Monday, December 31, 2012

Settled in

Well, we are in Jacksonville as planned. The Marina At Ortega Landing is probably one of the best marinas we've ever stayed at.
Today was another shuffling of vehicles. We drove the truck and trailer down to our destination, Sanford Florida and rented a car and drove back to Jacksonville. We stocked up on provisions and are fully loaded. Tomorrow we will relax and just take care of a few odds and ends. Then on Wednesday we will do some sightseeing around Jacksonville. On January 3rd we will shove off early in the morning and start our journey down the St. John's River. As I had mentioned before the St. John's River is one of the few rivers that actually flows north. As one travels south the river becomes much more narrow and brings you back in time to an environment that the early settlers of Florida saw.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

All good things come to an end.

Last Sunday we took a 20 mile cruise to Tarpon Basin through the Marvin D. Adams waterway. This waterway has an interesting history. It is a manmade cut made by Marvin as part of his development plans. You can read this interesting story at .
Today is our last day of boating and being in the Keys. We hate to go!
The day will be spent getting ready for the motor trip home and getting my last conch soup at the Key Largo Fisheries. The Pilot House Marina was a great spot to stay and even a great spot to stop by when in the Keys. Their restaurant has great food and music as well as a reasonably priced broad menu.
We learned a lot on this trip and discovered that we should use the trailering ability of the boat to our advantage.  By trailering to places you can then set up a home base for a couple of weeks and do cruising from there. Staying in a marina for a week or more has considerable slip fee savings and a month is even better.  Also being at a marina with truck and trailer gives you a vehicle which also works out nicely. So next year we will plan three or four major stops with trailering in between.
Well folks this is the end of Florida Cruise 2012.
See you next year!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Still having fun

Orchid at Largo Lodge

Well, it has been about 4 days since I last signed in and we have been having a ball. Our friends Becky and Dun joined us in Key Largo and the Deems, Ginny and Dave,  are still with us at the slip next to us at the Pilot House Marina. The winds have been unrelenting, so it was a good choice to stay here for the remainder of the trip. Dave went with me today to pick up the truck and trailer at Fort Pierce. We left at 4:30 am to beat the Miami traffic there and back. We were back at Key Largo by 11:30am. We did catch a brief break from the wind the other day and went out to Mosquito Bank Reef and did some snorkeling. Perhaps next time I will bring scuba gear and do a full fledge dive. I actually waited on the boat as safety in case there were any problems with those in the water. They saw a huge turtle and numerous fish around the reef as well as various types of coral. 
Our air conditioner on the boat seemed to be struggling a bit so I called the factory and they will be sending out a technician. They suspect that the pump is not large enough to cool the coils, so they are going to install a larger pump. Stay tuned, more to come.

Beck ready for the plunge!

Always time for a manicure even when you're Keyzie.

Lucy goes for a swim. Lucy is the dog.

More orchids

Reef Marker

The noodle snorkler

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Boggie & Bacall

This is a seafood facility across from us. The freshest fish can
bought here straight off the boats. They also prepare meals.
One of the best tasting meals the whole trip.

Well we made it to Key Largo. We have stayed in Key Largo before as landlubbers, but now arrived by water. The trip up from Marathon to Key Largo was half good seas and half of more pounding, but we endured and made it. As we enter the last 2 weeks of our trip we can’t believe it is almost over. We have decided that we may make this our last stop. We like it here and the remainder of the trip up from Miami to Ft. Pierce is going through some pretty populated areas so we will give that up for a good time in the Keys. We have learned a lot of things on this trip and I will share them on the next post. For now we will enjoy the next two weeks here and relax and do some day trips out on the reefs and perhaps fish and snorkel, drink and eat and other tuff jobs like that.

The cormorants seem to be a little smarter than the crew of ILLUSIONS.

We are staying at the Pilot House Marina. This is another enjoyable marina with good service, nice staff and friendly visitors.
On Wednesday I will rent a car and drive up to Ft. Pierce to pick up the truck and trailer and return to Key Largo where we will pull Illusions at the end of the month.
I will be making a few more posts until then.

A view of the marina from our boat.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lessons Learned - The weather you see is the most accurate.

Always a great sunset in Key West
We left Key West today and this was the worst leg of our trip. We got hammered! The wind and sea predictions were not bad, winds east at 15kts with moderate chop on coastal waters.  The guy who wrote that report should have been shot. At times we were in 4 foot seas and they were close together.  Decision time, do we go back or endure? The first mate wanted me to call the Coast Guard and started to say the Hail Mary. All of my training as a pilot came in handy. I considered my options and their outcomes and as the captain I decided to forge onward and endure the pain. We were too committed to turn around and now deal with following seas. I felt taking it on the nose was a better alternative.  I did however go out of the published channel and took refuge in waters that were shallower. This dissipated some of the wave action and made the journey a bit more tolerable. The first mate darned her life jacket and popped candied ginger to prevent sea sickness. She also wanted to know what I thought we could get for the boat if we decided to sell.
Well we made it to Bahia Honda in one piece, but the jogging of our brains must have done something to our reasoning section. As we approached the railroad bridge I asked the first mate what she thought about going on the outside and making it to Marathon.  We agreed to go. Dah, another 45 minutes of a head jarring tooth chattering ride, but we were much more relaxed because we were pros who graduated from the death waves of Key West.
We are now settled in at the Marathon City Marina and look forward to a boat cooked meal, some wine and a little relaxation.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Creatures large and small

At the dock with Will-C AKA the DEEMS
Today we left  Marathon and start heading towards Key West, but before Key West we will be stopping at Bahia Honda State Park and spend the night. Last night we enjoyed a fish dinner using the fish we caught earlier in the day.
Friendly little creature
The Last Supper.
Went fishing and put together a Putanessca dish. Quite good!
As I was getting the boat ready for departure we had a visitor. Mr. Manatee stopped by to drink from my hose! I was getting ready to put water in our tank and I turned the hose on and by the time I got back to the boat this guy had grabbed it and was drinking away. They love drinking fresh water and you are not supposed to give it to them, but hey I really didn’t give it to him, he took it!

Friday, March 9, 2012


Roam on departure

Rich, Cheryll, Jess, Mike

We are approaching 2 weeks in Marathon. The next few days will be busy, Jenna our daughter will be visiting for a couple of days and the Deems will arrive on Saturday in their boat and will be with us for the rest of our trip. We met the Deems 3 years ago on the Erie Canal and have shared adventures since then. We can't wait to see them. Maybe because they are so much fun to be with or perhaps it is supplies from Trader Joe's that they are delivering to us upon arrival. Today our newest friends Rich and Cheryll form “ROAM” have left to continue the rest of their trip. It was a sad departure, but we anticipate meeting again in our travels. The boating community is a great place and a small world. You meet people from all walks of life with one thing in common, adventure. Every day is a learning experience with everyone willing to share their experiences such as places to dock and anchor, routes to take or how to fix something.  Rich taught me how to whip the ends of your lines to prevent them from fraying.  What a great project in the mid- afternoon while sitting by the boat; two friends whipping line and shooting the breeze. Can it get any better than that? There is always someone willing to help you with your project and take you to the store in their car.  The internet has made it possible to maintain your friendship and share your experiences along the way.
No caption necessary

ROAM & ILLUSIONS starring in
"Honey I shrunk the boats"

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yes, still in Marathon

Now that is what I would call a family tree!

Yes, we are still in Marathon. The winds have not been friendly to traveling. We could have left, but who wants to get banged around. Marathon is an interesting place with an eclectic group of people that range from the very poor with all their belongings on a bicycle to the very wealthy in nice homes with gated communities.  Many Cubans live here and their culture from home still abounds.  We stopped in a little tiny restaurant that had only 4 tables. The owner made us a dish of all of the varieties of food he had to offer, fried plantains and bananas, yucca, ribs, chicken, beans and rice and a sautéed ground beef dish. The weather and environment can easily lead one to become complacent with an attitude of, “if we don’t get to it today, there is always tomorrow”.

We anticipate leaving here Sunday and heading directly to Key West. The winds should be much more favorable by then, but who knows.  And if not Sunday, then there is always tomorrow!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Still in Marathon

Lobster anyone?
Well, my oil pressure issue is resolved. It turned out to be a bad pin connection in the wire harness. Give me  the good old days with mechanical gauges and glow plugs. Computers are better off in other applications, not on boats!

Jess goes swimming with the dolphins. More like dancing!

We were going to leave this morning, but winds did not look favorable and we may stay in Marathon a few more days. This place is great as are the people that live here. Last night they had a big going away party for us. When I told them we were staying a few more days they said great, we can have another going away party. I think around here any reason is good to have a party. Stay tuned!

Jess went dancing with Rich as well!

Mermaids on noodles.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Touching base from Marathon, FL

Sunset in Little Shark River

Well, one thing about boating is there is always plan “B”. I haven’t posted for a few days because we were without any service. Techno-withdrawal, can be quite nice, no phones, emails or figuring out how to work your iPhone. After leaving Goodland we headed to Everglades City for lunch. Everglades City has quite a history behind it. At one time it was designated as the County Seat and it was the central point for all political activities. Eisenhower, Truman and others use to come to the Rod and Gun Club to fish and hunt with guides. The main structure is unchanged from that era. Pecky cypress lines the walls and you can visualize everyone sitting down after a day of fishing and hunting and shooting the breeze. I used to fish from here with a guide, Snapper Butler, the Mayor of Everglades City, years ago. The area is known as 1,000 Islands and it got its name for a reason. Before GPS you could turn around and get lost, only the guides could get you home. As Snapper would tell me, “Only me and the Devil know where you are right now”, comforting isn’t it. I always prayed that Snapper never suffered a heart attack while we were out there! After lunch of Stone Crabs and shrimp rolls at City Seafood we decided to anchor out in Russell Pass. This is a Beautiful spot and well worth the stay. You see porpoise, turtles, manatee, egret and other species we could not identify.
Our low oil pressure issue came back so before we left I spoke to the Yanmar people since I had about 70 miles to go in wilderness and no way to contact anyone except by VHF radio. It was decided that I go and head for Marathon to meet the local Yanmar Mechanic.
Taking a shower on the hook!
On the way down, we anchored out in Little Shark River another spot for wild life. It is so quiet and untouched. Porpoise playing and feeding, fish jumping, birds flying and feeding and the stars at night are magnificent. You can see forever. The only drawback is those little no-see-ums! Does not matter what you use to repel them they get you. So once the sun sets, you have to retreat indoors. We left early the following morning to get to Marathon. Louis, the Mechanic will take a look at things on Monday. In the meantime we decided to stay at Harbour Cay Club. We met with three tugnuts from our Ft. Myers rendezvous, so it is like old times. The people here are friendly and helpful. When we entered the marina about 8 of them came out to say hi and help. They have an open kitchen, a tiki hut that they call the Cone of Knowledge. You meet there every night, 5:00PM to shoot the breeze. We decided to stay a week, I asked one woman,”so how long have you been here”, she replied, ”OH, 8 years”. I hope Louis is quicker than that for our repairs. We are members of the American Great Loppers Cruisers Association and coincidently they are having a Sunset Gathering tonight down the road, so I called and signed up. So far we have met the nicest and welcoming people. If you have trouble with your boat, someone is there to help, People have driven us to the stores for shopping, and people invite you into their boats for a drink and tell stories of their adventures. The boating world is small also, you meet someone, who knows someone and somehow there is a connection. Three years ago I was reading a website about a boat Kismet, Jim and Lisa Favors, well don’t you know it, we have met up with them a few times and have cooked and eaten dinner together. They sold their large 40 foot Fathom Boat that they lived on for 5 years and now own a Ranger Tug 27, same as ours.  Well this was a long one, hope I didn’t bore you, see you soon.

Another good evening with friends!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Left Goodland

Parrot chairs, everybody needs one so we bought one for the boat

Trophy wife welcoming all to Goodland!

We are outside of Everglades City in a channel off of the Barron River. We went into the town and had lunch at City Seafood and originally were going to stay tied to their dock. It was so beautiful coming in and we saw this anchorage so we decided to launch off after lunch and come here. There are a few boats here, but not many. This is our first official night anchoring out on this trip. We will also be anchoring out tomorrow night in Little Shark River, which is about 37 nautical miles from here. We are well stocked with food, water and fuel so we are golden. I have checked the weather several times and it looks like we will be good for the rest of the trip to Lower Matecombe Key where we plan on staying for about a week before heading up north to Key Largo.

Your hair does get long when on a boat for a while.

Sunset in Goodland

Your nose grows also!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Naples to Goodland

At the dock in Naples

We left Naples today after 6 days at the City Docks. Naples is a city with a lot of history and a lot of big homes. They even have their own Fifth Avenue with a bank or financial company on every block. I saw more Rolls Royces here than I have seen in Manhattan. The restaurants can be pricy, but the food is good. We went to a farmers market early one morning and picked up some nice produce and avoided the Danishes and cakes. We rode our bikes to get groceries and some supplies; another 15 miles on the bikes in one day. When you shop by bike you are very selective as to what you buy and how heavy it is. Ever carry a 6 pack, eggs and wine on a bike? Sounds very nourishing, doesn’t it?

Just another Naples home, unbelievable

We took the inner route and avoided the Gulf because we thought it would be more scenic and it was. It is always nice to travel through the backcountry and see the wild life. The waters back there can get pretty shallow, even at high tide. I stayed well within the narrow channels and followed the local boats to make sure we didn’t get into trouble. We saw one guy in a fairly large boat stuck and the tide was going out. I felt sorry for him, but new better not to help otherwise I would be stuck there with him. It looked like Sea Tow was on the way so I felt better.  Tonight we are at Calusa Island Marina in Goodland, a beautiful spot with walkways through the mangroves. The owner was going into town and offered to take us to the grocery store. So this time I got two 6 packs, 4 bottles of wine and Clousen Pickles. We did get a few other things, but after the wine and beer I can’t remember!

Typical osprey nest on top of
a channel marker

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Now in Naples

Talk about a house boat!

The first mate working real hard!!!

We went on a 30 mile trip south to Naples. We will be staying here about one week relaxing (oh, what a novel idea) and visiting friends. This is a nice city, very upscale and they have their own 5th Avenue. The entrance from the Gulf and going through the channel was very impressive with all of the large homes on the waterway. On our trip down we say a few porpoise having fun and frolicking. They followed the boat for a bit. It is always difficult to get a picture, but eventually we will get a good one. The Gulf was fairly smooth for the trip and the water is starting to get that Aqua tinge in it. Can't wait for the Keys!

Always nice to see sailboats in the wind.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sanibel Island, FL

Well, we spent 2 days on Sanibel Island. What a nice place! We rode bikes for about 15 miles and went to Ding Darling preserve. There is a great trail that you can do by bike, walking or car and stop along the way. You can fish, picnic and do some birding along the way. We saw white pelicans and saw a guy catch a huge trout. You could probably spend a day or two just meandering around the water ways in a dingy. We also met a group of people that are from Newtown and had dinner with them at a restaurant called Traders. Traffic around here during the day was bumper to bumper, bikes are definitely a good means of transportation.

Two tugs on the canal, mirror image!
 We were fortunate to get an invitation from another Tugnutter and use their dock while here, so docking was free, so you can't beat that! Today we start heading south and will be at Pelican Yacht Club at Wiggins Pass.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ft. Myers Beach Florida

The Casino Boat for those who want
to gamble off shore

Sitting on the dock in the bay,
eating shrimp that is cooked just my way!
We have been in Ft. Myers Beach since Monday. We came in with a little engine problem of low oil pressure at idle. It turns out that the oil specified in the manual was too light for this warm Florida weather. So with an oil change the problem was resolved. We also had a Ranger tug Rendezvous and about 10 Tugs showed up at various times. It is always great getting together with other Tug owners and seeing what they did in their tugs as well as helping each other out fixing little things here and there. Last night me and one of the other Tugnutters got into a dingy and made our way over to the shrimp boats. We bought shrimp and each of us made different dishes and we had a feast on the docks by our boats. We have decided to stay here until Monday and then shove off and take a short hop to Sanibel Island for a couple of days.
When boating there is always something
to fix or figure out!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Arrived at FT. Myer's

A Rialto Harbor Rooster takes
a liking to Eggbert


Our friendly porpoise flipping
in the distance.

Last night's dinner, Steak,
Brussel sprouts and quinoa

Well today we arrived at Ft. Myer’s Beach at Moss Marina. We have met up with 10 other tugs and will be staying here at least 4 days, probably longer. I am having an issue with my oil pressure and hopefully it is only the sending unit and not an actual pressure problem. The repair shop said they will try to get to us by Wednesday. Oh, well, time is on our side so if we stay longer it won’t matter. Last night we stayed at a slip for free, which was provided by Tug friends we made in Clewiston. Today was a 27 mile trip to our destination and the official end of being on the Okeechobee waterway. That was a fun experience with the Rialto Harbor Docks being a real jewel. On our way here we came upon a playful porpoise that followed us a bit and then did a little show for us. Jess to a picture, but you need to know it was a porpoise.

I paid $47.00 for a fishing License
and this is what I get!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Staying another day

Since it is so nice and serene here we decided to stay another day. Last night we went on a one hour boat tour provided by the facility. You brought your own booze and snacks. About 15 people attended and it was a fun time The section of the Okeechobee waterway that we are on is the Caloosahatchee River. Caloosahatchee is a term give to it by the Indians meaning beautiful river, so in essence translated it is the “Beautiful River River”! The section we are on is between two locks, the Franklin Lock, down river and the Ortona Lock, up river. I have attached a brief video of a lock door closing for those of you interested.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A little bit of paradise

Me with "Little Man" in Roland Martin's Marina.
The Best Dock hand in the world.

Egret on in the brush while
on the waterway.

We are in Alva, FL. Our trip from Clewiston brought us through two locks and a Railroad Bridge and plenty of wildernesses. Originally we were going to stay in Labelle, but there is little choice to dock or anchor and the town docks are not the greatest, so we decided to push on to Alva and found a beauty.
 We are at the Rialto Harbor Docks.  Go to their website for complete details,  This is an absolutely lovely place located on 12 acres with a pool, tennis courts and other amenities. They will drive you back and forth to town and tonight they are bringing all the guests on a cocktail cruise, BYOB. It is a little pricy at $2.50 per foot with a 30 foot minimum. They bring you a newspaper and flowers in the morning right to your door. We will stay here for a couple of days. I will do a little fresh water fishing and we will do a bit of exploring in town.

On the Docks at Alva.

Waiting for the looooong train to pass.