Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Nirvana Is In Florida .. FINALLY!

After reviewing our blog, I realized that my last post was about our solar panel project. Since then, we actually left the dock in Louisiana! Leaving the dock wasn't easy, and realizing that our teak bowsprit was rotten just days before leaving didn't help! We were determined to not let this setback stop us from leaving, and with the help of a friend a new bowsprit was built and installed within a week! The new bowsprit was made by gluing pieces of Mahogany and Ipe wood together and then varnishing. Actually, it wasn't near as easy as it sounds, but that's the basics of it. We are so thankful for our friend's help. Without him, we may have been set back for many more weeks .. thanks Martin! 

After finishing the bowsprit, we needed to install our new Mantus anchor .. it's a beast!

 After installing the anchor, we tackled a lot of last minute projects. There were so many things that needed to be done at the last minute, like storing our truck at my Dad's place, filling up the jerry cans, hauling our dinghy from storage & getting it inflated and placed on the bow, filling up our boat with groceries, and all sorts of random things. We were exhausted the night before we left, and our heads didn't hit the pillow till around 11pm that night. We didn't even have time to hang out with our dock friends for a farewell drink! But, we were already leaving a few weeks later than anticipated and we weren't pushing back our departure date for even one more day. So, our dock friends watched while they drank for us! 

We got everything done and were up at sunrise the next morning and ready to go.

On November 18th, we finally left the dock and headed East! It was a beautiful day, and it felt so good to FINALLY be headed somewhere new. We'd been waiting for this day a long time! It's weird, because I always planned about writing about the days leading up to this experience, but we were so busy making it happen that I just didn't have the time. Let me just say ... it was so surreal to actually leave the dock, and so exhilarating! Here's a quick video taken just minutes after leaving the dock ...

 We went through the Rigolets bridge, and then began our journey into unfamiliar territory. We entered the Mississippi Sound and stayed in Gulfport, MS the first night. Our first day was fun, with calm seas and blue skies! 

On the second day, we motored to an anchorage in Pascagoula, and on the 3rd day (my birthday) we awoke to a beautiful sunrise and enjoyed the company of dolphin while drinking coffee in our cockpit. I couldn't capture the dolphin, but there were a lot! It was so peaceful, and I couldn't think of a better way to start my birthday!

After we pulled up the anchor, we passed Dauphin Island and crossed Mobile Bay, which was like glass. We had a perfect day, being often escorted by dolphin and as an added bonus ... the "Blue Angels" were practicing overhead! Ken said he ordered them for my birthday .. LOL! That afternoon, we pulled into Lulu's alongside the ICW to celebrate my 53rd birthday, and the fact that we were now in Alabama .. and exactly 10 years ago we bought Nirvana! It was a birthday that will never be forgotten! The first photo below is just after crossing Mobile Bay and entering the canal of the ICW.

The following day, a water pump that we ordered the day before arrived (already dealing with the unexpected) and Ken was able to replace it without any problems. Luckily, the guy working at the marina gave us a ride to the hardware store and to Wal-Mart .. yes, the boating community is great! After two nights at Lulu's "Homeport Marina", we were on our way to Pensacola.

The passage from Lulu's to Pensacola was pretty interesting. It started down the ICW canal, which had a busy highway to our starboard side for a while. The highway was later replaced with beautiful homes along the way, and the area looked very similar to the canals back home. We then entered an area of really cool sand dunes. Once again, we were escorted by dolphin and treated to another "Blue Angels" show! I tried to capture this on my cheap phone, but just couldn't.

When passing the sand dunes, it was a pretty narrow passage. We were glad to have our chart plotter to stay on course! BTW, our "chart plotter" was an app (Aqua Map) on our iPad, and I'll be writing a post dedicated to it soon because it was so cheap and so easy. I swear, it's so much better than our expensive Lowrance and we love it! Below is a pic of it taken just after leaving Lulu's ...

After running for weeks, we were exhausted when we finally arrived in Pensacola mid-day. We decided to get some rest and dock near Pensacola Beach for a few days. The location was just what we needed! The beach was a short walk away, as well as "Happy Hour" and beautiful sunsets from our cockpit. See that sailboat on the outside dock facing the trawler? That's Nirvana! The very first photo in this post was taken from Nirvana one evening .. we loved the view!

After a few days of exploring the Pensacola Beach area, we moved our boat to a marina along the ICW in Pensacola for the holidays.

You see, we got a late start leaving Louisiana and we didn't beat the cold. Add to that the fact that not only one .. but two of our tenants gave their notice that they were vacating our rentals! For us, it made sense to stay nearby to repair and rent our rentals ourselves instead of paying a small fortune for someone else to do it for us. As much as we want to continue our sailing journey, we don't wanna freeze and we don't want it to cost us thousands of extra dollars when we're on a small budget!

So, we decided to rent a car and take the 3 hour drive back home to visit with family for Thanksgiving. Our daughter and her family were also in town from Colorado! Since Thanksgiving, we got our truck back from my Dad's place and we've been spending time between one of our vacant rentals and our boat in Pensacola. Luckily, our rental has a washer, dryer and refrigerator and the house doesn't require many repairs. We're once again sleeping on an air mattress, which brings back memories of our time in Puerto Rico

It's been pretty nice having a "condo" in Pensacola and a house in Louisiana to go back & forth to. In Orange Beach, we went to a fun Christmas parade that threw tons of candy. I liked the candy much better than the beads we get in New Orleans! We've also enjoyed the Christmas lights in downtown Pensacola and Perdido Key, as well as our traditional visit to New Orleans for drinks and tours of some of the well known hotels that are decorated for Christmas. The first photo is the famous Roosevelt Hotel lobby ..

and Fulton Street always has a huge tree and gingerbread display!

This year was our first visit to the Ritz Carlton to see their Christmas display. Their lobby was also beautiful, and they also had a gingerbread display creation of their own!

The best surprise at the Ritz .. free gumbo! It was really good too!

While waiting for warmer weather and our rental to be vacated, we decided to fly to Colorado for Christmas to see our "kids"! We enjoyed a beautiful "White Christmas" and I cried when they dropped us off at the airport. Our lil man will be two years old in less than a month!

We arrived back in Louisiana just in time to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends. Our other rental will be vacant soon, and we're hoping it's not in too bad of shape. The bad thing is that our currently vacant rental hasn't rented yet, but the good thing is that we have a comfortable place to stay during the Winter and while working on our other rental. When life gives us lemons, we make lemonade!

Ken's also picked up a few jobs while in Louisiana .. may as well make money while he can! We'll continue to make the best of our situation and enjoy both Louisiana & Florida. The views from our cockpit in Pensacola are pretty awesome and the sunsets are gorgeous .. I'll get a picture one of these times. Being next to the ICW, we often see dolphin too .. so rare in Louisiana! 

So what's our plans when the weather gets warmer in the Spring? We're not exactly sure. Since our rentals will always need to be dealt with (and a property manager would suck up our budget), we may decide to continue to stay closer to home. There's a ton of exploring to do in the Florida Panhandle, as well as in between there and Louisiana. We'll get it figured out!

Hasta luego .. until then. Mid-Life Cruising!


Jo Kowal Vose said...

You got started.. that is goood!! I hope you get everything fixed and warmer weather to continue.. I love you guys and want to keep reading your wonderful blog with lots of pictures of your travels... get it girl!!

Neophyte Cruiser said...

So good to see you guys are underway! The bowsprit replacement looks great. If you're using your i-Pad for your chart plotter, another program you might find interesting to explore is i-Sailor (Wärtsilä iSailor). The app is for both iPad and Android devices. I've used it for a number of years now and find it quite accurate and very intuitive and easy to use. I have it installed both on my iPad and iPhone. I've used it to sail between Santa Cruz, California south as far as Punta Corrientes, Puerto Vallarta and found it to be reliable. You might want to check it out to see what you think.

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