Naples to Marco – Extraordinary Contrasts

February 5 – 11, 2017

Miles traveled: 14

Total miles traveled:  2961

I haven’t commented on our weather recently so I will simply say that it is perfect.  Every day is in the high seventies/low eighties and we have had only one day and one night of rain since January 10th.  Not good for the environment but nice for tourism.  We use a couple of fans during the heat of the day plus at night and we are all good. This time last year it wasn’t nearly as nice in the Keys.img_2397CBS Days (clear blue skies)

Report on our time in Naples.  We stayed on the mooring ball four nights (the maximum allowed), went into the dock for two nights getting everything charged up, and back out on the ball for a night.  It was a wonderful stay for many reasons but mostly because everything was convenient, the people were great, and we had friends who treated us to some of the local pleasures of Naples.img_2639View from the mooring ball

On Saturday (4th) we set out for a long exploratory walk.  We literally ran into the Naples Farmers’ Market and believe me, not like any ordinary farmers’ market.  Several blocks long it was colorful, high energy, and high fashion with everything for sale from beets to bikinis.  The baked goods gave way to several unique vendors and displays.  From there we headed away from the crowds and to the beach.  Naples is unique in that every street that runs perpendicular to the Gulf has public access with parks and resident parking.  We walked a long way with our feet in the water enjoying the wildlife, both human and animal.  It was quite a display!  About ten blocks up we left the beach and headed to the grocery market – Wynn’s for some provisioning.  By this point it was hot and a long, long walk back to the Namaste carrying provisions so we Ubered back for $5, well spent.

img_2524Naples Farmer’s Market

Another day we went back to the beach by way of the Bad Ass Coffee Shop (the name has something to do with donkeys that carry the coffee) and required window shopping.  The beach was even more wonderful as it was earlier and cooler.  We next braved the unknown and walked back through neighborhood after neighborhood of multi-million dollar homes.  The auto-parade is yet another story.img_2517There are no words

Additional highlights included meals at Nemo’s and the Ciboa Grille – both excellent – and a walk through the lovely Naples botanical Gardens.  Something we learned:  there are 65 thrift (resale) shops in Naples.  Why you wonder would this community need thrift shops?  The answer lies in the age and stage of its residents.  It is a relatively new community beginning development in the early ‘60’s with lots and lots of older folks buying homes and condos over the last fifty years.  When the inevitable happens, there are lots and lots of gigantic homes and posh condos full of stuff to be disposed.  Families simply call one of the 65 shops who show up and evaluate the goods.  No drop off here, they don’t take anything that is even slightly worn!  The store layouts (one was previously a car dealership) and bargains are astounding.

fullsizeoutput_85f2In the Asian Garden – One of several gardens representing this latitude around the world.

img_2620The Botanical Gardens Origami display – paper through to metal sculptures

img_2635 img_2637Orchids everywhere

I may have reported on laundry experiences before but recently gave the prize to a couple who washed two very large loads, threw them both into the same dryer and allowed it to run for well over an hour – never coming back to check on drying progress.  When the dryer shut off I removed their clothes which is a breach of the marina laundromat ethical code but enough was enough.  Since there were only two washers and one dryer we invested over two and a half hours in accomplishing one reasonable sized load of laundry.  No multi-tasking here.  The good news was being outside with an incredible view.

What have we been up to besides meandering down the SW coast of Florida?  Jim has been working hard on varnishing the exterior teak while I perfect the wet-varnish-dance.  Step here, don’t touch there!  Currently he is sanding the binnacle – the post that holds up the compass just ahead of the wheel.  Sammy finds a shady spot in the cockpit and settles down for what she knows will be a long nap!  Hear boring, zzzzz!

img_2699Keeping the Namaste beautiful

Today I learned that the manatee is no longer on the endangered list.  Although not sure why, I suspect this is a good thing.  Pelicans (not endangered) greeted us at the breakwater coming into the Naples channel and then gathered for dinner below where the charter boat fishermen were cleaning their catch.  We loved watching the Sandpipers gather on a windy day, in rows like soldiers, facing into the wind. We also identified a Royal Tern.

img_2492Naples Greeters!

img_2507Where is dinner?  This scene was just off the dinghy dock where we parked to go ashore. Sammy was somewhere between ecstatic and terrified.

fullsizeoutput_85deThe dinner scramble

fullsizeoutput_85e3Sandpipers all in a row

fullsizeoutput_85e7Beautiful Royal Tern

fullsizeoutput_8629One of my personal favorite, random, beach pictures.

On Thursday (9th) we sadly pulled up anchor – really released lines to a ball – and headed back out into the Gulf for Marco Island.  It was a short but lovely 14 mile sail.  Upon arrival, we had the choice of either anchoring out in a bay (remember free) or heading to one of several marinas.  Since we knew the weather report was calling for high winds the next day and a few other variables, we opted for the most expensive, Marco Island Yacht Club and Marina complete with pool and beautiful, quiet setting.  What we didn’t know was that due to the spectacular full moon, the tides would be at their lowest of low.  The first morning here we woke up to Sammy’s insistent whining because our keel was resting into a couple feet of soft muddy bottom and the boat was pitched forward.  Our watch dog warned us that something was definitely wrong!  We were tied to a floating dock which kept us upright and were delighted with our decision not to anchor out that particular night.  Sammy has two wonderful playmates, Izzy and Sprite.  Izzy is a black lab who carries two toys in her mouth at all times and Sprite who keeps Sammy in line as it is her dock.

We will stay a few more days in Marco before we head into the Everglades and on down to the Keys.

Good boat name of the day:  Magic Happened (Makes you wonder?)

Bad boat name of the day: Nervous Wreck

Quote of the day:  At times I’m grateful that thoughts don’t appear in bubbles over our head-Kushandwizdom

Happy Birthday to:  Jim, Bernie and Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Our very best thoughts to:  Michele, Roger

Wings of Freedom

January 30 – February 4, 2017

Miles traveled: 59

Total miles traveled:  2947

On our last night in Fort Myers we had one of those rare but wonderful, I feel like have known you all of my life experiences.  We had been watching a dock-mate carefully sand, tape, stain and then varnish the bright work on his boat.  He was meticulous and painstaking, just like someone else I know.  We never got around to saying hello until another boater mentioned that John, Luann, and the boat Sandpiper were also from Michigan.  I then made it a point to go over, admire his work and mention Michigan.  The litany of what we have in common is endless including they’re home on Lake Michigan just down the beach from Camp Lookout, our shared time at MSU, as well as Jim and John’s engineering and sailing histories.  We enjoyed an evening together with the promise to meet up again in the Bahamas and/or eventually Frankfort!

img_2377And we thought we were the only Namaste?

After a rainy Sunday, we left Fort Myers on Monday, January 30th heading to Fort Myers Beach which is not as close as it sounds and which required navigating the multiple and confusing channel markings at the convergence of the Caloosahatchee River and the Gulf.  We mostly stayed out of trouble.  Since we are attempting to see and do different things this time around southern FL, we called ahead to several resort/marinas along the way but found that they charged more than double our nightly dockage budget which is already way too high.

img_2397The pretty part of the channel

img_2400The hair-raising part of the channel

img_2401Arrived at Salty Sam’s

While at Salty Sam’s we met Loopers Nick, Barb, and Ziggy (Ziggy Zaggy Scallawaggy) who looks like Sammy with long legs.  I mention them because when they pulled up to the dock next to us, I thought she looked familiar.  Through conversation we realized that she had been sitting at our table at the Looper Palooza Conference.  After the first session break her notebook and water remained at the table but she never returned.  By her admission, it was a beautiful day and she has no attention span! Exactly, who needs an indoor boating conference!  They are having boat repairs done but hopefully we will cross paths again soon.

While here Captain Jim got the dinghy outboard motor running again.  Note to selves:  don’t let it sit in the hot FL sun for eight months with gas in the carburetor = syrup.  Another day we walked across the waterway bridge and had a beautiful beach and shopping day.  I found the best  bathing suit store ever, did I just say that?  The pictures (of the beach, not the bathing suits) tell the story!img_2426View walking across the bridge in the early morning

img_2446Perfect Beach!

img_2447Pausing for a moment of reflection, or is it planning?

fullsizeoutput_85cdThis White Egret and I share similar coiffure challenges

img_2435 Continue reading

A Week in Fort Myers

January 20 – 29, 2017

Miles Traveled: 2888

We left River Forest Marina on Monday (January 23rd) grateful that our repairs were done and ready to be on our way after two days of 25-35 mph winds with gusts above 50.  It was an uneventful trip the final 40 miles across Florida to Fort Myers managing two locks and several lift and swing bridges through rural turned high-end Florida. We tied up at the FM Yacht Basin wall, not a pretty but a successful docking under 25 mph crosswinds. This city-owned marina meets our needs well:  good, clean, new showers; large outdoor laundry with a view; dependable internet reception; a ship’s store that has everything and more; a one block walk to the historic district with great shopping and restaurants; close-by post office and library; friendly people and lots of dogs to entertain Sammy.

A swing bridge.  Note the lady in yellow in the right picture – the bridge tender who walks out from shore to open the bridge for each passing boat!

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A railroad lift bridge that stays open unless a train is coming.  Just imagine the train engineer coming along (from either direction) realizing someone forgot to put down the bridge!

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Namaste safely docked beside the wall in Fort Myers.  We have since moved to a slip.  Note the Looper Flag flying.

Provisioning here isn’t easy with the local Publix a mile or so walk away.  We planned on riding the Trolley back with our many bags.  However, in the lucky and small world category, we ran into our yacht broker who drove us to within 100 steps of the boat.  Thank you, Michael!  Need to provision again today, think we will use Uber.

There have been several highlights to our days here. The social report includes saying good-by once again to our boat buddies Vickie and Ron who are wintering near Orlando and then bumping into a happy-hour group of ten or so Loopers. Many were gold Loopers meaning they having already completed at least one loop.  Some we knew from last winter and several are currently in progress so conversations were fun, interesting and helpful.  Another day we spent with Jim’s cousins Judy and Beth and their husbands Gary and Dean.  We had lunch at Ford’s Garage, ice cream at the local ice cream/popcorn shop and the afternoon by the water catching up with the Kelly/McFall families – the best of family soup!  Then yesterday we accepted an invitation to join Ev and Clark on their beautiful new boat, Sunset Delight – a 52’ Krogan Express.  We went on a day excursion, anchoring for lunch and enjoying Fort Myers from the water.  She is by far the most beautiful boat I have ever traveled aboard and I have been on a lot of boats!

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A day with cousins!  Same time next year?

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Reflection in Restrooms of Ford’s Garage.  Gotta love the creativity!

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Captains Clark and Jim enjoying the day on Sunset Delight!

Another day we hopped aboard the free Trolley and headed to the Edison Ford Estates – really a museum remembering Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.  To say it was interesting is an understatement but for me the depiction of their father/son, turned peer relationship was the best! The two family’s neighboring winter estates and their camping trips into the Everglades alongside the prolific achievements of both men made for an attention focused afternoon.  There was also a Banyan Tree on the property whose canopy covers more than ¾ of an acre.  I fondly remember sitting under that tree with my mom while visiting in the early 1970’s when they first came to Florida.  Today I sat under the same tree having a pretend glass of wine and enjoying a phone conversation with my friend Sally. Captain Jim was watching a movie about Henry Ford and reminiscing his 40 year auto industry career.img_2308 img_2318 img_2317

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Statues of Edison (under the Banyan tree) and Ford along with Edison’s winter estate and a 97’Royal Palm along the Caloosahatchee River – about a mile downriver from where we are.

A word about birds. The brown and most common pelicans catch their food by diving below the water surface which is hazardous to their vision followed by cause of death when they can no longer see their prey. The more rare and somewhat smarter white pelicans simply scoop up the fish with their bills and massive gullets.  We have seen a couple of white pelicans and my hope is to see one while feeding. Also, Sammy and I unintentionally scared up a large flock of white Ibis the other day but I am not sure who was more scared.

A word about books.  Captain Jim is enjoying a book he found on a marina “free” table, Your Boat’s Electrical System,  published in 1973 and a perfect manual for our 1976, Namaste.

We will be here through Monday, January 30th, catching up on boat chores like laundry, filling water tanks and varnishing the sole (floor) of the cabin.  Today we had lunch outside at the Lodges with beautiful but surreal north country lodge décor which made me a little homesick.  Great food was followed by a walk down main street closed for the local car show.  It is supposed to rain tomorrow which will be our first since leaving Michigan.   Wishing you peace in these turbulent times!

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Jim having lunch at the lodges and yes that is a ’65 Corvette over his right shoulder.

 

Boat Names of the Day:          

Watercolor, beautifully painted

Evergreen, totally white plastic with not a lick of wood or color

Happy Birthday to:  Curt and Roger

Indiantown through Shakedown

January 8, 2017 – January 19, 2017

Miles traveled:  2847

After a few days at the Homestead and Boyne (gotta keep on skiing) we all returned home settling into our various routines for the new year!  Although Jim had done a significant amount of organization and packing before the holidays, I had done nothing.  My priority was visiting friends and last minute shopping.  Jim’s was watching the bags and boxes overtake the breezeway and wondering how it would all fit into the Tiguan.  At 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 8th I mopped the kitchen floor on my way out the door and we sped up the driveway heading south.

At some point I noticed that Sammy appeared to be on a hunger strike.  I have been happy about the fact that at six years old she has only eaten kibble augmented by the occasional dog treat. When she stopped eating, the good nurse that I am decided she probably had a bowel obstruction or some equally fatal malady if untreated.  As panic was beginning to set in, a boat angel suggested that I mix a little peanut butter with the kibble.  She scarfed down the entire bowl and has been happily eating her kibble mixed with gourmet wet dog food ever since. My best guess is that while boarded during our anniversary celebration, someone mixed something tasty with the kibble and the gig was up!  She is back to her happy, happy self!

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Sammy all packed in

We had an uneventful drive to Nashville where we visited friends Jim and Kathy Mongene who are busy building a beautiful home in gorgeous countryside.  Day two we drove to Lake City, FL marveling that although the highways were dry, there was a ground covering of snow right through Atlanta.  Day three we arrived early at Indiantown to a waiting Namaste.  We felt reasonably rested, excited and ready to take on the challenge of getting her launched.  The marina is huge but has relatively few slips so we could not actually put her into the water for three long days of cleaning and carrying all those bags and boxes up a 12’ ladder.  This would have been immensely easier from a dock!  Jim had done the general engine maintenance and after some coaxing, Namaste started up.  As planned we departed Indiantown at 9 am on Sunday, January 15th, exactly one week after leaving home.

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Is it all up here yet?

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A momentary delay in launch as a Manatee is coaxed from the boat well.  The Namaste hull in the upper right corner.

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Raising the Loop flag for Leg #2 of our journey.

The float plan included a 35 mile trip down the Okeechobee Waterway through Lake O to Clewiston, FL.  The weather was perfect and we were particularly vigilant about staying in the narrow channel as the water is “skinny” here in central Florida.  We were expecting a perfect journey but while crossing Lake O, the oil pressure dropped to zero for no apparent reason.  Not good!  Captain Jim added a little oil at a time and we limped into CLewiston determining that after changing the oil filter, the top had only been hand tightened – an easy but messy fix!

The following morning we departed Clewiston heading down the Caloosahatchee River happily on our way to Fort Myers.  About five miles out, the engine began to surge and eventually quit.  Dead-in-the-water is definitely worse than oil pressure at zero. It was a quiet, narrow river so we drifted to the bank while awaiting Tow Boat US (a $750 tow thankfully covered by insurance) and a slow ride back to Clewiston where it was determined by our delightful towboat captain, commercial fisherman, and mechanic that there was air in the fuel lines.  He bled the lines and again we were ready to go the next morning keeping the speed down and trying to get to the River Forest Yacht Center, a working marina with multimillion dollar boats and expert mechanics.  As Sammy and I write this in an air-conditioned lounge, Captain Jim is overseeing the repairs which include replacing a fuel filter and two fuel injector lines.  Relatively easy repairs except that it has now taken almost 24 hours to order the parts with another day for delivery and another day of installation.  Hopefully this concludes our shakedown cruise.

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Captains Jack and Jim hooking up for the tow.

Meanwhile, we had reservations at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin beginning today for the weekend Looper-Palooza, a rendezvous/conference/mostly party for those who are thinking about, doing, or celebrating the completion of their Loop. Old friends will be there including Vickie and Ron as well as connecting with 2017 Loopers.  Since we will be unable to get there by boat, we hitched a ride into Fort Myers, rented a car, visited the local Walmart and laundromat  and will now “do” the weekend driving the 50 miles each way from here to Fort Myers, a great Plan B.  Parts will be delivered and installed tomorrow while we are away.

I do want to make a few observations about rural South Central Florida, just above the Everglades.  First, let me say that everyone has been as polite and helpful as can be, even when we aren’t exactly understanding one another.  Indiantown, Clewiston and now LaBelle are truly multicultural towns with coexisting Hispanic and African American neighborhoods combined with the local white farmers/cowboys and a golfing retirement community.  Housing seems segregated but with shared businesses, services, recreation facilities and schools.  The supermarkets carry many brands I don’t recognize and lacked several that would be common at home.  Customers in both a small market and in the laundromat were an even mix of black, Hispanic and white.

A second observation concerns the Waterway related industries.  Our third-generation commercial fisherman, Captain Jack, who towed us back to Clewiston, explained his frustrations with the American shopper willing to purchase Chinese, farm raised Tilapia (and other fish I didn’t recognize) knocking the bottom out of any traditional pricing structure.  He went on to describe how these fish farms are run which leaves me knowing I will not eat any farm raised fish from China or anywhere else if I can help it.

Then early one morning at the bass fishing dock, we learned about the industry charged with eradicating non-indigenous growth from the waterways.  These are young guys riding high on fast and loud air boats (testosterone abounding) presumably dumping herbicides into the required areas.  We also understand they hunt alligator eggs.  Hopefully there is some science behind all of this.

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Heading out for the day on a fast, fun boat!

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Two favorite sunrise pictures this week

It has been a long day and we are tired so will close until next time.  We hope that you are well and enjoying life.

Quote of the Day:  Imagine what seven billion humans could accomplish if we all loved and respected each other.  Imagine.  –AD Williams

Good Boat Name of the Day:  Sunset Delight (the beautiful 52’ Krogan Express recently purchased by our friends Ev and Clark

Happy Birthday to:  Liam, Nate, Curt, Gwen

Get well to:  Bryan’s Dad

The Great American Loop on Hold – Indian Town, Florida to 1563 Blue Heron and Back

April 29, 2016 to January 8, 2015

Eight months didn’t seem to allow enough time to write this blog entry, plus having readily available and high speed internet and a comfortable desk would have made it too easy.  So upon our return and as I sit on the aft deck of the Namaste reflecting and summarizing our time in Michigan what I know for sure is that we are grateful for supportive family, incredible friends and opportunities for meaningful fun!  If you are reading this blog it is likely you helped us enjoy our home-stay!

Although there is far too much to share, below are some of the highlights in words and pictures, in no particular order of importance:

  • Birthdays for 6 of our 8 grandchildren happened within 39 days. That is one birthday every 6.5 days. What are the odds?  We sadly missed Liam’s 11th and Nates 5th in January but are confident that their families will make their days special.

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    Cousin joint birthday party at Revel and Roll!  Oscar (11 days old) was home with Mom!

  • An original turtle birthday cake was created to welcome our newest grandson, a perfect Oscar Michael McFall who arrived on November 24, 2016 (Thanksgiving Day) at 5:50 p.m. weighing in at an even 10 lbs. I accepted Veta and Mike’s generous invitation to attend the home birth with immense gratitude tinged with tiny doses of trepidation which I managed by voraciously reading as much as I could about midwifery and home births.  It is their beautiful story to tell but in summary it was a life-changing, awe-inspiring, experience I will cherish forever.  Mom and baby are doing great!fullsizeoutput_7c0c.jpegOscar Michael McFall brand new!

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    Oscar at 6 weeks and 15 pounds

  • An extended loop detour to the Pacific Northwest.  We visited our Looping boat buddies Vicki and Ron on Orcas in the San Juan Islands. The opportunity to visit their beautiful home on East Sound, getting personal tours of Orcas plus a five day boat cruise on their Mei Wenti through the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands went beyond all expectations. Their easy hospitality, the gorgeous weather and the breathtaking scenery were more than we could ever have imagined.  We are now within days of meeting up with them in Fort Myers, FL.

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    View from Vickie and Ron’s gorgeous home.  East Sound of Orcas Island

  • After 9 days as house guests we departed for Salt Lake City and another special visit with my brother’s family, Missy, Chris, Carson Amy and their three beautiful daughters. Meals and memories were shared along with an amazing Fall mountain driving adventure!  We then rented a big SUV for the drive back to Michigan into which we (barely) loaded the Victorian dollhouse my brother, Bill, made for our granddaughter, destined to be a family heirloom.
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    A Poppenger reunion

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    Bill’s Doll House
  • Only slightly out of the way, we decided to visit Jim’s niece and her family in Fort Collins, CO, a not-to-be missed small city that reminds me of Ann Arbor 30 years ago.  Jen, Eric and their family enjoy a good life and we loved hearing about her new business venture, thesweetpetiteco.com
  • We attended countless sporting events: volleyball, hockey, soccer and basketball and football but missed seeing Ashleigh’s first high school ski race by two days! We shared delicious meals with friends and caught up with the events of everyone’s interesting lives.  We spent weekends at Boyne City and Camp Lookout as well as Mackinaw Island and attended unique and beautiful weddings in Traverse City and Chicago.   We watched plays and went to concerts.  In our down-time we swam in our beautiful Dunham Lake; I walked miles with Judy and beautiful wooden creations emerged from Jim’s shop.
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    Biking Mackinaw Island on Jim’s birthday weekend

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     Memorable Friends and Family weekend at Camp Lookout!

  • Speaking of Jim, he lived for two weeks in Indiantown, FL working on the Namaste. While he enjoyed the time with friends and living in the marina, she required a great deal of attention (called hard work) from the harsh summer elements.  We regret not having followed local advice to add pans of dry formaldehyde to our departure routine in an effort to combat the mold – next time!
  • Perhaps most importantly Jim and I celebrated our 50th anniversary on December 30, 2016. Our children, their partners and our grandchildren treated us to a special weekend at the Homestead near Traverse City.  Perfect in every way!   Thank you to the very best family!

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    . . . and 50 Years later!

Many thanks go to Ilene Heffelbower for everything over 35 years plus following and printing out each blog entry.

We are happily back on the Loop, will try to blog more often and would love to hear from you too.

 

 

The Great American Loop, Final Entry of Leg #1 Boyne City, MI To Indiantown, FL

Days 304-320; April 24–May 10

Total Water Miles Traveled: 2758

The Manatee Pocket – a small lake just off the ICWW – is as lovely as it’s name. This is the point at which the St. Lucie River cuts into central Florida and creates a path to Indiantown where the Namaste will rest during our return home to Michigan for the summer of 2016.

We stopped at Mariner Cay Marina to catch our breath, enjoy the scenery and get organized for going home. We spent Earth Day attending a festival in the quaint little town of Port Salerno on the shores of Manatee Pocket and a dinghy ride from our marina. It was a hot afternoon complete with a tiny version of everything you would expect at a summer festival: music, lunch/dinner at Shrimpers, chair massage, a plant sale, hand made jewelry, hand woven clothing, etc. Laundry; long planning walks; boat maintenance and restful pool time kept us occupied until we set out on our last travel day to Indiantown.

It was a warm, sunny and easy Sunday with only 25 miles to go, one bridge to open and one lock to pass. We were out of the mansions and back into the mangroves with wildlife and natural beauty all around. Note the cattle watering holes below. Captain Jim and I commented on how quiet we were as we traveled this final day. The journey has been everything we could have dreamed and so much more. While we are excited to return home to friends and family, it is hard to put this adventure on the shelf until next time and hard to leave The Namaste, the lifestyle and the people. However, in every way it was a memorably perfect final day of travel for now.

We arrived at Indiantown in the early afternoon but the marina staff had already gone home for the day. Thus, we tied up at the gas dock and since we would be here for at least five days, we began to explore and almost immediately felt at home. It is truly a working marina where they have created a community of folks who love to return each year. There is a continual stream of boats coming into the marina every day, receiving tender care and then gently being lifted out of the water onto waiting stanchions or the reverse process of being launched, cleaned up and leaving the marina for parts unknown. Very early one morning I was privileged to watch as a large sailboat with two men aboard slowly crept through the marina and out into the St. Lucie River, heading across the Atlantic for Europe.

A couple of nights we had dinner with Carol & Bob and new friends in the restaurants of Indiantown but the last night we shared a pot-luck of whatever each of us could come up with from our meager final provisions. It was an interesting while tasty meal with lots of laughter and promises to meet again.

The task at hand was to ready The Namaste to be “hauled out” and placed on “the hard” along with several hundred other cruising boats. We have confidently done this many times in Michigan where we prepare her for winter but getting ready for months of sun, heat, humidity, mold and bugs is another story. We followed each directive offered including wiping every surface inside the cabin with vinegar which we all (particularly Sammy) found reasonably offensive; setting out roaster pans of charcoal; blocking every “through hull” with screening along with filling diesel tanks and emptying holding and water tanks; covering as much varnished teak as possible with tarps and finally screwing her to the ground with huge yellow straps just in case a hurricane passes by. We, however, did resist the suggestion to hang bags of formaldehyde! What to take, what to leave and why were the unending questions with frequent differences of opinion but at noon on April 29th – ten months and one day after leaving The Harborage Marina in Boyne City – we boarded our jam- packed rental car and headed for home.

Storms raged all along I75 during our two-day road trip but we managed to navigate them and the endless construction. We stopped and saw all six children and seven grandchildren before arriving at 1563 Blue Heron late evening on Sunday, May 1st. It has been a wonderful reentry and we are absolutely glad to be at home but reading the AGLCA digest each morning and following FB keeps us in tune with the Great American Loop and our Looping friends.

This will be our last Wave from Namaste blog entry for now. While Jo Ann has provided the commentary, all the credit goes to Captain Jim for his knowledge, skill, patience and creativity in making this a safe, comfortable and wildly exciting trip.   We plan to return to the Namaste for leg #2 early in 2017 after welcoming our eighth grandchild in November and celebrating our 50th anniversary in late December. Our plan is to spend much of the winter and early spring in the Bahamas. Please stay tuned . . .

Quote of the Day: “20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

(I may have included this quote earlier but it seems worth repeating here.)

Boat Name of the Day: “Windisfree”

Bad Boat Name of the Day: “Knucklehead”

Happy Birthday to: Bev Verkerke, Georgie DeRose, Melissa Spindler, Missy Poppenger, Theresa McFall, Donna Leech and me!

Congratulations to Kelly and Adis!

IMG_0233Carol in her signature hat at Shrimpers in Port Salerno

The St. Lucie River to Indiantown.  Note the fence above which encloses a watering hole for the grazing cattle to drink in protected waters.  Never saw this in any of the many other rivers.  Brilliant!

IMG_0279Jim being a boat angel (khaki brimmed hat in the middle of the picture) is winching up our neighbor in a bosuns chair to fix something at the top of his mast.  Believe me, not everyone could do either of these jobs!

IMG_0277The Namaste engine gets a coat of blue paint.  Isn’t she pretty?

IMG_0293A relaxing afternoon after an exhausting day in the boat yard. 

IMG_0298Under the watchful eye of Captain Jim and Sammy. . .

IMG_0313The Namaste is “hauled out,” her bottom washed. . .

IMG_0321. . . she is covered and resting until next time!

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Some of the reasons to return to 1563 in Spring

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The seven most important reasons to return home for the summer!

“Bridges, Beaches, Buildings, Boats, and Barges”

Coconut Grove to Manatee Pocket, Florida

Days 299-303; April 18–April 23

Total Miles Traveled: 2733

After a roller-coaster month in Coconut Grove, Dinner Key Marina, we left on Monday, March 18th from Biscayne Bay headed into the inter-coastal waterway (ICWW) in downtown Miami. We shared a wonderful Sunday morning breakfast and wander through Coconut Grove one last time with Bob & Carol, Deb and Drew before saying farewell until next time. “Time Enough” would head up the outside (Atlantic) after her new engine was installed and ultimately meet us in Indiantown. Shawnee would head up the outside on a 72 hour sail in the Gulf Stream to North Carolina (more about that later). Jo Ann decided that she wanted to travel the inside or ICWW to see the sights of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

IMG_0121Bob, Drew and Jim wandering Coconut Grove

IMG_0124Deb, Jo Ann and Carol  (We felt pretty much like middle schoolers at the Mall)

The Miami skyline had been our front yard view all month and we made several visits into downtown Miami but ushering the Namaste through the confusing channels and heavy traffic was quite another story – even on a beautiful Monday morning.

IMG_0130 Leaving Coconut Grove out the narrow and shallow channel

IMG_0135Coming up to the Miami Skyline – where do we get into  the ICWW again?

This is where the endless bridges begin.  Car traffic must travel between the barrier islands along the coast from the incredible beaches back and forth to the mainland.   Hence, we orchestrated 42 bridges on the four-day trip. Namaste needs 47’ of clearance to pass and the bridge range was 65’ down to 9’. A few bridges we could chug right under but for the rest we needed a lift, often waiting up to 45 minutes drifting around with several boats, often mega-yachts, waiting in both directions. Some tenders opened on the hour and half hour; some opened on the quarter and three quarter hour; some opened on the hour; and some upon request so as we approached each bridge we were required to call the tender on the VHF radio, identify our boat and request the timing of their next opening. We would then line up to march on through. On occasion it was clear that some captains had not gone to kindergarten as taking turns was not necessarily their strong suit. However, for the most part our fellow captains and the bridge tenders were helpful and friendly. We did note that at the end of a day everyone got a little testy.  One day we traveled with the boat, “Entitled” and when they announced their name the female bridge tender replied, “Entitled. Really? Entitled?” No response from the captain but an imaginary chuckle rippled through the dozens of boats that were listening in on the transmission.

 IMG_0185Ocean Avenue Bridge, one of the prettiest little bridges along the way

IMG_0178The Namaste is clear and thank you for the opening

The Inter-Coastal Waterway was everything we anticipated and more.   Clearly this is where the 1/10th of 1% chooses to spend their time as the mansions majestically go on and on and on. Loopers ahead had posted pictures to FB but pictures do not tell the story of the wealth, beauty and decadence of this segment. On the other hand, given the absolutely gorgeous weather there were almost no people about except the occasional gardener or construction worker building yet another immense structure. A pleasant diversion would be the occasional play-scape or busy park.

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Above and below are two of the more modest lifestyles available on the waterway

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Second only to the homes were the boats, no yachts, no mega-yachts! We are trying to keep our boat envy under control. The pictures below do tell it all but again, our sense is that these mansions-on-water are usually moved about by hired captain and crew. The people must be off somewhere making more money? Probably the biggest and our favorite was “Limitless” a navy-blue hulled beauty who truly fulfilled her name. Most often the impact was multiplied by a multi-million dollar mansion with the multi-million dollar yacht docked out front.

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IMG_0201“Limitless”

IMG_0202. . .and some are even shrink wrapped

On the flip side let me tell you about the “Annie Murray” – a salty, wooden, 25 foot, last of her generation, cutter captained by a beautiful young woman from Nova Scotia. We traveled under a couple of bridges together so learned that she had been living in the Keys for five years and was headed to Maine with no crew and thus could not sail the outside. Her engine was overheating “a bit” so her speed was slow but she navigated the helm standing up and using her toes to guide the wheel.

IMG_0174“The Annie Murray”  If you look closely you can see her standing in the aqua shirt at the stern.

We hadn’t seen barges since leaving the river system in early December but the ICWW has its fair share, mostly construction barges for new bridges and buildings. So along with the pleasure craft there is a mix of barges, tows, dredges, freighters, dive boats, water taxis and cruise ships.

IMG_0159Freighter being loaded

IMG_0205Barges and cranes everywhere

IMG_0139Charter Boats – Note Hard Rock Cafe in the background

IMG_0163Water Taxi – Note houses in the background

IMG_0140One of many Cruise Ships

This was a very slow trip of 115 miles over four days but it was a great trip and I am so glad we did it. If there is a next time we will likely join the others on the “outside.” We anchored each night enjoying peace and a full moon: Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale, a beautiful basin lined by aforementioned homes and yachts; Southern Boulevard Anchorage, a wide spot on the waterway; and Southern Hobe Sound Anchorage where we put down the hook with “Pearl,” a looping, tugboat we last saw in Green Turtle Bay, KY.   On the fourth day we were back into the rural mangroves with only two bridges arriving at Manatee Pocket, a small lake off the inter-costal. Here we where we are staying at the Mariner Cay Marina. It is quiet and complete with pool (89 degrees today) awaiting “Time Enough’s” arrival this afternoon.

IMG_0165Lake Sylvia Anchorage

IMG_0188Sunset at the Southern Boulevard Bridge near West Palm Beach

IMG_0226Full Moon Rise in Manatee Pocket

Quote of the Day: “Weather reports show 10 knot winds and we have 20 knots with green water coming over the bow – staying seated or lying down the whole time!” -Text from Deb and Drew aboard “Shawnee” in the Gulf Stream. (We are happy to report that our open ocean sailors have safely arrived at their destination a little weary but accomplished and happy!)

Boat Name of the Day: “Mustang Sally” on a boat we never saw but heard from all day  on the VHF radio.

Bad Boat Name of the Day: “Sexy” on an all silver go fast boat with as much red trim as could be added to a boat.

Happy Birthday to: Norma Neumann and Emily Spindler (belated)