We left Englewood only an hour into high tide and I was a little worried that we wouldn't have enough water to get out to the channel, but I changed the course that I took coming in to our anchorage and found a much deeper route, so we had no problem.
The clear water soon gave way to a brackish brown as we neared Charlotte Harbor but again cleared up once we crossed the Boca Grande Pass. We were impressed with all of the recreational boat traffic that we began to see as we slipped by Pine Island, Captiva Pass, and Sanibel Island. We were half-heartedly looking for an anchorage for the night as we thought that we'd wait until our friends Gary and Judy were home for at least one night before we showed up and started disrupting their lives, but once we saw Fort Myers and turned up into the Caloosahatchee River, we decided to go ahead and anchor in Bimini Basin for the night.
We entered Bimini Basin about an hour after Gary and Judy arrived back at their condo nearly 6 months since they traveled up to St. Louis for the summer. We hadn't seen them since our Bon Voyage Party in May.
We called them on the phone and invited them to come to Swing Set for dinner once they got settled. We found a good spot in the anchorage and fired up the grill and put on a nice big pork tenderloin. It's rare that we have an entree on the boat big enough to feed four people, so it was lucky that we had taken the meat from the freezer that morning.
I picked up our friends at the appointed hour in the dinghy. Their condo is just a stone's throw from where our boat is anchored, among ten sailboats or so. We had a nice dinner, adding some canned asparagus and rice to the pork. We sat around and caught up on all the news from back on the Mississippi River, staying up long past our normal bedtime.
It was late for us when I took Gary and Judy back to their condo in the dinghy and I was making one last check on Facebook, trading jabs with our friend Don in Lake of the Ozarks when the phone rang. It was Don, and we talked for nearly an hour, at one point using the Facetime feature on our iPhones. It was strange seeing someone on the phone as I was talking to them, and using this feature will take some getting used to.
The next few days where a blur; between shopping trips, not only for us, but also for Gary and Judy, as they were setting up housekeeping and we had put off some purchases and business until we arrived here in Cape Coral.
On Wednesday we got some news from our real estate agent; a client that had viewed our condo ten days ago wanted to see it again and we received a notice that is was being shown that evening. We have since gotten a report that the client was still interested but as of this writing, we have not received an offer yet.
Our spirits were high, though, when we took the dinghy over to the condo and met Gary and Judy to go to a sports bar nearby and watch the Cardinals play. They had beaten the Washington Nationals in the NLDS and were playing the Giants in the NLCS.
We had fun at Laskos until a rain delay put a damper on things. After waiting it out for a reasonable amount of time, we headed back to the condo and then we weaved back to Swing Set. The game resumed way too late for us to see the end and it wasn't until the next morning when we learned that the Birds had beaten the Giants and were up three games to one in the seven game series.
While not involved in shopping sprees with our friends, we were piddling around on the boat and taking the dinghy out, sightseeing and meeting our fellow boaters at anchor here in the basin.
The first person we met didn't offer their name when we introduced ourselves, but seemed fairly friendly, if not a little outspoken. "Kim", as we found out from another boater, has been at the sailing lifestyle for over 19 years. During several conversations with her, we found out some things about the surroundings, and our boat, that we didn't know. First we found out that it was important to lock our dinghy when tying up to the public dock at the nearby park, a good tip to know. We also got lessons on the interests of community governments in regard to free anchorages, plus advice on how to shirk the boat registration laws in the state of Florida. We found out that our wind generators were not only useless, but dangerous as well, and it would be best to dismantle them and go with solar energy. Our anchor was not sufficient, we found out. I asked her if she had even seen our anchor, and she said that she had not. Once she found out that our anchor was as large as hers, and we have a smaller boat, she mulled that over for a while before asking how much chain we were using. Once she learned the length of chain on our rode, we of course were told that we need much more. I wonder how long we will have to do this before some folks will not consider us beginners.
A couple more folks in here were not as opinionated, all of them full time cruisers, some of them in vessels in a little better shape than others, but all very friendly.
Judy and Gary hauled us to the license office one morning and we got Swing Set registered in Florida. We'll have to go back to get the dinghy registered as I needed the original title, not the copy I had provided. We also got our Florida driver's licenses and our fishing licenses too. We opted for the five year option on the fishing license, saving some money. Our driver's license is now good for eight years and we still don't know how long we'll be in Florida.
We've been getting up early, as this photo proves, and getting lots done. Like I said, the past few days have been a blur and I'm forgetting when we did what, but we had a visit from an Interlux representative regarding our bottom paint, I contacted a Sea Dek representative about making some replacement pads for the Sea Dek on our stairs, three of the pads are curling up on the edges. The Sea Dek may be under warranty, so we're keeping our fingers crossed on both the Sea Dek and our bottom paint issue. I ordered some snorkeling equipment from SCUBA.com, and also picked up a weight belt from a local pawn shop, saving lots of money. I also ordered new winches for our dinghy davit, the salt air is doing a number on the galvanized ones, so I ordered some hardier Fulton anodized aluminum ones from West Marine. A neighbor of Gary and Judy's is a rod and reel salesman and we are buying a Penn reel and an Ugly stick from him, saving a few more bucks. When we were in Wal-Mart the other day, I bought a cheapie rod and reel combo, apparently more suitable to the bigger water we are in. Let's see, we also got our absentee ballots that we had forwarded here, filled them out, and sent them back. We also have some medicine coming here too. I don't know how we'll manage when we leave this lifeline that Gary and Judy have provided for us.
We went fishing on Friday and Rosie caught the biggest fish, a sea trout about 22 inches long. We had 50 shrimp that we were fishing with, and between the fish stealing the bait, and the ducks stealing the fish, we left a busy fishing hole with nothing, except now Rosie is "hooked" on fishing. If only I could have recorded her excitement as she reeled in the big one. We cruised through the anchorage at Fort Myers Beach in Gary and Judy's Grady-White and took a spin clear around Estero Island. At one point we had 6 or 7 dolphin chasing us in our wake, close enough to touch. Rosie and Judy were both jumping up and down and clapping their hands like schoolgirls. Scantily clad schoolgirls.
When we returned at dusk back to Bimini Basin, one of our neighbors told us that our anchor must have been dragging because a new boat that had anchored near us had to move his boat because our boat came close to his when the wind shifted. As I was surveying the scene and determining that our anchor was not drifting, and explaining that we had been in the same spot for over three days, the self appointed mayor of our community, Kim, came putting over in her dinghy and gave us some support, saying that the other boat anchored too close and we were there first, settling the matter with some finality.
Before any of our single friends get any romantic notions about out unattached single sailboater, Kim, just realize that it was over 24 hours before we found out if Kim was a man or a woman. Just sayin'.
On our fishing expedition, Gary found out that his power trim on the port Yamaha was not working, so on Saturday morning he and I went on a mission to get parts, but first we motored over to the beach at the public park and broke some laws pulling up on the sand and manually lifting the motor to inspect the situation. In the course of our operation, I cut my foot pretty good on who knows what, so we returned to Swing Set where Nurse Ratched, in the form of Rosie, cleaned up my wound and supplied me with white socks to wear with my boat shoes in order to protect the new bandage on my foot. I take a dim view of anyone wearing socks with boat shoes, but there I was, trudging along like a geek behind Gary at every stop, in our search for engine parts.
Our mission barely got off the ground when we found out the adjustable pin wrench we had bought at Harbor Freight was on the cheesy side and wouldn't break the seal on the trim body, having been painted shut at the factory, plus had some corrosion to boot. We went in search of a stouter wrench but couldn't find one, so Gary is formulating a plan B. We did install some trim oil to get the trim working. It may not last long, but at least the trim is operational temporarily. We can tell that the seals will have to be replaced one way or the other.
So instead of taking Swing Set out on Saturday like we had planned, we hung around the pool at Gary and Judy's condo. They let us go get Holly and she had a ball, snooping around real plants and grass, and otherwise running rampant around on the pool deck, barking at everything. We did have a hard time keeping her out of the pool, dogs being in the pool being an infraction of the condo bylaws.
Rosie and Judy had earlier went shopping and bought the fixings for dinner. Judy BBQ'd and we sat around in the pool and we had a great dinner of pork steaks, cole slaw, baked potatoes, and green beans. I hate green beans and Judy didn't try to make me eat any.
I know I'm leaving a lot of stuff out, that's why I try to post more often than every five days, but I haven't had time to spend at the computer much. Today we're taking Swing Set out. We have to haul anchor in order to get our water tank filled anyway, and get a pump out, so Gary and Judy are coming with us and we are heading for the local boater hang out and see what trouble we can get into, and maybe do some more fishing. Thought I'd never hear myself saying that.
Meanwhile, several of our friends are arriving in Key West, a lot of them had thought we would be there by now, but we couldn't promise anything. The uncertainty of our condo sale situation, as well as mechanical and weather issues, made us not promise any schedule to anyone. We'll give our potential condo buyer a few more days to make up his mind, a week or so, maybe more, before we head south again. Hopefully I'll be back on here in a few days telling more good tales about our stay in Cape Coral, and announcing some good news about our condo sale.