This week is all about Thanksgiving and also the start of 'the Holiday Season'. You regularly hear this on the radio and you see it around you because since Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas decorations appear everywhere in the streets. On our favourite radio station in the car Christmas music is played since the beginning of this week. And that while it still takes more than four weeks before Christmas. We're not used to that. Maybe it feels extra weird for us because we don't associate warm weather with Christmas and normally are still busy with Sinterklaas at this time of the year. Well, this year we'll skip that fun party just once and let's just take ourselves a bit earlier into the Christmas atmosphere of Florida 😉🎄.
Eline has this week off from school, Marinthe gives her knee rest and only goes to tennis school briefly on Monday, Jack and Jackie are there and that's why it feels like a 'holiday week' for us.
Monday we take Marinthe to physio. Her knee hurts a lot already after half an hour of tennis and she walks to physio limping with ice on it. That is not good', is her conclusion. During the hour that she treats Marinthe with knee massage and exercises we are allowed to be there and she gives us an extensive explanation. Very valuable. Her advice is to first strengthen the leg muscles really well and no more pain in her knee before she can play tennis again. Do stretching and muscle strengthening exercises every day with weights around her ankles. Supplemented with cycling as a cardio exercise. Her explanation we understand well and feels very logical. Marinthe does the exercises very faithfully every day and on Tuesday she goes with me to the gym where she can cycle during my lunch crunch class.
Monday afternoon we arrange the learners permits for both girls to drive. Luckily we made an appointment in advance via the internet. That saves waiting in a long queue. It all takes a bit longer because Eline's drugs/alcohol test result is not properly processed in the system. After first contacting the organisation at home via chat, we get her details and we can also arrange a permit for Eline. With both of us we drive a little bit every day.
Eline goes to the beach on Monday with Martha (a Dutch girl from school). And on Tuesday Lutitia (a Brazilian girl from school) goes to the movies in Fort Lauderdale. By car from Lutitia and then she is only 19 hours at home. Nice to see how she arranges all that for herself.
On Tuesday Toine takes Jack and Jackie by boat to Fort Lauderdale for an underwater turn. All in preparation for being able to sell his boat. He is in a bit of a hurry now because he has made an offer on the motorboat and it has been accepted! Shortly after they are on their way, the engine breaks down. Thanks to their subscription to SeaTow they get 'free' a tow up to the yard in Fort Lauderdale. I drive Jack's car there so that they have their car there. With some more jobs on the engine and getting diesel by Jackie and me Jack and Toine finally get the engine working again. It is good that Toine has already got to know the boat a bit because he will sail it back next week when Jack is back in Canada. Toine and I go home in an Uber taxi. Our first Uber experience and it is very good!
Wednesday Mira has a two hour level test (reading and listening) of the english course. I reach the highest level (also after the check on speaking) and that means that I can participate in the highest group where the emphasis is on speaking with more vocabulary and can use and convince the right words in discussions on all kinds of subjects. Exactly what I would like and what I can grow into 😉.
On Thursday morning we left at half tide (when we can still just leave our own little canal as far as draught is concerned) with the intention of spending the long Thanksgiving weekend in the Bahamas. We can go straight through the bridge and within half an hour we are on the open sea. We didn't have to get used to it, but went straight into the waves. Unfortunately, the part of the Bahamas we want to visit is not navigable. The wind turns to south-southwest a little later and we need an extra 30 degrees because of the correction for the north going 4 knots of gulf current. We can make it to the West End on Grand Bahama fairly high upwind. That is a bit further though, we will arrive in the dark and it is uncertain if you can anchor there and then go to a marina? We know that Sunday could be a tough trip with wind from the north against the current. And when the autopilot also suddenly starts to act a bit strange, the choice is quickly made ... we have to keep having fun 😂 ... we turn around and sail back to the coast of Florida to Lake Worth Inlet, 30 miles north of our own inlet. A good choice, especially when on the way there we get some hefty thunderstorms over us with the real thunder fortunately moving away just behind us. A piece of sea not to be underestimated, that Gulf Stream between Florida and the Bahamas! Fortunately, it is a great anchorage on Lake Worth, with many other sailing boats around us, mainly from Canada. We have a very good evening and night with a glass of rosé, good food, watching Expedition Robinson and sleeping around the clock.
What are we going to do the next day? To the marina in West Palm beach near the anchorage? That turns out to cost 180 dollars and that's a bit too much. We also don't necessarily have to stay in an expensive marina while we have a free berth at home with the vacation feeling around us. The choice is quickly made. We sail the 30 miles back along the coast, lovely with wind force 3-4 and half wind. Fantastic sailing!!! We steer everything by hand because both autopilots are acting strange. Another job for Toine to find out. We pass close to Trump's vacation home in Mar-a-Lago where he is at that moment. You can tell by the boat of the US Coast Guard which sails around watchfully and keeps a close eye on us. We have a good pace but will we be able to make it back before half tide? We just manage to drag ourselves through the mud threshold at the beginning of our little canal and we also just manage to moor. Once at home we jump into the pool. In the evening we go out for dinner at an Italian restaurant in Boca. Unfortunately it is a bit disappointing and the air conditioning is too cold inside.
What are we going to do for the rest of this "holiday weekend"? It's nice to go somewhere now that we had planned to leave. We decide to go to Key West at the end of the Keys. That is 4 hours driving one way through a beautiful area. It runs smoothly without traffic jams and over 2.5 hours is over the Keys itself. Especially in the middle part you can still see the damage of hurricane Irma. Because of the huge heaps of debris and waste along the side of the road and also scaffolding and houses that have been destroyed. Key West itself has been reasonably spared. It is a tourist town and there are three cruise ships, including the Eurodam of the Holland America Line. But still nice to walk around and we have a nice hotel with a swimming pool and a hot tub and a view of the sea. Eline makes a lot of pictures for her project at school ... she has to make a photo collage with pictures she made with the program Fotoshop. She is working on that 👍. In the evening we first drink a cocktail in the bar with a view of the cruise ships sailing away. Afterwards we have a nice dinner outside at the waterfront with nice table discussions.
On Sunday (this morning) Toine, Eline and I make a snorkel trip with a large catamaran to the reef. Marinthe doesn't feel like it and stays in the hotel. It is a nice trip, coral is a bit disappointing, the fish are very beautiful, lots and colorful. In the afternoon we drive the 4 hours back home, fortunately without traffic jams. And now we are back home and we are on the eve of a normal 'work'-week. Eline back to school, Marinthe hopefully also a part of the day at the tennis school, Toine back to work and I start tomorrow with my English class. Maybe weird, but we're in the mood for a normal 'work' week!