Blog posts

41 Hours at Sea

We left Turks and Caicos just before midnight on March 5 and arrived in Puerto Real, Puerto Rico about 5:00 p.m. on March 7. Forty-one hours start to finish, give or take a few minutes. It was mostly uneventful, but it was our longest non-stop run by far, it was only our second overnight ever, it was the first time a single trip took parts of two different nights, it was the first time we took turns driving and sleeping, it put us the farthest away from land we’ve been so far (only 38 nautical miles, but at our speed, that’s about 5 hours from land)… and I thought that you, Loyal Reader, would want to hear about it.

Continue reading “41 Hours at Sea”

Turks and Caicos Islands / Providenciales

(Editor’s note: I wrote this article on February 25, not expecting to be leaving Turks and Caicos for some time. But a week later, we relocated Smartini to Big Sand Cay, preparing to depart for the Dominican Republic, and ended up bypassing the DR and making it all the way to Puerto Rico on March 7! I’ll post soon about that 41 hour crossing.)

As we wait for a nice weather window for our next major relocation (Puerto Rico for a bit, then the Virgin Islands), it occurs to me that I’m long past due to write about our home for the last 3 1/2 months. We arrived here on October 29 after spending the first eight months of this Big Adventure all around the Bahamas. We planned to stay three months here, partly because we had friends and family who wanted to visit and we needed to commit to a location for that. But it was also because we (I, in particular) were ready for a little bit less of a vagabond lifestyle for awhile.

Continue reading “Turks and Caicos Islands / Providenciales”

2018 – The Year in Review

After a creative explosion in October and November (7 blog posts in about two weeks), I fizzled out. But I’m going to get 2019 off to a good start, with a recap of, and some reflections on, the Big Adventure so far. Also, one picture of each of our guests this year!

With Bennett and May in March

As you probably know, we left the US early in the morning on March 1, 2018 (not as early in the morning as we had planned) bound for the Bahamas, and made it all the way to Freeport before the sun set. We didn’t really want to be in Freeport (not much there that we wanted to see or do), but we ended up staying there for five nights, waiting for decent weather for the next leg of our journey.

Continue reading “2018 – The Year in Review”

How a 4 Cent O-ring Can Change Your Life

This is the story of a plain ol’ rubbber O-ring, about 2 1/2″ in diameter, that probably cost about 4 cents to make, and how it just changed the lives (at least in the short term) of six people and three boats. If I told you the WHOLE story, it would read like “War and Peace”, so I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version.

Continue reading “How a 4 Cent O-ring Can Change Your Life”

Disassemble Raymarine e7D Chart Plotter / MFD

Another of my boring “How To” posts, this one detailing the disassembly of a Raymarine e7D MFD.

WARNING: this isn’t the normal “cool places we’ve been and people we’ve met” post. It’s one of my boring, how-to posts. Its intended audience isn’t the typical Smartini.Life reader, but rather, any boater who needs some help with her or his Raymarine e7D. If you don’t own one, you really don’t need to read this post. (But if you’re just dying to know, the e7D is our map – like Google Maps, and can also display the radar, the sonar, trip data, our backup camera, our FLIR infrared night vision camera, and any combination of two of those things. That’s why it’s called an MFD – Multi-Function Display.)

Continue reading “Disassemble Raymarine e7D Chart Plotter / MFD”

We’re in Turks and Caicos!

Just a short post to let y’all know, our address has changed from “The Bahamas” to “Turks and Caicos”. We arrived at the Turtle Cove Marina on Monday afternoon. It was a 382 nm run from Nassau to here:
– 15 hours to Cat Island
– 8 hours to Sal Salvador
– 6 nights on San Salvador, with a little scuba diving and island exploration (met some GREAT people from Michigan Adventure Diving in Milan, MI on a dive trip – Thanks, Ty, and Kadee, and Betsy, and Suzette, and Steve,  and Elaine, and Tom, for welcoming us into your group!)
– 11 hours to Semana
– 11 hours to Mayaguana
– 7 hours to Provo

The last 20 minutes were the most interesting. Provo is protected on its north side by a lot of coral reef, and there’s only one safe route through it. It’s twisty and windy, and at one point, only 30 feet wide (Smartini is 16 feet wide). So the marina sent out a guide boat for us to follow in. Thankfully, we had high tide and no wind, so it was easy, but still a little nerve wracking.

Yesterday (the day after we arrived on really nice seas), the wind kicked up, and the dive boat that shares our marina went out, and came right back in – too rough! Hats off to the Smartini Trip Planning Department for picking a near-perfect three day window for the journey here!

Banana bread Fran made on the trip from Semana to Mayaguana, with bananas from Peter, the marina manager in Nassau who we became friends with

Our last sunrise in the Bahamas – maybe forever? No telling when we might return.

This little bird joined us about 20 miles from Provo, and flitted around the boat for most of the rest of the trip. At one point, it landed not a foot from Fran.

Fran decided to toss out all the plants in the Tower Garden before entering a new country to avoid any potential hassles. This is her final poblano pepper harvest – 163 of them!

Long Island, Conception, Cat Island and Eleuthera

In the middle of June, we had a two week stretch between guests to get from George Town on Great Exuma to Governor’s Harbour on Eleuthera. The weather was mostly favorable for travel, so we were able to spend all the time we wanted at each of those places. This post tells just a little bit about those two weeks, with a whole lotta pictures at the end of it.

Looking over Calabash Bay, Long Island

The North end of Long Island is about 53 nm from George Town, and that was our first stop. We had heard that Calabash Bay is very nice, with one of the most beautiful beaches in all of the Bahamas. We made it there easily in one day, and found (surprise!) a beautiful bay and beach, and a nice calm anchorage. Long Island is long (duh!) – about 80 miles – so one of the days we rented a car and drove about 2/3 of the way down it to Clarence Town. There, there are two churches that were designed and built by a man called Father Jerome – one church is Catholic, the other Protestant (Church of England). He was an interesting guy, but I won’t spend much Smartini Life time on him – if you’re interested, his real name was John Hawes. Near the end of his life, he built “The Hermitage” on Cat Island, of which there are a lot of pictures in the photo gallery at the end of this post.

Continue reading “Long Island, Conception, Cat Island and Eleuthera”

Visit Report: Paul and Denise

Faithful readers of Smartini Life know that the crew of Smartini went to Italy for three weeks in May/June. What they probably don’t know is that two wonderful people stayed onboard Smartini for that time, and more important, took care of May the Cat. They are Paul and Denise Magnus. We met them almost two years ago when we took Smartini to a marina in Titusville to have some work finished. They lived on their boat, Orion, in that marina, and we became friends. Sadly, Orion was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in that same marina, but thankfully, Paul and Denise were not onboard.

When we were making plans for Italy, we knew it would mean leaving Smartini and May somewhere, in someone’s hands. We posted on one of the online boating groups that we were looking for a cat sitter and a boat sitter. Denise saw the post and almost immediately volunteered her and Paul – wow! They would fly all the way to George Town in the Exumas and live on Smartini, and take care of May, and Fran’s new Tower Garden – and asked nothing in return.

Continue reading “Visit Report: Paul and Denise”

Back in the Saddle Again

Faithful Readers: forgive me, for I have sinned. It’s been four months since my last submission. Four months!!! What kind of a blogger am I?!?! Busy? Well, yes… but not so busy that I couldn’t squeeze in a little writing from time to time. Let’s go with “unmotivated”, and leave it at that.

Captain Fran taking us out of Nassau Harbour on the first leg to Turks and Caicos.

First, let me bring you up to speed on our current situation. We left our Bahamian home-away-from-home, Nassau Harbour Club Marina, Saturday morning at 6:20 and motored 15 hours to the southwest tip of Cat Island. We anchored and slept for a bit, then left at 6:40 yesterday morning and motored 8 hours to our current temporary home, the island of San Salvador. We’re on our way to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, where we plan to be from mid-November until at least some time in January, maybe longer. The trip was uneventful with the notable of exception of having the drive shaft of our main hydraulic pump break about 11 hours into the trip. Not a catastrophe – we can run all the hydraulics from either or both of the main engine or the generator. The two issues are that we can’t use the stabilizers when we’re running unless we run the generator (which we don’t normally do), and we can’t get full hydraulic power for the bow and stern thrusters, which comes in handy when docking if there’s much wind and/or current. I’ll be looking for a replacement part, and a hydraulic service company in Turks and Caicos, but for now, we’re still almost fully functional.

Continue reading “Back in the Saddle Again”

Northern Exumas

I originally wrote this post on April 28, and then promptly forgot about it, and never posted it – oops! It’s about our first foray into the Exumas, the chain of islands that’s kind of in the middle of the Bahamas. It runs about 100 miles north to south, and is no more than 1/2 mile wide for much of that. It consists of over 365 mostly-small islands (“cays” – pronounced “keys”, not “cays”), with lots of cuts between them that connect the “big water” (the Exuma Sound) on the east side to the shallow bank on the west side. In the middle is Staniel Cay, near the famous Bahamas Swimming Pigs. Great Exuma is the southernmost island, and that’s where George Town and Elizabeth Harbour are. Literally hundreds of cruisers spend their winters there.

What follows is from our first visit to any of the Exumas – the northern part, most easily reached from Nassau. If you want only the pictures, scroll to the end.

Continue reading “Northern Exumas”

Crew of Smartini Goes to Italy!

In case you’ve been wondering what the crew of Smartini (Fran and me, but not May the Cat) has been up to lately – we went to Italy! For two weeks with Bennett (my son, Fran’s step-son), and Bennett’s mom, Terri Henderson (yes, that’s my ex-wife – we get along great these days), then just Fran and me for another week.

I’d love to give you all the details, but in the immortal words of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, “No, it’s too much – lemme sum up.” We left the USA on May 12 (Terri and Bennett from NYC, Fran and me from Miami) and flew to Rome. A few days there, then a few days in Venice, then a few days in Florence, then some more days in the countryside of Tuscany, a few miles from Siena. Terri and Bennet had to go home at that point, but Fran and I stayed for almost another week, driving a few days to Rome, and then flying to the island of Sicily for four days.

Continue reading “Crew of Smartini Goes to Italy!”

Visit Report: The Aussie Invasion!

Anthony, Claire and Zoe

Lots of years ago (late 1990’s), I was traveling to Australia annually to help support the dealer of our dental practice management software there. He had a trainer – Claire – who was awesome, and at some point that neither of us can recall, we became fast friends. Since I stopped going over for business, she’s been to visit me (us) in Florida twice, and in 2016, Fran, Maddie, Bennett, and I visited her and her family in Australia. This year, it was their turn to cross the pond, and on May 28, Claire, her partner Anthony, and their adorable 5 year old Zoe came aboard Smartini as part of Anthony’s month-long 50th Birthday Celebration. Today, we sadly told them “bye!” This is the report of their visit. (Picture gallery at the very end.)

Continue reading “Visit Report: The Aussie Invasion!”

Fran’s Salty Tower Garden

This page is dedicated to documenting the process of beginning, and hopefully maintaing an Aeroponic Tower Garden on the upper deck of MV Smartini. I am certain there will be setbacks, but hope, with a little patience and creativity, we can get some food growing onboard. (Arugula for Sondra being the most important!). The initial planting was done on April Fools Day. Blessing? Curse? We will soon see! To read from the begining, CLICK HERE and read entries from the bottom up. Return to this page anytime to read updates. Dated entries will be organized most recent at the top, and I will add photos along the way. Wish me luck!

Continue reading “Fran’s Salty Tower Garden”

Work, Work, Work…

Faithful readers will know that Smartini recently completed yet another longer-than-anticipated haul out (when the boat is out of the water for various repairs, which either can’t, or can’t easily, be done while IN the water). “Why does it always take you guys so long?”, you might ask. “Shut the hell up!!”, I might reply. But no, that would be rude. So lemme ‘splain. No, there is too much – lemme sum up.

This post is a list of pretty much everything we and three vendors did to Smartini from December 4 to February 22. I didn’t try to make it funny, and it’s long, so unless you’re really interested in what it’s like to own and maintain a boat like Smartini, it probably won’t be all that thrilling.

Continue reading “Work, Work, Work…”