Final Countdown – Caribbean Departure!

We are just two weeks away from embarking upon our Caribbean adventure! We’ve spent the last few weeks ashore at our new home in Florida tying up loose ends; getting the new house straight (home projects); Christmas shopping and visiting family. It’s now time to focus on sailing/cruising tasks…so what are we doing?

Preparing the boat is done (well-its never really finished..eh?). All onboard systems are checked and working and the boat in resting in Jacksonville awaiting our return to do final provisioning and cast off when the weather permits.

Route planning is a current focus but happens every day – I (Steve) am constantly revisiting where we can, and want, to go but we are retired…our schedule is flexible! We have a general route plan that takes us from the East Florida coast to the Bahamas where we will explore this island nation from January to May. From the Bahamas we intend to transit the I-65 path (East into the Atlantic) and then ply the trades (South) to St Martin and then hop the windward island chain to Grenada arriving by 1 July to be out of the hurricane box by season start. We will explore in the South Caribbean from July to November 2018 and then work our way back North up the South & Central American coastal littoral through Belize and back to the Gulf of Mexico (exploring along the way). A stop in the Dry Tortugas is a possible dot on the schedule for our return to the US and then back toward the Tampa area to refit for the summer. We will then decide if another circuit through the Western Caribbean is in the cards for 2019.

The crew is excited! We have added a new crew member who will join us within the next two weeks (a separate post with Brandon’s details is forthcoming). I (Steve), Kimberly and Gus (The Boat Dog) are the “base of the pillar” and our Son David will remain with us through March until he heads off to start his new life in Maryland. Brandon has signed on as crew with us for six months – if we all remain compatible, Brandon has an option to stay on. David has the same option-should he fall in love with cruising. Gus, of course, is ready for anything and we think he has had enough of the land lubber life and is itching to get back on deck where he can be outside when he chooses.

Preparing to depart the US has reminded us of the things we take for granted living in a first world country. Some things we have had to cram into our schedule to assure crew support, health, morale and welfare throughout our forthcoming extended travels included: Dental check ups, meds (for extended travel), insurance education and policy adjustments (cars, boat, health, credit), cellular plan updates, unlocked gsm phones, WiFi gadgets, pet supplies, sailing gear, weather routing accounts, mail services, food provisioning, entertainment (board games, cards against humanity set (of course)), sail-mail (SSB radio email), passports, shot records, pet records, tools for our family to track our sail plans…and training to use it all. The list is long and endless but it’s all done!…oh yes…and Christmas shopping too!

Traveling with a pet requires advanced planning too. Doggy papers have been submitted and the Bahamas approval is in hand. We are already starting gathering info on getting Gus into the BVIs. Gus is ready to travel!

As we languish in our new land home, awaiting our departure date…and all of the Amazon stuff we ordered…David and I (Steve) are training on flying the DJI Phantom drone and learning the new video editing software to document our adventure. I (Steve) am boning up on all of the software and firmware updates for boat systems and loading navigation maps for our trip into the plotters. Since Garmin bought Active Captain, and is clearly heading toward the pay to play model, we have tuned up our “The Capn” navigation software suite with new maps and will also set up Navionics on the iPads and load up OpenCPN. The paper charts and new Cruising guides have arrived!

We are looking forward to meeting our new crew member (Brandon) and will update our map page with planned routes within the next week.

Stay tuned for videos on our You Tube channel.