Friday, February 24, 2012

Slaloming across Florida Bay

We told you about the billions of stars in the sky on our overnight trip from the Panhandle. Now for the millions of crab traps all across Florida Bay.

We spent a beautiful night at Little Shark River and headed out early Thursday, due south to Marathon, across Florida Bay. The crab traps were everywhere. We usually use the autopilot to steer, which takes away some of the monotony & stress of sitting at the wheel. Not this long day. Constant steering back and forth dodging endless bouys really made holding a course difficult. What a pain in the neck, literally.

As we approached 7 Mile bridge, I went forward and looked in the water. I could clearly see hard bottom..."what's the depth?!" I shouted back to Chris..."ten feet!" Oh, never mind. Passing under the Eighth Wonder of the World officially puts us out of the Gulf and into the Atlantic Ocean!

We called Marathon City marina on the radio several hours ahead to ask about mooring balls. They reported there was one left. About an hour later, we hear another boat get assigned that ball. First come first served. Looks like we're out of luck. But we pressed on into Marathon and radioed back as we entered the inlet. Sure enough one more had opened up. It was in a much better location too. This mooring field must be at least a mile long. Totally full. We do have some luck on our side.

So we'll stay here for a week getting MORE projects done. I have an anomaly with the alternator, another one with the depth finder, I'd like to recharge the freon in the engine drive refer, we have some more shopping to do and the boat needs a bath to rinse all the salt spray off.

AND, we're off to Key West Saturday. We'll get a VIP tour courtesy of Tom & Brenda who we know from Jefferson Beach Marina and who have a place in Key West! Can't wait for the freak show! No, I'm not talking about Tom & Brenda (I think!).

Hopefully, we'll make it back from Key West relatively soon to post more for our faithful followers. Pray for us!

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The horror

We cruised from Indian Key, a nice anchorage, to Little Shark River. Another beautiful day on the water.

Little Shark is in the southwest corner of the Everglades. Very remote. So remote, there's no internet, no 3G, not even cell phone reception! The horror! No internet? No e-mail? No cell phone? No FACEBOOK? We were relegated to listening to music and talking!

Well, thank God it was only one night. We survived. I'm not sure I can do that again.

Actually it was a beautiful evening. The marinated pork loin was ready to go on the grill as soon as we dropped anchor. A tasty salad & garlic mashed potatoes with shiraz completed the feast. Fish jumping, pelicans diving and a spectacular red sunset accompanied by some Gershwin piano. Other selections included KD Lang, Marvin Gaye, REM, Seal and Tom Waits wrapped things up.

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hangin with the swells

We finally pulled out of Ft. Myers Beach Thursday to continue our sloooow treck south. It was an easy day of cruising down past Naples to Marco Island. We were able to sail for a few hours but the wind drifted around onto our nose and we had to motor yet again. We ran a very long twisting channel in Marco to anchor in Smokehouse Bay next to The Esplanade, which is in the background of the picture posted here.

Around the corner, under a low bridge is a Winn-Dixie grocery with a dingy dock. We've been building a 4 page list of provisions to stock up for the Bahamas and we knocked off about 3 pages here. Very convenient. Thank you Winn Dixie. Got in a few other stocking trips as well during the 4 days here.

We chose to stay extra long because a front with strong winds was predicted for Sunday. Give it up for the weather-guessers; they got it right this time. Sunday night was brisk with a 180 degree wind shift. We were anchored in a fairly small bay and as we swung around we were relatively close to the various seawalls. But our Manson Supreme held perfectly yet again. We still got up every hour to check!

We're departing Tuesday morning for Indian Key and then Little Shark River before making Marathon late in the week. We may not have cell/data reception along the way, especially at Little Shark River. It's a pretty desolate corner of the Everglades. We will be running the spot tracker. Pray that we make it back to civilization, surviving a few days without facebook.

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom

More high life

I mentioned earlier we had more friends to meet in Ft. Myers. We first met Gary & Lori in a VERY cold Mackinaw City back in September. Ft. Myers is where they winter. Gary tells me they all get together for $1 taco Tuesday at Yo Taco. Sure I say, sounds great. Its sneak your own booze in and cheap but good eats. We'll see ya there.

Ooooops, Tuesday is the 14th! Valentines day. Our anniversary. Our SILVER anniversary. Holy Crap! I offered to Chris, at least a half dozen times, to change the venue. I swear! She insisted $1 taco night would be just fine! Should I send her to the shrink?

We also talked Ray & Cynde into meeting us there. They were the owners of the sailing charter we took to evaluate going with sail instead of power. They are very proud to have played an important role in our decision to sail. It was great to see them again since our epic sail in 2006.

So our silver wedding anniversary was truly unique. We've done the uber deluxe dining experience, stayed at 5 star resorts all that stuff. This one will be much more memorable!

We're livin large!

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom

More celebrating

Early that evening we had to crack open the nice gift from Tim & Stephanie. Extra smooth Patron. Yummmm!

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom

Time to celebrate

Here we are on the beach enjoying lunch and a pina colada on a spectacular sunny day!

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom

Valentines Day

Valentines Day 2011, our 25th wedding anniversary! Happy silver anniversary Chris. The blocks for the dingy davit have stainless steel parts. They're silver, that counts right? Well, just in case, I bought her some sterling dolfin earings. She likes them both.

The bud vase was a wedding present 25 years ago.

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom

Crowded parking lot

This is how you get from your boat on a mooring to shore. Parking at the dingy dock can get worse than the mall at Christmas!

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom

Hitchcock is here

BIRDS! Thousands of them. This is at the Ft. Myers Beach mooring field.

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom

Ft. Myers Beach

We made it to Ft. Myers Beach Saturday the 11th and took a mooring ball for the low price of $13/day! We have several folks to catch up with, it's a popular place. First up is Chris' nephew Tim & his squeeze Stephanie. We all wanted to go sailing but it was honkin out on the Gulf and COLD so we wandered around town instead. We had a very nice time seeing Tim again and meeting Stephanie. Nice catch, Tim!

We also managed to get in some shopping. Steph drove us to several stores searching out storage containers of a certain size to match up with some we have. Struck out. Oh well. I also took the trolley to West Marine to pick up some new blocks for the dingy davits. They make a huge difference. Hoisting the dink is now much easier. That has been a thorn for a while.

Fueled up at the cheapest place in SW Florida, Ballard Oil, 3.77/gallon. They used to sell a million a month to the shrimp fleet. Business is WAY down. Wish I had a larger tank!

Posted by Ed aboard S/V Freedom