< Sandy Souvenirs
Read Dream Time's article
in the February issue of Cruising
World Magazine

Windy Walk
January 28, 2021
Bimini, Bahamas

Catherine enjoying a windy walk where thirty knots of northerlies are making a mess of the Gulf Stream (and her hair).

Man O War
January 28, 2021
Bimini, Bahamas

This Man O War jellyfish, and hundreds of others, lost their battle against wind and tide. The crabs seemed to like them though.

Jan 27, 2021 (Day 4,990)
Quick Fix: 25° 43.3 N / 79° 17.9 W
Bimini, Bahamas

A Thumbs Up!
It is our fifth day in the Bahamas and as part of our immigration requirement we took rapid antigen COVID tests today, and in addition to arriving in the islands with a negative RT PCR test result, the Bahamas also requires us to answer a short health survey each day for the first two weeks of our stay. It's an impressive and thorough system including QR codes, automated email reminders and online questionnaires, and somehow the Bahamian government has managed to strike a balance of communicating the seriousness of their protocols while maintaining the friendly spirit of the islands. The email test results we received today were negative and ended with "Please continue to enjoy your stay" with a smiley sunshine graphic giving us the thumbs up. When much of the world is struggling to find balance between restrictions and liberties during these difficult times, the Bahamas seems to be doing a great job, and should give itself a big smiley thumbs up, too. We are.

A Bimini Beach
January 25, 2021
Bimini, Bahamas

A little slice of Bimini, and a perfect launch beach for some kite action. Waiting for wind...

A Colorful Conch Cru
January 24, 2021
Bimini, Bahamas

Lunch at Big Mike's - conch, fresh from the shell, served with mango, onion, apple, cucumber, tomatoes, pepper and pineapple - right on the beach.

Yep, that's Big Mike.

A tropical conch salad, for two.

The Bahamas requires everyone to wear a mask, everywhere. Failure to observe is a $200 fine and/or one month in prison.

Brown's Marina, Bimini, Bahamas - Dream Time's temporary berth while we're waiting to take our five day rapid COVID test.

Compliments from Peter (below) for rescuing his Lady V.

Rescuing a Lady
January 23, 2021
Bimini, Bahamas

Yesterday, during our crossing from the Florida Keys to Bimini, we rescued Lady V from the clutches of Gulf Stream waters. Fate, it seems, had put Dream Time’s rhumb line just a mile away from the ill-fated Bahamian fishing boat, and a quick detour confirmed initial suspicions - the engine was down, the key was still in the ignition, but the vessel was unmanned, adrift and far from land. Speculations took hold: Had she been stolen? Perhaps she was used and abandoned after a drug run? (She had a brand new 200 HP Yamaha engine bolted to the transom. I had also checked the cooler half expecting to find bricks of neatly packed party favors stacked inside.)

One theory we did not want to entertain - did the captain tumble overboard? We scanned the horizon carefully looking for waving arms, or worse, a floating object. The search came up empty so we marked the charts with her position before rafting Dream Time alongside, clambering aboard, raising the engine and hitching a tow. We could have left her to the mercy of the sea and simply reported the vessel's position to local authorities, but we were still over thirteen miles from the islands and in a busy shipping lane - we had to deviate our course once from a cargo ship during the long tow - if we had left her adrift it’s not certain she would have survived the night.

It took three hours to tow her in, which put our modest 50 HP Yanmar engine to the test, and after numerous VHF radio transmissions and phone calls ashore, remarkably, given the number of islands and the unlikely event of a happy ending, contact with the owner was made. It seems much of the Bimini fishing fleet had been out looking for the vessel, the coast guard had even been contacted but expectations of actually locating the lost craft were low considering the hundreds of square miles of sea to search. We later learned that Lady V had chafed her anchor rope the previous evening and had spent the entire night carried over thirty miles north by current and wind.

Unable to wait until we entered the harbor, Peter, the owner, came racing out to greet us when we got closer to shore. We've never seen anyone quite so happy to be reunited with their boat. Enthusiastic fist bumps leaning over gunnels were exchanged, and Peter passed over a case of cold local beer as a thank you, and as a welcome to the Bahamas. Later that night, when we were safety berthed, Peter dropped off a giant bag of stone crab. I suspect we shall see him again.


The Long Tow

Only three hours to go

New Light

January 21, 2021
Carysfort Reef, Florida

Our COVID test results are negative, today the Bahamas granted us access to her islands, and the weather gods have given Dream Time a gentle window to cross the Gulf Stream tomorrow. Tonight we have sheltered in the shadow of Carysfort Reef Lighthouse, a tower that marks the demise of HMS Carysfort, a 20-gun post ship that dramatically ended her naval career on these shallows over two hundred and fifty years ago, giving the reef her name. But tonight it is calm and peaceful, only returning sea birds settling on the light's structure break the silence. We are the only boat here, six miles from land, and long before a new dawn marks the horizon tomorrow we will be on our way, and before the sun sets, we hope to raise a new country.

A Good Start

January 19, 2021
Key Largo, Florida

We've done it - unplugged shore power, thrown off the dock lines and set sail. Dream Time is officially on the move again!

A modest 125 nautical mile overnight passage took us down a glassy Gulf of Mexico from Fort Myers Beach to the Florida Keys where we passed under the very same bridge that welcomed us back to America just nine months ago. We've burned more fuel in the last few days relocating Dream Time then we did during our entire four thousand nautical mile crossing of the Atlantic Ocean this time last year. Such is sailing life when making daily coastal hops with fickle winds, contrary currents and an itinerary to contend with.

Our sail from Channel Five bridge to Key Largo was delayed a day when we discovered our starter battery was not charging, the shower pump was not pumping and the stuffing box was not, well, adequately stuffing. All issues were resolved by day's end. A Newcastle Brown Ale enjoyed at sunset after a day of successfully completing boat projects rarely tastes better.

We're now anchored in Key Largo and I find myself singing the Beach Boys song, Kokomo, far too frequently: "Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take ya, Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama, Key Largo, Montego, baby why don't we go, off the Florida Keys..." I think Catherine's eyes are getting tired from rolling so much.

Yesterday was Day Zero for us. It began with an online registration for a COVID test in Key Largo (arriving in the Bahamas with a negative test result is now a requirement). An emergency carburetor clean delayed our departure when the outboard engine spluttered to a stop a mere boat length from Dream Time just 45 minutes before our scheduled COVID testing appointment at a distant drive-thru CVS. Somehow we stripped and cleaned the carburetor and made it ashore in time to find a puzzled pharmacist at the CVS drive-thru window wondering where our car was. It seems not many folks usually walk up to a drive-thru window. Perhaps her quizzical gaze was also because we were both clutching and turning imaginary steering wheels when we rounded the corner.

With unpleasant nasal swabs complete we celebrated with coffee and toasted bagels at a local Starbucks. The manager apologized for the length of time we had to wait by gifting us a $4 Starbucks voucher, which was entirely unnecessary, but we paid it forward to a chatty heavily-bearded local man lingering outside carrying his worldly possessions.

We now have just five days to receive the test results, submit them to the Bahamian government, get a 'green light' and sail over to the Bahamas. If the weather gods allow we shall cross the Gulf Stream Friday and raise Bimini, our first Bahamian isle, before the sun sets.

After just five days 'at sea' we have already settled back into our familiar and gentle rhythm on Dream Time. We have been joined by dolphins, buzzed by a low-flying formation of gliding pelicans, and watched the sunset.

We're off to a good start.

Condo Conveniences

January 10, 2021
Fort Myers Beach, Florida

We’re just a few days away from raising sail and migrating south. It’s cold here now, well, cold for us. Mercury is plummeting this evening and is expected to settle later tonight, with a clear sky, somewhere in the forties. Catherine has already secured thermal socks from her New Zealand wardrobe and is sliding around the newly polyurethaned floor in fleece covered feet clutching a hot water bottle like it’s a life preserver.

We’re living on the boat again which, after seven months of condo conveniences, is an adjustment. We’re still in the condo grounds and I’d wager we’re the only people in the history of this complex to overnight on the dock. Neighboring vessels are mostly pontoon boats, I’m confident we’re breaking at least a dozen association rules.

In the evening, with the cover of darkness, we make covert visitations back to the condo building to use hot showers in the fitness room facilities. Again, probably another rule is being breached. We’re also pirating WiFi from the social room.

They’re temporary liberties, and to any board member who may be reading this entry, perhaps tutting in disapproval, we will be departing soon, we promise. After all, the Bahamas await...

Floating Lights

January 2, 2021
Fort Myers Beach, Florida

In 2013, near the end of a drift dive in the South Pacific, through a remote pass in the Tuamotus ninety-five feet deep, home to about two hundred grey reef sharks, it took our last reserves of oxygen to excavate an old Japanese fishing buoy we had found almost entirely encased in sand and coral (read our May 2013 entry). It is thick and heavy, a light shade of green as these antique buoys were often made from recycled sake bottles. Air bubbles suspended inside the glass float amongst a pattern of wavy lines that circle the sphere, formed when the molten orb was hand blown perhaps a hundred years ago. It is a prized souvenir and one that now brings a little more light to our cabin.

Jan 1, 2021 (Day 4,964)
Quick Fix: 26° 24.3 N / 81° 52.8 W
Fort Myers Beach, Florida

A Fresh Start
Happy New Year! Most have been eagerly anticipating this day, the transition from one of the worst years in living memory to 2021 - a year that promises to, eventually, restore life to normal. 2020 was a tough one, we missed our families and our friends the most. But to keep ourselves occupied we decided to completely renovate and restore Dream Time's cabin. Nothing helps distract the mind quite like sucking in acetone fumes for a few months, especially during a Floridian summer where temperatures regularly sizzled into the high '90s. From stem to stern, new paint, varnish, gelcoat and polyurethane was applied to every surface. Years of wear and tear has been erased. Varnish gleams and newly rebuilt cupboards are now so pristine it's almost a shame to fill them. It's a fresh start and we are now officially ready to move on... to the Bahamas!




Good Riddance 2020. Well Hello 2021!
Quick Fix: 26° 24.3 N / 81° 52.8 W
Fort Myers Beach, Florida