Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Day after day has been blustery and cold. Grey skies with rain squalls. Hard to believe that we have now been here in Vero Beach for sixteen days and nights. Vero Beach has become double-sided Velcro Beach. Lots of jobs have been done and twice we have hired an AVIS car just to pick up stuff. Tomorrow we leave. We have to. Captain's orders.

The dinghy dock At Vero Beach Marina during peak hour traffic.

Spent more time with Chris and Duchess Dana. Chris celebrated a birthday in style at a great little seaside restaurant just south of Sebastion Inlet. Wonderful seafood and lots of it. Waddled back to the car.

Check out the " DOLLY WITH THE TROLLEY". We had done a bunch of shopping for the Bahamas but in staying at Vero Beach Marina, it has mostly been used. More shopping at Publix to make a super "Low-Country-boil". Excellent dinner and excellent company with the crew of "SVEA" and Dawn and Ron Hughes on their yacht "DAWN TREADER". They have been exceptionally helpful while we have been here.

Now here is a phenomena for you and worth double-clicking on. A small tree bursting forth in magnificent flowers, planted entirely in concrete mulch and being fed entirely by sunshine and the exhaust fumes of the passing cars and trucks in West Palm Beach. Now who said that stuff is bad for you....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


We saw the most awesome launch of the shuttle "DISCOVERY" last Sunday night, just on dusk. Astronauts heading into the dark regions. We saw the fuel cells disengage and fall back to Earth and only then did the Earth begin to rumble from the take-off more than forty miles away and much later the deafening sounds arrived. A real window shaker. Even after it was all over the vapor trail lit up the sky with a supernatural light, obviously a by-product of the explosive gases used in the fuel cells. (You really have to double click on these pics to see the power.)

So if you have ever wondered where all those grapefruits come from, let me tell you.... they come off the back of a big truck. A large conveyor belt puts them there. This lot is destined for LAKELAND, FL to be converted to juice.

We might as well wait here in Vero Beach for the "weather window" rather than in busy West Palm Beach. A strong front from the north has moved in with rain. When you stay for more than a week, VERO BEACH becomes VELCRO BEACH. It is hard to leave. There are many yachts here from up north.

(Double click on this rudder shot)

One of the jobs that needed to be done is to strengthen the top of SVEA's rudder stock. There were signs of old age (and I am talking about the rudder) so new stainless steel pieces were welded on both sides of the top cap. The 'before' and the 'after'. The ferns growing out of the side of a palm tree have nothing to with it. Nothing to do with anything else. They are happy just growing there.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


This marina is like Central Railway Station with yachts coming and going at all hours. Sir Tommy (THOMAS LIPTON) White, of WindDancer sailmakers has been sending us urgent emails based on the fear that if we spend too much time on shore there will be dire consequences. He is absolutely right. One of those consequences is the bleak appearance of my credit card. We have spent a week at Vero Beach Marina taking care of air leaks in the diesel system on SVEA, cleaning out the diesel tanks, installing a new exhaust section, installing a new wind-generator on SVEA and cleaning out bilges, adjusting clutches and gears, installing a new depth sounder and tonnes of small odds and ends. It was for all of us, LOVE, but it soon became LABOR and in the end fell far short of LABOR OF LOVE. Tomorrow we tackle replacing two shrouds with broken wires. More fun up the mast. On the plus side there are wonderful showers and a great dinghy dock with sometimes more than 30 dinghy tied in a long row.

(Double-click on the pics to enlarge them)
The view from high up is great, looking down....not so much.

The woman with her arm draped around me is Michelle Murphy, holder of private and commercial pilot licences and currently becoming an aviation instructor, who now lives and works in Vero. She is also a wonderful warm-hearted person and the daughter of Joe and Cindy Murphy from N.C. who helped us so much in getting SVEA ready four years ago, to bring her to Jacksonville, FL..

Now well you might ask, what does all this have to do with a diamond. ......

Well, yesterday Tony Shiver proposed to Lauren Reynolds, The Queen's only daughter, who accepted breathlessly. You see, Tony proposed on top of the Hart Bridge during their "River Run" event, a big national 15 km long distance running event held in Jacksonville...... Exhausting, hot and sweaty..... He couldn't get the words out, being out of breath, and neither could she for the same reason.. I guess a nod is as good as a "YES". Lauren Anne while carrying that big rock still managed to finish in the top 10 percent of all the women runners. Tony, much relieved and lighter in the pocket finished unplaced......... you do the maths.

Love and congratulations to both of them. The QUEEN and I approve.

Monday, March 9, 2009


THis section of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is incredibly beautiful with clear water and many spoil islands. These islands, now covered in plant growth, were built out of the dredged material when the ICW was dug out to a depth of 12 feet. In many places, this is no longer the case, as we found out, but nevertheless the scenery is picture book stuff and each island is a little paradise for peeps and birds alike..... Oh, to be a kid again and be able to explore each one and build little hideaways.....

Of course, some peeps bring their own little make-believe hideaways with them, picket fences included, and line them all up in a row along a beach and live out their dream. All of them with wheels on, TV antennas rigged and power connected. They all bring lots of fishing rods and boats to enjoy the beauty of it all. Double click on the photos and you'll see for yourself.

We have made it as far as VERO BEACH MUNICIPAL MARINA where we are rafted up three boats deep on a mooring buoy. A beautiful tranquil anchorage with great facilities. Even the bus into town doesn't have a set fare. It works on whatever you want to throw in the jar. Need to suggest that to the IRS or somebody. Here we will stay untill problems with SVEA's exhaust and air getting into the diesel fuel line have been taken care of. We are also going to put a wind-generator on SVEA's mizzen mast. This is in line with the new President's policy of energy self-sufficiency. Not sure if there is a rebate in the offing on this one and we won't wait for it, but it should allow SVEA to generate enough electricity to keep the battery bank charged as long as the wind blows.

Called AVIS, HERTZ, BUDGET, THRIFTY, ENTERPRISE, and one other for renting a car in the morning in order to pick up stuff and there is not a car to be had for the next five days. They wouldn't even put me on a waiting list. Going to try U-HAUL tomorrow to rent a truck. Now if all the trucks and vans have left town too, we have a much bigger problem than a recession...... we have an exodus.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Long sessions of motoring down the ICW got us to MICCO where the Queen's sister, Duchess Dana and her husband Count Christopher have a gorgeous house on the water. Doors were open for us after anchoring both yachts behind one of the spoil islands in fairly shallow water, though not as shallow as the sand bar that both Arita and SVEA ran onto only a mile before getting there. SEATOW came to the rescue and towed us off, then proceeded to tell us exactly how big the sandbar was and which direction it runs. Got the impression that we definitely weren't the first to go aground there and that this sandbar is good for business.

Caught some pelicans and egrets trying to get in a little "shut-eye" after the morning's fishing expeditions. Would have gone a lot closer if I had been upwind of them. Powerful stuff that guano. Would make a great anti-terrorist ingedient. Would make a great anti-anybody ingredient. Saw banana trees with baby fruit on the Sebastion River bank and knew that real warmth is on the way.

Things are looking so much better when blooming hibiscus, azaleas and bouganvillea can be found.

The "Queen's" daughter drove down to see us for the send-off at Micco. Caught then just as the farewell tears had been wiped away. We still have such a long way to go before we can be this close to my kids and now grandkids in Australia.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


It became neccessary to put out an all-bulletin call on the VHF radio calling, " ALL STATIONS, ALL STATIONS, WOULD THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR TAKING THE GLOBAL WARMING PLEASE RETURN IT ". It is hard to believe it is still so cold in March with nights below zero.
Now isn't this the perfect sign for a cruising couple. Couldn't help myself, just had to pose for that one. Meantime the "QUEEN" has been complaining about the growing callouses on her right hand and she is left-handed. We finally worked it out. Get ready for this one......... Pumping the toilet. Who knew cruising could be so much fun.

We are now anchored at Mile marker "45" 'New Smyrna', a beautiful little community on the blue water entering from the ocean at Ponce Inlet. Strong tidal flows but beautiful clear water. "SVEA"s gear shift finally gave out and this time the bullet was bit. We installed a whole new throttle and gear shift mechanism. Amazing what can be done with just a drill, bolts, nuts, some metal flatbar and an angle grinder.

Deep in the bowls of SVEA's engine and gearbox area, the new Morse control cables are attached that will allow the mechanical gearbox to be operate by a single lever control instead of the sixty-six year old foot, hand and mouth contraption. Yes, you use your foot to push the gear lever into reverse, your hand to push it into forward gear and you use your mouth to swear each time you do it. It had to go, despite its vintage appeal. It still is hard to believe that SVEA went twice round the world with this set-up. When we finally pulled it apart we found the teeth basically missing from the splines on the gear shift. They could well have broken in the Indian Ocean,.... who knows?

Two whole days to get it done. A very kindly "Seven Seas Cruising " member Charles Adams of the yacht " FREEDOM II", from New Smyrna, took us to South Daytona to help get the various parts and then long morning walks to the nearest "ACE Hardware" only to once again discover the beauty that is Florida and to see spring bursting forth. There is hope for warmth after all.

'SVEA' is equiped with a 45 HP diesel engine. A "WAUKASHA 180 DLC" Now if you go to the Midwest there will be a few oldtimer corn farmers who will tell you..... " Yes, I remember those engines well. We used to call them ' WALK ASHORE' for you just never knew." So far the engine has performed remarkably well since leaving from North Carolina and other than sixty-six years of accumulated dirt in the fuel tanks, the engine should last many more years.

Tomorrow we motor for eight hours to TITUSVILLE FL, very close to Cape Canaveral, where tomorrow night there will be a lift-off of the latest space rocket on a mission to explore the 'Milky Way". It shouldn't be too difficult to navigate to the "Milky Way" for we can see where that is from right here. Its not like its staying between the markers in the ICW, now is it?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

THE FUN'S BEGUN.......................

We said that Corina's and Joel's "Baptism" was of a different kind. The wind has been over 35 knots and the temperature on the water has been below zero. That makes the "Baptism' more like "Murder/Suicide". We are now anchored about 5 yards out from the ICW just south of Daytona and the morning sun is once again shining on SVEA's hull. The learning curve has been fast and furious. Everything from groundings, to fuel blockages, to beacon-to-beacon navigation to anchoring in changing tides but they are standing up to it incredibly well. Champions sailors in the making. This is the sort of stuff that no course can teach you. You have to go out there and do it. Just "NIKE" it.

The four bridges are in Daytona, FLORIDA where this week is "Bike Week". Thousands of bikes, mostly Harley Davidsons are in town for a very noisy 'black leather parade'
The trip down the ICW was cold but fascinating. Incredibly big houses sometimes next to a trailer park on the next lot. And if you want it all why not a huge house, a power boat and just for fun throw in a vintage ocean-going tug boat just to keep you busy. Joel & Corina being tested once more on a half-bridge opening in Daytona.