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Monday, December 13, 2010

Englewood happenings

We have been in Englewood for a few weeks now. We are enjoying the outdoor kitchen and access to washers and dryers and showers located closeby. Feels very much like Ray's backyard. He and Ray Ray (other resident) built an area with seating, TV and grill. Getting to know the other residents, JoJo, John and Kathy (from Flint), Nils (owns a beautiful Bristol sailboat) and Harvey, on his Morgan Out Island 41. Our visiting friend Pete from Blue Yonder suggested Jim should change his name to JimJim. JimJim is considering the change.

Jim and I have worked to repair the shower and toilet room in the captains' quarters. (We both are captains in our own way!) We are fortunate in our floor plan, that the toilet room and shower are separate rooms. The shower is small and meets our needs, but the peeling was driving me crazy! The head (bath) in the forward cabin is combined with a shower. The shower curtain can be drawn around a corner of the head. The paint in our suite head was peeling as the previous paint used was flat paint, so we sanded, spackled, sanded and painted with a semi-gloss paint in both rooms. Looks lots better and since it was "bugging" me we are both happy!

Jim's Mother, Betty was driven to Florida in her car by brother, Jeff and Jim and Jeff trimmed trees and bushes at Betty's house and we helped her get settled.

The weather is amazing...not amazingly good, but "blowing like stink". (Sailing term for all you non-racers). The wind has been blowing 30-35 and we are "rocking and rolling" in our slip. Our friends from Blue Yonder are here for their third day. They had planned on staying one day, but the weather has tied them to the dock. We don't mind and have had a great time with them and their cute kittie, Moby as in Moby Dick.

While Jeff was here we visited the Ringling Museum, built by John and Mable Ringling. So interesting! Our daughter Adrienne and I attended every circus that came to town for many years and I truly love the circus! The Ringlings built a beautiful Spanish home on the bay and an art museum to house their extensive art collection and bronzed statues.

Ever wondered where geographic locations got their name? We wondered about Stump Pass State Park, located down the street from us, until we hiked to the end of the Park. Stumps everywhere! Beautiful and a natural entrance to the GICW and Rivers. Much silting has taken place, though and you cannot pass though this Inlet. Been walking with the boys for lengthy walks and some running with the Bud Boy. We are hoping for better weather.....soon!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crawdad electronics....and other stuff.

Some of you have asked us about the electronics we have onboard. What do we use to assist us to navigate?

First of all we always have a paper chart that we use to navigate. We also use our chartplotter, a Garmin 5212. The chartplotter shows us where we are, the depths around us and allows us to zoom in or out. Tide and current information is available as well as boat speed, wind speed and loads of other information.

We use an autopilot, which works with the Chartplotter.

There are three VHF radios. One at the lower helm, one on the flybridge and a handheld, which is the most useful of the radios. It is possible to scan a number of channels. When on the rivers, we monitor channel 13 for the towboats. When going through the locks, we monitor channel 14 or 12. If a bridge is ahead and need it opened, the bridgemaster monitors channel 16, except in Florida where they monitor channel 9. Channel 16, as most of you know, is the distress channel. Channel 68 is the channel we use to "chat". Needless to say, we have become proficient on the use of the VHF radio.

Charts? Cruising Guides? We have 4 plastic cases full. I divided the charts, cruise guides and other info into 4 different plastic containers. Chicago to Florida, Florida (a world on its own), East Coast and New York & Great Lakes. What a pleasure it will be to return our first container full of river "stuff"! Finishing a book or chart brings quite a feeling of accomplishment and some bit of disappointment that part of the adventure is over.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Englewood for...5 weeks?

We arrived on the last day of November to Englewood. The wind was howling and...yes Monkey Girl ran aground entering the marina. They "showed us the way" not to go! They turned around an anchored outside the marina. We entered Chadwick Marina and were welcomed by Ray, the owner, who I noted, had a "248" area code when he called me to tell me how to enter the marina. He is from Waterford, not far from Fenton, MI, our home.

We met some of the local residents - how colorful! A pretty single woman living on a Catalina 30 that was classified an insurance loss in the last hurricane. She knows nothing about sailing and wants to learn how to sail the boat alone. Yeow! A crazy guy called, Ray-Ray, who is described as "unique". A couple from Maryland and we will see who else we meet! It feels like we are in Ray's back yard. He put a kitchen in the garage of the adjacent condo complex with a new stove, washer/dryer, dishwasher and kitchen sink. Also, there are three showers - one outdoors. We are across the street from the fabulous Englewood Beach and walking distance to a few good restaurants.

The first night was a pleasant night as Bill and Laura joined us one last time before they move on. They were also greeted during the night with a storm that spun them around on their anchor. Good news. The anchor held.

The temperature has dropped to the 30's at night. Glad we have electricity...and heat!

Run Aground #2 & many more to come!

Our pleasant visit in Clearwater had to end and we had made new friends (Jeff and Dee Lake, their dog Jake & macaw Bubba).

While in Clearwater, we rode the bus to Tarpon Springs. We had read and been told about Tarpon Springs being the sponge capital of the US. We didn't want to cruise there, so we took the next best thing...the bus! Blue Yonder, Pete and Ana and Monkey Girl, Bill (Laura had been there many times) and Crawdad hopped on the bus for the hour trip. We were well rewarded with sponges to carry on the bus back. Good place to visit once, though we had a fabulous lunch at Hellas (fond memories of Detroit Hellas, since closed) for spinach pie.

We cruised across Tampa Bay (great weather again, hurrah!) and into Boca Ciega Bay, following the ICW. We decided to stop in Gulfport at the Boca Ciega Yacht Club, as they were really nice, but the info was sketchy. We decided to "inch in" and we ran aground! Fortunately we were able to back out and proceeded to the local municipal Marina in Gulfport. Off with the bikes and we were on our way into town. Nice town and a few good restaurants. We had a fine dinner of Mahi, Mahi and headed back to the boat on our bikes in the dark. Luckily, Laura and Bill have lights on their bicycles. (Note to self, pick up bike lights).

We were parked next to one of the "tanks" of the waterways. A Nordhaven. You could cross the ocean and back and not feel a thing!

The next morning we headed out across Boca Ciega Bay toward Anna Maria Island. Fortunately Bill was watching as we headed the wrong way. It is good to travel at least in pairs.

We stopped an anchored by Jewfish Key at Longbeach, FL. Monkey Girl inched in and as we waited for her to test the depths (she draws 3.5 ft - we draw 4 ft 2 inches.) As we watched her, we floated out of the narrow channel and guess what! We ran aground again!. Jim is becoming an expert at getting us back on track. We proceeded in and had a wonderful time. We took the trolley (free) into Anna Marie Island and walked the pier. A fisherman was cleaning his fish (what the heck were they?).

As the season continues, it becomes dark earlier and earlier. When anchored the boys get their last trip to shore about 5PM, so it is a long night until 730 the next morning. They seem to understand and go to sleep early, as do we! I am usually awake by 6AM. (What's with that!)

As we continue along the ICW, we see many fabulous homes and some of a more modest nature. We traveled until we came to Venice. Venice Yacht Club rejected us as they only accept Florida Yacht Club Members for reciprocity. For those of you who aren't familiar with Yacht Clubs, the Clubs typically offer a place for the boat and use of their club, because you belong to another yacht club. We stayed at the Yacht Club in Fairhope and had a fabulous time. They were exceptionally friendly in Fairhope. We have found in Florida the yacht clubs are not as friendly. They usually allow other Florida Yacht Clubs, but not from other states. Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit, where I belong extends reciprocity to traveling boaters, but I imagine they don't receive as many requests as a Florida-based Yacht Club.

ANYWAY, we cruised up the Venice Yacht Club, knowing the FREE city wall was just beyond. We could not find it until a local person pointed it out to us. The signs were in place, stating we were not allowed to stay at the dock from midnight to 6am. Ignore the signs! We broke out our bikes and rode around the Island of Venice. Very nice and we had a great dinner at an Italian Restaurant.

We are feeling a bit melancholy as we are near the end of travel with Monkey Girl. We have traveled together for a number of weeks and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company, but we understand they are traveling to Charlotte Harbor to visit Laura's brother and we off to Englewood to visit with Jim's Mother, Betty.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Clearwater. What a pleasure you have been!

We arrived Wednesday morning about 10AM after leaving Carabelle at Noon the previous day. We cruised into the harbor with 2 additional boats. After listening to the radio during the night and talking to other boaters in Carabelle, we surmised 13 boats had crossed the Gulf of Mexico that night.

Sea Stone Resort is located just inside the Harbor. Our neighbors bought their Med Trawler a few months ago and are learning the boat. Jeff is British and Dee is a cute blonde about our age. They met on and Jeff moved to the US and they were married. They plan on starting the loop in about two years. We expressed that they should not wait as one can plan forever...and then not leave on the adventure.

The beach is only a block away and we have walked the beach, ridden our bikes into downtown and to Publix. (What a pleasure it is go find a great supermarket close enough for bikes.) Jim and I rode to the area where "Winter, the Dolphin" is being filmed. We had not heard of Winter, but the security guard explained the story of a Dolphin who lost his rear fin in a lobster trap. Does anyone remember that story? No, we don't either!

Thanksgiving dinner next to the pool is a good thing! We enjoyed a great meal with Monkey Girl and Blue Yonder. Tomorrow morning we part with Blue Yonder as they head to Tarpon Springs. We, along with Monkey Girl are headed to an anchorage along the ICW.