Frank's Blog - Yes, Finally
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Getting Ready to Travel - 19 February, 2016

We are getting ready to head north again.  It is still a little early in the season to go, but we have doctors appointments and work requirements
which mean we need to be in the Chesapeake Bay area by the beginning of April.  So, we are packing up the boat and getting ready to go.

Suzanne has gone through a week of testing and prodding, all to let the new cancer doctor say that she remains free of this scourge.  Every time
she goes in for one of these meetings, we both hold our breath.  When the news finally comes that everything is OK, the relief of letting out our
breath again is palpable.  This has been a particularly stressful appointment for two reasons.  First, it has had to be put off repeatedly as we have
navigated the rocks and shoals of finding a new doctor in a new state and all of the attendant support services (blood work, MRI, etc).  Secondly, a
good friend of ours passed away less than a week before the exam from the same cancer that Suzanne is beating.  She is one of the lucky ones
for whom the drugs worked, he was not.  The thing about luck is that it is a fickle bitch and you dare not count on it.

So, all of that is out of the way and there is nothing holding us in Vero any longer.  

On Sunday, when we had a rental car, we went to Wal-Mart and filled up on frozen foods and dry supplies.  We took on extra wine and water
bottles.  Suzanne packed the freezer to the point where the last item would not fit and had to be eaten that night.  We had dinner with Dwayne and
Carla, two former students who have become friends.  D and C left Tuesday morning, heading south.  I should have been jealous, but I am looking
forward to being back in Rock Hall.  Over the winter, I have learned some new tricks and tips for sailing and teaching; I am eager to try them out.  

We went in to the fuel dock on Wednesday morning and took on fuel and water.  We also paid for the last two weeks of our stay here,  
Unfortunately, there is a monthly rate and a daily rate, but no weekly rate - so we paid almost as much for the two weeks as we would have for the
entire month - almost, but not quite.

Full of water and food, we started getting the boat stowed and set up for traveling.  The canvas covers for handrails and winches come off and get
stowed below.  The gear in the lazarette gets taken out and the order reshuffled, so that the stuff we won't need for a while that has accumulated
over the winter - extra lines, mostly - get stowed on the bottom and things that we will need - like shore power cords and water hoses get shifted to
the top.  The gear that we will use to tow the dinghy gets left out and space for extra gear gets left at the top of the lazarette for stuff I have
forgotten to put away.  

I have taken up the extra fenders we leave hanging off the boat in Vero.  Here there is always the possibility that a new boat coming in will decide to
raft up with you.  Usually, this is when all the mooring balls are full with boats.  Vero doesn't turn boats away, there is always the attitude that there
is "room for one more."  I suppose if we ever got to three boats on every ball, it might be an issue, but we generally only see two boats.  Three
boats on a ball are usually people traveling together.  By the way, there is no discount for sharing a ball.  We are all in this together.

I am risking having someone come in and tie up without having my own fenders down, but it is a pretty safe risk right now.  Yesterday, as I went
through the mooring field in the dinghy, there were three or four open balls at noon (all but one were taken by the evening).  As it is, we are at the
very edge of the mooring field, near the bridge, so we get the bridge noise all night long.  It doesn't bother us, but we hope it deter others.

One thing the bridge does not deter is the pelicans and herons.  Our stern has become a modern art painting done in guano.  Apparently, during
the night the birds like to sit on our stern rail and use our transom as a potty,  Lines streak down the paint all the way to the water line.  This will
have to come off before we get underway tomorrow.  We can't go north trailing birdshit.

We will go in this morning for one last laundry load and one last shoreside shower.  Suzanne did a huge load of laundry on Wednesday, taking the
laundry ashore while we were on the fuel dock.  It meant bringing the clean laundry back in the dinghy, but since the laundry usually travels both
ways in the dink, this was actually easier for us.  That laundry barely got put away before we started generating more laundry.

One of the dirty little secrets of cruising (literally) is that we do not always shower every day or change clothes completely while moving.  If we take
a week to get from point A to point B, where A and B both have marinas, we will change underwear every day, take sponge baths every couple of
days and be wearing the same outerwear when we arrive as we did when we left.  We will hit the showers and change into clean clothes when we
get there, but the first half hour can be a touch ripe - and when we do wash those clothes, we have to beat them to get them to go in the washing
machine.  

The other thing we will carry with us is our trash.  While we try to minimize the trash underway, and we are not bringing any new trash onboard, we
have yet to figure out how to convince the dogs to hold it for a week.  Since they are both box-trained, they can and do go on the boat, but this
leaves us with the stinky pads that they use for their business.  It is sort of like traveling with two small children, still in diapers.  We can't throw the
remains overboard, so we hold it in a plastic bag on the far end of the deck, and every morning, I go back there and add the day's offerings to the
collection.  

This is not, by the way, one of those things you see in the glossy magazine ads for cruising or chartering.  Just sayin'.

Finally, Suzanne and I are both checking the weather forecasts.  While it doesn't look bad for travel on the ICW for the next few days, it definitely is
not a good time to go offshore.  That's not a problem for us - we're perfectly happy staying inside this trip.  As Bill on Ishtar said when he left on
Wednesday morning, we will be following the frost line north, so speed is not important (yet).  But, it does mean that we will have to time the tides
going through Georgia and lower South Carolina.  It may not be the fastest trip we have ever made, but it will be our trip and that is what is
important.

The one last point about this trip is that I will lose the strong WiFi signal I have had here in Vero Beach.  I will go back to having to pay for every
bite of data I send or receive.  Because of this, I may or may not be posting a blog entry for every day we travel.  I may have to wait until we are
near places where I can piggy back a signal out.  Hold your breaths, my readers, and I promise I will be back...if our luck holds!