02/02/2013, Naples City Dock, Naples Florida
Our trip down from Fort Myers on Thursday was a big success. Enough wind to sail with the engine off for a while. Divine peace. The engine performed beautifully, not a hitch. Maybe we fixed it!!
Spent yesterday lazing around the boat catching up on reading and crocheting. In the afternoon we got out the bikes and rode around downtown, took a walk on the beach. Sunny and beautiful, too many people though, not enough birds. People watching is fun though. Saw some sights, including a man in his 70's in a neon green thong bikini. Could have done without that. A couple of large young Muslim women in complete head to toe robes and scarves etc. frolicking in the ocean, closely, that is 2-3 feet away attended by their large father in a tiny bikini bottom.
I have managed to complete 6 baby hats and 4 pairs of booties which I mailed off to my daughter. Half hour line up at the post office. Friendly though, like the large majority of Americans.
Renting a car today, shopping on the agenda and dinner out with friends.
01/30/2013, Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers, FL
Tom got in two golf games while we were here, one yesterday in Naples with Don, while Jan and I visited the Naples Botannical Gardens. They are having a ZimSculpt exhibition. Scattered throught the gardens, which are gorgeous on their own, are hundreds of sculptures from Zimbabwe. Amazing work, and the sculptures are perfectly placed to complement the gardens. Well worth the walk through. Pics at www.picasaweb.google.com/bcaldoc
Three full days were spent replacing the fuel delivery system on the boat. We have new lines, a new fuel selector valve, and a new Raycor housing. Multiple trips back and forth to Napa and West Marine. (Strip mall land, the downside of the conveniences of Florida). Several hitches along the way, who knew three way valves come in multiple configurations? But we are hopeful that we have solved the problem. Time will tell.
Had a great meal here at Joe's Crab Shack. A chain, we only went because they had a location right on the marina. Lots of fresh perfectly cooked crab and lobster. Excellent key lime pie. Rough and ready atmosphere and décor, bins for your shells, bibs for your mess. Good wine as always in Florida. Dinner out with friends yesterday at The Bonefish Grill in Naples. Again, good wine and excellent food. Considerably more upscale.
Missing the Bahamas, the clear beautiful turquoise water. The wonderful white sand beaches. The deserted islands and abundant marine wildlife.
01/25/2013, Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers, FL
We reached Fort Myers Wednesday, after spending one night anchored in the Caloosahatchee river at a spot determined by engine failure. Worked out fine though, we were able to get the dogs to shore and stumbled on an off season kids camp. Plenty of room for the dogs to run free. Very nice. Pleasant to anchor for a change, so quiet and peaceful. Lots of pics on the river. Birds galore, no alligators though. Not this year. Too cool and water too high we think.
The next day we limped along, same engine problem, seems better at slower speeds. We arrived in Fort Myers early afternoon and have settled in Legacy Harbour marina. A beautiful marina, well run, nice facilities, nice people. We were able to enlist the help of Rob Brylinski, a marine diesel mechanic who was on site fixing another boat. He was kind enough to come over and listen to our tale of woe. He thinks we have a fuel restriction problem, and gave us several ideas for fixing it.
Very shortly after we arrived a couple appeared at our door, Canadian sailors from Sudbury on a Gem! Brenda and John on "Some Dream". They have a 97 Gemini 105M in absolutely perfect condition. What a lovely boat. Inspired me to clean up the mess and scrub our boat today while Tom golfs. Last night we attended a boater's potluck at the Tiki bar and met more people, including more Canadians. As a matter of fact, Tom ran into someone from his home golf club, Devil's Pulpit and they have gone off golfing today.
We have decided to stay a week. We rented a car yesterday and ran errands, picking up various bits and pieces for the fuel system. That will be today's job I guess. Poor Tom, he has become a diesel mechanic and general fix-it guy despite his best, life long efforts to avoid fixing anything. Not really much choice on a boat.
We will probably give Naples a miss. Tom can drive down to visit his friend Don and get a few golf games in. I will likely come along and get in a shopping day.
Pictures at www.picasaweb.google.com/bcaldoc
01/21/2013, Roland Martin's marina
So we spent an extra day in Stuart, beyond our planned departure, due to inclement weather. Rained all day on and off. A quiet day spent reading, and crocheting. I have 6 baby hats done and one pair of booties, for Jenn and her best friend Melissa, who just had a baby girl. I will post pictures at www.picasaweb.google.com/bcaldoc.
Sunday morning we headed off down the Okeechobee waterway. Nice weather, sunny and warm, close to 30 degrees C. Pleasant trip, through a few bridges and one lock. Lots of birds to watch. More engine troubles. We were fine for the first 6 hours, then it started cutting out again. Worse this time. It seems to run better at lower rpms, so we putted into the marina at Pahokee around 4:30. This marina used to be a Loggerhead, but apparently that went broke and it was closed for one year. Just reopened Jan 15, now called Lake Okeechobee resort. No one answered my hail so we just tied up at a convenient dock. A man on the dock came up to speak to us. He lives there on a houseboat. It turns out he will be running the marina soon. Nice friendly guy, name of Mark Bramblett. Previously a small engine mechanic, who in the past year, qualified as a marine diesel mechanic and boat captain! Can you believe our luck! So he pulls out his tools and offers to fix our engine trouble, before he departs as he was just about to do, for Tampa. No other mechanics in town.
Sammy promptly hops off the boat and pees on his tool caddy. I could not believe he did that. I have never seen him do something like that. And we need this guy! No problem says Mark, dog pee doesn't bother me, but I cleaned his caddy and tools for him before taking the dogs for a walk. Half an hour later, our new lift pump is installed and hopefully that solves the problem. Then he tells us he charges as much as we think it was worth! How about priceless?
The marina charged us $25 plus $4.50 for power. Never have we stayed anywhere cheaper. Nice floating docks too, huge restaurant and facilities, mostly closed still. The power stations have strange plugs, not compatible with ours, but someone had left a cord attached and we were able to plug into that and get power. Free city water. When they get this up and running it should be a great place. We certainly can recommend the marina manager.
Onward around Lake Okeechobee tomorrow, trying the rim route this year. Tom plans to fish along the way. Great bass fishing area and that is his speciality.
Well, the engine problem is not fixed, no improvement, seems worse. Goes fine for a few hours then starts cutting out. Better after sitting for awhile. We limped into Clewiston and are tied up at Roland Martin's marina. Expensive but good internet and the restaurant is supposed to be good. We are going out tonight, we deserve a treat, the day was difficult. Tom did manage a bit of fishing and brought home a small bass, but we were almost completely focused on trying various things to fix the engine problem. Had to anchor more than once when we had no engine power. Lots of birds on the waterway, I did get a few pics.
It seems every year we have to go through some horrible problem with the boat before we get to relax and enjoy our vacation. Wish we could skip that part. Still, we are seeing things and places we could not see except on a boat. Tom says owning and running a small plane was the same, always some crisis. Same benefit, unforgettable experiences, worse possible outcomes. Like the problem he had with the landing gear on one of his planes. It refused to come down on two occasions, necessitating a one wheel, one wing landing on ice one time, on grass the second time. Death was a distinct possibility. At least we are not in danger of dying!
01/18/2013, now in Mariner's Cay Marina, Stuart Fl
So we did leave in the morning and motored down to Cocoa without event. Nice little marina, the best showers I have ever seen. Cheap clean laundry facilities, nice people. Top of our list. We spent the day doing boat stuff. I managed to visit historic Cocoa Village, small but packed with great shopping withing walking distance of the marina. Tom was able to get everything he needed and change the fuel filter. Laundry was done.
For dinner we went out, our 19th wedding anniversary today. I happened on a Brazilian churroscaria while shopping today (see pic of new purse at www.picasaweb.google.com/bcaldoc), so we went there. Brazilian food is always our favorite. This place was called Brasas and the food was divine. We both ate a ton, more than we wanted, you just can't refuse. We always wonder how they get such tasty meat. Neat little dinner rolls, tiny puffs of cheese flavored yucca flour, no gluten, Jim would like them. Tasty! I looked up the recipe as soon as we got back. Looks easy, called po-de-queijo. Next year we will return to this restaurant and marina for sure.
We continued on from Cocoa down the ICW, motoring all the way, into the wind. Encountered our first bit of bad weather with a minor rain storm on the second day. Cool last night and this morning, down to 13C. Sun is back today though.
Engine troubles on the way, especially yesterday, it kept cutting out. Reminiscent of our first year, when we had bad fuel and had to dump both tanks. I hope we don't have to do that again! We tightened and tightened the fuel filter, with our new strap wrench we picked up in Cocoa. Seemed to help. Today we replaced the filter again, even though it was new. Tom tightened all the spots where air might get in to the engine and now we will see. We are heading down the Okeechobee next, should be some mechanic type help at Indian Town if we are still in trouble. Wish we had Orlando, the super mechanic in Bimini who saved our sailing life 4 years ago, from an early demise.
Stopped in at Sebastian River Marina, better than the Sebastian Inlet marina, both have nice people, but this one is slightly more protected. Still not great. Deserted place too, not a soul there after hours. No transients but ourselves, no live aboards. The only place to walk the dogs was beside US1, a busy highway, or into the trailer park across the highway. We had planned to skip Sebastian, but Vero beach had no spots.
Today we explored Stuart by rental car. Got a fair bit of shopping done, both grocery and West Marine. Loaded up on big items like wine and dog food. Picked up the 50 to 30amp converter cord. Much better by car, than by bike. Stuart has a lovely little historic downtown and we stopped into a sidewalk café called Osceola Street Cafe, for the best lunch I have had in a long time. Absolutely delicious chicken pannini, shrimp salad for Tom. Our waitress had an interesting story, she is an aspiring golf pro who is leaving in a few months for Europe to try her luck qualifying for their tour. Best of luck Marie.
I am really taken with our marina, called Mariner's Cay in Stuart. It is situated in a gated community which is very pretty and well looked after. Visited a bead shop on the way home from lunch, and a yarn store next to West Marine. That plus cheap restaurants with great food, and lots of parks and conservation areas, and surrounded by water. What's not to like? I could stay here. It will definitely be on our list, for when we decide to stop sailing.
01/13/2013, NewSmyrna Beach City Marina
Our trip here, with an overnight stop in Daytona Beach was delightful. Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather. One hiccup, we reached a lift bridge not too far before Daytona Beach, which was open but blocked by barges with cranes busy doing something. The bridge tender told us they were supposed to move every 2 hours. So we waited, in gradually increasing company, for the barges to move. While waiting we turned off the engine and anchored. Eventually, 40 min late, the barges started to move out of the way. So we started the engine and lifted anchor. The engine died, we restarted, it died, restarted and died, and now the high temperature alarm was going off. I dropped the anchor again and Tom opened the engine compartment to find that the fan belt was gone, snapped through. So then, knowing that if we missed this opening, we were not going anywhere overnight, just anchoring right there, Tom replaced the fan belt in 5 minutes or less. Impressive, I thought, but he is still insisting he can't fix things.
Yesterday we motored into New Smyrna beach around noon, had lunch and called Roz and Jim. Roz is down here helping out in the pottery shop and continuing to learn potting skills and Jim is visiting. They came over and Tom and Jim worked on boat things for the afternoon. Dinner out at The Garlic. A little loud, we could not speak to Roz and Jim's friends who joined us, Lynn and Ralph. Jim's meal was so bad he did not eat it! Very upsetting, Tom and I both enjoyed our seafood linguine.
Today, Tom got in a golf game at the New Smyrna golf club. He enjoyed the game and played well, meeting some interesting people along the way. I spent the morning cleaning the boat and reading. Have finished my fourth book. So far, I have read Ian Rankin's "Standing in Another Man's Grave", Anita Shreve's "A Wedding in December", Daniel Silva "Kill Artist" and John Grisham's "The Racketeer". Not exactly great literature, but I am really enjoying just diving into a book and not coming out until I have finished it. Every one of these is a diverting story, well written.
This afternoon we visited the barrier island. Mile after mile of snowbird condo city followed by a nature conservation area. The worst and the best of Florida, side by side. Finally got some exercise, felt good to ride the bikes. Visited the beach, quite a different ocean from the Bahamian waters.
Tonight, dinner with Roz and Jim, Lynn and Ralph. Interesting conversation, great food, followed by kiln moving, a project which was not anywhere near as complex as it might seem. Lynn had us all organized and the shelves in the way were moved, and the kiln was in her car in a few short minutes. We are possibly leaving tomorrow. We'll decide in the morning.