Fort Myers Beach, Florida
 
 May 29, 2020    |   read entry >














  



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Local Custom
Where We Were Today... May 29, 2016
Lifou, New Caledonia

A Dream Time t-shirt and some freshly baked banana bread still warm from the oven. We presented la coutume to the deputy chief shortly after we arrived in Baie du Santal. The offering was well received and permission to anchor was granted. Read our May 29th, 2016 entry >





Dream Time With the Dolphins
Where We Were Today... May 26, 2017Sailing the east coast of Australia

Dolphins surfing within a perfect reflection of Dream Time, in water so clear and calm, it removed the line that seperated their world from ours. Read our May 26th, 2017 entry >






Legend of the Marquesan Warriors
Where We Were Today... May 25, 2009
Ua Pou, Marquesas

Led by a retired French marine, a five-hour march took us from Dream Time to the center of Ua Pou, one thousand feet above the South Pacific, to stand amongst the legendary warriors of the Marquesas. Read our May 25th, 2009 entry >






Dive Buddies in Passe Tumakuhua
Where We Were Today... May 22, 2012
Fakarava, French Polynesia

Scuba diving by day, beach fires and Hinano by night. The best times in the Tuamotus with cruising friends on Namaste, Estrellita, Cheers, Nomad and Nauticam. Read our May 22nd, 2012 entry >








May 22, 2020 (Day 4,740)
Quick Fix: 26° 24.3 N / 81° 52.8 W
Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Working From Home
During the last week we've removed the contents from every storage cupboard, making dozens of trips while hauling away all manner of boat gear, spare parts, books, souvenirs, mattresses and provisions. As a result Dream Time bobs a full six inches higher in the water. We'll be spending the next few months servicing the engine, rebuilding the galley and fully restoring Dream Time's cabin. Her exterior is in fine shape: sails, teak decks, rig, bright work and paint have all been regularly maintained. But the cabin, well, it's difficult renovating a space not much larger than a generous walk-in closet when you're living and working in the middle of it. There's lots to do, but we won't bore you with dozens of photos showing freshly painted engine mounts or a clean heat exchange. We'll post a few, but will focus on sharing photos showing 'where we were today' during our world voyage. It'll be a reminder when we're sanding, grinding and painting of what we've got to look forward to.







May 17, 2020 (Day 4,735)
Quick Fix: 26° 24.3 N / 81° 52.8 W
Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Cruising World Interview: Five Questions for Neville & Catherine Hockley aboard Dream Time
During this period of social distancing, we’re taking the time to catch up with contributors and friends in the marine industry. For this installment, we’re chatting with Neville and Catherine Hockley who just closed the loop on their circumnavigation. Read our interview with Cruising World here >







May 9, 2020 (Day 4,727)
Quick Fix: 26° 24.3 N / 81° 52.8 W
Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Welcome Home
"The only way you can look any better is if you have your sails up!" It was a nice greeting from Andy, the Big Carlos Pass swing bridge operator. We told him next time we'd come racing in under full sail - he seemed to like that idea and threw us a friendly wave from the bridge window as we motored from the Gulf of Mexico into protected bay waters. We've now officially closed the loop, well, at least the Florida-to-Florida portion of our voyage. New York-to-New York will have to wait. Our lives are so utterly different now from when we left Fort Myers Beach in January 2008. Perhaps the biggest challenge, which in many ways is equal to our departure in 2008, will be navigating the next chapter of our life's voyage. Ironically that fills us with as many questions and as much uncertainty as when we departed over twelve years ago. We also shared with Andy that we had just returned after a 47,993 nautical mile world voyage. There was an unusually long pause on the radio before he responded, "Well hell, welcome home!!!" Welcome home? But we never left.








May 8, 2020 (Day 4,726)
Quick Fix: 25° 20.4 N / 81° 25.8 W
Sailing from the Florida Keys to Fort Myers Beach

What's Next
It doesn't seem possible that this time tomorrow evening Dream Time will be berthed and we will be resting in a building. Catherine has just crawled into the v-berth cabin for a snooze before she begins her 2000-0300 'party shift'. It will be her last watch on this portion of our world voyage. It will also be a full moon tonight, or perhaps it's a day old now, either way it will keep us company until the sun rises tomorrow. I'm indulging in a cold Carib and a Fuente, watching the soft warm glow of sunlight fade to the west, and waiting for the moon to begin it's journey from the east. It's funny thinking that's what we've done - journeyed around the world from east to west, but it took us over twelve years to complete. I'm not at all sure what the next twelve weeks will bring, let alone the next twelve years, but we’re eager to find out.





 





 
Day 4,725 - Florida Keys, USA
11:06 hrs - May 7, 2020
Have We Learned Nothing?

Twelve years ago Dream Time weathered her first tropical storm. We were anchored in Belize, off San Pedro, an open roadstead protected only from the west by a barrier island of palm trees and sand. Forecasts predicted 20-25 knots of wind which somehow became Tropical Storm Arthur and 60 knots of teeth-rattling wind gusts accompanied by biblical-grade lightening bolts that rained heavy on our anchorage for almost 24 hours (read our article about the experience). Luckily we had deployed two anchors before the storm arrived - not for the 25 knot forecast, but more for the novelty of trying. You see, we had never dropped two anchors before and we thought it would be good practice. It was and they held. But many anchors in the area did not and a local newspaper later reported that 65 boats sank around the island that night.

Today we find ourselves not riding out a tropical storm, thankfully, although Chris Parker, a regional weather guru, has his eyes on a unusually low cold front sweeping south across Florida and the Bahamas that may deliver 60 knots of wind, intense lightening storms but, apparently, has an “almost zero chance of becoming a tropical low”. And even though our anchorage is exposed entirely to winds and waves from the west through northeast, here we are.

We're anchored in the Florida Keys on the Gulf side off Fiesta Key, an island Catherine immediately renamed “Siesta Key” when we arrived on Monday afternoon. Yes, we were both a little tired after our 8-day passage from the US Virgin Islands. Passages, we hate to admit, even the mellow ones, seem to be harder than those we remember during our earlier years of world voyaging. Maybe the fact that I was just 37 years of age when we set off had something to do with that? And perhaps, now at 50, I should expect everything to a little more difficult? But of course I dismiss that as nonsense and refuse to believe it!

At any rate, here we are, anchored in seven feet of water with 25 knots of wind blowing steadily down from the north. We could relocate to the south side of the Keys, a two mile trip where we’d find flat water and protection from the northerly winds, but as the frontal system will shift suddenly at midnight tonight to the east-southeast, well, our new anchorage would eventually be no better. So we have decided to stay here. Besides, a little research last night had me stumble across a report generated in October 1954 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, entitled, "Generation of Wind Waves Over a Shallow Bottom". The report assures me that in just ten feet of water, due to bottom friction and even with 50 MPH winds, significant wave height will not be more than three feet.

So unless the hydrodynamic properties of waves have changed in the last 66 years, we should be just fine right where we are.









May 5, 2020 (Day 4,723)
Quick Fix: 24° 50.4 N / 80° 47.9 W
Florida Keys

Feels Good
The first person to welcome us back to America was a Kwik Shop employee who asked, "Are you Australian? How did you get past the roadblock?" He couldn't seem to understand that we had sailed in, avoiding the roadblock altogether (which only allows Florida Key residents to enter). Our second encounter was with a grounds keeper of a resort closed to the public behind yellow caution tape, most of which was on the ground. He rolled up in a golf cart blasting "Benny and the Jets". When we asked if it was OK to leave our dinghy on the beach he studied it for quite some time before responding, "I don't see a problem with that." We also met a cruiser from Chicago who had sailed down here over three years ago but admitted he needed to get on dry land as his "check liver light had come on". He's been managing a small marina ever since. There are no other boats or cruisers anchored here. It's just us. And even though it feels a little strange, it's good to be back. More to follow...




May 5, 2020   |  Florida Keys. Yep, we're back in the US of A!







May 3, 2020 (Day 4,721)
Quick Fix: 23° 21.2 N / 79° 26.0 W
Sailing from the US Virgin Islands to Florida

Free Transit
We're sailing through the Old Bahama Channel, a narrow body of water just ten miles wide that separates Cuba from the Bahamas. It's a busy shipping lane and until a few weeks ago it was assumed sailors trying to get to America could transit these waters, even though they would technically be in either Cuban or Bahamian territory. 'Right of Innocent Passage' is a maritime law that allows vessels to pass through a country's territorial waters if navigational restrictions exist - like a narrow channel. But as nations have declared State of Emergencies due to COVID-19, Right of Innocent Passage is no longer guaranteed. However, the Bahamian government is graciously allowing sailors through under the condition they do not anchor and rest during their passage. But they made no mention of unexpected visitors stopping for a break, and ours in gimbaling nicely on a rope enjoying a free ride over smooth seas. Welcome aboard.





 




 
Day 4,719 - Sailing from USVIs to Florida
12:38 hrs - May 1, 2020
No News

We're on day five of our eight day passage to America, racing past countries - Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas - that under normal conditions would have us pulling in to pay a visit and eager for rest. But COVID-19 still has these territories, and almost all others in the region, closed to visitors. So we are sailing direct to Florida, a 1,000 mile passage that has us transiting the Old Bahamas Channel, where the narrowest portion, which is a mere ten miles in width, has us squeezing between shallow Bahamian banks to the north and Cuba directly to the south.

It rained last night, a light squall which carried the pleasing and distinct scent of wet vegetation and wood burning fires from Cuba, a country that has been on some form of lockdown for about fifty years. Other than that, there's really not much to report, the passage is smooth and uneventful, and if the forecast holds, should have Dream Time raise the Florida Keys before the sun sets on Monday. The last time she sailed in Floridian waters was over twelve years ago.

We have no WiFi or cellular signal out here, just a old satellite phone to send emails. post blogs and check weather forecasts. So we're not receiving any news, which after two months in the US Virgin Islands streaming grim COVID headlines, is a welcome break. But it is a little strange, sailing during what is perhaps the biggest news story of our lives, with no idea precisely what is happening. So much can change in a day, we don't even want to imagine what can happen in a week.

No news is not necessarily good news, of course. But for another few days we can at least focus and enjoy the simple things without distraction, like the scent of wet grass and wood smoke blowing across the surface of the sea. And that, for me at least, is one of the great joys of sailing.