Florida, Brunswick and New Crew Member
17 January 2011 | Brunswick, GA
Warm but rainy
There was a live band at Brewburger's New Year's Eve but having just completed our passage we decided to stay on board and have a quiet New Year's Eve. Much like the kind we usually had at home. It was an evening of thinking about all that we had done in 2010, the wonderful friends and family we are lucky to have and what adventures may come as we move through 2011.
Our phone call on Monday to Bill and Judy Rohde was not only very informational about Brunswick but it was so great to talk to them. They have "gone before us" and have been and continue to be a real font of information to us. And so we cherish the old sailing friends as well as the new ones we are meeting.
On Tuesday, 1/4/11, we rented a car and headed out for Fort Myers and the Robinson's. It was amazing to see how quickly we came to the exits for places like Fernandina Beach, and St. Augustine when we are used to thinking of the trips to those places in hours and hours of ocean time. Going at 70 mph rather than the 6-7 knots we had been going for weeks was rather mind blowing. We had definitely slowed down our travel clock and had to crank it up for the land trip. The only glitch we had on the trip down was when we stopped at the Visitor's Center just after we crossed the Florida border. I couldn't figure out how to get the car started. I ended up calling Wolfgang at the local Enterprise and then felt like a dunce when he told me that it didn't have a key start (the key was for the trunk). I just had to insert the USB like end of the gadget and then turn it like a regular key. Well, did I feel stupid or what! Here we are with all of the techy stuff on the boat and I can't figure out any more how to start a new car!
We arrived in Fort Myers and into the welcoming arms of Gary and Judy Robinson. They have a lovely home between Fort Myers and Punta Gorda right on a golf course. The first thing we did the next day was head out to the county animal shelter to look for Spanker. I had told Judy that we could get her just before we left but Judy said, "Oh, no, we have to get her right away". There were only 2 female kitties but we ended up with a real winner. Spanker (named after an aft sail on an old square rigger) is a 5 month old black and white darling. She may very well be the smartest kitty we have had. Using kitty treats I had her responding to her name in 2 days and by the 3rd day she would come running to whomever called her. She likes people - went to everyone who was at the house while we were there. She takes quick note of strange sounds and happenings but doesn't run and cower. She quickly became Gary's "good buddy" and joined him early mornings on the lanai and loved Judy's lap. They are the designated god parents now; Judy said a couple of times that she wasn't sure Spanker should leave. We initially shut Spanker in the master bath (no shower curtain to tempt her) while we went to Bubba's in Cape Coral for a fabulous Wednesday rib special. It was great and there was enough left on our plates to take home and have sandwiches for a couple of days.
Thursday afternoon Diane and Jay flew in from Dallas and what a joy to see them after so long. We had only seen Diane once briefly in last 7 or 8 years and Jay no more than a couple of times. For those of you who were at the launch and christening of Eos, Jay flew up specially to be there and be our master of ceremony. Paul and Joanie (nice Canadian friends of Gary and Judy's) stopped over in the afternoon for cocktails and to meet us and to see Jay and Diane. Later Judy served their traditional Christmas prime rib and fresh pop-over dinner. She is one of the finest cooks I know. It was luscious and the six of us were happy to finally be able to celebrate Christmas together in Florida. It wasn't 2000 as planned but it was still wonderful.
By this time we had all decided that Spanker was such a good kitty that she needn't be locked up but could have the run of the house while we were gone. So Friday we made sure she had plenty of food and water and we all piled into the mini-van we had rented (a free upgrade courtesy of Wolfgang the Brunswick Enterprise manager who is originally from Hamburg) and were off to do some exploring. We went to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers and thoroughly enjoyed it. The walking tour concentrated mostly on Edison and his lab; Ford was a guest one winter and bought a house there later but didn't stay for long periods like Edison did. Edison was an amazing man as we all know but the things we learned have made us want to look more into his life and inventions. We finished up the day at The Mucky Duck at the end of Captiva Island for grouper. We were there early enough to enjoy some time on the beach before going in to eat. The tables by the windows looking out on the Gulf seat only 4 people but the six of us did get our own unique window seat as you will see in the photo gallery. The grouper was delicious, by the way.
The next day Diane and Dick Grabow, neighbors and friends from Lake George, MN, stopped on their way to their usual winter vacation spot. Jay and Diane had to fly out early that evening so our visit with them was, oh so short but bless their hearts for coming all of that way to see us and their folks for even that short time. Diane and Dick stayed the night so we had some time to enjoy their company before they continued on south on Sunday after breakfast. Gary and Judy and Bill and I then took a ride to check out the Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda. There isn't a bridge issue but we would definitely have to come in on a high tide. On the way we located the veterinarian where we had an appointment for Spanker's check up the next morning. We had a late lunch/early dinner at the Fisherman's Village right on the water there in Punta Gorda. The weather was the warmest it was the whole time we were in Florida and made the deck seating warm and relaxing.
We took off early Monday morning to get the free vet check for Spanker and then headed back to Brunswick. Spanker again was a trooper. She adjusted immediately to the car and was just fine when we would put her in her carrying case when we left the car. She rode most of the way stretched out between my head and the head rest looking out at the things passing by.
We then spent a couple of days doing boat things. The old winches have been removed and the screw holes are now filled in; the weather finally got warm enough yesterday for the epoxy filler to go off. We did a day car rental and did the West Marine, grocery, ATT (thought my phone was going but was just the charging unit), etc.
Friday evening my niece Tami from Newnan, GA (outside Atlanta) and her 6 year old son, Blane, arrived for a week-end visit. The last time we had seen them was Thanksgiving in New Mexico in 2008 at my brother Scott's. Blane has grown into a nice little guy and he and Spanker wore each other out. Tami is still the great gal she has always been. Saturday we went to Savannah since Tami had never been there and we had only done a quick drive through with my brother, Bruce, last year. We stopped at the visitor center and decided that we would take a trolley tour. So after a wonderful lunch at The Shrimp Factory on River Street we hopped aboard the trolley for an informative and fun 90 minute tour of Savannah. As we have done with all of the city tours we have taken, we learned so very much about the city and its history in that 90 minutes. Our tour guide was great and succeeded in keeping not only the adults interested the whole time but also the children who were aboard. Savannah is definitely one of those places we would like to go back and visit again.
Tami and Blane stayed on board Saturday night but then had to go home Sunday but not until after a leisurely walk along the docks here at the marina and then a trip to PetsMart so Blane could help us pick out a collar and harness and tags and a toy for Spanker and a trip to West Marine so Bill could pick up electrical connectors. They left early afternoon and we hated to see them leave but look forward to being able to connect with them again while we are over this way.
Today it is warmer but rainy so we are doing inside things. Bill is ready to install the new winches but doesn't want to do it in the rain. I definitely don't want him doing it if there is any chance it will rain since one of them is mounted directly over my side of the bed. The hole through the deck is 3 " and that would be a lot of water coming in while he was messing around up there on deck. Tomorrow looks good so that will be his job for tomorrow. The warmth will make it a great day for me to start going through cabinets and bins - to cull things we still don't need to have on board and to take care of any mold that is trying to grab hold.