Author Archives: Randy

About Randy

Airline Captain, USCG 100 ton Master with Radar and Towing Endorsements, former “Coastie”

Merry Christmas

Christmas 2020, the Holiday Spirit With Built in Social Distancing🎅🏻😉 – by Randy

Like families the world over, we are adjusting to the new norms in a world with COVID-19. We have limited our family gatherings, forgone the holiday parties, and avoided public places. As followers of this blog already know we have spent 5 previous Christmases aboard. This year we decided to enjoy Christmas in Florida at Caladesi Island State Park. We are attaching a short video to share some of the isolated beauty that we experienced this Christmas.

It turned out to be the perfect socially distant choice given the circumstances of 2020. We arrived at Caladesi Island on December 22 and stayed through Christmas Day. The beautiful Caladesi Island Marina (a 100 plus slip marina with floating docks) was empty, save two other intrepid cruising couples who, like us, wanted to spend Christmas afloat on one of Florida’s most beautiful and isolated state parks.

Dolphin at sunset
Dolphin at sunset
Ronan & Ryan
Ronan & Ryan

We hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and are wishing everyone all the best in the New Year! Hopefully, 2021 will give us all the opportunity to enjoy a more traditional and festive holiday season.

Cheers 2020
Cheers 2020
Beach snowman
Beach snowman

Our newest crew member, “Marlow!”

OUR SHIP HAS COME IN AND IT’S A MARLOW!- by Randy

As we indicated in our previous post, our arrival back to our shore based life has been bittersweet with lots of adjustments. Our family’s unique opportunity to cruise the Caribbean for the past four years has been challenging, magical and enlightening for all of us. One of the sad realities of our final leg home was that we made it with one fewer crew member than our first leg outbound. Our intrepid boat dog, “Patton,” lived out the final three years of his fifteen year life aboard the Pilot’s Discretion in the Caribbean. His passing left a hole in our crew that we knew we would one day want to fill. Happily, we have had the opportunity to adopt the Pilot’s Discretion next generation boat dog, and his name is Marlow!

Marlow trying on his new life vest Marlow trying on his new life vest

Ryan, Marlow & Ronan aboard Pilot's Discretion

Ryan, Marlow & Ronan aboard Pilot’s Discretion

We knew we wanted another Cocker Spaniel, however, we wanted to make sure he was unique and different enough from our previous dogs so that he would occupy a space in our family distinct to him. That is where Becky Holmes, the owner of Silver Moon Cockers, came in (www.silvermooncockers.com). Becky breeds a rare silver Cocker that looks very different than Patton, who was chocolate.

Brigadier General Chuck Yeager

Brigadier General Chuck Yeager

Marlow is the third pure bred Cocker Spaniel in the Mowrey family tree. Each of the previous two Cockers were named after famous American military heroes. Marlow’s oldest sister was named “Yeager” after Brigadier General Chuck Yeager (the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound).

General George S. Patton

General George S. Patton

Patton was, of course, named after WWII legend, General George S. Patton.

When we got the opportunity to adopt Marlow, we decided that we would name him utilizing a slightly different convention. We wanted to recognize an American success story, choosing someone closer to our personal story. If you have followed our blog, you already know that our dreamboat is a Marlow Explorer. Who better than David Marlow, the founder of Marlow Yachts, to name our new boat dog after.

David Marlow

David Marlow

David Marlow is the youngest of twelve (12) children, who started with modest means and has gone on to build one of the world’s preeminent motor yachts, while at the same time providing hundreds of highly skilled tradesmen a place to practice their craft. Our Marlow has some truly large shoes to fill (or chew on🐶). He is approaching his tasking with a puppy’s enthusiasm and a gentle, loving spirit.

And so it is, we have finally gotten a Marlow of our own, and he is adorable!

Marlow Marlow
MarlowMarlow Marlow

Marlow @ 5 weeks Marlow @ 5 weeks

Marlow

Marlow Marlow
45 foot USCG patrol boat pulling up astern of Pilots’ Discretion

6100 Nautical Miles Later, Pilots’ Discretion Returns to the United States – by Randy

Early in the morning on June 6, 2018, Pilots’ Discretion eased out of her slip at the Old Bahama Bay Marina, on Grand Bahama Island, and pointed her bow west for what would be her final international leg of our 4-year Caribbean odyssey. There were brisk winds of 15-20 knots out of the west, as we passed the breakwater heading out into the Gulfstream. The resultant seas were not particularly large (4-6 ft), but the period of the waves was a very short 2-4 seconds, giving us an uncomfortable ride. I don’t think anybody aboard was really looking forward to this day, and it just felt appropriate that the sea conditions were not unsafe, but not pleasant either. We pressed on through early morning showers and passed several other yachts going the other way, heading east toward the Bahamas.

When we were about 20 miles west of Grand Bahama Island the seas flattened out and the skies cleared. Florida was already clearly visible on our radar, but not yet on our visual horizon. Four hours after our departure, the waterfront condos of West Palm Beach became visible as we headed for the Lake Worth Inlet. After cruising for days at a time seeing few boats at all in various parts of the Caribbean, the high level of traffic off the coast of Florida was just one more subtle reminder that we were reentering our home environment.

As if on cue to reenforce that point, a U.S. Coast Guard 33′ patrol boat pulled along side of us and advised us that they would be conducting a routine boarding of our vessel. Those of you that have followed our blog in the past already know that I am a former Coastie. What many of you may not realize is that Theresa served as the Vice President of a major maritime safety organization for many years. As part of her duties there, she interacted with the Coast Guard at the highest levels (she counts several past US Coast Guard Commandants among her personal friends). Some boaters are put off by the Coast Guard boardings, that is not the case with the Pilots’ Discretion. Our entire crew has a tremendous amount of respect for the work that the men and women of the USCG perform each and every day. For me personally, and my family, having the Coast Guard board us as we approached our home country represented an important symbolic welcome home. Click photo below for video

The young Coast Guard boarding team came aboard our vessel and reviewed our paperwork and our safety systems. Happily, they did not find any discrepancies. After they had completed their official duties we had a chance to share stories of “The Guard.” It was a lot of fun to compare notes since long ago I had served on many Coast Guard boarding teams in the Gulf of Alaska, and the Bering Sea. Ryan and Ronan were fascinated by the patrol boat and wanted to know how much power it had and how fast it would go (40+ knots). The Coast Guard crew was thorough and professional at all times. I hope those Coasties sensed how proud our family is of their organization and the individuals that serve our country via the USCG.

After the Coast Guard departed we entered the Lake Worth inlet, then turned north on the ICW toward the North Palm Beach Marina. One hour later, we pulled alongside the fuel dock as a thunderstorm broke out with a torrential downpour. Soaking wet, the crew of Pilot’s Discretion refueled her and cleared inbound with US Customs. Pilots’ Discretion is now back in the United States, our journey is nearly complete.

CLOSING THE LOOP, ATLANTIS & THE BERRY ISLANDS – by Randy

It is hard to believe that our family odyssey aboard Pilots’ Discretion is almost at the four year point. During our time aboard we have put in excess of six thousand miles under our keel, that is a lot of traveling by boat. We have seen and experienced so many diverse and unique places and cultures that it is now the norm for us to begin our day wondering what new adventure awaits. Florida is now nearly on the horizon and in just a few more days, we will be reinserting ourselves into our land based world, but for now we still have some traveling to do.

Our last port of call, Atlantis Marina, Nassau was not typical of the places we have visited along the way. Atlantis, to me, represents a combination of Las Vegas and a water based Disney World on steroids. Ryan and Ronan wasted no time finding the various water slides, while Theresa and I really enjoyed the front row seats we had at the marina as the various megayachts came and went. Click photo below for video:

It was a lot of fun to see, and certainly worth the visit, but it could not be more different than our next stop, the Berry Islands. The Berry Islands are a group of small cays that generally run northwest of New Providence (the island that Nassau calls home) for about 60 miles. The Berrys are largely undeveloped, or owned by private individuals and cruise ship companines, so they are about as far away from the bright lights and hustle and bustle of Atlantis as you can get.

One of the things that immediately struck me as we approached the Berry Islands was that the water is absolutely crystal clear. The Bahamas, in general, are known for their beautiful clear water, but the Berrys take clear water to the next level. It was, at times, hard to believe that our depth sounders were reading 50-60 feet while we were looking over the side at various marine life such as star fish, sharks and rays gliding beneath the Pilots’ Discretion. Click photo below for video:

The Berry Islands feel like a natural spot to wrap up our family exploring. We all got to see things that were not part of our norm. Sort of the signature for what has been an amazing four years of growth for our boys, and Theresa and I as well.

We left the Berrys on a direct course to West End, Grand Bahama Island. Ironic, in that our first stop outside the United States four years ago was, the still charming, Old Bahama Bay Marina, on West End, Grand Bahama Island. Click photo below for video:

After our stop on Grand Bahama Island it was time for the Pilots’ Discretion to cross the Gulf Stream westbound. Additional updates to follow.