Family Holiday Fun: December 31 2015


A bit of before and after photos.  It is mid-way through December and we still have a lot to do in order to begin cruising.  The boat looks great and things are falling into place…but…a long list still remains.  Each day starts about 6am with emails and news updates accompanied by instant coffee and cereal.  Before we finish our cereal a crew (or three) of boat pros arrive and start to work: stringing wire for all removed electronics to be re-installed; touch-ups on paint job and other exterior work; solar panel installation; new battery installation; hard top wiring; full enclosure pattern making; stabilizer hose swap out…yikes.  The crews seem to be increasing and we are having trouble keeping track of names and project status.  Not to mention that everyone is working in the same small space.  A recent dust up occurred when two crews needed the same wire run.  The problem resolved itself when one of the crews angrily hopped into his golf cart and departed…to return later.

Wahoo!  The propane line has been strung and the oven/burners are back in business.  I have been dying to do a bit of cooking and am off and running.  It is the Christmas season so I made several batches of black, sticky gingerbread.  One pan for Chris but the rest were distributed to the boat pros working on the boat as well as marina office staff and neighbor cruisers.  Everyone seemed pretty pleased and a couple of folks even asked for the recipe.

The boat projects sound straightforward when listed in a spreadsheet; however, implementation can be anything but routine.  Take the installation of the new batteries.  Each battery weighs approximately 200 pounds…and we have seven.  Getting them aboard and nuzzled into their precise cubbyholes below decks was a bit of professional wrestler meets yoga guru…not always a pretty picture.  Eegads, knuckles are bloody and muscles are strained by the end of each day.  We take diversion when we can mostly in the form of Patriots football or Duke basketball.  Thankfully, the nearby Slackers Bar and Grill carries all the games on their dozens of screens…complete with great burgers, fried cheese curds (the owner is from Wisconsin), blackened chicken quesadilla and sumptuous gyros (  But don’t forget a heavy fleece because the interior is kept about the same temperature as a meat locker…bbbrrr.


Boat work is coming down to the wire and we need to get going.  My sister, brother-in-law and nephew arrive in a few days from Kansas City and we don’t want to show them the glories of an industrial boat yard…even if it is south Florida.  Final items are ticked off like filling the fuel tanks.  The boat is topped up with diesel from the bright yellow Petterson fuel barge that simply pulls alongside and “anchors” to the sea floor – how easy was that?!  And the price was right at $1.95/gallon.  Additionally, we found a great patio set at Lowe’s Hardware for our new top deck “room.”  Kevin and crew of Enclosures Unlimited did an amazing job making the window panels which can be closed or open depending on the conditions of the day.  All work pros have been solid to work with on all projects.   

Our umbrella contractor was Luu Marine with whom we have had a particularly great experience.  We whole-heartedly recommend them for any job as well as the sub-contractors they recommended (  Please do not hesitate to contact us for specific reviews.  Their high quality in the initial job was great as well as no hesitation in perfecting any issues realized after-the-fact.  Every person we met was friendly and helpful.  Heck, we even joined in a few of their Friday after work parties held in the shed of the boat yard.  It is a United Nations affair with Central and South Americans, Americans from across the country and South East Asians.  Jorge mans the grill and it is a meat lovers dream…Tam’s marinated beef, clams, shrimp…all is delicious and they are a great group to hang out with.  Thanks guys – you are first rate!


The calendar keeps moving and it was December 21st. - we were off the docks at slack tide and down the New River.  We passed through the four bridges and were onto an anchorage in North Lake just off of the ICW.  Phew – it feels great to be swinging on the hook.  Next stop – Miami!  A half-day hop had us anchored in Sunset Lake with one day to spare before Jana, Josh and Garrett arrived on December 24th.  It might be a hot 85degrees in Florida at Christmas but there is plenty of holiday cheer – exhibit A is a santa hat clad Grecian statue along the ICW (tee, hee, hee).  We were greeted by squadrons of pelicans and graceful dolphin.  This is cruising. 

It was a festive welcome dinner aboard of steaks on the grill with baked potatoes and the gorgeous Miami skyline for a backdrop.  It is always great to be with family during the holidays!  Thanks for making the journey.   


Weather forecasts look good for some explorations of South Florida by boat; however, first we took some time to walk around South Beach (Dec 25).  The gentle sand and grass promenade along the ocean felt like Venice Beach in Los Angeles but the luxurious cheek-to-jowl high rise condos and hotels told us we were in Florida.  Christmas dinner was aboard with my baked pork and Chris’ flavorful mashed potatoes.  Adding to the festivities were Christmas crackers and the silliness enclosed in each one (including the paper crowns).


The weather forecast was holding so off we went along the ICW and the edge of Miami (Dec 26).  Along the way we threw out some fishing line and we crept close to view Stiltsville.  Stiltsville is located one mile south of Cape Florida in Biscayne Bay.  It’s a small grouping of seven remaining houses built on stilts.  The history and future of the structures is part campsite, part bootlegging, part gambling and part fishing all wrapped up in legal wrangling between owners, government and the Parks Service.  Who knows how the story will end?!  However, Hollywood and authors have had fun with the place highlighting the locale in three Carl Hiassen books, Miami Vice TV shows and several feature movies.  


By early afternoon we had anchored at Coon Point of Elliott Key in 8 feet of water.  Uninhabited Elliott Key is the northernmost of the true Florida Keys.  The Atlantic Ocean is on one side and Biscayne Bay is on the other.  But what lies ashore?! Let’s check it out.  A shore party departed and promptly ended after about 7.6 seconds of landing when the biting bugs discovered us and we high tailed it out of reach back at the boat.  Plenty of afternoon remained so we jumped off the boat and swam in the waters that are only accessible by boat.  Post dinner poker has become a tradition with stakes low enough that all have fun.  This was our furthest point south and, slowly, back north we went. 


Re-anchored in Sunset Lake and we had a party aboard Barefeet with Bill and Louise who were in the anchorage on their way to the Bahamas (Dec 27).  Chris provided shuttle service and proudly showed off our new dinghy nav light (as a hat) but soon to be installed on the cover of the dinghy motor. 

We had burgers and fun and waved so long the next morning as we moved further north.  Schedules became a bit jumbled for us at this point because Chris and I needed to return to Boston for a Memorial Service honoring Chris’ grandmother who passed at the age of 102 years.  I called more than two dozen marinas from the upper keys to Fort Lauderdale and even Pompano looking for last minute dock space over New Year’s.  Needless to say my conversations usually began with, “Don’t laugh but…”  We were on several waiting lists but finally got confirmed space in Royale Palm Marina south of Fort Lauderdale in Dania Beach.   


With our dock space confirmed we finalized our itinerary with a stop back in North Lake and wrapped up our last night with Jana, Josh and Garrett at Royale Palm.  As the sole boat traveling north along the ICW it was clear that the party was back in Miami – probably the reason it was so hard to find dock space.  Back in familiar territory we showed off a few of our favorite haunts.  We stopped at Jimbo’s Sandbar in Dania Beach via dinghy for oyster shooters and their amazing won ton nachos (  Yum!  And toasted the end of a great trip at Riverside Market and Café.  So long guys – please come back soon!

We secured the boat and emptied the fridge for our quick return to chilly Boston.  We will be back to the boat in a few days and ready to start our winter cruising…aiming for Key West.

Rich and Sticky and Black Gingerbread (Old Ordinary Cookbook, Hingham Historical Society)

1.5 cups flour

2 teaspoons powdered ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup soft brown sugar

˝ cup maple syrup (or golden or corn syrup)

˝ cup butter

˝ cup dark molasses (or treacle)

1 cup warm milk

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 eggs, beaten

1)     Grease deep 71/2” x 11” baking pan. 

2)     Mix together flour, ginger and cinnamon.

3)     Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, butter and molasses in a saucepan.  Heat until butter melts and mixture is smooth, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat.

4)     Stir in flour mixture.

5)     Stir in mixture of warm milk and baking soda.

6)     Add beaten eggs and mix well.

7)     Pour into prepared baking pan.

8)     Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour (or until firm).

9)     Remove to wire rack to cool.  Cut into bars.


Tam’s Marinade

Sesame oil

Panda brand oyster flavored sauce

Korean BBQ Sauce (original) – Kalbi marinade pear and apple