Holy cow. After 84 days in the Bahamas (and that is about six months or more too few), we are back in the good ole USofA. Fort Pierce Municipal Marina is our home for a week. We have power. Unlimited water. A rental car. Good to be back.

When last we left you, we had done an overnighter from the Abacos, Bahamas to Ft. Pierce. Checked in with customs and border patrol. And got back to our boat.

We could, at this point, take a well deserved break, perhaps catch a nappy, bask in the air conditioning. Which we would do, but first we needed to clean the boat. Inside and out. Because for the first time in months, we had access to free and plentiful FRESH water. And our boat looked something like a salt block you put at pasture for horses/cows to lick. Jan took the inside, AJ and I got the outside. When that was done, we could rest.

Which is what we should have done. Rest. That is what I was thinking while I was bent over at the waist, flop sweat pouring down my face, holding back vomit while simultaneously trying to maintain my grip on mother earth.

Universal Studios Orlando.

IMG_2063We took a day trip to Universal Studios Orlando; it seems fitting, somehow, to go from a place where we are isolated and peaceful to a place JAMMED FULL OF PEOPLE AND CHAOS! And fun, mind you, fun.

We arrived bright and early, dropped Lucky (who was not so ‘Lucky’ today) off at the kennel at the park, walked the country mile to the park entrance and picked up our very, very expensive tickets.

And a digression: When the hell did amusement parks get so expensive, and how in the world does anyone afford going to the places? We went on a Monday after spring break was complete so that we could, hopefully, avoid the crowds and the lines. And not have to buy their ‘express pass.’ Which we didn’t. But if we did, our bill for three people would have been a freaking boat unit! We had fun, but whoo that leaves a mark.

And we are in the park. I stop at the first water fountain I see and swallow down my daily dose of dramamine. History has shown that rides that move me round and round also induce vertigo and vomiting, not necessarily in that order.

I’ll skip the details of the day. We saw Harry Potter stuff. We went on lots of rides, most of which were like being in a movie. We ate a ton of really, really horrid, expensive, fatty foods.

And at the end of the day, as we were leaving the park, we decided to go on one last right. The Hulk. A roller coaster that we could see throws you around in many, many circles and loops. Perhaps a coaster that would have been better done at closer to the time I took the dramamine, instead of eight plus hours later. But those weren’t my thoughts at the time–nope. I was focused on the thrill of a roller coaster and a father’s satisfaction in scaring the bejabbers out of his son as we shuffle through the line.

Until we got almost to the front, when AJ pointed to a sign and said “Hey dad, don’t you get motion sickness?”

Holy cats!  When did all of these start to apply to me?!?!?!!

The sign in question is one of the ubiquitious signs posted around all the rides. It has a litany of medical conditions or issues that, if you have, you should seriously consider the ride. I had paid zero attention to the signs. Like every. My entire life. Because up until a couple of years ago, I was bullet proof. But. At some point nicks have begun to appear in the shining armor. For example, motion sickness, never an issue, suddenly became a real thing. Not on the sail boat, but on anything that goes round and round in a tight circle.

So I studied the sign for the first time and noticed that there were a couple of things that applied. Like more than one. For example–back pain. I had surgery long ago, but still have back pain. Should I worry about that? And some questions that the sign brought to mind that weren’t covered! Like recent surgery…what is recent? And the catch all ‘other conditions.’ What are they talking about? If I dribble when I pee, does that count? Do they have a medical professional on staff that I can consult?

But it was too late. We had reached the front of the line and no way in hell I was not going on this ride. It was as advertised…high speed. Lots of turns. Starts. Stops. And when it was done, my grip on earth and the contents of my stomach were mighty, mighty tenuous. AJ is apparently still young enough to be concerned about dad instead of taking the opportunity to lunge for the kill. He asked if I was OK and said that the ride made him feel ill as well. Jan was skipping down the exit ramp asking if we wanted to go on it again.

We passed and instead went off to get dinner at a Mexican place; because in the Bahamas we missed certain kinds of


In the Bahamas we ate well. When we left for the Bahamas, we had a freezer full of protein, holds full of junk food and a head of lettuce. When we got to the Bahamas, we got everything we needed, though the prices sent the cheap one of us through the roof. Consequently things we ‘wanted’ were frequently left behind. An example conversation:

Jan: Hey–they have some Triscuits this week, want to get a box?
Jim: Hell yeah! How much?
Jan: $7.95
Jim: Hell NO!

We really did get a good appreciation for want vs. need and ended up stripping down what we got from the market to the bare essentials. And didn’t waste a lot of what we had.

So when we got back, we headed to the grocery store and came back with two carts full of crap. Our conversation this day was more like:

Jan: We are out of Cheez-its. Want to pick up some more?
Me: Sure! And they are only $2.00 per box!!
Jan: Lets get two!

And our cart ends up overflowing with $550 of junk food, of which the sum total nutritional value is the same as a celery stick.

But it wasn’t just the food from the grocery store that we missed; there were some restaurant we did miss and wanted to get once we got back. Good pizza, mexican food and oysters topped the list. So night one we got us a huge 16 inch fajita pizza and the three of us destroyed it. Like piranhas eating a small animal. And the three of us all complained about the abdominal pain as our body processed the pizza over the next 12-24 hours. We hit a taco place in town (at close to 10pm with the crew of M/V Darwin, so you figure out what we were doing in the 4-6 hours prior to that) that was fantastic. And in Orlando hit another Mexican place that was horrid. But it scratched the itch.IMG_2075

And yes…we did get some healthy food. There was a farmer market just outside the marina on two days we were there at which we got a ton of break, veg and fruit to get us on our way.

So now that our bellies were full and our food cravings taken car of we could focus on


Because our maintenance in the Bahamas was of the ‘duct tape it until later.’ And salt water has been hell on our boat for the past three months. So we took a day and knocked out as much as we could. Engines were serviced–upper and lower unit oil changed, plugs changed, engines flushed. Replaced blocks/pulleys on dinghy to make easier to get up/down (after only ten months). Washed lines. Removed rust stains off deck. Serviced batteries. And cleaned. More cleaning. Not fun, but we have learned that maintenance is critical if you are going to be out alone in the big, bad Atlantic. Or if you are going to be in


Which is what we learned when we toured Kennedy space center. Another day trip, this one with the crew of M/V Darwin. Five of us crammed into a compact car and went the 90 minutes (by car, two long days by boat) to Kennedy Space Center. Highlights? Space shuttle, bus tour of the facility, Saturn rocket. There are two launches scheduled in the next week; we are going to see if we can get someplace close to see the launches when we leave.

I know we won’t be alone–we have come from a place of lots of islands to a place with lots of


Like there are a ton of people. Everywhere. We went from anchorages that ranged from deserted to crowded and now are in the land of huge marinas. And anchorages. All of which are full. And people filling the roads and the streets. And the restaurants. We ate at places in the Bahamas where were were literally the only people in the restaurant; that will not be the case now.

The marina is right next to a city park and there were activities going on constantly; farmer’s markets, first Friday, bands, oyster festival and more. Crazy amounts of people. And noise.

The marina itself is filled with boats of all shapes and sizes. Lots of people spent the winter in Fort Pierce and are getting ready to head back home. But not too quickly, based on the weather up northland (i.e. ‘snow.’). Everyone is super friendly and we ended up meeting some great people. George and Randy are both Army dudes who found it more than a little amusing that the long haired dude at the dock is also an old Army dude. We did meet one boater who was looking to get rid of a Mantus 20kg anchor, which is what we were looking for, so we ended up getting a new (old) anchor for our trip back up north. But before we leave, we decide to hit a


At the best theater we have been at in our life. We went to see Black Panther; it was awesome. Equally awesome was a theater with reclining chairs and food/beverage service. Plus a free bag of popcorn. Good lord, I’ve missed this country.IMG_2027

After gaining about 20% of our body weight in the past week, it is time to head back out, up the Intercostal Waterway (ICW). That begins our next chapter of the adventure.