Friday, March 22, 2019

Time Flies

March 22, 2019

Jim and I both enjoy the "Doc Ford" series of books written by Randy Wayne White.  Probably the main reason is that they all take place in the area that we are beginning to become familiar with:  The Everglades, Marco Island, Ft. Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, and Cabbage Key.  We have mental images of most of the places he describes.  In honor of that we decided to walk to Doc Ford's Bar and Grill for lunch.  It is about a mile over the famous blue bridge to Ft Myers.  En route we had a great view of the Mooring Field and if you zoom in far enough you can see our boat - the farthest one out and just behind a sailboat with a black hull.  (Don't bother, I can't see it either!)

Mooring field as seen from the Ft. Myers Bridge
Ft. Myers bridge as seen from our boat

Feeling a need to explore a little, we headed south on the trolley to Lovers Key yesterday.  It is a 1,616 acre State Park south of Ft. Myers Beach.  It is a perfect spot for canoeing, kayaking and hiking.  It is also a great chance to discover just how out of shape we are!  However, we did a little hiking, a lot of watching kayakers, had a picnic lunch and then headed back. 

A word of caution

Typical of the kayaking waterways
One of the most enjoyable spots was a shallow area that was apparently also a favorite of the manatees.  We had a chance to watch a mom and baby as well as two "adolescents" enjoying themselves in the shallows. The mom had a series of white scars on her back from a run in with a propeller.  The manatees are hard to see in the water and altho there are numerous signs for boats to be careful, it is likely that powerboats don't even know that they have gone over one.  Almost all of them have scars of some sort. 

The manatee with mulitple white scars is the mom, baby is right by her

We knew traffic was tough on Estero Blvd (the only thru road in town) but we had no idea that it would take us three hours (instead of one) to get home.  Construction turned much of it into a one lane road.  It was a good spirited group on the trolley (a large number were headed to the main section of Ft. Myers Beach for a Pub Crawl and advertized it with their bright matching chartreuse t-shirts).  No grumbling, but many of us were tempted to get off and walk - it would have been faster, but it was too far for our endurance level.

Arriving back at the dinghy dock, Jim was concerned (and I was terrified).  The wind had picked up to 17 mph plus and the floating docks were bouncing to the point that walking was nearly  impossible.  There were the usual large number of dingys and they, too, were bouncing and looking as if they were trying to fling themselves onto the dock.  The current running through a normally quiet area was powerful and the winds were crazy.  By sitting on the dock we were able to safely scoot into the dinghy and Jim managed to back out without hitting either other dinghys or any of the concrete posts covered in barnacles.  The ride back to the boat involved surfing swells as they rolled in from the Gulf.  They lifted us up and then passed on by.  As we got closer to our boat, at the back of the mooring field, things calmed down - thank goodness for the protection of distance and other boats.

Just in case you may have thought we left Mr. Wiffles behind -  We did not, but we haven't been dragging him around with us.  He has been here before.

Mr. Wiffles taking it easy

Friday, March 8, 2019

The Importance of Being MacGyveresque

March 8, 2019

Anyone who decides to go cruising and is neither mechanically inclined nor a wannabe MacGyver, should make sure they have a nice "cruising kitty". Fortunately for us, Jim is a bit of both because the cruising kitty is problematical.  

Part of our sailing in Charlotte Harbor was fairly rough.  If you have never been aboard a bouncing sailboat, it is hard to imagine the chaos that is created from things that are not tied down.  Think "earthquake".  Jim in an ever resourceful mode designed a system for keeping the cupboard doors shut where he stores spare parts and other supplies.  Somehow he finds picking up large numbers of bolts, nuts and screws less than fun.  (Think closing the barn door after the horse has already taken off)  Most cupboards have hooks where we can attach a single shock cord, but this one doesn't. So this was his temporary solution - at least I think it is temporary. 

A door, a broom, a roll of paper towels and a shockcord!

Heading southward, we anchored for the second time at Cabbage Key.  What a difference a day makes!  No crowds, and a quiet peaceful anchorage. "Entertainment" was provided by a SeaRay power boat which had apparently cut a corner by the channel and had dug himself into the shallows.  TowBoat US spent the whole day putting floats under the boat. (They were walking in ankle deep water!)  At high tide, they were three boats strong, two pulling on the grounded boat and a third who tried to get passing boats to make pretty good wakes to help rock it loose.  After about an hour or two and after high tide they gave up for the day.  We left early the next morning and didn't get to watch the final extraction but passing by a week later the searay was gone!
Three Boat US Tow boats and Sea/Ray
When we arrived at Ft. Myers our plan had been to have our dinghy motor worked on. (this after a complete overhaul at Safe Cove)  It idled way too fast which made docking tricky and putting it into gear very jerky.  No one in Ft. Myers was available to work on it!!  So altho youtube info was not helpful, Jim braved it and after three adjustments we now have a slow idle!  

Our freezer and fridge seem to be inhabited by some inconsistent malevolent creature.  We have two separate Isotherm systems that are proving to be quite the challenge. They cycle intermittently and when one is on, the other won't go on...sometimes.  Temperatures vacilate between below 0 degrees and 38 in the freezer and 8 degrees and 53 in the refrigerator.  We discuss strategies ad nauseum, adjust dials, shift food around and rant and rave with no discernible effect.  This might be one for the cruising kitty.

As much as we have travelled, we are pretty naive about trolleys and trams.  (Ft. Myers has a nice system but on our first try we got on the wrong one and had to start over.)



Yesterday we ventured out and after two trolleys, two buses and two hours we arrived at the Edison Ford Winter Estates and Museum in Fort Myers!  The grounds were a veritable buffet of colorful flowers and shrubs, and contained an incredible variety of trees, many imported from all over the world.  Unfortunately we left the museum until last and although it was the most interesting  (Edison was issued 60 patents in 60 years!) we had to give it short shrift because we were concerned about getting back to our mooring field before dark. 

Jim and Mina Edison
Marg and Thomas Edison

Words of Wisdom:  Keep the electric drill away from the dinghy!!  Jim has been working on replacing one of the steps on our swim ladder.  He was sitting on the dinghy and drilling a hole through the stainless steel rung when the drill slipped off and though it didn't fall, he couldn't prevent it from hitting the inflated tube of the dinghy.  It did not create a perfect quarter inch hole - but it might as well have.   So with slightly elevated blood pressure and heart rates, we dug out our various repair kits and patched the hole.  We still have a slow leak despite several additions to the patch.  We carry both a pump and additional repair materials with us when we go out in it.  It is a bit nervewracking - I mean this is our "car"!