Boot Key Harbor

The best welcome - smiling friends!

The best welcome – smiling friends!

We departed Stock Island Village Marina and headed north…geesh, north!  Up to Marathon Florida, a nice easy five hour sail…but pretty much nose into the wind, so we once again motor sailed.  For those of you who are non-sailors, this means we had the sails up, but also ran the iron genny, or engine, to assist us in our travels.

We entered the channel, and as we passed Burdines, a great hamburger restaurant on the north side of the channel, we drew closer to the old bridge, which has a section removed to provide for boat access, but there is still a set of cables crossing above the old bridge.  As we drew closer, it appeared to me that the cable was a little on the “low” side for us to get under.  Sure enough, when we were within reading range of the signs on the old bridge, one of the signs posted read…..cable height 65 feet at 25 foot water level…oh oh!  Put on the brakes, turn Moorahme around, and get away from that cable!  Our mast height is 65 feet plus 3 feet of instruments…so a no go!
We then tried to dock at Burdines.  The dock hand…well, the dock hands elevator certainly did not quite make it to the top.  This guy wouldn’t tie the spring line to the cleat on the pole, because the cleat was loose…so I repeatedly told him to wrap the springline around the pole which was telephone pole sized.  He just couldn’t grasp this idea…..and then let Moorahme hit the dock rather hard instead of at least trying to fend us off.  That did not sit well with me….and for some reason, unknown to me<grin>, he threw the springline back at the boat and said he didn’t work when he was being cursed at…..he’s lucky I just cussed after he let the boat hit the dock.  I was not a happy camper at that moment in time.
So, with our friends Jim and Rhonda who are from Enekema Michigan leading the way in their dinghy, we headed off to the outside anchorage until we could plan our next step.  We successfully anchored there, welcomed Jim and Rhonda aboard, and caught up on old times.
There is a “controlled net” in Boot Key, which means that every morning at 9 a.m. on vhf radio channel 68 there is a radio broadcast for the sailors in the area.  The broadcast includes information on new arrivals, those departing, local announcements, buy, sell, trade, help needed, and a trivia portion.  We introduced ourselves to the boating community, and then awaited the help needed section.  When the time arrived, I asked the boaters about the cable, and if we could get into the harbour.  We were told that we could get in at low tide, which we had missed for that day.  So, we spent another rolly night at anchor, and prepped to enter the harbour. See http://www.ci.marathon.fl.us/government/departments/marina-and-ports/
Row U - in Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

Row U – in Boot Key Harbor Mooring Field

We fired up the engine, and headed back into the channel, timing our arrival at the cable section to coincide with the low tide.  Perfect timing, and all kinds of help from other boaters.  Some watched with binoculars to ensure we would clear, others came in their dinghy’s, and one fellow whom we have come to know even jumped ashore from his dinghy, and climbed the embankment to the old bridge to get a close up view to ensure we would be clear.  And, clear we were!  A good 4 feet of air space between the top of our instruments and the cable.  We were in!

Grabbed that mooring ball first time. Yeah us!

Grabbed that mooring ball first time. Yeah us!

The fellow on the bridge is a base jumper, wingsuit flyer, Cliff Ryder!  What an awesome guy, with some great stories and a heart as big as a Island Packet 35…which he happens to own.  See here

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlK_y2rTwI4   Pretty awesome!  He and his friend Susan, who is from Alberta and does dressage horse competitions representing Canada visited us one morning and we had a really fun time with them, discussing sailing plans, life plans….all the good things!  We’re hoping to hook up with them in the Bahamas and enjoy more time with them.

Oh oh - how do we get that back on?  Dean to the rescue

Oh oh – how do we get that back on?
Dean to the rescue

The local restaurants here…yes, here we go about food again….are just unreal!  The local Canadian owned Steak and Lobster place right across the street from the marina has happy hour from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day….appetizers grin…..are cheap and so delicious!  A half pound of very nicely sized shrimp, hot or cold, $5, tuna takata…..$5, buffalo shrimp $5, sushi for $5, beer for $1.50, well drinks $3.50…what a great place to go for a cheap and “juicy” meal….and still within staggering distance back to the boat!  Yeeeehaw!
To the guys at the Salt mine who are following the blog…..I attempted to get in to the mine while we were home at Christmas to say hello and have a visit with everyone, but I was denied access to the minesite by the mine manager……quite unfortunate, it would have been really nice to say hi to everyone.  Quite unfortunate in that the mine manager’s former secretary and her new baby were allowed access to the minesite just the week before….I guess the two sets of rules that exist there will just not ever go away.  OK, enough of that place!
We have sold our Rutland wind generator and the two Shell solar panels.  Alex, a young fellow with more knowledge than a person his age should have, talked us into ridding ourselves of the old technology and replacing it with new…as in new Kyocera 345 solar panels.  These two panels will give us 690 watts of available power on a good day, and we will rid ourselves of the wind generator which was creating a lot of noise in the boat, right above our heads, and causing enough vibration that I was concerned about the long term effects on the arch and boat itself.  We have already sold the panels and wind generator, in fact, there were at least 7 interested parties in this equipment.  The money we received from them will help to reduce the cost of the new solar panels and controller.  We hope this is a positive move, and Alex is quite sure that it is.  Here’s a pic of Alex doing what he does best…and me too…that’s my arm in the picture<grin>, watching Alex!
Alex and the wiring

Alex and the wiring

At least eight boats departed for the Bahamas yesterday, the weather conditions were very good to make the passage.  We have ordered some parts for Moorahme, and our now having new, updated solar panels installed, so our departure will have to wait probably another week.  The long range weather forecast is looking good for us to make our crossing in the near future.
So, enough for now!
The mooring field at night - so peaceful

The mooring field at night – so peaceful

Keep your stick on the ice.

Very Overdue Update – Windsor, Port Charlotte, Key West

I have been remiss in keeping the blog updated, but there are times when tardiness is a good thing!

I am going to work my way backwards on this update, and there will be pics of some of the very fine yachts that are here at Stock Island Marina.  Stock Island marina is new, I believe it opened sometime early this year.  You may remember the 158 foot sailing yacht Legacy, see here    http://www.perininavi.it/en/fleet/sailing-yachts/legacy.  Well, she is still here….and still is without rigging.  My goodness.

Legacy

Legacy

Jim Cornell is a very accomplished sailor, has authored many excellent novels…and is here!  Yes, I actually shook hands with the legend yesterday.  He has organized a round the world rally, and this is one of the “take off points”.  They leave at noon, but 3 of the boats will be delayed, they just aren’t ready.  The blurb on the rally here…..http://cornellsailing.com/2015/01/blue-planet-odyssey-comes-life-key-west/.  There are some gorgeous yachts, including new Lagoon 450’s

Gozzard

Gozzard

Prout 64 Cat

Prout 64 Cat

Alden

Alden

Alden Stern

Alden Stern

Pearson 530

Pearson 530

Our next trawler - don'tknow what it is but its beautiful

Our next trawler – don’tknow what it is but its beautiful

so pretty

so pretty

Legacy Starboard

Legacy Starboard

2015-01-10 Legacy in background 2015-01-10 Legacy #2

Kady Krogen for sale

Kady Krogen for sale

Jimmy Cornell's boat

Jimmy Cornell’s boat

Jimmy Cornell's boat

Jimmy Cornell’s boat

Hinckley 561 draft 8'

Hinckley 561 draft 8′

Hinckely 56

Hinckely 56

Check out the chain plates

Check out the chain plates

Amel Cockpit

Amel Cockpit

A Gozzard for Jamie

A Gozzard for Jamie

1981 Pearson 530

1981 Pearson 530

40 Wauquiez

40 Wauquiez

Legacy

Legacy

Prout Cat Stern

Prout Cat Stern

, an Amel 54, a Hinckley 54, a Wauqiez 40 something or other, and of course Mr. Cornell’s boat.  Hoping the pics turn out nicely on these.  I was told that departure time was high noon…so we arrived at 11:30 to the end of the dock to see the last two boats exiting the marina….must have been high noon somewhere I guess…..but with the reported 9+ plus waves in the gulfstream, I totally understand the early departure.

There are some other tremendous yachts here, including a 1982 Hinckley 56…drafting 8’1″….she needs some brightwork, but hey, it’s a Hinckley.  There are at least 3 Hinckley’s here, and all adorn a dark blue hull.  Very, very nice yachts.  There is also a Prout 64 catamaran, which is for sale.  It’s beam is so wide that I couldn’t fit the entire stern area into the pic taken from the dock.  Wow!  And there is a beautiful 1981 Pearson 530, I do hope the pics do all of these beauties justice.
We had hoped to depart from here today and land at Boot Key Harbour in Marathon Florida, but the winds are snotting along at 20+ knots, and we would have been taking a beating pretty much on the nose if we had left.  So, we remain here, probably until Monday or Tuesday…at only $3.25 per foot, plus tax, plus hydro……OUCH!!  Remember the Wharf Marina in Orange Grove Alabama was $1 a foot?  And Palafox Marina in Pensacola $600 a month?  Well…they aren’t in the Keys………<grin>
Yesterday, I troubleshot an issue with the battery charger.  The Xantrex 3000 inverter/charger that we purchased from West Marine back in October has the battery charger built in. Unfortunately, when I turned on the battery charger, it kicked out the breaker on the main electrical panel.  Not good.  Some troubleshooting hints from Keith and my brother in law Mark came up with the concensus that it was probably the panel breaker.  But to be 100 % certain, I would have to remove the battery leads and run the battery charger with no load.  Not a small task.  The inverter is…well, it’s kind of crammed in beside the engine start and windlass batteries, between them and the water tank under the starboard side settee in the salon.  So….tear apart the settee, then remove the wood framework with supports it, to remove the batteries so that I could access the battery leads on the Xantrex.  Did I mention that it was hot here at Stock Island yesterday, and even with the hatches all open, it was in the mid 80’s in the boat..with a bit of a breeze.  So…very long story short, it turned out to be a bad breaker, also a tad undersized…..and this meant a walk to the closest West Marine available to purchase new breakers…..plural as in let’s have some additional spares just in case.  West Marine is probably about a mile away…or so….and we figured what the heck, might as well buy some fresh seafood.   Oh my…walk in the store and it really doesn’t smell the best…nothing like Joe Patti’s, so we left empty handed.  The shrimp were very expensive anyway, to say the least.
We were within walking distance of HogFish, a local seafood restaurant, so what the heck, let’s do lunch!  Like a small herd of turtles, off we walked to the restaurant.  This place is very difficult to find, but the food!  Oh yeah!  Fresh seafood cerviche, a glass of cold Yuengling, a hogfish sandwich and some fried scallops…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-g-zf9CzdYI    If any of you ever make it to Stock Island, this is a MUST GO TO place.  The hogfish is a very light, excellent flavoured fish.  So, back to the boat, complete the repairs, and it’s beer time.  Nothing tastes as good as a cold Yuengling after completing boat tasks!  Our neighbour Marie from the Hunter 49 next to us joined us in the cockpit for docktails, and entertained us with stories of her boat refitting accomplishments.  She has a 19 foot sailboat she is completely redoing, and has some great stories about her work so far.  I joined the local dockers to save the world here on “D” dock, a couple of good ol’ boys from Alabama and one from Texas.  I missed out on the saving the world part, but did get to drink more beer.  Doh!
Our wind generator is now functioning, providing us additional free power supplementing the solar panels.  We are sailors…and FREE is good!
We arrived here at the Stock Island marina on Wednesday, the 7th.  We arrived just before a big blow….it was neat to see all the fishing boats anchored on the lee side of the island in anticipation of the storm, and the entire shrimp fleet was located just across the fairway from the marina.

Shrimp boats waiting out the bad weather

Shrimp boats waiting out the bad weather

Docking Moorahme was another adventure thanks to the wind and the very tight fairway between “C” and “D” docks proved to be a bit much for me, and we had another wonderful experience getting her into the dock.  Geesh!  Sometimes wonder if we should have named her “Free Entertainment” or some such name.  With the assistance of some dock neighbours, we made it though, and no marks, scars, dents or scratches on us or our neightbours boats.  Life is good.

The overnight sail down from Burnt Store marina did not go quite as planned, we had originally planned on anchoring overnight along the way, but, as usual, the winds picked up big time, Beth and I made a corporate decision to sail on down to the Keys as the winds were favourable to do so.  In hindsight, a very good decision in light of the storm that came through just after we arrived.  The sail down was, other than not anchoring, quite uneventful, and Beth and I took turns resting and manning the helm.  The Transderm patch which Beth used before we set sail, made all the difference in the world for Beth, and she did not suffer any seasickness symptoms until she ran past the life span of the patch.  Replacing it quickly removed the seasickness symptoms, and all was good.

Beautiful full moon shining while we crossed the Gulf from Port Charlotte to Key West

Beautiful full moon shining while we crossed the Gulf from Port Charlotte to Key West

Departing Burnt Store marina was an event!  No, really.  There are no tides to deal with in the Great Lakes, but here in Florida there are.  Even though the normal tide in Port Charlotte Harbour runs about a foot, with the full moon, and north winds, the tide was larger.  Looking at the seawall, it was closer to two feet or better.  So, we fueled up Moorahme, pumped out the head tanks…and waited.   And waited.  And waited.  Finally, at about half past noon, Beth and I decided to give it a go.  Well…..maybe just a wee bit premature in our timing.  We were bumping bottom before we even got out of the marina…and we actually were temporarily stuck at the last dock exiting the marina.

Waiting at Burnt Store Marina for the tide to come back in

Waiting at Burnt Store Marina for the tide to come back in

Sitting at the dock

Sitting at the dock

Leaving on a rising tide is always a good thing, and we were able to back out of the mud/sand and take another run at leaving.  We made it through, and out into the channel, only to bounce our way out, until we became stuck once again.  So, we sat in the channel for a while, and the rising tide helped to lift us off once more.  I used all 100 horses from our trusty Yanmar to get out of the channel….and looking back we probably plowed enough bottom sand to cultivate about 1000 bushels of corn or soy beans…….lol…thank goodness for soft bottom sand.  Moorahme needed a bottom cleaning anyway.

We were able to spend some time with Mark and Cheryl, who are staying on Pine Island.   See here       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Island_%28Lee_County,_Florida%29    It is always a good time with them.  While we were touring around the canals, we met a shrimp boat heading out to work.  The next day, Mark and I went to the boat, and asked if he was selling any shrimp. He gave us directions to his house, and we were able to purchase fresh caught shrimp, nice sized, for $5 a lb.  So, a nice lunch of fresh barbequed shrimp and salad was soon to be had.  They have rented a very nice 3 bedroom home, lovely elevated lanai, boat lifts…the whole nine yards.  Very nice place.
Our return drive from Windsor to Port Charlotte was pretty good until we hit the Florida state line….then it was pretty much stop and go the remainder of the trip.  The heavy traffic added 3 hours to our trip according to the gps.  It was great to finally arrive back at the boat……and begin the formidable task of cleaning the decks of all the bird dung…I swear the boat came up at least two inches before I was done.  We then re-installed the bimini and the remainder of the enclosure in preparation for our departure.

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s eve we spent a nice evening with Joe and Sandi, and Mark and Cheryl.  Joe and Sandi live in Windsor but were at their condo in Bonita Springs for the Christmas holidays.  We were fortunate enough to be able to take Joe, Sandi and Peyton out for an afternoon sail.  Peyton even commanded the ship which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy.  We enjoyed quite a bit of company while staying at Burnt Store Marina, including friends Rick and Linda from Ohio, and Dave, Marni, Al and Margie from Windsor and Chatham.  Our first day back our friend Gar (also from Windsor) came by with his dad, nephews and his sister and brother-in-law, Brenda and Joe. Brenda and Joe own Dynamo Designs in Windsor and are the people who did the great canvas work on Kewalo last year – Small world.  It is always great to entertain company from home! And there are quit a few people from home down here – and quit a few we didn’t get a chance to see (the Kellys, the Vierows, …) -the time just flew by

Christmas was nice, Beth was able to see her kids and spend quality time with them.  Always nice to see them all together.  Christmas dinner was spent at Mark and Cheryl’s, and the food, ambiance and company second to none.  The weather was very nice back home for December, and we were pleased to find all good and well at home.  The house is looking very good with her new siding and window caps.  A very worthwhile investment.  The old bed felt very good and comfy once again.  Which reminds me…we have installed a 3″ foam mattress topper on our berth in Moorahme, and it has increased the comfort level ten fold! Yes! Money well spent.
And speaking of money well spent…Costco was very, very happy to see us in Ft. Myers.  We provisioned Moorahme there.  Having our car and access to Costco were very much big factors in making the decision to do so.  We are confident that doing so saved some $$$, much cheaper and easier than provisioning in the Keys or the Bahamas.
So….that’s the “condensed” version of my update, I am pretty sure that Beth will have some additional comments.
Keep your stick on the ice!