Monday, April 23, 2012

Delray Beach harbor Club to St. Augustine

4/21/12 (Saturday)  We arrived at Blowing Rocks marina (chosen so that we could attend Saturday evening services at a nearby Catholic Church).  What good things can I say about this marina....nothing!  We made a reservation on Friday and were given a slip # with directions into the marina.  When we arrived (very windy and low tide) we followed the directions to the north side of the harbor, but there were no empty slips and no numbers on the docks.  We had tried to hail the dockmaster on Channel 16 several times and called his phone number twice and got an answering machine.  We finally approached the gas dock and people were yelling--it's shallow!  We had 2.5 feet below the transducer.  We yelled at someone on shore and he said, "I don't work here, but I'l ltry to find someone".  An older man came out and yelled to go around to the south docks and stay in  close.  He told us to stern in, but we ALWAYS go bow in. He also said he didn't know any of the slip numbers.   The finger dock was only  6 feet long, so getting off with Duke was a real challenge.  The showers were just OK, but two lights were out in the women's shower room, so it was really dark.  The restaurant which advertised live music was really a small trailer selling food and there was no live music.  To top it off, this place charged $2.00 a foot and $15 for a pumpout.  We got ready to go to church and it started raining.  We couldn't have gotten the bikes off on this dock anyway, so we stayed on the boat.

4/22/12  When we awoke Sunday AM, we decided to leave, but it was storming, so we waitied until 0900 to pull out.  There was a small craft advisory for coastal waters and a high wind advisory for the ICW.  We did problems except rain.  We pulled in to Ft. Pierce City Marina @ 1400.  Very windy!! and lots of currents.  We stopped at the fuel dock for a FREE pumpout and moved into our slip which was $1.50 per foot with Boat US discount.  We had been following an American Tug (BIRD) all day, and it ended up in the slip just down from us on the dock.  The dentist from Beaufort, NC gave us a tour of his very nice 36' tug.  What a NICE MARINA!!  It has a great location with nice slips.  We were on a long dock--easy access for Duke, a downtown park, with shops and restaurants close by.  The dock hands were extremely nice.  What a difference a day makes.  I met a young man walking his 16 week old Mastiff puppy.  He was in need of a puppy poop bag, so I invited him back to the boat.  He asked if he could bring his kids...they'd never seen a boat up close.  He went back to get his 4 kids and his wife.  Ron and I gave them a tour of the boat.  We found out the dad was a fifth grade teacher and the wife taught kindergarten/1st.  Very nice couple.  They recommended New Smyrna Beach. 

4/23/12  We had breakfast at at a nearby Bakery that offered great pastries and coffee.  We left the dock at 1000 and headed north for Melbourne.  As the day wore on, the wind became stronger and stronger.  The coast guard had several securites and pon pons with vessels in trouble.  Fortunately, the wind was off our port bow, so even the 40mph gusts were tolerable.  The spray went completely over the top of our boat, but we were cosy inside with the doors and windows closed and the wipers on. We arrived safely at 1600.  Still very windy!! Melbourne Harbor is sheltered, so it was an easy docking experience in the wind.  While walking Duke, a couple who remembered us from the IVY Club (Peoria) approached us.  They were there last Sept when we departed south.  They are from Grand Haven, MI and had generator problems in Peoria.  They are aboard BlueLine. 

4/24/12  Melbourne to New Smyrna Beach.
We had a long day to New Smyrna Beach (75 miles).  On the way, we saw jelly fish in a small canal, people fishing, kayakers who thought they owned the channel, and several dolphins.  We could see smoke from a large fire which was burning near Cape Caniveral.  Numerous acres had already burned in this out of control fire.  We ate at Jason's, an outdoor cafe, and had a terrific meal. 
4/25 Still in New Smyrna Beach (NSB)  Ron went to the historical museum and I went shopping in their very nice shops.  We took the bus to the beach.  Their buses are door to door services for 60 cents per ride for those over 65 and $1.25 for those under 65.  We had lunch at Toni and Joe's bar on the patio overlooking the beach.  A perfect humidity, no clouds, and a slight breeze.  For dinner we went back to New Smyrna for PanHead Pizza.  It was excellent.  At dinner, we met Preston and Sherry, whose sailboat was next to our boat.  They are from Norfolk, VA and are retired from NASA.  They just returned from the Bahamas. 

4/26/12  We left NSB and headed for Marineland Marina.  At Marineland, we took Duke to a dog friendly beach where we were literally alone, so we let him loose to chase birds in the surf. 

4/27/12 We rode our bikes 3 miles north and took the ferry to Ft. Matanzas.  The fort was built in 1740 to protect St. Augustine from invasion by Georgia's Governor Oglethorpe.  It is a very small fort with only 3 cannons.  However one of the cannons could shoot a cannonball 3 miles.  There was room for only 4 enlisted men and one officer at the fort.  After touring, we rode our bikes back to the inlet and had lunch at "Inlet Restaurant"  (clever name!).  In the afternoon, we went to Marineland and watched people swim in large tanks (for $200) with the dolphins.  We then took Duke back to the beach for a couple of hours.  From 6-9pm we participated in a guided sunset kayak tour which brought us back after dark. 

4/28/12 Marineland to St Augustine (River's Edge Marina)
We had a very short day (15 miles).  Our goal was to arrive early, rent a car, pack up and go home for a week.  We are now in Dunedin until May 4th, when we will return to the boat and head for Jacksonville.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Anchorage marina to Del Rey Beach

4/17/12 Miami rose out of the turquoise water, inching slowly higher with each mile we traveled.  A few boats accompanied us across Biscayne Bay.  With auto pilot steering us, boredom set in and we sought other things to occupy our time.  I read and Ron studied the charts.  An occasional crabpot readed its ugly head to keep us awake.  We finally arrived at Palm Bay Club and Marina just north of Miami.  This harbor was a was windy and we were all the way down the north harbor.  They would only rent us a 40 or 60 foot slip, and of course pay for the footage of the dock, not the boat.  The marina was OK, but kelp floating on the water really clogged the entire marina. 
4/18/12  We left Palm Bay Club and headed north.  We were able to get under all but 5 bridges by putting our antenna down, but some of the lower bridge heights were incorrect in the Waterway Guide.  We were at low tide, and the actual height of the bridges was off by at least 3 feet.   We entered the harbor at Delray Harbor Club about 1400.  They placed us between two "Burgers" that are over 70 feet in length.

Little Adagio between BIG BOATS

 There are also condominiums in front of the boat, so we are really tucked in here.  Ron's cousin, Denise and husband Bill joined us for dinner at Banana Boat in DelRey Beach. We had a good time catching up, since we had not seen them since 1998. 
4/19/12  We decided to stay another night at this marina.  They have a nice pool and shopping close by.

Delray Beach

Who's having fun?

 After getting groceries, we were able to spend some time soaking up the sun.  Tonight, Ron's cousin, Jimmy is supposed to join us.
Ron and Cousin Jimmy

 We plan to take off in the morning as long as the predicted storms aren't too bad.  We will head for Jupiter on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Plantation Key to Key Largo

After 4 nights in Mangrove Marina due to high winds, we were ready to leave.  However when we arose this morning, there were small craft advisories, so we waited until 1100 to leave.  We traveled only 15 miles to Key Largo.  It was too rough on Biscayne Bay for us to cross it today.  Weather looks better tomorrow.

Photos Marathon, Mangrove Marina, and Key Largo

Marathon Marina Pool

Jan in Marathon
Mangrove Marina

New friends-Mangrove Marina

Turquoise water everywhere!

Adagio in Key Largo

Duke and Jan in Key Largo

Ron relaxing in Key Largo

Monday, April 16, 2012

Key west to plantation key

4/12/12. We departed from Key West early, hoping to find calm seas. We had a very smooth ride to Marathon where we fueled up and got a slip at Marathon Marina. We chose that marina because it had the cheapest fuel which was discounted further if you stayed for the night. This place had a beautiful pool overlooking the Atlantic, but we were the only ones using it. The restaurant next door looked casual, so we decided to have dinner there. This place recommended reservations, but gave us a table anyway. Prices here were high, but the food was good.
4/13/12. We left via the Gulf side. From Marathon to Plantation Key was the smoothest ride and the most beautiful turquoise water we'd ever seen. Crab pots appeared late in the day. We pulled off the intracoastal into Mangrove Marina. We've been here 4 days because of very windy conditions. There are many liveaboards here, and they have been very friendly. Each evening they get together around 5pm for drinks. On Friday, they invited us to a potluck with burgers and brats. We've met some very interesting people. A couple from Michigan make and sell Volcano Sauce.  One lady, Jo, is a retired executive who now writes mystery books. Three have been published. Her husband, John, had an accident in February. He fell off the dock and drowned, but was resuscitated and flown to Miami where he spent 5 days in a coma. Jo said she had a talk with God and knew from day one that he was going to recover even though the doctors said it was unlikely. He did recover without any evidence of complications. There is another young man here who served in Kuwait. He lost his arm and most of his face from an encounter with an IED. He's had 44 surgeries and is still very disfigured. He says more surgeries were recommended, but he is happy with his current status, so he has declined. He receives only $800 per month for his military service....and has sacrificed a lot!
Church Sunday was at "San Pedro".  The keyboard player/singer was fantastic.  She had a very strong female voice and was backed by only 2 other singers.  The priest was very funny.  He had a great sense of humor.
This small marina has shown great hospitality. Tomorrow we head for Miami.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Key West Pix

Mallory Square Performer

More Pix

Pat and Susy's house
Susy and Pat
Adagio on Susy and Pat's dock
Visit with Susy in Naples


dinner in Goodland
Dolphin off the bow

Flamingo (National park)
Pool at Everglades City
Rod and Gun Club-Everglades City

Flamingo / Key West

4/9/12  Arrived in Flamingo at 3:30 pm.  Only 2 foot seas, but they hit us on the beam most of the day.  Duke NOT HAPPY.  Flamingo is a National Park....within the waters of Everglades National Park there are no crab/lobster pots, but as soon as you leave park waters, they are everywhere and not in straight lines, so it is impossible to go fast.  Between Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, the lodge at Flamingo was destroyed and has not been rebuilt.  No cell service here either.  Very shallow entry and exit to  the harbor.  We tied up along a wall, but they had some floating docks.  Ron took Duke after hours to the small museum...Duke barked to let Ron know that he was bored and wanted to go hunt birds.
4/10/12  0730 we headed for Key West.  Winds were predicted at 5 to 10 knots and seas less than 2 feet  (East/SouthEast)  We had following seas which provided a very smooth ride.  Crab/ lobster pots were a problem the entire 8 hours.  We've been told that at the beginning of crab season, the pots are in straight rows, but as the pots have been pulled up many times, the rows turn into random patterns with some pots very close together.  It is important to not hit the crab pots because their chains can wrap around the propeller and cause major problems.  As we arrived in Key West, there was a huge cruise ship in port.  We had some trouble finding the City Marina at Garrison Bight and then trouble finding the slip....there were no numbers or letters on the docks.  After several phone calls, we were directed to the right spot. We walked 7/10 of a mile to dinner at Cuban Restaurant, El Siboney. 
4/11/12  Rode bikes today to old town and had a late breakfast at Blue Heaven.  Roosters wander freely throughout the outdoor restaurant and many are on the top of the unbrellas.  We saw some roosters in trees.  After biking around town, we returned to the boat for a while.  We returned by bike to Mallory Square for performers and sunset shots.  Riding bikes back after dark was not a problem on the quieter streets.  Tomorrow we take off for Marathon....we need to get there before some winds and rough seas predicted on Friday.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Goodland/Everglades City

4/5/12. Arrived in Goodland (Calusa Island Marina) @ noon. It is a nice marina on a mangrove swamp. The walk to find grass for Duke is about 1/4 mile on a dock built through the mangroves.Because there is a small craft warning, we are staying 2 nights. We rode our bikes into town (1/2 mile)for lunch at Marker 8 and had a great grouper wrap. Then for dinner, we rode in again to the Old Marco Lodge. The Buicuit Boys (guys our age) played some good music. Once back in the marina, we found several manatees playing in the harbor. We watched foe a few minutes until the "no see ums " chased us inside. They are mean little insects smaller than gnats...but they bite like pirannas. There were also what appeared to be large spiders crawling across the dock in the mangrove....they turned out to be small crabs.
4/7/12today we are heading for Everglades City's Rod and Gun Club...about 25 miles away. Wave predictions were 2 to3 feet, but the wind was from the east so there was very little fetch. We pulled onto the wall in front of the rod and gun club around noon. It is a beautiful old Victorian building that is currently a bed and breakfast and a restaurant.
4/8/12. Easter Sunday....we rode our bikes to Holy Family Church....very small. The priest came from Marco Island to say the mass. We were asked to take the gifts to the altar.....very nice that they invited guests to do that.Pat Knight will be happy to know that the musicians (a couple)drive 90 miles round trip every Sunday from early December through the end of April, and have done this for 15 years. They have only missed services 4 times in 15 years. She played a keyboard and sang, and he played the cello and led the choir. Today was their final day. They were quitting to spend more time with family.
We were invited to join 2 couples for Easter dinner at The Depot. one couple is from Wisconsin and the other from Indiana, but all are Florida residents now. We had a great time sharing boating stories......and we joined them at the lodge for a late dessert. One boat that came in late this afternoon ran aground 40feet off the channel in Goodland last night. extremely low tides were predicted because of the full moon. The wife did not want to stay on the boat so she went with a couple on their 20 ft boat and she bought them dinner (they were locals). After dinner, they were taking her back to her marina, and they ran aground and were stuck for 3 1/2 hours......WATCH THOSE TIDES!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

4/2/12 Venice to cabbage key

We left Venice and headed for Cabbage Key. Little traffic on the water. After learning via phone that dogs were not welcomed, we headed up Charlotte Harbor to Burnt Store Marina ,about an hour off the intracoastal. When we entered the marina, it was windy. I took the helm and waited for a boat to leave the gas dock.....then pulled us in for a pump out. After that, I maneuvered the boat into our slip. We then went up to the restaurant for late lunch. While we waited for our food, a lady came up and tapped me on the shoulder and said, my husband and I watched you maneuver that boat and we were really impressed that it was a woman driving. She went on and on....needless to say, my head swelled so much that I could barely get back on the boat through the aft door! We called Norm Astwood to see if he could meet us since his boat was nearby....only to find out that he had returned to Peoria. Sorry we missed him.

4/3/12. We retraced our course back to the intracoastal and headed for Ft.Myers beach. There was a lot of boat traffic as we got closer to Ft.Myers. Duke hates boat wakes that toss us from side to side, so he was disgruntled. We followed the channel to Ballard Marine for fuel because we had heard it was cheap. We paid $4.09 per gallon with no tax added on....and we only needed 84 gallons! Nearby was Salty Sam's Marina with a pirate ship, boat rentals and two restaurants? There was great music in the evening as we sat on the bow and watched people walk the docks.
Since we got an offer on the Illinois condo, we got off to a late start. After several phone calls to our realtor, we pulled out of the slip about 9:40. We left the Ft.Myers inlet, entered the gulf and laid out a course to Naples. It was a beautiful day on the water, but we needed to be vigilant as we darted between fields of crab pots. Toward the end of the trip, the gulf got pretty bumpy. We wound into Naples Harbor and then to my high school friend Susy Warren's house. We tied up to Susy and Pat's dock and admired their 6600 square foot home. They just sold this property and will be moving mid month. They've purchased a delightful home in the historic district, but this one is not on the water. While waiting to go to dinner, we received a signed contract for our Illinois house... Closing is mid May. So it's official
.....we are permanent Florida residents. We had a lovely dinner with Pat and Susy at Campiello's, a perfect outdoor setting in historic Naples.

After having breakfast with Susy, we headed for Goodland along the protected inland waters. Depending on weather, we may head for Everglades City tomorrow, and the Keys on Monday. Happy Easter to all!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sarasota to Venice (Crows Nest)

3/31/12. We left Sarasota about 9:00 am.....wanted to get ahead of the Saturday boaters. After traveling about 20 miles through four bridges, two of which had to be opened for us because they had low vertical clearance,we arrived in Venice. The Crows Nest is a very small marina in a great location. There is a pass to the Gulf, but across from the marina is a tiny island where people anchor or beach their boats for the day. We went to dinner at Ophelia's with Annie and had lots of fun catching up.

On Sunday, 4/1,we bicycled 2 miles to attend Palm Sunday services at the cathedral and then had breakfast at a quaint downtown restaurant, The Upper Crust. There was a car show in the park so we looked at some great old vehicles and listened to 60's music. Early afternoon, we dropped the dingy, loaded Duke and the sunscreen, and headed for the island. Duke does not like water and no coaxing worked, but he had a ball running around the island. A few manatees swam by while we were on the beach. Love it here.
The pix below are as follows:
1.  Ship going under the skyway bridge on Tampa Bay
2.  The Grande Luxe--traveling art show boat in Sarasota (225 feet long)
3.  Annie
4.  Car show in Venice
5.  Sarasota harbor
6.  Island across from the Crows Nest Marina