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.