27 May 2017 | Chihuly Glass- St Petersburg, FL, Exhibition
Although the Naples cruise injected more adversity into our lives than our previous trips, the experience was still quite rewarding. The good parts far outweighed the bad, and we learned a great deal about how to prevent recurrence of the undesirable events we encountered.
It does not matter much where we decide to go as we seem to find unique activities to persue in places we have visited before so perhaps our schedule should be less destination oriented and more flexible to acommodate uncomfortable conditions. We were gone for six weeks and only managed to truly sail about three hours. We should be able to improve on this while still enjoying the change of scenery, good fellowship, and other benefits coastal crusing has to offer.
Sometimes I felt that we were on an accursed voyage. We had more weather and mechanical delays on our planned five-week trip than we had on our three-month trip to the Bahamas nine years ago. That being said, I had a grand time.
Seahawk is wonderful in most ways. She is much roomier than Last Dance in several respects. The sleeping arrangements are more comfortable for everyone, and that is so very important. We are much older than we were when we went to the Bahamas and we need our creature comforts. The refrigerator and air conditioning are also very nice for a trip like this. As seems to be usual for us, we had bad weather on both crossings of the Gulf. If it were not for motion sickness medicine, I could not do this.
With the exception of a very few days, the weather was sunny and beautiful. Although we were not exploring the Bahamas, we did go to old favorites and to some new places. We enjoyed them all. The four of us have sailed together many times and still enjoy each other's company. Considering how close everyone is on a small boat, that is no small feat. As usual for us, Sara and I passed the time when underway playing cards when not involved in boat chores. Our only complaint is that we need more games. Once again, I did not see any place where I would rather live. If you are lucky enough to live on the shores of Perdido Bay, you are lucky enough.
I'm hopeful the old adage is true that the brain helps you forget miserable experiences (like childbirth) so you will be willing to do them again. So far it's not working for the initial 39-hour trip across the gulf from Apalachicola to Clearwater. Mal de mer does that to you. While I did recover and totally enjoyed the rest of the cruise, my brain is still in the heels-dug-in, leave-me-home or I'll-meet-you-there kinda mode for any future plans.
Favorite activities: The Art Walk in Bradenton and the long trolley ride there that Roger and I took up to Holmes Beach at sunset.
Most charming city: Naples. The houses and landscaping are tropical wonderlands. The shops and restaurants are delightful, too.
Most surprising city: Fort Myers. The Edison and Ford estates are a lovely step back in time. The stories told by the young guide painted a magical picture of Edison's life and research there. Downtown is vibrant. I loved the wonderful Art Deco buildings.
Most unique marina: Uncle Henry's on Gasparilla Island. A resident dolphin popped up right beside me as I relaxed in the outside hammock on the boat. Seemed to take a look at me and then dove underneath the boat.
Best food: Stone crab claws at the Beach House restaurant on Anna Maria Island. Ice Cream cones across the street from the restaurant. Wine spritzers Roger made for me.
Of course, I have to mention that the long hours getting from Point A to Point B were made bearable by the marathon card games of "13" Jean and I played. Wish we had kept track of the total number.
Familiar places- Panama City, Apalachicola, Clearwater Beach, Bradenton Beach and Naples- and new places- Ft Myers (Legacy Harbor and Ft Myers Yacht Basin), Placida (Gasparilla Marina), Gasparilla Island (Uncle Henry's Marina), and Holmes Beach (Galati Marina)- combined to provide both familiar and new sights and experiences. Unfortunately, our stay at 'Tween Waters had to be scrubbed due to mechanical issues but that created the circumstances to visit new venues. On balance, our land-based and water-based adventures were interesting and informative. The tours of the Edison and Ford Estates in Ft Myers and the Palm Cottage in Naples were highlights as was the performance of Jesus Christ Superstar in Ft Myers.
I think we learned to pay closer attention to the Gulf weather and seas forecast in advance of a crossing. However, even doing so and acting accordingly does not ensure a comfortable crossing. I managed to survive the "military style" 4 hours watches- sometimes a challenge during your watch but provide a nice down time period.
We still have some mooring practices challenges to overcome but I think we understand what needs to be done but our timing and coordination need to be improved. The configuration of the cockpit and blind spots contribute to these challenges.
Overall, I believe we handled the mechanical problems (fuel and overheating) satisfactorily. We had properly acquired and carried spare parts. However, in one case, overlooked a new part we actually had on board and, given no choice, installed a questionable used part. This incident cost us a little extra time but introduced us to a new and interesting venue.
As with our Bahamas cruise, this cruise tested the boat and the crew to varying degrees with both coming through in pretty good shape. Managing to live...and play...on board a comparatively small sailboat for over a month with another couple and walk away from the cruise with the friendship and partnership in tact is no small feat. Let's starting planning the next cruise!