Yay! You found us! You know, a friend once said that a
boat like ours is more like a big lovable dog--it needs to be
walked, loved and well fed.  We agree. We've nurtured Freebird
for the last few months, filled her with 1000 gallons of fuel and
she's ready to run. But before we cast off lines, meet our new
pet, SPOT. He's small, cute and only needs batteries. Our little
techno-buddy will keep track of our journey and bark our
coordinates to anyone who wishes to follow us. So, whenever
you'd like to see our present location, click the
SPOT US button
on the navigation bar, then click on the photo of SPOT,and enter
the requested password - freebird. And instead of a blow by blow of our trip, each
future blog entry will be small ditty of the day--the best or worst of our journey.
May 18, 2012 Pre trip Preparation

DAY ONE:  A Juxtaposition of Life at Sea
Dunedin, FL to Sarasota, FL

Anyone's who has cruised or sailed with us will remember
Don's departure songs. So if you click on the link below,
you'll likely know the evolution that inspired
his newest selection.
But traveling by water has its realities. The previous
moment grew mellow after the Coast Guard radioed a
request for help: Any boats in the vicinity of a family of five
who had put out a May Day call--their boat was sinking. We
weren't nearby but I can't get them out of my head.  

We're securely anchored in Sarasota. Stunning bells chime
the hour. We plan to make the most of the laughs, knowing
a challenge may be ready to pounce!  PS: There are
enough provisions on this boat to sink us. Probably should
move a few to the ditch bag. :)
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
A magical morning. A repeating and odd sound off the starboard
beam grabbed our attention. And for the next 22 minutes, we were
mesmerized. As she raced us along the ICW , this amazing dolphin
leaped out of the water nearly every 8 seconds. For 22 minutes!
Inspired (or shamed?) I forced myself to exercise afterwards

And the worst of today. Near Captiva, we passed under a few
dozen electric poles with wire strung across the water. I gritted
my teeth just a little, imagining the force field would vaporize us. :)
I'm guessing it is less environmentally destructive than burying
them. Likely cheaper too!  
May 20, 2012 - Marker 1 Marina, Dunedin, FL to Sarasota Bay, FL
May 21, 2012 - Sarasota Bay, FL to Sanibel Island, FL
May 22, 2012 - Sanibel Island, FL to Marco Island, FL & May 23, 2012 - Marco Island

Short, quiet day to Marco Island. Had a slightly rolling, following Gulf ride.
Delayed departure due to a storm about to pass. All is well!

This was the
view from
one of the
Pilot House
doors on
For a
Live Action
Click Here!
From our
anchorage in
Marco, you can
see in every
direction from the
bridge. Installing
a rear-view
allows us to see
behind us
when we're at the
Pilot House helm.
to see the
display of the
rear view
An approaching storm has delayed our
departure to Ten Thousand Islands
as we would have minimal wind
protection there.
Click here to see the
Radar image
of the storm.
Birthday, Mom!
Challenging 24 hours! Two miles outside of
our destination, the LIttle Shark River inlet,
our engine's RPMs dropped suddenly.
Diesels need air and fuel so we switched
our primary Racor filter to its backup and
within a few minutes, she seemed to
behave normally. After repeated testing, we
eased her into the river and anchored,
surrounded by mangrove, manatee, and
bugs. Huge bugs.
The Little Shark River is why we put up our screens and hung
with the bugs. Kind of expected Tom Sawyer to come rafting
around the bend.
We're in a mooring
field in Marathon.
Made it just in time
to find this
surprise storm brewing
ahead of us. Really happy
it is in the lead!
May 23, 2012 - Marco Island, FL to Little Shark River, Cape Sable, FL
May 24, 2012 Little Shark River, Cape Sable, FL to Marathon, FL
After lobster bites and fresh
grouper with our friends, Gordon
and Lori Hornby, we returned to the
mother ship at sundown.
The palms against the setting sun
so deserved a better camera.
Boot Key Mooring Field
Marathon, FL
Special thanks to Freebird's previous owners,
Peter & Jenny for brainstorming with us this
morning! They are genuinely excellent people.
This is supposedly the entire span of the 7 mile bridge. We went under the hump just below the V to reach Marathon, one of the lower keys.

In his man-cave (the
engine room), Don
hurt his lower back.
We're going to hang out
and relax for a
few days!
May 27 - Marathon, FL to Rodriguez Key
A MOMENT OF REFLECTION UPON DEPARTING FROM OUR ANCHORAGE IN MARATHON. The locals in Marathon affectionately refer to their town as
Granola Land - the home of a bunch of nuts and flakes. One person said Marathon is to the mainland as Australia was to Great Britain--a home for the
outcasts. George, a retired law enforcement officer turned taxi driver said he'd pick us up at the Tree of Knowledge. I immediately knew he was referring to a
large tree rooted at the foot of our marina under which an assortment of live-aboards or locals liked to hang out. "Bring your broom and dustpan," he said.
"You'll be able to sweep up a pile of burned brain cells." I chatted with a couple of the insightful bunch, and regret not sitting under the tree, but I did leave
with an indelible image of this slowed down, reflective kind of life.  However, surviving on a boat means something else at an anchorage. For us, it came
down to navigating to the local parts store and prescription counter and praying our mooring ball could handle our 30 tons against 25 mph winds from the
overnight "isolated thunderstorm." I prayed the universe would protect our neighbor's balls too.
Just south of Key Largo, Rodriguez
Key. Click here to see an ironic
Memorial Day Celebration.
In remembrance of the men and
women who have given their lives,

“It doesn't take a hero to order
men into battle. It takes a hero to
be one of those men (or women)
who goes into battle.”

Norman Schwarzkopf  
Amazingly clear water, even without a
mask! So rare in Florida!
May 28-29 Miami, FL and eventually on to Hollywood, FL

But it was time to leave Miami and head to the Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Area. For a quick peek of the Venetian Isles
as the sun was rising,
click here!
The landscape changed from the kickbacked,
slow pace in the Keys to sensory overload as
we entered Government Cut, Port of Miami.
Cruise ships, cranes, cargo/container ships, 20
knot winds and a current that turned our cruise
into a freight train!
Click here for footage . .
A surreal sunset, brilliant night lights-- MAGIC!
Memories of Marathon faded as we
entered Miami. . .

an anchorage where the wind
agreed with the tidal rush
proved challenging!
May 30-31, Loggerhead Marina, Hollywood, FL
For the first night in ten days, Freebird nested at a marina instead of on the hook. Time to plug
in, make needed repairs, spray off the water, refill water tanks, wash clothes and kick back in a
fully air-conditioned boat. While cruising, we have to run the generator to power the AC and
washer/dryer. At a peaceful anchorage, it's the last thing you want to hear!  
Here are a few photos of our journey from Miami to Hollywood:
May, 2012