17 May 2019 | MATANZAS HARBOR FORT MYERS BEACH
15 May 2019 | FACTORY BAY MARCO ISLAND
15 May 2019 | MARCO ISLAND FLORIDA
23 May 2017 | EL JOBEAN FLORIDA
22 May 2017 | GULF OF MEXICO
19 May 2017 | SHARK RIVER IN THE EVERGLADES
18 May 2017 | ISLAMORADA, FLORIDA KEYS
17 May 2017 | ISLAMORADA, FLORIDA KEYS
15 May 2017 | GUN CAY BAHAMAS
13 May 2017 | BIRD CAY, BERRY ISLANDS BAHAMAS
12 May 2017 | FRAZER'S HOG CAY BAHAMAS
11 May 2017 | NASSAU BAHAMAS
10 May 2017 | HIGHBOURNE CAY BAHAMAS
09 May 2017 | CAMBRIDGE CAY EXUMA BAHAMAS
08 May 2017 | GREAT GUANA CAY --THE CAVE AT OVEN ROCK
07 May 2017 | RUDDER CAY EXUMA BAHAMAS
FORT MYERS BEACH
17 May 2019 | MATANZAS HARBOR FORT MYERS BEACH
Kris Hinterberg | Warm and Breezy
Unlike busy urban Fort Myers with car dealers, gated communities, museums, airports and shopping malls, Fort Myers Beach, from the boaters view is a colorful funky old Florida Town. The view from my boat is a mix of modest and elegant homes. Let me explain how we got here. After a day off in Marco Island's Factory Bay we were again ready for a lovely Gulf of Mexico sailing day and we got our wish. Facing what might consider a regular work day 7-3:30 spent sailing, we didn't dawdle in the morning. The coffee pot perks on the gas stove and the tea kettle whistles to warm up some water. These sounds of morning on the water are mixed with the chirping of birds, splashing of Pelicans and the drivel of a tour guide taking an early pontoon cruise of eager tourists.
It was a lovely morning so without much delay we hoisted anchor and motored out of Capri pass at Marco Island into the Gulf of Mexico, past groves of giant condos interspersed with a few palm trees. New Florida! Old or new, the water however is the same. Warm and inviting.
We hoisted sails by 8:00 am, throttled back and lazily sailed northward towards Fort Myers Beach. Skipping Marathon this trip, we figured a mooring at FMB would fill the bill for that harbor experience.
No one wants to hear about lovely uneventful sails so I'll stop here. We had 7 hours of just that. Gentle easterly breezes and flat seas. About 2 pm, a bit of a sprinkle over Sanibel got our attention and shook us from our reverie. Being mindful of weather reports predicting isolated thunderstorms, we watched as the sky turned dark when we were only 3 miles from our destination. We dropped our sails one by one to avoid that last minute frantic scrambling about the deck when the wind picks up. It didn't. Just a gentle rain swabbed our decks. Hopefully it washed off most of the mud dauber nests that were evicted when we hoisted the mizzen earlier today. Several baby mud dauber wasps won't make it to puberty. Sorry.
Matanzas Harbor is a busy place. In addition to all the pleasure boats, the docks are lined with commercial fishing and shrimp boats. Working boats are always more interesting than pleasure boats. They are not shiny or fancy and unlike pleasure yachts, they need to earn their keep. Each tells a story of a family business and reflects the economy and prosperity of an area. In my next life I might work on a boat. We motored into the harbor, and meandering through the 70 moorings available found our assigned spot and hooked up.
Tonight we are securely moored in the harbor accompanied by a few dozen other pleasure boats and live aboards. No sailing tomorrow, just beaching and fun.
MARCO ISLAND ADVENTURE
15 May 2019 | FACTORY BAY MARCO ISLAND
Kris Hinterberg | SUMMERY NICE, NO BUGS!
We slept in this morning nearly sunrise. Unusual when we are getting ready for a long sail. After our long tiring day and misadventures we did not have the ambition to embark on an even longer sail today.
The wind is calm and we probably would need to motor most of the 70 miles to Shark River only to be greeted by voracious mosquitoes. A May surprise!! This trip can wait.
We heard from Charlie that Phyllis fell and broke her hip and will not be able to meet us in Marathon. The plan was for them to ride back with us after dropping their boat off for a summer lease to the Boy Scouts. This doesn’t change our plans, but we can alter our trip without inconveniencing anyone. That being said we made a plan to have no plan for today.
Last night we stayed outside of Marco Island at Umbrella Island up close to the mangroves. One of my projects preparing for this trip was to make new screens for our hatches In May the bugs can be bad, unlike early spring when we don’t notice them. It was a lovely bug-free morning and I was able to catch up on some reading while Jack endured one more auto pilot tech support call. The matter still unresolved we hoisted anchor and motored up the Marco River to Factory Bay. It is a popular anchorage surrounded by two marinas, a bunch of nice high rises and several restaurants. It wasn’t crowded at this time of year so we dropped a hook and continued to relax.
Snook Inn called to us. Jack treated me (or I him) to a nice late Mother’s day lunch. It is less crowded on a Wednesday afternoon, but still busy, an indication that the food and service are good. I had the fish tacos, and Jack had the fish and chips. Both were delicious and accompanied by one trip to the salad bar, completely filling. Now I have a light supper which I don’t have to plan. I’m getting lazier by the minute. After a days rest we will most likely head out tomorrow weather permitting.
My only frustrations have been trying to get my laptop to use my phone for a hot spot to post this blog. I finally succeeded. Instead of blue toothing between the two, I got out the little white cord and plugged it in. Old technology prevailed. If you are reading this it must have finally worked.
BREEZY GULF SAIL
15 May 2019 | MARCO ISLAND FLORIDA
Kris Hinterberg | Warm and breezy
Several dolphins accompanied us down the “miserable mile” as we sailed into the sunrise from the Southern tip of Pine Island to the Sanibel Bridge. It is actually about 3 miles of narrow channels surrounded by shoals, cross currents. On weekends lots of partying speed boaters pass you by and “wake” you. It was none of these this morning. We only met one boat the whole way, and I think the dolphins needed some entertainment. About five of them dove back and forth under the boat. A few times I held my breath thinking they would hit the prop, but I have to remember they are not manatees.
Our first disappointment was that after two more tech calls, our autopilot still displayed a black screen over the regular screen telling us to “calibrate”. The good news is that it was holding course. When we motored under the Sanibel Bridge, the Gulf of Mexico welcomed us with rolling swells. We punched in the numbers and relaxed a bit. We have a GPS to reveal our headings the autopilot was hiding.
The wind was not at a favorable angle or speed to sail, so motoring looked like the method of power for the next 25 miles to Marco Island or next destination. That doesn’t sound far, but I can pedal my bike faster than the 5-6 knots we can maintain under power.
Mid-morning the wind picked up and started to shift westerly in a more favorable direction so we could add sails and decrease diesel power a bit. With that shift came bigger seas, now more choppy than rolling. It takes a bit more power for the autopilot to function but it seemed to be doing the job until the boat took a wild windward swing and we realized it had quit altogether. Like any electronic device the first thing one does to repair it is to reboot. Amazingly when we started it up again, black screen was gone, our heading was visible, and it held course. Laugh that off tech support guys!! Lacking some trust we kept our eyes glued to the GPS and autopilot, but it got us to the Capri Pass at the Marco Island turnoff about 2:00pm.
To run our lights and fridge, we get most of our power from batteries charging off the engine, so Jack always keeps a regular check on the voltage readings. About noon he noticed the readings were not as they should be. A trip down below to the engine room revealed a broken wire on the alternator. Fortunately the batteries were charged well enough to keep fridges and autopilots running until we arrived at Marco. No frozen food disasters.
Ever the prepared pirate, Jack maintains a vast treasure chest of spare parts and was confident he hadn’t used up his last alternator. The hard part is changing it below decks at about 95 degrees on his hands and knees. Fortunately he was prepared and had all the tools necessary to make the repairs. He was able to run the air conditioner, which runs off generator power so he didn’t have to pass out from the heat. All fixed by sunset, we enjoyed a lovely meal of Boat chili, and fresh cornbread baked in my new oven, which runs on propane. When asked the question “are you having a good trip?” The answer is ….. “sort of”.
ONE PARTICULAR HARBOR
15 May 2019
We often stop and drop an anchor off the shores of St James City Florid, but rarely do we spend any time there. We decided to burn a day here today. The winds were not favorable for us to travel south on the Gulf and we are in no hurry. We decided this would be a day to catch up and slow down. Cruising involves a lot of patience, which is a nice way of saying you spend a lot of your time waiting for something to happen. Today we needed to do what is called "commissioning" our autopilot. Normally that involves driving around in circles, watching commands on the screen and pretty soon the screen tells us we are done and can be on our way. Today this didn't happen. Frustrating!!
The waters off St James City are not busy at all, so driving a 37 foot sailboat in circles, though seemingly bizarre behavior bothered no one. The directions on the screen suggest a turn of about 390 degrees or just a little more than once around. After 3 circles the screen still read "calibrating....." we figured something wasn't right. We stopped, rebooted and tried again. Again the screen just said calibrating ........ for another 3 revolutions. The definition of insanity is ... well you know. But that doesn't always apply to bad connections. Frustrated Jack called tech support and got a message that our call was important to them, but not important enough to actually answer the phone so wait forever on hold or leave a number. We left a number. This went on for most of the day and after two long tech calls nothing was changed. While waiting for the tech support call-back, we dropped the dinghy and motored up one of the canals to a tacky bar called Ragged Ass Saloon. My mom would not approve. It was nothing amazing, so we spent 20 bucks on two beers and headed back out. Waterfront bars think they can get away with that and so far they have.
Tomorrow we set out into the gulf, hoping the autopilot will at least function. Who cares if we are breaking the rules and using a non-commissioned instrument. We'll fly the Jolly Roger and hope for the best.
MOTHERS DAY AT PELICAN BAY AND BEYOND
12 May 2019 | CAYO COSTA
Kris Hinterberg | Hot and breezy
Anyone I know who has a boat has been here, either for an afternoon sandbar gathering, a group anchorage, or just a stop on the way to someplace more exotic. What makes this trip different? We’re here and now. We love this familiar anchorage as a stopping off point to our next port of call. The water is calm, the folks are friendly and there are many side trips on which one can embark. We saved the embarking for the others and decided to spend the rest of the day relaxing on the boat. Jack has a leaky window to fix and I have a quilt which needs the binding sewn. These mundane projects could be finished anywhere but bobbing at anchor, watching the pelicans swoop and the dolphins poof as they catch a breath near the boat is enticing and relaxing.
We plan to head out tomorrow morning for our next port but for tonight we will pace ourselves and plan the next few days journey. Approaching 70 we don’t make decisions lightly and we don’t move quickly.
MOTHERS DAY ON THE INTERCOASTAL
The best part of cruising, either a long or a short journey is the morning, especially if you are not in a hurry. Sunday morning it was cool and a gentle breeze rocked the boat to awaken us just about sunrise. While we were finishing our coffee and breakfast, the gentle breeze became a bit less gentle and we calculated the breeze would be brisk, and right on the nose for our trip down the intracoastal to our next port. Since it looked like a better beach day than sailing day, we decided to take a look at the Gulf of Mexico. Armed with a cooler, beach chairs and umbrellas, we ventured over to the beach and wasted the better part of the day soaking up sun and watching the waves crash onto the shore. The water temperature had to be nearly 80 degrees, perfect for bobbing in the surf. I may have under sun-screened and over bobbed, but it was a lovely beach day. Mid-afternoon we re-boarded Caprice and headed out onto the intracoastal southwards toward St. James City. Everybody and their mother was in a power boat with at least 3 outboards cruising down that stretch of waterway. In spite of their best efforts to “wake” us, the wind switched just enough to the southwest and we had a pretty good sail. About the time we dropped an anchor in the harbor just outside St. James City, all three of my awesome kids made their obligatory Mother’s day call. I enjoyed sharing our lovely evening with them. Tonight we are enjoying a lovely breeze, a gently rocking boat, and a lack of bugs. Life is good.
OFF TO A WET START
10 May 2019
A trip of a few weeks can take months of preparation. Caprice has not left the dock since Christmas so she needed a substantial makeover. Preparing for our first trip of more than a few days in nearly two years, Jack has been working diligently to make sure all systems are functional. Any component will fail and usually does at the most inopportune time. We try to prepare for those in-opportunities. Jack is pretty good at anticipating the worst. If something can and will break, he has a spare. A proactive approach is the best way to prevent disaster or major inconvenience.
In addition to food, clothing fuel, rum and reading material, we need batteries, switches, pumps, circuits, gas, diesel and water lines to function properly. Three motors, two outboard and one diesel need to be lubricated tuned and tested to be sure they are reliable. All that said, we’ve done this before, so we both have numerous lists and procedures. All these activities culminated with an anticipated departure of Friday 5:00 pm, giving us time to cruise out into the river well before sunset. If you were paying attention Friday, that was about the time the lightning crackled and the skies opened bringing welcome rain and a brief departure delay. We were prepared for that as well. Charlie and Phyllis, Skip and Kim popped in to grease the ways and give us a liquid sendoff.
A lull in the rain set us scurrying to shut down, lock up, and throw a few last minute essentials onto the boat. We left the dock amidst gathering gloom, distant lightning flashes and light drizzle. If this sounds ominous, it was. We had barely dropped anchor not a mile off shore and once again the heavens opened. Now that it was nearing dark, the horizon was obscured as we ducked into cabin out of the rain.
Rain “schmain”. I couldn’t feel safer anywhere than securely anchored, mired in the Myakka Mud in the mighty Caprice. Holding is not a problem and the rain cooled the stifling afternoon air. We relaxed in our cozy cabin finishing off a bottle of wine and congratulating ourselves for finally breaking loose from the dock when I felt a drop. The driving rain, though not a danger to ourselves or our posterity was leaking steadily through a tightly closed porthole right above the V-berth where I normally sleep. After some sopping, mopping and possibly some undignified language we managed to plug the leak. Jack ever the gentleman volunteered to sleep on the wet side and we called it a night.
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