The largest single expenditure was two new Kiwi Props, which we had shipped to Florida, and then packed up to ship by surface ship to the Philippines. But there were lots of other things that added up to one heck of a Visa bill this year. (Morningstar solar controller, Jackmaster engine oil filtration system, 2 new Lewmar winches, 2 new Windows 10 computers, etc etc).
We started our journey from Samal with a flight on Silk Airlines--the budget arm of Singapore Airlines. This took us to Singapore, where we hooked into the US Military Space Available system, and over the course of a week, we made our way from Singapore, to Japan, to Seattle.
We thought we'd timed our arrival in Singapore so we could fly out "Space-A" on the regularly scheduled flight the next day. But for some reason, the flight was delayed, and "oh darn, we'll have to spend a day in Singapore". We took the opportunity to visit Sentosa Island, which is (what else?) a World War II site. Even though the British had numerical superiority, their guns were facing the wrong way (out at sea). Who'd a thunk that the Japanese would attack through Malaysia.
In Seattle we took a Southwest Airlines flight to San Diego to visit Dave's son Chris & wife Sandy. Then on Southwest again to Atlanta, to pick up our car and visit with Sherry's sister and niece. And then driving from Atlanta to Florida with stops to see Sherry's brother and Dave's cousin. We finally arrived at our condo in Melbourne, FL on about Nov 1.
The first half of November was consumed with preparations for the Seven Seas Cruising Association's annual "Gam". At this year's Gam, Dave gave a presentation on Evaluating Modern Catamarans, and a round-table on Cruising Equipment Choices. Sherry was happy to be retiring from a 3-year stint on the SSCA Board of Directors, and also held a round-table on Cruising the Pacific, and Ham Exams.
Though it was really rewarding to "give back" to the organization that nurtured us through our learning years, it's actually a lot of work to be on the Board of Directors. Sherry spent countless hours on Skype calls from difficult places, and sent and received hundreds of emails. The Board is what keeps the organization running, but is largely unappreciated by the membership.
The highlight--and lowlight--of Sherry's tenure is the birthing of the new SSCA website. It is astoundingly better than what we had before, but still a little buggy, and the effort dragged on for about 4 years. Sherry spent a LOT of time during this visit home working on website technical support. If you want to get Sherry going, just ask how this project went...
One highlight of the Gam was the panel on Cruising Cuba. SSCA members are really anxious to go see Cuba after so many years. The panel discussed the ins and outs of cruising, and the legalities of US Citizens visiting Cuba under the current regulations.
From mid-November to mid-December, we stayed really busy with lots of visiting and boat-part-buying. We made a trip over to Marco Island to give a cruising presentation to the Sailing Association of Marco Island. We finally met Lee Oldershaw, whom we'd been corresponding with for 2-3 years by email. Lee is another WWII buff and helped us several times with internet research while we were "out island" with no internet. So we were happy to share a little adventure with Lee's sailing club.
We took the opportunity while on the west coast of Florida to visit places Sherry's been wanting to see since high school.
Sherry has been reading Robert Macomber's books, which are set in and around Key West and Sanibel Island. Great to finally see some of the places. Robert Macomber's Books on Amazon.com
We also got the chance to visit Glenn and Eddie Tuttle, s/v Tothill, in Punta Gorda. We first met them in the San Blas Islands in 2008. Glenn joined the SSCA Board in 2015, and HIS major contribution to SSCA has been to set up and operate Station KPK--SSCA's "Voice of the Caribbean". Another guy "giving back". We need more people like Glenn and Eddie in our organization!
Once the Gam was over, daughter Nicki flew down for a short weekend from Cincinnati to see us. We had a nice hike in some Florida wetlands (off 520), a Grouper Sandwich in Cocoa Beach, and a great beach walk at Sebastian Inlet together.
Meanwhile, Dave played lots of golf, and Sherry spent a ton of time on the computer.
We made a Thanksgiving trip back to Atlanta for Sherry's family reunion.
Dave arranged a weekend with his Naval Academy buddies. We played a little golf, told a few stories, communed with "Jeffry". It's always enjoyable to visit Jimmy Neale's farm in the Green Swamp near Clermont.
Dave and cousin Bruce McCampbell did a stellar job in a presentation to the Sea Cadets on The Battle of Leyte Gulf (yes, another WWII presentation). The Sea Cadets are an arm of the US Navy. Each local group names itself after a famous US Navy persona. The Melbourne group just happens to be named after Dave's Dad, Medal of Honor Winner David NMI McCampbell.
Late December was all about Christmas. We even had a nice tree this year, compliments of my cousin Suki, who came down from NC to help celebrate my birthday. She insisted on buying a nice tree, already decorated, for me. We really enjoyed having it, and a wreath on the door (lately we haven't bothered...bah humbug!).
We really enjoyed the Christmas festivities at Melbourne Yacht Club and East Coast Sailing Association, especially the Christmas Boat Parade. It was a warm winter this year, but we had a short cold snap just before the Boat Parade.
My BFF Cheryl (who I DIDN'T get to sail with this visit) had a great Christmas party at her house. Lots of besties there!
Nicki and I spent Christmas Eve Day going to the matinee at the Oaks Mall to watch the new Star Wars movie, walking on the beach, and having Christmas Eve Oysters at Bunkies (a 3-year tradition for us).
The Beckett family welcomed Dave and I to BOTH of their Christmas parties, one on Christmas Day and another one a few days later when everyone else finally made it to Melbourne.
We also spent some time and energy visiting other catamarans in Florida. We had a great visit with another St. Francis 44, At Last, in St. Augustine. And we made two visits to our bosum-cruising-buddies who used to own a CSY, but who also just bought a St. Francis 44. Their CSY was named Tackless 2. Their "new" St. Francis catamaran is named Tackless Too.
All in all, it was a great visit. Go, go, go all the time. We got to spend a little time with lots of friends, but still feel like we didn't spend enough time or see enough people!! Oh well, there's always next year!
On Jan 1 we start a reverse course back to the Philippines... driving back to Atlanta via Largo and Hawthorne, leaving the car in Atlanta, and flying commercially (Southwest, Singapore Airlines) back to Davao in the Philippines. We arrive back at the marina on Jan 10th, ready to start working on TWO boats.
We've got one serious looker for the CSY, scheduled to come see the boat in person shortly after we arrive back on Samal Island. Plus of course new inquiries coming in daily. With any luck we'll get Soggy Paws finished and sold by the end of March.