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!
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.
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.
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.
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