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.


  1. Sounds like you're doing it right! Having a good time and taking your time. Enjoying your blog and your humor. Wish we had gotten to know you guys sooner back in St. Louis.
    Dave and JoAnn

  2. Mike,

    Enjoyed your blog. Would have warned you about Naples but didn't know you were going to stop there! (GRIN) Once was enough for us. The anchorage in Port Royal inside Gordon Pass (marker #13?) surrounded by the multi-million dollar homes is the only place we stop in Naples. Shame they make it so unpleasant to visit there by boat, nice place to visit otherwise.

    Larry and Linda
    s/v Enchantress