Sunday, May 14, 2017

Home from 27 day Spring Cruise

New Route home going under Sanibel Bridge
The forecast was for high gusty winds that would stir up the seas.  Therefore, we decided to forego another day in Naples and head for home.  At 10:30 a.m. we started the engine and took off on a gorgeous balmy day into the turquoise blue waters of the Gulf.  We traveled to the Fort Myers area where we took a new route, under the Sanibel Bridge and around to the Inter-coastal Waterway.  We motored approx. 7 hours and turned into Ponce Inlet, Punta Gorda.  As we approached our dock, Richard said, "Look who's here!"   It was friends, Marilyn & John, who caught our dock lines and provided us with coconut rum punch to celebrate our journey.  That was so nice of them and then we all headed out to Manatee Pizza for sustenance. 
House along Naples shoreline

Marilyn took this picture of us coming into our home dock
As we recounted our experiences, we told them the best part was meeting up with friends and cruisers along the way.  We also enjoyed visiting 8 yacht clubs - they all have a different "feel" but are like going to a nice hotel or resort with beautiful facilities, pool(s) and restaurants.  The friendliest yacht clubs were St Charles (Ft Myers) and Coral Ridge(Ft Lauderdale) because members and the staff were extremely nice to us. Our most memorable meal was lobster night at Vero Beach.  We really liked Vero Beach because of the free public transportation that is available and the museum and theater.  We also learned how to use Uber, which is a great app to download on your phone.  You can charge the ride to your credit card and it is VERY reasonable to get to where you want to go locally.  The drivers were also very friendly!

Richard compiled these statistics (being the scientist that he is!):

  • In 27 days, we traveled 684 statute miles
  • We ran 87.5 engine hours
  • We ran 39.8 generator hours
  • We visited 8 yacht clubs in the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs where we received 8 free nights and stayed 6 more nights that we paid mostly modest amounts of money
  • We moored (caught a mooring ball) for 4 nights (costing about $30 night)
  • We stayed in 1 more public marina
  • We stayed at Moore Haven City Dock and Franklin Lakes Park (modest cost)
  • We set our anchor out for 3 nights
  • We used approximately 369 gallons of fuel for the engine and 40 gallons for the generator, and got about 1.85 miles/gallon or 1.6 nautical miles/gallon
  • Diesel fuel prices varied but mostly it is about $2.65 per gallon


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Kitty On Board

Our boat cat, Bleu Kitty relaxes on one of our charts
Just a few words about our 6-year old Persian cat, Bleu Kitty.  Traveling with him on the boat is really easy.  He's a great little passenger and doesn't seem to mind the noisy engine, generator and getting rocked around on Indigo Star.  Thanks to friends, Diane & Dwayne, we found a kitty litter that does not spread all over the boat.  Now, if we could only get Bleu not to make a mess around his food dish! 

He is very interested in the moving water and the birds and bugs that make their way around our little ship.  Bleu has to be tied because he is likely to get under the dashboard on the upper deck.  He thinks it is really FUN to crawl in that little space with all the wires.   When Richard is checking out the engine below, we also have to watch that he doesn't jump down there and take his own personal tour of all the mechanics of the boat!  The motion never seems to bother him and he is always ready to eat his meal whether at anchor or underway.  We are some really lucky pet owners!

Cruising Down the Keys and Heading for Home

It was time to leave the beautiful Miami area and head down the inside passage of the Keys. This is “skinny” water which means that some of the spots may only be 5 ft deep; therefore, it is not recommended for vessels drawing more than 4-1/2 ft. Luckily, our trawler draws 3 ft. 8 inches, but even so, we were careful in some of the low areas.

Cruising through one of the skinny cuts
We cruised down Biscayne Bay on a crystal-clear sunny day. We then made our way through some narrow cuts entering and exiting Card Sound, Barnes Sound, Black Water and Buttonwood Sounds. After about 7 hours at the wheel, we decided to call it a day and anchored off the Hilton on Key Largo. Our friends on s/v Sabrena, Jackie and Bob, were with us anchored not far away. The next morning we got another early start and motored past Pigeon Key, Cowpens Cut, Tavernier, and Plantation Key to our destination of Islamorada. We got out our dingheys and motored for a great lunch at Lorelei's, which is a famous place for food in Paradise. Later, we took a swim around the boat and enjoyed Happy Hour with Jackie & Bob.  We bid farewell to them as we decided to head slowly for home.
Islamorada Sunset

On Wednesday we traveled down the Florida Bay all the way to Indian Key, a remote anchorage in the 10,000 Islands, an uninhabited area of Florida that is part of the Everglades. We piloted the boat for 10-1/2 hours and we were glad to tuck in, enjoy dinner and rest up for the next day's journey. 

Indian Key - anchorage is up stream and very beautiful
We decided to go up to Naples and get a free night at the Naples Yacht Club.  It took us approximately 6 hours motoring at a speedy 10 mph to reach our destination.  We enjoyed a delicious meal here and decided to stay another day visiting Naples.  We have our bikes onboard and will ride around the town and maybe even visit the beach.  Another few days in Paradise!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Two Days in Miami, Coconut Grove Area

Anniversary Dinner with Jackie & Bob
It was a beautiful morning when we left Lauderdale Yacht Club and traveled about 35 miles through Port Everglades Cut into the Atlantic Ocean and back out into Government Cut to the Coconut Grove area of Miami.  The boat was pushed by the waves and current at a smooth 10 miles per hour. 

We stayed at the beautiful Coral Reef Yacht Club on Biscayne Bay.  There is a very friendly vibe here with young families who enjoy the pool and rest of the club's amenities.

We treated ourselves to hamburgers by the pool and walked over to the Fresh Market to reprovision our food supplies. Today, Saturday, May 7th is our 23rd Wedding Anniversary.  We took our first Uber ride to Mass and then toured the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.  This place is the former villa and estate of James Deering of International Harvester fortune.  It was built between 1914 and 1922 and features historical European 
Caravel, symbol of Vizcaya
 architecture and furnishings.  Deering used the Caravel, a type of ship style, and a seahorse as the symbols and emblems of Vizcaya.  They are found throughout the house.  We had an excellent tour and delicious lunch there.  Later that evening, we enjoyed a great Anniversary dinner at the Yacht Club.  Tomorrow, we begin our trip across Biscayne Bay and stay in the inside passageway through the keys.  Our destination will be Islamorada, which has a beautiful bay to anchor the boat and is home of the famous Lorelei's, a great place for burgers in paradise and to watch the sunset.

Seahorse stained glass window

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Paper Clip Solution

In the almost 3 weeks we've been on the boat, we've had to figure out and fix quite a few things!  This is pretty typical for life on a boat.  There are so many systems and since this boat is 11 years old, some of them are bound to have problems.

When we discovered that this yacht club had no laundry facilities, we decided to try the washer/dryer combo machine that is under the stairway.  The previous owner said that he never used that meant it hadn't been started up in close to 4 years!  Whoa!  With some mild trepidation we consulted the manual and put the clothes in.  The button had to be held down in order for it to work.  Since we were out of clean underwear, Richard and I took turns holding down the button for close to one hour. We did get clean clothes, but it was a brutal exercise!

Unfortunately, the customer service number was in Oregon - a 3 hour difference.  When we finally waited for them to answer their phone after several tries, I was transferred to a nice gentleman.  He told me "yeah" that happens - the solution is a PAPERCLIP.  Unwind it and ram it around the on/off button, pull it out and don't press it hard.  We were skeptical, but it worked!  Today we got our second load of laundry washed and dried with absolutely no difficulty.  Thank God for a paperclip!

Now, the battery charger isn't we'll see what this company's Customer Service says.  If only every fix was so simple!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Visiting two Ft Lauderdale Yacht Clubs

Joanne in the Fly Bridge approaching Ft Lauderdale Bridge
On Sunday morning we had an early start, 7:30 am, for the trip down the ICW to Fort Lauderdale.  We had 5 bridges to get under and 3 of them required us to call the bridge tender to raise them.  Some bridges open upon demand (when you ask); others have schedules of once or twice an hour - and this can be problematic because we if we got there too early, we'd have to do circles outside the bridge.  With currents it is sometimes difficult to hold our boat in position - thus the circles!

It was a picturesque journey past the towns of Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Hillsboro until we arrived in Ft Lauderdale.  With nearly 300 miles of canals, channels and waterways, it is referred to as the "Yachting Capital of the World."  Ft Lauderdale harbors more recreational boats than any other port in Florida and the shores were loaded with them.  The yachts were huge and the homes that dotted the shores massive. 
Coral Ridge Yacht Club from the water

It was about 11 a.m. when we turned into Sunset Lake, the  entrance to Coral Ridge Yacht Club.  Our friends, Jackie & Bob, in the sailboat, Sabrena, turned in right after us.  They went into their slip and caught our lines as we pulled in right next to them.  Coral Ridge is a pretty place with very friendly people.  We opted to partake in their Sunday buffet.  By the time we finished, we didn't need any more food for the day!  We spent two days here and enjoyed swimming in their lovely pool.  We rode bikes into town and stocked up on some food supplies.
After dinner at Seasons 52 with Jackie & Bob

Today, Tuesday, we left Coral Ridge and traveled a short distance to Lauderdale Yacht Club.  It, too, is just off the ICW.  I had to make a sharp right turn up their channel and we are berthed along their north seawall.  We plan to stay here 3 days and then move onto Miami.  Weather has been great, but tonight we are getting a little rain.  More later! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Boca Raton

The Swimming Pool
Tonight we are sitting in the Boca Raton Special Dining Room writing our blog posts.  We finished a lovely meal and the guest services rep just brought me a complementary bowl of vanilla ice cream (with caramel topping).  I'm telling you that life here at this Yacht Club is really special!   I pinch myself that we actually are here.  Our first night is free and the second night is only about $50 with our yacht club privileges.  We plan to stay 2 days here and then go onto the two Ft Lauderdale clubs.

After a pleasant 4-hour trip on the Intercoastal Waterway, we arrived here at 2 pm.  The dockmaster gave us an easy parking space slip - we are surrounded by  huge mega yachts and our boat looks like a little toy.  There is a huge mansion across the waterway.  I wonder who lives in it ?

(Two "small"power boats were waiting at the Camino Real Bridge, our last bridge before the turn to RPYC  as we slowly approached. When the bridge opened they roared off turning the narrow canal roiling the water. A sportfisherman headed our way up on a plane trying to make the bridge opening. We were in a washing machine spilling water over the sides. It was all we could do to maintain steerage.  This is one no wake zone that needs enforcement! - Richard)  

Mega Yachts surround us here
We went for a little dip in the gorgeous swimming pool - we were the only ones enjoying it until 2 teenage boys joined us.  This Yacht Club was completely rebuilt and opened less than a year ago.  The furnishings are gorgeous and everything has that new smell.  I love the Ladies Room - all done up with sparling stone trims and modern wall paper.  I guess wall paper is back in! 

Tomorrow we are getting our folding bikes operational and will ride around Boca.  More later with pictures.