Dear Cubs,

We are at a marina today and tomorrow.  I thought going to a marina would be fun because some of them have swimming pools, but now I understand why we go to marinas.  We work! 😦 When you are docked at a marina, it means doing laundry, cleaning the heads (bathrooms), shaking out rugs, pumping out holding tanks of waste, refueling, getting water in the water tanks, charging all our electronics, and fixing broken things.

This morning I helped Mrs. Little do our laundry.  Then this afternoon I went with Captain James into town to buy a new battery charger for the boat.  I forget that we don’t have a car to drive.  Unless it is really far away, we walk or catch a bus.  Today we walked…all 1 ½ miles to West Marina and 1 ½ miles back.  Of course I can’t complain because I was riding in the backpack. J The captain was tired.

Tonight we are going to watch a movie.  Well, they are.  I have to go to bed because the movie is rated PG-13.  I guess I’ll read until I fall asleep.



Riding with Capt. James

Riding with Capt. James

Laundry Day

Laundry Day

Dinner Key Marina and Refrigerator/Battery Problems

April 26, 2013

Yesterday afternoon we decided to go see a movie while we were on “land” for groceries.  After a quick scan of the movies at the 18 screen Regal Cinema, we decided to see “Oblivion” with Tom Cruise.  Even though I hadn’t heard of it, none of the rest sounded interesting, and Tom Cruise is always nice to look at!  It was an action packed sci-fi flick that was entertaining, and James was happy with his popcorn.

After the movie, we ate pizza at Pizza Rustica which was recommended by the Murdoch’s.  The pizza restaurant is located in the Lincoln Pedestrian Mall which was a fun place to eat.  The tables are outside so we could people watch while we ate and drank our wine served in little plastic cups.

Our last stop before returning to Ragtime was to buy the rest of the groceries we needed.  I had to do a spin through Whole Market just to look, although I did buy two loaves of their breads-Banana Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Orange Walnut.  Walking two blocks, we finished our serious shopping at Publix.  By the time we got to the dinghy, it was dark.  I was glad I remembered flashlights.  It was a peaceful ride home in the moonlight.

The weather has been wonderful the last few days…little or no humidity, low 80’s and nice breeze.  We have slept under the sheets with no fans-just the wind scoops bringing in the nightly breeze.

Anchored in Sunset Lake at sunset

Anchored in Sunset Lake at sunset

Today we left our pleasant anchorage at Sunset Lake and motored to Key Biscayne.  As I was cooking breakfast, I noticed that our refrigerator/freezer was not working.  We have a cold plate in our refrigerator box that freezes to keep everything cold.  If I put things next to the cold plate, it will freeze.  I noticed that the ice cubes were melting and the chicken that had been frozen was thawing.  And I had just restocked food last night!!!  James found someone on the Internet who works on boat refrigeration who would meet us at Dinner Key Marina.  The two guys showed up about an hour ago.  Amazing that we could find someone on a Friday at the last minute!  Fortunately there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the fridge, but we still have issues with our battery bank and charger.  The guys were really nice and knowledgeable and only charged us $75. That’s cheaper than getting Kingsport Heat and Air to make a house call.  James learned more about how it works plus they checked out the Freon which was not low.

Here is a picture of my refrigerator.  It is about 16 inches by 24 inches by 28 inches.  I have two wire shelves that helps provides two levels along with plastic baskets to organize (one for produce, one for dairy, and one for small miscellaneous items).  Using a box refrigerator can really try your patience.  I alone am in charge of it, so I know where everything is.  Our motto on the boat is “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”  The motto goes double for the fridge.  Invariably I will need one item that is in the very bottom, so everything has to come out at least on that side.  The tricky part is a spot to put things while you are digging out of the bottom.  As you can see there is little countertop space.  The majority of my counter space is the top hinged opening sections of the fridge which means when you want in the fridge, everything has to be moved to one side.  I’ve also included a picture of our ice trays.  I have two trays, and they make big cubes.  I “harvest” the ice and store in a Ziploc bag in the bottom of the fridge next to the cold plate.  It works really well.  We’ve only bought ice a couple of times.

my galley (kitchen)

my galley (kitchen)

ice trays and harvested ice

ice trays and harvested ice

ice tray

ice tray

inside fridge

inside fridge

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today James began troubleshooting our batteries and charger.  They were not operating correctly.  After a lengthy morning of checking things out and reading on the Internet, he decided we needed a new charger.  He walked the 1 ½ miles (one way) to West Marine and back while I did wash and housekeeping.  I liked my end of the chores better.  Now it seems to be working, so tomorrow we will pump out, take on water, fuel, do some “strange talking” with boaters from the neighboring yacht club about sailing to the keys, and then sail over to No Name Harbor to wait on the weather window.

It’s amazing how much “house” cleaning and clean clothes can make a boat feel good!  I’ve never appreciated clean clothes before like I do now.  I relish their smell!!!  I cooked bbq chicken, black-eyed peas, fried potatoes, and pasta salad for supper.  Our tummies are full; chores are done; broken stuff is fixed (for now)…we’re going to watch a movie.  Life is good!



We left at 7am today to go to the ocean. We went out Port Everglades inlet and are sailing to Miami.  See if you can find it on the chart Mrs.Little left at school.  The excitement this morning was seeing a submarine!  We were in the middle of a navy test zone.  We were told to move for safety’s sake.  In fact we were ordered by an important man in an official looking motorboat.  I got a good look at the sub with the binoculars.  Mrs. Little said she’ll send a picture later.



Miami/April 25, 2013

We are now anchored in South Miami Beach.  What an incredible feeling that we’ve actually made it this far south.  I had doubts earlier on our trip.  And what a change of scenery and weather from the 30 something degrees, murky water, and foliage of the low country to the mid 80’s, turquoise waters, and sandy beaches with palm trees everywhere!

Entering Miami through the jetty

     Entering Miami through the jetty

For the first time on this trip, we sailed on the ocean from the Port Everglades inlet to Miami.  We left the Fort Lauderdale Municipal Marina where we had provisioned, washed clothes, made some minor repairs, cleaned the boat, and had multiple hot showers, at 7 am on Tuesday morning.  After crossing under our 20th + bascule bridge with one more to go before leaving the waters of the ICW, we began to mentally change our attitude from cruising to sailing.  The weather was perfect-no thunderstorms predicted, partly sunny and winds of 10-15 knots.  James had plotted a course on our GPS about a mile off shore.  We had no sooner got up our sails when we spotted a submarine in the distance.  Of course I immediately got the camera to take pictures.  Within a minute, we had a BOATUS boat on our beam, shouting that we were in a Naval Test Range where they were conducting surface operations.  Apparently he had been trying to hail us on 16, but we had forgotten to change the radio back from 9 where we had been talking to the bridges.  We were told we either had to change our course from less than ½ mile from shore or 3 miles from shore.  James reluctantly altered our course towards shore. The guy began shouting you need to move faster and James being obstinate said, “This is as fast as a sailboat can move.”  He replied quite forcefully, “Turn on your engine!”  We obliged.


 We had a nice sail along the shore before we needed to tack out to the 3 miles to avoid some unknown obstructions on the chart.  Three miles out can make a huge difference in wind and waves.  It became extremely rolly with at least 8 foot swells!  Neither one of us became sick, but we didn’t we also didn’t have an appetite for any lunch.  We settled for ginger ale and crackers.  At around 1 pm we entered the channel for Miami.  The channel is well marked and even with all the traffic it wasn’t hard to maneuver into.  The only glitch coming in was that the easiest and most direct way into the harbor is through Government Cut, but apparently whenever a cruise ship is docked there all traffic is directed through Fisherman’s Channel.  I guess they are afraid we might be carrying a bomb.  After Boston I would imagine they are on even more high alert.  Another hour of motoring through the channels found us in a quiet little anchorage called Sunset Lake.  Last night we dinghed over to the small fixed bridge at the end of the lake, tied up to a post by the bridge, climbed up to the road, and walked over to Walgreens and Publix.


We slept in this morning and had a leisurely lazy breakfast of cereal and coffee.  There was a cool breeze blowing through the boat so we decided to not get in a hurry to go anywhere.  We did a little housekeeping, checked email on our phones, and read.  About noon we closed up the boat and decided to do a little sightseeing in the dinghy.  First we rode all the way up Collins Canal looking for the dinghy dock to go to the other Publix, which we thought was the newer and nicer one.  When we found the dock, it didn’t look easy to climb up and since the neighborhood looked a little shady, James wasn’t comfortable leaving the dinghy.  We went back to the dinghy dock by the police department (seemed to be much safer) and set off on foot.  We came upon the Publix by the canal and realized it was the one we had gone to last night.  We sure were glad we didn’t climb up the dock on the canal!  We eventually found the “big” Publix.  They are very close to each other and neither is that far from our docking near Sunset Lake.  We will finish provisioning tomorrow.

motoring along Collins Canal

motoring along Collins Canal

Next we walked to the Lincoln Street Pedestrian Mall.  I had hoped there would be lots of interesting little shops but mostly it was your mall stores-Gap, Swatch, Victoria Secret, etc.  But there were many interesting restaurants.  We decided to eat at The Café at Books and Books because Bill and Adair had recommended plus I liked the theme.  It is a bookstore as well as café.  While looking at the menu outside, a nice lady encouraged us to eat there and commented that we looked like tourists.  We said, “Yes, we’re from Tennessee.”  She replied that she thought we were probably from New Zealand or somewhere!  Maybe it was James’ boat hat and our backpacks???

After lunch we caught the SOBE Local Mini Bus.  It makes a huge loop around South Beach for only 25 cents.  What a deal!  We eventually rode the entire route which gave us a good overview of the area.  Of course we had to see what all the hoopla is about South Beach, so we walked many blocks on Ocean Drive past numerous street side restaurants where they hawked their “wares” trying to get us to eat and drink the Happy Hour specials.  We were still full from lunch plus the monster drinks looked large enough to make you so drunk you wouldn’t be able to even walk home or they would be so sickening sweet that you would feel like you were drinking a gallon of Kool-Aid.  We passed.  We did make a trek to the beach to do a quick walk in the surf and collect a small baggie of sand.  Before leaving the area, we had ice cream and people watched.  We did enjoy looking at all the art deco architecture of the old hotels that are now the restaurants, clubs and bars.  An interesting note was that the Johnny Rockets advertised spiked milkshakes.  We’re not in the Bible Belt that’s for sure. J All in all yesterday, I spent a whopping total of $1.00 to buy a little trinket at one of the shops.

I don't think it was 100 but maybe in the direct sun!

I don’t think it was 100 but maybe in the direct sun!

Here is an interesting story.  When we motored into Sunset Lake where we are anchored, the first thing we noticed was this fleet of small “demasted” Pico sailing dinghies.  We thought, “Oh, how neat, they must have fleet races on this lake.”  NOT…Bill Murdoch told us that the man who lives in the house with all the little boats in his backyard, anchored them there to keep people like us from anchoring in front of his house!   Initially he had attempted to play loud rap music and shine bright spotlights toward anchored boats but got eight visits and two tickets from the local police for that approach. What strange things people do.  I counted 27 boats with their masts replaced with pvc pipe and a solar light on top.

race fleet

Tomorrow we will get some more groceries and I’ll cook some dishes ahead of time.  We will do some more trip planning and then probably move somewhere in Key Biscayne, hopefully a marina.  We need to pump out, fuel, and get water.


Dinghies and Mooring Balls

Dear Bear and Wolf Cubs,

Often I hear landlubbers ask what is a dinghy, so here is a quick note telling you about them.  A dinghy is a small boat used to transport people to shore or other boats from their big boat.  Captain James and Mrs. Little’s dinghy is an 8 foot long inflatable dinghy made by Achilles.  They have a 6 horsepower outboard engine that they put on it, or we can also row using the oars.  Like any boat I have to wear my lifejacket, and they are required to carry lifejackets for everyone on board as well as other safety equipment like oars and a flashlight if traveling at night.

When we began our travels, we carried the dinghy on the forward deck.  Now that we are using it often, we tow it behind us with a rope called a “painter.”  They have special words for everything on a sailboat.  As an aside, once a rope comes onto a boat it is not called a rope anymore.  It is called a line.  And when that line is attached to a sail, it is called a sheet.  See, Mrs. Salyer I am increasing my vocabulary!

The dinghy is essential if you are going to anchor out and when want to go ashore for food, showers, shopping, etc.  It is very expensive staying at marinas.  They charge you by the foot.

Now here’s another math problem for you.  At our last marina the charge was $1.60 a foot and our boat is 40 feet long.  How much did it cost?  And then there is tax, so add 7% for the total.  (That was a cheap marina…most of the time it is about $2.00/ft.)

Mrs. Little keeps promising to take a picture of me in the dinghy, but she’s usually holding on to me tightly and is afraid to let go to use her camera.  She thinks I might just pop out of the boat.  It can be a little bouncy, but it sure is fun!!!



Here is a picture of it being towed.


Here is a picture of Capt. James rowing


And here is a picture of a mooring ball.  We often stay on these instead of anchoring or docking at a marina.  They are cheap…about $15-20 a night and you get free showers, privilege to dock the dinghy at the marina, and a pump out of our heads.  (Head is the boat name for bathroom)


Life is Good

Tonight we have the perfect anchorage.  We are anchored in Peck Lake with several other sailboats.  There is a constant cool breeze blowing through the cabin with the help of our wind scoops.  We were undecided today when we left Vero Beach whether to go to a mooring ball at Stuart which is to the west of the ICW and the beginning of the trek across Florida through Lake Okeechobee or anchor at Lake Peck.  As got closer to the St. Lucie inlet, we decided we would rather skip all the low water and constant watching for markers to go to Stuart and just head south to Lake Peck.  The guidebooks’ talk about the short walk to the deserted beach won out.  We anchored with ease, snatched on the wind scoops, had drinks, and then headed to shore in the dinghy.  It was a very short walk to the beach, and we had it to ourselves.  I collected sand and a few shells…nothing unusual.  It was nice to walk in the water, listen to the waves crashing, and watch the terns or sandpipers (need to brush up on my birds) rush around looking for food while trying to avoid the water coming in.  Once we walked back to the inland side, the no-see-ums began biting.  We quickly rowed back to Ragtime, and put up our nets.  Tomorrow we continue to head south and will probably end up at Lake Worth.

IMG_7092 IMG_7095IMG_7080

My non sailing friends seem to think that being on a sailboat is like a cruise.  It is not a cruise…ask my sister-in-law.  Other non-sailors ask me what we do all day and do we get stir crazy being cooped up.  We usually have friends along with us, but this is our first long trip by ourselves, so there is little excess  of time except for the evenings.  A typical day consists of readying the boat for leaving which depends on whether we are at anchor or a marina.  If we are anchored, this means raising the anchor which can sometimes be easy peasy and other times like the morning the anchor came up wrapped in the chain…not so easy!!!  This morning we left our mooring ball and went to the fuel dock.  We need to fuel about every 3 days.  While we are there, we also pump out our head, top of our water tank and buy ice.  Once we are under way, I cook breakfast.  We eat and then there are dishes to wash.  Next on the list is to check all our guidebooks and charts to make sure we are heading the correct direction and what obstacles might there be such as particularly low water depths, inlet currents, and especially bridges.  Our boat is 57 feet tall.  Many of the bridges are 65 feet, but there are numerous bascule or swing bridges that we have to cross under which means checking their opening schedules.  Fortunately the bridges in Florida seem easier to transverse than in South Carolina.  Most of them open on request except for morning and evening work traffic.  After getting James situated with food and water information, I head down below to make the bed, tidy up and lather up with sunscreen.  I will then relieve him at the helm so he can take care of some of his tasks.  Before I know it, it is time for lunch!  The day passes quickly.  We try to anchor or dock by about 5 pm.  We eat around 7 pm and then some nights we watch a movie on the computer.  Thanks to friends and our sons, we have quite a movie library! Before going to bed, we talk about where we are going tomorrow.  Often we are in bed by 9 or at the latest 10 pm.  One of our sailor friends calls 9 pm….sailor’s midnight!  I often read to 11 or later depending upon how good the book is :-).  When the sun wakes us at 7 or 8, we slowly roll out of bed and start another day.  Life is good!

Raising the Anchor

Dear Cubbies,

When we anchor the boat for the night, we have to drop the anchor off the front (bow) of the boat.  The boat has a motorized gizmo called a windlass that lets out the anchor chain and brings it back up.  Captain James has let me help Mrs. Little let the anchor down.  It’s really easy-all you do is press the down button.  And then press the up button when you want to bring it up.  The hard part is making sure the anchor is in front of the boat, so we have to give hand signals to whoever is steering the boat to let them know which way to motor and when to stop.  We usually let out 50 feet of chain and then another 30 feet of rope for a total of 80 feet of anchor rode.  You have to have enough anchor rode so the boat can swing on it.  That’s the other tricky part…knowing where to drop the anchor.  You have to look around you and estimate how far you might swing so you don’t hit another boat, dock, shore, etc.  Yep, pressing the button is the easy part. J  There’s a mathematical equation for figuring out how much anchor rode to let out.  Gee, math will not go away.  I sure am happy I had a great math teacher.  Thank you Mrs. Salyer!

Scope is the amount anchor rode you let out for anchoring.  To figure the scope, you need to know the depth of the water and freeboard of the boat (which is the distance from the top of the boat to the water).  The scope should be 7:1.  To figure this out, add your depth to the freeboard and multiply by 7.

Our freeboard is 4 feet.  If we anchor in 8 feet of water, how much anchor rode should we let out?

This morning there was a problem with the windlass so Mrs. Little had to steer and Captain James and I had to pull the anchor up with man (bear) power!  See how strong I am!!!

hauling in anchor raising anchor

Are you studying hard for TCAPS?  I am.

Love, Cubby