Monday, January 29, 2007

Picture problems

I had said earlier that you can click on a photo and it will open full size in a new window. Well, apparently there is a problem with Blogger where this is not working. I don't know what the problem is as I have not changed anything but if I can find a solution I will let you know.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ft. Myers Beach - Again

We had no trouble getting on a mooring as Bill had gone ahead of us and tied up and then launched his dinghy to come over and assist us. The mooring balls here have no pennant (line attached to float) so you must be able to get to the water line to run your line through the loop on the mooring ball. Since we have a raised aft deck there is no easy way to get to the water line while holding the boat in position. Ft. Myers Beach is working to rectify this problem in the future with upgrades to the mooring balls. We are moored close to a small (little known about) canal that ends behind a grocery store and beach access. We must land the dinghy in the mud and tie to the mangroves but this is much more convenient than going to the dinghy dock and taking the trolley.

Bill and I left for another adventure and tried to go to the civic center for a RV show but apparently the Ft. Myers bus system doesn't go to their civic center (go figure). Instead, we got off and visited the Thomas Edison home and laboratory in town. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone joined together to find a way to produce latex for rubber (tires) from plants that can grow in the US. Since Ft. Myers was the location of their winter homes, they set up a lab here and developed varieties of Goldenrod that grow to 12 ft. and produce a high percentage of latex. I was unaware that Edison did botanical research along with his other endeavors. And all with only three years of formal education. The lab is exactly as it was left in the early 1930's and tours are given of the home, lab and grounds. The one piece of trivia I picked up from the guide (not independently verified) is that the original filament for his light bulb was bamboo.

We saw another boat that we had seen anchored in Sarasota and Stacy went to make acquaintence. It is a couple from Vancouver, WA and they are traveling the Loop as well. They had their boat trucked from Washington to Iowa and started down the river system and Gulf of Mexico. They will be heading up the east coast later in the spring so maybe we will meet up with them again.

Last night we went to the sports pub for their Karaoke night where Bill sang an old Al Jolsen number and Bill, Stacy and Chris sang "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Peter, Paul & Mary. It was as interesting a place as it was the last time we were here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sarasota, Venice, Ft. Myers Beach

After a few days in Sarasota, we left yesterday 1/22 to head back south. We stopped a few hours out at a free dock in Venice Florida. This dock is only available for 18 hours so after walking the town and having dinner at a nice restaurant last night we left this morning to head on down toward Ft. Myers Beach. We had tentatively decided to anchor out at Useppa Island again. Rain was forecasted for this evening and tomorrow so when we got to Useppa, we decided to go on to Ft. Myers Beach and pick up a mooring where we had been before. The weather cleared slightly and we came in to the mooring field with no problems. The weather is still forecasted to be rain tomorrow and tomorrow night and then it is to be "cold" by Friday morning (in the 40's). We will be here for a few days and then make our way back across the Okeechobee Waterway.

Stacy issues the following dispatch:
Well, I have no pictures ("No pictures Aunt Stacy??") so I will use words. Bill was leading coming around a large curve when he suddenly stopped. Moments later it was whoa SEASEA. Let's get the picture - skinny, skinny water (skinny meaning shallow). Turquoise clear water, narrow ICW channel with inlet to the Gulf of Mexico off to the side. Dead ahead we see a barge. It's coming our way;'s going South with us;'s coming our way. Paul has two handheld radios, one talking with Bill and the other trying to raise the barge. I am turning around trying not to run aground. Did I mention the 20 knot winds? Paul is saying "Stay calm Stacy!". "Take a deep breath Stacy!" "Do you want me to take it Stacy?" With no response from the barge on the normal channel 13 I grabbed the primary radio on channel 16 and said "barge headed north, where do you want me?" Response from barge was to pass on his starboard side. He had had a "little problem". He had run aground and was maneuvering back to deep water and then proceeding north directly toward us (did I mention we are in a narrow channel?). Bill turned in behind me and we scooted past the barge. One week ago when we were headed north we were in that same area at a bridge and another of my fears was realized-- A very strong current was running out the inlet and pushing on our stern into the bridge or the other boats waiting for the bridge to open. I had noticed the current and backed off (Paul thought too soon) but then we watched Bill do some loop-de-loops trying to stay off the bridge. Boy was I glad I had stopped well before the bridge and was able to hold without turning around or being pushed to the bridge. Everything here is narrow and skinny. But as John said on the dock at Lamb's in Jacksonville, "You'll do just fine". John, I did just fine.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Boca Grande to Sarasota

Stacy's brother Alan met us in Boca Grande as he was traveling to south Florida on business and we had dinner at the Pink Elephant restaurant.

We left Boca Grande and arrived in Sarasota on Monday. Alan was staying in Sarasota for a few days so we met up with him again after we arrived here.
While we were visiting with Alan, Bill & Ellen figured out the local bus system and introduced themselves to another couple on their boat who are also traveling on the loop. We all got together on our boat for snacks and talked about our collective travels.
Later yesterday I decided to dive under our boat to check our zincs and just have a look around since the water here is the clearest we have seen. I replaced the zincs on each shaft and noticed that the lock nut on one of the props was loose so I went back down with a pipe wrench and a block of wood to tighten the prop nuts. I guess it was a good thing I dove down to check the zincs as a loose prop would have been a potential disaster.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Boca Grande

We arrived at Boca Grande on Monday the 8th and anchored in this bayou between the Gasparilla Inn and the golf course. The inn was built in 1913 and we found out that President Bush was here the week before we arrived. Boca Grande is on Gasparilla Island about halfway between Sarasota and Fort Myers. Here we utilize a "Mediterranean Mooring" where you put an anchor off the bow and tie the stern to the Mangroves. This way more boats can occupy the same water space without swinging on the anchor.

We share the bayou with other boats and with two float planes that come and go on a regular basis. This area is known worldwide for Tarpon fishing.
We can walk into town where the primary mode of transport is golf carts. The "town" is a collection of shops and restaurants but unless you are buying real estate or boutique clothing, there is not much to see or do. This place is very laid back and that is part of the appeal. Even though we have not seen any, it is widely reported that many celebrities come here where they can walk through town or eat out without being bothered.

Bill & Ellen found the local Catholic church and attended Mass tonight. It is a beautiful building inside and out and is reminiscent of an old Spanish "Mission".
Just in case you don't already know it, if you click on a photo you will be able to view it in a larger scale.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Cayo Costa State Park

While anchored at Cabbage Key/Useppa, we dinghied over to Cayo Costa State Park on a neighboring island. We took a "trolley" to the beach which was actually more shell mound than sand. The mosquitoes were ferocious until we were actually on the beach itself. The island is also home to numerous wild pigs. We saw a few but were not able to get pictures.

After our day on the beach we went back to our boats and prepared to leave the next day to go to Boca Grande. As we traveled we were visited by two dolphins for about 20 minutes.

This one liked leaping from the water on his side and making a large splash on re-entry. They seem to be quite vain as they will usually swim right next to the boat and roll on their side to see if anyone is there looking at them.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cheeseburger in Paradise

We left Ft. Myers Beach on Thursday Jan 4th and made our way across the bay to Sanibel Island for lunch at Gramma Dot's. Stacy and her brother had spent time here earlier and she wanted to show it to me. She made it into the narrow marina fairway and turned around without hitting any of the million dollar yachts with our boat. We made our way from there to: I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes, big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer. You guessed it, we are anchored next to Cabbage Key, where Jimmy Buffett wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise. Stacy and I had lunch there and then all of us went there again this morning for breakfast. Yesterday Bill caught his first fish and we filleted it only to realize that it was much too bony to eat. It was fun catching, however. Later today, we went to another island on the other side of us. This is Useppa island, an exclusive private island. We gained access, or rather, Stacy got us access (you know how Aunt Stacy is) and we were able to tour the island, have lunch at the club and view homes for sale. Does anyone have a spare 3 million for a small beach cottage? This island is only accessable by boat and most of these houses are just weekend getaways. Then we came back to our "home" anchored just off the beach of Useppa.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from Ft. Myers Beach.
We had lunch yesterday and wore our party favors provided by Bill & Ellen's daughter Tracy. Later we had snacks on Bill & Ellen's boat and watched fireworks all up and down the beach. The weather has been beautiful.
Stacy & I went to a local sports pub to watch the GA/VA Tech bowl game Saturday and were "entertained" with quite a few locals performing Karaoke. (Realize here that we are in south Florida and the average age of these locals was close to 60). Needless to say, if GA had not come back in the second half, we would have left very early. Georgia was victorious in the end and we endured.