About Us

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Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We Crossed the Florida State Line!

Florida State Line!
Well, I heard that we crossed over the Florida State Line. I guess that’s what got caught around our propeller. You can see the guy in the funny rubber suit holding it here in the picture with Jeff. I thought it would be bigger than that. The Florida State Line
It must cost money to cross the line. I’m not sure what we’ll do with it, but Jeff paid the guy $30 so we could keep it. Jeff buys the Florida State Line
Today we took a fast dinghy ride from our anchorage to see Patti and Tom at their sailboat, Liberty, in Jacksonville Beach Florida. I have a hard time staying in one place in the dinghy when Jeff gets the speed up so I’ve been wearing my life vest. It’s bright yellow and I think it makes me look fat, but they make me wear it anyway. I think the oyster patch incident gave them a little scare too. Does this make me look fat?

Patti and Tom had a rental car for the day, so I got to go for a car ride, too. Wow – two rides in a day…but not exactly what I was expecting. I guess there was a real good sale there, because Jeff, Izzy, Tom and Patti filled up the back of the car and I had to sit on Izzy’s lap the whole way home! I couldn’t even put my head out the window. The store was called Total Wine.

The tide changed by the time we got back, so I had to be lifted down from the dock into the dinghy…rather undignified. That big 8 foot tide change gave us more problems the next day when we had to pass up our planned anchorage because it was too shallow for us. We kept going and it was getting dark by the time we got to a marina in Daytona Beach. Izzy and Jeff went out and had a beer after that! They put me in charge of protecting the boat.

Izzy didn’t like that driving in the dark stuff much, so the next day SHE got to plan the anchorage for the night. She didn’t do any better. That night we had to anchor in the dark in a real shallow spot near Titusville right by the railroad bridge. It took us a long time to get into a spot that was deep enough to keep us afloat when the tide went down. I was hoping for a little land to show so I could go for a walk, but no luck. I had to use my “yard” instead. It was noisy all night. We listened to trains until dawn, so Izzy was up early enough to get a picture of the sunrise. In Satellite Beach we stopped to see Kay and Harold. They have a dog named Ralph who I was excited to meet. Harold guided us up the Banana River into the canal behind their house, dodging something in the water called Manatees all the way, and Kay was there ready to help Izzy and Jeff raft our boat up next to theirs. Kay helping Jeff with the electricity

Ralph was in their yard barking and excited to see me too… I thought. While Jeff and Izzy were having a good time with Kay and Harold, I was trying to get to know Ralph. I thought he was happy to have me prancing around in his yard, and I was so excited to have all that nice grass to romp in and sniff, but evidently I misunderstood his southern accent. He must have thought I was trying to stake a claim to his turf and Harold and Kay, so showed me his teeth…maybe it was because of the poop I left in his yard.Ralph protecting Harold and his yard
Izzy and Jeff came back to the boat late and a little goofy. I think they had a real good time with Kaye and Harold. Goodbye to Harold on IDGARA and Ralph in the yard…sorry about the poop.

The crows around here are real big. This one watching us at the fuel dock must have gotten stretched because his neck was REAL long and so were his legs. Maybe he got caught in the Florida State line too. Later in the day I say a whole island of those poor crows that had gotten stretched way out of shape. You really have to be careful when crossing that line. They must all hang out together because they look so funny. It smelled bad when we passed there, and Jeff blamed me! Smelly stretched-crow island
There were a few times when we slowed down real fast and I heard the engines making funny noises and saw the water get kind of muddy around us. Jeff and Izzy were busy watching the flashing numbers on the dash board. Some people chose to anchor there…not a good idea. Wonder if I could sell this picture to that guy in the boat SITARA
Izzy’s voice gets kind of high and louder sometimes, when she says things like “4 feet deep!” or “Barge coming around the bend!”, or “No, you can’t go down to pee now!” When Izzy drives we go even slower than when Jeff drives, and she makes wavy lines in the water behind us. Jeff just laughs and says she’s doing the “wiggle-wobble”. I think she’s getting better because he likes to leave her up there driving while he goes to do something else on the boat. She talks to me or herself then, but I don’t understand her words.

We stayed at a little dock the next night called Jones Fruit Dock. A little old guy named Dickey Jones came out of his house and met us at the dock with a bag of grapefruit and oranges. He told us he is 89 years old…that’d be 623 in dog years. He charged us only $20 to stay for the night at his dock. The electricity consisted of an extension cord to their 110 outlet in the dock. Lights were dim that night so we went to bed early! The next night we met up with cousins BJ and Brian for a night of fun at the Riviera Beach Marina. While everyone else went off to see the big boat that Brian was working on, and then ride in the dinghy to a Tiki Bar for some good chow, I stayed back at the boat as the official watch dog again. I smelled the fries on their clothes when they returned. Cool boat Brian’s working on

Yup, still says “Active Ass”. Thought they were going to change that…
Bye to Brian and BJ…see you soon
We finally arrived in Fort Lauderdale after a long afternoon spent going real slow and stopping often to wait for the bridges to rise so we could get through. Izzy was busy putting antennas up and down. Jeff wanted her to drive but she didn’t want to have to hang around in front of the bridges with all the big million dollar boats in the little skinny waterway. Guess her driving skills still need some polishing.
The first shorts day in Florida…ahhh the warm sun feels good!
Busy waterway in Fort Lauderdale…some BIG boats around here!

Our slip was easy to find, but getting into it was another story. I’m not sure just what was happening, but I pretended to be sleeping to avoid being blamed for any potential boat damage. Jeff was backing the boat into the skinny slip, Izzy was trying to toss a line to someone on shore, and there was a lot of chatter and directions being given.

Top three excuses…the wind was blowing, the current was strong, and the tide was low. We went back and forth until I thought I was going to get seasick. Finally we turned around and went in head first. I got a shot of the GPS line track that we made while trying that tricky landing. I hope these two will get this boating thing down soon before we crash into something! The only saving grace is that the water is so shallow that we can’t actually SINK here. Yellow is land, blue is the canal, and the red line is our trail…looks like spaghetti.
This is a picture of the apartments in front of our slip. There’s a nice dog named Marley who sometimes comes out in that yard to the left. I’d like to play with him in all that grass sometime. There are two cats living in that green jungle somewhere and a whole bunch of geckos…fun to chase if I could ever get down from here! Finally docked at 92 Hendricks Isle

Looks like my walks will be only at low tide now. So now I’ll have to be a gymnast or learn how to read the tide tables if I ever want to get off this boat.
DisemBARKing …Watch the hand placement there, buddy.

So now I have a new spot for doing my watch dog job. It’s near my “yard” and I can keep my eye on the mailman and the barbeque from here - in case anyone has an extra chop they can’t eat.
Life is good. I’m going to take a nap now and wait for low tide.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ben's First Blog

Merry Christmas!
From Jeff, Izzy and Ben
In Spooner's Creek, NC

Hi All…Ben here,

I’ve decided to write to you because Jeff and Izzy are always really busy, and someone needs to keep you up to date with all of our fiascos…err.. (mis) adventures. Besides, I needed a job. So far my only responsibility has been to bark at strangers, and on this boat there just aren’t too many. On a few occasions, I’ve heard Jeff blaming me for some goof that HE made, so I also want to set the record straight about my involvement in any of his shenanigans.

For one thing, I had nothing to do with the placement of the name or the door on the back of our boat. It came like this...long before I ever set eyes on it. Someone else did it - not me!

Hmmm... unfortunate placement of the transom door ...

Jeff wants to change the boat's name to "IZZY R". There's some inside joke there about getting Izzy to change her name too. I guess I'd become Ben "Rogers" then. Frankly I like “Active Ass”. It's a good calling card for me with the other marina dogs.

We’ve had a few exciting times – one with a sudden stop in the mud and the resulting unexpected stay at a nice marina with other dogs to smell, and a man in a funny black rubber suit and a big tank on his back swimming around our boat. Jeff had a beer after the guy told him we only had some missing paint on the bottom.

Guy in the funny black rubber suit

We did need to repair our hydraulic steering and the autopilot, so Jeff put the bikes together and took off in search of West Marine…his new favorite place.

Off to West Marine!

A couple of days ago we were traveling in 46 knot winds coming across St.Simon’s Sound near Brunswick, Georgia. The wind blew off one side panel of our flybridge enclosure. We drove from inside most of the day, but had to go out to tie things down every now and then. I tried to take one of those opportunities to mosey up to the “yard” for a little wiz, but Izzy grabbed me by the harness to stop me from getting blown off the boat.

Speaking of my yard, I’ve gotten to like that little patch. At first I was a little confused about what to do with it.


But pretty soon I figured out what it's for...and it isn't for sitting or lying down! It comes in handy when they stop the boat for the night without any dry land around us. They have a habit of doing that…not sure if it’s a mistake or what, but they throw this big metal thing into the water and we get stuck out there! (Go figure?)…and I have to “go”! Since the dinghy has been deflated the past few days ….

Oh, did you hear the story about the deflated dinghy? If so, you probably heard Jeff’s version…one of those times when he blames me for his goofs. He’s been telling people that I was driving when we hit the oyster bed in 6 inches of water and tore a one foot ($250) gash in the pontoon. Izzy was back on the big boat laughing and taking pictures as Jeff rowed us backwards before the dinghy sank!

Beginning of the fateful dinghy ride

Oops… flat on the right…. IZZY!!

He wanted ME to row too…can you believe it? Clearly he could see I have no thumbs.
You should have been here to see the two of them trying to get that dinghy out of the water and back up on the high deck without it turning upside down! Kind of an Abbott and Costello routine with lots of ropes and water. That was another time that I opted to get out of the way so I wouldn’t get the blame. We had to stay in another nice marina for an extra day to take care of that! Thunderbolt Marina near Savannah is real warm and friendly…we’re in the south now!

Yesterday was “holding tank explosion day”. We thought we were cleaning it out, but we were really overfilling it. When Jeff took out the plug with the blocked vent line, he got a surprise shower of poop from head to toe. I stayed quietly on the flybridge far away from any place where he could possibly involve me in his explanation of this fine mess! Not my fault…I only poop in my yard. Izzy didn’t take any picture of that snafu. Jeff spent the day figuring out and repairing the problem and cleaning up the mess while Izzy did the laundry, went grocery shopping and baked a cake hoping to cover up the smell.

I don’t want you to think its all problems (opportunities). We’ve also had some real nice quiet times for me to sleep and dream of when my house won’t move anymore. Today we’re traveling south going to Jacksonville, Florida with our deflated dinghy on the deck, pretty embarrassing…we’re looking rather like the Clampets!

Can you say "Clampets"?

Tonight we should be able to put air in the freshly patched pontoons and try it out when we go to see Patti and Tom on their boat tomorrow. I love those dinghy rides, but just have to figure out how to warn Jeff of shallow water so I won’t be blamed for another patch. Maybe this dinghy should be named “Patches”.

At least we're not traveling in this boat that was in the harbor today!

I hear it’s warmer in Florida, so I hope I’ll get to get go to the doggie beauty parlor for a cut and fluff and have my nails done soon. Up until now it has been real handy to have the wild and wooly look to get attention and treats from strangers on our walks, and to keep me warm up here on the fly bridge in the cold. Sometimes on cold, rainy, windy days Izzy even puts a blanket on me up here. Kind of wussie, but warm.

That’s me in my helm seat…navigating

We were just buzzed by a fancy helicopter Jeff called an AeroEspeciale. Seems we’re about to be approached by a Navy submarine and we have to get out of the channel and stay 500 feet away. There is a Coast Guard boat escorting it with men and guns all around it. Izzy’s getting pictures.

Well, I just heard some excitement at the helm about coming up to the Florida boarder soon, and some questions about the whereabouts of the “chip” for the new navigation area and the really low tide…Izzy’s saying, “Three point six feet of water!!!” Not sure what that’s all about. Sounds familiar though…it usually means we slow down a lot. Hope we get to stay in another marina! Especially if we have “chips”!
I'll write again soon, but meanwhile I'm just gonna watch these birds....