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!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Beginning the Loop

Hi All...Ben here on the water,
We've been on the move up the ICW and stopped in to see my old "friend" Ralph again at Kay and Harold's house in Satellite Beach.
On our way up the canal toward his house, we passed a whole bunch of kayakers getting their exercise trying to maneuver around the boats and wakes. They looked like they were having fun.
Here's Ralph again protecting his house. I'll bet he gets lots of treats, cause he does a good job. He liked Jeff and Izzy just fine and let them come in. They made friends with him right away. But I think he's still mad at me for that mess I left in his yard last visit.He's still a little leary of me, so I kept my distance and tried not to look longingly at his yard, or at Kay or Harold. We stayed rafted up to their boat in front of their house for a few days and had a good time with them and their crazy friends.
Kay took Jeff and Izzy to the Kennedy Space Center the first day. They came home with stories of big rockets and men on the moon. They even bought some astronaut food to try- dehydrated ice cream - just doesn't do it for me. I prefer the Earth version.Harold has a real pretty little fast wooden boat that he keeps for special occasions. Here's a picture of Harold and his woody! He took Jeff and Izzy out for a ride and went so fast that their hair stood on end like mine does when I stick my head out the car window.We got to meet some of Kay and Harold's fun friends. I was even invited to come along to dinner one night to Alan and Jan's house play with their dog, Spike. He's a real nice guy who played with me in his yard. I think he likes me. Everyone talked about boats while Spike and I got to know each other. Here's a picture of us having fun at Spike's house with Kay & Harold, and Jan & Alan. Spike and I are under the table searching for leftovers.

The next day we untied our lines from Kay and Harold's boat and started to go further north to meet up with Aaron and Matt. Harold knew that we would have a difficult time finding our way in the shallow water of the Banana River, so he was real nice and came with us for the first part of the trip. We were glad to have him show us the way with the tricky markers and lots of crab pots floating around. At one point Jeff felt something strange in the steering - kind of a vibration, so we slowed down and checked around the boat but didn't see anything, and everything was working alright. A few miles ahead we dropped Harold off at a marina where one of his friends was going to pick him up and take him back home. So long Harold ...Thanks for all the help and hospitality in Satellite Beach. We had fun with you and your nice friends!
Upon our arrival in Titusville we were greeted by two huge manatees floating under our dock. As we hooked up our hose and washed off the boat, they came over to drink the fresh water drippings. Jeff put the hose overboard and they came up and drank from it...quite a show! Those open holes are the nostrils opening briefly for a breath...eyes are further back. You remember that funny boat vibration I told you about when we were coming over the Banana river with Harold? Well, Jeff got the idea that he should get in the water and check out the prop and see what might be causing the trouble. Guess he got tired of paying the man in the funny rubber suit to look under there. The nice lady at the office had told him that not only were there manatees in the water around the boat (they're gentle and won't hurt you), but there was also a 6 foot alligator spotted in the harbor earlier that day(they're not so nice and they do bite!). That didn't bother Jeff...he jumped in and found a bunch of wire, that used to be a crab pot, wrapped real tightly around the prop. He cut it off with some clippers and about 25 breaths. Here's a picture of Jeff and his treasure. He's such a hero! Izzy calls him "Jacques Cousteau", whoever that is. On our way up the Intracoastal Waterway, we were again followed by those playful dolphin that like to swim right beside our boat and spin and look at us as they ride our waves.
Tying up on the free curved city dock in New Smyrna Beach, FL was a little tricky, but we got some help from an old commercial sailor who was hanging around in the park watching boats. He took our lines and flipped them over the pilings in a couple of seconds... Jeff and Izzy are still trying to master that smooth technique. Something about having two left hands?

About a mile up the waterfront we found a lunch spot with fresh fish and a bait shop to set our crab trap out for its first catch. Here's a picture of Jeff during the rigors of crab trapping.
Note the line hanging into the water off the swim step. He had to sit and wait with a beer for about 10 minutes before lifting the trap to the surface to check for crabs. On his first try he managed to catch an unknown bottom fish that got its mouth stuck on the bait. It must be a quite intense and demanding sport, because I noticed it made him very tired, and he actually dozed off for a while...poor guy.

That night we walked over to the fishing piers under the bridge and watched the real fishermen catching shrimp with what looked like oversized butterfly nets. There were bright green lights hanging just under the surface of the water to attract the shrimp to the surface, and as the current carried the shrimp past the bridge the fishermen would scoop them up in their nets. Looked pretty simple. Maybe Jeff should try that instead.

Matt and Aaron are meeting us in Daytona Beach for Spring Break.
I can hardly wait. Some more guys to play with ... and they give me their pizza crust sometimes!

I think I'll study up on the crabbing techniques. I think I could do as well as Jeff. He's had no luck so far. Jeff caught us salad!
Till next time ...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Friends and Family in Fort Lauderdale

Hi All…Ben here again,

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks since I last wrote. Izzy’s brother and sister-in-law, Dick and Cathy, came from Atlanta to visit with us for a few days. When they got out of the car, they had so many suitcases I thought for sure my little friend Angel must be in one of them....dissapointed...I guess Cathy brought too many shoes. That's what Jeff says happens when he travels with Izzy.

See...here's me with my little friend Angel at Thanksgiving.

They had Bloody Mary’s with Izzy and Jeff on the sundeck the morning they arrived, so the day got off to a good start. Dick said Izzy makes good bloody Mary's, so they had a few until they ran out of celery. A fun dinghy ride and a visit to see friends Fran and John made everyone even happier.

They did a lot of eating and drinking away from the boat, so I got some overtime in my watchdog job, and earned treats at time and a half. (That job is pretty easy.) They took a ride to Deerfield Beach and had dinner with Brian and BJ.And they went over to Fran and Johns and had a barbecue. This is a picture of Jeff with John and Dick. I can tell by this picture that these guys are drinking wine and telling lies while the meat cooks. Fran made a tasty pasta dish too, and everyone got real full and came home laughing and a little goofy. Izzy says that Fran is “Italian” and that her pasta is the best. I had a little taste of some of it because Fran gave them big bag of leftovers to have for lunch the next day. I wish Izzy could be “Italian” too so I could eat that everyday instead of the dog food she gives me. I think Izzy must be “Purina”.
We went to the beach, took a walk in the sand and looked at the vacationers with their red sunburned faces. They didn't take a swim, and neither did I. Apparently they don't want Izzy to give them a scrubbing like I got after that dip in the canal. The beach water looks a lot cleaner though, and you don't have to fall in from the edge of the boat. Here are Dick and Cathy at the beach in Fort Lauderdale trying to keep out of the water. Izzy and Jeff with just their toes in the water.

Dick helped Izzy put together her new bike stand so she could ride her bike while we are on the boat. That sounds crazy to me. I hope that doesn't mean that I'll get out less often. After all, the best exercise is definitely a nice long walk with a dog. Jeff said not to worry, because he thinks she'll forget that she has it.

This pretty red boat came into the canal one day. Izzy wondered if Jeff had started a fire somewhere, but she was relieved to find out it was just out for a ride. Man, I was really getting to like this Fort Lauderdale routine. I got to sleep in until about 8:00 or so before anyone disturbed me, then I could usually convince one of these two to get me down off this boat and take me for a nice long walk down to the beach or around the canals where I could practice my gecko chasing techniques. I have to admit that I haven’t been successful in that area yet. They’re fast little buggers.
But one day Jeff began talking about starting the engines! I was a little nervous about that. Sounded like the house would be moving, and I’d have to get my “sea legs’ working again and go back to using the “yard” instead of going for nice walks. And I'd have to say goodbye to my new friend Marley in the yard next door.
Jeff and Izzy seem excited that they are going to start the “Loop”. Coulda fooled me…I thought we’d been doing “loops” since we left Irvine and my nice lake.
In preparation for leaving, we had Bottom Cleaning Day! The man in the funny rubber suit came over and got in the water and swam around the boat like I did that time a few weeks ago. Only thing different is that Jeff gave him money when he got out...I didn't get paid.
Infact, I guess it was Bottom Cleaning Day for everyone, cause when that guy got out, Jeff and I had to have our bottoms cleaned too! Bottom and top cleaning for Jeff
Bottom Cleaning for me, too!
I don't know if Izzy got her's cleaned, but there weren't any pictures of that in the camera.
Our new friends from down the canal, Parke and Moira, are going to be leaving in their sailboat to go back to Ottowa soon too, so we'll will plan to see them in the summer. Jeff was a little nervous about getting out of our slip since we don't have much space to back out and turn around. You remember the fiasco we had getting in here, don't you? The water is shallow, so when the tide is low our bottom sits on the ground. That means we have to leave when the tide is up and there's no wind.
Jeff asked me to cross my fingers. He must be joking. Have you ever seen a dog cross his fingers? I tried it and it doesn't work. He just had to pull it off without me. My plan was to sit up in that navigation seat and keep out of the way so I wouldn't be blamed for another screw up.
As it turned out we were all nervous for nothing. Our neighbor Ian helped guide us out and made sure we didn't hit his nice sailboat. Jeff turned the "Izzy R" around real smoothly and off we went up the canal to anchor out in front of Fran and John's house for our last night in Fort Lauderdale. Jeff and Izzy dinghied over to their house for another one of Fran's great "Italian" dinners and I stood guard on the boat. I did a great job and got the treats!
The next morning we went out into the ocean near Brian's grandma's condo. This is a picture of the buildings where Gladys lives and where the waves get bigger. After we passed these buildings, our boat rolled around in the deep water all day while we drove to Palm Beach. We were all glad to get to the inlet and find calm water to anchor in Lake Worth. Here's a picture of us having wine on our back deck that night. Well, Izzy threw out the plant I had in my yard, so I don't have anything to "aim" at anymore, so I'm going to go on strike and insist that they take me on a walk. I'll let you know how that goes in the next note. Till then....