Monday, November 29, 2010

Okeechobee to St. Petersburg

On Tuesday, November 23rd, we left our anchorage at 4 Rivers Loop, west of Stuart, and traveled as far as Moore Haven, covering 67 miles and going through two locks. The first lock, St. Lucie, was 15 feet, but the Port Mayaca lock was only one foot and I don’t think the water even moved! Seemed like a huge waste of time and manpower to me.

Approaching the St. Lucie Lock.



The other side of the lock, entering the canal.


We had a nice, uneventful trip going across Lake Okeechobee on a calm, beautiful day. There were a few other boats crossing the lake at the same time, but I doubt we saw more than six boats all day. We anchored in the old canal just past the Moore Haven Lock and saw a couple of rather large alligators trolling for dinner!

Sites along the way on the Okeechobee.




We were through the Moore Haven Lock by 9:00 a.m. Wednesday and continued 57 miles, through two more locks, to anchor in North Fort Myers in front of the Legacy Harbor Marina by 4:30 p.m.

The Captain thought this was too hilarious to bypass without taking a photo!


Exiting the Moore Haven Lock.


Our good friends Jack & Susan used to have a sailboat named “Freyja,” so this one’s for them!


Approaching the Ortona Lock.


A beautiful sunset in North Fort Myers.


That evening we dinghied over to Joe’s Crab Shack for a fun dinner.


Thanksgiving Day we were up early again and spent the next seven hours getting to Englewood Beach (58 miles), leaving the Okeechobee Waterway behind and entering the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

The porpoises were very active as we were leaving North Fort Myers Thanksgiving morning.




Approaching Mile 0 of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in San Carlos Bay.


White pelicans on their own private sandbar at low tide.


Once the anchor was dropped, we dinghied over to the Crawford Cove Marina to visit Wayne (a.k.a. Bones) & Lynn on “Skinwalker.” We last saw Wayne & Lynn at Henderson’s Wharf Marina in Baltimore and had hoped to be able to stop and see them on our way to St. Petersburg.


Lynn prepared a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, which we stuffed ourselves on, before walking over to the beach to look for shark’s teeth.

Thanks so much, guys! What an unexpected treat!!!


A couple at the marina tied the knot Thursday afternoon as we were on our way to the beach.



Bones and the Captain search diligently for shark’s teeth in the surf. And they found several small ones!



A picturesque sunset on Englewood Beach.


Friday started with rain at the anchorage and turned into another long day of about 67 miles. Originally we had planned to split that distance into two days of travel but decided to suck it up and cover the entire distance to St. Petersburg in one day.

There were a lot of boaters out enjoying the holiday weekend, even though conditions were less than perfect with a strong southwest wind. Then a line of storms passed through just as we entered Tampa Bay, temporarily blinding us, but it moved on quickly.

By 4:30 p.m. we were tied up at Cathy’s dock and the Captain was stretched out on the couch watching Alabama football on the big-screen television!

Hanging in St. Petersburg. It’s good to be “home” again!


The weekend was spent catching up with Cathy and enjoying being stationary for a change. Now it’s time to start on the Captain’s list of boat projects!

Today is Monday, November 29th, and at this point it appears that the Admiral won’t be flying to Missouri for another few weeks. In the interim, we will try to find time for some fun between boat projects!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jacksonville to the Okeechobee Waterway

On Sunday, November 14th, we left Huckins Yacht Corporation, where we had our bottom job, and traveled 63 miles over eight hours to anchor south of St. Augustine.

Leaving Huckins on the Ortega River with downtown Jacksonville in the background.


A few miles north of St. Augustine, we passed Pete & Linda aboard “Where’s Linda” out for a Sunday afternoon cruise with friends. They have been at a marina in St. Augustine since leaving Marathon last spring. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to spend any time with them as we decided to put in a few extra miles rather than stop for the night in St. Augustine.

On Monday we covered another 50 miles over seven hours to anchor across from Halifax Harbor in Daytona. We then dinghied to the marina and set off in search of Italian food. But first we stopped in at The Crooks Den, an establishment that we were advised by a marina employee to avoid due to its rough reputation, but it was quiet on a Monday evening and the staff and patrons were quite interesting. Next we moseyed in to Stingrays for some wings and finally ended up at Stavros for pizza (the closest thing to Italian we could find). All-in-all, a fun evening.

First stop Tuesday morning was to take “Life’s2Short” over to Halifax Harbor to pump out the holding tanks before continuing south. We then slowly made our way through the New Smyrna area with its many “No Wake” zones to arrive in Titusville seven hours and 47 miles later. A windy but uneventful day.

Wednesday we traveled the final 18 miles to Harbortown Marina on the Canaveral Barge Canal where we planned to spend a few days and visit with Doug & Tammy on “Gypsies in the Palace.” Along the way we saw lots of dolphins that the Captain felt compelled, as he often does, to go out on the bow and “communicate” with!



When we got to the marina Todd decided to back into the slip, something he has only done a few times since 2006. But he did it perfectly and we were all tied up by noon. Doug came by after work and drove us to Cocoa Village Marina to meet up with Norm & Vicki on “Tide Hiker” for happy hour. Then the five of us walked to nearby Ryan’s Village Pizza for dinner. Sadly, Tammy was held up at work and wasn’t able to join us.

Norm & Vicki off “Tide Hiker” explaining to the Captain just how tides and currents work, using the plate as the ocean and green tabs of paper as inlets.


We’re missing you, Tammy!


About 11:00 a.m. Thursday, our friend Kelly Greer from Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River came by. He was in the area visiting his mother so we made plans to get together. As we were leaving the marina with Kelly, we saw this manatee slurping a freshwater drip from a hose. Very odd creatures, they are!


Other marina wildlife. Lots and lots of birds all around!



On Doug’s recommendation, we took Kelly to the Sandbar (Home of the Fish Taco) where we enjoyed a few spicy Bloody Mary’s and, of course, some fish tacos – Kelly’s first (fish taco, that is)! Then we walked over to the beach where the guys promptly laid down in the sand to bask in the sun. But then the wind picked up and I got cold, so we headed back to the marina.



Since we had access to a vehicle (thanks to Bob & Stephanie on “September Song”), we decided to be like real land-dwelling people and go out to dinner and then to a movie that evening. So we went to Carrabba’s where we had a great Italian meal with excellent service and then to see “Unstoppable” at a nearby theater.

It was a very enjoyable evening although we didn’t make it back to the boat until midnight. But I shouldn’t complain. Doug & Tammy, who actually had to work the next day, went to see the midnight release of the latest Harry Potter movie and didn’t get home until about 3:00 a.m.!

Friday we took off on a road trip to visit Todd’s sister, Jennifer, and family who live in the Orlando area. We had a nice visit and a great dinner and were back to “Life’s2Short” by 10:00 p.m.

From left to right, after me, is Chris, Jesse, Jennifer & Mark.


Jennifer and Chris working together in the kitchen.


Jennifer called Saturday morning to inform us that we had failed to get our mail and several containers of Todd’s mom’s signature snack mix that she had left there for us. So we made a second unexpected trip to Orlando. As it turned out, it was just as well since we had additional mail that arrived at Jennifer’s that same day.

When we returned to the marina, we took off with Doug & Tammy to check out some of their local favorites. Our first stop was Fishlips at Port Canaveral, then it was on to the Cocoa Beach Pier and finally Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. By that time we were pretty munched out, so we headed back to the marina for an early evening.


It was time to get moving again on Sunday. We said our goodbyes to Doug & Tammy, who saw us off about 9:45 a.m. After seven hours and 56 miles, we anchored at Pine Island, five miles north of Vero Beach. It was another breezy day with a few showers but minimal boat traffic for a Sunday.

Today is Monday, November 22nd, and we are currently anchored at the 4 Rivers Loop, about 11 miles into the Okeechobee Waterway. It was very breezy again, but it is supposed to calm down by tomorrow when we cross Lake Okeechobee, which is a good thing since it is a very large, shallow body of water that we’ve heard can be rather unpleasant in strong winds. This is our first time going across the Okeechobee so we are once again in virgin territory.

We saw this rainbow leaving our anchorage this morning.


Our plan at this point is to boogey to St. Petersburg by next weekend so that the Admiral can fly back to Missouri a week from today. However, if it turns out that she doesn’t need to be back in Missouri that soon, we may spend a few extra days seeing friends along the way. Either way, we should be in St. Petersburg within the next ten days or so.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Bottoms Up" from Jacksonville

On Saturday, November 6th, we pulled in to the marina where Jim & Sherel keep their boat “Sandpiper.”

“Sandpiper” with “Life’s2Short” at the dock. The Jaguar’s Stadium is in the background.


The Maxwell House coffee plant near Jim & Sherel’s marina. Nothing like the aroma of fresh coffee in the morning!


That afternoon Jim and Todd took a tour of a Coast Guard Cutter that was docked between the marina and The Landing.





Just like being the Captain of “Life’s2Short”…NOT!



That evening, following Alabama’s upsetting loss, we had a great pot roast dinner on “Sandpiper” and were joined by Debbie, a neighbor and friend of Jim & Sherel’s who watches their cat (Miss Kitty) for them when they are out of town. Unfortunately, we did not get a photo of Debbie to share on the blog.

Sunday afternoon we moved “Life’s2Short” to The Landing. It was still quite windy but we got tied up without incident, thanks in part to one of the water taxi drivers who was kind enough to take a line for us. That evening we invited Jim & Sherel to join us at Hooters for wings.

Sherel and birthday boy Jim. Happy 65th, Jim!


Live music at The Landing.


Monday afternoon we walked across the Main Street Bridge to meet up with a group of MTOA members who are cruising the St. John’s River this week.

A new statue of Andrew Jackson (after whom Jacksonville was named) out in front of The Landing.


A nice view of The Landing from the south side of the St. John’s River.


The group gathered at The Chart House for happy hour, so we joined them for a drink and finally met Bob & Helen aboard “Allez!” We crossed paths with “Allez!” as we were leaving Washington, D.C., in early August but had never actually met them.

After leaving The Chart House, we hiked back across the bridge and ended up at Chicago Pizza for happy hour and appetizers before heading back to “Life’s2Short” for the evening.

The blue bridge in the background is the Main Street Bridge.


We left The Landing Tuesday morning around 8:45 and were in the process of getting hauled out at Huckins Yacht Corporation on the Ortega River by 9:30 a.m.


Jim (“Sandpiper”) stopped by shortly before noon and we rode with him to a nearby Taco Bell for lunch. By the time we returned, they had the boat up on blocks (they had already pressure washed the bottom before we went to lunch). So Todd got busy washing the hull and cleaning the nasty brown mustache off the bow and the scum off the waterline while I cleaned the rust off part of the stainless steel.

The workers starting sanding the bottom Wednesday before 8:00 a.m. Todd spent the entire day waxing the hull from the rub rail down and came very close to finishing it! While he was doing that, I made chocolate glazed brownies for the crew and put together a nice dinner for a very deserving Captain.




Thursday was primarily spent doing some shopping at Wal-Mart and Publix while the bottom was being painted, although Todd was able to finish waxing the hull later that afternoon.

Todd spent Friday putting two coats of primer and a coat of bottom paint on the running gear and also installing a new propeller on the bow thruster. The bow thruster quit working this past summer when we were on the Chesapeake but we weren’t able to determine what was wrong with it until the boat was hauled. Turned out that part of the (plastic) propeller had broken so we ordered a new one Tuesday afternoon to be delivered Friday.


“Life’s2Short” all washed and waxed with a newly painted bottom!


Friday afternoon Craig, one of the workers, put us back in the sling and lifted us enough to shift the blocks so that those areas could be bottom painted, which Todd also did. They then left the sling in place so that we would be ready go back in the water at 8:00 a.m. Saturday. They decided to do this because Huckins needed the lot space for its customer appreciation barbecue on Saturday. As promised, Craig was there at 8:00 Saturday morning and we were back in the water 30 minutes later.


Early Saturday afternoon we joined the barbecue and helped ourselves to some very tasty smoked pork and chicken, baked beans, potato salad and cole slaw. Thanks for the invite, Huckins!




Saturday afternoon Todd hosed the boat off in anticipation of our departure Sunday morning. Then we walked over to Publix to purchase a few final items before returning to “Life’s2Short” for a quiet evening.

Today is Sunday, November 14th, and we are leaving Jacksonville behind as we head back to the ICW to continue the trek south. We were hoping to meet up with “Knot Tide Down” in Jacksonville but they are still at least a few days out so we decided to go ahead and get underway.

We should be in the Port Canaveral area by Thursday where we will once again meet up with Doug & Tammy on “Gypsies in the Palace.” We last saw Doug & Tammy in Key West in early April. Since then they have both rejoined the workforce (ugh!) but are still living on their boat at Harbortown Marina. Looking forward to seeing you again, guys!