We enjoyed traversing the Okeechobee this time at a leisurely pace, no hurricane breathing down our neck. There was little problem with big wakes this time either, as we encountered few boats. A very nice week was spent at the west end of the Waterway at The W.P. Franklin Lock meeting several other folks on both sailing vessels and trawlers.
Fort Meyers is a lovely town and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We met several other trawlers and spent Thanksgiving with dear friends from our sailing days. DeeO'gee loved all the walks through town and checking out the metal artwork.
As soon as we reached the bridge by Ft Meyers Beach the dolphins appeared and have escorted us on and off the remainder of the trip. No matter how often we see them they still brighten our day!
!!! insert pictures here from lost phone !!! ;)
The day we were heading to the Everglades we checked weather and made a quick chance of plans. After getting the dog to shore for a walk we hoisted the dingy and set off for Key West. This time of year wind can pick up and hang around for days, they call them the Christmas Winds. We arrived after dark so we just stopped at a fuel dock so I could walk the dog then searched for a mooring ball using our flood light. We had been here before in our sailboat so we were familiar with the harbor.
Key West was a special treat this time. We were there a month but spent one week at a dock when Char visited. Only a short walk to Duval St and an even shorter walk to the best happy hours that we turned into dinner. Our location at the dock afforded us a great view of the lighted boat parade.
Key West has two dog parks with one only blocks from our dock. This is the most dog friendly town we have been to so far. Again we made friends and exchanged 'Boat Cards'. This is why we bought another boat so quickly after selling Sailacious, cruisers are so friendly! I had missed the camaraderie so much. Both Christmas Eve and Day were spent at happy hours with new boating friends.
Bahia Honda started out as a short stop but turned into three nights when wind picked up to the 30 knot range and we found our anchor dragging. This is a lovely state park with dockage in a protected basin. We spent the other two nights at the dock and enjoyed New Years Eve with another boating couple we met there and DeeO'gee met his first manatee.
Boot Key Harbor in Marathon has a large live aboard community. We checked into the daily VHF radio 'Net' and discovered old friends that left and returned as well those that just stayed put. There were pot lucks, dingy drifts and a production at the community theater. There is even a garden with herbs and vegetables for all to enjoy. The anchorage/mooring field was walking distance to Home Depot and Publix so we reprovisioned before moving north. Oh yes, we meet several loopers, many more boat cards exchanged.
The reason for a shakedown is to make sure all systems are working correctly. In Ft Meyers we had to have the new inverter and refrigerator both swapped out as the newly installed ones were not behaving. In Key West a new battery charger was installed. In Marathon a new alternator and wash down pump were ordered and put into service. Steve is problem solving a battery charging issue, is been cloudy so the solar panels need help and we need to run the engine a bit each day. Something about the alternator...blue stuff. We do need to replace the house bank batteries but want to wait until next fall when we return to the boat to start the Loop.
Poor Steve, as captain and chief operating engineer, most of the work on the boat falls into the blue stuff category. Route planning, brightwork, cooking, cleaning, provisioning falls in the pink category. Don't forget social activity planning, that is definitely pink work!