Ready to go!
15 December 2011 | Cattle Dock Lock, El Jobbean, Myakka River
EVS: Celar and still
December 15, 2011
Finally, we are under way! This year was one for several upgrades to Gratitude: new, beefier batteries; solar panels to be less dependent on the diesel generator (not to mention “greener”); a second compressor for the refrigerator, dedicating the one installed last year to the freezer; and a new inverter/charger to replace the old one that went kaput last year and with more charging capacity when connected to shore current or on the generator. All that took time, not helped by the fact that the wiring diagrams were wrong! Just before departing, Lauren suggested we re-mark the anchor chain so we can tell better how much rode is out when we anchor. Good idea, especially because it revealed (in the yard, where we could deal with it) that the deck buttons to control the windlass were shot. As the days crept by, our frustration and concerns rose – and our Christmas spirits dropped. It just does not feel like Christmas when one is dusty, dirty, and in a bilge!
But, today was a new day – we started Gratitude’s big diesel and swung away from the dock to head out the canal system toward to lock and the outside world. The gang saw us off banging on the gong in the Hut. As we pulled away, we realized the depth meter was not registering. One more thing; and we felt as if we were flying blind. However, we stayed on the courses we have followed in the past and, after motoring about 2 hours (in fresh/brackish water, so it really helps clean out the systems when we return), we reached the lock and dropped the hook to catch the high tide tomorrow morning at 6:36. (The problem with the meter evidently was corrosion on the connections – we wish all our issues were so easily resolved.)
Because of all the work on board, EVERYTHING was not where it was supposed to be. We pecked away at putting things away, but we have more to do. We had a nice dinner (Brazilian black beans, rice, farofa, and squash) and a chance to catch our breaths. After dinner, while pumping up the fenders for the passage through the lock, Van noticed some movement in the water, so we shined the light and saw – alligators looking back. Actually, probably only one and pretty small, but (a) the first we have seen in the canals (despite being told they are here) and (b) kind of makes us not want to go for a swim (not that we really were planning to do so).
Tomorrow, we will head out on the tide and make our way to Cayo Costa, a state park on a barrier island just south of Boca Grande. There, we will finish organizing and get ready to go out into the Gulf and head south to the Keys. As in the past, we will try to update this blog periodically, but it undoubtedly will not be a daily occurrence. We hope all who read this are informed, entertained, and well.
Van and Lauren