Friday, October 7, 2016


It’s been an interesting couple of weeks getting back into the swing of ‘boat life’, adjusting to another boat mate on board and closely watching hurricane Matthew.

We settled in at Charlotte Harbor, an area that somehow seems to be our home base or starting point. We know the area pretty well and enjoy ourselves there. The worst of it is the anchorage is often choppy. Getting to and from shore in the dinghy is less than a dry experience.

 Excited about frozen yogurt

 Serious about frozen yogurt

Nearly gone frozen yogurt

Walking into Fisherman’s Village to treat ourselves to our favorite frozen yogurt shop, we found the annual Pirate Festival in full force. Pirates of all ages and dress were everywhere. Events included a pirate’s sword fight, several stages playing pirate music, dancers, pirate boats, and mermaids. We devoured our frozen yogurt the first day and returned for the pirate festival the second day.

This guy was our favorite. He would stand perfectly still until the crowd gathered and just as soon as someone got close, he would move....everyone jumped, some let out a squeal, a few cried, but most laughed, had their photo taken and then donated to his treasure.

It’s taken some time, but we finally feel like we are finding our places on Sanibel. With an additional person on board, we’ve had to reconfigure storage, seating and more. At first, we were so unorganized; I thought I was losing my mind. Little by little I’ve been able to reorganized storage spaces, cupboards and vanity areas. Brittany occupies most of the forward berth. She uses three suitcases for her belongings, which are tucked on the port side of the berth and she sleeps on the starboard side. Jimi still uses the built in dresser and they share the vanity area. I still have my built in dresser in the aft cabin but have had to relocate many of my belongings from the Salon cubby to the storage under my berth.  For anyone who lives on a boat, you know that the organizing almost never ends and so we continue.

Brittany has been in Florida with us for three weeks. I have no doubt that her first two weeks she may have had second thoughts about what she’d gotten herself in to. I already mentioned to you that the first week we were all miserably hot and eaten alive by no-see-ums and mosquitoes. She spent the second week getting her sea legs and in the process would hang over the side of Sanibel with what we refer to as ‘feeding the fish’. And in fact, she made several new fish friends doing so. This third week has been better for her. She’s eating well and no longer gets motion sickness while at anchor. She’s adjusted to the dinghy and helps to crew when asked. She’s maintained a good schedule with her school work and doing extremely well in her classes. At this rate, she’ll be done in no time. And finally, she’s having fun!

We’ve adopted a couple of new games that the three of us play in the evening when not on shore: Exploding Kittens and Mexican Train. Both games are fun and we never know who will win. Call it ‘no skill involved’ or the three of us are a good match – we have fun because no one dominates.

After leaving Charlotte Harbor we sailed to Fort Myers Beach. It's another place we’ve visited often on this Florida coast. 

Off season, the mooring field is very empty. They have laundry facilities, which doubles as an air-conditioned dayroom and showers we can use. 

Anyone up for a walk on the beach?

  Fort Myers

 Britt found a live sand dollar

 The Pier

 Shadow fun

Upon arriving in Fort Myers the town was hosting a free Song Writers Music Festival. Stages were set up all over the town and musicians singing with all their hearts. We found seats at a place called Nervous Nellie’s. 
Tim McGreary, Local Artist
The first couple that took the stage were two individuals who just happen to join forces. They each played the guitar and sang; they were very good. 

The second set was a couple of guys who call themselves Trailer Choir from Nashville. They’ve been singing together for about twelve years and one of the members is Big Vinny from season twelve of The Biggest Loser. These guys put on a show – they didn’t just stand up there and sing, they were funny and goofy and made us all laugh. It was the highlight of our night.

For nearly a week we watched the path of Hurricane Matthew. Our friend Bob on s/v Windygo is in the Bahamas and just was thirty miles from Matthew’s eye. He is safe although Windygo has some damage, but nothing that can’t be fixed. Then we watched to see just how far Matthew would shoot West towards us. We prepared for the worst, just to be safe. We were expecting some of Matthew’s edge to cause us heavy winds and maybe some rain, but to our surprise, we got nothing. Probably only about twenty knots of wind and nothing to be concerned about.

 Shrimp Boats

Jimi and Brittany exploring a wreck

We’re patiently waiting for a weather window – next stop is Marco Island about thirty-five miles South of here.

Monday, September 26, 2016

To Nebraska and back again...we're home.

It seems unreal that the summer went by so fast. In the end, it left us with allot full of memories. We enjoyed our surroundings while missing our sweet Sanibel and found treasure in everything we did. You see treasure isn’t just a chest full of sunken gold coins. Treasure is what we make it, and even in the Midwest State of Nebraska, treasure can be found.
We were happy to arrive at my parent’s house in Stamford, Nebraska on June 4th. Dad put us up in his RV, which is very similar living to that on Sanibel; therefore, we were right at home.
We began our fun weekends with an afternoon at the river relaxing and playing in the river.

 Jimi floating in the river.

 My daughter, Jennifer and my grand puppy, Remi.

 This is three year old, Kayne. He's my daughter's boyfriend's son.

A few weekends later we took a tube ride down the river. I remained with my great niece to help her plan her wedding while Jimi, Jennifer (my daughter), Gavlin (my daughter’s boyfriend) and Brittany (my great niece) braved the river. It turns out they were a little off on their timing. They figured it would take four hours to do the entire stretch when in reality it took four hours to go half way, which is where I finally picked them up at. I don’t think anyone took any photos to share.
We were honored to finally be able to watch my cousin compete in the NSPA Truck & Tractor Pull. We’ve heard about it and seen pictures for years, but living on a sailboat in the deep blue makes it difficult for us to drop in during a competition. The competition was in Sterling, Colorado on June 18th. It’s not uncommon for Lee to place first in these events, so you can understand his disappointment when he got second place. But we were thrilled and felt 2nd place was quite an accomplishment. We thoroughly enjoyed watching him put his truck together to prepare for the race and see its beauty. He’s done a fantastic job and it shows when crowds of people swarmed his truck for a better look.

 My cousin, Lee, putting the engine together.

 "Black Thunder"

 Matching semi.

 He's up preparations as the crowd meanders over for a closer look. 

On the track.

On the Fourth of July, we attended the annual celebration in Alma. There were activities for all and yummy food. That evening we ate more food at my parent’s house and set off our own fireworks.

 The little tikes had their own truck pull.

 This is a friend of mine, who serves the best BBQ in the midwest.

 This is Pastor Jason with the best sense of humor in the midwest.

Jennifer, Gavlin and I went to the annual Derby in Beaver City, a neighboring town. And I have to tell you, that was a hoot and a holler. There’s something about watching cars bang into each other that is unexplainable. I was quite surprised when the truck and car classes were over and they brought out the riding lawn mower tractors. I was thinking only in the midwest.

Jimi and I took a weekend and drove to Englewood, Colorado to spend a day with friends Brad and Ellen. An old tradition of theirs is to rent a cabana at Water World and invite their friends. This is a tradition we’ve been unable to participate in since moving to Florida five years ago. We felt since we were close it was time to oblige and so we did. We spent the day with them under the bright sunshine, immersed in cool water rides or in the breezy cabana.

 Martinis for the Coles; coffee for the Nicolaus'


Ellen with Jimi following.

The following day, I flew to McAllen, Texas for work and Jimi drove back to the homestead in Nebraska.  I spent a week in Texas taking care of business and then flew into Grand Island where Jimi picked me up.

One thing you can be sure of whenever I go home and that is I will always dig every craft item and supply I have from our stored boxes and begin making things. I spent the entire summer with not a free second unfilled. I made Independence Day pillow boxes for my parent’s church and filled them with candy. I planned a surprise 40th birthday party for my niece making a banner, photo props, table decorations, cake pops, and cupcakes.

 My father designed and made the sign. I painted the letters.

I helped with several projects the church needed. Jimi was gracious enough to rebuild the church computer for them, as well as fix the Pastor’s personal laptop, a church member’s personal laptop, and my fathers. Jimi assisted my dad with much-needed work around the house like cleaning the gutters, trimming trees, mowing the grass, installing wood flooring, moving furniture and more. We stayed busy and enjoyed it all. It felt good to have something to do and to feel needed.
My sister introduced us to a genuine Midwest treasure; a large, privately owned second-hand store in Overton, Nebraska. This is truly the place to find great antiques at thrift store prices. These guys have it all. We visited a couple of times and found some real gems in the rough; however, the problem for us is that we live on a sailboat and no matter how bad we wanted something, we had to limit ourselves.

Jimi and I learned that we are going to be grandparents in February. My daughter is expecting. We are pretty thrilled about the idea of having our first grandchild.

My parents, Jimi and I went to a play in a nearby town. It was a cute comedy titled "Right Bed, Wrong Husband."

The movie theater in Oxford offers prices I could not pass up. Friday, Saturday and Sunday movies are shown in 3D for the admission price of $5. Monday nights they are not is 3D for an admission price of $2. A small popcorn is $1, medium popcorn is $2 and any size tap water with ice is fifty cents. We went as often as we could Our Monday night total for the two of us was $7.50. We saw "Finding Dorey", "Jason Bourne" and "Nine Lives" and then "Star Trek" in 3D.

It wasn’t all fun and games. Jimi brought a big job with him from Florida, but first, he had to find a heavy duty sewing machine to do the job. After a few weeks of searching, he found the perfect specimen for a mere $10 at a second-hand store. This machine is a beauty and now has a new home on Sanibel with us.
Jimi’s big project was to cut down the genoa sail and sew on a new sacrificial. Ok – it sounds easy enough, but when trying to wrestle with a piece of canvas 45 feet by 20 feet, things get harry. In addition to fighting with all that material, the sewing machine must sew through the canvas and two pieces of Sunbrella material. Sunbrella is a specialized fabric that will stand up to the UV rays and a must on a sailboat. This is the second sail we’ve sewn a sacrificial on; I helped with the first one four years ago and it was no easy task. Jimi did all the work on this one by himself.

When I found out we would be going home for the summer, I immediately contacted my great niece who had planned her wedding date for August 27th. I was so excited that I would be able to attend, but better yet, I was even more excited when she said I could help with the wedding and the reception. We did quite a lot of planning together to prepare. My gift to her and her husband included making all the table decorations, party favors, photo prop booth and supplies, guest table, food signs and program fans. Jimi probably doesn’t think so, but I had a blast doing it all. This was the third wedding I’ve had a hand in; each has been quite different and all have turned out without a hitch. Jimi’s gift to the bride and groom was being the videographer. Even with his limited equipment, he managed to give them a very memorable video.

Just a few weeks before our visit came to an end my father was admitted to the hospital. We took him to the ER after members of their church urged him to go; he hadn’t felt well in over a week and his coloring wasn’t good. The doctors determined that his kidneys were only functioning at 20%, he had a blood infection and some other minor things. We spent every day at the hospital with him until he was well enough to come home. He was there seven days, which he says was too long.

Mom and Dad coming up on their 52nd wedding anniversary. 

That same week Jimi had an outpatient surgery for a hernia. He was in and out; all went well. He’s on light duty for two or three more weeks.
We now have a new crew member on board. She is my seventeen-year-old great niece, Brittany. She’s enrolled in an online high school through the University of Nebraska and will complete her senior year with us and Sanibel. We’re excited to have her aboard and show her all kinds of neat things sailing the coast of Florida and hope she can handle the lifestyle, the heat, and the motion.


All good things must come to an end – we left Stamford, Nebraska at 9:30 pm on Friday, September 16th. Jimi drove through the night and I drove some during the day while he slept. Our first night we just happened to past the world’s largest ball of twine (who would have thought).

We stopped to take pictures. The next day Jimi accidently took a wrong turn and we ended up at the foot of the Arch in St Louis. We parked, walked around and took some pictures. Trying to find our way back to the interstate we came across miles and miles of graffiti. The talent is astounding. We drove the wall, stopping along the way for pictures until we finally decided it was time to get back on the road.

We arrived at the boatyard in Florida Sunday morning at 7:30am. Sanibel was still standing and free from any storm damage.

Jimi took a long morning nap, while Brittany and I showered at the boatyard’s facilities and did some laundry. It was later that Jimi began working on repairing the cutlass bearing, fearing it would take a week to fix. Thankfully, he fixed it that evening and he was pleased.

Feeling so good about things, he decided to rebuild the fuel injection pump before launching. He completed the task on Monday, but the engine would not start, figuring he did something wrong, he took it apart and put it back together again. It still would not start. He referenced manuals, youtube, checked the compression, the fuel and could not figure it out. In the meantime, Brittany and I were being eaten alive by the noseeum bugs and dying of the boatyard heat. We began spending the days at the library: I worked and she studied. Still coming back at night was like walking into a death trap. Brittany was not used to the heat nor the lifestyle. I’d say living on the sailboat in the boatyard without immediate facilities, in 100-degree heat, no breeze and constant knawing at your legs and arms is about as bad as it gets. It wasn’t the kind of the first impression I was hoping for. Jimi and I were at the point that we would fork out hundreds of dollars to rent a place for a week for Brittany and I. On Thursday we decided to give it one more day. When we returned from the library on Thursday Jimi told us the good news. The engine started and we were scheduled to launch at 3pm on Friday; awww, the light at the end of the tunnel. He may as well have told us we won the lottery. We celebrated by taking a quick trip to the beach.

Friday couldn’t have been any busier. I was still on the clock with Cencorp, trying to get Sanibel ready and wash our final bit of laundry, we all had to take showers and Jimi had to change the oil in Sanibel and in the van. We had groceries to buy and drop the van off for storage at our friend’s house. Our heads were spinning.

We are floating now and much happier. Brittany is having some motion issues, which we’re hoping she’ll overcome. The excessive noseeum bites and extreme heat could be playing a factor in that. We’re hoping the weather will gradually begin to cool to give her more relief.

People don't normally leave their house for three to four months at a time unless you’re a snowbird. Our first night back on Sanibel I was desperately trying to find light over our table so I could see. It was dark and I was frustrated. I couldn’t remember where the light was. I felt really stupid when Jimi showed me the lamps on either side of the table - duh.  And then I could not get the stove to light. Jimi had to crawl out of the engine room to help me. The first thing he asked was "did you flip the switch to turn the gas on?", Uhhh no....double duh. I’m not the only one, though. The next morning Jimi was trying to make coffee and told me he couldn’t find the scoop we use and he’d looked everywhere. I turned towards the galley and pointed straight to it hanging over the stove in the same place we’ve stored it forever. We both have to laugh at ourselves.

We’re crowded and have a lot of organizing to do to find our places. In any case, we’re happy to be home and looking forward to an awesome and fantastic sailing season.