As I write this, I am sitting crossed legged on the port settee of Sirocco. I have on my warm smart wool socks, comfy sweat pants, and a warm purple sweater. The candle light next to me is flickering and the aroma of the coffee Kyle just brewed is lingering in the air with a slight smell of kerosine as our lantern takes the chill out of the air. Kyle sits across from me at the table, working on some computer-aided design work. The song New Slang by the Shins is playing over the stereo and the wind is howling through the rigging outside. As I sip hot coffee from my favorite mug, I look around and am filled with gratitude and joy. Our little home on the water has left its port and is floating at an anchorage, safe and sound from the blustery wind offshore. I look around me and feel so lucky to be surrounded by things I love so much. Every inch of this boat has been worked on, cleaned, fixed, or replaced and I can feel the hard work we put in when I look around. It didn’t seem like it at the time, but it was all so worth it. From the new colored bulk heads and locker tops, to the shiny varnish and fancy legless table Kyle built. The wool rug and cozy blankets and tapestries. From the wrapped mast to the artwork and favorite books lining the shelves. We are both so proud of the work we have done on the boat, and the fact that we did it all ourselves makes it even more gratifying. We have been planning this for over 4 years and working non-stop on it for 2 years and well, we have arrived. We did it, and we are free and the emotion that evokes is overwhelming.
For the past few weeks we have been living at a mooring field in Sarasota. It was great fun living on the mooring ball because we had to take our dinghy to shore everyday and I have fallen in love with our little 3.5 outboard motor. I have never driven an outboard before, and it fits so well on our 7ft Fatty Knees dinghy, named Lucy. We have always just rowed Lucy, which I still love to do, but the outboard was a game changer and the amount of trips we had to make from the boat to shore during the last couple of weeks was made much more enjoyable with it. During the last few weeks we have done the following things: I had my last day of work, Kyle did countless random boat projects, we sea-trialed the wind vane and it works incredible, said good bye to friends and family, did last minute grocery shopping, bought A LOT of beer and stuffed the bilges and closets with it, filled all our fuel and water tanks, and closed up loose ends.
On Monday morning we had some special visitors to the boat. The original builders of Sirocco, Keith and Cindy who built her back in the 1970’s happen to live in Sarasota near the mooring field. It’s a long story on how our paths crossed again, but basically they built Sirocco from scratch when they were in their 20’s in the yard of the house they were renting in Sarasota. They then sailed her to the Bahamas and lived aboard in Florida for a long time. Sirocco has gone through at least 5 different owners since then, and Kyle and I have had the opportunity to meet 3 of them, including the builders! Keith and Cindy have become our friends and about a month ago they came to see Sirocco for the first time in like 20 years! Kyle and I were a bit nervous because we wanted them to be happy with what they saw as they hadn’t seen her in so long and we worked so hard. Of course, they couldn’t be happier and more supportive and it was a wonderful visit filled with laughter, story sharing, and a million questions on both ends. They have a little runabout boat that they brought over to the mooring field on Monday and tied up alongside Sirocco and came aboard for a bit. It was a special morning for me and Kyle because we knew we were leaving that day, and who better to see us off on our journey towards the Bahamas than the couple who literally built her and then sailed her from Sarasota to the Bahamas! They brought with them some cruising guides and a nice piece of cast aluminum for our spinnaker pole. Anyway, thanks to Keith and Cindy for all your support 🙂
Later that morning we rode our folding bicycles into town and made a last Ace Hardware run. We spent the rest of the afternoon securing everything down and organizing and putting things in their spots. Around 3pm we motored over to the fuel dock and filled all our water and fuel tanks. That afternoon we travelled 6 miles south on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to an anchorage in Little Sarasota Bay. It was our first evening at anchor of this 6+ month journey we have ahead of us. The evening was filled with lots of laughter, joking, and deep breathes of “we did it!”. I made a tofu stir fry for dinner and used the oven to bake the tofu, which warmed the cabin while Kyle read some cruising guides. We enjoyed our dinner with a glass of wine and then played some games. On Tuesday morning we woke up early and headed farther South on the ICW. We have to take the ICW for the first 40 miles of our journey to get us to Charlotte Harbor because there is no good inlet between Sarasota and Charlotte Harbor that we feel comfortable leaving out of. That’s okay though, we are just happy to be underway and know that the next few months will have plenty of open ocean sailing. As I write this, we are sitting at an anchorage a little more than half-way to Charlotte Harbor. The bay we are anchored in is called Lemon Bay and is a nice protected spot surrounded by mangroves. We arrived yesterday around 2pm and tucked in close to the mangroves as we knew the next day or so was going to blow 25-30 knots of wind with the cold front.
Soon after arriving yesterday we lowered Lucy and packed a bag and went motoring down a little inlet. We found a spot on a beach and only had to walk a couple hundred yards through the mangroves until we arrived at the Gulf of Mexico. It has been so long since we have been to the beach or done anything other than boat projects, that it all seemed so new and exciting. We played frisbee, walked along the shoreline listening to the crashing waves, and looked for shells. Kyle found a shark’s tooth and a few other mini treasures. As the sun set we hopped back into Lucy and made our way back to Sirocco. We sat in the cockpit a bit as the final bit of sun dropped behind the horizon and then Kyle made us fajitas and guacamole for dinner while I did some coloring. I found myself laughing because it was the first time in years that I literally had nothing I had to do, and could do whatever I wanted to do. So I got out my mandala coloring sheet and some colored pencils and lost myself in the mindlessness of coloring. It was soothing and relaxing. Dinner was flavorful and clearly we were both very hungry as we didn’t talk much but giggled when we realized how quickly we both devoured our food. After dinner I spoke to my friend on the phone for a couple hours on the foredeck, while Kyle did his own thing down below. We climbed into bed around 10pm and woke up to a windy and chilly morning! Which leads me to right now, cozy on the settee, sipping my coffee. Life is good and I am thankful for each moment. Now it’s time to make some breakfast before we venture out to explore the surrounding area a bit more. We head to Cayo Costa Island tomorrow or the next day and hopefully (weather and wind dependent) take off for an offshore hop to the Keys on Sunday. Stay tuned. Cheers! -Danielle