Final Preparations

We are almost ready for the off.  Most importantly the letters have been delivered to Santa!  The watermaker was fitted about a week ago. Because we needed to get into blue water to save the watermaker from the dirt of the inland waterways we had to wait until yesterday when our friendly and excellent Spectre rep, JT,  was free to commission it and to be given our instructions on how to operate it.  On/Off, remember to flush it after ever use and change the filter monthly. How quickly can we balls that simple an instruction? Start the book someone!

The framework for the solar panels was finally fitted this week after an awful lot of faffing around by the metal company we went with. They have done a lovely job but did it really need to take a near month from flash to bang? No idea how they make a profit. Watching them fit it (three of them all gabbering away in Spanish – one doing all the work and the others giving helpful suggestions) was initially amusing. Once we’d had to help worker bee with a towel dry and antiseptic to clear the cuts he got from the oysters not once but twice having dropped vital parts overboard and had to dive for them, Stewart started to get a little frustrated. In the end it took 6 hrs to fit a two part frame and two solar panels on to the davits – but all done with a smile.  Stewart has been wiring those in to the batteries with a little help from the girls. Small hands (and bodies) help when trying to feed wire through the guts of the boat.

I have continued to stock up on provisions as the Caribbean islands tend to be more expensive than the US.  We are working on having three months worth of basic provisions and we will top up with fresh as and when we can.  I have spent the last week or so doing daily trips to the supermarket working my way down my shopping list by category.   I look as if I am planning for some sort of apocalypse, as I fill my trolley with dozens and dozens of canned veg or with pounds of rice and pasta.  I have had some strange looks but mostly people are genuinely interested in what we are doing.

We will hopefully be supplementing all we have stocked up with by eating a LOT of fish on our travels.  Stewart has bought two very nice fishing rods and the girls also have one each – no surprise that Hannah’s is pink! They have been practising casting off the boat which occasionally requires Stewart to untangle lines caught on chain, next door yacht, a wooden post (God knows how) but thankfully not each other yet. No fishy catches to report as yet.

And finally – some sailing!

One of the issues we have had the last couple of weeks is that whilst we have had the main down and tarted up, trying to get the full sail fibreglass pole battens back in has proved to be an impossibility with just the two of us. Slightly restricting. However, needs must and with the waste tanks getting a little full, we needed either to get to a pump out station or have a quick trip out beyond the 3 mile limit, a legal necessity if you are clearing out.

On the basis that time wise it was one or the same, we decided that we would go out, at least use the time to check out engines, genset and a host of other bits and pieces.

We ran down the inner waterways, past Las Olas Bridge and then through 17th St Causeway. Both are timed raises and the 15 minutes between bridge raises turned out to be about 5mins too much for us so we had the chance to wander about in the last basin looking at some of the magnificence/extravagance on show. Two boats stood out  which past us coming back in from charter

and then . Currently on sale for the small sum of $148m!!

There were plenty more. God knows how much money there is tied up here in Ft Lauderdale but the figure must be enormous.

Once we were out we had an uneventful trip  until having done the necessary, on being asked to turn Skylark for home, Lou announced she couldn’t turn the wheel. After a few minutes of “oh shit…”, a look under both hulls looking for the seemingly inevitable rope jamming the rudders (finding nothing – used the GoPro properly for the first time – magnificent!) we found to our embarrassment that the autohelm had been knocked on at some point. A couple of red faces later and we headed for home, smelling somewhat better than we had in the morning.


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Meeting the Girl Scouts of South East Florida

The international nature of the Girl Guiding movement offers us an amazing opportunity to tap into a social circle for the girls.  Eleanor has been a Brownie for nearly two years and Hannah was enrolled the week before we left into the 2nd Andover Brownies pack.  On arrival in Fort Lauderdale, Stewart was tasked to find the local Brownie troop – with 20,000 Girl Scouts in South East Florida, this was not going to be easy.  With the sheer number of troops, it is hard to pinpoint where and how often troops meet.

Fortunately we managed to get hold of the regional coordinator. Even more fortuitously they were holding an event that Friday where 120 Girl Scouts were coming together from across the region to learn all about bees.  She kindly allowed us to come along, even though the event was fully subscribed.

The girls had a great evening moving round six stands doing a variety of craft, tasting and learning.  Troop 11110, headed up by Marjory and Crystal, befriended us and took us under their wing. They were so friendly and the girls were really interested about British Brownies.  We are really hoping to be able to make it along to their next meeting on 18 Nov.

And more from Eleanor

We have finally settled in on the boat and the weather is having a “cold spell”. A cold day in Florida is about 75⁰F or 23⁰C.

Our bed is the size of a small double bed but the bed covers most of the room and there isn’t any room to play on the floor, you have to play on the bed. There is a shop called Target and we got a lovely quilt from there, also we got some horse stickers ( they’re in one of the photos).

Outside Ft Lauderdale Stars Gym in full Florida gear - leotards and roller blades
Outside Ft Lauderdale Stars Gym in full Florida gear – leotards and roller blades

We have been to a gymnastics class called Fort Lauderdale Stars and you get to go in a bouncy castle at the end of class! It’s really fun. The toilets here are called restrooms, whenever Hannah says “Mummy, I need the loo”, everyone stares at her in a funny way.

We had an absolutely great time in Disneyworld and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Some of our pictures are below to show what fun we had:

Hannah Has Her Say

The boat

It’s awesome on the boat because you see lizard’s everywhere. You can see a picture of my lizard box that I made out of a mummy’s shoe box.

You can see the lizard H has drawn inside – it also has a big love heart with a speech bubble saying ‘I love lizards’. The lizards’ front door can be also be seen. My crazy Hannah!

Also you can see lots of things in the river. We have seen coconuts, small and big fish which we have been trying to catch and this morning we saw a big dead lizard floating around us. It’s tail and it’s arm had been chewed off. It was still more than 30cm long!

The pink lemonade here is amazing! It is really tasty. Daddy says we won’t be able to get much of this once we are in the Caribbean islands. Not fair!

We have been rowing around in the dinghy. I’m not very good yet so Daddy ties me onto the boat so I don’t float away.

It is really noisy here because they are working on the road and building a bigger bridge right beside where we live. There are two huge cranes and dropping big bits of metal on the building site. And we have not go any internet you have to go to the mall it’s dreadful!

Boat Admin

The Girls' Bunk looking all homely!
The Girls’ Bunk looking all homely!
Wall stickers expertly placed by Eleanor
Wall stickers expertly placed by Eleanor
Clever storage - eeking the most out of every little inch!
Clever storage – eeking the most out of every little inch!

So we are getting there slowly.  The boat is beginning to look more homely and tidy as I go on endless trips to Target to buy yet more plastic storage.  If there is a gap, I can find a box to fit in it!! The girls are very pleased with their cabin, which is looking lovely thanks to a sale on quilts in Target – their bedding was reduced from $90 to $25 and the wall stickers were only $3.50!  Eleanor is beginning to spot the bargains too.  They have also hung up little LED fairy lights which run off AA batteries to add a little ambience.

Spring cleaning
Spring cleaning
Spring cleaning with a bit of help
Spring cleaning with a bit of help

I’ve had a complete overhaul of the galley area too as we are quite tight on space.  Tight is probably a bit of an understatement, even when compared to a quarters kitchen, but having thinned out the crockery and cutlery a bit and rearranged the cupboards, it is surprising what room there is.  Spring cleaning is so much easier when your kitchen is so titchy, tiny!  This is a very good thing as I think I will be having to do a full clean more often in these hot climates and for those who know me well, you will know just how much I love cleaning!?!.  Again plastic, airtight storage is going to have to be invested in.