Posted by: bearcruzer | October 31, 2009

Our Maiden Voyage

Oct 20 – 22

We arrived back at Mike’s folks home and began the task of packing for what Mike had estimated as a 3 day trip.  Our plan was to drive to Ft. Lauderdale to Pick Up Dancing Dolphin and to take her the southern route through the keys and around to Punta Gorda where we will outfit and provision her for our extended cruising lifestyle.    We arrived on Tuesday Oct 20th and spent the day driving around Ft Lauderdale picking up spares for a host of normal problems that can occur when traveling by boat as well as some last minute grocery items.  We were hoping to leave on Wed and be back in Punta Gorda by Saturday at the latest.   God Just Laughed!  A northeast wind was blowing pretty hard and rough seas were expected to continue throughout the day.  We decided to wait until Thursday, so we spent Wed checking over the boat systems and familiarizing ourselves with its details as well as picking up a few more spare parts.  Not an easy task as we are finding that many of the parts for the systems on the boat are not readily kept in stock.   We also picked up cleaning supplies as she needs a good scrubbing inside and out.  I figured I could work on this a little as we traveled back to Punta Gorda.   Thursday morning we turned on our VHF Radio and listened to the weather report for the day.  The winds had subsided to a more reasonable level and the seas were beginning to calm a bit.   Mike debated  whether or not to take us down the ICW (Inter-Coastal Waterway) or take us out on the ocean for the first leg of our journey.   He opted initially for the open ocean.   “I’m takin ya out to the Big Blue” he said. “Are ya ready?”   “As I’ll ever be, I guess” I said.   We said goodbye to Ray (who’s house the boat was docked at) and  took our picture right before we left and told us bon voyage.  We will leave the car in Ray’s Driveway and drive over again to pick it up when we get back.  Mike took us out of the channel and headed for open water.   We watched as some other bigger boats were heading back into the ICW from the Big Blue.   It was a pretty good indicator that conditions were not as favorable out there as we had hoped.    Still we pressed on and soon we were met with 4-6 ft  waves  and High winds again.   I think it was the pensive look on my face along with still more boats returning to the ICW that helped convince Mike that maybe a trip through the ditch was a better option.  “I don’t want to beat us or the boat up on our first day out” he said.   I replied “Thank You”.   We returned to the light chop and mild conditions of the ICW and motored our way along the ditch timing our way through the many bridges that had to be raised for our passage.  Most operate on the hour and ½ hour or on a 15/45 schedule.   There were beautiful homes along the ICW along with huge highrise buildings and giant Mega Yachts.   After the last bridge we raised sails and made our way across Biscayne Bay.   We ran into a little difficulty when we realized we did not have a manual for our GPS.  It took me a little while but I was able to figure out the software and how to enter waypoints in order to navigate to our desired locations. That as well as the charts we brought along kept us on course.  Our Autopilot also quit on us and so we will have to steer the boat ourselves for the rest of the journey.  Well It’s good practice anyway.   Mike said welcome to cruising.    We anchored off of Pumpkin Key for the evening and enjoyed a lovely sunset, the first of many more to come.




  1. I’m sure glade you got started on a thursday, and not a Friday. “Never start a major boating trip on a Friday”
    Mike has been here before, but Chrystal, you take all the new sights in and know that Mike has the plan, now all you have to do is make him modify the plan so as to keep you both safe.

    Your Friends George and Paula

  2. Ohhhh…do you know how envious I am right now of the two of you? Here we are, stuck in chilly Colorado, and there you are in the warm tropics of southern Florida and points farther south. With that said, it sounds like the two of you are totally enjoying this adventure. I will continue to follow your blog. Stay safe and have fun on this great adventure!

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