Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Releasing the Velcro

After over two months on the dock at Legacy Harbour Marina, departing can be difficult.  In the social tradition of C dock, we had a goodbye happy hour for John and Brenda.

We sadly bade farewell to "Some Dream", since John and Brenda truly are the life of the party.

We then waited over a week for a weather window which would allow us to "sail" down the west coast of Florida.  Finally, on Tuesday, February 15th, in front of a large crowd of C dock friends, we cast off at 8:31 a.m. and were free of the dock!  We motored to the Gulf of Mexico and soon enjoyed a wonderful sail down to Gordon pass and our first night's anchorage at Rookery Channel.  The next morning we met Mike and Pam, who were cruising their wooden motor yacht out of Panama City.  Then Sue and I dingied over to the beach on Keewadin Island and successfully collected many shells.

At noon we left the anchorage and motored the inside route through Marco Island and on to Goodland, the town of few streets and three or four bars.

Since we were looking for wilderness, we kept on going until we reached Panther Key in the Ten Thousand Islands, where we anchored for the night behind Hog Key.  The next morning we dingied over to the beach on Panther Key, escorted by a dolphin who tried to ride our bow wave.  We visited with Mike and Pam, who were exercising their dog Blue.

After collecting a few unique shells, we departed Panther Key at 11:15 a.m. and motored on flat seas, which Lucy really enjoyed.

How relaxed can one cat get?  Lucy is not comfortable in the seas accompaning sailing winds, but loves motoring on flat seas.  I think she wants a trawler.

We arrived at New Turkey Key at about 3:00 p.m.  This tiny island in the Everglades National Park is a designated camp site, which means a porta potty is on the island.  The island is small and the anchorage is shallow.  At low tide our depth meter wouldn't read the bottom, so we must have been in less than 3 feet of water.  We pulled up everything, including the rudders.

There were eight people camping on the island in two sites.  We didn't go ashore here since the island was so small we felt like we would be invading their privacy.

At 10:45 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 18th the tide rose enough for us to raise anchor.  We enjoyed a fabulous sail to the Little Shark River, where we anchored just up the river by 3:30.  We shared this anchorage with two other boats.

I took this picture at sunset, but was driven back into "Passage" by the active biting insect population.

Saturday the 19th we motored all the way from the Little Shark River to Marathon in the Florida Keys.  Finding the mooring balls full, we tried three times to anchor in two locations in the crowded harbor before moving down to Sister Creek and anchoring on two anchors (which we hate) next to five other boats.

We spent three nights on anchor in the creek.  Mike and Lynn aboard the Hunter 31 "She n I" were our next boat neighbors.  The creek was a very secure anchorage with lots of boat traffic during the day and terrible no-seeums in the morning.  We needed a mooring ball to keep from being eaten alive, but the marina was closed on President's Day, which was too bad because a huge fleet of boats left for the Bahamas.

Finally on Tuesday, Feb. 22nd, we were assigned ball N-10.  With the help of Laura and Bill Bender, we easily retrieved our second anchor.  Thanks Laura and Bill!  Then we hoisted our primary anchor and motored the one half mile to our new home.

We checked in, walked to a mart for a loaf of bread, and then climbed the steps to the elevated bar at Keys Fisheries.   Sitting 30 feet off the ground, enjoying a cold beer and looking out over beautiful Florida Bay made us feel real "keysey".  We have arrived.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bye Bye Minivan

We picked up Becky and Del Gladrow at the airport as scheduled on January 19th.

What followed was a fun filled week of catching up with old friends.  We enjoyed eating out at The Elephant Bar Restaurant and Joe's Crab Shack.  Del and I visited West Marine a few times, one trip resulted in a new grill for Passage, which we used to good effect.  We drove down to Ft. Myers Beach for a day and brought home five pounds of local shrimp from Beach Seafood Market.  Wow!  That turned out to be the culinary highlight of their visit.  For some reason, there were no leftovers.

Del and Becky fit right in with the happy hour crowd from "C" dock, so evening happy hours were celebrated as usual.  The week went by incredibly quickly, and then they hopped into our minivan and drove it and the dingy trailer home on the 26th.

They arrived home safely on the 28th; and our car now resides safely in our garage, thanks to my daughter Kim, who arranged to have our driveway plowed of the seemingly never ending snow that Ohio in enduring.

On the night Del and Becky left, Sue and I were afflicted with severe flu like symptoms that incapacitated us for several days.  We finally were able to start prepping the boat on January 30th, which means we missed our window to head for the keys.  Even now on day five, we are not feeling 100 percent.  We hope to be ready to leave Legacy Harbour Marina on Wednesday if we feel strong enough and the weather cooperates.  You can follow our progress by clicking on the Spot GPS link in the blue box on this page.