From a AGLCA Facebook feed....we agree.
We said our goodbyes to all our friends at Longboat Key Club Moorings on Saturday night March 3 at a happy hour aboard Sum Escape and cast off lines on Sunday. We already miss the comradery but it is so good to be moving again too! Safe travels to all our friends at LBKCM!! Betsy and Dave (Frye Daze) Diane and Ed (Coaster) Bonnie and Jon (Bon Voyage), we are missing you! We hope to see you again soon.
First stop was an anchorage at Don Pedro State Park near Cape Haze.
We have anchored here previously but never took the time to explore the area. So we launched the dinghy and went over to the park docks to explore the beach and facilities there. So, first issue was an almost dead battery on the dinghy. Sitting for over two months was not the battery's friend. The first couple tries it just would engage and not turn over. But finally it had just enough power to get a couple weak cranks in and the Yamaha fired! Hooray! So we rode the dinghy through the canals and viewed the houses nearby for an hour or so before stopping at the state park so the battery would have time to recharge.
The park is very nice with about 8 small boat slips for tying up and a collection box for the daily $2 a person state park fee. We took a nice long walk along the shore. Lots of shells and very few people!
Day two we had a very short trip over to Gasparilla Island. While enroute to the Boca Grande Marina, when we were approaching Cayo Costa, we passed Larry and Lena (Hobo) who were our slip neighbors at Ortega Landing in November. Yet another small world cruising sighting! Safe travels to you Larry and Lena!
Boca Grande is a very nice place! Definitely some money on this island!
We took our bikes out and rode to the south end of the island to take a look at things there.
Stopped at South Beach restaurant and had a beverage and watched the activities there before riding back downtown. We did not go to the museum but will likely do that the next trip as it does look interesting. As we were enjoying the view at South Beach, Larry and Karen (Dream) texted us and said they were at the restaurant at Boca Grande Marina, having taken a slip at Uncle Henry's on the north end of the island. They were out on a week long cruise and were spending the night on the island as well. Another small world story. We were able to chat with them aboard Sum Escape when we returned from our bicycle trip.
The island has a lot of history. Phosphates were a huge business until approximately the 70's and the last of the trains left the island in 1981. But the rail bed has become a bike/golf cart trail and the island is very nice.
On Tuesday morning we were having breakfast on the aft deck and a gentleman stopped to say hello as he noted we were from Michigan. He asked if we knew anyone from Harbor Springs. We of course told him we bought the boat in Harbor Springs, and we did know some of the same folks. As our conversation ensued, he was telling me how he would be going to the Bahamas, asked about our two trips there, etc. Well, he will be flying there but meeting August Busch (yes the beer family) in the Bahamas to board their 100 foot Ocean Alexander. He will be seeing our friends Vicki and David from the Great Lakes Grand Banks Association there. We miss seeing you in the Bahamas this year Vicki and David! He also (in a friendly way) reminded us that we should get the salt from our travels off the teak. We shared that we tried to get the boat washed (remember, I am not supposed to use my right arm for anything strenuous) but could not get anyone. He immediately picked up his phone to call "his guy" that cares for his boat but we told him thanks but we were leaving soon. Such a friendly place!
We had dinner at the famous Pink Elephant restaurant.
We got there early as all reservations were taken in the dining room and only the outside and downstairs were available on a first come first served basis. So we got a nice outside table at around 5:30 and watched people arriving in their golf carts for dinner. It was fun to watch them hop out of the cart and sit on the back seats of the cart sipping a beverage and watching the sunset before they went in for dinner. We were probably a bit under dressed but they still took our money.... Food was great and service was wonderful. Note the wind vane.
The famous Gasparilla Inn.
And the beach during our morning walk.
We do want to return to this island and will hopefully do just that in the winter of 2019/2020.
Next stop was Fort Myers, the Edison Ford Marina near downtown.
On the way there, our upper helm Raymarine chart plotter screen went almost dim. This is a known issue with these E120 Classic models. I made a few phone calls to local dealers and also found a repair place on the internet as I am not ready to spring for all new electronics. This is a vintage 2006 electronics package and depth sounder, radar, auto pilot and displays (2 of these) will all need to be replaced. Charts are still available, everything works, and we hope to keep it running for a while yet. Maybe Santa will be good to us and new electronics could be in the cards while the boat is stored in Michigan for the winter. After talking to these dealers and the repair facility we decided to pull he unit out and send it in for repairs. We will have it shipped to Stuart where I can reinstall it prior to moving north.
In yet another small world story, Clark and Evelyn (Sunset Delight, formerly Sea Moss) pulled in to the very same marina. We travelled and ran into them in various spots along our 2015/2016 journeys...the river system, Faro Blanco in Marathon, Pete's Pub in the Bahamas, Bald Head Island, etc. We got a nice tour of their new boat which is a 52' Krogen Express. A beautiful vessel.
Clark bringing her into the marina.
We had dinner plans with our friends Pat and Tim on Wed evening and we had a wonderful time visiting with them. They will be headed back north soon so it was fortunate we could see them prior to their leaving. And thanks so much Tim for taking me and my dead chart plotter to the UPS store...sometimes things just work out.
Thursday we got some groceries and I went to a AGLCA charting and information session at Legacy Harbor Marina with Ev and Clark (Sunset Delight). Not much new learned except a couple new anchorages but it is always fun talking with other cruisers.
Friday morning we cast off lines early headed for the world famous Roland and Mary Martin's Marina at Clewiston. The sunrise as we are leaving Ft. Myers.
Good cruising with nice scenery along the way.
And some sugar cane field burning as well.
Also had a long wait at Moore Haven lock as another eastbound vessel had just cleared the lock when we arrived. But we got to Clewiston in time to take a nice long walk around some of the residential community. We also listened to the band a bit but retired early as we want to get an early start on Saturday to get to Sailfish Marina in Stuart. We want to have time to walk to the local seafood store and get some fresh fish! No big bass fishing tournament as there was last stay here, but the place really has character. Cold day, wind screens are down at the tiki bar.
And we had to "break into" the parade of bass boats rounding the curve from the boat launch just before the Clewiston lock...I will admit that I used the law of gross tonnage a bit to our advantage to "break in" to the procession.
We had a nice ride to Stuart. Only one lock was operating and we idled right on through.
As we were just under the bridge to the east past Sunset Marina Julie was piloting and I was below. She said "this boat is going to wake us!". It is a very nice brand new Back Cove 37.....and when it passed in the opposite direction honking its horn, we could then see the name "Otter" on the stern. It was Martha and Parker in their new boat! We are meeting them on Sunday night for dinner! What a small world. And as planned on Sunday, they did come to our boat for a beverage and then drove us to the Dolphin Bar and Shrimp House restaurant where we had a great time catching up and enjoying a great seafood meal together. Some of you may recall that Martha and Parker were the former owners of Sum Escape and we have seen them in the Bahamas and elsewhere boating since. It is such a small world. Thanks so much for the hospitality Martha and Parker. We'll see you in Harbor Springs in August we hope! Given that is where we bought the boat, our Great Loop will be complete there too!
Monday we caught up on a number of things in preparation for casting off the lines on Tuesday. This included reinstalling the upper helm chart plotter which came back on schedule from the repair shop in Bradenton. All appears to be working well again. And the $775 repair beats the multiple boat unit replacement cost of the whole system. It may be old and slow (Hmmm, that sounds familiar) but it does all we need it to do for our travels. We think we will wait for a major failure or when chart updates are no longer available before we replace all the electronics.
Hmmm, what boat does not "fit" in this marina? Closest marina to the Atlantic for sport fishing...can you tell? Who's little trawler is that on the end????
Tuesday morning we took a nice long walk in Stuart prior to departing around 10:30 or so as it was a short trip to the anchorage just north of Vero Beach. This departure marks our resumption of the Great Loop as we are now heading north with a destination of Harbor Springs to officially complete the Loop (but we will likely continue on to Muskegon/Grand Haven to store the boat for the winter).
Upon entry into the anchorage we spotted Sunset Delight already anchored. Our view to the west.
Later in the afternoon Clark came over via dinghy to invite us for cocktails but we declined as we had things to attend to. We chatted for a while and agreed that we would likely see one another on the way north.
Making chile...another cold snap in Florida.
In the 40's in the AM as I pull the anchor! Noote the ffogged up windows from running the heat.
Wednesday we anchored at Cocoa. Just an overnight stop so we did not disembark. The anchorage we used on a prior trip between the power lines and bridge is shoaled so we anchored south of the power lines. The free dock was also destroyed by the recent hurricane.
All these boats arrived after us and we passed many of them along the way. We will pull anchor early again so I don't have to pass them again!
Thursday we proceeded to Rockhouse Creek anchorage in New Smyrna. As we passed the Port Canaveral area we noted two cruise ships in port on the AIS, the Disney Wonder and Carvival Liberty.
We have stayed in this anchorage before and we got in with time to launch the dinghy and walk an hour on the sandbar that appears at low tide. We had a nice walk and then enjoyed the sunset aboard prior to a nice grilled dinner.
Friday we headed out to the Marina at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast.
It is a very nice marina and includes a shuttle over to their sister resort on the ocean...golf, restaurants, beach etc all there. We took a shuttle ride over there to orient ourselves with the area. We had dinner aboard and retired fairly early as a gentleman (Gary from Affordable Yacht Service) will be washing the boat early on Saturday (still trying to follow doctors orders and rest the golfer's elbow tendonitis).
Saturday we broke out the folding bikes for a short 2 mile one way trip to Publix to replenish. There are some very nice bike paths that keep one off highway A1A. A nice ride really, we will be going back one or more times before departing (haven't decided when we will leave). In the afternoon we did laundry while lounging at the much quieter marina pool (versus the kids pool at the beach resort).
We had reservations for St Patrick's Day dinner at the Atlantic Restaurant.
We had a wonderful meal overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Julie had macadamia encrusted corvine and I had the classic corned beef and cabbage.
Very good food. As we were walking back to the hotel lobby for our shuttle, we saw the drive in movie. They had lined up golf carts in a perimeter around the outdoor movie screen and were showing Moana on the lawn...a "drive in" movie complete with a popcorn stand! Too cool.
This is a very nice stop and we highly recommend it to all travelling looking for a nice reprieve from ICW travel fatigue.
Sunday we took a long dinghy ride through some of the canals around the area. The marina condos from the dinghy on the ICW.
Wow, what an expansive waterfront lot area this has grown up to be!
Monday was a "Spring cleaning" day. Curtains drying after a thorough washing. Curtains with pleats not a problem for that resourceful Julie
...just hang the curtains after washing with pleats intact on a hanger and use a hair dryer...who needs a iron??!! Julie did every curtain in the boat. She is so resourceful living in a small space.And a pizza for dinner! Note the new cauliflower crust Julie used. Thanks again to Phyllis (Corkscrew) for the tip and to Ed and Diane (Coaster) for the transportation to Trader Joe's in Sarasota to purchase it. We miss all of you!
We also started to plan our next few weeks heading north. We found a Jimmy Buffet concert in Charleston SC so we purchased tickets and now have another commitment. We will stay in Charleston for a few days to attend this April 6 concert. Another checkmark for the bucket list! We'll see him while he and we are relatively young!
We stayed for weather issues for a few days here at Palm Coast. A thunderstorm moving through on Tuesday.
We took the opportunity to do some Spring cleaning on Wednesday too. Tom waxed the bright work (using left arm only) based on the varnish guy recommendation that it will extend the life of the varnish job. Julie continued to wash and rehang curtains. Good progress on maintenance in spite of the high winds on Wednesday.
It looks like a Thursday departure for points further north given the weather forecast for T-storms and wind advisories. More soon....