos to the States. We are hoping to be in the States by the end of the month. South Carolina will be the furthest up the East coast we will get. Then where? We will figure that all out by the end of April, hopefully. Our house will be still rented until October, so we have some options to consider.

Back in Long Island

Me with Spike
After a week or so in the Jimentos, we are back in Long Island, but on the east side this time (Clarence town). We had a harrowing off shore crossing that started off very nice, but ended poorly. We are safe and the boat is fine, but it was scary from around 2-8 am. The winds stayed around 20kts the whole night. While we were going east in W to NW winds the cruise was wonderful. We then turned the corner around Long Island and beat into 6 ft wavess around midnight. Now we are tired and have only 20 miles to go, but we need to make sure we enter the harbor during daylight. David thinks motor sailing would be a good idea. The motor dies around 12:30am, fuel filter clogged….again. We only have one more filter by the way. So David and I tag team, I get the tools set up, he does the dirty work, so we can limit the time below decks. The waves are killing us. Sam is sleeping through all of this. We get it done, motor works, David nor I puke. We continue with squalls hitting us every once and a while. During my driving time around 4:30, I decide to tack, without waking David. Let’s just say my judgement wasn’t very good. Luckily I didn’t break much. As the sun rises we are feeling a little more relaxed even with our hour sleep. David pukes after he turns on the motor. We make it to the somewhat difficult harbor entrance and the motor dies…wow. We get Sam up and get lines tied to cleats. When within a hundred yards of the marina entrance, David turns on the motor, I drop/sort the main sail, Sam monitors the fuel pressure, then I throw the lines to the dock master (thank goodness he was there) and we arrive with style.

Here is a video I took of the nice part of the passage. David threw his hat into the cabin and claimed that it went all the way into the forward head. Sam disagreed. The name “Parker” is said a lot as a family joke. Enjoy. ok it will take me a while to figure this out.

One of the reasons for this bold maneuver of this passage with cold fronts bearing down on us was that David was out of Pringles. I think we are going to rename the boat “more pringles”. The Jimentos although beautiful, had very limited provisions in only one island at the southern tip of the chain. This was the first time in the Bahamas we couldn’t just go to the store if we ran out of something. It was what I imagined the trip would be like from the beginning. We learned a lot. We were truly roughing it. We also were running out of fresh water. So we bit the bullet and made the 22 hour crossing for Pringles and water. We are fat and happy now. We are staying at the Flying fish marina, having hot showers every day, using unlimited electricity and have reprovisioned thoroughly. There are more cold fronts coming so we are staying here for a few more days, oh darn.