Moonlight Adventure

The story of our travels on board Moonlight, our Vancouver 36.


view:  full / summary

Saturday 23rd June 2012 - The end of the story

Posted by yachtmoonlight on June 27, 2012 at 5:30 AM Comments comments (11)

Moonlight arrived back in Southampton on Saturday 5th May 2012.

(Moonlight onboard the ship)

We unloaded her on Sunday 6th May and motored a short distance to Marchwood Yacht Club (which was extremely friendly and welcoming) where we stayed for a couple of days to get the sails and canvass back on.

(Moonight bein re-launched)

We sailed round to Halsar Marina in Gosport a couple of days later, where we hauled out, polished the hull and got her ready for sale.
Expecting it to take some time to sell the boat, we were stunned by the amount of interest we had and the first person to see the boat bought her, leaving us a little dazed!

It was a very emotional day for us on 23rd June 2012, when we handed Moonlight over to her new owner, Jamie.

(Moonlight with her new owner, Jamie)

Our adventures with Moonlight have finally come to an end, but she will continue to have many more adventures with Jamie and we hope she takes him to some wonderful places and makes him as happy and she did us.

Our adventuring days are not over though, watch this space............!

Monday 23rd April 2012 - The end of our adventure

Posted by yachtmoonlight on May 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

We set off early on Tuesday morning and made our way south towards Fort Lauderdale to meet the ship that would be taking Moonlight home. We passed through Lake Worth and into a network of canals, with huge palatial homes all the way down on both sides, very few of which showed any signs of life or of being lived in.

(An average house on the waterway!)

As we as enormous houses, we also passed several enormous powerboats, one with a helicopter on the deck!

(An onboard helicopter - now that's just showing off!)

There were several bridges to pass through which only opened at certain times and we managed to time them reasonably well, although we had to wait for a couple of them and Dave and Elaine who left after us soon caught us up.

(Guardian Spirit travelling alongside us after catching us up)

We travelled the rest of the way together and anchored in Boca Raton lake, which was lovely. The water looked so inviting and it was so hot that even I got in for a swim after we had anchored, partly because I was very aware that it would probably be the last chance I ever got to swim from the boat.
We didn’t have much food left at all and I’d had to pick off bits of mould from the last bread buns which we had eaten for lunch (which made me chuckle at all the thought that some people think living on a boat is glamorous!) but we managed to rustle up something for dinner from our store of tinned and dried food.

Wednesday turned out to be a longer day that we had anticipated as we had so many bridges to pass through, which all had timed openings and we ended up waiting several times.
The waterway was still strewn with enormous mansions, which ranged from the fabulous to the incredibly tacky. There is certainly a business somewhere nearby that does a roaring trade in tacky garden ornaments, fake roman pillars and hideous statues. Statues-R-US or Garden-Tat-4-U or something similar no doubt.

(Another average waterway home)

The area was so built up there was very little wildlife to be seen, although Dave and Elaine did spot some manatees (which we missed) and we saw some green parakeets that flew over the boat and landed in a tree on the shore nearby as we were waiting for one of the bridges.
When we got to Fort Lauderdale, we tried to anchor in Middle River, which we had heard was a good spot, but there were already several boats in the small anchorage, we couldn’t get the anchor to set and the current was making us swing all over the place, so we decided to carry on through the next bridge where we knew there were some moorings.
Luckily there were two moorings free, so we picked one up and Guardian Spirit picked up the other. They were very expensive at $35 a night, but much cheaper than any of the nearby marinas and there wasn’t really anywhere else we could try to anchor. As we were close to the bridge, we were in a no-wake zone, so any passing boats had to travel at a slow speed and we enjoyed sitting in the cockpit watching all the superyachts pass by.

We went ashore in the morning and walked to bus stop, noticing along the way that everyone we saw was blonde, thin and wearing lycra. The bus took us a couple of miles to the nearest supermarket and as we got off the bus we heard a car hooting and looked up to see Dave and Elaine in a car they had hired to pick up some things they had in storage in Orlando the following day.
After possibly the best burger I have ever had at Five Guys with Dave and Elaine for lunch, we had a look around an amazingly well-stocked nautical bookshop, a large wine store and then popped into the supermarket to get what we would need to keep us going for the next few days.
Back at the moorings, the boat on the mooring next to us had left and a new boat had come in, which we remarked looked exactly like Windfall, which we had met in the Bahamas the previous year. It wasn’t until we were sitting in the cockpit a little later watching the world go by that the current make the boats swing round a little and we saw that is was Windfall, so we popped over to say hello to Raffi and Lisa on board.


Still not having a confirmed loading date for the ship, we were starting to worry that we would miss our flights that we had booked for Monday afternoon, so John called Virgin on Friday morning to find out if we could change our flights. The answer was that we could. The bad news was it was going to cost us $275 each to change the flights, the good news was we could change them at any time up until the plane left, so could wait a couple more days and see what happened.
We finished preparing the boat, taking down all the canvas including the sprayhood and the bimini (again) and got the dinghy loaded up onto the deck ready for the short trip to the port where the ship was due to arrive in the next day or two.

The ship was finally to arrive on Saturday evening and we would be loading Moonlight some time on Sunday in the afternoon. It was a very windy and rainy day and we were worried about the boat being craned aboard the ship in such bad weather and contacted the shipping company who said they had to leave the port by 8am on Monday morning, so they would be loading whatever the weather.
We made the final preparations to get the boat ready for the journey and packed our bags for the flight.
Neither of us slept much that night.

Guardian Spirit were due to load onto the ship at 11am yesterday morning, so they headed off down to the ship in the morning and phoned us a couple of times with updates while we stayed on the mooring as we were not due to load until 4pm.
We got a call from the ship loadmaster later in the morning to say that the cradle that they needed to secure Moonlight to the deck of the ship was on a truck in Palm Beach and they ‘couldn’t find the driver’ and we spent the next few hours worrying that we weren’t going to make it onto the ship before we got another call to say that the cradle had arrived and we could go down to the dock any time and tie up against the ship.

(The short trip to the port)

When we arrived at the ship, Guardian Spirit were still tied up alongside as they were running behind schedule.

(Guardian Spirit tied up alongside the ship)

It took three attempts for me to successfully through the lines to workers on the ship so they could secure us alongside and we waited for our turn. We had to move away from the ship twice to let other boats load before us, so we had the trauma of coming alongside the ship two more times (thankfully Dave came aboard the last time to help throw the lines to the ship!) The whole thing seemed very disorganised and Guardian Spirit didn’t get loaded until 5pm – six hours late.

(Guardian Spirit being loaded onto the ship)

We heard a little later that they had hit a problem. The boats had been loaded in the wrong sequence and one boat needed to be loaded over the top of one that was already on deck. The ship workers spent a long time measuring the boats and finally decided that the only way they could get the boat over the other one was to change the slings on the crane, which would take several hours and as it was so late (9.30pm by this time) they were all going home and going to do it in the morning.
Moonlight was due to be loaded after the boat that needed the different slings, so we wouldn’t be loaded that night either. This meant that we would have to leave Moonlight tied up alongside the ship overnight and trust the shipping company to load the boat the following morning and secure the boat on deck without us being there to see it happen or check that everything had been done properly as we were due to fly home the next day. The loadmaster promised us that he would personally secure the boat and we had no choice but to leave it in his hands.
At the end of a very stressful day, a boat picked us up along with Dave and Elaine (who had waited for us after their boat had been loaded) and took us ashore. We both felt emotional, upset and worried that something else might go wrong and we would fly home without Moonlight being loaded onto the ship.
Dave and Elaine’s friends Nancy and Norm met us ashore, gave us a stiff drink and took us out for a slap up dinner, which was just what we needed. Our mood couldn’t last with such good company and we had a fun night despite our worries, before heading back to an apartment belonging to Nancy and Norm who had very kindly offered to let us stay there along with Dave and Elaine.

John popped out this morning to find something for breakfast and came back with some croissants for us all which we enjoyed with a morning cuppa and Nancy came round to show us around her boat, which she lives aboard in a nice quiet dock on the waterway.
Nancy dropped me and John back at the apartment where John had a snooze and then came back later on with Dave and Elaine and some lunch which we ate next to the apartment block’s swimming pool.
After lunch, Nancy drove us to the airport in Miami to catch our flight and Dave and Elaine came along for the ride and to wave us off. It was a sad goodbye, not just to our friends but also to the USA, which marked the end of our big adventure.
We checked in for our flight and at 4pm we finally heard from the shipping company that Moonlight had been loaded onto the ship and would also be heading home.

Monday 16th April 2012

Posted by yachtmoonlight on May 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Still having lots of planning to do for shipping Moonlight and flying us home to England, John spent last Tuesday in the marina lounge to make use of the wifi while I went ashore to have a mooch around the shops, get a few groceries and stock up on my favourite chocolate bars that we can’t get back home (Mars Three Musketeers bars, which taste the same as Milky Ways used to taste years ago).
I joined John back in the marina lounge and we met an English couple called Ted and Kay from Moorglade who joined us for sundowners later in the evening.
After a quick dinner, we headed over to Lynton and Carol’s boat to watch a film and had a really nice evening watching Galaxy Quest with them, which was hilarious.

We both went ashore in the morning and bought far too many grapefruits, forgetting that we will be going home very shortly!
Julie invited us out for dinner in the evening and we had a fun time at a good American restaurant with her and Marty. We had hoped to see a band play at another bar afterwards but when we arrived we found that the band had stopped playing as a neighbour had complained about the noise, which was a shame as we had seen them play before and they were very good.
Back at the marina, we were very sad to say goodbye to Julie as we had thoroughly enjoyed all the time we had spent with her during our time in Florida and were both going to miss her.

As we were getting ready to leave in the morning, Lynton, Carol and Buddy came over in their dinghy to say goodbye and it was another sad farewell.
We had a long day travelling down the waterway, with not a lot to see as the river was very wide in places and there wasn’t much of interest to look at on the land, but we did spot several nesting ospreys along the way.
In the most part, we had found powerboaters to be very polite, particularly near Vero Beach and they would usually slow down as they passed by so as not to cause too much wake and rock us around, but as we headed south down the waterway we found the powerboats to be less and less considerate and after while John gave up shouting after them as they whizzed by far too fast and far too close to us.
We travelling for most of the day and stopped in the late afternoon, anchoring off the waterway in what was settled water until the wind came round giving us rather a choppy night.

Moving on south again on Friday morning, there were a series of bridges that only opened at certain times and we had heard they were very strict about only opening on time and  for the minimum time necessary. We were late reaching the first bridge, but we called up the bridge operator who was a very pleasant lady who held the bridge open for us until we could get there (which saved us waiting for half an hour until the next opening). We motored as fast as we could to try and reach the next bridge, but the openings seem to be timed for the speed a powerboat would travel between them and as we had been late getting through the first one we were already behind. Thankfully the next two bridge operators also took pity on us and held the bridges so we made it through them all without being held up. The next two bridges opened on demand and had the grumpiest operators we had come across, maybe because they had to open whenever anybody asked while the other nearby bridges only had to open every half hour and could put their feet up in between.
When we arrived at the anchorage in north Lake Worth, where we planned to stay until we loaded Moonlight onto the ship in nearby Palm Beach, we started to get the boat prepared straight away. The wind was due to build up over the next few days, so we took advantage of the light winds that afternoon to take the sails down and store them away down below.
We had been in touch with Dave and Elaine on board Guardian Spirit over the past few days as they were also considering shipping their boat back on the same ship as us and just as we finished taking the sails down, we saw them sailing into the anchorage and it was lovely to see them again.
An email from the shipping company confirmed that we would be loading Moonlight onto the ship on Wednesday 18th April.

(Anchored in Lake Worth)

We spent the weekend on board getting everything ready and catching up with Dave and Elaine. We took the dodgers and bimini down and started securing everything down below and planning what we would need to take back on the flight with us.

Another email from the shipping company this morning gave us a bit of a shock when it stated that the location for boarding the ship had been changed from Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale, which was two days travelling for us down the Intra Coastal Waterway. It was also going to be late, which at least bought us a little more time.
Dave and Elaine had decided they would be shipping their boat back too, so we went through all the paperwork with them and we put the bimini back up ready to travel south again in the morning.
Elaine cooked us a wonderful dinner in the evening, which was particularly appreciated as we had hardly any food left on board, having thought we would be loading the boat onto the ship in a couple of days time!
The revised date for loading hadn’t been confirmed but as we were assured it would definitely be leaving from Fort Lauderdale, we got an early night ready for another early start and another couple of days travelling south.

Monday 9th April 2012

Posted by yachtmoonlight on May 25, 2012 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Summer had definitely arrived and it was a very hot day last Monday when we ashore to Titusville marina and walked through the park, across the bridge to Merritt Island. We decided to explore Gator Creek again, as we had last time we were here and although we spotted lots of vultures, ospreys (including a nest with a very fluffy chick in it), red cardinals and herons, there were still no gators to be seen.



(Nesting osprey with chick)

We walked back across the bridge and into town to cool down in the Sunrise bakery with a cool drink (last time we were here we spent our time warming up in the bakery!) and stopped to watch the manatees in the marina for a while before heading back to the boat.

We received an email from the shipping company on Tuesday morning, asking whether we would like to go home on an earlier ship, due to leave Palm Beach on 18th or 19th April (a month earlier than the ship we were booked on). With John desperate to see his new grandson, we jumped at the chance and agreed straight away.
In light of this, we decided to carry on south straight away and get to Vero Beach in two long days rather than three shorter ones.
It was a long and uninteresting day travelling south, although we enjoyed spotting the plentiful dolphins and moon jellyfish that were suddenly abundant in the waterway.

(Snoozing with Mungo the Manatee on the way south)

The wind allowed us to sail for a lot of the day on Wednesday and after an early start I made us each some toast and we sat either side of the cockpit, next to the guardrails to eat it while we each kept a lookout ahead of us on either side of the sail. As we were tucking in, there were two large splashes and two dolphins leapt out of the water simultaneously on each side of the boat right next to us, making us both jump. I’m sure they did it on purpose and I watched the dolphin on my side swimming alongside the boat, it saw me looking and splashed its tail on the surface several times to splash me! They stayed swimming alongside us for some time, which hasn’t happened very often in the waterway as the dolphins are so used to seeing boats.

(One of the playful dolphins)

We arrived in Vero Beach in good time and rafted up on a mooring alongside another boat and I popped ashore to catch the free bus to the supermarket while John spent the afternoon organising all the paperwork we needed to complete to ship Moonlight back to England, including US and UK Customs paperwork.
We had requested to travel on the ship along with the boat but we had been told that wasn’t possible, which we didn’t really mind as it meant we could fly home as soon as the boat had been loaded onto the ship and we would have plenty of time to see John’s grandson before the boat arrived in England 10 days later.
After a busy day we decided to treat ourselves to a takeaway pizza, only to find after it had been delivered that it was the wrong one and not what we ordered. I called Dominos to complain and they said we could keep the pizza and give us a free pizza next time we ordered one, which sounded pretty fair to us.

John had transferred all the forms and paperwork for the shipping onto a USB stick and we caught the bus to town on Thursday morning to get all the paperwork printed out so John could sign it and copies of the boat papers and John’s passport, which we also had to provide. After a spot of lunch in town, we caught the bus back to the marina and after a very busy morning, it was great to get all the paperwork sent off so we could relax!
We went ashore again in the evening for the weekly cruiser’s sundowners and met Julie there before heading out to dinner with her and Steve.

Julie kindly drove John to a hardware store in the morning so he could get some more engine oil and do some shopping at Walmart while I tidied and re-organised the boat so I could start taking photos of the interior to use when we put Moonlight up for sale on our return home. The boat we had been rafted up with left in the morning, so we were alone on the mooring and I was able to play music, sing along and dance around the boat as I tidied without disturbing anyone else.
An English couple we met in the marina lounge, Lynton and Carol, came round for a cuppa in the afternoon and we headed ashore in the evening to meet Julie at the weekly Power Squadron get together before heading into town with Julie for a rather good and very reasonably priced Mexican dinner. Cheap restaurants are one thing we are really going to miss back home!

Saturday was very windy, so we stayed on the boat all day. While I tried to catch up on the blog and photo sorting, John fixed the toilet door handle and then serviced the toilet pump and changed the seals on the toilet seat. Rather him than me!
We finished cleaning and tidying in the afternoon and took the rest of the interior photos of the boat and John created an inventory of what equipment was for sale with the boat along with full details of the boat so we were ready to advertise the boat as soon as we got back.

We both went ashore yesterday to use the wifi in the marina lounge and while I updated the website, John looked for flights home and hotels we could stay in for a night or two in between the boat being loaded onto the ship and our flight home. We also decided that we might as well start advertising the boat for sale straight away, so John created an online advert and booked an ad in Yachting Monthly for the summer issues.
In all the chaos of trying to get everything sorted out and arranged a month earlier than we had expected (and only a couple of weeks away), it was difficult to take in the enormity of our three year adventure coming to an end, putting the boat up for sale and making the move ashore (with no idea where that would be yet!)
Lynton, Carol and their dog Buddy joined us aboard Moonlight for sundowners in the evening and stayed to share our free Dominos pizza with us.

Julie offered to take us for drive to see more of the area and we took her up on her kind offer this morning and met her ashore before heading out into the countryside.
Our first stop was at a beautiful beach that was quite busy due to the Easter holidays before carrying on to some wetlands to look for alligators.

(John and Julie on the beach)

(No gators to be seen!)

We didn’t spot any gators but enjoyed the scenery nonetheless and spotted some red cardinals and a bluebird. I quite fancied a ride on one of the airboats but unfortunately they were all booked up.

(The airboats preparing for a trip)

We stopped for lunch at a great restaurant in a small town, where I had alligator, which was really rather chewy but not unpleasant, and then drove back through miles and miles of orange groves with trees as far as the eye could see in each direction, stopping at the supermarket on the way home where I was pleased to find all the Easter chocolates had been reduced to half price. I bought enough to keep us going until next Easter, or at least until we can get post-Christmas half price chocolate Santas.

Sunday 1st April 2012

Posted by yachtmoonlight on May 25, 2012 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Back in the St Augustine and safely tucked up in the marina, we started work on the engine first thing in the morning to try and resolve the problem with it running too hot.
Our first plan was to check if any of the broken pieces of impeller (the black knobbly rubbery bits) had got stuck at the heat exchanger and lo and behold, as we flushed the heat exchanger through, out popped a piece! We excitedly put the all the pipes we had removed back in place and started the engine to find that although it was a little better, it still wasn’t quite right, so we went back to the drawing board and decided there must be another blockage and the only thing we could do was to start at one end and check every section of pipe until we found it.
I took a quick break at lunchtime to pop to the bakery and when I arrived back armed with yummy filled croissants, I found a jubilant John hopping around the dock and a fixed engine. John showed me the two further parts of broken impeller that he had found partially blocking one of the pipes and I then joined him bouncing around the dock doing the ‘we-fixed-the-engine’ dance.
The day was made even better when Dan and Marcia from Cutting Class (who we had last seen several months previously in Vero Beach) arrived in the afternoon and we had a lovely time catching up with them over a beer in the afternoon before Dean picked us up to go over to his boat for dinner with him, Meg, their delightful children and their adorable Belgian Shepherd dog Lucy.
All in all, days don’t get much better than this!

John went ashore in the morning to go to the supermarket with Dan and Marcia while I had a quiet morning pottering around the boat.
We moved out to the moorings in the afternoon, where John amused himself by changing the engine oil and we both enjoyed the peace and quiet of the mooring field after a couple of noisy nights in the marina!

The weather was continuing to get warmer and Wednesday turned out to be a lovely day. I somehow persuaded John to have a walk around the town and shops with me and although he wasn’t too keen it turned out he was the only one to buy anything, a rather dapper new hat and some locally made cigars.
We were enjoying sundowners on board Cutting Class in the evening when a boat picked up a nearby mooring and we realised it was Craig and Lisa, who we had also last seen in Vero Beach. Dan and Marcia kindly invited them over too and when Craig and Lisa came aboard they realised they had met Dan and Marcia a few weeks before in the Bahamas, so it turned out to be a reunion for everyone!
Marcia put on a fantastic spread of nibbles followed by a lovely dinner and as the night wore on (and the wine flowed), Dan found more and more of our English terms funny and was beside himself when John said ‘shopping trolley’ (they call them carts over here). We then spent rather a long time trying to explain what a Cornish Pasty is to Dan and Marcia, and in the end decided it would be much easier if they just came over to England and stayed with us so we could show them! It was a great evening and wonderful to catch up with friends and hear about their adventures.

Cutting Class and Craig and Lisa had already left when we dropped the mooring and headed south in the morning.
It was slow going as we had the tide against us all way, despite John’s assurances that it would change in our favour at every inlet we passed.
We passed a chap kayaking down the waterway and shouted over to say hello and he told us he was heading all the way down to Key West!
At the end of a really long and tiring day, we were happy when we finally arrived and anchored in Daytona Beach where we would spend the night before carrying on south again in the morning.

Another early start on Friday morning and not long after we left we passed the man in the kayak again and exchanged waves with him. Further down the waterway, we had to wait for the bridge to open at New Smyrna Beach as it only opens at certain times and we noticed a jet ski coming down the waterway with two dogs sitting on the back! We waved and the chap on board came over for a chat while we waited for the bridge and the dogs both seemed quite happy perched in the back of his seat and have apparently never jumped or fallen in and love riding on the jet ski.

(Dogs hitching a ride!)

Further down the waterway, we spent a long time travelling in the channel which led through a large wide open area with not a lot to see, so John took the opportunity to go for a snooze down below. I happily pootled along for some time and then casually glanced behind me to find a chuffing great big barge gaining on us. I didn’t want to wake up John but decided that on balance it was probably preferable to being squashed by the barge, so I reluctantly woke him so he could take the helm while the barge overtook us very close by!
The waterway was rather uninteresting until we reached the Haulover Canal – a short narrow cut through the land lined with trees that were full of birds including an osprey with a large fish it had just caught and a spoonbill that flew by over the top of the trees.


Just past the canal, the waterway opens up into a wide area and a nearby island was completely covered in white and grey pelicans, herons and spoonbills.


A large flock of orange beaky birds (as we call them) sat on the water ahead of us and as we approached they flew past the front of the boat low to the water. A channel marker proved to be home to a nesting osprey and we were blown away by the amount of birds we had seen in such a small area.

(Nesting osprey)

After another long and tiring day, we arrived in Titusville and anchored in the waterway, out of the channel and as close to the marina as we could get, which was quite a long way out due to the shallow water.

It was a long dinghy ride into the marina yesterday morning and when we arrived we were delighted to find that not only was there no charge for landing the dinghy (unusual here) but we could also use the marina showers free of charge too!
We walked into town heading for the supermarket and as we passed the park we spotted a sign saying that there was a dog show on in the park that day. We found that they were just setting up so we carried on towards town and planned to stop by again on the way back.
John had been pining for the cheese and jalapeno bread we bought from the bakery in Titusville when we visited on our way north, so we walked into town via the space memorial park and had a cup of tea and a sticky bun in the bakery, bought some bread and then headed back to the dog show via the supermarket.

(The Space Memorial Park in Titusville)

The show was in full swing. It was run by the ASPCA and had lots of stalls selling all kinds of doggy related items along with lots of random non-dog related gubbins, lots of rescue dogs walking round with volunteers hoping to be spotted by potential new owners (we wanted to keep them all), a dog agility course, demonstrations and food and drink stalls. We bought some lemonade and watched several dogs attempt the agility course, some better than others, and then cuddled as many dogs as we could before heading back to the boat.
The weather closed in that evening and when we saw a thunderstorm approaching we decided to take preventative measures and put our mobile phones, the satellite phone and the handheld GPS in the oven where they would be protected if the boat was struck by lightning. The storm passed over and we only remembered the items that we put in the over AFTER I had made dinner on the gas rings, which have a habit of heating the whole oven up! Thankfully they were all OK, if a little on the warm side.

Today has been a very lazy day (as Sundays should be!), spent reading and relaxing on the boat , only disturbed by an almighty barney that a couple on a nearby boat launched into in the afternoon that carried on into the early evening!