Sunday, May 2, 2021

Rounding Key West

We're rounding Key West now. It's been a calm cruise so far but it's spicing up as we turn east south of the Keys.

Here's our POD (Pic Of the Day) so far...

Mother Nature was resting and gave us a quiet sunset at sea.

My view on moon or boats, just quiet seas and sky and radar.

Looking a bit bumpier for the second half of our trip, I'm happy we have Jim with us, and scopolamine patches 😉

Friday, April 30, 2021

And we are off!!

Finally! After a long hiatus, Blossom is on the move. We depart tomorrow with the worthy destination of Maine! There will be stops along the way...

If you want to stalk us - please do! - then there are a few ways:

Use our AIS. Always on, though the destination setting is likely to be vague. There are two major AIS tracking websites. Here are direct links to Blossom on both of them:

If you have a different method, our MMSI is 367614140

We also have a Spot Tracker which we try to keep active by giving it a shake now and again. Our latest tracks can be found here:

It's supposed to update every hour but can be a little"spotty". Heh.

Steph has declared an intent to post a pic of the day here (and/or on Facebook) so to restart the tradition:

Last minute provisioning.

We're performing final boat checks and making ship-shape before heading out first thing tomorrow!    

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Stuart to St Pete

Storms over Stuart

We ended up having a great few days in Stuart. One of the highlights was a visit from friends, Todd and Mai, whom we met several years ago on a dive trip in Indonesia. Over the years we’ve kept in touch on FB and have both moved from CA to FL. It was wonderful to reconnect!
Originally, we’d thought that we would stay in Stuart until Tuesday or Wednesday, letting Alberto clear through, the wind/seas calm down, and the lake come up – then we could decide whether we’d go through or around Florida to get home. But then we had a very serendipitous encounter and we found ourselves fleeing Stuart on very short notice!

Sunday evening Martin and I took advantage of 20 minutes of rainlessness to enjoy a brief happy hour on the flybridge. While up there, some folks came walking by and introduced themselves – they were from St Pete and one gentleman, Mark, is a friend of Jim’s as well. We got to talking and he told us that he’d just come through the lake and that there was plenty of water but that there’s a railroad bridge on the east side of Lake Okeechobee that’s going down for repairs. He was told that passage through would be challenging to impossible over the next couple of weeks. Whoa!! I’d read on the Waterway Guide that the Ortona Lock was undergoing repairs in a week or so and would be down but we still had plenty of time to get through before that. I’d heard nothing of the Indiantown RR bridge.

Monday morning we called the bridge and sure enough, we were told to “come through today or be prepared to wait hours to try to get through once work starts on Tuesday”. Yikes.  Martin and I aren’t the best at spontenaity, we like to have a plan and try to stick to it which, unfortunately, doesn’t work well with boating in general. But we managed to come to a decision and act quickly – it was helpful to have Jim with us too! We wanted a mid to rising tide while going up to the Stuart Lock and it happened to be high tide when we made the decision to go so we had to act fast if we wanted to catch a falling highish tide. We managed to return a rental car, check out of the marina and cast off within 45 minutes – we’re so proud!

The rest of day couldn’t have gone better! We made the first lock just as it’d released folks to the east side and passed right through -raising up 14.6 feet

Entering locks

Unhappy reptile in the lock!

Then we got to the infamous RR bridge and it was open so we passed through there. Indiantown Marina wasn’t responding to phone calls or the VHF so we figured we’d tie up to the dolphins at the Mayaca Lock. We got there around 3:00 and they were just locking a few boats through coming east. It was pretty blowy but we figured we could push on and make it to Roland & Mary Martin’s Marina before nightfall so decided to keep going through Lake Ochechobee. And the lake was It was pretty windy and as NOAA said, it was “moderately choppy”. We had, quite literally, black water spraying up over the bow and all over the boat for a few hours. B needed a good rinsing when we got in. Amazingly, it didn’t rain one bit the entire day which we were happy for – we’d been worried that we could have gotten hit with a squall that day.

Looked like a big ol’ milkshake!

We arrived at Roland Martin’s around 6:30 and tied up to the dock. After attending to Blossom for a bit (nasty dirty) we cleaned up and enjoyed dinner at the restaurant there.

No, none of us had the gator for dinner 😊

This morning we awoke to welcomed, sunny blue skies, it was nice to have the break. We weren’t sure where we’d stop for the day, again, thinking we could pick River Forest, La Belle, Calusa Jack’s or Ft Myers depending on our speed, weather and dockage availability.

River Forest

We played a sort of “eye spy” game as we cruised along through Florida. Our tally was: 1 hawk (who flew very close by the boat and was gorgeous), several cows, herds of horses + a donkey, 1 bald eagle, several osprey, anhingas, 2 raccoons, 1 wild turkey, 2 turtles, 2 manatee, 1 live gator sunning, 1 live gator swimming, and 1, I kid you not, enormous headless gator body being eaten by half a dozen buzzards!!  It must have been killed by a propeller?  

Ft Myers

We made incredible time and found ourselves arriving into Ft Myers around 5:15pm. The municipal marina had space for us so we decided to stay there for a night or two. The marina is right next to downtown and we were well protected on the inside dock. We’d definitely stay there again. We weathered a rainy gray day and then woke up to blue skies and a calm wind on Thursday – a perfect day to go home!

West coast of Florida

Mellow trip w/ Martin on watch

The trip up the coast was largely uneventful. Seas were wonderfully calm and somehow we managed another transit day with no rain or storms. My first engine room check I did notice that we were low on hydraulic oil. A bit of searching and we found the starboard stabilizer cylinder was leaking. Martin locked the fin and we continued on – the seas were calm and we didn’t really notice we were down a stabilizer.

St Pete in the distance – almost home!

By the time we arrived in the bay it was dead calm and amazingly beautiful. The water looked like velvet. The best thing was that we were in and tied to the transient dock at 11:55pm so we made it back to St Pete in May – if only by 5 minutes 😊 

What a morning view!

The next morning we had our inspection (to get our permanent slip assignment. We gave B a thorough wash down and moved to her new home. Et voila!

Blossom at the fuel dock (thank you Diane for the photo!)

Blossom in her new home

The trip was a bit of a frustrating with the rainy, windy weather but it was great to be back aboard and to get Blossom back to Florida. We can’t thank Jim enough – he’s the best and we so appreciate his help getting us home!

And now it’s summer time… Blossom will spend part of the summer in St Pete and part in River Forest while we’re traveling (River Forest is our hurricane plan for the season). It’s only a 36 hour trip so we can bring her back and forth as weather permits.

Boat Business: A few leaky issues:
  • The sump pump for the condensate on the AC compressors is leaking a little bit. Another task for St Pete.
  • The fresh water faucet on the foredeck has a slight leak.
  • The starboard stabilizer cylinder has sprung a leak. We lost a bit of oil on the trip up. We spoke with an ABT tech and he'll be coming Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Charleston to Stuart, FL

We’re getting closer to home, one passage at a time, one storm at a time!

While we love Charleston, we'd spent a rainy week there and were itching to move on. I’d been glued to the weather and there were early warnings of a possible tropical disturbance developing in the Gulf later in the week. So we decided we should leave and get further south even if the conditions were a bit bumpy. And they were! We left Monday morning and pushed through beamy/head seas – conditions which make Blossom hobby horse. Conditions varied over the 52-hour passage as we crept along the coast with it calming down significantly the last 8 hours or so. No one got sick though and having 8 hours to rest between shifts was a God-send. I even managed to take a shower and only bruised one side of my body 😉

A Brown Boobie took a rest on our bow the first evening. He spent an hour grooming his feathers and I think he was planning on spending the night. Unfortunately, we turned a bit east and it got too bumpy for him to hold on.

Very pretty bird

When we left, we weren’t really sure where we’d be stopping, just that we wanted to make it to Cape Canaveral or further south.  We decided to stop in Stuart though we probably could have gone another half day to Ft Lauderdale. Part of the reason we stopped in Stuart is that we’re eyeing Lake Okeechobee. It’s possible to cut through the state through the lake if it’s high enough. That would cut our trip short by about 250 miles and we wouldn’t need to wait for the seas to calm down after the storm… It looks like we might have made the right decision – the lake has been coming up every day and central Florida is looking at getting 6-10 inches of rain over the long weekend. (Yikes!)

Sunset Bay Marina had a slip available for us which was great – I was worried it would be hard to get a slip over the holiday weekend. I think we got lucky as the marina is pretty darn full! It’s weird being back in Stuart – we lived here for 7 months back in 2014 while commissioning Blossom and haven’t been back since. We ended up arriving at dead low tide and were warned off passing through the crossroads area of the ICW. So we dropped anchor and waited for the tide to come in. After chatting with Sea Tow and a couple boats passing by we decided to drop Petal and do some sounding.

Martin and Jim checking depths

By now it was mid-tide rising and the guys saw plenty of water. We passed through with 1.5 under the keel at it’s shallowest. Boating in Florida is an exercise is navigating shallow water!

Going through the Roosevelt Bridge – just ahead of some wet weather!

We’ve never stayed at Sunset Bay though we’ve eaten at the restaurant there several times. It’s a pretty marina and it’s just a 5 minute walk into the cute downtown area from there. We pulled in to a dock filled with Nordhavns and Krogans and bumped into our water maker technician and later, the commissioning manager who commissioned Blossom.

As usual, we're enjoying one of our favorite aspects of cruising - the community! We passed by a Nordy on our way down here from the west coast of Florida and had a great chat on the radio. Then we met an awesome couple on another Nordy here at Sunset and found we had a number of cruising friends in common... It's such a small community of friendly, interesting people!

We’re happy to be here and able to ride out the weekend in comfort. The storm has in fact developed into a subtropical storm and is currently the first named storm of the season - Alberto. Hopefully it won’t strengthen beyond a Tropical Storm before it hits landfall on the northern Gulf coast. With crazy rainfall expected throughout Florida, we’re assuming the lake will be nice and deep by early next week when we hope to cross.

Boat Business:
  • Our 9k gen died on the passage down. Martin found that a breaker had failed. The same thing happened in 2014 so we had a spare.
  • Jim replaced the filters in the air handlers and sneezing seems to have lessoned on board. I’m still finding yellow dust in nooks and crannies…

Sunday, May 20, 2018


I loved being in one of my favorite cities again! 

We exited the inlet at Beaufort around 1pm, having left our anchorage at 6am. The first half of the passage was bumpy but thankfully it calmed down for the remainder of the trip. It took us 28 hours total.

Martin taking us out of Beaufort

I was disappointed that even with a patch on (scopolamine) and an electric pulse/acupressure bracelet, I still suffered from sea sick symptoms. They were mild - headache and lethargy but dang, I really hate that this happens.  We all took 4 hour shifts so it was really nice to have 8 hours off. It just happened that I got the 4-8 shift and then realized I got to see sunset and sunrise – the perfect shift!

Sunset over NC

We caught a fish! 
Our bow is 10 feet high, he must have come aboard on the first half of the trip 😊

Blossom performed like the champ she is. We had no issues at all. We traveled in comfort with the gen on and AC running – we had so much spray coming over the bow and hitting the windshields that we figured any open doors or portholes were just going to leave the boat coated inside from the salty air.

We got in comfortably ahead of the front and settled in for a few days. Check out our neighbor for the first few days – Aviva. Man oh man she’s a big girl. With a squash court inside apparently!

We took a couple photos as she spun around on her way out…

We enjoyed spending some time in Charleston, eating at a couple great restaurants and enjoying some down time after 7 days of moving.  Now there’s a slight break in the weather and we’re heading out to get as far south as we can before another front starts up the coast of Florida. We’re hoping to run until Thursday and make it down to Ft Pierce or Palm Beach before the seas pick up and get snarky.

See you in Florida!

Boat Business:
  • We have a minor leak in the 20K generator strainer. It’s minor so we’ll deal with it down in Florida when we can get a hold of some o-rings.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Through the Chesapeake and on to Charleston

*Spoiler Alert: I didn't get this blog entry off before we left the inlet at Beaufort. We're safely docked in Charleston and very excited to get a good night sleep tonight. More to come next post!*

We’ve had a really pleasant journey south through the Chesapeake. The first two nights we anchored out along the western shore of the Bay.

Gorgeous Sunset outside Solomon’s Island (anchored with another Nordy!)

On day 3, Martin noticed some water in the bilge and a quick search found the pump which cools the hydraulic system was leaking. It wasn’t a terrible leak but we’re planning on being off shore for a while so anything to do with stabilizers is a priority! A quick call to ABT (the stabilizer folks) and we had a pump overnighted to AYB where we were planning to stop for the night. What great service!
We got docked at AYB, took on 700 gallons of diesel, pumped out, and then settled in. AYB was pretty busy – the northward migration in is full swing.  We’ve seen dozens of folks headed north but no one else is heading south. Salmon swimming downstream as it were…

A few boats waiting for the bridge – all northbound

That night we had dinner at Vino, a great Italian restaurant across the street from AYB.  We got back to the boat just in time as a beautiful storm came through. Look at those clouds!

Pretty stormy sky, I couldn't stop taking photos

The rain was welcome as the pollen is insane around here. We hoped the rain would rinse the yellow haze off of Blossom and knock it a bit out of the trees. I’m sneezing noticeably less today so I think it helped.

In the morning I road my bike to the store to do a little more provisioning. The pump came early so Martin and Jim installed it and we were all done with our chores by noon. And so…off we went. It was a quiet day down to Coinjock. Martin was even wearing his shirt when we arrived! Have you ever heard of Coinjock?

Not many people have 😊

Boats at Coinjock

Coinjock is best known for cheap diesel and excellent prime rib. Our tanks were full but Martin enjoyed the prime rib.

Osprey on their nest

Beautiful views

Saturday morning we were up before dawn and off the dock at 6am. It was a long day for the guys driving through the swamps. We picked up some deadly looking insects that beat against the screens trying to get in. The horse flies here look like they could chomp off a big toe. One got into the boat, took 5 electric shocks with the fly zapper and lived to tell about it. Yikes!


The view along the Pungo Alligator Canal

After another long day, we anchored just off Pamlico Bay. We enjoyed the view and discussed our next move…

A beautiful evening at anchor!

The reason we’ve been moving right along and not stopping to smelling the roses is that we’ve been watching the weather, hoping we could catch a window to Charleston. We’ve decided we can as long as we push on and get out of Beaufort early afternoon today. The seas aren’t my favorite (just call me Sea Sick Steph) but I put a patch on and have my fingers crossed. The system coming in is going to lock us in for a few days and we’d rather be “stuck” in Charleston, one our favorite cities. We’ll also be a bit further down the coast where we’ll have a better chance of sneaking out more quickly once the front has passed through.  

This morning was spent prepping Blossom for the passage. It’s been so long since we’ve been off shore! We tied down our fender boards, cleared the decks and stowed the deck furniture. I have curtain rods set in the fridge and coozies on my glass bottles… Here we go!
See you in Charleston…

Boat Business:

  • Pump leak. The pump which cools the hydraulic system began leaking en route to AYB. ABT had a new one to within 18 hours. Pretty slick! We’ll rebuild the old one and keep it as a spare.
  • Transformer issue. The boost function of our isolation boost transformer failed (meaning we couldn’t hook up our 2nd 50amp cord at the dock to get AC). Martin was able to bypass it so it wasn’t a big deal. We’ll add that to the “to-do” list for when we get to St Pete.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Blossom is out of hibernation!

Blossom at the dock at Pleasure Cove Marina

It’s been 8 months since we (quickly) put Blossom up in storage at Pleasure Cove Marina. We were anxiously awaiting Hurricane Irma’s exit so we could get back south to check on our new-to-us 94-year old home and wait out the rest of our first storm season as Floridians...

Blossom in her corner of the shed with Martin on the bow

It was a long ride down to the water

We have splash-down!

Well the winter flew by in a whirl wind of friends, golf, pickle ball, parties, guests, renovations and general awesomeness (we love our new home and home town!) We also spent some time deciding what to do with this year’s cruising season and came to the decision that we should focus on our land home this summer. We’ve bitten off a big project and are making good progress but there are many (many, many) decisions to be made, it makes sense to focus in and hunker down and get her done.  Once we have our house squared away we’ll be able to return to warm season adventures on Blossom. In the meantime, we'll be able to explore the west coast of Florida a bit and keep up on maintenance issues... With that priority set, the decision was made to bring Blossom south to St Pete this summer. We were thrilled to learn that the St Pete Municipal Marina has a slip for us and that we’ll be able to keep Blossom close by (walkable) to home.  

So here we are, afloat again in Maryland, heading south. We’ve enlisted the help of our friend and former training captain, Captain Jim Mobley, to assist with the trip. We’d like to get back to St Pete by the end of the month (weather and boat spirits willing…). That means we won’t be stopping to smell the roses much but will try to push through to make good time.  

Returning to Blossom felt like coming home and in my anthropomorphic imagination, I could feel how happy Blossom was to be back afloat with family aboard. Pleasure Cove is in a beautiful location, tucked way up a river in the Chesapeake. There are dozens of swallows living under the docks who chatter happily all day and zoom around the boats (and through the cockpit). There’s a resident osprey and several turkey buzzards lazing around the area.

We splashed Blossom last Tuesday and were pleased to find that she was fit and happy. We had a few minor issues to deal with (see Boat Business below) but nothing out of the ordinary. The week was spent provisioning, cleaning, checking systems, prepping and getting into boat-mode while enjoying the gorgeous Chesapeake surroundings.

Martin and Jim played with the drone and got some nice photos and video!

I got to play too 😊 I ran off for a long weekend to attend a reunion in Chicago – and was able to see Hamilton! (A must-see for sure – what an amazing show!!)

This morning we headed out at mid-tide rising and began our trek south. It’s a beautiful sunny, cool day on the water. There seems to be an osprey on every marker pole and it’s pretty darn ideal. The idea is to run down the inside to Beaufort, NC and then make the rest of the trip off shore.

I’m looking forward to the next few weeks. With Jim on board, there’s less pressure for me to drive on the inside and more time to cook so I have several new recipes queued up for the trip.  It’ll be nice to be off shore, and off line for a while as well. Forced detachment and the calm that accompanies it will be welcome 😊

Boat Business: Blossom seems to have fared well in her heated winter shed. We had relatively few hiccups returning to the boat (so far, don’t mean to jinx ourselves!) Keeping her warm and dry under cover was definitely a good idea.

  • We returned to a shiny, gorgeous boat. Gary and his team did an amazing job and she couldn’t have looked better when we got here.
  • Once in the water Gary’s team did a half-day deep clean to get the (amazing amount of) dust cleaned out of the interior.
  • Two days of open windows then coated the entire inside of the boat in yellow pollen so she got yet another half day wipe down :/
  • Replacing engine coolant. We seem to have leaked about 5 gallons of engine coolant over the winter. We think a loose hose clamp was the culprit. Martin tightened it up, added coolant and she seems to be running fine.
  • Once in the water, and still in slings, we check the bilge. We found 3 areas of very minor water ingress – the HVAC raw water intake strainer, wing engine raw water intake strainer and one of the through hulls to the keel cooler for the main engine. All tightened up and taken care of.
  • Systems checks: All passed with just a couple of (media) exceptions that we can address in Florida.

o   One Direct TV box died
o   The salon radio is silent