This past weekend was all about Moms. Enterprise picked us up and off we went on Friday to Hilton Head to spend the night with Mom. A glass of wine, a lovely dinner at her club, a good nights sleep, a long hot shower and and an early morning drive into Savannah found us at Scarlet’s (number 6 grandchild) first communion celebration.
She was beautiful! The dress she wore was made from Moms wedding dress that she wore when she married in 1953. It was recut and remade by Debbie Fredrick in Pascagoula. Scarlet is the fourth great granddaughter to receive her first communion in it.
Afterwards we celebrated with lunch at Savannah Yacht Club and then a great gathering of Michael and Ann’s friends in their back yard. Kids everywhere helping to celebrate Ella’s 10th birthday and Scarlet’s big day. Moms were everywhere! It was fun to meet them all.
Sunday Mass was all about Moms and included a traditional May Crowning complete with more first communion dresses processing down the isle. That’s an old tradition that was nice to see again.
Being a Mom has been the greatest joy of my life. I found myself wiping away tears of emotion all during the Mass. I was thrilled to have wakened up in my son’s home with his girls but also was missing my girls and our other five grands. Mac too was clearly missing his “Heavenly Moms”, Nonny and Jane. As Mass ended I knew I wanted to go back to Hilton Head to spend the day with Mom. We surprised her and joined in on brunch with my aunt and uncle and cousins. It was an easy -going delightful day.
Monday started out ok with hugs to the Savannah bunch and a drive back south to Jacksonville to get back on board. We stopped for breakfast in St Mary’s Georgia to see what the lay of the land is there in the event we choose to stop over on the cruise north. It’s a quaint little town across from Cumberland Island. We shall return.
Rain had moved in just as we moved our provisions and bags back on Pelican. This is really the first time we have had to batten down the hatches for any length of time. There’s potential for some tropical stuff to annoy us all week. Now those that know Mac know weather spins him out. He’s been known to disturb sleeping, grown up, married children at 5 am to tell them there is bad weather coming….ask my girls and their husbands!
Anyway, between his frantic weather watching and my concerns about being cooped up all week in the boat with him frantically weather watching, we are not in a good place together. Snarky, snarly, downright mean comments are flying between us all afternoon as we chase down leaks and trip over stuff that can’t live on the fly bridge in the rain. The Bickersons on steroids! Ahhh marital bliss amplified by the boating life.
Fortunately, we are safely on a dock in a great marina. There are far worse places to be. The Marina at Ortega Landing is protected, friendly, well appointed and resort-like. Thank God we are stranded here! The squalls are intermittent so we can escape the boat and come to dry land. The WiFi is good. The pool is nice. The laundry is free. We have books to read and planes to fly.
Now mothers know their daughters but daughters know their mothers pretty well too so when Jacquie called me Monday to ask if we were able to keep the boys on board for a couple of nights in July, after the family reunion week at Hilton Head, so she and Wes could go celebrate her birthday in Charleston, I think she could tell it was not the best day to be asking. She sensed my mood pretty quickly and said, “You need to blog about this. We’ve all been wondering…. every day can’t be all lovely!” Really? At the moment I was not willing to bring an additional toothpick onto this boat, much less three boys and their gear. I’m sure my “maybe” was not what she was hoping for. Don’t worry daughter, that is a discussion for another day!
First of all I have no idea what is going on with WordPress and I can not seem to get anyone to answer my inquiries. I posted a fun and lengthy post that was full of photos and details of our visit to St Augustine last week. Mac saw it, Jacquie did too. . Then it was gone. I’m working on trying to get WordPress to re publish. My last comment on that post was that Dave and Aimee , ( my brother and sister in law from Chicago) were joining us in a few days……Meanwhile a lot has happened,
Dave and Aimee did indeed fly into Jacksonville. They arrived Tuesday night. We had made our way from St Augustine all day thinking it would be a short run of perhaps 4 hours up to Ortega Landing Marina. Turns out we were almost eight. The first couple of hours out of Saint Augustine, uneventful, interesting, beautiful quiet Tolomato River area. Then into Palm Valley which is a clean cut canal with wonderful houses and docks to look at. The ocean is so close you can hear it and the marsh is so close you can smell it. Again, an area of Florida we have never heard of, but we will certainly return to via water or road.
Somewhere along this stretch Mac goes below to check on things because we had a problem earlier that morning with a failing bilge pump switch and he didn’t like the oil pressure on the one engine. He tells me he is shutting down the right engine to add oil. As I’m taking the helm I hear a slight zap and lose the depth finder and all of the instrument panel. I decide not to panic, give it a few minutes. Wait. Wait. Wait some more. I’m running a lot of scenarios through my mind like : worst case, Macs been electrocuted. Best case , we tripped a breaker. Wait….pray…. drive…. cuss him for not taking the walk talkie below like we planned….drive some more…check my clock and decide if he is not up in ten minutes I will pull back the throttles and stop and go below to check….pray some more ….cuss some more… ok , that’s all I can take. Just as I am ready to panic he comes up to the fly bridge with the news that we are going to be going on one engine because whatever the zap was it knocked out all starting power. Lovely. The easy day just turned to drama.
Ortega Landing Marina is a lot of things. Well protected, friendly, beautiful facilities including clean showers and free laundry,pool and hot tub and an awesome clubhouse. What it is not is close to the ICW. It seemed an eternity that we pushed on at 5 knots against the current, on one engine, with a stiff breeze, with company coming, and the dock master needing to leave by six, that we limped down the St John’s River past downtown Jacksonville in to slip C88 at Ortega at 5:59!! Docking this girl on one screw is painful but Mac did a great job and the shouting was minimal.
Dave and Aimee arrived around 8 with steaks to grill and wine to swill. Too bad we had no corkscrew! As with lots of things in small spaces Dave had it but it vanished. Fortunately we had a good screwtop red from our wine tasting in St Augustine. The Magnificat would have to wait. Bourbon and cigars on the fly bridge capped the night.
The wiring problem was fixed by noon on Weds and Aimee and I had reloaded provisions with a Public’s run ( including a new corkscrew). Off we went for a three hour cruise to Doctors Lake. Just a few miles down the Saint Johns River this proved a fabulous anchorage in pristine still waters. A lot like our own swimming hole up river in Mississippi. The hook was down and set by five. We were set for the night.
We chilled. We swam. We kayaked. We ate well. We slept deep. Doctors Lake was wonderful. Late afternoon Thursday we returned to the dock in time for a swim, some cocktails, and our turn on the grill at the clubhouse complete with some late night singing of Broadway hits …. hope we don’t get thrown out of the place, They were probably glad to see us get in our cars Friday morning as Dave and Aimee head out to Cleveland and Mac and I leave for our weekend in Savannah. It was great sharing a little of our adventure with our family adventurers. Dave has always lived life wide open and I have always enjoyed watching him do so. It was great to be able to share a few days of our wide open year with them.
Saint Augustine. Put it on your bucket list. Mac and I have deemed it our new favorite city. In the spirit of New Orleans,Pensacola ,Savannah and Charleston it has history galore and architecture that is unique. From the minute we arrive on Friday we see the influence of the Spanish history in the terra cotta towers and rooftops of hotels and churches that make up the historic area. There is a great municipal marina in the heart of it all so we opt to moor there.
The past three days have been fairly long cruising days. We left Vero Beach on Wednesday morning along with some new pals aboard the Meridian. They are bound for Savannah and Beaufort. Terry dingied up behind the Pelican while we were in Vero and introduced himself. They are from Michigan but have been living on board five years. Unbelievably he was raised in North Olmsted and went to St. Ed’s his freshman year. Small world!
Wednesday night we dropped the hook behind the barrier island at ICW mile 909 in Palm Shores. It blew like mad all night but we had good protection since we were tucked in on the north east side of the bridge. Luckily it laid down for Thursday’s cruising up to the Ponce da Leon inlet area, near Patrick AF base. Terry and Donna joined us for dinner on Pelican: pork tenderloin and asparagus off the green egg. Yum! This was a perfect Anchorage. You could see out to the Atlantic but the inlet was protected. It got five stars from me.
Friday was another long day of cruising but with very cool areas to see. Palm Coast will be a stop over on our way back around. It was a very quaint but classy area. Close water, no big threats. Perfect.
Our arrival into St Augustine found us pretty worn out from three long days with wind in our faces so we tucked in early with the plan to explore over the next few days. We are smitten by this town. First of all the history is rich. Dating back to 1565 it is the oldest continuous settlement in our country. There are historical markers at every turn. We went to Mass on Sunday at the first US parish, The Cathedral of Saint Augustine. Flagler College is a beautiful campus in the heart of the city. It’s main buildings were originally the Flagler Hotel, built by the NYC tycoon Henry Flagler who found this enchanting place and decided to create a winter retreat for other northern millionaires. It is opulent to say the least.
History isn’t all this town can boast though. Food. Fun. Friends. We experienced them all. Saturday day Mac and Terry headed to Sailor Exchange, a place Terry knew about that sold lots and lots and lots of salvage boat stuff. Cheap. Donna and I strolled the shops and she got me oriented to the town. We meet the guys for pizza at Pizzatime cause that is one food I am craving being on board. Mac has his backpack full of finds from the salvage yard and does a show and tell over lunch.Rain was threatening so we headed back to our boats to shut things down and secure the decks. Mac and I don’t waste any time heading back to land and we tuck in to The Public House just as it begins to pour rain. The young couple flanking us at the bar are celebrating an anniversary so just as they are closing their tab to leave we offer to buy them an anniversary round. Hours later we are new friends with Bonnie and Buster. She intrigues us with her abilities in canine agility showing us an amazing video of her dog on the obstacle course. He is a big outdoors guy who works as a regional manager with Pepsi. We thought they were staying in town but it turns out they are driving home to Jacksonville! Maybe we shouldn’t have bought them that last drink…or two!
After the skies clear we walk on down the historic winding streets and check out the area. That night we pulled a late one at Prohibition Kitchen where great music was on stage and the Cavs on tv. We scored prime spots on the bar and settled in for the long haul. Even though we are not big NBA fans it was fun to see an exciting finish by the Cavs. The dingy ride back at midnight was interesting, but we made it.
Sunday’s Mass had a fabulous choir sending soprano tones into the rafters. Between the setting and the music we had goosebumps. Maybe this made up for our missed Mass in Moorehaven.
Sunday Funday was what we found after spending a couple of hours in the museum and on the Flagler campus. Thirsty as we are we stop into Scarlett O Hares, a crusty outdoor place we happen across. Our bar companions are a precious young couple from a few miles inland. Mac chats it up with Austin and Kaitlyn while I befriend Patty to my left. Hours pass and now we all are gabbing and moving on to other bars. Could we have started a pub crawl? I’m thinking we did.
Patty tells me there’s a wine store two doors down where I can grab a bottle to take back to the boat. We pop in there and I grab a couple of bottles but the two gals working there say “Why aren’t you doing the tasting? It’s only five dollars for four nice pours!” Of course we join in on the tasting. Four nice pours and another purchase of a good red later and we now have Laney in our group. She locked up the Twisted Cork and lead the way to an outdoor courtyard where the music was great. Unfortunately it was almost closing time so off we go after just one round to our final stop where the music was even better. We all end up on the dance floor including Mac who has no less than ten women shakin it with him at one time. I’m sure glad we didn’t have to go to work on Monday like the rest of them did!
Monday is spent walking about the rest of the historic sights and ends with a trek back to Sailors Exchange to buy a gas tank Mac is all hyped up about. It’s for the dingy and is just what he has been looking for. I’m in awe of this place. It has every possible item a boat has on board, on deck, or under deck. It’s a little sad to see all this stuff in such a disrespectful manner, all tossed into bins and boxes when clearly they used to shine on the decks of amazing vessels. The owner offers to drive us and the tank to the marina and Mac goes to work refitting his dingy.
Tuesday we disconnect the mooring and head north to hook up with Dave and Aimee who are flying in to Jacksonville from Chicago to hop on for three nights. Those adventure will be a new day.
“I listen to the wind
To the wind of my soul
Where I’ll end up
Well I think only God really knows”
Vero Beach is filled with gorgeous homes, shops, and boats. There is an amazing mooring field managed by the city marina where many interesting cruisers say they have planned a short stay and not wanted to leave. We can see why.
We arrived Friday after a short jaunt from Fort Pierce with plenty of time to explore the surroundings by dingy. Mangroves flank the mooring field on one side and fabulous homes with amazing outdoor spaces skirt the other.
The weekend included lots of riding around in the dingy and our first stop at Riverside Cafe where Mac saved the guy from whatever he was suffering from (see People) and I was blown away by the tuna nachos. We loved this place so much we returned Sunday for brunch after a stroll to Mass. Then it was laundry time for me and Mac went to Enterprise for a rental so we could spend the next day doing land chores. We had been on the hook now for a full week and needed stuff!
The Vero Beach Marina proved to be a fertile ground for interesting women. Diane is 80 pounds soaking wet, from Minnesota and a marathon runner. She is 70+. She’s qualified for the Olympics in the past. She has a big half marathon coming up in Minnesota so they are heading home tomorrow. I feel like I have spent an hour chatting with my mother -in -law. Everything about her reminds me of Nonny! I don’t meet her husband until Tuesday. More on that later.
Sunday afternoon after we get the car and stow the wash we set out to find some fun. The beachfront is only a mile away and several bars are hopping along the shore. After a cold one at Mulligans we walk on to the Driftwood Resort, an historic resort built of timber that is still in its original decor, where Mac happens onto an old friend of the family who is sitting at the bar with her son. She’s lived here for years and clearly has the lifestyle down to an art form. He sends a picture quiz out to his sibs in a text and his phone begins to dance. Turns out the younger Mac sibs were thick as thrives with this chick in their teens.
We hang and they reminisce until the sun is getting low in the sky and we need to get back to the boat.
Monday finds us on land in the rental picking up groceries, drugstore stuff, oil , ice, and gas. We decide to ride north a few miles to check on the places we plan to explore next. We take Hwy 1 north to Melbourne and drive back A1A. It’s a beautiful drive. We are so impressed with the public access all along this pristine shoreline. It’s hard to fathom we have seen so much beauty in four weeks and have yet to leave Florida! Enterprise may pick you up but dropping us off with this load of stuff we had in the car will probably be cause for new corporate guidelines.
Back to the ladies: Irene! Wow. She’s a salty one for sure. She has been single handing a sailboat for 15 years. We met her at the dingy dock. A biochemist in her land life she left for the water with the intent of trying it for a year and is still at it. She rows her dingy to keep fit, prefers the silence and calm on the water to the chaos on land, and gets upset when she can’t figure out how to repair something on Kayja. It’s humbling to spend a few minutes with this woman.
Two more amazing gals along A1A were our breakfast companions in Fort Pierce last week. Like Thelma and Louis they are traveling off the beaten track on a road trip with no real agenda other than adventure. Very cool ladies, Coleen and Carol ( I think). I can’t believe I didn’t mention them sooner. We spent a good hour swapping tales and philosophies of life. We hope we cross paths again some day but we know it won’t be on an interstate.
Since the wind was picking up and we were loving Vero Beach we chose to stick around another day. We clean all morning and agreed this is a great bike day. We planned to go to the Ocean Grill since my brother had insisted it was the best in town. We showered and gussied up a bit for a late lunch. Fate would have it that I left the bike lock back on the big boat. Back we go to the dingy just in time to help another couple rescue a fellow boater who has gone overboard at the dock. Turns out he is the husband of my runner friend, Diane. Thankfully Mac and Bill manage to pull him out of the water. He is not hurt but is clearly shaken so we tow him in his dingy back to his sailboat and see to it that he is aboard and rested before we leave him. We run into Diane later once we finally get underway on the bikes and tell her about his tumble.
By the time we get to Ocean Grill they are no longer serving lunch so we opt for a drink and apps at Mulligans and a stroll through the shops. The afternoon really got away from us so we head back to the water and go check on Gary and Diane. They have moved to anchor from the mooring field because they are leaving their boat there for summer. We discover they could use some help hoisting their dingy since the wind is honking pretty good by now. Mac to the rescue again! He climbs aboard, takes off his good shirt and aids in the process of wrestling an inflatable over the ropes.
We shall return to Vero Beach someday, by land or by sea. It’s been a great rest, good play, good peeps, and just enough drama to keep life interesting!
I was searching my mind for a clever title for this post but there is no substitute for real. If this trip has been anything so far it has been an encounter with amazing people. Just plain people.
I’ve already shared Bill and Sky and Pat the mechanic but there have been so many many more. I might need to work backwards since John is on my mind tonight having been our latest acquaintance at the Riverview Cafe in Vero Beach. He has thousands of hours on the water in numerous places and now has me convinced I want to go to Bimini. ( only on a day with no north wind) He’s clearly a salty sailor with a Portuguese water dog we are scheduled to meet tomorrow.
We arrived at the Grill after a great dingy cruise around the area to get familiar with the layout of the mooring field. Just as we sat down at the bar and began to converse with the guys to our right we found ourselves front and center in an emergency situation . Our bar companion was having an episode, seizure, heart attack, stoke?? We were not real sure but he was stiff and rigid and his eyes were rolled by back. Yikes! Call 911!! Mac was a champ. Talking to him and keeping him calm. His pal shared that he had blood pressure issues. The medics were there in no time and after a few minutes he was actually able to walk out on his own. Praying all is well as I write this.
Daniel, the guy on the stool to my left, happened to be absent, in the men’s room, when the drama was unfolding. Upon his return he and I got to chatting as Mac and the EMTs were still engaged with the troubled gentleman. Turns out Daniel is a teacher and he shows me a card confirming that he has just finished his CPR recertification as of last Thursday. This is getting so interesting! He teaches at a private school here in Vero and we pass the next hour discussing the new world order of the classroom. Very interesting guy!
Backing up a bit, in Fort Pierce, ironically, we meet Tom and Betty, two retired educators from Long Island. Mac and he discuss their mutual love of the Tilley hat they are both wearing.
Twenty minutes before that we met Mikey who is parked on the stool to my left at the Manatee lounge for happy hour. We aren’t certain just how many wives he has had but he clearly has had a few and they are all in his rear view mirror at this point and they have most of his worldly assets.
One more that comes to mind is Mick, way back at the Tarpon Springs marina. First of all he can out talk any McTalklin I know and love. But his heart is huge. He shared all kinds of local history of the area and shared gardening tips as well since he had worked as a landscaper in the past. When we had to leave our boat to go back to Mississippi Mick was so helpful and attentive!
There are so many more I can not call their names to mind. Captains on the radio. Dock masters, deck hands, the bridge tender who told us ” that girl’s still got a lot of life in her” ,..!
When Mac asked me so many times over this past year why we were leaving the prettiest place on earth I just kept saying because there are people God wants us to meet. Every day of this journey has reiterated that message. There are people to meet at every turn.
Can’t wait for tomorrow!!
We left Fort Meyers last Friday morning in tandem with Bill and Meredith in fog. Our first lock on the Okechobee Waterway was within minutes of departure. Since it had been close to 15 years since Mac and I had done any locks so we had to refresh our skills. It came back to us pretty quickly as we settled into the Franklin Lock and grabbed the lines.
Our weekend in Moore Haven was interesting. The Moore Haven Marina is relatively new and not on the cruising guide. We learned of it from fellow cruisers we picked up along the way. We give it a five star rating for friendliness for sure! They had at least 6 town folks to help us get docked on Friday afternoon. Captain Robert runs the place. He moved a big catamaran to squeeze the three of us trawlers into his straight-line dockage. We were the last to arrive so Mac had to thread the needle by placing Pelican in the tight middle slip. He was a champ at the helm. By cocktail time we were secure with power on.
We got to actually meet and shake hands with our new traveling companions Kip and Insel from the New Freedom. They were a stones throw away on the hook with us in Fort Meyers and caught up with us and C Time as we got into the Franklin Lock. They are traveling to Maine for the summer as are Bill and Meredith.
It was steak night at the local Eagles Club just up the street so we supported the locals and had a great steak with them. June, our server, was a wealth of local knowledge, but trust me there is not much local…!
Saturday morning the men had their briefing as to the plan to either stay or move across the lake today. Weather is fine but predicted to blow up a little after 3. The other two guys decided to go on. Mike opted to stay back. Captain Robert and his merry men had told us the night before as they helped us get settled in that they were having a pig roast at the marina on Saturday and we were certainly invited to join in. They had Mac with the offer of pork products! He wasn’t going anywhere.
The boat needed a good cleaning after several long cruising days so we got busy and spent most of the morning scrubbing inside and out. By noon the air was thick with the smell of barbecue and we were glad we remained behind. It turns out, not only was there roast pig but crawfish, shrimp, clams, corn, potatoes, casseroles and salads galore. Don’t forget the cold beer! It was the best $10 meal we could have bought in all of Florida and served by the friendliest, kindest folks in the state too. This is June, our server from the Eagles Club. We saw her all weekend everywhere we went. Small town…!
Moore Haven is tiny so Sunday Morning we opted to walk to the Catholic Church which was less than two miles away for their 8 o’clock mass. We ran out of sidewalk after mile one and talked ourselves out of the stroll on the shoulder of the highway with a large correctional facility looming on the horizon. Bless me Father…! An about face took us into the Dollar General where we grabbed a couple of bags of groceries and went back to the boat. Some local Methodists had told us at the pig roast that we would be welcome at their 9 o’clock service so we set back out on foot to find their church. Not being too familiar with walking by GPS we turned the wrong way and arrived at 9:05 to find the door locked since the service had begun. Oh well! We tried!
Sunday afternoon was a perfect dingy day and we explored all the coves and inlets that surround the OCWW (Okeechobee Water Way) in this area. Beautiful foliage, mossy oaks, and blooming trees were flanked by crusty rundown motor homes that clearly have not motored in decades. You would never guess that the glamour of West Palm Beach was just over the lake and levee a few miles. This is a Florida we have never seen. We love it’s simplicity and it’s folkiness. We ended the day back drinking beer with Capt Robert, June, Jimbo and the gang at the marina again! I have dubbed Moore Haven: Neely on water. Mac is in heaven!!
The Okeechobee Waterway has finally spit up out on its eastern side above Stuart Florida. Most would not have spent from Friday to Wednesday doing this run but a slow down we wanted and a slow down we got!
I have a whole story to post about Moore Haven but I wrote it in my computer and won’t be able to share that until we are in WiFi. Suffice it to say that a weekend in a dried up little canal town deserves to be documented all on its own so look for that later.
Tuesday was a 9 am shove off the dock and waves to the golf cart dwellers on the levee in Moore Haven. Into the lake we go!
Within an hour of departure weather reports are shifting. The rain and storm threat shifts to over the lake rather than east of the lake so after a call to the Army Corp of Engineers we opt to go the rim route which hugs the lower edge of the lake. It’s shoal in spots but well marked and full of amazing gators and birds. The shores are flanked by interesting rockeries and gator holes on one side to very solidly crafted rock filled ilevees on the other.
We only cruise about 20 miles before deciding to anchor at Terry Island bridge just in time to batten down for some mild thunderstorms. Just because we planned to go further doesn’t mean we want to. The clock means nothing on the waterway. It’s all driven by the water and the sky and what Mother Nature has in mind for this hour.
An early start to Wednesday has us planning to make Stuart or even Jensen Beach by 5. As we find with all great plans, we are yet again shifting and changing the daily plan. This time a severe weather system moves over the Indiantown area just as we slide by around 2 in the afternoon. This is an area just east of the lake in a protected canal so we were feeling very cocky and sure of ourselves for having taken on yet another challenge. Both of our phones blew up with tornado warnings as we get covered in a white-out rain. Guardian Angels were called upon and responses were felt as the three black cloud constellations that seems to be boiling around us just seemed to dissipate and go away!
Knowing we were too exhausted from the weather watch to go much further we put down just west of the Lucie Lock. The Corp of Engineers maintains a great park and small dock facility here. We decompress by fishing and drinking (you guess who did what…) then cook a great dinner of brats and sauerkraut and make some grilled chicken for tomorrow.
Today is that tomorrow and it’s been a great day. Mac put me out on the dock at the park so I could WALK. I have been sitting too long and craved the terra firma.
The lock system is so interesting ! I was able to walk to the top of the lock and observe the process from above on my morning walk at The St Lucie Lock. This would be our fifth lock and this time we are dropping 14 feet. By the time I got back to the boat they were ready for us to enter.
Mac’s bilge time was completed and I had had a pleasant chat with a local camper, Deanna. She is a Montana native but living in Sun City Hilton Head. She primitive camps solo. We talked trails, boats, Chacos ( I was walking in mine) weather challenges and more. She was great!!
Mac got to experience some local knowledge in the lock as he dropped down and chatted with the lock master about meat and grills and other manly stuff. Great guy!
We spent an hour of this morning at the fuel dock at American Yachts in Jupiter putting on fuel. Noon found us going through “hells gate” as we twisted down around and up into the ICW ! We made it. Last Wednesday toes in the Gulf. This Wednesday toes in the Atlantic! Anchor down in Fort Pierce Inlet up in a great cove called Faber Cove. We took the dingy to dinner at Chucks Seafood just around the bend in the inlet. Since we had been out of beer for three days the Goose Island tasted exceptional! I have myself nested on the fly bridge for the night and feel the breeze off the Atlantic as I say…good night.
Our week began with the usual nightly briefing with Mike and Bill pouring over apps and charts deciding on our course and timing for the next few days. Bill and Meredith were staying in Sarasota until Wednesday but we wanted to get on our way to see what points of interest were southbound. We decided to go on ahead and meet up with them on Wednesday.Tuesday we dropped the lines and bid farewell to the beautiful Sarasota Yacht Club. An easy and interesting run found us in Venus where we attempted three times to set a hook so we could dingy in to explore the area. Finally the decision to keep going seemed to be agreeable. What a good choice! The run out of Venus was close water. Full sun. Easy and enjoyable. We ran another 2-3 hours until we were just north of Englewood. A great Anchorage was comfy and secure until the fishermen began to run out in the morning and rock us pretty good. By about 10 we were done with this spot. Mac had taken the dingy and done some recon and spotted a good Anchorage in Englewood Beach only a few minutes away. Up came the hook and we are off on the shortest dats cruise yet, one hour. Hook down we decide to go explore Englewood Beach. Amazing!!! The beach is unspoiled but still showing evidence of last seasons storms. As we walk the shells on the branches of they mangrove trees look like they have been placed by a lever decorator. Upon inspection we see that Mother Nature is showing us her handiwork as these shells are placed on each branch and they are there permanently to mark the area. It’s like a Christmas tree from God to mark an unspoiled , pristine area.
Once we were anchor down behind Englewood Beach we got in the dingy to explore. There were amazing mangroves and beaches to explore. At sunset we cruised in the dingy on to he shore where the tiki bar was crawling with people. One drink and we head back to Pelican. I’m too weary to share the details of these few days. Please humor me and know lots of prayers are going up l with cruising dreams.
Our exit from Tarpon Springs was uneventful. We cruised out into the St John’s Bay and headed south. It was a beautiful morning and the winds and seas were calm. Cool anchorages and tiny island beaches temped us to stop but onward we went. Eddie was my first mate stand in so I got to relax all day. Truely he was the stand in captain so Mac got to relax all day. Either way, we love when he is aboard since he is easy going and very knowledgeable! The day took us south past gorgeous homes , boats and beaches.
After a beautiful cruising day we began to look at anchorages for the night. Treasure Island is just north of Tampa Bay. All of us checking charts and having opinions on where to exit the GIWW to enter the cove had Mac at the helm when we bumped bottom. Just our luck to find the one spoil and it grabbed us pretty good. An hour of strategy and trying to drive Pelican off the spoil brought no results. Our first SeaTow experience in 30+ years proved to be a good one. I called them and they already had our location from the cell call. Ben the canook came in about 45 minutes and tugged on us for fifteen minutes. He told us he would give us two fifteen minute pulls. The tide was rising. He took another call and promised to return soon in hopes we’d have more water under us. We fixed drinks and watched the sunset. Ben came along about dark thirty and was successful on the first grab. Hallelujah!
We anchored and got comfy and began to cook some dinner. Along came Pete and Terry who had watched our situation unfold for the past two hours from their pool deck. They recommended moving to the center of the cove and offered to escort us. Turns out we were in the direct path that locals used to enter from the north. Thanks guys! Local knowledge is everything!
Saturday morning we headed out across Tampa Bay bound for Sarasota. The Sunshine Skyway was in view all morning. It is an amazing bridge that had us all discussing engineering as we gazed at it.
About half way across the bay Mac recognized a shrimp boat as a one he knew from our Mississippi waters. Sure enough we closed in on the Mattie Fay from Pascagoula. Mac hailed them for a chat and found they were here all winter.
It was a beautiful day. Several bridges slowed us down a bit and tons of local go-fast boats rocked our slow-boat world. The approach into Sarasota along Anna Maria Island and Bradenton was fabulously interesting but every boat in town was out that morning and it was obvious none of these skippers had ever captained a trawler.
An ornery linkage problem reared its ugly head once again so we had to stop and anchor before docking at Sarasota Yacht Club to fix it. Bill was waiting to help us get lines on and he was anxious to get us in as the winds were predicted to increase by evening.
Increase they did!! Sunday morning, just after putting Trigg’s into an Uber to go back to their car and head home, we got busy fighting to keep our dingy from crashing into the swim platform. Winds were growing by the minute and swells up to five feet were coming down the chute into the cove where SYC is located. We could not have been in a worse position for these conditions. We fought with the boat hook and four fenders tending the dingy through these swells until Griffin and Hunter, the clubs wonderful deckhands, finally got us secured by tying off to another vessel and a piling at our stern. They assured us this was not typical conditions for the area. This was a freakish tropical type system that had everyone in the marina scrambling to get secure. We passed the rest of the afternoon hunkered down with tornado warnings and steady rain.
It cleared off nicely in time for a lovely dinner with Bill and Meredith in their fabulous club. They shared the history of the clubhouse. The club had originally been built on land donated by John Ringling of Ringling Brothers Circus which was headquartered in Sarasota. In the years surrounding Bill’s time as commodore they tore down the original clubhouse and built the stunning new one. The decor is very impressive. What a treat it was to stay there!
Fortunately Monday was gorgeous and Bill and Meredith kindly loaned us a car to explore the area and do chores on land. We headed back onto Anna Maria Island and had lunch at the Sandbar. What a cool area Anna Maria Island is! Very vintage Florida but also a little touch of Seaside. We were glad we had gone back to see it.
As I write this we are anchored in Lemon Bay just north of Englewood. Today we plan to dingy around this area and get some sand between our toes. Gotta go!