Keeping Busy In Fort Lauderdale

Forgive the delay in posting. It has been a busy week, and I am just catching up. We have spent the week here as usual, visiting friends, running errands and provisioning and doing boat projects (yuck). We rented a car, to do our usual Home Depot, West Marine, grocery store, etc. stops, in addition to some pre Bahamas appointments.

First up…an International Health Certificate for Howard. We went to a local vet, who listened to his heart, and deemed him healthy. Either that, or Howard’s hissing and open-mouthed panting deterred him from further examination. Either way, we have certificate in hand, and are good to go!

Next, we went to our “appointment” with Customs and Homeland Security here. There is a “Local Boater Option” that you can apply for, allowing you to call into customs when arriving back into the country, versus physically going to an office. This would give us more options of where to come back into Florida. We could enter the keys without stopping to find a customs office, or having to come into Miami or Fort Lauderdale first.

Finding the building was the first challenge. They do a terrific job of hiding it, no number or sign on the building, and no signage leading up to it, along the road. We did pretty well, only having to do one u-turn. Once inside, we were told that each of us had to have an online application, something that I did NOT find on the site, and I searched and searched. Applications can only be done online, of course, so I got out my phone, and started searching for the form.

The agent was nice enough to wait for me to complete the form and get a confirmation number, so that we could still both be approved. We were expecting our “appointment,” with some kind of interview. Instead, once the agent saw my online confirmation, he handed us each a card with our name and a number. Done. Now when we’re back in U.S. waters, we just have to call a number on the card and give them our name and the number that was assigned to us. We expected it to be a bit more thorough, but are glad that it went so quickly, and that we are now “cleared.”

Now it was onto the usual stops….Our West Marine visit was like a sightseeing tour! Scott had been to the Fort Lauderdale location when he was here buying Sea Life, and was anxious for me to see it. It is HUGE…like a Sam’s Club!

The departments here are so large, and the amount of in-store stock amazes Scott. Very little is actually kept on the shelves at locations in the Baltimore area. More often than not, Scott has to have whatever part or supply we need brought into the store for pick up. I couldn’t believe the things that were here, that are not offered in any of our stores at home. Not even the “larger”ones. I am now even more sad for our Canton location in Baltimore.

We also hit Sailorman, another marine consignment store (or as the sign says, a “new and used marine emporium”). Scott plundered around inside, again lamenting that he didn’t have access to a place like this while doing our refit.

I was again amazed at all of the stuff..

While I did a run of Walmart, Target, Petsmart, etc., Scott surprised me by painting the decks himself. A small area against the pier still needs to be painted, but we can do that at anchor, when we don’t need to get on and off on that side. The paint needs several days to cure, so we need to keep foot traffic to a minimum. What is done looks sooo clean and nice!

We met Mark at Outdoor world, where he helped Scott choose some fishing rods. (we hope to catch a lot of free dinner over the next few years!). Afterward, we went to his house, where Shannon grilled us up some great food while Mark and Scott put new line on the reels.

Mark also passed along some of his older fishing equipment to Scott, and purchased some lures for him. We now have a good start toward catching our dinner. I’m sure that Mark, the fishing guru, will be on speed dial for emergency help and questions. Thanks SOO much to him, for all of his time and help!!

We also caught up with our friend, Mike Efford. When we traveled south in 2008, Mike was living on a really cool tugboat named Mi-T-Mo. He traveled back and forth between Baltimore and Hollywood Florida, spending winters down here and summers in up north. He was a great host to us when we were last here, and we have kept in touch since. Mike is a retired Maryland pilot (Marine, not airline. They come aboard large ships, and navigate them into the harbor) and a wealth of knowledge. We have enjoyed spending time with him over the years.

Mike picked us up and drove us to a great Irish bar for dinner. After a meal and extensive boat chat, we went with him to meet one of his boating groups. They were having a meeting at a nearby restaurant, and we got there just as it was ending…perfect timing! We had a few drinks and met some of the group, and then Mike chauffeured us back to our boat.

Here are some photos from the past week, including more of both West Marine and Sailorman!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Our Week In St. Augustine

We have spent the last week on a mooring ball in St. Augustine. When we passed through on our way south in 2008, we had a great time, and wanted to stay longer this time around.

We arrived on Monday afternoon, checked in with the dockmaster and relaxed for the evening. On Tuesday, we cleaned up the boat and prepared for a visit from our friends Larry and Lena. Scott found Larry two years ago, on an online trawler forum. He and his wife, Lena, have been living aboard and cruising on Hobo, another 42′ Krogen. They have a paravane system that Scott wanted for Sea Life, so he flew down to Jacksonville, Fl. and drew up plans to install our paravanes based on Larry and Lena’s. He hit it off with them, and has kept in touch over the last two years.

Scott met them onshore, and brought them to the boat by dingy. We spend several hours visiting, and exchanging boat information. We also picked their brains for cruising tips, as they have spent years circumnavigating the globe, visiting 46 countries! After our visit, Scott and I walked through town, and stopped for happy hour at the White Lion…1.25 draft beer!

On Wednesday we rented a car, and had another day of errands and store stops. While we had a car, Scott wanted to locate Sailors Exchange. A marine thrift store that he’d heard was in the area. We searched online, and came up with an address that led us to an industrial location, full of stuff piled everywhere

Scott poked around a bit, and then we found out that this was a warehouse for the actual store, which was just a few miles away….so off we went. The store was unbelievable. Before we even got inside. Scott spent time in the vast amount of stuff they had outside in the parking lot

We made our way inside, to sensory overload for any mariner or boater. Scott had a hard time taking it all in. We wandered through the place for quite awhile. I couldn’t believe all the things they had in there…even a reading room!

After our field trip to Sailors Exchange, we pulled up to a load/unload spot in front of the marina, loaded all of our stuff into a dock cart, wheeled the dock cart to our dingy and loaded it in, took the dock cart back, took things to the boat and unloaded, put groceries away, dingyed back to the dock and car, and returned rental car…..whew! We shared a grouper dinner and drinks at OC Whites, right near the marina, and then headed back to the boat for the evening.

Thursday was boat day. We stayed onboard and worked on various jobs and projects. On Friday we stayed onboard again, due to a strong cold front that passed through, bringing steady 25 knots through the mooring field all day. The howling of the wind, and the constant chop of the water became really unnerving, but we reminded ourselves that this front was keeping Joaquin at bay. We’d rather be tolerate this, than dealing with 130 mph winds; we watched a six hour miniseries.

On Saturday, we met my friend, Kevin, for lunch. He’d met us in Fernandina Beach, and had time to drive down from Jacksonville again, which was great! We had lunch, drinks and fun conversation, and then he headed back north, to retrieve his dogs from day care, before they were locked in for the night. Thanks so much for taking time to meet us twice, Kev!

Scott and I continued to wander around St. George Street, and ended the day with pizza from Pizza Time. If you are in a 50 mile drive of this place….GO! The pizza is amazing! They make their own sauce, and are very generous with the fresh toppings. Along with a slice of white and a slice of margarita, we also tried eggplant and lasagna!

Yesterday we met Larry and Lena again, for lunch in town. We shared burgers and a few hours of conversation, before they headed home. Thanks to them as well, for  making the drive to visit us!

We went back to the boat, so I could do a load of laundry and hang it out to dry. Then we headed of for a walk across the Bridge of Lions, and to the Conch House. We’d seen an ad for it in one of the local magazines, and it looked interesting to us. After leaving the boat, and getting to shore, we realized we’d left our phones onboard, with the directions on how to get there. So, we went back to the 1980’s, and just figured it out as we went!

The Conch House has great atmosphere, their website doesn’t do it justice. They have a restaurant, dock bar, hotel and marina. A lot of attention to detail was put into it, and the place has a great feel.

It was Reggae Sunday, which is what drew us there. They had good drink specials, and the beer was cold (for those of you who know me, that’s a big deal)! We spent a few hours listening to the music, watching the crowd and wandering around admiring the details.

Before it got dark, we walked back to town and went back to Pizza Time for more pizza! We had a few slices for dinner, followed by some gelato, and then ordered a whole pizza to take back to the boat with us. It’ll make for yummy lunches, while we make our way farther south this week! The thing weighed a ton. It was too big to fit in the box, so some of the crust was folded over! We walked it back to the marina, took our dingy back to the boat, and prepared to head south in the morning.

Here are the photos of our week in St. Augustine. Boaters will enjoy the additional pictures of Sailors Exchange.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”