Sunday, June 12, 2016

Until Next Time

We have crossed the finish line! 452 days after starting our trip, we motored-sailed through the Houston Ship Channel and docked Dulcinea at our new marina in Kemah, Texas on May 24.

After leaving St. Martin in mid-March, we sailed around 2,100 miles in just over two months. That's a lot of sailing with little downtime, especially since getting to St. Martin took about a year. Of course, we did take our time while we were in the Caribbean and spent three months in the Dominican Republic for hurricane season.

On the way back, we spent an amazing three weeks in the Bahamas, and then we crossed the Gulf Stream and went back to Marathon in the Florida Keys. We picked up a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor, just as we did last year.

Adult manatee at the City Marina

Enjoying his first DP since leaving the States

Fried key lime pie at Burdine's

After a few days of resting and topping up on groceries, we left Marathon and made a quick stop at the Dry Tortugas, which is a national park located seventy miles from Key West. We anchored by Garden Key, which is home to a massive, defunct fort that was built in 1846. David spent most of the day exploring it, but I zoomed through it in a record thirty minutes. We had already toured a few forts during this trip, and to me, once you have seen one, you have seen them all. I spent the remaining time getting in what would be my last beach time of the trip. The water was really chilly, but I didn't let it stop me. I laid out on my orange blow-up float with a book and relaxed in the water while listening to everybody shrilly exclaim how cold it was.

Remains of Powder Magazine

Hot Shot Furnace

Our anchorage


I wish we would have had more to spend there since the snorkeling is said to be decent, and there is a huge goliath grouper that lives by the remains of a wrecked boat, but after twenty-four hours, we pulled up the hook and left for our longest continuous stretch of the entire trip.

350 miles and 70 hours later we arrived at Port St. Joe in the Florida Panhandle. It was an uneventful, kind of boring trip, and we had to motor a lot since the wind was really light. We were either on watch, reading a book, playing games on our Kindles, cooking, or sleeping. I have definitely had my fill of sailing for a while!

Port St. Joe Marina


We stayed at a marina for a day and then left for Grand Isle, Louisiana. At this point, I was getting excited about being home and seeing friends and family. I couldn't wait!! Once we got to Grand Isle, we had to wait a few days for a weather window, and while we were there, we had the opportunity to get to know a man named Jimmy, who worked at Sand Dollar marina. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met.

Dolphins at our anchorage

On our second night, we called him to see if he could arrange a ride into town for us so we could sample some of the local fare. He said that it wouldn't be a problem and to be at the marina around seven. After we arrived at the marina and tied up the dinghy, he told us that he had made dinner for us, which completely caught us by surprise. We had delicious shrimp etoufee and cake and ice cream for dessert. Then we all headed to a bar in town to play pool and do a little country dancing. The next day he sent us a text and told us we would be joining him again for dinner, no questions asked. Jimmy really made us feel at home in this little fishing community. I am so thankful for this trip because it has allowed us the opportunity to meet so many people that we normally would never have met.

Dinner at Jimmy's

David and I wanted to repay Jimmy's kindness in some way so we decided to grill burgers and sausages on our final night. We had planned on cooking them on the marina's grill, but we had met Brian the previous day, who was an engineer on a large, luxurious fishing vessel, and he invited us, Jimmy, and three other Texans from another sailboat on the boat for dinner. This boat was completely decked out - huge sofa, big screen TV, sauna, full size tub, shower, two washers and dryers, walk in freezer, gas grills, ice machine, work out room, and dining room table that sat eight people. It was really nice. As Brian was grilling the burgers, we were all outside on the deck talking, and I happened to look over to watch the sunset and saw a dolphin jump completely out of the water and do a flip. It was the perfect way to end our time in Grand Isle.

Sitting in the Captain's chair

The next day we set off for our last leg of the trip, and we ran into a bad thunderstorm on our next to last night. We had been through rain showers before but never a storm where lightning was right on top of us. Somehow I slept through most of it, but David had to endure this storm for a good 30-40 minutes. He tried to run away from it, but it kept moving with us. At some point, he decided he had no choice but to turn around and just head right into it. The waves were crazy, the rain was blinding, and three bolts of lightning came down frightening close to the boat. I felt so sorry for him because he was tired and freezing, but he wanted me to stay below so one of us would be safe in case the boat was struck by lightning. The autopilot could not keep a course because of the waves, and to minimize his chance of getting hit, David let go of the wheel as much as possible by using the wheel lock. The wheel is made of metal, which is attached to a steel rudder stock that goes into the water. Water, metal, and lightening - obviously those things are not a good combo.

Thankfully we made it safely out of the storm, and for the rest of the trip, we had sun and blue skies.

The other sailboat from Texas

After the big storm
It felt surreal once we reached Galveston Bay and were making our way to the marina in Kemah. I was ready at this point to just be off the boat, but I couldn't believe the trip was over. We have had so many awesome, once in a lifetime experiences along the way, and I was sad that it was at an end. I kept telling him just to turn around and go back!

Our last boat selfie

My sexy captain

Motoring by Kemah boardwalk and going under the bridge

Our new marina

Putting up the boat for the last time

Home sweet home

It has been a little bit of an adjustment, but we are doing great. There is still a lot we need to figure out and aren't sure where we will settle yet, but it will probably be in Texas. We will live on the boat until David finds an Electrical Engineering job, and then we will sell Dulcinea and move to wherever that job is located. Both David and I are excited about our new chapter and excited about the many new adventures that we will get to enjoy as returning landlubbers.

There may even be another sailing adventure in our future so I won't say goodbye - I'll just say until next time.  Thanks for reading my blog! I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

P.S. Let me know if you or someone you know is interested in buying a boat. Dulcinea is a 35 foot Hinterhoeller Niagara, and she is extremely sea-worthy and very dependable!! She would also be great for coastal cruising.