Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Big Announcement and Marina Life

We have decided to bring "Passage" home to Grand River, Ohio, in the the spring.  Therefore, we will be spending two months here at Legacy Harbour Marina before heading for the keys.  This will give us enough time to prepare and stock the boat for the long trip up the east coast.  Right now we are looking for a volunteer to drive our car and dingy trailer back to Painesville, Ohio, sometime before the end of May.  Any interested parties should contact us soon.

Cooper's Landing is part of Legacy Harbour Marina.  This is where "Passage" is docked with a variety of  vessels including five Gemini Catamarans:  two from Texas, one from Colorado, one from Sudbury, Ontario, and of course us. 

Sue and I have been frustrated in our efforts to finish waxing by the series of strong cold fronts and accompaning bad weather.

Usually a cloud line like the one above is followed by nasty winds and rain, plus the inevitable cold front.  One night as the thermometer approached 34 degrees outside, I awoke at 2:00 a.m. to discover that the reverse cycle heat had failed.  I found the coils well frosted, and an unidentified part had fallen from its mounting.  After placing the part in position and thawing the system, at 3:00 a.m. we fired the unit up.  Wanting to free up the reversing valve but not knowing what it was, I tapped on a few things and PRESTO!  We had heat!  Sometimes it's good to be lucky.

C dock is the happening place at the marina this year.  Seven boats have regularly met for Happy Hour at 5:00 p.m.  The addition of Wes and Sabine from the trawler "Wasafiri" should add two more regulars.  Wes and Sabine are prepping for a cruise to Panama.  Conversations have ranged from very informative to raucously hilarious. 

Run out of little cups for the White Russian Mousse shots at happy hour?  No problem.  Claudia demonstrates how to squeeze the frozen "shot" out of a plastic bag, which some found amusing and others yummy.

The marina sponsored a Christmas pot luck on the 16th that was very well attended. 

Before the festivities began,  John and Brenda on "Some Dream" presented Michael of "Dash" with a birthday present: a visor with some much needed hair on top.  Michael was excited; but not nearly as much as his bride Claudia, who found him even more attractive than usual.

Eric, the marina manager, welcomed us to the festivities and provided a ham and a cake.

Then we did what we do best.

Our last project was to replace the plastic Bosworth water tank selector valve.  We had replaced it with an identical one once before.  These valves have "o" rings which eventually let air into the water system.  Sudden strong splashes of water result.  

This time we replaced it with an Apollo bronze and stainless steel ball valve, to which I added two 90 degree elbows and half inch hose barbs.

Some modification of the mounting surface was required,  but the end result was a nicely installed valve which should last longer than the boat.

So goes our time in beautiful but chilly Ft. Myers, Florida.  Who know, some day soon we may even go sailing!  Sue and I would like to wish all of you loyal readers a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Season In Florida

Our trip to Florida was much like last year except that we left Painesville on Sunday, November 14th, a week earlier than usual.  The 2.5 day car trip was uneventful.  Apparently Lucy has accepted her fate as a cruising cat, as each morning in the hotel she would eat breakfast and then go directly to her cat cage.  Past years she would hole up somewhere in the room, causing much frustration as we tried to pack and leave the room.  The drive down was easy, and we arrived at the Glades Boat Storage yard earlier than expected on Tuesday the 16th.  We found "Passage" in the work yard next to "Some Dream", crewed by our Sudbury, Ontario friends John and Brenda.  Note that you can expand the pictures twice by "clicking" on them.

We exhausted five containers of Softscrub with bleach in a day and a half, transforming "Passage" from green and black to bright white.  Sue then began prepping the interior so that on Friday we could move aboard, or as she likes to say, live in the treehouse.  Saturday was spent waxing and also scrubbing the fuel in the starboard tank.  The filter system that Jack designed and built with the help of David Blystone with imput from Sue worked great!

We lived aboard in the yard for four days while we worked on the drive leg and put two coats of wax on the hulls.  We just touched up the bottom paint with one quart of antifouling paint, but we added cayenne pepper to the paint.  We will see if that makes a difference.  A late shopping trip to LaBelle for food and supplies enabled us to be independent for a few days after launch.

We were scheduled to launch at nine, but the crew was late and our North Fort Myers friend Craig Wilson took a little while painting the pad marks of his boat "Kinsella" and installing a new cable on the centerboard.  So we launched at 9:45 and were motoring on the Okeechobee Waterway by 10:00 a.m on Tuesday, November 23rd.  We shared the waterway with "Kinsella", with Craig and his neighbor Tom Nelson aboard, who were transporting her to their dock behind their home in North Fort Myers.

Tom, on the left, and Craig make quite a delivery crew, don't they?  The Caloosahatchee River was deserted, as we saw only one other boat the entire day.  One never knows what one will see on the river, as witnessed by this photo Jack took last spring on our trip up to the Glades Storage Yard.

As usual, we stopped for the day at the Franklin Lock Campground. We could then sterilize and flush our water tanks before dark so that we would have usable water.  Wednesday we installed all of our running rigging.  On Thanksgiving Day we bent on the jib and mainsail, and "Passage" was a sailboat far earlier than any other year.

Sue then cooked a turkey breast, and we enjoyed a great Thanksgiving dinner complete with all the trimmings.  We really enjoyed our three days at the Frankllin Lock, despite the nocturnal screachings of a supposed "rare" Limpkin.  When I took his picture, a man from an RV asked if I had anything to shoot him with other than a camera!  Perhaps that explains why these obnoxious birds are so rare.

We completed our passage to Legacy Harbour Marina in a light rain of Friday the 26th.  Lucy expressed her disgust with the sound of the Westerbeke engine by assuming "the pose"

Apparently, burying her face in her blankets makes motoring barely tolerable.  Captain Jack, on the other hand, displayed a completely different attitude while at the helm!

John and Brenda from "Some Dream" had been at Legacy for quite a few days, and they drove us out the Glades so that we could pick up our car and dingy trailer.  Soon we found ourselves enjoying "happy hour" with John and Brenda and Tom and Doris Johnson, who are cruising a Mainship 350 out of Severna Park, Md.

We are settled in at the marina and have already been to two West Marine Stores.  Saturday Sue did a load of laundry.  Meanwhile, Jack rebuilt the head, which had decided to be stubbornly uncooperative, while he tried to watch Ohio State pummel Michigan.  All in all, Saturday was a great day at the marina; and we capped it off with dinner at the Joe's Crab Shack at the end of the dock with the same happy hour crew as yesterday.  Excellent!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cruising North

On Saturday, March 20th, we finally left Marathon.  At the first sign of daylight, we released the mooring ball at 7:10 a.m. and headed out the west entrance to the harbor.

We motored several miles to reach the navigable span of the Seven Mile Bridge.

After we crossed under the bridge, we raised the main and unrolled the genoa and enjoyed a great sail up to the Little Shark River.  On the way up we saw several sea turtles.  Most quickly dove once they spotted the boat.  However, as we sailed by, one huge turtle floated within five feet of the boat and just looked at us.  We didn't have a camera ready because we didn't expect him to stay on the surface.

After a very pleasant night at the Little Shark River, we motorsailed downwind to Goodland, and then motored the ICW up to the Rookery Channel Anchorage, a 60 nautical mile day. 

We usually are alone in the anchorage, but not this year.  We shared the anchorage with two other catamarans and eventually a 29 foot Bayfield monohull from Canada.  We were invited aboard the Prout catamaran "Deja Vu" sailed by Texans Jeff and Jane Landry for happy hour.  We were joined by Rob and Tina from the Iraqois 30 Catamaran "Mahalo" and Mark from the Bayfield.

The next day those two catamarans left, but we were joined by two more Geminis including "Nancy T".  Then the PDQ "Mongoose Magic"  crewed by Dale and Antha Koonce sailed in from Legacy Harbour Marina. 

 Finally our Canadian friends John Spenser and Brenda Carter on "Some Dream" came in and rafted off of  "Mongoose Magic.

Since we had not seen our four friends since leaving Ft. Myers in January, happy hour aboard "Mongoose Magic" was great fun for all six of us as we caught up on our winter's activities.

During the two days we waited for a wind shift at Rookery Channel, we dingied over to the Keewaydin Island side of the ICW and walked one minute across the island to the beach.  We enjoyed walking on a beach that one can only get to by boat.  Sue and I collected a lot of nice shells.  At times we were the only people on miles of deserted beach.

On Wednesday the 24th the wind shifted to the east and we sailed towards Ft. Myers Beach.  Unfortunately, the wind died after a couple of hours; and we had to motor the rest of the way.  We picked up mooring ball 30 at 2:45 pm.  That evening we dingied over to Bonita Bills, where we ate peel and eat shrimp right off the boat.  The next evening we were entertained by Canadians Gordan and Margaret Hogan aboard their PDQ 36 "Hogie Cat". 

Saturday was a big day for cruisers in Ft. Myers Beach.  The city threw a party and provided free food and beverage for boaters on the mooring balls.

We had a great time visiting with newly met sailing friends and enjoying free food and beer.  We especially enjoyed the story of the grueling 28 days at sea endured by Tony and Mia who were on the mooring ball next to us.  Engine and rigging problems had made their passage a trial, and they were glad to be safely in the harbor.

After the party we dingied across the harbour to Doc Fords Restaurant to see author Randy Wayne White and purchase some of his books.

Of course, no visit to Ft. Myers Beach would be complete without seeing the beach, which was a little busy.

On Sunday, March 28th we dropped the mooring ball and motored out of the harbor.  We sailed up to and under the Sanibel causeway bridge.  We were able to sail just about all 15 miles up the Caloosahatchee River to Legacy Harbour Marina in downtown Ft. Myers.  We will spend this week getting the boat ready for storage before heading up the river another 40 miles to store the boat for the summer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Staying Keysey in Marathon

In the three weeks since Kim's visit, we have kept busy visiting with cruising friends in the harbor.  We have consumed many five dollar lunches at The Hurricane.

Molly and Andy Jensen arrived in the harbor on their 25 foot C-Dory, which they trailered down from South Dakota.  We met them about five years ago at Mangrove Marina, and it was great seeing them.  We got together to talk about old times at The Hurricane for lunch on Saturday, March 6th.

On Monday the 8th we met for lunch again at the Hurricane, this time with the Gemini Catamaran sailors in the harbor.

All eight boats in the harbor were represented, and we had a great time talking about sailing and maintaining our boats.  After an hour the crew of "Island Days" showed up.  They were anchored near Islamorada and somehow heard about our gathering.  They caught a bus to Marathon and arrived at one.

Linda and Paul Smith off "Double Exposure" posed with Carol and Tom from "Island Days".

That same evening Sue and I dingied over to "Tomcat", the PDQ 32 sailed by Tom and Kathy Root, who are from Grafton, Ohio.  We had a nice visit, and were impressed by Tom and Kathy's talent with a conch horn at sunset.

Wednesday the 10th we went to Dockside for the prime rib special with Tom and Kathy, Michael Mahon from "Casey Dee" and Jim and Sharon Angel from "Blue Angel".  The prime rib was fabulous, and the people were definately into having a good time.  Michael stayed after the rest of us left, and reportedly had a little trouble locating his boat!

We were entertained by the guitar and voice of Rob Sweet.

On Thursday we had our boat bottom cleaned by Barnacle Bill, a colorful local diver who lives in the harbor.

After seven weeks the bottom was covered with a heavy slime due to the nutriant rich water.  Despite new bottom paint, small barnacles had taken root all over the hull.  Bill worked pretty hard for his money.

The Original Marathon Seafood festival was held at the park adjacent to the marina on Saturday and Sunday the 13th and 14th.  We spent Saturday morning visiting the booths and displays with Tammy and Jerel Roe from "Osprey".  In the afternoon we listened to John Bartus and Stormwatch, followed by Howard Livingston and the Mile 24 Band.  Howard Livingston performs original island music similar to Jimmy Buffet.

Saturday night I was awakened at three a.m. by a strong boat wake.  Since I was up, I wandered to the head.  On the way back I discovered the cause for the wake when I noticed a boat on fire at the east end of the anchorage.  The wake had been caused by the arrival of the coast guard.  The small house boat that had been anchored in the harbor for years was a total loss.


Sunday we arrived at the Seafood festival too early to see Sue's favorite performer, Brian Roberts, who was performing along with his band The Prime Movers.  The act before Brian was The Amber Leigh Band. Amber, a young country singer, played a mean fiddle and put on a great show.  The Prime Movers then played for 90 minutes.  At the end of their show, Brian invited his former student, collegian Christian Davis, to sit in at lead guitar.  Christian's dad Mark sat in on keyboards.  Christian is a gifted guitar player.

After the concerts Sue and I strolled across US 1 to Keys Fisheries with Tammy and Jerel.  We enjoyed some stone crab claws and a beer at the bar on stilts, and then put down a fine seafood dinner at the Fisheries.  It was a marvelous end to an especially great weekend.

This week we have been getting "Passage" ready to go and waiting for a weather window to sail up the west coast.  Right now it looks like we will get a two day window starting Saturday, so we will try to reach the Marco Island area by Sunday night.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Express Keys Tour

My daughter Kim arrived on Thursday, February 18th at 3:20 in the afternoon after driving from Miami in her snappy little rental. 

The sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid 60s.  We loaded her luggage in the dingy and motored out to "Passage".  Sue made a wonderful Mahi Mahi dinner, and we spent the evening visiting on board.

Friday brought cloudy, cool, breezy weather.  After breakfast Kim and I motored to shore with  the propane tank.  Kim drove us across the Seven Mile Bridge in her rented Toyota to a camp ground, and we refilled the tank.  This task was followed by a water run.  We filled water jugs and dingied our 21 gallons of water back to the boat.  After lunch on board, we dingied around the harbor and down Sister's Creek to the Atlantic Ocean.

Undeterred by the cold, cloudy weather, we completed our tour of the harbour and headed for the dingy dock.  We hopped into the rental car, and Kim drove us to Sombrero Beach.  Kim picked up a few shells as we strolled on the ocean's edge.  Kim was then able to experience the thrill of showering in Boot Key Harbour City Marina's new shower building.  Fortunately we had warm water.  As Kim said, the fun part was not dropping anything on the wet floor of the little shower room!  That evening we ate at Dockside so that Kim could experience our favorite keys restaurant and enjoy the music of John Bartus.  Fortunately, we were able to get a table under a propane heater.  As usual the food was great.  On the way back to "Passage" in the dark, we watched the Florida Marine Patrol ticketing boats who failed to display an anchor light.

Saturday we awoke to clear skies and warming temperatures, perfect for our day in Key West.  We hopped into the Toyota and Kim drove to Key West.  Our first stop was the marker for the southernmost point in the US.

We had to stroll on the southermost beach in the US too.  The day was perfect: sunny and warm with a nice breeze.

Then it was on to Dante's for lunch.  Kim was able to sample some stone crab claws and a huge burger.

We were forced to wait for the entertainment since Brian Roberts was late due to an accident on US 1.

Brian performed with his band, the Prime Movers.  They were pretty good.  One of us seemed to enjoy the show more than the others.

After lunch we spent the afternoon strolling down Duval Street and doing a little shopping.  We viewed the city from the top of the La Concha Hotel.  Then we went to Mallory Square to see some entertainment.  Kim was able to enjoy the zany entertainment of the Key West Cat man.

While the Cat Man performed, Sue's photos show Kim in the audience wondering if his behavior is an act or if he really is bonkers.  I think the jury may be out on that one.

Of course there was the sunset to enjoy too.

All in all, it was a nearly perfect day in Key West, and a great time was had by all.

After the sun set, we enjoyed a dinner at Turtle Kraals in the Key West Bight and then drove back to Marathon.  We discovered that if one showers at 10:30 p.m., one has really hot water.   That is a rarity in a harbour with 14 showers and 225 mooring balls.

Kim left Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m.  Although it was way too short, we had a great visit and will miss her until we get home in April.