Off-Season Memories

We FINALLY have decent spring weather here in New England. Kindred Spirit is already in the water getting prepped for a June trip.  I haven’t written anything since November and that was to write about the summer boating, belatedly. What can I say? I’ve been busy? Let’s be honest, there isn’t much boating in New England over the winter- that’s why it is “the off-season.”

Although we were happily busy with family and friends, children and grandchildren, and assorted projects, we actually did fit in some boating related experiences. That’s what boaters do! This will be a whirlwind blog post of the winter months.

Sweet Kindred Spirit patiently waited through the long winter. She had brand new side covers made by her captain, Al.

We made a multi-purpose trip to Florida in October, visiting both coasts to see Al’s mother on the west coast, and then his brother and the new Magnolia on the east coast. Anthony and Annette sold their Morgan sailboat, S/V Magnolia, and crossed to the dark side (sound familiar?). They were living in Stuart and refitting, remodeling, renovating, rejuvenating (and all the other possible “re’s”) the new M/V Magnolia. Bittersweet to see another Morgan go, but exciting, too. How well I know that feeling. Our timing was perfect. On October 15th, the 1997 Kadie Krogen 42, formerly known as Amy K, became M/V Magnolia. 

For complete details of the christening ceremony, refer to the Bakers’ blog entry because it is much better. We were delighted to participate in the christening. Just like us, Anthony and Annette believe that a proper christening ceremony is the only way to give a boat a new life.

True boat christening ceremonies include the ingot and the Black Box.

What would a christening be without speeches that invoke the gods of the sea and…….. CHAMPAGNE!!

Celebrating “Magnolia”. From left to right – Barbara and Bill Watson, me, Anthony, Annette, and Al.

Check out their very cool new shirts! Do they look happy? You bet!

I’m including this next memory as an off-season boating memory because it took place in Essex on the Connecticut River with our cruising friends, Sam and Kayda. In late October Sam and Kayda, from Maine and the Abacos, came to visit us here in Connecticut. We spent the day strolling through Essex because it is always a great town to explore.

Halloween and pumpkins

It might have been a little rainy, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. (Spirits, get it? Halloween?)

Scarecrow Festival time – Just a sampling of the charming and fearsome scarecrows posted up and down the main street.

Lunch at the Black Seal. What a great visit!

Downtown Mystic holds an annual Holiday Lighted Boat Parade over the Thanksgiving weekend. Santa arrives by tugboat, a Christmas tree is lit in Mystic River Park, and then the parade begins. The decorated vessels parade down the Mystic River while spectators oooh and ahhh from both sides of the river. This was a great way to celebrate boating and begin the Christmas holiday season. A holiday boat parade is common in the south, but Mystic has an excellent parade, especially considering the weather. I do wonder who leaves their boat in the water that late here in New England? Is it just to participate in the parade?

Fellow boating friends, MJ and Dean joined us in Mystic. Dress warmly and bring hot cocoa with a little rum.

There were boats of all sizes and propulsion.

Snowman and dolphins

A parade has to have elves  and Santa Claus.

Nice sailboat!

A floating gingerbread house. One of my favorites.

Paddle boarders?? They must be hearty folks to be that close to very chilly water. Love the lighted edge!

The big tug was impressive as it chugged up and down the river.

In January, we headed back to Florida for a week on the west coast. After visiting Al’s mother, we drove south to catch up with Magnolia again. On the way, we stopped in Tarpon Springs, known as the  “Sponge Capital of the World.”  Greek immigrants settled here during the early 1900’s and built a thriving industry harvesting, processing and selling the natural sponges that were abundant in local waters. Tarpon Springs was a nice spot to stop for the day.

Statue of a sponge diver.
Map of the sponging areas in the local Gulf waters.

Sponge boats still line the docks.

The natural sponges are sold everywhere, up and down the street. There is actually a lot to be learned about various sponges. I do love that bicycle!

Along with  all the shops that sell sponges, Greek eateries line the streets.

Magnolia left Stuart on the east coast and traveled across Florida on the Okeechobee Canal, a relatively shallow man-made waterway. When our paths crossed, Magnolia was docked at Twin Dolphins Marina in Bradenton. Fully outfitted and “in the wild”, we were proud and delighted to be Magnolia’s very first overnight guests, a status that no one can ever take away from us. 😉

Anthony introduces Al to his “man cave” otherwise known as the pilothouse.

The salon is as comfortable as it is beautiful, great decorating job! The boat is beautiful.

We began our first evening with a visit to Motorworks Brewery, short walk from the marina. Motorworks Brewery is a craft brewery built on the property of an old 1923 auto dealership. The exterior is supposedly the largest beer garden in Florida, complete with a spacious deck built around a 150+ year-old oak tree, a 3-hole putting green, 2 bocce ball courts, over a dozen cornhole sets, life-sized jenga, a live music stage, 22 ft. projection screen and more.

The scene as we were leaving, lights and corn hole boards. Bottom picture is that very old tree.

We enjoyed the variety of Motorworks’ beer. I couldn’t decide, so I tried the sampler, choosing El Chacco, Pulp Fiction, Intellectual, Lavender, Espresso, and Smoked.

Dinner was next at Bird Rock Taco Shack, hottest spot in the Village of the Arts section of Bradenton. Very cool funky spot with excellent tacos!

Yummy! Of course we finished the evening with ice cream back at the shop near the marina.

Farmers Markets are one of my favorite things.

A “one man circus”  and sunflowers
Blue pottery and produce of many colors

Look at that! The chef from the Bird Rock Taco Shack cooks at the Farmers Market. He said he wanders the market, buys what looks good and then gets cooking.

OK, maybe our captains don’t find farmers markets as much fun as we do, but give them coffee and a table and they behave for a short time.

Sunday was a rainy day, so while the guys ran new a new waterline for the wash down on deck, Annette and I went to the South Florida Museum, a natural and cultural museum with a planetarium and manatee rehabilitation aquarium.

My favorite part of the museum!

More manatees! Mama Manatee with her baby along the walkway by Twin Dolphins Marina.

We said our goodbyes to Magnolia, Anthony and Annette and drove east to Anna Maria Island to spend a few days at a bed and breakfast, Harrington House .

Harrington House Beachfront B&B

The Harrington house was charming and friendly. Highly recommend it!
5 star rating!

We bundled up and walked the beach. It was sooooo good to be near the beach again! Even if the weather was chilly.

Beach time and pool time! The pool was heated. 😉

Spent a morning at an outdoor market right on the beach – Coquina Beach.

“Skinny’s” is the cool place for burgers and cheap (really cheap) beer. It reminded us of the beach shack restaurants in the Bahamas.

Anna Maria Island, day and evening. We really enjoyed our three days of relaxation here.

Since Anna Maria Island is only 30 minutes from Bradenton, we returned to Twin Dolphins Marina for one last visit with Magnolia.

The A2s on their bow, looking good!

Well, what do you know? Another Mariner Orient 38 is on the same dock as Magnolia. We had seen “Optimystique” in the Keys last winter and here she was with new owners in Bradenton. Optimystique is now doing “The Loop.”

In just 3 weeks we will be heading westward on Kindred Spirit to meet with Magnolia and cruise up the Hudson River for a few weeks, a new adventure on the water!




























Maine in June

We made a road trip to Maine to visit our cruising friends in June. Yup, a land trip during boating season – that surely shows how important these folks are to us!

We met Sam and Kayda in Portland where their daughter, Sara, and her family live. Portland is a very, very cool little city. We enjoyed strolling around it – waterfront, shops, restaurants, transportation, and places to live. I looked back over my photos from this trip and can’t believe I have no photos! I must have enjoyed the Portland sights and ambience so much that I forgot???

Here is one – Sara, Kayda, and me. We had a pizza picnic in the park overlooking the water and islands. The pizza was delivered to us in the park!! Now that’s a great place to live, isn’t it?

One of the reasons we began the visit in Portland was to see Rob, Sara, and Cedar. Last year the three of them biked across the country from coast to coast through the middle, recording their experience in a terrific blog – Six Months, 6 Wheels, Lots of Ice Cream. With a title like that you can immediately see that they are “kindred spirits” (the ice cream part). I converted their blog into a two-volume printed record and really enjoyed “riding” along with them on their journey.

Al and me with Sara, Rob and Cedar, and the books.

Then off to Wiscasset to Sam and Kayda’s house.

Sam and Kayda’s charming little house.

The barn with gardens and stone paths. During our visit in June, Al and Sam discussed Sam’s plans for a greenhouse on the side of the barn. There it is (upper right), finished by September and ready for harboring plants in the cooler weather to come.

We made a visit to the Wiscasset Yacht Club.

How do these guys always find a boat under construction?

Sam and Kayda are avid gardeners – flowers, shrubs, and vegetables. They continually amaze me with their knowledge and expertise. No green thumbs there, no, not at all. More like green hands and feet! They took us to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens,  on 295 acres of tidal shoreland in Boothbay. Even brown thumbs like ours walked in awe among these gardens.

The concept of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has born in 1991 through a collective grassroots effort of mid-coast Maine residents.  The mission of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens “… is to inspire meaningful connections among people, plants, and nature through horticulture, education and research.” The grand opening was celebrated in June, 2007. 

Although it wasn’t even mid-June yet,  we were surrounded by early colors.

Space saving vertical planters are packed with small flowering plants.

The Lerner Garden of the Five Senses was my favorite garden. Although sections were devoted to a particular sense, it was all a sensational experience.

Touch – finger maze sculpture and walking spiral path

Sound – water burbling over stones and a “sound stone.” Put your head in the hole and hum to experience the sound of stone.”

Sight and sound

Sam and Al relax on a tree limb bench.
Sam checking out the herbs, the “smell” part of the Lerner Garden of Five Senses.

A waterfall (without falling water on that day) among the rhododendron gardens.

We only spent a couple hours exploring the Coastal Maine Gardens. I could easily return for a longer visit to see more!

Next we were off to Camden to visit John and Carol who were both in Maine that weekend.

Carol’s new soy candle factory is nearly finished. “Salty Beach Studio” – check it out!

John grilled salmon on cedar planks for dinner. OMG – the marinade was soooo good. It’s the only way I am making salmon ever again. Even without the cedar planks, it is delicious!

From sea to land, friends cross it all.








Before the Summer

Here it is September, and I am writing a blog titled “Before the Summer.” Without a doubt, I am lagging behind. A strong urge to overcome my blog procrastination has finally compelled me to get this done before the time lag becomes truly ridiculous.  But first, there are gaps I am compelled to fill in because I’m a sequential person. 😉 So here is a flashback blog to fill in those gaps from February to June.

There are always boat projects. Endless boat projects. Some are necessary and some are hey, why not? A quick review of Al’s efforts —

The dinghy spent some significant time in our basement while Al fitted her with a new outfit – the chaps. A New England snowfall was a perfect way to move the dinghy form the basement back up to the garage. It was a one- way trip. No sledding with the dinghy.

The construction of the chaps was part of an earlier blog (“FALLing into Winter”) but here is a photo of the finished chaps. They look amazing. What a great job Al did!

Using the leftover fabric from the chaps, Al made a stowing “envelope” for the inflatable PFDs. You can also see it in the dinghy picture right beside him, secured to the side with snaps.

The flybridge helm seat got a new outfit, too.

Once he gets sewing he finds it hard to stop. Here are the flybridge curtains.

Our AIS became cranky again and had to be sent back to Great Britain for a tune-up. When it returned, Al wanted to check it out — See below. 😉

Al is in the car in the garage, using the car’s battery to power up both the AIS and the chart plotter to make sure they work together again.

The flybridge drips down onto the back curtains that AL made for the aft cockpit. This has always irritated him. He found this “drip guard” and installed one on each corner to divert the water farther away. It works most of the time.

Al used the garage for some painting projects. The rear door is now white and the helm side door will probably be done over the next winter. The boom on the little mast got a facelift as well. The mast will get one ……next winter.

Winter is a good time to get back into weaving. I made wool rugs for the cabins in the boat, and bought way too much cotton yarn on sale. Now that I have a mini-yarn shop in the house, I will be weaving dish towels for a long time. Weaving is also one reason why there have been no blogs for awhile. Can’t weave and blog at the same time. Yet.

Supplying Al (and “my boys”) with chocolate chip cookies is almost a full-time job. Probably bake a double batch every 2-3 weeks.

While Al was off with Colin on Tortuga in March, I had another round of “Complete Decongestive Therapy” for my lymphedema. It’s not a cure, but it helps to maintain it and delay the progression. CDT, from, is usually 2-3 weeks of daily wrapping in 7 layers of special bandages which stay on 23/7. It’s quite a charming fashion statement, isn’t it? Wash day fills the laundry room!

There was enough snowfall this winter to have some fun. When you have grandchildren, snow can be fun again, if you ignore the aches and pains afterwards!

I really did go sledding with Caleb. Sledding and hot cocoa makes you feel like a kid again.

Kerri (Mommy) with little Cecily who was far too young to sled.
Ryan (Daddy) with Caleb riding on top, which he seemed to enjoy more than sledding.

The Delaware grandkids came for a visit during one snowfall. Papa took Aaron and Ella just outside our house to sled down into the retention basin.

After sledding, Ella and Aaron made their favorite food —  pizza with LOTS of black olives.

We all went to Pennsylvania in April for my father’s memorial service. Weddings and funerals are the times when families gather. Although it was sad, I know that my Dad would be happy to know we were all together for him.

My mother enjoys holding her two great-granddaughters, Addison and Cecily, cousins.

My sister, Lisa, and me in the hammock with Addison and Caleb. My daughters-in-law, Kerri and Stephanie, with their little ones, Caleb, Cecily, and Addison.

Caleb entertains us all, and exhausts us!

April was birthday time for Ella who turned four. By June, she also became a big sister to Alivia. Welcome!

We met Alivia in person in July. Somehow I caught this photo of all three with big smiles, wearing the new shirts we brought. Ella (4 yrs old), Alivia, 1 month old), and Aaron (7 1/2 yrs old.)

Addison’s first birthday in June brought these three cousins (monkeys?) together. I tried a photo, but it was like, well, I am sure you can imagine.
Addison (1 yr old), Caleb (3 yrs old) and Cecily 7 months.)

Back to the boating scene – Shennecossett and Kindred Spirit weren’t quite ready when this photo was taken, but the season was quickly approaching!