Thursday, January 24, 2013

Friday is Here, oh my!

Friday dawned clear and sunny (I know, enough about the weather already).   I  put this day aside to tidy up the boat, gather our stuff and start to think about moving off the boat and heading home.  In a typical Scarlett O'Hara moment, I said, "I'll think about this tomorrow" and that's exactly what I did.  Instead, I primped a bit for my lunch with Laura.

We headed into downtown Stuart for lunch al fresco - a great little restaurant with a Mexican flair.  Patient friend that she is, Laura accompanied me on my determined search for a T shirt and whatever else for Tucker.  Let me tell you, Stuart is definitely not overrun with stores for children.  We eventually found a store where I bought a cute T shirt and hat for my little angel.  Laura and I giggled as we tried very hard to remember where we parked the car.  Since we were chattering while parking, very little attention was paid to where we were.  Stuart is such a great town - everyone greets each other, cars slow down, store merchants like to chat and there is a wonderful variety of great shops.

In what was getting to be a habit, I picked up my book after being dropped off and before our cocktail/dinner guest arrrived.  To give you an idea of how voracious my reading has been this week, I was down to the last 20 pages of a 650 page book by this time - mindless fiction, but great boat reading.

After cocktails, we headed to Courtine's, one of Stuart's best kept secrets.  Our friend was well known there, so we were shown to a great table and treated like visiting royalty.  Over 2 hours later, we managed to leave the table and head for the boats.  I was determined to soak up as much of the water, boats, night sky and stars that I could on our last night in paradise.  The last night aboard is always a difficult one to bear.  Try as I might, it's hard not to think of the crazy days ahead where I zip around all day and put in 14 hour days trying to fit everything in.  Life aboard is slower-paced; very few things need to be done at a set time on a specified day.  That in itself brings a remarkable sense of freedom that's hard to describe if you haven't experienced it.

It's Beginning to Feel Like Home

By Thursday, the captain and I have fallen into a wonderful routine - I can really get used to this lifestyle.  We are being taken to lunch to a beachfront restaurant where seafood reigns.  There is something magical about sitting in this glorious restaurant, far from our usual hustle and bustle, enjoying a wonderful lunch with friends.

The sun continues to put on its best for us - warm temps, blue skies, a cooling breeze...need I go on?  While enjoying our morning coffee, our dock neighbor walked by wearing a backpack.  Upon closer scrutiny, we saw his Yorkie Sailor, inside the backpack.  It had a solid bottom and mesh top so Sailor could catch a breeze and look out.  They were both returning from their haircut appointments.  I love to see folks enjoying their animals and taking them everywhere.  It seems that "boating" animals are as laid back and adaptable as their human owners.  I tell you, it's all about being near the water that brings out the best in everyone, animals and humans alike!

After lunch, I took care of some marina business while Tom headed back to Serenity.  She doesn't like being alone too long when we're in town, so off Tom went to keep her happy.  I decided that since we'll be returning to the hectic pace of our New York lifestyle all too soon, we should spend the balance of the day with our respective books.   Serenity is the one place I actually sit still for a decent amount of time.  I pulled a footstool out of the salon, turned up the music, got a cold drink and settled into my comfy deck chair with my (very good) book.

Eating out nearly every night gets old after awhile.   Since Serenity's freezer was still bursting, Tom offered to barbecue on the flybridge.  We had a simple dinner on the flybridge and took in another magnificent sunset.  Back to our books, some TV, star gazing and bed.

Who couldn't celebrate life in these surroundings?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Life is Good!

Wednesday, January 16

Somehow it's already Wednesday, but it's a beautiful Wednesday.  Our now favorite ritual of enjoying coffee in the cockpit is the morning's highlight.  Even throwing a load of laundry in is no big deal.  Of course having a washer and dryer on the boat makes that chore no big deal.  On For Us, when I had to haul the laundry, the detergent, dryer sheets and a gazillion quarters up the dock, it was a big deal!  

It's so interesting to see how people live in a marina.  A family of 6 lives on the sailboat across the dock from us - parents and 4 boys ranging in age from grade school to college.  One son is headed back to college tomorrow, while the other 3 skateboard and bicycle up and down the dock on their way to and from school.  The mom baked cookies for us this afternoon and brought them over.  Am I dreaming?

This afternoon Laura is taking me to her tennis club for lunch.  There is a pro ladies tournament going on there this week.  Women from all over the world are here for the tournament, trying to accumulate enough points to move up in the world of ladies pro tennis and hopefully make it to a spot in the Open.  When we drove into the club's entrance, I couldn't believe my eyes - how beautiful is this????

Everyone looked happy.  Many volunteers were running about, while the spectators enjoyed the games.  Laura and I headed towards the restaurant, but after seeing this view, I just had to share it with you.

How did I get so lucky that I'm a guest at this beautiful club, overlooking palm trees and a pool framed by a brilliant blue sky?  I'm sure people nearby are whispering, "Why is that woman over there  pinching herself?  Oh, she's from New York", and everyone nods knowingly.  LOL

The way out is as beautiful as the way in, so just one more picture for you...

Oops, a bit out of order, but you get the picture (no pun intended).

Today is a day of relaxation - no cocktail or dinner plans - well, someone dropped by to say hello, but nothing planned was happening.  The captain and I enjoyed the afternoon sun, read and dozed (well, he dozed.  I'm not much of a dozer).  To continue this leisurely pace, we decided to have a little barbecue.  Nothing more than burgers on the grill, but watching the sunset from the flybridge was better than dinner in a 5 star restaurant.  I think I can live like this every day and never get tired of it for one second.   I know folks say that vacation does that to you, but life aboard can't possibly be dull.

Later on, I actually watched a movie in the salon.  I don't know what it is about being on this boat, but I am a different person when aboard.  Maybe the name of the boat is meant to impart serenity to a person who is seldom serene.  Maybe it's the beauty of sky and water, friendly people and not having to be somewhere unless I want to be there.  Not sure if it's any one thing, but whatever it is, I am one serene and happy person!

Taco Tuesday

Tuesday, January 15

Okay, I'm probably boring you, but we awoke to yet another fabulous day!

Today is the weekly Krogen breakfast at Key West Diner on US 1, not far from the marina.  By 8:10, Tom and I were heading to our car for the short hop to the diner.  When we arrived 5 minutes later, the room put aside for us was nearly filled to capacity (I found out later that there were 39 of us).  I was thrilled to see some folks I met at the Rendezvous and introduced Tom to everyone I knew.  We saw the person who sold us our first Krogen For Us, and finally met the couple who bought her (now known as Serenity's little sister).  That was a happy reunion.  We each got up to briefly introduce ourselves and our boat and share our travel plans (we stayed quiet on that one).  There was a lot of gasping and laughing.

 I'm meeting Laura and another friend for lunch at the beach this afternoon.  Looking through my closet for a cute sundress, I couldn't help but think that next week at this time, I'll be looking in my closet for a cute sweater.  Enough of that kind of thinking.  Live for the moment!

Soon I was dashing up the dock to meet Laura.  Off we sped to the beach and Shuckers for lunch.  For those of you that live here, I know the sight of turquoise waves breaking on a talcum powder beach is no big deal, but for those of us from New York, seeing this sight in January is a dream come true.

We had a wonderful lunch, great conversation and just enjoyed being in the sunny, warm moment.  Since Laura had to get back to work, Karen offered to take me around.  For the next couple of hours, "around" is where we went.  Our first stop was to the famous Mrs. Peter's Smokehouse.  Nearly every restaurant worth its name in this area carries Mrs. Peter's smoked fish as an appetizer.  It is normally served with carrot and celery sticks, sliced jalapeno peppers and these wonderful salty crackers.  I order it every chance I get.  Karen and I sampled every fish available - I settled on the spicy mahi mahi and smoked whitefish.  Yummy!  As an aside, these 2 innocent containers of fish caused an uproar at the airport Saturday.  I was determined to have Mrs. Peters smoked fish at home, so I packed them in a zip-loc bag of ice cubes and put them in my carry-on.  The alarms rang as the bag went through the X-ray machine.  Next thing I knew, someone called over someone and then many "someones" were peering into my bag.  When they held up my treasure, no one knew what to say.  Someone tried to explain that my fish exceeded the 3 oz. of liquid allowance.  "But they're not liquid", I protested.  I was told that they were "spreadable".  If they were macaroni salad, not a problem.  Since I couldn't believe I was hearing something so lame, I stood fast and asked for my fish.  Guess how I got that fish on the plane?  Had to be patted down.  After the pat down, the TSA person had to run her gloves through something to make sure my fish weren't laced with explosives.  In this case, the means justified the ends - the fish are happily living in my NY fridge.

Our next stop was the produce market.  It was incredible to see huge strawberries and blueberries -  grown in Florida.  I picked up locally made tortilla chips for the next group of folks coming for cocktails this evening.  I'm used to seeing fruit and veggie stands out on eastern Long Island during the summer, but to see this abundance of fresh goodness in January was a sight to see!

Not done yet - next stop was Total Wine (also my 2nd trip there since Sunday).  Had to stock the wine larder to entertain our new friends.  There we met Lisa who helped us navigate the awesome selection of wine from everywhere.  After looking through a mind boggling selection, I settled on a few reds and whites that I thought would have mass appeal.  Now we're done Karen and I chorused.  Holy cow, a bit after 4 and folks coming at 4:40.  The captain will be more than wild-eyed by now I thought.

I raced down the dock (remember we're slip B21 and the numbering starts with B1) to find the captain indeed wild-eyed.  He was more wild-eyed when he saw my arms stuffed with "stuff".  Without giving him a chance to say anything, I flew past him into the galley to prepare the "snacks".  I must admit, it was a nice spread.

We were happily eating, drinking and chatting when another Krogen person came by on his bike to ask if we were planning to participate in Taco Tuesday.  Oh wow, we almost forgot!  Everyone sprang into action to put away our spread.  Off we dashed to the Santa Fe Cafe, which is within walking distance of the marina.

I was delighted to discover that Taco Tuesday meant that tacos were $2 each and Coronas were 2 for 1.  Twelve of us crammed into the restaurant (we had to split up a bit) and had a wonderful time.  The tacos were not the best I ever had, but the company (and Coronas) more than made up for the mediocre tacos.

This is a fun loving group.  Doesn't matter what is served, as long as the company is good - and good it is.

Magnificent Monday

January 14, 2013

Another gorgeous day in paradise!

The captain and I enjoyed our morning coffee on Serenity's aft deck in brilliant (warm) sunshine.  As we planned the day, we kept getting interrupted with hellos and waves to passing dock neighbors.  This is one of the friendliest marinas we have ever stayed at.  Everyone wants to know how long we're staying, where we're cruising, etc.  They are all visibly shocked when we say we're leaving Saturday, still working, not cruising anywhere special til the summer, etc.  Their shock reminds me to get going with Plan A.  More on Plan A in the future.

Our social schedule here is not too different from being home, but better!  As I was getting dressed, Laura called to re-arrange our lunch plans for the following day.  After hanging up, I thought, wait, I'll bring lunch to her instead.  Back on the phone to re-arrange the day again.  This time, we settled on me picking her up at the office and going to Panera for a quick salad.  Even eating a salad outside at Panera is a wonderful adventure.  The operative word here is "outside".

After dropping Laura off at her office and parking the car at the marina, I decided to take a walk along Stuart's RiverWalk into downtown.

What a pretty walk.  The walk begins at Sailor's Return, the restaurant adjacent to the marina; one section goes into downtown Stuart where the cutest shops and restaurants are located.

 I meandered the streets, stopping in many shops to chat with whomever wanted to chat (that's a shock).  Stuart is small town, but rich in the arts, parks, theater, restaurants, shops, etc.  You can actually walk around since cars are limited and don't try to run you over.

...and just pretty things to look at.

After several hours of shopping and chatting, I headed back to the marina.  The office looked so pretty in the sun, and so tropical, I just had to take this picture...

By the time I got back to Serenity, Tom was looking a bit wild-eyed.  I had invited a couple we had just met for cocktails.  He was worried I had forgotten and that he would have to become the host(ess) with the mostest - LOL.  We both forget that this place called Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, FL moves to a different beat than the one to which we've become indentured servants.  If folks say they'll come by around 4:30, that means 4:30 or 5 pm - no big deal.  Our company arrived at 4:40, I had snacks and drinks ready and - let the party begin!  We had a wonderful time getting to know each other better and enjoying each other's company.

After cocktails, it was off to dinner in downtown Stuart with another couple.  We feasted on freshly caught dolphin (not real dolphin, but mahi mahi) and local produce.  We shared a bottle of wonderful Montepulchiano - we were happy!  The restaurant was crowded for a Monday, but we were reminded that this is the height of the "season" in sunny Florida.

Walking back to the boat (this time we remembered the code to the gate), Tom and I can't help but think that life is indeed very, very good.

Spectacular Sunday

January 13th dawned like one I've not seen since 2010 when we were aboard For Us at the Harborage Yacht Club here.  It felt like Christmas morning (when I still believed in Santa Claus)!  The sun was so bright, you couldn't go out on deck without sunglasses.  After breakfast al fresco (is there any other way to have breakfast on such a day?), the first order of the day was to head for provisions - food and the liquid kind.  Since men don't shop well, not even for their favorite spirits, I hopped in the car and found my way to a lovely Publix and $200 later, headed to Total Wine, a panacea of a wine store.  Before going to the wine store, I wanted to be sure it was open.  I had to ask 3 people before getting the answer I was looking for - "yes".  It was a bit dicey trying to appear nonchalant at 9:45 on a Sunday morning asking about an open wine store.

Mission accomplished, I headed back to Serenity with what turned out to be 2 wagon loads of food and spirits.  That's the one inconvenient thing about shopping and boats.  In our case, the lot and boat are about a 1/4 mile apart.  Not only are the lot and boat far apart, but the marina shares the lot with Sailor's Return, a lovely dockside restaurant.  Due to its fabulous location, the restaurant is busy from brunch through dinner.  Luckily for us boaters, the marina and restaurant owners work together to ensure parking for everyone.  This little yellow certificate was our ticket to happiness all week.

Once I secured a parking spot, I had to first walk to get the cart, then load it up in the parking lot and make the trek to Serenity.  After handing the bags to Tom, I headed back up the dock to the car for load 2.  This load included a very heavy carton of bottles in addition to several more bags.  After CAREFULLY handing over the box and bags to Tom, back up the dock I headed to put the cart in its place.  Whew, only noon and I was in a full sweat!

Today we entertained a couple we had met at the October Rendezvous.  This is a football-crazed group, so instead of chatting in the breezy cockpit, we sat inside and cheered on our favorite team.  Tom made us dinner aboard - pasta since it was Sunday.   Doesn't matter where we are, it's pasta o Sunday!  Something I rarely get to do - reading, then up to the flybridge to end the day with a magnificent sunset.  Actually, the couple who was aboard called me to remind me to watch the sunset.  I'm so glad they did - and understand now how Sunset Bay Marina got its name!

Each morning I wrestle with myself - stay in bed an extra 1/2 hour or get up to watch the sunrise?  At the end of the day, the battle still rages on - stay up late and enjoy the soft Florida night and the way the lights reflect on the water, or turn in at a reasonable time in order to get up and watch the sunrise.... round and round I go.  By mid-week I compromised and did a little of each.

 There's always a way to have it all in my book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We're Here!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tom and I arrived in sunny Stuart at 10:30 am.   Since Tom is a long-time Hertz Platinum member, our rental car was brought to us right at the terminal curb.  Great - less time to waste before we could be on our way to beloved Serenity.  Within 15 minutes of landing, we were in our air-conditioned car (yup, we needed the A/C) under sunny, 80+ degree skies, heading to our much anticipated destination - Sunset Bay Marina!

Tom and I chatted about our upcoming week aboard as we passed the now familiar scenery.  Pretty soon we were turning off the exit for Stuart and heading for the marina.  We pulled into the lot, jumped out of the car, grabbed our few bags and headed for the dock.  What a welcome sight this was!

By noon, we were in shorts and T-shirts and checking over every inch of our girl.  Satisfied that she was pristine and shiny, we headed to the marina office where were greeted like old friends.  We took care of our check-in and headed back for an afternoon of reading, relaxing and just enjoying being on our boat again.

Since we were up at 4:30 am, we headed to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner.  The sun hadn't set for too long before we called it a day.  We had an idyllic week waiting for us.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Belle of the Ball

As is customary whenever Serenity is in town, there is always a lot going on around her.  I'm sure our B dock neighbors at Sunset Bay Marina wonder if we have money to burn (we certainly don't).

Our caretaker, Laura and other dock neighbors have taken it upon themselves to report on all activity related to the care and feeding of Serenity.

Since we left her a month ago, she has been cleaned inside (including having her 2 showers not only washed, but waxed).  I don't think I ever heard of waxing shower stalls, but that's what we (she) got.  Our maintenance person has been aboard more than several times to check all her post-trip systems (he hasn't stopped raving about her "innards") and perform all her routine PM -  and yesterday, the outside cleaning crew was trying to find things to wax on her already gleaming hull.  While we were in Stuart laying out our marching orders for Serenity's care, the outside cleaning person finally burst out, "but I don't see any scratches".  You and I know he is right, but there is no arguing with the captain when it comes to all things Serenity.

Our caretaker (an aeronautical engineer) has been taking his job very seriously - he visits our girl at least 2x a week and scours every inch of her at each visit.   He too is amazed at how meticulously she is cared for - and he sees a lot of boats.  His reports have a lot of exclamation points.

I almost hate to go aboard and live on her and create little dust bunnies.  But no worries, as soon as we leave the inside cleaning crew will descend on Serenity once again - brushes, wax and other stuff at the ready.

We are now in countdown mode for our trip to Stuart and beloved Serenity.   A whole month without seeing her and being aboard has not been easy to deal with.  I've looked ahead at the 10 day forecast to see if some stupid snow might dare to delay our trip.  Snow apparently got the message and decided not to interfere.

I'm looking forward to updating you on our trip and adventures.

Oh one more thing - thought you might like to take a peek at Serenity's future captain - he's growing in leaps and bounds.  Tucker at 19 1/2 months is gorgeous!