Thursday, December 21, 2017

Damn Northerners!

We are enjoying a beautiful morning in Orange Beach, Alabama. The sun is shining, the waves are gently coming ashore....hold on a minute I need to blow my nose....the warm winds feel great on our bare arms. We get to spend a few days....hold on I need to blow my nose again....enjoying this beautiful area with some of our family. "Achewwwwww!" Damn northerners gave me a cold again.

The last time we traveled north I picked up a very stubborn cold that just wouldn't go away until we got back to Florida. This time I started sneezing as soon as we piled into our car to begin this trip north. I think my body is trying to tell me something. "Stay south dummy, stay south."

In Florida we have found that everything that ails someone is due to something called a Northerner". We stand in a long line at the bank we hear, "Damn Northerners are back again." Restaurant has a waiting line, you guessed it, "Damn Northerners clogging up our restaurants." Roads are backed up, Northerners!"

We find it very funny when we talk to these complainers about their life in Florida. "I'm originally from Michigan, but I've been here for 10 years." "It was a lot less crowded down here when we moved from Indiana 3 years ago." We swear there are no born and raised Floridians anywhere to be found. Yet everyone complains about all the Northerners coming down here. So, I am going to blame all the damn Northerners for coming down and bringing this cold virus with them.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Wrinkles Takes a Different Tack

The crew of Wrinkles is sorry for their lack of posts over the recent months. (Egads! It has been months!) It seems life had many distractions, twists and turns which all conspired to keep us from updating this silly blog. You still want an explanation you say? Well, here goes.......

If you go back to our last post you will see we had mixed emotions about returning to Wrinkles after a wonderful trip visiting friends and family all over the U.S. Although Wrinkles was in good shape and ready for another sailing adventure, her crew wasn't exactly ready to drop the docklines quite yet. Brenda has never been fond of storms or heavy weather sailing. Fortunately the beautiful sunsets, quiet island beaches and amazing friendships we developed were able to outweigh the stressful portions of cruising for the last 2 1/2 years. Mike knew upon returning from the Bahamas last season that it would be Brenda's last long voyage aboard Wrinkles. She simply had run her weather tolerance tank empty.

We planned on an easy sail down to Marathon where we would spend the winter enjoying the Florida Keys. Unfortunately Hurricane Irma pretty much destroyed Boot Key Harbor and our plans. So now what do we do? Our wanderlust was still going strong and we were not ready to become landlocked quite yet. We started looking at RV'ing as an alternative to sailing. We would be able to wander, explore, meet new people and basically refuse to grow up and become responsible adults. Hmmmmm? Sounds like a good option.

The decision was made to put Wrinkles up for sale and move aboard an RV. It was NOT an easy decision. Mike wrote the following email to our family to express his emotions.

Adventures do end. I've known this for weeks now, but I seemed to be able to place it in the back of of my mind where I wouldn't need to acknowledge it. Well, yesterday was my day of reckoning. I stepped across Wrinkles teak rail for my last sail as her skipper, owner, friend. The familiar feel of the solid deck as I boarded her made me feel at home and at peace. Wrinkles has been my home and my means of adventure for nearly three years now as we shared beautiful sunsets and exotic islands.As we sailed under a gentle wind across Charlotte Harbor toward the storage lot I reminisced about the highs and lows of cruising aboard an old sailboat. Sure there were times of fear and anxiety, but to truly be alive we need to get outside our comfort zone occasionally. The rewards were plentiful. Beauty, adventure, friendships, excitement and the amazing feeling of accomplishment. Sharing life aboard Wrinkles with the love of my life was a good life.I'm not sure if I subconsciously sailed 40 minutes past the turn up the Myakka River or if I just didn't want to make that final commitment to put Wrinkles away. It is more likely that during our adventures Brenda has been the true navigator and I didn't have her by my side to keep me from getting lost. Eventually Wrinkles and I worked our way up the Myakka River, made it safely through the dreaded Cattle Point Lock, navigated the shallow canals and gently docked at Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage.This adventure has ended. You can't imagine how hard that sentence was to type. Wrinkles will soon have a new skipper to pat her teak after each day's journey while saying, "Good job Wrinkles."

Yes, Mike would still love to point Wrinkles bow off to distant shores, but cruising is only fun and rewarding if it is a shared adventure. It is far more important who we share our adventures with than what those adventures are. We are excited to make our beautiful RV our new home and head off across America to new adventures.

Life does supply us with interesting twists. From now on our travels will involve merges and turns rather than tacks and jibes. Just different terms for new adventures we can share together.


Friday, September 29, 2017

A Summer Land Trip - What's Next?

We finally arrived back at Punta Gorda and boarded Wrinkles on September 19th. We had a great three month trip visiting 12 states and so many friends. After flying from Punta Gorda to Wisconsin we visited family and friends while staying at Mike's mom's home. We drove down to Columbus, Ohio (along with Matt and Kelley) to visit our oldest son John and his girlfriend Brittnie. After returning to Wisconsin we watched our youngest son marry an amazing young lady. Welcome to the family Kelley.

While in Wisconsin we purchased a used Toyota Corolla to zip around and visit friends. Our trusty little Toyota was going to get quite a workout over the next few weeks. We roughed out a plan to visit friends and family as we slowly made our way back to Wrinkles. The plan included St. Louis to visit our sailing friends Bret and Theresa. From there we would head over to Illinois to see our good friends Steve and Sarah. From Illinois we planned to follow Route 66 all the way to Oklahoma City to visit our daughter Tina. After that we would head eastward to Calico Rock, Arkansas where Kim and Roy (Mike's sister and brother-in-law) live. Next some more miles eastward to stay with Karen and Peter (Brenda's sister and brother-in-law) in Huntsville, Alabama. Finally we planned on spending two days driving down to Punta Gorda. As you all know, plans do change.

We loved visiting each of our family and friends along the way. We shared great times and experienced some really awesome events. We were sad to leave our last stop and head out toward Florida, but it was time to move along. We were keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irma as the forecast was showing she could be passing within a few hundred miles of Punta Gorda. After driving 550 miles we stopped at a motel in Ocala, Florida for the night. The weather reports were consistently showing that Irma was turning ever westward with a potential direct landfall near Punta Gorda. We stayed a couple nights in Ocala to watch Irma's path before deciding whether or not to proceed.

We received a call from our marina telling us we would not be allowed to stay aboard Wrinkles during the hurricane. We made the hard decision to turn back north to stay away from Irma's path. We headed up to Huntsville, Alabama to wait and worry. Thank you so much to Karen and Peter for housing us sailing freeloaders.

Once Irma had finished pounding Florida we allowed a few days for the cleanup crews to do their work and for the fuel supply to be restored. It was hard not to rush out to see Wrinkles, but the crews don't need all of us evacuees getting in their way. Finally we headed south again and made our way to Wrinkles. She had taken the storm without getting even a scratch. We were very lucky!

So after nearly 5500 miles of driving we boarded Wrinkles. It was a funny feeling for us though. We were glad to see Wrinkles, but the sense of excitement we thought we should be experiencing wasn't there. We are not sure how to describe or explain how we did feel. Maybe it was because we knew our plan to spend the winter sailing down to the Keys was probably not going to be possible with the Keys being smashed by Irma. Maybe we are winding down in our desire to continue cruising. Maybe.....we just need to relax here in beautiful Punta Gorda and see what everything looks like in a month or two. We'll see.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Back To Wrinkles - Try Number Two

Huntsville Botanical Gardens

Several days ago we drove to within 3 hours of being back on Wrinkles before Hurricane Irma decided to move westward toward Punta Gorda. We turned around and retraced our route to Brenda's sister's house in Alabama and dumped our stuff in their spare bedroom again. Yes, we are officially freeloaders.

Karen and Peter welcomed us back and have treated us to wonderful food and companionship while we watched the Weather Channel non-stop for days. In between Brenda joined them for a fantastic dinner event at Katie's house. Karen and several of her friends take cooking to another level and enjoy getting together to produce amazing meals. Brenda loved every minute of the event. (Mike was still nursing a cold and decided not to infect everyone in attendance.) We have also toured the lovely Huntsville Botanical Gardens. The grounds, buildings and art are truly gorgeous.

The Chefs
View from Katie's patio.
Butterfly House at Huntsville Botanical Gardens

Now that Irma has passed and the traffic, gas supply, electricity and motel availability have all settled back to close to normal we are going to head back down. We plan on leaving Monday morning and driving to Ocala, FL for the night. Then we will finish the last 3 hours down to Punta Gorda which will leave enough daylight hours to get Wrinkles back in shape to sleep aboard.

It will be good to see Wrinkles and our friends again.


Monday, September 11, 2017

All Is Well With Wrinkles

Wrinkles in her slip this morning.

Wrinkles and Punta Gorda in general dodged Irma's wrath pretty well intact. Luckily Irma turned a bit to the east and spared our area from severe damage. There was plenty of rain and some damage to the trees and buildings, but nothing compared to Naples just south of us. Our thoughts are with those people who were severely affected by Irma. The idea of losing your home to a storm is heartbreaking.

It was wonderful to hear from our friends all over Florida that they and their families were all unharmed. We've also received soothing pictures and assurances from good friends that have checked in on Wrinkles. It is good to know we have a home to go back to.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Irma Takes Aim

Well, this sucks. It appears Irma has set her course north with Punta Gorda dead center in her path. So that means Wrinkles will be right in the eye of this mean storm. Just three days ago it looked like Punta Gorda would be on the far west edge of the storm, but Irma decided to shift west. The forecast is for an 8-10 foot surge near Wrinkles. All we can do now is wait, watch and hope. Our thoughts go out to all those people who have their homes and businesses in Irma's path. If you were brave or crazy enough to remain in Florida, we hope you found a safe spot.

Good luck everyone.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma

We were just 3 hours away from Wrinkles when we had to decide whether or not to turn back north. Our good friends Don and Gail have been keeping an eye on Wrinkles in our absence which gives us peace of mind. We left Wrinkles in storm mode with all her canvas off and securely tied in with double lines. She is as prepped as she can be. The marina also called to let us know we wouldn't be allowed to stay aboard Wrinkles during this storm event. That settled our decision and we headed back north to Huntsville, AL.

We drove the 550 miles to Brenda's sister's house where we will nervously watch the weather coverage. We have lots of friends in Irma's path and we hope they all find a safe harbor. Go away Irma, we don't like you!

Be safe dear friends.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Road Trip Is Winding Down

Fishin' with Mario at Domask's Cabin

We have driven from Madison (Wisconsin) to Columbus (Ohio), Lake St. Louis (Missouri), New Baden (Illinois), Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) Calico Rock (Arkansas), Huntsville (Alabama) and are currently in Ocala (Florida). Whew! That was a lot of driving. We have about 3 hours of driving left to get back to Wrinkles in Punta Gorda, but as everyone knows Hurricane Irma is headed in that direction as well. We are at a surprisingly nice, yet inexpensive Howard Johnson's motel watching the weather news as we decide whether or not to stay here in central Florida to ride out the storm.

"Hayride" at Mike's sister's home in Calico Rock
Sharing a drink with Tina at Bricktown

We will watch the weather reports this morning and then decide what to do next. We may just spend one more night here to get a better idea of where Irma plans to go.

Don and Gail - Batten down the hatches and be safe!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Whirlwind Trip Back To Wisconsin

Wedding Venue at Rehearsal

We flew north to Wisconsin to attend our youngest son's wedding in Door County. We decided to make it a fairly long trip to make sure we had time to visit friends and family. The time has flown by as we fished, golfed, hiked, danced, played games, boated, and ate. Oh boy did we eat!

Karen, Kelley and Mom
Libby sharing the back seat with Mike
Mike carved the wedding toppers.

The wedding was amazing with great friends and family to share it with. We think Matt and Kelley got exactly the wedding they were dreaming about. Informal, untraditional and plenty of fun for people of all ages. We love our new daughter (daughter-in-law just doesn't sound right) and we couldn't be happier for Matt. Thank you to all our wonderful friends who pitched in and helped us make the entire event so perfect.

Jim, John, Mike and Matt sharing a Drambuie.

It has been awesome getting back together with our Wisconsin friends and feeling like nothing has changed. They are still the same old goofy bunch of characters that we fit in with so well. We have loved getting to spend time with each and every one of you.

Mike and Mario fishing at Domask's Cabin
Mario and Phil
Mike, Phil, Mario

We hope to visit a few more much missed friends during our trip back to Punta Gorda in the next few days. Wrinkles must be missing us as well. We are ready to be back "home".


Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Happy Day

My youngest son Matt will be marrying Kelley in Door County, Wisconsin in just a few hours. I truly couldn't be happier with Matt's choice of brides. Kelley is sweet, bubbly, energetic and adorable. I am so excited that she will soon be my second daughter.

I am very proud of the successful young man that Matt has become. I take great pride every time someone tells me he is "just plain a nice person." I don't think there is a higher compliment some one can pay a person. I love you son and wish you and Kelley all the happiness and love that Brenda and I have shared in our marriage.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Secure in Fishermen's Village Marina

Mike, Brenda, Don and Gail

Wrinkles and Island Tyme arrived safely in Punta Gorda after a fantastic and rewarding journey together. The exclusive "My Little Pig Yacht Club" members posed for the above photo to commemorate the end of the trip. Island Tyme is now tied up in her slip behind her owner's condo while Wrinkles is tucked away in a slip at Fishermen's Village Marina.


Don and Gail will be checking on Wrinkles as Mike and Brenda travel to Wisconsin for their youngest son's wedding. It makes it much easier to leave Wrinkles knowing she will be lovingly looked after.

We will be posting our thoughts on the cruise including; highlights, favorite stops, provisioning, boat equipment, budgeting, phone service and more in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Coming Full Circle

Wrinkles in her slip

On our last night in Pelican Bay we were greeted with the sight of "Scout" motoring in and dropping their anchor next door to us. We met Beth and Stan in Boot Key Harbor last winter. We truly enjoyed their company and were excited to have run into them again. After securing their catamaran they dinghied over for sundowners and getting caught up on each other's travels. You meet the nicest people out there cruising.



Leaving Pelican Bay

Mike blew the conch and Don played Amazing Grace as the sun set on our last night of this trip. It was touching as always, but a bit (no, a lot) sad. We have been sailing side by side with Don and Gail now for 3 months and it has made our trip so much more pleasurable. They have become some of our dearest friends since we met them in February of 2016. We can't picture our Bahamas trip without them and their great senses of humor. Thank you two for helping us create so many fantastic memories.

As we awoke, a nice 7 knot breeze was blowing in our rigging. Oh boy, we get to sail today. The weather had finally cleared with blue skies and puffy white clouds. Sweet! Mike popped his head outside and the companionway to see the real live sunshine. But wait he thought, the wind is from the northeast. Guess what direction we needed to sail today. That's right, directly into the w

ind again. Mike and Don found this new wind direction funny enough that they started working on some new lyrics for a sailing song. They are going to call it "Yanmar Winds". Stay tuned, we'll post the silly ditty when we finish it up.

We saw this a lot on this trip

We motored across Charlotte Harbor toward our slip in Fishermen's Village. Eventually Island Tyme veered east toward their slip behind their condo. It was difficult to see that boat going in a different direction than Wrinkles. Every trip has to come to a close sooner or later. Even if we never sail with Don and Gail again we will always be keeping in contact with them. Yes Tina, mom was crying.

We approached Fishermen's Village knowing the boat traffic was going to be a zoo. Saturday is National Marina Day which means free slips for about 30 boats for the weekend. We saw a line of 5 boats heading into the channel leading to the marina. The captain's were all hailing the dockmaster for their slip numbers and asking for help catching their lines. The dockmaster tried his best to keep the boats organized, but two more boats came flying in and butted into the line and really messed things up. All of the captains were trying to talk on their radios at the same time which just added to the confusion.We waited for a break in the conversations and hailed the dockmaster to tell him that were would just hang out away from the madness and that he could call us when he was ready for us.

Eventually everyone got into their slips and then we were told to motor in. We slowly made our way in and executed a perfect docking without any drama. Hard to believe it went so smoothly with so many people watching from their boats and on the docks. Wrinkles had come full circle on her trip. We left Fishermen's Village nearly nine months ago sailing the Florida Keys, Bahamas and then back through the Keys before returning up the west coast of Florida to Punta Gorda. Well done Wrinkles. You performed amazingly well and kept us safe and comfortable throughout our travels.