Another Month In the Sunshine

Day 177: Thursday, February 28, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: The day started overcast and with a chance of rain but quickly became sunny and warm (in the sun at least). I had some more library tasks so I left early and worked in quiet comfort until Cindy came with lunch again. In a repeat of yesterday, we enjoyed crackers and cheese on a park bench by the Florida Museum and watched the world go by.

With no big plans today, we took a long meandering walk to the CVS pharmacy to get our annual calendars printed – every year since the kids were little we have made laminated one page calendars with one or two fun pictures on them. We are a little late this year – I can’t imagine why. But better late than never – they turned out very nice and it will be fun to send them off tomorrow. On the way back to the boat we stopped at Palm Printing to get the prints laminated – great service and very reasonable prices. Another project off our To Do List.

On our walk today we noticed some fossils right before our eyes. Some of the building – both old and new – are built using stone quarried from an ancient fossil coral reef. We tried finding a fossil fish but all we could see was lots of coral. Not something you see in Minnesota.

The day ended quietly with left over beef stew and a couple episodes of Big Bang Theory. Tomorrow we say goodbye to Eddy and Linda until we meet again.

Pupus and Passages to Come

Day 176: Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: One of the items on our To Do List is to stop at Bennetts to have a donut (another recommendation from our tour guides on Spiritus). So donuts it is! And we were not disappointed. The store is across from Legacy Marina less than 10 minutes from us. It would be hard to notice if Eddy hadn’t pointed it out to us but we just followed the fresh donut smell all the way there. I guess this place has been extremely successful and I can see why – amazing, fresh donuts that melt in your mouth, fresh brewed coffee and a modern, comfortable place to hang out indoors or out. We even tried a maple donut with thick sliced bacon chunks on top – strangely delicious (something else to add to your bucket list Jake). A customer recently won a free donut and coffee a day for life by ordering the 1 millionth donut – a good reason to move here if you weren’t a local.

I spent some more time at the library using their fast internet and updating the blog. Cindy brought lunch over again and we wandered over to the Southwest Florida Museum of History and enjoyed a two hour tour of their exhibits. They have displays ranging from ancient fossils to the Calusa Indians to the early European settlers to present day. A nice place to spend a quiet afternoon.

After returning to Aurora, we packed up all the snacks, appliances and technology we needed for our dinner with Spiritus and walked over to Legacy Marina. Eddy and Linda are moving on Friday morning after staying in Fort Myers for a month so we need to enjoy their company before we say goodbye for now. After pupus (Hawaian for appetizers), strawberry margaritas, a little route planning and a wonderful dinner of pork tenderloin and rice we settled in for an intense game of Doodle Dice. Eddy squeaked out a win. We finally wandered back home about midnight tired but looking forward to our next adventures with Spiritus.

The City of Palms

Day 175: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

First Things First: First tornado watch.

Mile to Mile: After a hearty breakfast of steel cut oats and grapefruit we washed a double load of laundry and went for a meandering walk toward the library. Cindy dropped me off there so I could work on the blog and some other computer related tasks. The library was quiet, cool and peaceful – I posted 5 days worth of blog post and pictures and checked off a half dozen other tasks before lunch.

Cindy walked back later with a bag lunch which we enjoyed on a park bench nearby. It is extremely windy today with a chance of rain later so we were getting sand-blasted walking over to the library and had to be careful to watch out for falling coconuts and palm leaves. Some of the palm leaves are 6’ long and weigh about 20 pounds – they would hurt if they hit you.

Fort Myers is known as the City of Palms – the downtown is beautiful and one key feature that makes it unique is the many types of palm trees lining the streets, courtyards and parks. Thomas Edison started this trend when he wintered here at his estate. He asked to be able to line the main road in front of his property with royal palms and the rest is history. Those trees are still here today and most of the other streets and parks in the historic downtown area are similarly lined with many types of palm trees – Bottle Palm (Hypophorbe Lagenicaulis), Bailey Copernica (Copernicia Baileyanal), Talipot Palm (Corypha Umbraculifera), Senegal Date Palm (Phoenix Reclinata). A small park just across the street from our slip has probably 30+ types of palms – some 3’ tall with tiny little berries for seeds to others over 40’ tall with 8 pound coconuts. We saw one with bright blue berries the size of quarters. It’s surprising how many different kinds there are from all over the world – only a hand full are native to Florida but all of them seem to thrive in the climate here. It would be a fun hobby to try to learn the names of all the varieties we’ve seen – maybe the next time around.

It finally did rain for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I missed it tucked into a windowless corner of the library. For a short while there actually was a tornado watch out for central Florida – a first. The temperature and humidity is supposed to go down over the next couple days making for a perfect weekend.


Deja Vu

Day 174: Monday, February 25, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: The weather here has been amazing – warm and sunny everyday – but that may change tomorrow and Wednesday with a new cold front moving in with wind, rain and much cooler temps. Maybe it will miss us like most of the other fronts have done.

We stopped by Uff Da this morning to say goodbye. The fog burned off overnight and it is a good travel day for them. They are heading east through Lake Okeechobee and Stuart and down to Marathon for a month. We enjoyed our time together over the last 24 hours – hopefully we will cross paths again. Safe travels Uff Da.

We wandered over to meet Eddy and Linda at Legacy Yacht Harbor and headed over to the First Watch Café for a repeat of our first visit – except I changed it up and had a waffle instead of a pancake with my eggs – amazingly light and fluffy. We stopped at the Post Office, got gas for Eddy’s dinghy and toured Legacy Marina – I can see why they are thinking of wintering here next year. The marina sponsors lots of fun activities and the boats here are big but beautiful. I started chatting with a guy working on one of their water features – he turned out to be the owner of the Marina – and found out that they would of loved to have us stay with them at Legacy. Somehow I got faulty information when I called to make reservations. We’ll just have to come back some other time.

We worked on a few minor boat projects in the afternoon. I was able to reposition the boat letters without using the new stickers. I also worked on setting up a different light to use as an anchor light. I still have to find a way to mount it but that should be fairly easy.

We enjoyed leftover spaghetti and fresh green beans for dinner and watched a movie before turning out the lights on another wonderful day on the Loop.

Uff Da and Ebleskivers

Day 173: Sunday, February 24, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: When we woke up this morning we had no plans except to go for another long walk and explore Fort Myers. Our plans quickly changed after I met Rick from the motor vessel Uff Da. We struck up a conversation as I was returning to the boat (he was walking his dog) and it started with him noticing our boat was from MN and he had a coffee cup that said Uff Da. It turns out he and his wife Lanna are high school sweethearts from Wilmer, MN and have lived for many years in Flagstaff, Arizona. They are spending the winter here on Uff Da – their beautiful 43’ Mainship.

One thing led to another and we were soon taking a road trip to our favorite places – Walmart and Costco. We didn’t “need” anything but we thought it would be fun to tag along and chat. We had a blast and, more than $100 dollars and many stories later, we came back to the boat and spontaneously made plans to have an ebleskiver party for dinner. (We had to move fast because they were leaving in the morning to cross the lake and head down to Marathon for a few weeks of exploring).

We, of course, had to walk down to Publix to get the fixin’s for our party – buttermilk, bacon and juice – but we needed the exercise today so it fit into our plans just fine.

By the time we finished our walk, cooked the bacon and prepped the ingredients, it was time to start our party. They knew about ebleskivers but hadn’t ever made them. Except for the orange juice concentrate shower that Cindy experienced (after I squeezed the cardboard orange juice can too hard), a great time was had by all. After dinner, we stayed to watch the Oscars on their big screen TV. Several hours and many more stories later, we finally made our way home on a humid, foggy and warm night. Sometimes the days without plans turn out to be the best – just like today.

Movie Stars

Day 172: Saturday, February 23, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

First Things First: First time watching a movie outdoors under the stars; First boat inspection.

Mile to Mile: Our only planned activity today was an inspection of our boat by the Coast Guard Auxiliary at 10 am. We decided to go for a long walk beforehand while it was still cool so we walked over a long bridge to the other side of the Caloosahatchee River and back. What an amazing view of the river and marina from the top.

After our inspection and lunch we took another long walk in the opposite direction and stopped at CVS and a local hardware store. During our inspection this morning we found out our boat numbers are spaced incorrectly – a minor issue but it would give someone an excuse to pull us over so its worth fixing. We also couldn’t find our registration card so I need to order a duplicate copy and have it sent down to us here.

Downtown Fort Myers used to be a place people avoided but over the last 10 years they have made a huge investment in the waterfront and downtown area making it a wonderful place to visit. The old downtown has lots of historic old building housing shops, restaurants and bars.

The city also promotes regular activities like Art Walks, Music Festivals and other events to bring people to the area. A couple weekends ago they famous Edison Parade of Lights wound its way along the main drag and past the Edison/Ford Winter Estates. Locals actually stake out prime spots along the route a couple months in advance. Today there was an antique car show downtown that was a fun surprise. They also sponsored Movie Night at Centennial Park only a few minutes from our marina. They were showing Grease. The turnout was light but we had a nice evening laying under the stars on a blanket watching a classic “old” movie on the waterfront. Can’t get much better than that.

National Margarita Day

Day 171: Friday, February 22, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers, Florida

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: Our friend Cliff from Minnesota and now Florida decided to drive down from Sarasota to visit today. Caroline had to work but we thought about her a lot – especially when she texted us that today is National Margarita Day. We were already enjoying a couple amazing margaritas at Mel’s Diner but now we had something else to celebrate. It was fun catching up – they are in limbo waiting to here if their offer on a house near Sarasota is accepted and can’t really make plans until that is done. Stressful but exciting.

Before our lunch stop, Cliff drove us to the mega West Marine store where I was able to exchange a defective folding seat we had bought there in November – the ratchet stopped working correctly. No hassle and they had new ones in stock. (Much easier to accomplish by truck than trying to get there by bus with a large cushioned seat that won’t fold properly). And I surprisingly didn’t find anything else I needed. Thanks Cliff.

We went on a long walk after Cliff headed back to Tampa (to pick up Caroline and drive another 2+ hours to Cocoa Beach to visit some old neighbors of theirs). The shorefront along the river is perfect for walking – nice scenery, quiet, wide sidewalks and a beautiful river. A  welcome change from the walking challenges in Fort Myers Beach. We stopped at Publix on the way back to get a few groceries including popcorn to enjoy with our Netflix movie tonight. We watched Abducted on Netflix and were pleasantly surprised. A good movie picked pretty much at random. Here’s to National Margarita Day – cheers!

A Wonderful Day

Day 170: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers, Florida

First Things First: First time I’ve ever been caught up on the blog to the same day.

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: What a beautiful day in Fort Myers. We slept like babies last night. A light fog greeted us when we got up but burned off quickly. We got up, showered and were ready for our day before 9 am. One big plus here over FMB is the shower/bathroom situation. There are 4 shower stalls and two bathroom stalls in each bathroom, they are accessible by key code and available 24 hours a day. At FMB each bathroom only allowed one person or a couple to use at once and you had to stop in the office for the key each time. Waiting in line was part of the experience. And they closed at 9 pm. A minor hassle but we really like the facilities here. No fuss, no muss.

Our major agenda item today is to have breakfast with Eddy and Linda – they have scoped out the restaurants downtown and found a great breakfast place – First Watch Cafe. The server asked us if we had ever been here before and we said no. Well, we ordered coffee and were intently studying the menu when he delivered a pre-breakfast treat of a fresh fruit stuffed crepe with a strawberry yogurt topping. Wow! It was amazing and actually inspired Cindy to order it for breakfast. And what great marketing. Simple but effective. The pancakes, eggs and bacon were also drool worthy. So much food and so little time. By the way, the company was fantastic, too. We had a blast catching up and sharing stories. (I’ve run out of adjectives but you get the idea).

While we were wandering over to the restaurant from Legacy Marina, I got a phone call – it was Richard from Boomerang. He was at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin and wondering where we were. Wait….what? We just left them yesterday. Well, I had forgotten my shampoo, soap and razor in the shower yesterday before we left and had called them to see if it was still there (funny coincidence, they were actually in the bathroom when I called and saw my stuff right there – what are the odds). I had told them just to hold it in case we or someone we knew was going by but it happened that he had to drop off their sail here in Fort Myers to get it recut and he decided to stop by and drop my stuff off. How nice is that. It definitely is the simple things in life you remember and this will be one of those things. Thanks you guys for thinking about us – we can only hope someday to return all the favors.

When we came back to the marina we were surprised to see that we were sandwiched between three Florida Fish and Wildlife boats – can’t be much more secure than that I guess. They were getting there regular inspections to see if their boats and safety equipment were up to standards. Nice guys.

And the day wasn’t done. We met Eddy and Linda for Happy Hour on the roof at the Firestone Restaurant downtown and had an panoramic view overlooking the waterfront. Linda gave us a wonderful homemade card with a picture of her and her sisters enjoying the dipped strawberries and pretzel sticks we left for them last weekend and we scored a couple of fresh sticky buns from a local bakery nearby courtesy of Eddy and Linda. How lucky are we. We shared some of our homemade gourmet rice krispie bars with them but I’m not sure they rank as high as stickie buns on the treat scale. More stories, a couple of drinks and a beautiful sunset later we called it an evening and went home to heat up some leftovers and called it a wonderful day. And tomorrow we are looking forward to another visit from our Minnesota-now-Florida friend Cliff who is driving down to visit us again – how lucky are we to have such great friends?

Moving Day

Day 169: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers Beach to Fort Myers

Underway: 10:00 am      Motor Off: 2:30 pm      Miles Traveled: 21      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: Believe it or not we left exactly on time on a beautiful, calm, sunny morning. We took showers, went to McDonalds for breakfast, said our goodbyes and shoved off at 10 am – right on schedule. Its hard saying goodbye but we hope someday to reconnect with the many people we have met here. John came by with a bottle of champagne for us to celebrate completing the loop with (we warned him though that this probably won’t make it that far since we have weight issues but we told him we would replace it when we complete our Loop). Richard and Sally also gave a going away bottle of wine made in Australia (which you can buy at the local grocery store) and tossed off our lines as we left. We already have plans to meet up after they get back home to South Caroline in early April – we can’t wait.

Our 4-hour cruise up river was uneventful – the water was smooth, the sun was bright and Boris purred along quietly all day. The only thing we had to get used to was the boat traffic. Everyone and their brother must have decided Wednesday morning was a good day to head for the Gulf and, as we travelled up river, we were met with a steady stream of large and small power boats all traveling fast heading right at us. Aurora takes the wakes really well but some people are clueless about common courtesy and the rules of the road so it is stressful to navigate all this traffic. Thankfully, after about two hours, the traffic thinned our and we had a quiet cruise the rest of the way into the Fort Myers Yacht Basin. We passed right by Legacy Marina where our friend Eddy and Linda have been for a few weeks – lots of big white boats packed side by side.

As we slowly motored in to our slip we were serenaded by a lone guy planning a saxaphone under the bridge next to the marina – a welcome gentle change from the music at FMB. He kept playing the rest of the afternoon. We are tucked into the corner of the marina right along the shore with a sitting area nearby and boats for the Florida Wildlife and Fish Service parked on either side of us. We feel very secure. One thing that is very different here is how quiet it is. We had gotten used to the constant live music at FMB but here there is just a little road noise but otherwise silence. And calm. The harbor is completed protected from wakes and waves by breakwaters so we should sleep very soundly tonight.

We found out that there was a Meet and Greet tonight so we scrambled to make a cheese and cracker plate and some Rice Krispie Bars to share. We met one of our neighbors several slips down – Pierre and Cristina on Cristina – and they generously shared their BBQ chicken with us and we had a nice time chatting. They trailered their McGreggor sailboat down from Quebec just ahead of the big storm that recently hit the east coast and just made it through before they started closing roads. They are staying here about a month before moving on. The turn-out for the Party was fairly light but we enjoyed their company and are excited to explore our new home for the next week or two.

T Minus One

Day 168: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers Beach

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: Today was cleaning day. Even though we are only traveling about 20 miles (4 hours) tomorrow, we like to have a clean and organized boat before traveling. Aurora got a thorough cleaning – even the cooler got a good scrubbing with bleach for the first time this trip. Surprisingly, even though the inside is always damp with condensation, we haven’t had a problem with mold. We cleaned and organized the interior and charged and tested all of our electronics. We finally moved the dinghy off the dinghy dock where the sealant was drying (hopefully the last small leaks are sealed for a while) and tested the motor. Everything is ready for departure (we hope). Our goal is to leave about 10 am tomorrow to take advantage of the incoming tide as we go up the Caloosahatchee River. Wish us luck.

Cindy made some O’Henry Bars to give away as treats. We also met Richard and Sally for a late lunch at the Chinese Buffet – now we don’t have to cook tonight. John – an old sailor we first met at the Marina BBQ – wanted to take us out for a beer before we left so we met him at the Upper Deck and chatted for a while. He used to stay in Fort Myers Beach on his boat but decided to sell it recently and is now staying at the Matanzas Inn for part of the winter. Even though we just met him, he has been so thoughtful and kind to us. When it was rough and cold last week, he even offered to let up crash in his room for the night – he used to be in our slip and knows how uncomfortable it can be when the wind roars down the channel. What a nice offer.

We are going to miss our new friends here and the beach (and the chicken wings and cheap breakfast) but we also are excited about the new adventures to come. Fort Myers here we come.

Dolphin Tales

Day 167: Monday, February 18, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers Beach

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: Its was cold last night – I think Cindy probably had 8 layers of clothes and blankets but at least it was calm and quiet all night. Only one more full day left after today. Scary and exciting at the same time.

We have a few more little projects to get done before we leave. I added another bottle of Green Slime tire seal to the dinghy to seal any remaining leaks. I walked over to the gas station to get the gas cans filled. We have our course plotted and have checked the weather and tide tables. It all looks good for leaving on Wednesday.

I hadn’t taken many photos today so I decided to go for a short walk later in the afternoon while Cindy was talking to her friend Barb on the phone. Two hours later… I was just going to take a few photos around Times Square but the lighting was perfect with bright white puffy clouds and perfect temps so I kept walking. And walking. And walking. I took over 80 photos and a bunch of movies by the time I was done. (Who said I couldn’t find any more things to take pictures of)? When I got down to the north end of the island near Bowditch Park I went out to the beach to enjoy the late afternoon sun. I was surprise to find a school of dolphin close in by shore chasing fish into the shallow water and almost getting stuck on the beach. How cool! They are so fast that getting pictures is nearly impossible so I made a bunch of movie clips. I followed a pair of dolphin down the beach for a long ways before I ran out of battery power on the camera and had to quit. Cindy randomly showed up by the Pier to watch the sunset so we hung out for a while and walked back to the boat together.

Tonight is pizza night – we went to the Upper Deck at Matanzas to have a beer and try another pizza before we leave in a couple of days. Our list is almost complete. Rick and Andrea were there so they joined us too and we had a blast chatting. We are going to miss all the new friends we have met here. We will have to keep in touch and continue to share our adventures.

Click Here: Dolphin Scenes








Countdown To Moving Day

Day 166: Sunday, February 17, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers Beach

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: After a lumpy night and a chilly early morning breakfast at the Lani Kai with Scott and Sue, we saw them off late morning and went for a walk to try to warm up. The wind is a little calmer today but the temps are chillier. The beach was almost deserted although we actually did see a handful of bikini girls wandering around by the Lani Kai (with cover-ups on). It is the start of Spring Break today although the influx of kids doesn’t really get rolling until the first week in March. Thankfully we’ll be gone by then.

We wandered around Times Square for a while – Cindy is still trying to find the perfect Fort Myers Beach t-shirt but hasn’t had much luck (needs to be the right color, girls T, with a sailboat in the design and Fort Myers Beach in the text – a surprisingly hard design to find).

One To-Do item was to get some “local knowledge” from Richard and Sally who have made the trip down the intracoastal from South Carolina many times so we grabbed the Ipad and some beers and chatted with them for a couple hours in the warm enclosure on Boomerang and plotted a whole bunch of anchorages and marinas on the chart and took notes about places to visit along the way. We are getting excited to be moving again. We are pretty well set now for the next month or more up to South Carolina. Thanks guys. We appreciate the help immensely.

We finished the evening heating some leftovers in the rice cooker (rice and BBQ ribs) and watched the movie Jarheads before piling on the layers and going to bed on a calm but very chilly night – the coldest of the winter in FMB. Sweet dreams.

A Surprise From Minnesota

Day 165: Saturday, February 16, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers Beach

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: We started the day with breakfast at the Lani Kai – it cost a whole $7 for both of us. We were planning to work on a few minor boat projects and get our beach fix today when we got a surprise phone call this morning from Cindy’s brother and sister-in-law. They just finished a family cruise in Fort Lauderdale and had some down time till Sunday afternoon so they were thinking of renting a car and visiting us at the beach. Sounds good to us.

So we did a little cleaning and organizing until they arrived early afternoon. We luckily were able to find a quaint “Old Florida” room at the Shipwreck Motel. It all worked out perfect, actually. Not only did we get some nice family time but we were able to check off some of our “To Do” items – we had a late lunch at Nervous Nellies (check), went for a long walk along the beach (check), watched the sunset (check), enjoyed some beverages and cheap appetizers at Lani Kai (check) and squeezed in another breakfast on the roof at Lani Kai on Sunday morning (check). Except for the chilly temps and blustery winds, we had a blast. It was really cool they took the time to drive all the way over here – thanks Scott and Sue.

It was a very windy day with gusts up to 30 mph and the channel was lumpy. Luckily we were gone for most of the day and the wind started dying down after 11 pm so we slept okay given the conditions. We only have 3 more days in Fort Myers Beach so we have a bunch of small projects to get done before we move. It is only about 4 hours to Fort Myers but we still need to be ready for anything just in case.

Hello Sunshine

Day 164: Friday, February 15, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers Beach

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

Mile to Mile: The sun is back. We missed her bright, shiny face. We volunteered again at the library this morning moving books from their storage facility to the new library. We have enjoyed meeting everyone involved and will miss our time here. We will have to find volunteer opportunities in the other communities we spend a little time in this spring.

After we got back from the library Cindy decided she needed to make a new batch of dipped strawberries – they really need to be eaten the same day they are made or kept cold because the hot coating tends to cause the strawberries to start juicing after a day or so. Still tasty but messy. (Oh well, more for us). So she quickly made a new fresh batch for Linda and her sisters and we packaged them up and walked down to deliver them to the front desk at their hotel. What a fun surprise. Thankfully the weather is clearing up for for sisters weekend – they should have a blast.

We felt inspired to work on boat projects after lunch so we dropped the mast to put in the new LED bulb for the mast light. This should reduce our power usage overnight when we anchor by 80+% changing one bulb. Wow! We tried to get LED bulbs to replace the ones in the cabin but the company we bought this from was out of stock and didn’t know when more would be available. After re-raising the mast, we cleaned the bottom of the boat using a brush thing I made and two ropes – one on each side of the boat. We just pulled back and forth rubbing the brush over the bottom. It seemed to work pretty good and saves a lot of money having a diver come over and scrape. We’ll see if our speed is compromised at all. I also pulled the dinghy out and scrubbed the bottom – this time, however, there was very little growth and the job only took about 10 minutes. Yaah!

Tom, one of the characters that have been around this marina for a long time, finally returned from a month long absence. It has been really quiet around here without his smiling face and snide comments. It turns out he and Racheal are planning to get married in the near future and were off meeting parents and taking care of their respective homes. We wish them luck in their future adventures together. Now there is a life changing proposal.

Valentines Day Puddles

Day 163: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers Beach

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

First Things First: First all day rain in Fort Myers Beach (in months).

Mile to Mile: Guess what? It actually does rain during the day in Fort Myers Beach. We got about an inch of rain overnight and intermittent showers all day. I decided to catch up on the blog at the library and had to dodge wind, rain and huge puddles all the way there and back. It was worth it, though, to have nice working conditions and really good internet. Cindy stayed at the boat and made white chocolate dipped strawberries and pretzel sticks and didn’t take a nap (supposedly). We are going to surprise Linda (Spiritus) and her sisters with a little treat at their hotel.

It was such an ugly, grey day I didn’t even remember to take any pictures – all the better I guess to keep the illusion that it’s always nice in FMB. After a relatively productive day, we cooked rice and heated some rotisserie chicken in the rice cooker for dinner and watched Big Bang Theory on the computer (using our EyeTV device). What an exciting Valentines Day. We are leaving next Wednesday for Fort Myers so we will be busy the next week getting things ready and checking off items on our to-do list ($2.95 breakfast at the Lani Kai, pizza at Upper Deck, another movie at the beach theatre, tour the Mound House, nachos at Nervous Nellies, chicken wings at Lani Kai, tour the Lynx, go miniature golfing, miscellaneous boat projects and lots of walking on the beach). Oh, the stress!

See You Later…Alligator

Day 162: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Port to Port: Fort Myers Beach

Underway: 0:00 am      Motor Off: 0:00 pm      Miles Traveled: 0      Stayed At: Marina

First Things First: First time seeing an alligator having lunch.

Mile to Mile: Big plans today. Richard and Sally invited us on a road trip south to Big Cypress National Preserve – a large nature preserve on the eastern edge of the Everglades – and guaranteed we will see lots of alligators. We saw way more than that.

We left just after breakfast and headed south along Fort Myers Beach and past Lover’s Key south on Highway 41 to the Welcome Center for Big Cypress. As we got closer to the wilderness, we began to see alligators sunning themselves along the ditch by the road – at least Richard kept seeing them. We arrived at the Center and could see alligators in the canal just past the parking area. The boardwalk paralleled a narrow channel which was teaming with thousands of fish and dozens of alligators. Most of the gators were relaxing in the sun trying to get warm but a few were slowly swimming from one side to the other. They look ferocious but act like you could walk up and pet them (I wouldn’t suggest that, however). We also watched a movie about the history of the park and how it fits into the ecosystem of south Florida. Again, it’s incredibly lucky this area didn’t become another million acres of farms and strip malls. You could spend a lifetime exploring this area and all it has to offer. We definitely got an alligator fix but the day was far from done.

We found a picnic table and had a nice snack before driving farther into the park to another viewing area. The girls didn’t know this at the time, but Richard and I heard from one of the rangers that a large alligator was having lunch down there and we might get to see an interesting show. She was right!

It took us a few minutes to figure out where the action was – there wasn’t a large crowd of people that would make it obvious – but we soon saw a big alligator along the far bank that people were looking at with binoculars. Only a few minutes after we got there the action started. It turns out the big gator (about 12’ long) had decided to make a smaller alligator (about 5’ long) his lunch. (One of the rangers had just told us that male alligators will sometimes eat baby alligators but not nearly full grown alligators) Luckily I got the key events on video. Wow, what a show. It was a once in a lifetime experience to see nature at its most real. (The whole event probably lasted a couple hours – we were there for the last hour and I edited the video down to the best 2+ minutes to share online). It will no doubt be one of the most memorable experiences of our entire trip (thanks Richard and Sally). Enjoy the show.

Click Here: Alligator Video