"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
Date: December 16, 2011
Position: Egret is in Ft Lauderdale, Florida and its crew are somewhere in South Island, New Zealand.
(Yeah I know, we haven’t written for a while because we said we weren’t but we will pick up the pace a bit while in New Zealand because it is such a way cool place and hopefully you will put NZ on your someday itinerary when it is Your Time and you have completed your Baby Steps and It’s Time for a Grand Adventure - run on sentence – so what).
G Day mis amigos, the Egret crew is in New Zealand. Of course we took the boring way and flew like Tourista Commonus (TC). More on that in a bit.
Egret arrived in Ft Lauderdale with great plans. It was an easy trip south outside leaving from Beaufort, North Carolina. Our plans were to attend the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show, do some maintenance, buy a few things then run down to the Florida Keys and fish for a couple weeks with local friends. My how things changed. We did get the bimini top replaced with a mesh type material to rid ourselves of the windage in head winds or strong beam winds and still have a bit of shade. The first picture shows the top material. Thru the material you can see the solar panels and low profile frame for the panels. While the original top was removed I took this picture of the solar panel specs for those of you who might be interested. These panels are 10 years old so perhaps technology has made them more efficient but at the time these were the ones to buy. Egret has 4 of these panels. The panels are connected in pairs with two pairs of wires threaded thru the top frame to regulators in the engine room. If we were to start over we would have the panels all joined to a single, large gauge duplex wire at the top and run to a smart regulator in the engine room. Actual use with the hot South Florida sun shining directly thru the top from overhead, the top material is not adequate. I believe we will have a second removable piece added to give proper shade to the flybridge seats for summer cruising and remove it in windy areas or at sea. It will come back perhaps 4-5’ and be fitted to go over the two antennas mounted on the front of the bimini top.
After all the Ft Lauderdale busyness we wanted to get away so MS and I made a short visit to Biscayne National Park, south of Miami (Florida). We got two nice days then the wind started puffing so we returned to Ft Lauderdale and by the time we got back we were thru with bridges and discourteous boaters for a while. On the positive side it was nice to get back on anchor and dinghy explore in the park’s clear water. We have been there before in other boats and it was like old home week. Boca Chita Key (part of the park) was nearby so we dinked over and met Hermie de Chita the hermit crab crawling on the seawall above a no docking sign where we tied up the dinghy. Mary took a super photo of a great egret standing on the seawall waiting for a tasty snack to swim by. One interesting thing happened as we were walking on the trail around the key. We crossed a small bridge and there were a couple dozen needle fish lined up in a small creek facing the incoming tide. I snapped a picture and kept going. Later after putting the picture in the computer I saw a blank spot in the water where before the needle fish were lined up side by side. The shutter speed was 1/250th of a second. In that time the needle fish split toward the outside of the creek.
One item we wanted to resolve on the trip was the performance of the 8hp Yamadog 2 stroke on the new 10.5’ dinghy. The engine has a Dolfin on the cavitation plate as did every small outboard engine we have owned over the years up to and including a 40hp Yamadog 4 stroke. The dink planed just fine and ran fast enough but we had to run the engine hard to maintain any speed. So when Egret is in the Bahamas this coming spring I believe we will buy a 15hp Yamadog 2 stroke in Nassau.
Speaking of Nassau………lets back up a bit. If you remember back a year or so, Egret’s plans were to leave Ascension Island in the South Atlantic and head NNW to Tobago (Caribbean) for fuel then on to Florida, up to Nova Scotia and cruise Greenland and Iceland for the summer then beat feet for Norway for this winter (2011-2012). One reason to go to Norway is we were invited by N46 owners Knut and May to use their second dock. Knut would watch Egret as their own and Mary and I would fly to New Zealand while Norway cooled off for the winter. We would return in the spring to resume cruising. Things happened and Egret is somewhere else these days. However, we never forgot that
kindness so a week or so ago we invited Knut and May to join Egret in the Bahamas for a couple weeks in the spring and give them a whirlwind tour of favorite spots. Knut wrote back and said it took them “about 2 seconds” to make up their minds. We are looking forward to their visit.
One highlight of the past month was a visit by Swedish sailboat friends – Annika and Bjorn - we first met in Mar del Plata, Argentina, here and there for the next two years and last saw them in Hobart, Tasmania. Being from the frozen wastelands of Scandinavia and knowing where they cruised we felt it would be great fun to show them South Florida as a native. We started with a day cruise by flats boat around Ft Lauderdale. Anyone that hasn’t seen the concentration of boats in Ft Lauderdale just can’t get over the miles of waterways jammed packed with boats. Even in this economy the marinas andboatyards are full, particularly with the big guys. The RBG’s – Really Big Guys – over 200’ or so are berthed in the port. Then it was off to the Fla Keys for a couple days. First it was a trip to Everglades National Park and Flamingo at the southern tip of the Florida mainland. South of Flamingo is super shallow Florida Bay. Here we took a flats boat on a photo shoot – Annika and Bjorn are excellent photographers. In addition to the usual ospreys, egrets, herons and pelicans we came across a large group of roseate spoonbills nesting. In this picture you can see the distinctive spoon shaped bill, pink feathers and even the wing bones silhouetted by the sun. Later that day we played touristas and stopped in Islamorada (mid Keys) at Robbies, a small marina and dens of junk dealers, to feed thetarpon. Tarpon are one of the Big 3 flats fish and grow to over 150lbs. These giants line up by the dozens to allow touristas to hand feed them breakfast, lunch and dinner. So Annika did the deal feeding the tarpon. The routine is to hold the baitfish about 6” over the water and have the tarpon rise and take the fish. (Tarpon have no teeth – their mouth is like concrete inside for crushingcrabs, their favorite food). So she fed the first few until a RBG decided to rise a bit higher to make sure it got fed and included Annika’s hand in the deal. She got a little boo boo on a finger and a scraped nail in the deal. Cool.
Then it was off to a friends house near Key West – the end of the Keys. And so on. Annika is a computer techie and helped spend a few pesos for the Egret crew. To make a looong story short, Egret now has a new monitor/TV in the TV cabinet, a modular computer and DVD reader. We didn’t bother to hook up a TV connection. Of course you know I don’t know what I’m talking about but you can sorta guess what the deal is. The big gain is we can watch movies from an external hard drive instead of a laptop and it is our first wide screen. We had a great week together.
So let’s talk behind their back. We said in the last VofE A & B cruise more like Egret than any couple we know. The itineraries aren’t the same but overlap on occasion. We both have the same philosophy of avoiding crowds and cruising in higher latitudes - which in turn avoids the crowds. (The way they and we cruise is just one way to cruise and we are not suggesting it is better than anything else, just what we choose to do. Remember, cruising is not a competition, just a venue to make yourselves happy and enjoy a bit of freedom and adventure.) Lindisfarn (A&B) spent last winter back in New Zealand then in the spring headed up thru French Polynesia, Hawaii and north to the Aleutians. They met Dick and Gail aboard N57 Ice Dancer II* in Hawaii and both headed north at about the same time meeting in the Aleutians. Lindisfarn cruised locally for a while while ID II headed west to the very end of the Aleutians. Meeting again on ID II’s return they headed north on the same weather window to Pribiloff Island, about 250nm farther north. There they were in bird heaven with all kinds of birds still nesting including two types of puffins. Pribiloff usually gets a cruising boat each year, most years. When ID II arrived the entire community came down to see the powerboat that made the trip north. ID II is in Anchorage, Alaska for the winter and Lindisfarn went south to Salt Spring Island, British Columbia for the winter. Currently A & B are in Sweden for a couple months.
*ID II and Lindisfarn first met in Hobart, Tasmania and later back in New Zealand so this was not a chance meeting.
This trip to New Zealand is a first for us in a way. Obviously we have been to New Zealand before spending 14 months here, 3 months in North Island and the balance in South Island. However, during the past 10 years and 4 months the longest Mary and I were away from Egret was 6 weeks in South America and the balance was 3 weeks a year. So this is a test for us to see if we can be comfortable leaving Egret for this length of time (89 days). Obviously we can do anything we wish to make ourselves the happiest whether living aboard with little time away or mixing a visit elsewhere for whatever reason whether it be leaving Egret in a place like Norway where we would not want to spend the entire winter or just for a change.
During our previous stay in New Zealand we had our home with us even though we did extensive inland touring in both North Island and South Island. We felt we were never far from home. This time it is different and we will explain what we are getting at and give you an example. Mary and I owned a weekend home in the Florida Keys for 13 years prior to retirement. We spent at least 45 weekends a year in the Keys. During this time we never spent more than 3 days at a time at the house and even a 3 days stretch was on occasional long weekends. We never felt we were Keys residents but also did not feel like touristas commonus.
While in New Zealand we are staying with Dick Anderson - Dickiedoo – D Doo – who has more sea miles aboard Egret than many boat owners. Dick picked us up at Nelson airport in a 1930 Nash he restored over a 20 year period as time permitted. (Dick worked overseas for most of his later career.) It is a beauty and is perfect as a restoration can be. He keeps it on display at the local WOW Museum – World of Wearable Arts – and took it out just to pick us up. The airport folks let him park it in front of the main door while he waited for the fight. Pretty cool, eh?
Most VofE readers know D Doo well so we won’t go into that. When Dick is aboard Egret, mi casa es su casa - my house is your house and it is the same when we are in his home. Dick also has a camper van (motor home) we will be using so we have a home of sorts here in NZ. So we’ll see. In any case we will be selling NZ during the next 3 months. It is destinations like NZ that makes world cruising so worthwhile in addition to meeting cruisers from all over the world with the same interests.
We have been telling sea tales to friends back in Florida who have asked about this or that. Reminiscing while telling stories it is finally starting to sink in where we have been and done. At the same time we have been consolidating all our photo’s from the cruising years into 3 external hard drives to keep them secure from computer crashes, etc. Seeing random photo’s during this process takes us right back to the location and experience. I am being very candid here and don’t want you to think this is any more than amazement on our part. We want so much to repeat parts of it but long distance cruising is what it is and you can’t repeat just some parts without doing The Deal and putting in the miles. So this is why this trip to NZ is such a test. If this works there isn’t any reason we couldn’t continue to explore new areas aboard Egret, have more adventures AND mix it up with a revisit to some of our favorite spots like Namibia for example. When we know, you’ll know.
More to follow.
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.