Sunday, 13 April 2014


We drove to Ft. Myers, with our friend Brian, to pick up a car he was loaning us.  This was his home town and he recommended we stop in and see the Edison and Ford summer homes on our way back.  Edison and Ford were good friends and along with Firestone created a lab at their summer home to discover plants that would provide rubber for tires.  Very interesting place.

Henry Ford

Thoma Edison

The old dock pilings.  The main access was by water.

Pond by the pool.
The pool.

The Moon Garden

The Edison summer home.

Early electric light.

The Ford Model T.

Ford's summer home.

Root art.

High tech lab 1920's style.

High tech lab 2.

Thursday, 10 April 2014



We visited the Kennedy Space Center on our visit in 2009, but one day is not enough to take it all in.  We were glad to have the opportunity to visit again.  This time we took in two I-Max films (on the Hubble Telescope an the Space Station), took the bus tour of the facilities and saw the new Atlantis exhibit.

Hubble explained.

Hubble picture.

The assembly building.  Each star on the flag is 6 ft across.

The launch pad.

The Saturn rocket.
Actual control room that sent man to the moon.

The eagle has landed.

Houston we have a problem.
The new exhibit.

Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The cargo bay.

Houston now we REALLY have a problem.

Canadarm at work.

Jet pack


Friday, 4 April 2014


We enjoyed a good passage up the Hawk Channel (anchoring at Boot and Rodriquez Keys), then up the coast to Ft. Pierce, then entered the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) to Vero Beach, Dragon's Head and Titusville.  One adventure of note, outlined in the Postcard below.

SV Passat II - Postcard from Hawk Channel, Florida, USA (with Collision Avoidance Drill)

Yesterday we slipped our mooring in Key West and headed up the Hawk Channel.  Windy, wet passage on a Close Reach up to Merrithon, Fl where we anchored outside Boot Harbor, as we can only enter at high tide, due to our draft.  Quiet night on the hook.

Today, just after sunup we returned to the Hawk Channel, hoping to make Rodriquiz Key Anchorage before dark or the arrival of the pending "Norther".

The channel was busy, with Sail, Power and Sports Fisher boats out before the coming inclement weather.

It is a wide and, for the East Coast, deep channel (12 to 20 ft deep).  A recommended course is marked on most charts and there are a very few choke points to watch for.  We have learned from experience to stay at least a 1/4 mile off the recommended course where possible.  It is surprising how many boaters just put these courses in their chart plotters and "go to sleep".

The main hazard (we thought) was the ever present trap floats.  They are planted in surprisingly straight rows, every few hundred feet.  The secret is to identify the rows and adjust your course to sail between them.  This works until the set is complete, then you start all over again.

We were sailing on the starboard tack, beam reach, making six knts in a 15 to 20 knot wind, with only the jib and stay sail.  The 2 to 3 foot waves plus "Stink Pot" wakes add to the challenge.

I was standing on the Starboard side of the Cockpit looking ahead for floats.  Sandra was sitting on the port side determining the lay of the rows from the floats we had passed.  My view to Port was limited by the sails.

As luck would have it Sandra advised me to look to Port as she anticipated a float based on the line established by the ones we had passed.  I ducked down to get a better view.  BIG BLUE SAIL BOAT!!! Only 4 or so boat lengths away on a collision course with us.  I went into auto mode.  Instant 5 blasts on the air horn (kept in the dodger at all times).  Disengage Auto and throw myself against the tiller to come to starboard.  Looking up I saw a brown haired, wide eyed, male pop up in the other boats center cock pit.  HE TURNED TO PORT!!!  We desperately braced for impact. At the last possible moment he turned to Starboard.  We passed Port to Port with no more than 3 ft between us.

On the upside, Sandra and I know we can pass any heart stress test with flying colors.

We made it to Rodriquiz Key without further adventure and are securely anchored anticipating the "Norther" to come tonight.

At 3/18/2014 12:35 AM (utc) our position was 25°03.60'N 080°26.78'W

Wishing you fair winds,calm seas and lots of sea room.

Miami skyline at dusk.

Miami skyline at Sunset.

Fisheye view of Miami.

Night watch self portrait.

Wrecked house at Dragon's Head.

Manatee welcomes Passat II to Titusville, with a kiss.    


March, 2014 - KEY WEST, FL

Our stay in Key West was memorable, but not in a good way. See the SV Passat II - Postcard below for details.  We will avoid Key West in the future.  The highlight was our bus trip to Marathon to have lunch with the Waterway HAM radio group.

The anchorage by day.
Anchorage sunset.

The boat that most likely sideswiped us during the "Norther".

Hen and chicks on the street.
The 7 mile long bridge, from the bus to Marathon.


SV Passat II - Postcard from Key West, Fl

 We made it to Key West, anchoring just as the sun set March 5th, ahead of a "Norther" predicted for the next day.

Early March 6th we phoned in our arrival, got our clearance # and went in search of Homeland Security to complete our check-in.  In 2009 this entailed a short walk and a few minutes of paperwork to obtain a one year cruising license.  No one was at the downtown office and we were directed to the Airport. A one hour plus bus ride latter we presented ourselves at the airport.  There we were informed that all the officers were busy with cruise ships and were given a 2 pm appointment, a 1.5 hour wait.  By 2 pm it was clear that the "Norther" was arriving.  Black skies, increasing winds, with gusts; you know the signs.

At 2 pm we had our interview and filled out the forms.  As we had come directly from Cuba a boat inspection was required and we would not be eligible for a cruising license.  This entails a slightly increased cost and a requirement that we do paperwork to enter and clear all ports we enter.  This entails more paperwork and less convenience for us and vastly greater work for the Homeland Staff.  The net result is that we will reduce the number of ports we visit and spend money in.  Not sure who is being punished.  The process was delayed at least a 1/2 hour as their credit card machine was down.  They would not take cash.  Finally, with all the boaters expressing concern with the rapidly deteriorating weather, they waived the fees and sent us on our way, with us promising to bring the boat in for inspection as soon as the weather permitted.

As we left the building the skies opened up and we were treated to a soak to the bone in 30 seconds deluge. Next bus 45 minutes.  Lineup for cabs a mile long.  We did not get back to the dingy until over an hour later.  By then the winds were gale force, with storm force gusts.  No way we could get back to the boat.  The marina staff printed off a list of nearby B&Bs and we went in search of shelter.  You can compare accommodation availability in Key West at his time of year to Bethlehem that Xmas some 2000 plus years ago.   We finally saw a "No Vacancy" sign and dragged our soaking wet bodies and various dingy gear (oars, pump, safety kit, etc) into the lobby.  They took pity on us and gave us a reduced rate ($292.00 US) for the night, including a continental breakfast.

By this time Sandra was in the early stages of hypothermia and I was not far behind.  The first order of the moment was to convert the Air Conditioning to Heat.  The next was a hot shower.  The shower was huge, but had only one shower head.  We struggled to share it in a loving and caring way (My turn, NO MY TURN).

The balance of the afternoon and well into the evening I spent in the bathroom drying our clothes with the hair dryer.  Sandra continued her struggle to get warm in bed and get our new cell phone to work.  At 7 pm the clothes were dry enough and the rains reduced enough or us to go out and eat.  Then bed and a sound sleep.

After breakfast we head down to the dingy, to return to the boat.  We find that it had been holed in three places.  They were small holes and we were able to get back to Passat II, with Sandra manning the air pump.

At the boat we found a series of gouges on the Starboard side.  Another boat had come loose and sideswiped us during the Gale.  Sigh.

Did I mention that it had taken us hours to get our cell phone up and running?  Before I forget the number is 305-304-5546.

It took another full day before the weather settled down enough for us to go in for our boat inspection.  After wasting the whole morning calling the two local numbers, with no answer, we finally connected after we had gone to town to by a repair kit for our dingy.  Made an appointment for 4 pm.

Returned to the boat to find a rope tied around the rudder.  Had to go into the water to free it.

Made the inspection appointment.  Lost the 5 Cuban Cigars I bought to smoke with my sons at son Mike's wedding (sorry boys).

Welcome to Key West.

Wishing you all fair winds and calm seas.


A three and a half day passage, from Cienfriegos, Cuba to Key west Florida.  Originally our destination was Isla Mujeres, Mx, a shorter passage, to avoid an expected Norther and to enter the USA from a country other then Cuba.  The Norther held off and we decided to go directly to the US.

The castle at the mouth of the Harbor.  We did not get to tour it this time.

As we leave a cruise ship enters.

While underway I send e-mails, via our SSB Radio, called SV Passat II Postcards.  I have decided to include them in my postings.  The ones for this passage are:

SV Passat II - Postcard From the Yucatan Channel

We were on our way to Isla Mujeres, but conditions are so good we have decided to go directly to Key West, Florida, via the Dry Tortugas.  The passage to the Dry Torgugas will be a total of 492 miles, taking an estimated 4 days to complete. If we go all the way to Key West it will add another day.

Our trip to Cuba was a blast (see details on the passage in he previous Postcard).   We arrived in Cayo Largo.  The marina there has good floating docks, but we did not take on water (funny smell), nor did we hook up to power (bad reputation for voltage irregularities).  Lots of officials, but all were very friendly and welcoming.  We were able to keep our remaining fresh food, with the promise to eat it all before leaving the Cayos and that all the scraps would be sealed in plastic and placed in the "International" garbage cans. Excellent beer at the marina bar for about $1.00 a bottle.

Cayo Largo is a resort Island, where the tourists outnumber the locals by a wide margin.  In addition to the Marina there are several resorts, catering primarily to Europeans, mostly French, German and Italian.  They are all "all inclusive", but some offer a day pass for boaters, including all meals and drinks for about $20 per person.  The beaches are world class, including at least one "clothing optional" area, which I missed as I was too tired to walk the extra distance.  Something for next time.

We spent several days in the surrounding Cayos.  It was windy so we were confined to the boat.  The highlight was two HUGE Lobsters we bought from local fisherman for $20.00 CDN.  Pictures to follow in the next blog posting.

Our next port was Cienfuegos (100 fires).  No room at the marina so we anchored out, with a large number of other boats.  Again lots of officials, but no real hassles, but got the feeling that the Port Captain may have been looking for a hand out.  The area around the marina was developed in the 1950s and has some nice examples of Art Deco housing.  The city center has some decent architecture, particularly the theater.  Again pictures will be added to the blog.

We took a land trip to see Trinidad, a world heritage city.  We thought we were renting a car, but ended up with a taxi.  The total cost for an over one hour ride for 4 persons was $40.00 Cdn.  The taxi was a 1953 Chev, re-powered with a Hyundi diesel, driven by a young person practicing for the Indy 500.  We survived.

We stayed the night at a B&B that was very clean, with an excellent breakfast.  Cost $40.00.  The town is exceptionally beautiful, with pictures to follow in the blog.

We parted company with friends Mike and Fern in Trinidad.  They took a taxi to Santa Clara to their flight home to Canada.  We took the bus back to Cienfuegos.

Cienfuegos marina has good water and fuel and we filled our tanks.  Check out was delayed by waiting for various officials.  The Port Captain kept asking about our head lamps.  I got the impression he wanted one.  Not likely that I would part with my costly Pelican waterproof lamp. Luckily we had some cheap Costco spares and he was happy with them.  Sigh.

We have had some good sailing when the wind is strong enough, all astern.  However, we currently have very light winds, with the remaining 2 to 3 days likely motoring.  Good thing we have a big fuel tank and engine that burns a thrifty 3/4 US gallon per hour.

Wishing you all fair winds and calm seas.

SV Passat II - Postcard from the Straights of Florida

Starry, starry night.  The wafer thin new moon has set and we motor sail on an ink black sea, under a canopy of brilliant stars.  The dark horizon is punctured by pulsating white lights, marking the Cuban reefs to Starboard.  To Port a parade of navigation nights mark the ships (currently a tug and tow and freighter over 50 meters) in this, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Just short of 5 years ago we made this passage without AIS and with our GPS navigation down, due to a computer crash.  A sleepless passage.  This time we enjoy the benefits of AIS (Automated Information System) and two backup chart plotters.  We are enjoying regular watches and stress free sleep.

All is well.  Life is good.

Wishing you all fair winds and calm seas.

February, 2014 - TRINIDAD, CUBA

We took a wild 1 1/2 hour taxi ride to Trinidad, in a 1953 Chev, driven by a young man practicing (I think) for the Indy 500.  The Chev was original (including no seat belts), except it was now powered by a Hyundi diesel motor.  What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Trinidad is a World Heritage site, with some of the best Colonial architecture in Spanish America.  That is not to mention the American vintage cars.  I saw 5 mint 1957 Chevs pass by the restaurant as we ate one evening!!!

"Are we there yet???"

Our Taxi, a 1953 Chev.  Our driver talks to a B&B owner.

Our room. Room about $10 per person.  Huge full breakfast about $5 per person.

The roof terrace just outside the room.

View of the cathedral from our roof terrace.

Courtyard mosaic at our B&B.

Canon recycled as bollard.

Vintage Blue

Cannon recycled as leaning post.

Family , Friends, Food.  Life is good.

Vintage Cuban.