The last time I really posted about our life aboard was last February when we finally made it here to Sanford, FL. I have had many false starts with creating a new installment of the blog, but remained uninspired to do much more than think, "I should write a blog post," to myself. Well, here we are, January 2, 2024, and this one will get posted. You can tell because…well…you're reading it, aren't you?
This last year has had its moments, but let me simplify it a little by nudging the highlights since our last "real" blog. I suffered my 50th birthday last April, which was celebrated by a fabulous crew of friends from near and far—John and Susan even came in from Texas to celebrate with us. We gathered at The Sullivan, which is coincidentally where I have been playing music nearly weekly since we've been here. There was cake, liquid refreshment, and revelry to welcome me to geezerhood, and my friend, Steve, even crashed in our guest stateroom aboard the boat.
As mentioned, I have been playing weekly on Thursday nights at the pub, and I also started doing work as a contracted consultant for Argo Navigation. I started out as a "booth babe" at the Atlantic City Boat Show last March, attended the 2023 AGLCA Rendezvous in Norfolk and the Washington DC Boat Show in May, and have been taking on lots of different tasks to help improve and promote the app ever since.
As noted, we did jump in the car and leave here for a couple weeks at the end of September and into October. We left on a Wednesday and drove to a Econo-Lodge in Petersburg, VA (clean, but not impressive) where we enjoyed dinner "at the club" with our friends, Robert and Paige. I had a string of performances including a Thursday night house concert in Edgewater, MD that was notable because accommodations were not included (surprise!). Our friend Nancy stepped up and provided a place to lay our weary heads that night. From there we started our run to Rochester (Greece), NY, via the home of dear friends, Dan Schatz (also a folksinger) and Geeta Shivde and their rapidly growing offspring, Kiran. It's notable, if coincidental, that Dan is Nancy's son.
We moved along from there to Rochester and enjoyed the ever-accommodating company of (also folksingers) Steve Gretz and Leslie Lee for a couple of days while I performed a Saturday-evening concert for the Golden Link Folksinging Society at Steve's Greece Baptist Church where he is minister. The next morning had me back for a couple songs and a pipe organ postlude at the church's Sunday service. Steve and Leslie really showed us around, took us to dinner a couple times, and we just had a wonderful time catching up with them for the first time in years!
On the Monday morning, we set off from Rochester and pointed our wheels toward the Middleburgh area where we stayed a couple of days with dear friend and folk-music royal, Sonny Ochs. This was purely a social call. Sonny treated us to wonderful take-out from the nearby Chinese restaurant that evening, Tuesday night we treated by foraging at the local grocery and creating a chicken cacciatore which was enjoyed with Sonny and her fun neighbors. Even with the assembled masses, there were plenty of leftovers, which Sonny seemed all too pleased to tuck in the freezer for another time. One of our mornings at Sonny's, of the three we enjoyed, we were graced by the presence of dear friend and (you guessed it) folksinger, Reggie Harris, who was just getting his strength back after a health scare while overseas. It was good to see him, and wonderful to see him feeling better. Sonny made a pancake breakfast for us to all enjoy while we caught up.
Wednesday had us back on the road and headed to Long Island where I was to perform as the featured act for the NorthShore Original Open Mic (hosted by the Folk Music Society of Huntington) that evening. Along the way, we stopped in Mamaroneck to spend a few hours catching up with friends and fellow full-time cruisers, Sean and Louise on M/Y Vector. They had been at the Derecktor Shipyard there for several months for a complete paint job on the boat, with much associated refitting. They treated us to lunch at a local favorite watering hole, and it was so good to catch up with them. We hadn't seen them since we dined with them along with Technomads (and fellow Downtown Sanford Marina dwellers), Chris and Cherie, when Vector was making her way north on the Florida coast last March. After we bid Sean and Louise adieu, we continued on our way to meet up with folky, Michael Kornfeld, with whom we also had a light repast at a Huntington diner before the evening gig. We spent the night at the home of a woman named Sybil who is one of those much-appreciated folk music volunteer types who open up their homes to wayward musicians passing through, saving us untold fortunes on accommodations.
Thursday morning we pointed the Toyota toward the Mason-Dixon and never looked back, finishing up the day checking in at the Folklore Society of Greater Washington's annual "Getaway," where we spent the next four days enjoying the company of folky types (including Dan, Geeta, Kiran, and Nancy, to bring things full circle). Monday we drove back to Sanford and reacclimated to Florida weather after nearly two weeks of actual autumnal bliss.
Since then, we have been working on the boat. I replaced our 35' of anchor chain with 250' and installed a proper chain-stripping spurling pipe, as well as new deck switches, relay, and wireless remotes for the windlass. I replaced the galley appliances entirely, giving us a new gas cooktop, dishwasher, and replacing the microwave with a convection microwave. I have done a bunch of rewiring aboard to increase DC systems efficiency and I also added a second house bank of 200 Ah of 12-volt LFP batteries with a DC to DC charging system. These new batteries will be used almost exclusively for inverter loads, while the existing 12-volt FLA house bank will be just for DC loads. I also have started, and will soon complete, the plumbing and wiring for our raw-water anchor wash down. There are several other upgrades and maintenance items to get through before Stinkpot will be completely ready to depart Sanford in March, but we are excited to venture on after a final St. Patrick's Day extravaganza.
In mid-late November, we were surprised to learn that Sean and Louise were accepting our “standing invitation” to enjoy Thanksgiving with us aboard Stinkpot—which we did. Vector made her stunning arrival (video above) here mere days before the holiday, and stayed throughout the remainder of 2023 and into 2024. While they’ve been here and had a ready source of capable boat-sitters, they did book an almost-last minute trip to the west coast to visit with friends and family. While they were gone, a very unexpected and fast-moving storm developed in the Caribbean Sea and came through here like a freight train—the same storm caused massive flooding in northeastern states on its way through.
When the forecast came down, Sean and Louise asked us to button up Vector for the expected wind-driven rain, and while we were doing so, Stacey had her fingers on both hands crushed beneath a wind-blown hatch cover, resulting in a broken “driving finger.” It’s a minor break and is healing nicely, but the splint that was applied looked vaguely puppet like. When Sean and Louise returned, Sean contributed some googly eyes and Louise made an appropriate, seasonal costume, and Imelda Snarkos was born. Short may her reign be. Broken bones notwithstanding, we’ve completely enjoyed ourselves hanging with these two kindred spirits, enjoying countless wonderful meals, walks, beverages, stories, and even a golf car ride to see the holiday lights in Sanford's Historic District. We will miss them greatly when Vector must drop lines soon and venture forth. Rest assured, Stinkpot will not be terribly far behind….
Happy 2024, friends! There’s lots more adventure to come….
Stacey and Dave are nomadic explorers who travel the waters of the eastern United States aboard their Bayliner 3870, m/y Stinkpot.