A Bat Festival, A Visit with Susan and Dick, Veterans Day, A Big Promotion, and an 8th Birthday (October 16 – November 15, 2019)

When we were on the go all of the time, when we were in and out of the country, or even up and down rivers and the coast, what we missed the most was being able to spend time with our family and friends. Now that we are more grounded, although still afloat, we take the opportunities to visit, to do things, and to witness what we missed over the past years. Again, in this mostly photographic journal, we document another month of important events in our lives and that of our friends, children, and grandchildren.

Over the summer, we were able to have Madison and Michaela each spend a day with us, and then we took off to Jacksonville for boat maintenance. Carter patiently awaited his turn to spend the night on AfterMath, and finally the day came. How we loved having this adorable little boy to keep us company! Each time we had one of the kids, we tried to find something special to do. Carter had requested Legos on his arrival, and his wish was granted. The next day we took off for the Pinball Palace, and what fun that was!
Several weeks before the actual date, Kelly asked me if I would like to go to a bat festival in Gainesville, FL. It would be hard to say no to an adventure like that, of course, so on October 26th, off we went. The bats were great and so were all of the activities for the kids.
Next up, in our line of events, was a visit aboard AfterMath from our dear friends, Susan and Dick. We have been trying for a visit for such a long time and it finally happened! We had so much fun having them with us. Of course, we had to go to Driftwood Beach!
Brunswick was having a Porch Fest the weekend Dick and Susan were with us. Bands played at varying times on porches throughout the historic district of town. Only in its second year, the festival was just amazing and so much fun. We can’t wait for next year and I think Susan and Dick will be back for it again.
Soon it was Veterans’ Day and I asked Kelly if she and the kids would like to go to the parade that was held on St. Simon’s Island to celebrate the day. It was a typical small town parade and lots of fun.
The next big event was in the U. S. Capitol. Jeff received a promotion to Commander in the Coast Guard. What an amazing day that was! We were given a wonderful private tour of the building and were able to watch, with great pride, as our son moved up in the ranks. The kids were absolutely adorable as they saw the Capitol for the first time and watched the ceremony of the promotion.
Next up, Walter’s 8th birthday. Instead of a big party, he asked Jeff to take his friend and him fishing. When they got back, there was plenty of cake and snacks for everyone waiting.
The next day was my kind of fun! Off to downtown Annapolis to take photos for the annual Christmas Card.
Before we returned to Georgia, there was one more thing to see. Rush is playing hockey this year and we got such a kick out of watching him on the ice!

As we look back at these pictures from over the past several months, we fully appreciate the times we spend with our family. Somehow it never seems like enough, though. Our arms itch to hold the kids again, to talk with them, to read them stories, to explore the world, and to give them kisses. They are growing up so quickly. In the blink of an eye, they will be off to college and beyond. We take such pleasure in the calls and videos we get. We are so lucky to be grandparents to these wonderful children and to be able to watch them grow and prosper.

Also, looking back at these times, we know we are fortunate to have such wonderful children who are happy and healthy. We love knowing that they have careers that they enjoy and that they are all doing well with them. We know, too, that we are lucky to have good friends that mean so much to us and who are willing to visit aboard. Life really is good – and we are still enjoying Life on AfterMath.

Life Continues Aboard AfterMath (August 15 – October 15, 2019)

Procrastination is a terrible thing.  I usually do not procrastinate, but when I do, it’s because I have let things get too far away from me.  For those of you wondering where we are now, I will tell you that we are still living aboard AfterMath.  So much, yet so little has happened, it seems.  Over the next couple of weeks, I will try to catch up, mostly in picture form, as to where we have been and as to what the future holds.  I have always said that this blog was more a journal for me than anything else, and I do want to continue to document our Life on AfterMath until we move back to land, whenever that may be.

While still in Jacksonville, FL for annual maintenance, I enjoyed walks through the nearby nature park.
Back at the dock at Lamb’s Yacht Center, we enjoyed watching this gentleman paint the name on this boat.
The name is complete!
While we were at Lamb’s, Hurricane Dorian became a threat. Jacksonville brought their fireboats to the marina for safe storage. This is just one of four boats near us. We were even able to tie up to their 75′ fireboat, and, therefore, we were very well protected and completely safe.
One day, while still in Jacksonville, we decided to take a sightseeing trip to Green Cove Springs, which, while we are living aboard, is our legal residence. Although we had toured our mail forwarding service on 411 Walnut Street there, we had never taken time to see the town. It was a lovely place to visit!
Back to the pretty shrimp boats so common in the Brunswick area.
Just a couple of days after I got back from Virginia, John and I took a trip to Orlando to visit with Jason, Lisa, and Jace. Jason and Lisa treated us to a wonderful character breakfast where the food was great and we had as much fun as Jace did seeing all of the the famous Disney clan.
Of course, it is always interesting to go out to see how they are doing with the Golden Ray project. This was taken on Jekyll Island. From Jekyll, you see the colorful bottom of the ship.
Early October brought the Coast Fest in the park adjacent to Brunswick Landing Marina, our home base since May.
The same day as our adventure with Rick and Tammy, we headed out to Jekyll Island with more new friends, Don and Carol. It was to be the night of a super moon, and we invited them to join us as Don is a fellow photographer.

So, for the months between mid-August and mid-October, some of our time was spent in Jacksonville and some back in Brunswick, Georgia. We have loved touring the Golden Isles, as this area which includes Jekyll Island, St. Simon’s Island, and Brunswick, is called, and have really begun to appreciate the marshes, the waters, and the islands here. More travels and experiences are to come, so be prepared to see our further adventures in posts over the next several days.

Jekyll Island, St. Simon’s Island, and Jacksonville with Visits with Friends and Family (July 1 – August 15, 2019)

Jekyll Island, St. Simon’s Island, and Jacksonville with Visits with Friends and Family (July 1 – August 15, 2019)


Time passes so quickly these days. We continue to work on getting AfterMath ready to sell, and we also make time to enjoy our family and friends, and to do a little traveling by land and by sea. Although we are working on the transition back to life on land, right now it still feels good to be on the move. The weather has been hot, though, and sometimes we seem to move slowly. We are, however, making progress and all is well aboard.

At Madison’s sixth birthday party.

Michaela enjoying a birthday cupcake.

Carter liked the blue icing!

The first half of July was spent in Georgia, still at Brunswick Landing Marina. During our time there we were able to be at Madison’s birthday party, a privilege we have missed during our travels over the past four years.

Michaela and I went to a pottery class together.

Cutting the glass for the bottom of the bowl

Making macarons from scratch

Off to the animal sanctuary on St. Simon’s Island


One night, we asked Michaela to come join us aboard. She and I went to a class on St. Simon’s Island where we painted pottery bowls then filled the bottoms with colorful glass before they were fired. We had so much fun together! The next day we baked macarons from scratch, visited an animal sanctuary on St. Simon’s, shopped at pet stores, and went to a garden shop where we found a cute little bonsai tree for her to grow. It’s hard to believe that Michaela will be turning twelve soon, but she is such a lovely young lady and we are so happy she still wants to come and spend time with us. Carter’s turn will be next and I have some fun planned for him in Brunswick!

Dinner with Eris, Jackie, and Roy

We dropped Michaela off back home on Sunday evening and then made our way farther south in Jacksonville to meet up with wonderful friends who lived in our neighborhood in Bradenton, FL. Eris Boucher moved to Jacksonville a few years ago, and Jackie and Roy Woolf have just recently moved there. It was so much fun to get together again and to catch up on all of the news of everyone’s families.

Scenes about Jekyll Island.  Here is a mother alligator in close view.

On days John is working in the engine room it is usually wise for me to leave AfterMath. When he is working the hatches are open, which means there are two large, gaping holes available for me to fall into. Having had the experience once of falling in, I have a healthy respect for those holes, and I prefer to be elsewhere, off of the boat. These days allow me some time to explore the area that we have begun to truly love. I spent one of these days out on Jekyll Island enjoying the beautiful scenery there and taking pictures along the way. There is so much to see on Jekyll Island, and I’m sure I will spend many more days out there with a camera in hand.

Beautiful St. Simon’s Island

Another engine room day sent me to St. Simon’s Island for a photo exploration. John and I have really fallen in love with this island, and it is quite possible that we may end up there when we are looking for our land based home. It has beaches, shops, stores, and those gorgeous live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss. We love the island feel of it and think the size and location is perfect for us. Time will tell, and we never make guarantees, but for now, we love going to the island and always come back thinking it would make a great place for us to live.

Leaving Brunswick on our way to Jacksonville

 

One of the wild horses on Cumberland Island

This ship is used in conjunction with wildlife conservation

A wild weather night, but so beautiful.

Soon it was time to start up the engines and take a two-day trip from Brunswick to our favorite maintenance marina, Lamb’s Yacht Center in Jacksonville. John wanted to have the bottom of AfterMath painted there as well as some other pre-sale maintenance work as we have always been pleased with the job they have done. We left on July 20th and made our way to an anchorage near Fernandina Beach. It was wonderful to be back underway again, and to be back at anchor for the night.

Colorful boats and geometric bridges as we entered Jacksonville.

The next day we continued along our way to Lamb’s, arriving Sunday afternoon. It was fun to see the large ships again, and, as always, to watch the colorful tugboats hard at work along the St. Johns River. For us, though, there was much to do after we were docked.

The plan was to pull AfterMath out of the water on Tuesday, so we needed to be off of the boat by that time. This meant that I needed to get laundry done, defrost the freezer, make arrangements for Kirby to go to a boarding facility, and pack for the week we would be away. John had all sorts of jobs he needed to accomplish before they could haul the boat out, and he only had Monday to take care of it all. As always, though, we managed to get everything done, and Tuesday, the task of raising AfterMath out of the water was accomplished.

In Bolivia, NC with (from left to right) Vera and Rolf Redin, and Jan Kirk

The beautiful beach at the community club house.

We spent Tuesday night at Kelly and Craig’s house, where we got to celebrate Kelly’s birthday two days late. It was great fun to be together, of course. Soon it was time to carry on with our travels, and we were excited to be heading to Bolivia, NC to see our special friends, Vera, Rolf, and Jan. We have been lucky enough to be able and stop to see these wonderful people several times in our travels, and, as always, we enjoyed our visit with them so much. We stayed with Jan this time, but we all went out to dinner the evening we arrived and then to breakfast the following morning before heading farther north to Annapolis.

Jeff’s fully restored 1970 Opel GT

Jeff and Sarah had been asking us to visit with them in Annapolis this summer, and with AfterMath being out of the water, this seemed to be the perfect time. We weren’t sure how long we would be staying because our return depended on when the boat would be back in. We ended up there for a week and we really had great fun spending time with the boys and with Jeff and Sarah. One of the highlights of our trip was getting to take a ride with Jeff in his newly restored 1970 Opel GT. This car was Jeff’s first car, which he bought from my Uncle Bob when Jeff was just sixteen. Over the years it has been driven a lot and stored often, but for the past few years it has been at a restoration garage in Tennessee. Jeff just got it back a couple of months ago, and riding in it with him was exactly the same as it was over 20 years ago. This car has a fun history from even before Jeff owned it. The car was purchased by MGM for a movie that starred Debbie Reynolds. After the movie was made, Reynolds drove it for a while before it was put up for sale. My uncle purchased it and used it for several years, then stored it in his garage for many years before selling it to Jeff. We love the story, but we have never found out which movie it was originally purchased for.

Out for a boat ride to Annapolis

Pirate ship spotted! Rush, holding the weapon, and Walt looking on preparing for battle!

Attack!!!!

Two year old Ford had a great time shooting my camera! Once he found out which button to push, he took countless photos. Here is one of Jeff courtesy of Ford.

Sarah took over the wheel while the men in the family wake boarded

First it was Rush’s turn

Next up was Walt

Jeff got to go by himself

And then Walter did it all by himself!

Of course, no trip to Jeff and Sarah’s would be complete without time on the water. We took one of his boats to Annapolis for breakfast one day, and we also spent time watching Jeff, Walter, and Rush riding the wake board while Sarah did the driving. First Jeff took Rush on the board with him, then Jeff and Walt rode, and finally, Walt, all by himself. Those boys have salt water in their veins, just as their father does!

We were so happy to see Scott and Noi again.

Also, while in Annapolis, we were able to visit with our friends, Scott and Noi.  We met Scott and Noi in Grenada while they were living aboard their sailboat, Symbiosis.  We traveled with them and with Debbie and Larry aboard their Nordhav’n for much of the trip back from the Caribbean.  Back on land, Scott and Noi now live very near Jeff and Sarah and we were so pleased to be able to meet them for breakfast one morning while we were there.

 

This picture of Clyde and the picture below of John, are more photos courtesy of Ford. I may have some competition as the family photographer soon!

Down to the boat dock at Jeff’s house

What a joy to be able to take them out for ice cream!

Finally, on Wednesday the 31st, Lamb’s called to tell us that they would be putting the boat back in on Friday, so, sadly, it was time to pack up and leave again. Everyone made us feel so welcome there, insisting that we should stay as long as it took. Hugs and cuddles from Walt, Rush, and Ford were treasured, fun meals with many cheese quesadillas for Rush were made, and bedtimes with long conversations and stories read will long be remembered.

Tillie K. Fowler Regional Park in Jacksonville

Back in Jacksonville, work on AfterMath continued. Lamb’s has been great at having people working on the boat every day, keeping the progress moving. Another engine room day found me at a lovely park nearby, one to which I will surely return when the weather cools off just a little. Walking trails abound in this park, and it is just gorgeous; I have a long way to go before I am done photographing that place!

 

Great friends are meant to be cherished. We loved having Becky and Judd along.


Before we took the boat to Lamb’s we made sure they knew that we had a firm date with our dear friends, Becky and Judd from August 10th to the 13th. Becky and Judd made plans a few months ago to come visit us aboard, and we were not about to lose that chance just because of maintenance work. Although they had visited us when we were in Grenada, we were not able to take AfterMath out of the marina at the time. The slips were so tight and it just wasn’t a possibility for us. We wanted them to be able to be underway with us and had thought we would be in Brunswick when they arrived, so we planned a trip to Jekyll Island and Cumberland Island. Unfortunately, scheduling our maintenance wasn’t as easy as we hoped for, so, as always, we had to be flexible. Instead of the Golden Isles of Georgia, we decided we would take a trip a little way down the St. John’s River with Becky and Judd. They arrived Saturday, August 10th, and although we originally planned to leave that day, because of the heat, we decided to leave Sunday morning. We had a wonderful trip to Doctors Lake, had a fun dinghy ride around the area, and planned on dinner on shore at Whitey’s Fish Camp. Once again, we had to be flexible with our plans. As we watched from the boat, thunder and lightning storms rolled in along with winds and white caps. So, instead of going ashore, we grilled steaks and had a fun dinner aboard. Again because of the heat, we decided to return to Lamb’s on Monday after a ride around Jacksonville on the boat. It was a perfect day to take a ride, and after our return, we again chose to just enjoy each other’s company while we ate aboard.

Becky and I met over 40 years ago and have been the best of friends ever since.

We have had so many fun experiences together over the years. It was wonderful to have Becky and Judd aboard with us.

Thanks here go to Scott, the assistant dock master in Jacksonville at the stadium marina. He is a client of Kelly’s and he saw us passing by while out in the marina’s boat. Scott snapped this great picture of us near the Jacksonville Landing and sent it to Kelly who then forwarded it to us. We love this shot!

Unfortunately, Tuesday arrived too quickly, and it was the day Becky and Judd had to fly back to Connecticut. Thankfully, though, their flight wasn’t until 5 PM. They were interested in seeing Brunswick, St. Simon’s Island, and Jekyll Island, so we took a day trip north, to see the sights and then to have lunch together before returning them to Jacksonville Airport. Having these great, longtime friends aboard was delightful. We laughed at old memories and we made new ones. No matter how long we are apart, when we are back together it is as if not a single day has passed. I will see Becky again next month at her house in Chincoteague, VA, when our group of “gourmet ladies” will have a weekend together. I can’t wait!

For now, we are in Jacksonville for a few more days, if all goes as planned. Then we will go back to Brunswick Landing Marina to complete the work that must be done before Aftermath is finally on the market. People continue to ask us when that will happen, but we don’t have a date yet. There is some cosmetic work that John would like to get done first, and no one knows exactly how long that will take. I will guarantee, though, that whoever ends up aboard this boat for its next chapter will have a treasure. AfterMath has taken us on, and will continue to provide, the adventures of a lifetime; I can’t even imagine not having this opportunity to live our dream.

Fun with the Kids and Brunswick, Georgia (May 26 – June 30, 2019)

Fun with the Kids and Brunswick, Georgia (May 26 – June 30, 2019)

It is a curious feeling to be in one place for a long time; there is no rush to do everything at once, yet, as there is so much around us, it feels as though we won’t ever get to see it all.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that the Golden Isles, as this part of Georgia is called, has a different type of beauty; the marshes here are so beautiful and peaceful and are ever changing depending on the lighting each day.  The towns have a truly southern charm with tremendous oaks dripping in Spanish moss.  Beaches are easily within my reach, and I am still experimenting with them to find my favorite spot to spend an afternoon.  We have a car now, and that makes exploration, visiting with family, and shopping easy.  We are adjusting to the change, but we are still living aboard and AfterMath is not yet for sale.

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From left to right, Walt, Craig (in the front), Carter, and Michaela boogie boarding at Jekyll Island, GA

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Rush and Madison on construction duty.

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Sarah and Kelly taking life easy

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Ford has it all under control!

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Ford, John and Kirby, and Jeff hiking to Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, GA

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Precious grandchildren.  Left to right, back row, Michaela and Carter, front row, Rush, Walter, Ford, and Madison

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I love his impish grin.

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I just love this image of Carter, Madison, Walt, and Rush

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Michaela feeding the lorikeets at the zoo with Rush watching on.

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Rush and his new friend.

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I caught them both on their phones!  That’s Jeff and Kelly

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Feeding the penguins was a once in a lifetime experience for everyone.  This is Walt with a huge smile on his face!

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Rush is our penguin obsessed boy!  When Tirzah asked Kelly if there were any special animals the kids would like to see, Kelly told her how much Rush loved penguins.  I know he will never forget this day for as long as he lives.

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Even John got in on the action.

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Rush’s dream come true!

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Ford liked them too!

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Going for a walk with the penguins.

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Sarah with Rush, who couldn’t stop smiling after his penguin encounter.

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The kids wanted Tirzah to make the tiger roar – which she did when shown the microphone.

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Madison brushing the baby warty pig

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Sting ray petting.  Rush and Walt standing, Carter and Michaela with their hands in the water.

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Ford liked it too!

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A train ride before the storms closed in.   Everyone had a great day at the zoo.

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Soon after we arrived in Brunswick, Jeff and Sarah and family drove from Annapolis to visit with Kelly, Craig, and kids, and us.  We spent four days enjoying the company of kids and grandkids at beaches, Kelly’s house, and the Jacksonville Zoo.  The zoo was a very special treat as Kelly, who is a veterinarian and who has worked, on occasion, at the zoo, arranged a behind the scenes visit for the whole family. Thanks to her friend and zookeeper, Tirzah, we were treated to being close up and personal with a very large tiger, petting and brushing the endangered warty pigs, and the highlight of the day, especially for our grandson, Rush the lover of all things penguin, going into the exhibit and feeding the adorable penguins that live there. Upon leaving the display, we were even able to take a walk with two of the birds that accompanied us right out of the building!  The zoo day will long be remembered as an exciting and amazing experience for everyone.

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Here we are with our tiny dancer, Madison

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Delicious cupcakes that were well decorated.

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June 14th was another special day for us; we attended Madison’s dance recital in Jacksonville.  Madison is five years old and loves to be on stage.  This year she had a ballet, a tap, and a gymnastics performance; we enjoyed every minute of it.  We also had a wonderful time this week when Madison came to spend the night with us aboard AfterMath.  I enjoyed an afternoon at the bowling alley and went to the local shop for ice cream with Kelly, Michaela, Carter, and Madison.  Kelly and the older two returned to Jacksonville and then went the following day to try out the new Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios. Madison, who is not a fan of roller coasters, stayed on the boat with us.  We loved having her and spent our time reading, watching videos, making bead bracelets, decorating mermaid theme cupcakes, and constructing clothes pin mermaid dolls.  Madison charmed us all, including the kind people she met in the clubhouse here at the marina; she was a polite, well-spoken little girl, and a true doll herself.

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This tall ship is docked at the park next to the marina

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The lighthouse at the park next to Brunswick Landing Marina

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A farmers’ market is held here every Saturday.

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You know you are in the south when you find hot boiled peanuts.  I am NOT a fan!

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A view of Brunswick Landing Marina where we are docked.

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Someday I will find out what this piece of machinery here at the marina is!

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Sunset over the marsh from AfterMath’s fly bridge

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A manatee at the Marshes of Glynn overlook showing discards picked up from the beach.  A lesson in what not to do.

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A view from the Marshes of Glynn Overlook Park

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The Old Town Hall in Downtown Brunswick

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There are many squares in Downtown Brunswick.  This is Hanover Square.

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Beautiful old homes surround Hanover Square

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Gorgeous huge oak trees are everywhere, dripping with Spanish moss

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A view of Downtown Brunswick, GA

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Fountains in another square on the main street in Downtown Brunswick

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The Ritz Theater in Downtown Brunswick

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Transportation!   I’m so happy to have a car again after four years without one!

So, besides visiting with our family, John has been busy accomplishing tasks around AfterMath.  He has a list of jobs he wants to have done before listing the boat, and I am quite sure it will be in pristine condition before anyone sets eyes on it.  I help by keeping busy myself, although, sometimes that just means staying out of the way while he has the engine room open!  I love going to the beach, of course, but there is much out there to explore, especially on St. Simon’s Island and Jekyll Island, both of which I have barely touched.  I enjoy wandering around the historic district of Brunswick, a cute town within easy walking distance from Brunswick Landing Marina, and every Saturday I make my way to the farmers’ market next to the marina.  I spend some afternoons at the clubhouse, chatting with new friends while getting laundry done or working on a project.  We attend the marina’s happy hours when we can, and enjoy the potluck dinners and holiday gatherings as well.  It’s great to have a car to get around now, and driving around the area allows us to appreciate the beauty of this low country land.

There is a sense of peace here in these beautiful marshes of Glynn County; time passes quickly, but we move slowly through our days.  As a result of four years of cruising we have learned to live each day well and fully.  Life on AfterMath in this beautiful marshland, filled with paths of water through tall grasses, oyster beds, shrimp boats, and waterfowl, is simply a continuation of our adventure; one that will lead us into the next chapter of our lives.

 

And now from the Vast of the Lord will the waters of sleep

Roll in on the souls of men,

But who will reveal to our waking ken

The forms that swim and the shapes that creep                         

Under the waters of sleep?

And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in

On the length and the breadth of the marvellous marshes of Glynn.

From the poem, Marshes of Glynn by Sidney Lanier

Back to the USA and on to Brunswick, GA.  (April 25 – May 25, 2019)

Back to the USA and on to Brunswick, GA. (April 25 – May 25, 2019)

I wonder if my procrastination in getting another blog post done is because this journey really seems to be coming to an end, or maybe it is because there is so much to explore now. Whatever the reason, we are settled now in Brunswick, Georgia, and enjoying the social atmosphere here and the fact that we are now near family again.  It’s good to be back in the United States!

Our first view of West Palm Beach as we completed our crossing from the Bahamas

We crossed from the Bahamas to Little Lake Worth, an anchorage near West Palm Beach on April 25th.  It was a calm and easy crossing.  Seeing the city of West Palm Beach felt like a culture shock once again, as even the busiest towns in the Bahamas don’t look anything like the cities here.  Clearing Customs and Immigration after being out of the country was much easier than it had ever been in the past.  Previously we were required to show up at the office in person, but this time we only needed to make a phone call, and give them our DTOPS decal number (Decal/Transponder Online Procurement System).  An officer called us back within a few minutes, asked to speak to both of us and asked a few simple questions.  After that we were done, and legally back in the US.

Passing through Jupiter, FL
Jupiter is a very busy place!

Once again we started our travels up the ICW.  First we stopped in West Palm Beach for a quick repair of a hose that was leaking, the moved on to an anchorage at Hobe Sound.  On April 28th, we spotted a nice anchorage on Peck Lake. It was a wonderful spot that was actually a park.  One side lined the ICW and the other was on the Atlantic Ocean.  After a very short walk, I spent the afternoon enjoying the lovely beach there.  The next day we continued on to another anchorage in Fort Pierce and then the following day to a mooring at Vero Beach.  

Some of the murals in Eau Gallie, FL
Inside the pie shop workers were very busy baking
A pair of love bugs
Crossing the ICW from Eau Gallie to Melbourne Beach
Eau Gallie at sunset

After being on the move for a while, we decided to spend a little time in Eau Gallie, a section of Melbourne, FL.  Eau Gallie has an arts district and many of the buildings are painted in bright and colorful murals.  It was also, unfortunately, lovebug season!  Lovebugs appear twice each year in Florida, and, although they don’t bite, they are just a bother.  They fly around, male and female, joined together and generally make a mess of cars, boats, and everything else.  There were plenty to be found in Eau Gallie.  Thankfully, they only last a week or two and then they are gone until the next season starts, but during my walk across the bridge one day to Melbourne Beach I found myself covered head to toe in those little black creatures.

Walking the town of New Smyrna Beach
I haven’t seen one of these scales for years!
Check out the cost. You can get your weight for a penny and your fortune for a nickel
We watched this fire fighting helicopter practice in front of us as we continued on our way to Marineland
At Marineland, FL with Kelly and family
Getting ready to be splashed!
Carter after the dolphin splashed him
No creature escapes Michaela’s capture
Watching the turtles
That Madison is a character!!
This silly manatee entertained us for over an hour as we ate dinner in our cockpit. He drank water from a leaky hose on the boat behind us. I just wished the kids had still been around to watch with us.

We left Eau Gallie on May 7th and traveled to a mooring in Titusville, then to New Smyrna Beach for two nights.  Sadly, our son-in-law’s mother’s long time partner, Frank, passed away so we rented a car and drove to Fort Lauderdale on the 9th for his funeral. Still on the move north in Florida, we motored to Halifax Marina in Daytona Beach on the 10th and then to Marineland on May 11th.  This was a great stop because the next day was Mother’s Day and Kelly, Craig, Michaela, Carter, and Madison came to the marina to meet us for the afternoon.  We all walked over to the Marineland Aquarium and enjoyed the dolphins, fish, turtles, and sharks there.  Marineland also has a lovely beach, and I made sure to have a little time to experience it.  Monday turned out to be a rainy day, so our stay was extended until Tuesday, the 14th while we waited for the weather to pass.

You never know what you might find along the way.
Around town in St. Augustine
Flagler College
Inside Flagler’s administration building
Cathedral Basilica, St. Augustine
Also in the Basilica
Greek Orthodox shrine in St. Augustine
The oldest wooden schoolhouse in Florida
Castillo de San Marcos
On the Bridge of Lions

Our next stop was St. Augustine.  We stayed on a mooring but I had John dinghy me into town so I could walk around and enjoy some time photographing the beautiful city.  We were on a mission, though, to arrive at Brunswick Landing Marina in time for their Memorial Day celebration, so we spent the next night at Palm Cove Marina in Jacksonville, where we were able to have Kelly meet us for lunch, and then, the next night we anchored at Cumberland Island.  Finally, on May 17th we arrived at our destination in Brunswick, Georgia.  

Heading out with the dinghies for the dinghy drift
Of course, Kirby came along and made a friend.
A sunset at Brunswick Landing Marina. Wild fires in Florida sent smoke our way and this was the result.

Brunswick Landing Marina is stretched out over about a mile from end to end, and in the middle is a very nice clubhouse.  It houses a large library for cruisers to borrow and drop off books, free laundry facilities, and, best of all, a very large gathering room and screened in porch where happy hours take place every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Wine is provided by the marina and everyone brings a snack to share.  Also provided every day from 8 AM to 12 AM, is beer on tap.  Needless to say, most gatherings get a good crowd.  Since we have been here, we have also attended a dinghy raft up, where 16 dinghies met up the river and drifted back toward the marina during sunset, as well as a potluck dinner on the last Sunday of the month, and a southern barbeque provided by the marina for Memorial Day.  During the day, there always seem to be people in the clubhouse, in the morning, doing yoga, and later, bringing projects they are working on, or simply enjoying the air conditioning, the TVs, or just the conversation.  

So, here we will stay for a while.  John has been working on getting the boat ship shape for its eventual sale, although he would tell you that he isn’t make the progress that he hoped for yet.  I have been walking through town exploring, not yet photographing the sights, but that will happen soon.  It has felt like we needed a little time to get settled, a little time to adjust to the feeling that we are at the end of our adventure. However, until the day the boat is sold, we will continue living Life on AfterMath and treasuring our days, one at a time.

Man-O-War Cay, Great Guana Cay and Starting Back Home (April 10 – April 24, 2019)

Man-O-War Cay, Great Guana Cay and Starting Back Home (April 10 – April 24, 2019)

We are on our way back to the states now, waiting for tomorrow, Thursday, April 25th, which looks to be a great day for crossing through the Gulf Stream.  During our last couple of weeks, we have reflected on our meanderings through the Abacos, and we have found that each island has its own personality and beauty.  Some are perfect for provisioning, others barely have a shop, some can be fully explored on foot, others need a golf cart or car to see, some islands consist of one settlement, or even none at all, while others are busy little towns.  Most have no bank or ATM, which is always interesting as many businesses only accept cash.  People get cash by going to Marsh Harbour, which requires a boat or ferry ride; no one except visitors seems to be bothered by this issue.  We are often asked about our favorite places, but there are so many and it would be so hard to pick.  The last two islands we visited in the Abacos before starting our return, Man-O-War Cay and Great Guana Cay, however, would have to be considered to be near the top of the list.

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The ladies sewing bags at Albury’s Sail Makers shop.

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Bags of every shape and size are available for purchase.

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The first street I found on Man-O-War Cay

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Lover’s Lane, Man-O-War Cay

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Steps to nowhere

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The library seemed to be closed that day.

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Here, the light green building is the elementary school, and the peach building is the post office on Man-O-War Cay

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This house just made me think of the song about the crooked little man in the crooked little house.

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Albury’s Boat Builders shop

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I have always been interested in this tree. The wood is one of the heaviest in the world. Bowling balls used to be made from it and it does not float.

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The flowers of the lignum vitae tree are tiny and bluish purple. Later, the blossoms turn to yellow flowers which  then open to display red fruits.

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The fruits of the lignum vitae tree.

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A beautiful Bahamian sunset at Man-O-War Cay.

Our first stop in Man-O-War Cay a couple of weeks earlier was cut very short, after a stay of only two hours, because we were able to get a dock in Marsh Harbour at the last minute. This time though, John had a small repair he wanted done and Man-O-War is known for its great boat maintenance businesses.  Tied up to a dock at Edwin’s Boat Yard, I set off to explore the little settlement right next to our boat and was immediately charmed by this tiny town.  My first stop was at Norman Albury’s Sail Makers.  Almost everything in the Abacos is named Albury’s, thanks to the first Albury who settled there in 1870; in fact 70% of the 215 residents on the island can trace their heritage back to that first settler. There are Albury’s boats, Albury’s ferries, Albury’s Supply, and on and on.  Albury’s Sail Makers, however, are famous for the bags made of sailcloth and Sunbrella.  When I visited, four ladies were busy at their ancient sewing machines making bags of every color and style imaginable.  They were happy to pose and let me take their pictures, and they didn’t mind at all that I wandered around snapping away with my camera.  Although the settlement is tiny, I spent the next hour and a half walking around, chatting with people, checking out the little, but well supplied, grocery store, and, of course, taking pictures.  In the evening, we were treated to one of the prettiest sunsets ever.

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The walk along Queen’s Highway on my way to the Low Point on Man-O-War Cay

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Low Point. The Sea of Abaco is to the left and the Atlantic Ocean is on the right.

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Sights along the way in Man-O-War Cay

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The next day, while John waited for the maintenance worker, I set off on a quest to find a small sliver of land called the Low Point.  After getting directions from a very friendly lady at the boat yard, I started a 25-minute walk along Queens Highway through the lush tropical landscape, along the road that turned into a dirt path.  I passed small homes with beautiful gardens and undeveloped seaside spaces filled with mangroves, sea grapes, and palms along the Sea of Abaco.  After a while I came to the other side of the island, directly on the Atlantic Ocean, and soon afterwards, the place I had been looking for, the Low Point.  At the Low Point, the island narrows to about 25 feet across.  On one side is the Sea of Abaco and on the other, the Atlantic Ocean. It is an amazingly beautiful place. There were only two other people there when I arrived, a couple from Canada who were equally taken by the beauty of this special spot in the world.  We chatted a while, and relaxed taking in the crystal clear water and the white sand, and we reveled in the fact that so few people seemed to know about this secret place.

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Farm fresh, colorful eggs.

Finally, on April 12th, with the minor repair taken care of, John and I took a morning walk around town and stopped at a nearby gift shop that also sold free-range chicken eggs.  After waiting for the tide to rise, we left Man-O-War Cay and started off on the short trip to Orchid Bay Marina on Great Guana Cay.

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A view of Nippers Bar and Grill from the beach

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Great Guana Cay is six miles long and only one-quarter of a mile across; it has a population of about 150 people and has just one tiny settlement at its center.  To tour the island we rented a golf cart and set out on our way.  As it turns out, only about one-half of the island is accessible by a road of any type. Within less than two hours, we toured each and every paved road on the island and also a few that were a just dirt path.  Great Guana Cay’s claim to fame is, of course, beautiful beaches, but also a beach bar and restaurant named Nippers.

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There is never any telling what you might find in the Bahamas. Here, this tree in Great Guana Cay is loaded with buoys.

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I was fascinated by this contraption. It is a scuba scooter. We didn’t get to try them, but someday I would love to!

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The tiny settlement on Great Guana Cay.

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The pool and restaurant at Orchid Bay Marina

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The little beach at Orchid Bay Marina. It was well populated by turtles and nurse sharks.

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The settlement on the island is very small and consists only of a few water sports rental shops, a couple of tiny open air restaurants, and a small grocery store, but somehow, the fact that is lacks much of anything is what gives Great Guana Cay its charm.  Many of the Abacos islands have become vacation home escapes for those who can afford them, but Great Guana Cay seems to just be more old Bahamas, and it was refreshing to visit.  This is not to say that developers haven’t tried to make their claim on the island.  Orchid Bay Marina, where we stayed, has a gated community, and we saw evidence of other beginning developments, but there were far more for sale signs than one might have expected.  The amount of new homes for sale seemed to indicate that the developers are over ambitious and that it will be a long time until the charm of this island is just a memory.

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Sunset on Great Sale Cay

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And so we began our return to the states.  We have enjoyed our final trip aboard AfterMath to the Bahamas, but we are both ready to go back.  Leaving Great Guana Cay we followed our footsteps back to Treasure Cay, where we stayed for several days, once again waiting for the weather to be conducive to our travels.  We celebrated John’s birthday a day late when we arrived at the marina there, as the restaurant was far nicer than the one at Orchid Bay, and then we began our watch of winds and waves.  On Easter Sunday, we left Treasure Cay and traveled to Crab Cay, where we anchored for the night.  Monday, April 22nd, took us to Great Sale Cay for another night at anchor, and Tuesday we took the short trip to Mangrove Cay, again dropping the hook for the night.  Today, Wednesday, our last night aboard AfterMath in the Bahamas, we are anchored outside of West End, and ready to make the crossing to West Palm Beach tomorrow. We have enjoyed the Abacos, but we are so anxious to be back in the states again; truly, there is no place like home.

The future holds more adventures for us.  We are both looking forward to our trip up the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida, and we are hoping to spend some time exploring the St. John’s River before arriving in Brunswick, Georgia for the summer.  We are, of course, looking forward to seeing our children and grandchildren more often and to visiting with old friends and meeting new ones.  With no definite plans for what comes next, aside from getting AfterMath ready for sale, we are starting to think about what future travels appeal to us. The world is a big place and there is so much left to see, both at home and abroad.  We probably have too much wanderlust in us now to stay still too long, and we must continue to see what we can see and do what we are able to do. This adventure of Life on AfterMath has been just another chapter in the book of our lives.  We can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, and Hope Town with Kathy and Steve and then Little Harbour  (March 19 – April 9, 2019)

Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, and Hope Town with Kathy and Steve and then Little Harbour (March 19 – April 9, 2019)

When you see a beauty through someone else’s eyes, when you witness the delight others have in discovering places you love, and when you introduce someone to a brand new experience, you are rewarded with a pleasure at least equal to theirs.  When the people you are with are dear to you, it is even better.  Our time with John’s sister, Kathy, and her husband, Steve, was indescribable to all of us; we are all still reliving our adventure together and it will be remembered by all of us forever.

We stayed in Hope Town until March 23rd, enjoying the town and the beaches and awaiting the time Kathy and Steve would arrive.  Finally we left and traveled about 20 miles to Man-O-War Cay where we tied up to a mooring.  The plan was to stay for a couple of days before going to Marsh Harbour, where we would provision and ready the boat for our guests’ arrival.  Marsh Harbour, however, was very busy and we had not been able to make a reservation for a dock the following week, so we were a little concerned about how we would get Kathy and Steve aboard.  As always we lived by our motto, “we will figure it out”. Soon after tying up to the mooring in Man-O-War, John called Marsh Harbour again and was told that we could have a dock if we went there right away, but we could not have one if we got there the following day.  This is the Bahamas, after all.  So, we quickly pulled in the lines after our two-hour stay, and motored the few miles to Mangos Marina in Marsh Harbour.

Because we had a lot of extra time on the island, we rented a car and went touring.  Surprisingly, there really wasn’t much to see, and in reviewing my images, I find that I didn’t take a single picture there before our guests flew in.  Marsh Harbour does, however, have a large grocery store that compares to those in the United States, so this was a huge benefit when provisioning for more people on board.  Shopping, however, is best done on a Thursday, as Wednesday is the day the produce comes in by boat.  We were told that everything good would be gone by Sunday, so Thursday was shopping day. This was perfect as Kathy and Steve were flying in on Friday, March 29th.

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Kathy enjoying life at sea.

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Steve keeping watch from the fly bridge

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I was happy Steve and Kathy got to see Randy, the manatee that likes to visit the marina for a drink of fresh water.

Finally the big day came and the fun began.  We left Marsh Harbour Saturday morning and went back to Treasure Cay so we could show off the beautiful beach there.  Kathy and I stayed longer on the beach than the guys did, and we loved having time to chat and catch up.  It had been way too long since we had time together, and there was so much to talk about.

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Steve trying out his mask and fins

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Steve and me getting ready to head to the reef

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Kathy all ready to snorkel

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And Kathy is on her way

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The fish were just amazing and so very friendly

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Sunday, March 31st, led us to the nearby Mermaid Reef.  We had heard that the reef was a wonderful place to snorkel, easy, calm, and loaded with fish.  This was the first time Kathy and Steve had snorkeled, so it sounded like the perfect place to introduce them to one of my favorite activities in the islands.  Both a bit apprehensive before jumping in the water, it didn’t take long until everyone was swimming like a pro.  We swam from the boat to the nearby reef, and before long, we saw the unbelievable show.  Fish at Mermaid Reef are very used to people, and they are quite sure you are there to feed them and play with them.  They swim right up to you in huge swarms, cuddling up as though you are their best friends.  At times it was a bit overwhelming, but we loved seeing all of the many species and colors of these beautiful creatures.  Snorkeling turned out to be a big hit, especially with Steve, who was willing to go back as soon as possible.

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Kathy and Steve aboard Tangent

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Kirby and Kathy looking for sting rays

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Sunset at Marsh Harbour

After our swimming adventure, we headed to the anchorage at Marsh Harbour.  There is plenty of room in this harbor, and it’s a fun place to spend an afternoon and evening.  In the afternoon, we put the dinghy, Tangent, in the water and took a ride around the area to look for sting rays in a shallow bay.  We didn’t see too many, but it was still a nice way to spend some time before the every day happy hour that takes place aboard.  Before dinner we watched a beautiful sunset, and enjoyed another great day together.

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Back to the lighthouse

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So much fun to have Kathy and Steve with us!

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The lighthouse views are the kind you never tire of

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The door handle at the top of the lighthouse

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Walking through Hope Town

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Steve “deep sea diving” for a conch shell. Unfortunately, the shell was confiscated at the airport. Who knew you couldn’t bring conch shells home!

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Kathy and I had so much fun being together

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How we loved having them with us!

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Photography credit here is given to John. I didn’t even know he took this picture until I put my photos in the computer.

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Because we had so much fun the day before, we went back to Mermaid Cay to snorkel again, this time with bread and crackers for the thankful fish, before we moved AfterMath to Hope Town. John and I really loved that little spot on Elbow Cay, and we couldn’t wait to take Kathy and Steve with us. Happily, they loved it as much as we did.  During our stay there, we all went up to the top of the lighthouse, we took Tangent to town and walked around enjoying the sights and beauty of the Bahamas, and, of course, made a stop at the beach.  We also went to Vernon’s store, a tiny grocery that is famous for homemade bread and Key Lime pies.  Vernon is all business, not very chatty, and he only allows you to enter through one door and leave through the other, but he sure gets a line of customers when 2 PM comes and he has fresh pies ready to sell.  Vernon is also the Methodist minister on the island and will perform weddings for $350.  We all got a kick out of wondering how drab his sermons must be and what his weddings must be like, as he wasn’t overly friendly when we met him.  The bread and the Key Lime pie, however, were put to good use aboard AfterMath.

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Before they left, we took a walk to a little bridge in the mangroves. There always are fish there, and there is always this barracuda hanging out in the shadows.

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We are sorry you had to go, Kathy and Steve!

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April 3rd came much too quickly, as it was the day our family had to depart.  Our original plan was to take them back to Marsh Harbour on the boat, but the wind was kicking up and expected to do so for a couple of days, so we sadly sent them on their way aboard one of the ferries that make the trip far more quickly than we were able.  We were so sorry to see them go; we would have loved to have them stay longer and to be able to show them more of these beautiful islands. We truly loved having them aboard AfterMath.

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Pete’s private club and boat dock in Little Harbour

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This is the cave Pete’s family lived in for some time

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This sea plane landed while we were there

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Amazing water in Little Harbour

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Inside Pete’s Pub

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On the path to the Atlantic Ocean

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Back at Pete’s Pub, these swings were quite the attraction

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There’s AfterMath right in the center

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Some of Pete’s bronze creations

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About 5 minutes from the pub, along an overgrown path, you can find the remains of an old lighthouse

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It took some persistence, but I finally was able to capture a couple of turtles

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Hope Town was our home for a couple more days while we waited out weather before leaving for Lanyard Cay.  There we anchored for a night so that we could enter our next destination, Little Harbour, at high tide.  Little Harbour is a beautiful spot with an interesting history.   In 1951 Randolph Johnson and his family discovered the almost circular, white sand bay while sailing in their boat, The Langosta, and they decided to stay.  They lived in their boat and in a cave while they built a thatched home and they started a bronze foundry there; after that, the family never left.  His son, Pete Johnson, started his pub, which is a popular beach bar for those lucky enough to find one of the very few moorings in the harbor, for those who arrive in smaller boats and tie up at Pete’s dock, or for those who manage to find the pub by land.  The only road that passes through Little Harbour is a sand one, right along the beach. Delicious fresh fish is served under a hut that is covered in t-shirts from those who visit, and a few steps up a path leads visitors to the Atlantic Ocean.  Pete continues his father’s work at the bronze foundry, making beautiful sculptures that sell for incredibly high prices.  Needless to say, we didn’t buy any of the artwork, but we did enjoy a trip through his gallery.  I spent many hours over the few days we were in Little Harbour in my float tied to the back of AfterMath, watching the boats, the people, and especially the turtles swim by.

The Bahamas have been treating us well, and we have a little more exploration to do before we return to the states. We have decided that we will spend the summer in Brunswick, GA while we prep AfterMath for sale.  Brunswick Landing Marina is a well-protected location for hurricane season that has lots of activity and lots of people to meet.  We will be able to still do trips to the surrounding islands there and to Savannah and, of course, the best part is we will be able to see our children and grandchildren again. For a little longer, though, we will float around these crystal clear waters, visit small settlements, enjoy perfect beaches, and live our life fully one day at a time.  There is so much to do, so much to see in this world, and really, so little time to do it.  The only way to live is to live life fully, one day at a time.

From Florida to the Abacos (February 26th – March 18th)

From Florida to the Abacos (February 26th – March 18th)

Of course, one of the best parts of our voyage over the last four years has been witnessing, first hand, the differences in culture, values, and wealth.  Traveling the ICW through Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach is generally a study of affluence and prosperity.  It’s hard to believe that so many people in the United States own so much.  In the Abacos, the northern part of the Bahamas, worlds of riches and simplicity combine in harmony.  Many homes are those of foreigners who have picked a beautiful spot on a pristine beach and built the perfect house for residing or for vacations, while the homes of most natives are small and simple; no one, however, spares color and vibrancy.  In the Bahamas, the sea reigns, and every beach brings wonder and pleasure to anyone who views it.

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Leaving Miami

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This helicopter was lifting construction material to the top of this building

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Huge iguanas like to congregate on the bridge abutments under the countless bridges in Florida’s ICW.

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Just a few of the mega-yachts along Florida’s ICW

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Homes of unbelievable sizes and opulence line the shores

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Tucked between huge homes, occasional small and well taken care of houses stand proudly defending their heritage

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I have no idea what this was about!

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A sister ship to AfterMath, Flip Flop is one of only 47 other 48 foot Hatteras LRC’s

These small and strange little boats were anchored near Fort Lauderdale.  I have not been able to find out what their purpose is or why they were there

We left Miami on February 26thand spent the next two nights at anchorages in Fort Lauderdale and in West Palm Beach.  The homes along the way were mostly spacious and luxurious, and many of them sported huge yachts docked in the back yards.  Once in a while a cute little home, obviously left over from days gone by, poked its head in between the opulence.  We even spotted a trailer park that has probably been on this waterway for countless years.  It was great fun to look at the houses along the way and to try to imagine who lives in them now.

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We were anchored near this ship in West Palm Beach.  We were so impressed until we found out that it was broken down and needed to be towed out of there!  Note the small open door at the very front of the bow so you can get some size idea when you look at the following picture.

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Once we had cleared Customs and Immigration and tied up to the dock, we were entertained by these huge bull sharks enjoying a snack as the boat ahead of us threw them scraps from the fish they were cleaning.

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Our anchorage in West Palm Beach set us up for an early departure for the Bahamas on March 1st.  Thankfully, our 60 mile, 10 hour crossing was easy and uneventful.  We pulled into Old Bahama Bay Yacht Club in West End on Great Abaco Island at about four o’clock and began the process of checking into the country.  Clearing Customs and Immigration went well, but although we had reservations, getting a dock turned out to be a bit of a hassle.  To make a very long story short, we ended up at the fuel dock of the marina and had another boat tie up to us for the night.  All is well that ends well, however, and both our boat the one rafted to us left early the following morning.

The next two nights were spent at anchorages; first at Mangrove Cay (pronounced Key), an uninhabited island, and then near Fox Town on Little Abaco with a population of 242. The town boasts one store, one gas station, one guesthouse, and one restaurant.  We didn’t get to go to town during our one night stay, because the entry to the harbor was too shallow for AfterMath, but we enjoyed the scenery and crystal clear water around us.

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Views from around Green Turtle Cay

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We stopped to buy lettuce from a hydroponic gardener.

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Every beach was prettier than the last.

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Kirby loved the beach!

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As in every one of the islands, chickens and roosters abound.  Here is a bottle of water someone leaves out for them to quench their thirst.

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John was curious about how garbage was handled on this small island so he turned off into the landfill.  Besides smoldering trash, we found these guys helping themselves.

We arrived in Green Turtle Cay on March 4th.  Green Turtle Club, the marina there, is a favorite for cruisers.  The resort offers an upscale restaurant, a small beach, a pool, a well-stocked marine store, a laundry, and rentals for golf carts to tour the nearby town and beaches.  We took advantage of the golf cart rental and enjoyed a day in the town of New Plymouth and traveling down the paths that led us to the gorgeous beaches that surround the three-mile long island.  Of course I spent time on the beach at the marina and in the pool there during our stay. We met dock mates Steve and Marianne aboard Remember When while at the marina and we quickly started the tradition of nightly happy hours on the dock; other boaters sometimes joined us as well, only adding to the fun.

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A look at our view while traveling to Treasure Cay

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Needless to say, the beach on this small island was the draw for me

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While John is not the beach lover that I am, even he couldn’t resist this spot.

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Winds the following day brought rougher seas.  But the beauty was not diminished at all.

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This elderly couple slowly made their way down the beach.  She shuffled, he was hunched over.  They were really beautiful.  John wants to make sure everyone knows this is not us!

The next stop on our agenda was Treasure Cay, a short trip from Green Turtle Cay.  Treasure Cay Marina was a joy as it is on an incredible white sand beach, named one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world by National Geographic Magazine.  Needless to say, the beach was the best part of this marina, although the grounds also included a lovely pool, restaurants, various shops, and even a real grocery store. Remember When traveled to Treasure Cay the same day as we did, so happy hours continued for another several nights.

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A long-tailed tropicbird spotted from our anchorage the night before we entered Elbow Cay.

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Entering Hope Town on Elbow Cay

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Hope Town’s famous lighthouse

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Sunset in Hope Town

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While on our walk around town, I was finally able to capture a picture of one of these adorable little curly tailed lizards.

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This lighthouse was originally built in 1884.  It was given a major refit in 1936.  It has been in constant operation ever since.

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From the bottom of the stairs looking up inside the lighthouse

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There are a few windows to look out of on the way up the stairs

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View from the top.  AfterMath is in the center of the image

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A beautiful and weathered old chest inside the lighthouse

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From the top looking down.

Finally, on March 12th, it was time to move along.  After parting ways with Steve and Marianne and many “hope to see you soons”, we turned AfterMath towards Hope Town on Elbow Cay, where we are currently. Elbow Cay is home to more gorgeous beaches, of course, and Hope Town is as charming a place as you can imagine. Pastel colored homes and shops line the streets in town and beach access is easily available.  A beautiful old red and white striped lighthouse looms large over the Lighthouse Marina where we are docked.  The last light of its kind in the world, it operates completely without electricity and requires a lighthouse keeper to manually wind the weights, similar to those in a grandfather’s clock, every two hours during the night.  Visitors are welcome to climb the 101 stairs to the top of the lighthouse during the daytime.  From the top, the view is absolutely spectacular.

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Gary Andaas, a high school classmate of mine.

To get to town we must take our dinghy, Tangent, for a short ride across the bay to one of the dinghy docks provided by the town.  After the return from one of our visits, and while putting Tangent back up on top of AfterMath, a friendly face from the past greeted me.  One of my high school classmates from the class of 1970, Gary Andaas, was standing at our stern!  Gary and I are Facebook friends and he was visiting Elbow Cay with some friends. They were getting fuel for the boat they rented and were docked right next to us.  We had not seen each other for almost 50 years.  It was so much fun to run into each other that day on this tiny island in the Bahamas.  It truly is a small world.

Today is the first day of stormy weather that we can remember for quite some time.  The winds are whipping, rain is pouring, and it is a great day for working on this blog.  Our time in the Abacos is flexible now.  We have no real plans as to where to go and when.  We are excited, however, that John’s sister and husband, Kathy and Steve, are coming to join us next week.  We will pick them up in Marsh Harbor, a large town in the Abacos with a population of about 6000 people, and then we will take them away from the big city and spend time exploring and enjoying having them aboard with us.  We can’t wait to share our life on AfterMath with them.

We are starting to look back now on all of the places we have been and all of the people we have met along the way.  We have met people who have had so much and those who have had so little, young people and old, natives in foreign lands, people in our own country of every age and occupation, both on land and on the water.  Everyone has his or her own story; every single story is interesting and important.  Oceans and waterways have a way of leveling people.  We need each other, we depend on the skills of others, and we get joy out of conversations and time spent together with those we meet.  Life on the water equalizes us and brings us together. We needed the boat boys in the Caribbean, the cheerful shop keepers in distant places, the engine specialists in the United States, the divers who cleaned our boat bottom, the dock hands who helped us in windy weather, the acquaintances who fill us in on weather, the friends we have made who have made us laugh, and countless others.  Life on AfterMath has taught us to never take anyone for granted.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could take a minute to stop and see the value in every single person they met?  Wouldn’t it be magnificent if  differences, instead of pulling people apart, brought people together?  Then every day we would all be better people, everyone would be valued and respected, and the world would be a better place.

 

 

 

Marco, the Everglades, Marathon, Key Largo, and into Miami (January 21 – February 25, 2018)

Marco, the Everglades, Marathon, Key Largo, and into Miami (January 21 – February 25, 2018)

A question we often are asked is, “Where will you be on (pick your date here)?”  Our answer is usually, “We aren’t even sure where we will be tomorrow”.  It’s hard for those who live by a normal schedule, with set vacations or holidays to understand this unpredictable life we lead.  We, however, have become so used to a constant change in plans due to maintenance, weather, or just plain whim, that we can hardly imagine living any other way.  Our time in the Florida Keys was just another example of our plans changing day by day to fit whatever worked best for us at the time.

The lunar eclipse, January 21, 2018

The night before we left Marco Island to head farther south towards the Keys was the night of the total lunar eclipse and I wasn’t about to miss that event.  I wasn’t sure I’d capture much on my camera, as it was cold and windy outside.  Although one more dedicated might have camped out on the dock with a tripod at hand, I am a warmth lover, and I wasn’t willing to leave the comfort of my boat for very long.  Therefore, every 15 minutes from the time the eclipse started I ducked out to take a few shots of the main event.  It had been a cloudy night, but luckily, there always seemed to be a break between the clouds during my ventures outside.  After the full eclipse happened at 11:45 the clouds filled in and I felt justified in going to bed and saying I did my best.  It was a lovely sight to see.

IMG_6639The tangled roots of the Everglades National Park mangrovesIMG_6642IMG_6656A roseate spoonbill in the Everglades

After a nice trip south, we anchored for the next two nights in Everglades National Park.  Previously our trips to the Everglades were by car or by airplane and brought us to the land of tall grasses, swamps, and lots of alligators.  This trip was different, however.  Here, on the rivers that empty into the Gulf of Mexico, the landscape was filled with mangroves and gumbo limbo trees.  In fact, the trees were so tightly packed that it is inconceivable that a person could walk through the veritable jungle.  Mangroves are important to the Everglades because their roots stabilize the coastline as they provide protection from wind and waves.  The trees themselves provide the perfect habitat for the wildlife that live in the area; Everglades National Park has the largest stand of protected mangroves in this hemisphere.

IMG_6830The Seven-Mile Bridge at Marathon

Our next stop in our adventure was Marathon, FL, which is in the middle of the Overseas Highway, a 113-mile portion of US 1.  The highway extends from Miami to Key West and was originally built in 1912 by Henry Flagler to accommodate the East Coast Railroad line.  When a hurricane on Labor Day in 1935 destroyed the infrastructure, the railroad service ended.  The construction of the highway began soon after, using some of the original pilings and coral beds, and by 1938 motorists were able to, for the first time, drive to Key West.  The portion of the highway near Marathon is called the Seven Mile Bridge, and we were at Marathon Marina right near it.

IMG_6707At Pigeon Key, tour guide, Eric, fills everyone in on the history of the tiny island.  Although we went by dinghy, there is a small tour boat to transport visitors to the site.  In the past, cars were able to drive to the park, but the bridge is now under repair and the only way to get there is by boat.

IMG_6708A section of the original railroad bridgeIMG_6711A view of the work camp where, at times, 400 men lived while working on the railroad.IMG_6712One of the bridge painters homes, now a museum for the island.IMG_6715Looking through the ramp from the original bridge that led to Pigeon Key, you can see the old and new bridges together.IMG_6721IMG_6722That’s our dinghy at the end of the dock.IMG_6724

At first we planned to stay in the marina for a week, but, as Jason and Lisa were coming to visit, we thought two weeks would be better.  Jason and Lisa love to fish and Marathon is known to be one of the best fishing areas in the world.  Before they arrived we took the dinghy, one day, to Pigeon Key, located under the Seven Mile Bridge.  Pigeon Key is a tiny island that was used by Flagler for a work camp for the workers building the railroad.  Tours are given on the island, which is now used mainly as a science camp for middle and high-school students interested in marine sciences.  John and I both found the tour to be fascinating and the excursion to be well worthwhile.  Also, before our guests arrived, we were able to meet up with Lynn and Doug from DougOut again, as they had spent most of the winter in a nearby marina on Marathon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOut fishing in the Boot Key HarborOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soon it was time for Jason and Lisa to arrive.  Luckily I was pretty well provisioned, thanks to Publix delivering groceries to the marina, but we made a quick trip to the store anyway to pick up last minute supplies. We weren’t back from shopping long before Jason, Lisa, and I headed out on the dinghy, Tangent, to do a little fishing in the harbor.  I watched and they were both rewarded with catching some yellow tail snappers and some grunts that evening.

IMG_6742A yellowtail snapper from under the Seven Mile BridgeIMG_6745Jason’s rental boat for the day.IMG_6737This friendly manatee came to check us out near the dock at the marina/

The next day, Jason rented a fishing boat and he invited John and me along for the ride.  It was a little rough so we hung out by the Seven Mile Bridge in the morning and all four of us were able to catch some fish and enjoy the fun.  Jason was able to catch fewer fish than he might have because he was kept busy baiting our hooks and removing the catches we made.  Around noon, John and I went back to the boat and Jason and Lisa went out again to see what they could catch.  After returning back at AfterMath that afternoon, they cleaned the fish they caught and we enjoyed a delicious snack of yellowtail snapper, fresh from the sea.

Feeding the tarpon at Robbie’s

Before Jason and Lisa arrived, John and I had decided we would make a visit to Robbie’s, an eclectic spot on Islamorada, with them.  We knew they would love to see the tarpon that hang out there waiting for a free handout from the tourists who come to feed these huge fish by hand.  Also at Robbie’s is a great, rustic restaurant on the water and a sort of free for all collection of open-air shops to wander among.  The day did not disappoint us; we all had a great time.  Of course, after our return, more fishing occurred on the dock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASombrero Beach.  IMG_6077The pool at Marathon MarinaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA puffer fish Jason caught near the mangrovesFB_IMG_1550946425365A drone view of the marina.  Drone pictures are courtesy of Jason.FB_IMG_1550946411252

During their time with us, we also visited Sombrero Beach, Marathon’s most popular beach, spent time on Tangent fishing in Sister’s Creek amongst the mangroves, swam in the lovely pool at the marina, ate fresh lobster from a small stand along the road where you had to fish out your own lobster from the pool with a net, and enjoyed the pictures and videos Jason took from his drone.  We had a great time and, of course, hated to see them leave.

IMG_6669This and the following four pictures were the evolution of one night’s sunset.  It was gorgeous.IMG_6678IMG_6686IMG_6695IMG_6704

Two weeks somehow turned into three, but before we knew it, it was time to move along.  While our original plan was to go to Key West from Marathon, we decided that, because we had been there quite a few times, both by boat and by car, and time was getting away from us, we would start heading north instead. So, on February 15th, we said goodbye to Marathon and started off to an anchorage not far from Robbie’s in Islamorada.  We spent two nights there, enjoying being at anchor again, riding in Tangent to check out the sights, and watching spectacular sunsets before moving to our next stop, Key Largo.

IMG_6876Looking towards the fish market in Key Largo

Motoring to the Pilot House Marina in Key Largo was an interesting experience.  It seemed we must be going the wrong way as the canal going in was very small and traveled through a very residential neighborhood, but sure enough, at the end was a wonderful little marina and restaurant; next door was a great fish market, and stores were an easy walk away.  We planned on staying only two nights, but weather and convenience changed our minds, and we stayed six instead. Preparations for our trip to the Bahamas had begun, so we rented a car to get whatever odds and ends we needed, oil for those every 150-hour oil changes and for provisions to fill the cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator.

IMG_6878Leaving Pilot House Marina, Key Largo and heading to MiamiIMG_6882IMG_6883IMG_6752Seven structures, just off of Key Biscayne, were built in the early 1930’s and make up what is now known as Stiltsville. Originally there were 14 buildings, used as homes, drinking pubs during Prohibition, and even speakeasies.  Now they have been taken over by the National Park Service.IMG_6753IMG_6754IMG_6757