01/29/2011, Marco Island
Naples.. what can I say? Our primary mission while there was to get to the Apple store to have the Mac repaired and for Dave to take care of the dinghy repair. On the first night we took a fairly expensive roundtrip taxi ride to the Apple store (only to be told that they would look at it and get back to us within 48 hours). By the 2nd day, dinghy repairs had turned into head repairs too and after a call from Apple, David and I decided to split ways in order to accomplish everything that needed to be done. We walked together about 10 blocks to the bus stop where David put me on the wrong bus and he headed another couple of miles on foot to West Marine. At some point I realized the bus was going in the wrong direction and embarrassingly spoke up. The nice Jamaican driver took care of me and saw to it that I got on to the right bus. The bus system is comical and confusing and apparently only passes any one place every 90 minutes (or 75 minutes, or 100 minutes.. Jamaican time?)
I also had a case of missing my family blues, but after talking to most of them either by phone or computer over the last few days, I'm good for now. XOXO
I am ecstatic to have my Mac back (well not mine, but a newer one). And after having used the PC we brought primarily to run the boating software for a few days, there is no doubt in my mind that once you go Mac....
Today truly was like a new day. The best day yet! The weather was beautiful and warm. Me & Turbodog walked several blocks to the Naples Farmers Market where I loaded up on all kinds of fresh, organic, locally grown and baked goodness... for CHEAP!! Got some blackened ahi tuna salad and fresh french bread loaves that we had for lunch.. fresh carrots, snow peas, tomatoes, celery, bell pepper and lots more. We got back to the boat and for the first time put on shorts!! David fits right in of course, but man am I pale!
Around 11:30 we bid adieu to Naples and headed just a short distance south to Marco Island. We found a great anchorage behind Cannon Island (check it out on the google earth map). Once anchored we dinghyed over to the small uninhabited island, walked barefoot, picked up some shells and Turbo was free to run without his leash. And the best by far.. coconuts on the beach! You know you're in the tropics when there's fruit in the trees. Back on the boat we enjoyed a nice meal with some of our fresh veggies and fresh pastries for dessert.
We're near the entrance of Calhoun Channel. Can't miss us.. we're the only boat here. Come by and have a drink!
01/24/2011, Sarasota, Venice, Cabbage Key
Our week long stay in Sarasota and Venice brought great unexpected fun considering we hadn't planned on stopping in Sarasota.
Our most gracious host Paul showed us every nook, snook & cranny from Sarasota to Venice. Paul is someone we know from one of our other loves.. Music.. and have go to know him at New Orleans Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and other music events and gatherings including Wanee Fest in Florida. He welcomed us into his home Tuesday where his wife Sue cooked up a great meal, we did laundry, laughed and drank into the wee hours. Wednesday started with a fresh Randazzo's King Cake delivered overnight by Michelle & Eric, on the way back to the boat we enjoyed the best Turducken Sandwiches ever in the car, made some groceries then back on the boat some Tequila was consumed while watching a beautiful full moon rise over Sarasota. Thursday the guys went out and brought me back a fresh grouper salad. Friday Poboys & Andygator at their local New Orleans Restaurant Voucarray, a couple dozen oysters and boiled shrimp at another local bar AND Saturday they brought us some real pizza on our final night on the boat in Venice. Honestly, we cannot express our thanks enough.
After 4 nights in Sarasota we headed a few hours south via the ICWW for Venice (our original destination). And who should we find waving us down from a dock right off the ICWW.. Yep..it was Paul.. We pulled over, picked him up and he joined us for the last hour and most scenic of this ride down to Venice We anchored off the Venice Yacht Club. This was not my favorite anchorage. It was a little shallow for our 6 ft draft and the full moon tides found us on the bottom in the early morning hours of our first night and we had to sleep healed over till the tide came up. It was foggy too.. and by our 3rd night with 20 kt winds expected we motored over to the Crows Nest Marina to tie up for the night where we were able to top off the water tanks, clean up the boat and ourselves, have some pizza with our friends and get a good nights sleep for the next leg of our journey.
By 9:30 am Sunday we were in the Gulf and on our way. We traveled around 6 hours, sailing most of the way, to the Boca Grand/ Cayo Costa Channel and back around to our anchorage behind Useppa Island and across from Cabbage Key. It was rumored that a guy named Buffet wrote a song about Cheeseburgers here (but have since found out it was just that.. a rumor). Useppa Island looks beautiful, but is actually considered a private club, only accessible by boat.
Today we went exploring Cabbage Key (also only accessible by boat) where they had a nice little hiking trail with no doggies allowed. HA! Turbodog loved it! and to our surprise we came accross a couple of coveted "bean" trees and anyone reading who knows Paul, knows the bean of which I speak. They were high up but after some work Dave was able to procure us a very fine sounding one and we dinghyed back to the boat. We plan to head back over later for some cheeseburgers.
Meanwhile as I'm sitting in the cockpit writing this blog a very friendly couple pulled up and introduced themselves (he was originally from Covington, Louisiana and now lives on Useppa Island). They gave us a card and invited us to tour Useppa Island. It is such a small world sometimes! We plan to leave for Fort Meyers Beach tomorrow as rain is expected. Even today, it's cloudy but warming with a low tonight of only 55!
We're at Channel Marker Flashing Red #60 on the ICWW. Come by and have a drink!
01/18/2011, Sarasota Bay
It's been a week since we left Port St. Joe, Fl, and traveled via the ICWW for a 5 hour trip to Apalachicola. Our 2 and 1/2 day stay in Apalachicola was plenty enough to see the small town, do some laundry and eat some of the biggest and best oysters ever. Due to the bitter cold, much of our time was spent hunkered down below with our heater going, cooking, reading, planning and movie watching. Timing and weather would be crucial for the next leg of the trip.
Friday morning around 8:30 we cranked up the motor and due to mechanical issues it took about an hour to get going. This happened leaving Port St. Joe too and since we haven't had any problems before or since, I believe the boat just does not want to leave in temperatures below 32 degrees..... like me.
Once underway we made it through St. George Island Government Cut with no problems and we were back in blue water. With NE winds @ 10-15 knots and 2-4 ft seas, we were able to sail all the way to the Tampa Bay entrance channel. We found our destination anchorage of Egmont Key to be inadequate protection from the strong NE winds so we traveled a little further south via the ICWW to Longboat Key where we anchored for the night.
After 33 hrs of traveling we were exhausted and I was a bit banged up. Even with the boat sailng as beautifully as she did, at 6-7 kts when healed 20 degrees, maneuvering around the boat is never easy. You do get used to it but by then muscles come into play that haven't been used in way too long.
The next morning (Sunday) we pulled up anchor and headed back into the Gulf for Venice. We were sailing close to shore, enjoying the warmth and view of South Florida when the phone rang. It was a friend who lives in the Osprey/Sarasota area who convinced us to come into Sarasota Bay. We hadn't planned on it as most of the guide books don't recommend entering thru the Gulf.
And so we did... and after just one brief run in with the ground we were back in the channel and soon anchored in Sarasota Bay. Our friend Paul and his wife Sue joined us on the boat for cocktails and sunset then showed us around downtown Sarasota. We had a great evening enjoying burgers, beer and good company.
Monday morning I was awakened by Dave calling for help. The winds had picked up to around 15 knots and we were dragging anchor. After about an hour ordeal which included be sweared at by a dude who has taken up permanent residence on his dilapadated boat in the bay (Picture the guy you see pushing their shopping carts/bicycles around with all of their worldly possessions) we were set again. There are a few of those type boats here in the bay with people on them going nowhere. After this I went down below and slept to 2:30! It was a dreary day and we got some much needed lazing around and picking up/organizing around the boat done. I also managed to cook a pot of Jambalaya.
Today we will get picked up around noon by our friend Paul for what I'm sure will be an adventerous day and we will later have dinner at his home and get to do some laundry. Laundry has become quite the pain, but hopefully as the weather gets warmer it will be less so.
Thursday or Friday we'll head toward Naples with a stop in Venice maybe.
We're in Sarasota Bay. We're the boat still flying the Saints Flag. Come by and have a drink.
01/09/2011, Panama City to Port St. Joe
Our sail from Panama City to Port St. Joe was almost ideal...... almost.
Wake up. have coffee. head out around 7. sail the majority of the way. following seas. tied up at 2:30. take turbo for walk at 2:35. drink firmly in hand 2:45 (well actually 3:45 as we had just crossed in to EST)
Leaving St. Andrews Bay wasn't quite as smooth as when we arrived.. not by a long shot. This leg brought me face to face with big, steep, 8 ft. seas for the first time. A little scary at first, but then kinda fun. This is what this boat was made for and she did well. The wind was behind us and David was loving it! The dolphin followed us out and hung around a while too. It turned out to be a nice ride. I say almost ideal because I got cold and I find once cold it's really hard to warm up.. no matter how many layers you add. So I ended up below for most of the trip.
Once at Port St. Joe Marina we immediately sought out a place to watch the Saint's Playoff Game. The Marina has it's own little bar/restaurant so we started out there. We ran into an ex co-worker of Dave (it is a such a small world sometimes!) who was going over to a place a block away, so we followed at half-time and met up with him and his wife. We were the only people at the bar.. in our black & gold/fleur de lis/saints wear/etc. but people slowly rolled in (not necessarily to watch football) and by the last quarter the bar was full and everyone in it was rooting for our Saints......We all know how that ended :(
There's a group here meeting for a semi-annual rendezvous, they're called "Loopers".. mostly retirees on big motor yachts who circumnavigate Eastern North America over the course of 18 months to 3 years. An interesting adventure on the right boat I'm sure, but after 3 weeks, I feel certain I do not want to travel in a boat any further north. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_loop
Today we did some provisioning. They have a lot of conveniences within walking
distance.. Piggly Wiggly, Dollar Store and Liquor Store. What else do you need really?
The next leg will be to Apalachicola via the ICW. It's about a 5 hour motor from here. We're shooting for a Tuesday departure. Then head to Clearwater by the end of the week. The plan to head straight past Tampa in one leg has been scratched.
David just went up to the cafe to watch a little football. Turbo is planted at my feet. We're at Port St. Joe Marina at the end of the "T" dock. Come by and have a drink!
01/05/2011, Biloxi to Panama City
It seems there were 2 questions that we got asked overwhelmingly more than any others when talking to people about our trip.. 1) What about pirates? aren't you afraid? and, 2) Where will Turbodog go to the bathroom?
Well the picture speaks for itself (taken leaving Biloxi).. We're not afraid of no pirates..... we just out run them!
We left Biloxi Monday morning and it was cold & cloudy.. 32 degrees cold but the winds were in our favor so we layered up and took off. We added more layers.. and then more. As the day progressed it did get warmer and was fairly comfortable as we sailed farther offshore and into the night. This would be only our 2nd overnight trip with just the two of us (the first when we first took the boat home from Florida last fall). After sunset David went below to try to catch a few hours sleep while I kept watch. Then he came up and took over till dawn. At dawn David went below for a few more hours sleep. I'm not sure either of us slept much at all.
The couple we bought the boat from told us they took 2 hour watch shifts around the clock so one was always free to read, cook, sleep, do maintenance, whatever. Hopefully soon we'll fall in to our routine.
Tuesday morning brought us warmer temperatures and by midday... sunshine, blue water & dolphin! We've seen our share of dolphin.. from the Rigolets to Florida.. but there's something about seeing them in blue water and having them coming right up and playing around for a while and riding the bow. If I ever get tired of this sight, this gigs up!
Now the question about Turbodog.. no puppy pads or artificial grass for us. The plan was always to try to train him to go far up on the front of the boat (where it can easily be rinsed off). For days we kept referring to it as "outside". "Go pee pee OUTSIDE Turbo". but he just wasn't buying it...
Finally, after all day of hearing us call out "Dolphin" every time we saw them and him looking over and not seeing anything, later in the day he finally saw several and started barking at them. Immediately after that he went straight up to bow and "marked" his boat.
It's a rainy, dreary day here in Panama City.. taking care of laundry and boat maintenance, planning the next leg of our journey to Tampa Bay or possibly farther to Venice. This will be the longest leg of the whole journey (about 48 hours).
We're at Panama City Marina, Dock 5. Come by and have a drink!
The picture was taken of our computer screen today and I couldn't help but laugh when I looked at it. We're using some fancy new software.. so fancy, in fact, that it knows exactly how we are feeling at any given moment.
I promised my son Jason this blog wouldn't be all sunshine and rainbows..that I would try to keep it real. I'm going to try hard to stick with that.
We left Oak Harbor at 0730 this morning in 36 degrees. The winds were light and it was sunny so not too bad of a start. We passed thru the Rigolets train bridge around 0900 with ease. (We have quite a few stories about trying to get through that bridge in the past.. and it is highly likely some of you reading this may even have been there with us on one of those occasions). It was emotional, exciting and a big reality check that we would not be going back through there for another 6 months. As the day progressed it became cloudy and bitter cold, winds picked up to around 20 knots and by the time we were passing Gulfport waves were increasing and spray was coming into the cockpit. We arrived in Biloxi and were tied up around 5:30. Overall not a bad day.. but not sunshine and rainbows either.
The forecast for the next 3 days are 20-25 knot SE winds. We're staying put. We're at the Biloxi Small Craft Marina right outside of the Hard Rock Casino. Probably gonna be here into the New Year.
A wise man named Swag recently said.. A Journey of a 1000 miles begins with one sail. And so it has...
We're in slip C-16. Come by and have a drink!