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As I sit down to compose this long overdue blog post, I’m having flashbacks to the confessions of my Catholic school days…

Dear Readers, it’s been 5 months since my last blog post…

In fact the stats page of this blog tells me that I’ve only written four posts in the past 12 months, which to be honest is a wee bit embarrassing.  We’re still out here and still loving our life on the water.  I guess I just haven’t been as inspired to write about it. More truthfully, my laptop/camera/i-Phone aren’t playing well together these days when it comes to photo download/editing. My onboard tech support guy tells me its a terminal problem, something to do with the ancient photo-editing software I’ve been using that’s apparently no longer compatible with the electronics I’m using. Last week I decided to break up with it, though I’m still getting struggling a bit with my new process. In any event, dealing with photos has been a PITA, and consequently writing a blog post with photos has become more frustrating than fun.

That said, I do want to fill in the gaps.  This post will bring us up to current times, and in the days/weeks to come, I’ll fill in the gaps, back-dating posts to maintain some chronology. My apologies in advance for the confusion this will likely create. Or maybe I’ll just chuck the whole mess into a creek somewhere.

My last post found us on the west-central coast of Florida during a winter cold spell.  As I type, we’re back on the east coast and making our way to New England in hopes of finding some relief from the heat, humidity and hurricanes that dominated our summer of 2017 spent in Florida.  In between we spent a very relaxing few months exploring the barrier islands of the Florida West Coast, followed by another stretch back in Vero Beach while Mike sorted out a foot injury, followed by an extended birthday celebration (mine) with friends in St Augustine FL.  Details on these adventures and misadventures to follow.

For now though, we’re back in Oriental, NC… our hailing port and one of our favorite towns along the Atlantic ICW. As we’re contemplating some time in Maine this summer, we’d been moving relatively quickly, at least quickly for us. In order to maintain some momentum, I’d resigned myself to a certain-to-be-too-brief stop in Oriental, that is until about 2 days out when the Captain announced he had a few projects in mind. Did I mention that it’s also a great place for boat projects? Plan B would have us here for a week, maybe two, which in the end turned into three. The projects had their challenges, but went relatively well, though the weather was less than cooperative with almost daily rain/thundershowers. No worries though; it just left us more time to catch up with friends here which is never a bad thing.

IMG_5291 bling in boxesPart of what makes these projects take so long is that we do much of the work ourselves. Thankfully the Captain is scary smart and willing to try just about anything, in fact prefers to do his own work as then he knows what he’s dealing with down the road… or stream as the case may be. This time around we’ve upgraded our radar, chart plotter and vhf radio (the latter of which now features AIS), and added a loud hailer. Mike had parts ordered within a couple of hours of our tying up at the dock and a few days later we had a pile of boxes of new electronics… we were committed.

 

For the next several days, the entire interior of the boat was torn up as we had to open up six different access panels to be able to pull old wires out and snake new ones in their place with a couple of new runs as well. Best we can tell these Geminis are assembled with no allowance for someone someday maybe wanting to do some upgrades; we ran into a couple of snags (pun intended) that stumped us for awhile, including a not-visible-to-us run through the salon and galley ceiling; we decided to sleep on it. Apparently that strategy was effective as Mike had a brainstorm in the night; when I woke to make coffee the following morning, I found him clad in only his headlamp, reading glasses and slippers poking around in the ceiling with a bit of wire. The photos will mean more to those who work on boats, especially Geminis, but you get the idea. Sorry, no photos of naked Mike.

Next up was tearing out the old equipment. Taking the old radar down required a couple of trips up the mast, specifically my hauling Mike up. The first trip was mostly to determine that the radar and mounting bracket would have to come down separately, and that the latter was going to take some work to get free. The second trip was to get the deed done. Unfortunately our mast light was a casualty of the process as well; Mike accidentally put a foot on it and sent it crashing down to the deck and with one bounce, it was over the side into the creek. Oops. Add that to the list.

IMG_5323 freshly painted mounting bracketWe decided that the mounting bracket was reusable, though needed a good cleaning up, an extra bit welded on to mount the new loud hailer, and of course some primer and paint. Fortunately there’s a very good welder onsite at the adjacent yard who was able to do some sandblasting and weld the new bit for us. A couple of days of priming and painting later, we had a good-as-new bracket. Mike’s good, but so far he’s not learned welding. This is the only part of the project we didn’t DIY.

Another long morning up the mast finished the exterior/up the mast part of the installation, Mike working in the bosuns chair and me sending pieces, parts and additional tools and pre-assembled tef-gelled bits of nuts/bolts/washers up to him. I’ll be honest, it was stressful, not only having Mike hanging 20 feet up in the air dangling by a couple of halyards, but also hoisting some fairly pricey pieces of electronics up off of the deck as well. I don’t imagine Mike was exactly comfortable doing assembly and electrical work in mid-air either. Throw in the pop-up thundershowers we’ve been having all week… well, it’s been quite interesting.

First up, the bracket, followed by the radar dome itself. The latter was more than a bit awkward, but we got it done using a couple of nylon straps off some storage containers we have aboard (Mike’s idea) and a few bits of sticky shelf liner to keep the straps from slipping (my contribution), which worked nicely combined with Mike’s expert knot-tying skills. Last but not least, the loud hailer was mounted, tucked neatly up under the radar dome and requiring no extra holes to be drilled in the mast.

In the cockpit, the new chart plotter install was something Mike had anticipated when we replaced the auto-helm a few years back. Instead of a large cumbersome thing that hung from a bracket in mid-air in an annoying view-blocking location, the new one is on the reconfigured helm panel with the rest of the instruments… and is a huge improvement over the 16-year old technology of its predecessor. Mike is excited; I am as well, but am not looking forward to the learning curve.  Electronics, you know…

The new vhf radio puts a real handset at the helm vs the separate, not-as-powerful handheld radio that we’d used previously, as the handset for the previous primary radio wouldn’t reach the helm. Now we have a handset in the cockpit, another in the main cabin, and the “old” handheld has been reassigned for use in the dinghy. The safety officer (yours truly) is also thrilled that this new arrangement now lets us receive AIS information, which should make night watches at the helm a bit more comfortable.

We had a few smaller projects we knocked out in between raindrops. The aforementioned mast light was replaced which required a couple more trips up the mast. We did some routine maintenance including cleaning out fuel tanks and an oil/filter change for the diesel engine, fondly referred to as the Red Queen. We also replaced most  of the running rigging… all three halyards and the mainsheet, along with both reefing lines. All in all, I think Cheshire’s pretty happy with her new bling. I know her crew are.

We’ve been working hard, but also playing hard. It’s been a blast catching up with old and new friends, along with some that happened to have passed through while we’re here. Pat at Inland Waterway Provision Co as usual has been enormously helpful in getting us get bits and pieces for our projects, and gets bonus points for scoring me a copy of a new cruising guide for the Maine Coast. We spent a lovely afternoon exploring some of the area creeks aboard a friend’s newly refurbished pontoon boat, the Starship Enterprise.  The weekly Open Mic night at Silos, a favorite local restaurant, has not disappointed and we finally caught their annual all-day SilosPalooza Music Festival this month which was quite fun, particularly given that we count as friends several of the musicians who played the festival. A new-since-our-last-visit craft brew pub, the New Village Brewery, has also warranted several visits. They’re ramping up with their own brews, but also host weekly tap takeovers for other craft brewers around the state.

Another stroke of fortunate timing had us invited to the home of some land-based friends who are beekeepers to help out with an extraction of honey from some of their hives. We’re big fans of seeking out local honeys in our travels, so seeing the process up close was a real treat. (Separate blog post to follow.)

P1060389 Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

As for wildlife watching, not much new to report except for the nightly calls of a Chuck- Will’s-Widow near our marina. We’ve not seen it and likely won’t, but look forward to the whistling calls each night. Find more info, photos and a sound clip here if you’re so inclined. I’ve also been amused by a Red-bellied Woodpecker who is quite fond of the aluminum gutters on the nearby condos.
So as usual Oriental has been a fun and productive stop, but new cruising waters are calling and we’re excited to see what adventures they bring. Stay tuned for a bit of catching up on where we’ve been as well as some more timely accounts of what’s coming. And thanks for your patience.

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OK, so it’s been a pause of epic proportions… more than 4 months in duration if I’m being honest.  In the last few days, I’ve had two different friends/readers check in to see if we are OK, having not seen a post in a great while.  Mike would tell you I’ve been talking about needing to get caught up, and indeed, there is a lot to catch up on.  I’m considering myself nudged.  Note that I’ll be backdating posts to come to maintain some sense of chronology.

Since I left off blogging in early February in St Augustine, we’ve been…

… south to the Vero Beach area where we hung out on a mooring for awhile, caught up with some cruising friends and met some new folks, as well as hooked up with some long-time friends from Ohio, several of whom were camping in the Kissimmee area for a stretch.  How fun it was to compare our boat life with those who’ve recently taken up camping with tow-behind campers…

… then back to St Augustine for another couple of months where I celebrated another birthday as did some friends, made a return visit to both the bird rookery at the Alligator Farm and the Gamble Rogers Music Festival among other things…

…during which time we also rented a car for a month-long road trip from north Florida to Los Angeles and back with many fun stops along the way…

… and we helped some friends move their 51′ Morgan Out Island from St Augustine to Ft Lauderdale, my (Lori’s) first real adventure on a monohull except for occasional day sails, about a 3 1/2 day offshore adventure.

Just ahead of the beginning of June, which is also the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, we moved our Cheshire up to a marina off of the St John’s River, not too far from downtown Jacksonville where we’ll hang out through the summer-into-fall.  We’ve been here a couple of times before, but for shorter stays.  This time through, we plan to dig a little deeper.  It’s a comfy protected marina with great amenities including a pool and free laundry, both of which will be handy as we move further into the summer.  I’ve found a local yoga studio and we’ve sorted out the JTA  (Jax’s public transportation system) for when our folding bikes aren’t up for the distance.  We’ve got a running list of places we want to explore and Mike of course has a long list of restaurants he wants to check out.  As always, there will be some routine boat chores/projects, but as of this writing, nothing too heavy duty, and definitely to be scheduled in the early and late parts of the day… it’s already quite warm here.  My mid-day plan is to hide out in the air-conditioning and blog.

Time flies…

Today happens to be the 6-year anniversary of our moving aboard our Cheshire.  Just for fun, I re-read an early post (the text of which I actually sent via e-mail lists before I had this blog up and running)… find it here if you too are interested in the flashback.

We’ve also just sent our passports off to be renewed, reminiscing a bit about the places we’ve been in recent years and options for the years to come… and picked up some “alternate” passports to keep us occupied in the meantime.

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Stay tuned, and thanks for checking in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blogging from the Bahamas

Those who know us are familiar with our habit of taking some time each spring to head somewhere warm for our anniversary, March 2.  That habit took us to some interesting places while we were living on dirt, but as the Captain said this morning, three months in the Bahamas may win the prize.

Yep, we’re here.  And we’ve managed to track down a sim card for one of our i-Phones so we have some limited connectivity as well.  Regarding the blog, my plan is to stay current on the narrative, but given our limited connectivity, will edit to add photos later as we find real wifi.  Check back regularly and thanks in advance for your patience.

We also picked up a new toy during our wait in Key Largo, a DeLorme InReach satellite tracking device, which I’ve figured out how to link to CatTales (yea me!).  Down the right hand column, look for a button called “Track Us”.  It’s also under a tab called “Maps” across the top of the page, along with some other maps from our earlier travels.

Feedback welcome, and as always, thanks for following along.

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New Blog Features

OK, so I’m learning as I go, about blogging among other things…

For those who haven’t discovered it yet, there is a feature on the slideshow (which by the way is the most straight-forward way for me to post a number of photos) that let’s you hover your cursor over a photo in the slideshow and get a pop-up that gives options of forward, backward, pause, etc.

And even more interesting I think, is a new Google map feature I’ve been working on.  From the main page, down the right hand column in the section titled “Curiouser and curiouser” there is now a link titled “Find us” that will take you to a Google map  that shows our stops along the way.  You might need to play with the zoom in/out a bit.  It’s flakey, but free and will help you keep track of our progress.  There are little anchor icons for places we’ve dropped the hook or picked up a mooring ball, blue markers are marinas we’ve visited and the place markers in pink are places we’ve spent more than a few days.

Enjoy, and as always, thanks for your feedback and patience.

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New Feature

As I’ve said before, I’m learning as I go about this blogging stuff.  I’ve added a new feature as of the “Bridges” post.  If you hover over a location mentioned in the text that’s highlighted and it says “google map”, that means I’ve linked to a map of our current location at that time.  Most of the time, our anchorage or marina will be noted with a blue pin, unless as I’ve learned that location is a military base… in which case you’ll get a general map, but not a blue-pinned map.  Mike’s hoping that Homeland Security doesn’t come looking for us.

Enjoy, and thanks again for your patience.

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Welcome Aboard!

Greetings All and welcome to Cat Tales, our new blog detailing our adventures aboard S/V Cheshire.  We’re glad to have you along.  First a bit of catching up…  literally.  The first few posts will be an attempt to upload some of our previously e-mailed installments and an update regarding recent weeks.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to tweak or correct dates, so I’ll apologize in advance for any confusion.  Disclaimer: I’m not the most computer savvy, but I’m trying to figure this out with minimal consulting of my onboard computer geek.   Thanks in advance for your patience.

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