Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Keewadin and Little Marco Islands

  We've found a good spot here just inside the Little Marco Pass, between Keewadin and Little Marco Island. The beach on the southern end of Keewadin Island has a lot of beach goers, even on a Monday when we thought it would be deserted around here.
  But on Sunday afternoon there were plenty of boaters around. We took a walk along the crowded beach with Holly and she learned to jump over the anchor lines as we walked along the water's edge. A familiar looking boat caught my eye; it was a 1997 Formula 330SS with the same color scheme that our 280SS had. Upon closer inspection, the boat wasn't in very good condition, unlike our old boat, that a friend wound up buying eventually, keeping it in pristine condition.
  When we got back to Swing Set, a boater came by and hailed us saying, "Hey Swing Set, my buddy follows your blog everyday! He's from St. Louis and knows someone that used to work at the brewery with you." I told him to bring his friend back on Monday and we'll have a beer.
  At night we can hear the waves from the Gulf hitting the shoreline just outside the pass, but inside where we are anchored, it is very quiet and the water is smooth as glass. The boat trades ends with the tidal current twice a day, but we are anchored out far enough to avoid grounding when this occurs. We were all alone in here on Sunday night, just us and the fishes that come up to the swim platform when we turn on the spoiler lights.
  We were waiting for the morning chill to burn off on Monday morning, and watching boats file in for a day of beach activity, when the fella that hailed us on the previous day came by, and he had Mark Wood with him, the guy from St. Louis. Fritz and Mark introduced themselves after tying up. I didn't recognize the name of the friend of Mark's that was retired from the brewery, but it's a big place. We talked for quite a while and we were able to learn a few valuable things about the area. Local knowledge is always better from residents as opposed to a book or guide.
  Mark's wife, Terry, was concerned about Holly and he wanted to know if we needed the name of a vet, given our experience at the last veterinarian visit in Cape Coral. We told him to assure his wife that Holly was doing fine. We were additionally surprised when Mark brought out some "presents" for us and Holly. He passed over two six packs of Bud Light Platinum, a bag of pretzel sticks, a Christmas tree ornament, and some treats for Holly! We could stand some more loyal blog readers like this.
  Mark and Fritz said their goodbyes, leaving us to our intended chores, to which I was in no hurry to accomplish, but we were approaching slack tide, so it was time for some barnacle scraping. Mark might come back later this week with his wife Terry, we hope they do.
  There was no getting around it. I donned my wetsuit and gathered my tools. Rosie manned the Hookah Snorkel System and I got under the boat. The barnacles were not as bad as I had anticipated, but I didn't do as thorough of a job as I would have liked. The visibility was not as good as I thought it would be, especially once I started clouding up the water with debris from the boat bottom. For the most part, I accomplished as much as I needed to do for the present. I'll give it another go in a week or so.
  We sat in the cockpit and watched the boaters file back past as they went back to where they had all come from, and by sunset, we were all alone again. We had leftover fish fillets from The Dock in Naples, and Rosie made some potato pancakes from some leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving, and we rounded out the meal with leftover baked beans from our BBQ in Cape Coral with Gary and Judy. What a great dinner! The only leftovers still in the fridge is turkey, and I hope we never run out of that.
  We had moved the boat just a little from the previous night and the difference in T.V. reception was remarkable. We watched some favorite shows until ten o'clock, late for us, then it was time for a few minutes of Kindle reading.

  We had gotten some mail at St. Brenden's; some we shredded, but one important document that arrived there was our vessel documentation certificate. We had to find a location to have the mail forwarded to, but we couldn't find a post office, or other similar facility in Marco Island to have the letter sent to. I wound up calling a local marina and we arranged to have the letter sent there in care of the nice girl who worked there, even though we had no intention of staying. In a couple of days we're going to need to take on water, so that will require us to motor over to Marco Island proper. Our letter should be at the marina by then. We are amazed at how accommodating people are when you talk very nice to them. I should have been using this method a long time ago.
  Today we plan on doing some waxing, something that we'll always need to do, and the ongoing chore to keep Swing Set looking nice isn't be an easy task. We hope we can stay on top of it.
  After that, we're going to take the dinghy over to the beach. There is a "burger boat" that pulls up every day and we're going to have our lunch from there today. We learned from Fritz and Mark that this anchorage and beach is the place to be in the summer months, something we'll keep in mind if we decide to get a slip somewhere next summer when it gets too hot and we need to plug in to shore power for air conditioning.
  But it's too early to decide these things. Every place we go to seems better to us than the last place, so who knows where we'll wind up by next summer? Right now, this is the place we want to be.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

We Leave Naples In Our Wake

  We had a quiet Thanksgiving Day. I called my dad and Rosie talked to members of her family. We didn't venture from the boat, doing some reading and enjoying some late afternoon sun in the cockpit.

  Most beings save their Thanksgiving nap until after they have dinner, but Holly doesn't know anything about all that and she naps when she wants. Here she is partaking in just that thing while Rosie has the turkey breast roasting in our convection/micro-wave oven. Even though our original microwave worked just fine, trading it for the convection model was one of the best things we did in preparing for our life aboard the boat.
  We ran the generator while cooking the turkey, but still it only took about one and a half hours to roast, turning out with a crispy skin and moist inside, just the way it should be. We rounded out the meal simply with instant mashed potatoes, gravy, asparagus, and the traditional cranberry sauce. No buns or stuffing, and no pie, but we were so stuffed from the rest of the food, a few cookies later on sufficed for dessert. One of the best Thanksgiving meals we've had. Pizza on the bed of a Motel 6 in Texas while on a motorcycle trip being one of the worst.

  Sunset in Crayton Cove in Naples on Thanksgiving was peaceful. We could see the various gatherings going on in the homes that line the cove and we both couldn't resist just a little remorse at the memory of holidays gone by, but we'll get over it.
  Black Friday is a day when a lot of people go out and spend money on junk they don't need, some spending days and nights on end waiting to save a $100 bucks on a T.V., but they won't take a job for $12 per hour. Our mission was to find a beer in Naples for less than $4.25, and we were successful.

  Rosie, Holly, and I parked the dinghy at the Naples City Dock and we walked to The Boardwalk near Tin City, just a few blocks away, and we entered a somewhat open air bar called CJ's, advertised to be dog friendly. Their website touted $1.00 mugs of draft between 4 and 7 P.M., but maintaining the website wasn't their strong suit and we found the mugs to be $1.50 instead. We found three seats at the bar and commenced to make friends.
  Rosie mentioned to a fella on her right that we had toured Fifth Avenue and that she was surprised that she didn't see any Christmas decorations up yet. The man lamented that all the folks there in Naples were all in a depression because the election didn't have the outcome they wanted, so it appeared to be a lean holiday this year. I was wondering how they were all going to cope in their million dollar homes, when a guy on my left accused us of being Republicans when he learned that we lived on a boat. We were in a no win situation with the clientele at CJ's, it seemed.
  While I was contemplating my answer, the fella on my left took a big sip of beer as I asked him, "What do I look like, freakin' Thurston Howell the Third?", which caused him to bust out laughing and spit out his beer in the process. After that, we got along fine.
  As the evening wore on, more people walked up and wanted to pet the "cute little doggie", but when they would withdraw after doing so, Holly would put up a fuss like you wouldn't believe. I was engaged in conversation with another patron on my left when I couldn't help but hear Holly barking and snarling like White Fang. (Forgive the Jack London reference, I've been reading his best novels lately.) I looked over and Rosie had Holly held out toward a retreating customer at arms length, sort of how one would hold a .45 caliber pistol while warding off some purse snatchers. More than a few of them stumbled over the bar stools in flight of our demon possessed until the bartender said we had to control our pet or leave.
  While we made an attempt to settle Holly down, one of the "owners" came over and declared his bravery in the face of any animal. The young man declared himself an immigrant from Poland, being fluent in Russian, German and other languages, and also having traveled extensively in Europe, Russia, and South America. I laid upon him a couple of Russian phrases that were stamped forever on my brain during my two years of required Russian language classes in junior high school. My questions in Russian of "Hello, how are you?", and "Why are your pants tied around your head?" were met with quizzical looks from our Polish friend. I can understand my butchered attempt at the second phrase, but the "Hello, how are you?" has always been answered with a "Thank you, and how are you?" retort, or something like it.
  I may have fingered the linguist as a fraud, but his claim of being independently wealthy while wearing ten year old sneakers and a soiled denim shirt didn't ring true for us, so we decided to make a friendly exit while we were still able. I think his claim to have being bitten in the face by a pit bull recently, and having no scars to prove it, was the icing on the cake as far as his believability went. Some people think that if "you are not from around here", it means you are an idiot.
  We bade our farewells and weaved our way back to the dinghy dock down the safe streets of Old Towne Naples. We succeeded in our mission to find cheap beers in Naples, thank you very much.
  On Saturday morning we called the City Dock on the VHF and announced our intention of coming in to take on water, empty our trash, pump out our holding tank, and pay for our four nights on the mooring ball, a lengthy endeavor without much outlay in the form of hard currency on our part. Deb wasn't around and the three employees we came in contact with were very nice and we left the Naples City Dock on a high note and headed down the "inside route" to Little Marco Island.
  Two hours later we made anchorage just inside the Little Marco Pass, just up from a popular beach that was beginning to fill up for a Saturday. The pass is too shallow for most vessels to transit, and there is no established channel, so we anchored in the "middle" so the tidal swings of both current and depth wouldn't put us on the hard during the night.

  If you have a sharp eye, or zoom in, you can see Swing Set anchored way up stream. We filed past the boats pulled up along the beach and were making our way back up the channel, looking for a place to land the dinghy and take in some of the local flavor. "Local flavor" is my code term for "Young girls in bikinis".

  We stayed on the beach and talked to a few folks before our own "local flavor" got cold and we headed back to the boat and had a fine dinner of leftover lasagna and salad before watching a movie on our Roku player, as the T.V. reception here on the southern tip of Little Marco Island leaves much to be desired.
  I woke at daybreak to let Holly out to do her business on the swim platform and looked down toward the beach and saw two boats sitting high and dry on the sand as it was low tide. I was happy that I followed my instincts and anchored where we did. We lounged over breakfast with huge mugs of hot coffee and snuggled inside against the frigid 51 degree temperatures outside. The high will only be in the low 70's today so getting in the water for any boat bottom maintenance will require my wetsuit, but being Sunday and all, it may just wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

  Before I get started on the subject of today's holiday, let me recap the week.
  Last Sunday Gary and Judy came with us on Swing Set to look for our anchor one last time. The tide was at its lowest point when we attached our grappling hook to the stern of Swing Set and began dragging it behind. My plan was to make ever widening concentric circles around the perceived spot where I thought the anchor might be. I immediately was confronted with a problem that put an end to our search. The depth had a high degree of variability and I was churning up sea bottom in some areas as shallow as three and a half feet. The anchor was not worth us running aground and I didn't feel like lowering the dinghy to search with it. Instead, we fired up the grill and made lunch.
  We stayed until nearly sunset and then dropped Gary and Judy off back at their condo for one last good bye until we see them again, no doubt before they head back north next spring. We had business to attend to on Monday morning and Gary offered to take us by car, but it was time to get back into our "car less" mode.
  On Monday morning we took Holly to the vet for her follow up visit after taking anti-biotics for two weeks for her supposed bladder infection. We were supposed to have a urine sample ready for the clinic to examine, but Holly did not co-operate. Rosie had carried her the whole way to the veterinary clinic so she would have some pee to produce, but the vet said that Holly "had nothing in her bladder", so she couldn't examine a specimen to check for the existence of an infection. On our last visit, the vet reported Holly's weight at 6.25 pounds, so when she weighed Holly in at 5.95 pounds and then remarked how she is doing better by virtue of some weight gain, I smelled bullshit.
  Rosie was unfazed at the gaff, but I said, "Wait a minute, let's back up."
"Holly has actually lost more than a quarter of a pound, how can you say she has had a weight gain?" The vet ignored my comment and proceeded to commence with a professional appearing examination, ending it with a suggestion that we come back in the next day and see if we didn't need an x-ray to check for "urine crystals".
  "We won't be coming back tomorrow", I said. "We'll keep an eye on her and take her to another vet in another town if she exhibits any more symptoms of infection. It's times like these when you realize a veterinarian you can trust is more important that your own doctor. Tara and Lorraine can't be nearby constantly. My doubts about this vet were confirmed when shortly after we left the vet, Holly produced a big pee spot on the sidewalk. "Nothing in her bladder", my butt.
  We headed back to the dinghy, first stopping by the plumbing supply where we dropped off our small propane tank to be filled. We then dropped into the Cuban grocery to stock up on fresh meat. I also wanted to stock up on a good supply of "chicarones", or fried pork rinds. They usually have them at the meat counter, but they were out. The only ones better are the ones my dad makes at home in the oven. There are no dogs running free in my dad's neighborhood.

  Jim, a condo owner in Bimini Basin, took this picture of Swing Set while we were gone on our mission. Soon after, we had pulled up anchor and were on our way after a five week stay in Cape Coral, the longest we have stayed anywhere since we left St. Louis last May.
  We'll miss Gary and Judy, but we have wanderlust in our bones and it's easy to be spoiled by them. We avoided another round of tearful good-byes by slipping out on Monday without seeing them. Thanks again Gary and Judy!
  We stopped by Cape Harbor and found that fuel had gone down since we inquired over two weeks ago and we filled up at $3.89 per gallon. Imagine that we consider this a "deal". Our plan was to anchor somewhere on the southern end of Estero Bay, and by late afternoon we were almost to the end of it, having dodged several shallow spots. The shallow areas were getting more frequent and I was getting nervous. A boat coming in the opposite direction indicated by a show of his hands that we were approaching a shallow area. That was enough for me. We turned around and traveled all the way back to the northern end of the bay and found a spot to anchor in for the night, albeit one we didn't like all that much.
  The wind was predicted to settle down some on Tuesday, and once the sun burned away the morning clouds, our trip down to Naples was a pleasant one. We had the wind and waves at our backs and the water was a turquoise blue. Once we got beyond the protection of Sanibel Island, however, the seas began building and we were jostled around some, but not as much as the vessels we saw heading north against the wind and current.
  We entered Naples Harbor via Gordon Pass and were happy to be in the protection of the harbor, but then huge yachts were buzzing by on plane, washing boats away on the beaches and generally being obnoxious. Any possible anchoring spots off the narrow channel were ruled out due to the wakes of these passing vessels, and other suggested anchorages would have placed us in the front yards of multi-million dollar homes. Now, I have no particular opposition to anchoring in someones field of vision, but the absence of other vessels at anchor in these areas sent me a signal, and that was that anchoring so may not be tolerated.
  By state law, we can anchor anywhere in state waters that is not an established mooring field, but that doesnt' mean the law won't hassle us if a person with some clout makes a complaint. My constitution doesn't set well with being hassled by those in charge, so I try to avoid confrontations if I can help it.
  Our ace in the hole was an anchorage suggested in the Waterway Guide to be Crayton Cove, so we headed for it. As we rounded a bend in the channel, I was disappointed to see mooring balls where we wanted to anchor, and a large sign indicating to us that vessels wanting to anchor in Crayton Cove must first check in at the Naples City Docks.
  We weighed our options and considered heading on south to Marco Island, but we really wanted to check out Naples. Rosie called the City Docks and talked to "Deb". The mooring balls were only $10 per night, but a witnessed pump out was required, and we had to come by the dock to get the free pump out. Although we had pumped out back in Cape Coral, we decided to succumb to their bureaucracy.
  The wind was whipping up from the north as we made a southern approach to the dock into the wind. Rosie stood at her station with a line in hand as we got closer to the dock. I could see the pump out station on the south end of the dock, so my intention was to first get alongside the dock any way I could, and then float back to the pump out station. "Deb" came out and instead of taking the line from Rosie, she started with questions, the first one being as to how long our length overall was. "If you are over 43 feet you can't stay in the mooring field, and your dinghy is making you over 43 feet", we were informed.
  I'm not going to give a full account of the conversation, but in the course of it, we drifted away from the dock and I had to make another approach. When we got in range, I suggested to Deb that it didn't seem like she wanted our business. She became a bit more contrite until we actually pulled up, tied up, and I got the cap off of our pump out receptacle. Then she told us to hurry up because one of the "tenants" of their harbor wanted to come in and get fuel, and we were in the way. Then as she walked away to help them squeeze into the space in front of us, I asked her if she wasn't going to stay and "witness" the pump out as she had informed us she had to do. This did not go well.
  When she suggested that we go elsewhere to anchor, I said that it was too late for that, she had missed her chance when I suggested initially that she didn't want our business. We pumped out without any witness thereof, and then I untied and pulled away. She ran over and asked if we didn't want our mooring ball assignment. I told her that I'd find a ball suitable to our liking and I'd come back and fill out the papers, maybe even the next day. This did not go well either.

    Here is Swing Set latched onto her first anchorage on a mooring ball. We didn't have too much trouble getting a line to it, but the balls here were not designed for vessels with a high freeboard. We are sitting in a cove lined with two to twelve million dollar homes. We know this because we checked on Zillow. I hope they like the view, I might wear my thong.
  While Rosie did some business on the phone, I took the dinghy over to the City Dock and filled out the paperwork for our stay in the Crayton Cove Mooring Field and actually got away without Deb calling the cops.

  We are actually on the other side of the Naples Yacht Club from the City Docks. There is one line of docks that comprise the Yacht Club, and as you can see, there is an abundance of fine vessels in this yacht club.
  We sat in the cockpit and waited for the sun to set, and in the meantime, the local dolphins really gave us a show, jumping five and six feet into the air around the boat. I'd have taken a picture, but they don't announce their jumps and they are too fast. Just think Busch's Gardens.
  Yesterday we lounged over breakfast and then took the dinghy sightseeing. We went over to Tin City and found a place to tie up the dinghy at the Marine Max facility next door. Then we walked over to Fifth Avenue, the trendy street here in South Naples.

  Here's a view looking west down Fifth Avenue. The streets are squeaky clean and there were no pan handlers to be seen anywhere. I'm not sure the area is as affluent as they lay claim to, just look how old that white car is on the left. Must be a beater.
  Holly pranced along beside us on our walk and she received lots of smiles and compliments. She was wearing her sailboat neckerchief and took everything in stride. We finished what we considered a thorough tour of the street, but nothing there appealed to us in the way of places to have lunch. That means a hamburger was running over $14.
  We got back into the dinghy and motored back to Crayton Cove and pulled into "The Dock" to have lunch. We knew we could have a better meal on the boat, but we wanted to experience Naples just a little bit, if only it was for a high priced lunch. One thing we have learned is that the more blue collar sounding the name of a restaurant is, the higher are the prices.
  The Dock welcomes dogs, they even have a "Yappy Hour". But it wasn't Yappy Hour yet, so we were seated out on the patio, away from most patrons. Rosie ordered fish tacos and I ordered fish and chips, Holly made do with a bowl of water. Holly behaved herself for the most part, until a passing waiter or customer would stop and remark on how cute she was, then as they would attempt a discreet exit, she would bark at them like a dog possessed.
  We were finishing up our lunch, that with a couple of Bud Lights, wound up costing more than our stay in the mooring field was going to cost us for four days, but for the most part it was enjoyable, being dockside to several vessels moored there. Rosie and I looked at each other as we got a whiff of "boat holding tank" as two patrons just entering the patio asked the server what "that smell was".
  We got a chuckle as the waitress tried to tell these people that the odor was the smell of hamburgers cooking. We knew better, and wondered how the waitress thought that telling customers that the cooking there at The Dock smelled like shit, was a good thing.
  It was late afternoon by the time we took a cruise around the area in the dinghy and made it back to the boat. We read our books for a while and I took a nice nap, even though Holly kept waking me up, barking at the empty mooring balls in Crayton Cove. Neither one of us had any desire for dinner, after the lunch we had eaten, so we relaxed in the cockpit and watched another sunset in Naples. Rosie has a desire to see more of Naples, but honestly, I've had enough, but we've decided to have our Thanksgiving dinner here today and do some more sightseeing on Friday. We'll stay here Friday night and make our way to Marco Island on Saturday, taking the inside route through the mangroves.
  We have a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving. We are both retired, we have divested ourselves from most of our possessions and have secured our financial future, such as it is.
We miss our friends, but have regular communication with them and our families too. We really feel like people care about what we are doing, and care about us too, by virtue of the ongoing requests to keep up the blog. Being in the thoughts of others is our only chance at immortality, the way I see it, so we'll try to make an impression when we can, good or bad. We received the best compliment yesterday; a co-worker informed us as to his upcoming retirement next year, that he and his girlfriend were going to live in their newly purchased condo in Destin. He went on to say that we were an inspiration to many of the other workers left there at the beer factory; that realizing one's dreams after retirement like we are doing was indeed possible. This makes us feel really good.
  Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Final Days In Bimini Basin

  Like all good things, our stay in Bimini Basin will draw to a close. Our plan is to head south on Monday afternoon, Tuesday morning at the latest. It's not getting crowded in here, but we have had the addition of three more sailboats in as many days.
  Interestingly enough, we are becoming known around these parts, so it might be time to leave just on that account. On Thursday afternoon, while Rosie and I were enjoying some late afternoon sun, a pontoon boat came by and the couple on board waved hello and pulled alongside Swing Set. It turns out that Art and Nancy Leefers were from Grafton, Ill, and had found our blog months ago. They were just out sightseeing in the rented pontoon and saw Swing Set as they entered Bimini Basin. They keep their big boat at Grafton Harbor and we know some of the same people, and even admitted it. They have a winter home in Ft. Myers Beach, but one day would like to do what we are doing, whatever that is.
  On Friday morning, just after breakfast, I got all my stuff out to change the oil in our Z/F transmissions. I started our engines up and ran both transmissions in and out of gear a few times to circulate the 30 weight oil in them and went below to pump the fluid out of the starboard tranny. Nothing would flow through my recently purchase drill pump, so I methodically put away all of my materials for the oil change, and packaged up the pump, with the intention of returning it to the hardware store and buying something more suitable for extracting the fluid from our transmissions. I got everything put away and then decided to read the directions. Yes, I fully admit that sometimes I am just an idiot. It clearly states on the package, and on the packages of all the other pumps I viewed at two different hardware stores later, that the oil has to be warm for the pump to transfer the thicker fluid. I know this from my experience with our onboard oil changer for the generator and main engines, but somehow this fact escaped me when it came time to change the transmission fluid. I'll plan this to do after a short trip some other day.
  We left Holly on the boat and we took a walk to the grocery store to pick up a few things in order to have a full larder once we head south. In the grocery store we played cart tag for a minute with a fella that said he recognized our boat from the basin. Jim introduced himself and said "You're from that boat Swing Set, right?"
"I follow your blog and have a condo right across from where you guys are anchored, and you waved to me and my neighbor when we were sitting outside yesterday afternoon."
  How about that? We chatted a little about our upcoming plans, plus a little about some of the more unkempt boats that call Bimini Basin home, then we finished our shopping trip.
  When we got back to the boat, there was a small package on our deck chairs. There was a present from one of our boat neighbors, Larry and Linda, in the form of two neckerchiefs that Linda made for Holly.

  Linda likes to sew and when they spent five years on their sailboat in Marathon, Linda made similar attire for all of the dogs that would visit the mooring field there. Isn't that the most thoughtful thing? Holly is showing off one of them in the picture above. I swore we wouldn't put clothes on our dog, but these things are just too cute. Cheryl, the bunny suit will stay in storage at least until Easter, then we'll see. Thanks to Larry and Linda!
  While Rosie was putting away our groceries, we got an email from Jim's neighbor, Paul. He was the one sitting out with Jim that we waved to on Thursday. Paul just wanted to say "Hi" and told us he would keep an eye on Swing Set for us when we take off in the dinghy. He had read in the blog about our anchor slipping the other day. It's nice to know someone is keeping an eye out for us, but from now on Rosie will have to make sure she has some clothes on when she goes up on the fly bridge to turn off the anchor light in the morning. At about 6:30. Haha, Jim, I guess you'll be up early tomorrow!
  Yesterday was a bit blustery and cloudy, and we were just chillin' out in the salon reading our Kindles, when Gary called and asked us to go to The Dek for happy hour with him and Judy. I was trying to overcome an upset stomach and really had no desire to drink beer, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

  I was feeling a little better by the time Judy took this picture, but the four pork sliders I ate during happy hour got their revenge several hours later. I say "pork", but at the lightening low price of 25 cents per slider, the meat could have been anything, or anybody.
  After happy hour we retired back to the comfort of Gary and Judy's condo for a couple more beers for a nightcap. Gary tried to entice me with a third beer, but I have willpower at times, and I resisted the attempt, however valiant, on his part. We were back to the boat by 8 o'clock or so and Holly was beside herself with joy in seeing us.
  Rosie "played with Holly" and I took to my Kindle. I'm reading The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and can hardly put it down. Saturday is forecasting to be another blustery day, but even if it isn't, I think we'll stay put in the basin and have a beer free day. We want to try and drag for our anchor again over near Picnic Island before we leave, but that will have to wait at least until tomorrow. At least that's how I feel about it right now. But things change, and sometimes we let them.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Upon Further Review...

  When I make a mistake I have no need to tell on myself because only Rosie and I would be the only ones who knew about it, but the truth is the truth, and after reflecting on our recent anchor losing incident, I have come to the conclusion that our anchor line did not break at the rope/chain splice, but instead the rope got cut when I inadvertently ran over it. Yes, I ran over my own anchor line. I decided that this is what happened by examining the remaining anchor line. There was no evidence of the splice, which part of would still remain if the line separated there.
  By using the saved track on our chart plotter, we went back to the scene of the crime on Monday with our friends Gary and Judy. Gary and I used a small anchor to drag the area behind the dinghy. We didn't find the anchor, but have not entirely given up yet.
  How could this happen to such as an experienced boater such as I? Let's call it a momentary lapse in judgement and just move on, OK?

  We had been flying an old bikini top from the mast on the dinghy for the last two years or so and we had to retire it this week. The garment was becoming unrecognizable, but was still receiving agreeable comments from most people who did realize just what it was. You can't tell from the picture, but I put our Duck Club burgee in its place, a parting gift from Sonny Robbins at our Bon Voyage Party.
  Rosie and I took Holly for a walk to the Sea and Shore store on Tuesday and ordered a new Delta anchor from the proprietor, Dick. The price couldn't be beat on a new Delta anchor and he promised to have it in by the next day. The Delta is stock equipment on our boat and is self deploying, meaning the anchor will fall off of the bow pulpit once you undo the safety lanyard and let some rode out. I had considered a Rocna anchor, which is similar in shape to the Delta, but Dick didn't have a good supplier for the Rocna. A Bruce type anchor is liked by some, but the shank is straight and the anchor won't self deploy. I also had concerns about the blade tips on a Bruce anchor coming into contact with the bow when it is retrieved.
  Although we have two Danforth type anchors that we have on deck, to be used as spares or when we need to deploy a stern anchor, a Danforth in our environment is not a good choice, especially if you just use a single anchor. When you have tidal currents that change in opposite directions several times a day, the Danforth can be pulled out, where the Delta will "spin" more or less and stay dug in. The Danforth will also not hold in grass, but you don't want to anchor in sea grass anyway. I'll swear by a Danforth in the sand in a constant river current, but not here in this environment. Sorry James.
  After our visit to Sea and Shore, where I also had to buy a new float switch for our aft bilge pump, we went to the grocery store and picked up a few things. I waited outside of the store and held Holly at bay while she barked at everyone that walked by. She has not learned that cute is not loud. On the plus side, Holly has become very accomplished on the leash, prancing along at a fast pace. When we get to a street crossing, she knows she is going to be picked up and carried across, so she sits at the proper moment and doesn't make me work at snatching her up. On a side note, she is also coming along nicely in our effort to train her to do her business on the swim platform without the aid of fake grass or potty pads. The money we'll save in potty pads alone will make us rich.
  We had attached our bigger spare Danforth to the remaining anchor line so we could still use our windlass while we waited for the new anchor to come in, and when we returned to the boat after our walk, we found that Swing Set had slipped back on her anchor. We were lucky that it didn't run into to two sailboats we had been anchored between. Embarrassed, I moved over to a more open spot to avoid a similar mishap.

  Yesterday we took our boat over to the dock at Gary and Judy's so we could remove the anchor line and take it up to Sea and Shore where Dick was going to splice new chain onto our remaining line. Not sure if you can tell from the picture, but Swing Set is in a slip more suited to a 20 foot boat and is sticking her nose far out into the canal. I'm not sure if I'd have the audacity to attempt docking like this on a busy weekend, but only two boats came by and they made it past easily.
  I had some chain hanging in our anchor locker since we left St. Louis, and thinking it was only 10 feet or so, decided to give it to Gary or Dick, but I discovered that we had 25 feet of G4 chain, perfect to splice onto our remaining line. Gary and I loaded the chain and line into his car and hauled it all into Sea and Shore. Dick did a fine job of splicing the chain onto the "new" end of our anchor line, saving us about $400 in the process. He didn't charge for the splicing, so I splurged and bought a grappling hook to use in another hunt for our missing anchor. We're sure to find it now that we have a new one.
  Back at the condo, Gary and I installed the new anchor and ground tackle while Rosie did some laundry. When the work was done we gathered around their pool and had an impromptu party of sorts. Although we knew Denny and Sharon Vermilye would be coming with their daughter and grand daughter, but some other neighbors joined in too. We BBQ'd and sat around the pool way past dark. We might have had a beer or two.
  I should have slept all night like a log, but was up at 3 A.M. I settled a computer issue we had with our email account and before you know it I'm writing the blog. The nice thing about it is that I can go right back to bed and that's just what I'm about to do.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Two Steps Forward....

  I've read that; "everything on your boat is broken, you just don't know it yet". I am pretty sure this statement is true but am in denial.

  But nothing was broken this morning as we left our anchorage up near Fort Myers at the break of dawn, and we were in a very optimistic mood.
  Let's go back to last Thursday....The closing on our condo finally went off, our hard earned money that was left from the sale was deposited into our bank account at last. Any celebration that we thought we needed to do was anticlimactic as we had gotten about as happy as we would be prior to the final act.
  Once we confirmed that the wire transfer had indeed taken place, we gathered up Holly and took the dinghy over to the park and went on a walk to our favorite place in Cape Coral, the Family Hardware store where we bought a few dollars worth of stuff to make our lives here on Swing Set a study in perfection. We got back to the boat late in the afternoon and capped off the day by grilling some spare ribs and steaming some fresh brocolli. Because we had our new bank of fresh batteries in our inverter bank, we then watched some T.V. for a couple of hours without the noise of the diesel generator in the background.
  On Friday morning, Gary called bright and early and invited us to go fishing with him, Judy, Denny, and Reggie. We had planned to go to the boat show in Fort Myers but changed our plans because we hadn't seen Denny and Reggie since we left St. Louis. We got picked up in the Grady-White at about 1 P.M., but about an hour before we left the boat we got a call from our financial planner.
  Our scheduled conference call for Monday morning really was too far in the distance to suit me, so we were glad he called. He understood that I was upset, and that is putting it mildly. Without getting too detailed into our affairs, let's just say that we made some major changes in our account and all is well. We also have some plans for the proceeds from the sale of our condo so we can get that money working for us. Hopefully it will work better for us than our IRA money is.
  We felt better about our financial future as we departed on the fishing trip, but the fish were not about to co-operate and make it too fine of a day. Between the four of us who actually fished, we only caught a few bait fish. I finally gave up and popped a beer, leaving the fresh shrimp for Reggie and Gary to drown. It wasn't too late when we got dropped off at the old floating homestead, but we were gone from the boat for four hours. I was nervous about leaving the boat in the wind we had going on, plus Holly was by herself. We have actually gotten to the point where we don't like to leave our little treasure alone for fear of making her sad. I know, we are sick people.
  As Gary and Judy had another couple coming in for the night on Saturday, Rosie and I decided to go ahead and motor up to Ft. Myers for the day to the annual boat show there. We left Bimini Basin plenty early and got to the Fort Myers Yacht Basin before 11 A.M. and were able to nab a free space at their outside wall. The area is a "no wake zone", so we had little wave action to bother us, but the wind was still causing Swing Set to bounce around on the pilings some, but not too bad.
  We found out that we could take Holly with us into the show and were happy about that. We put her on her leash and the three of us browsed around the show, inside and out. Holly marched proudly along right beside us on her leash and didn't seem to be fazed by all of the people. A few asked to pet her, and we heard lots of comments like, "oh, look at that cute puppy!" Holly was in her element.
  After a couple of hours we retired back to the boat and sat in the cockpit and just watched the boats traveling on the river and the people on the dock. We were admiring a boat at the dock where we were and the owner asked if we would like a tour. Yep. The boat is a Gozzard Yacht. The owner helped design it and it was built 12 years ago in Canada. The design took elements from three yacht builders; Flemming, DeFever, and Ocean Alexander. I didn't take pictures, but this 50 foot vessel was the finest boat we had ever been on, in my estimation. Rosie said there were too many stairs. The owner proudly displayed every facet of the boat and we left impressed. I was going to drill a hole in the bottom of Swing Set and collect the insurance money so we could go boat shopping, but Rosie stopped me.

  We visited at the dock with some other folks as we were invited to "happy hour". We spent about an hour chatting with the folks there who live on their boats before we headed to an anchorage across the Caloosahatchee River. This brings us to this morning.
  We ate breakfast during our two hour cruise at daybreak to our intended spot to spend the day at Picnic Island. The wind really picked up by the time we dropped anchor and we kept slipping. I set our anchor about five times before giving up and moving to the lee side of another island across the bay. A giant wake from a passing vessel in the channel caused us to pull up our anchor yet again. I intended to cross the waterway and anchor on the lee side of another island, only further away from the boat traffic and we got to a good spot and I dropped the anchor as we were still coasting, something I do when we have a hard time initially setting a hook.
  Well, the hook set and set good. The anchor took a bite and the bow dipped down and then I heard a pop. I knew what had happened before even checking, and sure enough, when I brought the anchor line in we had nothing on the end of it but frayed line. I marked the spot, but even in 11 feet of water, I have no desire to go snorkeling in coffee colored water, or at least I didn't today. I may get up the nerve to dive for our anchor later this week, but in the meantime, we'll make another trip to the Sea and Shore store to get an anchor and another rope/chain rode combo. We're talking about $700 bucks here if we're lucky. If I go back and retrieve our anchor later on, I'll save it for a spare. I'm sure this will happen again. We are just fortunate that our line didn't break during the night, or in a storm.
  See? I just turned a negative into a positive. Oh joyous day!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Six Months and Counting

  Yes, we left St. Louis six months ago. It doesn't seem that long ago for us, so that's a sign that we must be enjoying the experience and it's true.
  On Tuesday Gary took me to the auto parts store and we picked up our six Optima Marine batteries and by late afternoon I had the old batteries out and the new ones installed. We had also gone by the Sea and Shore store here in Cape Coral and had some cables made up due to the fact that we were adding 50% more battery capacity in the form of six inverter batteries instead of four. Four feet worth of cables and eight shrink wrapped ends with rings attached, that'll be 100 smackers please. No wonder thieves are taking copper from anyplace they can get it.
  On Tuesday night we went out with Gary and Judy and their neighbor Denny, also from St. Louis, to get chicken at the local Elks hall. The chicken was tasty, but we declined after dinner cocktails due to my being tired out from wrestling with 360 pounds worth of batteries.
  Yesterday started out very good with the news that our president had been re-elected. That, plus the closing on our condo was scheduled for mid morning, was normally good reason to be optimistic, but the sour grapes reaction from some of our friends on Facebook who didn't back our candidate put a pall on our good moods.
  When the stock market opened and we could see the trend beginning for a whopper of a losing day, it didn't help matters at all. As we waited for a phone call from the title company in regard to our condo closing, I checked the activity on our investment portfolio and when I found a discrepancy in our outgoing "advisory fees", my mood began to really darken.
  Rosie would insist here that I include the explanation that it's hard to tell when I'm not in a bad mood. My default expression is one we could call "adverse neutrality". I'm happy on the inside, but my face doesn't usually show it. I can't help what I look like. If I had a lobotomy, I would be smiling all the time.
  We set up an appointment for early next week with our financial planner. got some 'splainin' to do.
  Just after noon, when we expected a call from the title company representing us in our condo closing, we got the call. Yes, but the financial institution providing the funds to our buyer made a mistake, and long story short, we wouldn't be closing until the following day. Our title company representative asked if she could "fax or email" some papers for us to sign and send back. Unluckily for her, I answered the phone because Rosie was on my phone with our selling agent discussing the snafu. I said, as patiently as I could, "Let's forever take the term 'fax' from future conversations. We live on a boat, and fax is something we don't have, plus I think fax should have gone the way of the telegraph years ago." Well, she laughed and agreed, but I said I would, in her best interest, transfer her over to Rosie as I wasn't having my best day. We spent the rest of the afternoon receiving emails, signing documents, and scanning said documents and sending them back. Nice that we didn't have to visit the title company down here in Cape Coral again.
  While we were in the middle of all this, the wind had picked up as I had expected it to, and our anchor started slipping. When we had returned to our normal spot here in the basin after picking up the batteries on Tuesday, another sailboat had anchored nearby and I didn't put out our normal length of scope. I should have adjusted our ground tackle when the boat left on Wednesday morning but it slipped my mind. The good thing was we were on the boat and could react accordingly.
  In between our email business, I put out a fishing line and tried to fish. Gary had also called and said some other friends were down from St. Louis and did we want to come over, but we had to decline due to the business we had going on with the title company and the wind whipping Swing Set around. Denny and Reggie will be in the area until the weekend, so maybe we can see them later.
  We also had tentative plans to see some "friends of friends" that live here in Cape Coral. They had called late on Tuesday and wanted to meet at a local bar on Wednesday night. We didn't want to leave the boat in such windy conditions, so we had to call them and see if we couldn't reschedule. You wouldn't think we would have all of these social engagements, living alone on a boat and all.
  Things started to settle down and Rosie jumped in the shower. I put a few ice cubes in a glass and added a smidgen of Captain Morgan. I was starting to enjoy my cocktail when I heard our boat neighbor approaching in her dinghy. When she hailed "Hello, hello!", I mustered up all the good nature I had in me and went out to ask what was up. Kim decided that Holly's problem was that she wasn't being able to get to shore to do her business, and that was the source of her bladder maladies. She offered to take Holly in her dinghy, along with her own dog, over to the park to let her run and go potty. I didn't even need to take a look at the nearly sinking dinghy, her flea and mange infested dog, nor the prospect of Holly being whisked away by pirates over at the park, to politely as I could, decline her offer. As if.
I think people may think I'm becoming anti-social.
  Even though I had avoided Facebook all day, it didn't keep Rosie from checking in occasionally. The bright spot of our day was finding out that our friends attending the boat races in Key West had taken photos of us, cut them out, and mounted them on sticks to carry around and take photos with and post them on Facebook.

  We kept getting posts from them in which various other friends posed with our cut-outs as they made their way from one Key West venue to the next. We knew that they missed us in Key West and the gesture nearly made Rosie cry.

    Here's Rick hauling us around in his beer filled back pack, one of the pictures we could actually show here on the blog. I noticed they had a cut out of Rosie attired in her skimpiest bikini and we warned them to not rub her picture nefariously on any of their body parts. Christa asked us how we knew that they were doing that, and I told Rosie to reply that we don't have faith in much, be we do have faith in human nature. There are some things you just know is gonna happen in certain situations. I sent a note this morning warning them that I better not find out that my stick was swished around in the toilet bowl late last night.
  Yesterday turned out to be a good day after all, thanks to the gang down there in Key Weird, you know who you are.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Staying Busy In Cape Coral

  We have some reasons why posts have been a little sparse lately; One is that since we are staying in one spot for so long we don't have much to offer that may be of any interest to anyone, or has nothing to do with our blog subject matter. The other one is that our inverter bank of batteries has finally called it quits, so this requires us to start and run the generator to be able to write the blog. The generator is on right now so we can cook dinner, so here we go...
  We were visited by the Florida Marine Patrol last week and they wanted to check our head system to see if we were flushing the toilet overboard. We had taken the dinghy over to Gary and Judy's place and we saw them come in and were over at one of the sailboats in the basin here. I took the dinghy back to our boat to fetch my wallet and they hailed me and asked me to stay where I was. When they came over they told me that someone had reported an odor in the area and that they were checking for boaters pumping waste overboard and would I mind if they checked our boat.
  They asked me what would happen if they put dye in our toilet and flushed it and I told them that nothing would happen except the toilet waste would go right into our holding tank where it belongs. They did their test and went on their way, thanking me for my co-operation. Our boat neighbor did not fare so well, she got a $275 ticket.

  On Halloween we went to The Dek where 16 ounce beers were $1.75 and chicken wings were 25 cents. Pren and Debbie Beauchamp were down from St. Louis and they met us and the Meinershagens at the Dek. There is a River Bill sticker on the back of the Bud Light sign behind the gang. I don't know how it got there. Cape Coral is full of neat little bars and restaurants to visit. Gary and Judy know them all, as they have been snow birding here for a few years now. We have no intention on visiting every one of them, however.
  We've taken a couple of sight seeing boat rides around the area in our boat, and in Gary and Judy's Grady White. A week ago we went to Fort Myers and ate a late lunch at Joe's Crab shack. While we were there, Rich and Joan from up at Two Branch on the Mississippi called. They were in Punta Gorda and wanted to visit. We had to decline because we didn't plan on sticking around Joe's Crab shack very long as we had about a two hour boat ride back to the basin, so we missed them.
  Last week just flew by. We did lots of shopping, well, not really shopping, but going to places to get stuff we needed. I mentioned some of the places we've been to already in the last post, but I think we went to all of them again. I keep thinking of things we need for the boat and I feel like when we leave Cape Coral we will be leaving civilization as we know it and we won't be able to get to stores anymore. I know this is not true because we have been able to get everything we need so far, and next week will be six months into our travels. Once you get used to the luxury of having a vehicle, it's a hard habit to break.

  One morning last week I woke up before daybreak and felt like a dinghy ride. Rosie determined that I was nuts and just rolled over when I asked her if she wanted to go along. Holly and I set off on our own and we rode up the Caloosahatchee River and got to Fort Myers before the sun came up. The ride was invigorating and reminded me why we were doing this.
  Our inverter bank of batteries is just four group 31 AGM batteries and I noticed that the bank was not holding a charge like it used to. The house bank is the same setup but that bank does not get the abuse that the inverter bank gets. I began to think about replacing the four inverter batteries, plus adding two more for longer inverter use. Group 31 batteries are between $300 and $400 a piece, so this is something I had to think about for a while.
  Meanwhile, last weekend Gary and Judy had some guests passing through on their way to Key West, so we set off on our own on Saturday to Fort Myers Beach. My brother had reminded me of a friend from a long time ago that had a home in Fort Myers Beach, so we decided to take a ride and try to visit him. We happened to get to the entrance to his canal right at the lowest of low tide and I didn't like the looks of the depth. I felt certain that we would run aground and the charts did not help at all. We turned around and headed for the beach, thinking we might look him up when we leave Cape Coral in a few days.

  Here's a mess of boats anchored out in front of The Cottage on Fort Myers Beach where we took the Grady White a couple of weeks ago. Swing Set is in the middle of the picture, anchored way out there. We brought the dinghy in and took Holly for a beach walk, and then took her into The Cottage where she was an instant hit. Hardly a woman walked by that didn't want to pet her and talk nice. I'm still talking about Holly.

  The sun had already set when we made our way back out to Swing Set. Every other boat was gone and we rode the three hours back to Bimini Basin in the dark. As I was stringing the dinghy up on the davits, a deck boat came by and purposely made a big wake, causing the dinghy to sway violently in the harness. I yelled sweet things to that boater until his running lights were but small specks in the distance. Some things just feel good.

    Yesterday morning, Gary and Judy's guests took to the road, so we picked them up and we went sight seeing again. We looked at houses and boats along the waterways at Tarpon Point and Cape Harbor, and saw some real beautiful homes. More interestingly to me was that I found diesel for $4 a gallon at Cape Harbor. After that, we went and anchored out near Picnic Island and just enjoyed the great weather.
  This morning we went to the preliminary closing on our condo at a title company here in Cape Coral, saving us from traveling back to St. Louis. When our buyer closes on Wednesday, the funds will be wired into our savings account and we will be officially homeless. Everything we own will be floating under us on the boat.
  After our business at the title company this morning, Gary and Judy took us to El Mambos for breakfast again, our third visit since we have been here, and not our last. We like it.
  Today I also bit the bullet and bought six group 31 marine batteries from Advance Auto, saving a lot of money in the process. We're swapping out the batteries tomorrow.
  After getting back to the boat after breakfast, I was all up for reading my Kindle and taking a nap. Rosie was playing with Holly and she started acting real funny. I mean Holly. I called Tara, our vet back in St. Louis at Affton Animal Clinic, and we both thought Holly may have contracted a bladder infection. Tara located a veterinary hospital in Fort Myers, and Gary offered to take us there, but we knew that the process could take several hours and we didn't want to put Gary through it, plus he and Judy were picking up a friend from the airport later in the day and I couldn't guarantee when we would be done at the vet. I called a vet listed closer to where we were and it was just a few blocks away. We got an appointment and after waiting for an hour and a half, the vet took a urine sample and found that Holly does have a minor bladder infection.

  We got some antibiotics for the infection, but there is nothing we can do about her being possessed by demons, as illustrated in this photo at the Baywood Veterinary Hospital.
  Another crises has been averted, it appears. We hope she is better once the series of pills have been taken. The vet thinks she may not be drinking enough water. We knew she wasn't, but we're not sure what to do about it. Maybe we should mix a little bourbon with it.
  So what we had planned to be a relaxing "recoup from the weekend" day, turned out to be a full one and we are beat. Now that it's getting dark early since daylight savings is over, we'll find it hard to stay up late tonight.
  If you don't know by now who you are going to vote for in the election tomorrow, please stay home.