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January 31, 2009

South to Florida and the Okeechobee to Ft Myers

Our next stop on the way south was Golden Isles near Brunswick, GA, and then on to Fernandina Florida where we stayed at the municipal marina overnight so we could visit with boating friends Jerry and Jinny Clapsaddle at their new custom designed and built home. This time I remembered to take some pictures that are now on the web site. It is always enjoyable and interesting to visit with them. They are both now getting set up in the new house with their studios so Jinny can do her pottery and Jerry his painting and design.
We anchored out the next night at Ft George (FL) just north of the Saint Johns River and enjoyed the views of the salt marsh and the old restored plantation that is at the state park there. It is another of our favorite spots to stop.
St Augustine was the next stop where we met up with Sue’s relatives, the Lairds. The came aboard Courage for a brief visit and then we all went out to dinner and one of the many nice restaurants in St Augustine. We stayed several days so I could visit Sailors Exchange (a marine surplus i.e. junk store that is fun to visit) and Sue could browse the local stores.
We arrived in Daytona Beach on Nov 23rd and pulled into a temporary slip at the Daytona marina and Boat Works. The boatyard is now a separate operation. I had Courage hauled so we could get the bow thruster fixed and the bent blade on the prop straightened. They did a great job and we ducked a $1,600 bullet by finding that the propeller on the bow thruster was still there and the problem was that the key that keeps it from slipping on the motor shaft had been sheared in half!
We celebrated another nice 10 day visit over Thanksgiving in Daytona beach with long time friend Chuck Ellenwood, his lady friend Pamela, her father, grandpa Mike, Joyce and Frank Hilson, and met Chuck’s lifelong friend Robbie and his wife. We walked around the many street rods that were in town for the “Turkey Run” rod show and gathered at the local shopping center. Chuck and I went to the show at the Speedway where we linked up with Frank. Unfortunately, Frank’s new totally custom designed and built rod was not finished so it was not there. It should be quite the car when it is on the road. While in Daytona, Vivian of the local US Coast Guard Auxiliary came aboard and did the courtesy safety inspection that we passed so we now have the 2009 sticker on the pilothouse window.
We left Daytona on Dec 3rd and stopped at Titusville, and Coco before anchoring out at Capt’n Hirams in Sebastian where we went ashore and met Frank and Joyce for another great dinner at their house. They will be Stateside until February when they return to their house in Panama City, Panama. Their ex pat experience is going well and they like living in Panama for a good part of the year.
We stopped at the Fort Pierce Municipal Marina and visited with Bob and Dianne Lund at their house where Dianne prepared a great lasagna dinner for us. I was recovering from a bad cold and wasn’t feeling too good but it was a nice visit. I just hope that I didn’t pass the cold along to them!
We arrived in Stuart and had made arrangements with Craig Callahan to stay at his dock in Manatee Pocket for a few days. Craig has a great facility there and it is always a nice visit with him. My sister Milbrey and brother in law Walt were in town that week at a time share condo in Jensen Beach and we got together with them several days including an overnight mini cruise to Pecks Lake just south of Stuart. When we dropped anchor, our good friends Anne and Nev Clement on the catamaran Peace were anchored there too so we had them over for dinner on Courage. We also visited the Sailors Refuge house on Jensen Beach and took the tour. A series of these houses were built along the Florida coast in the early 1900’s to provide shelter for shipwrecked sailors who washed ashore! This one is the only one left and it is now a museum.
We left Stuart on Dec 11th to start the trip across the Okeechobee Waterway to Ft Myers. This is the first year in many that there was enough water in the lake for most boats to make the trip. The back-to-back tropical storms last summer filled the lake to overflowing so it was not a problem. We went up the St Lucie canal and through the St Lucie locks and continued on to Indiantown Marina just east of the lake itself. This is a nice funky place with a lot of live aboards.
The next day, we went through the Port Mayaca locks and across the lake. Other than a northwest wind that made it a bit rolly for Courage, it was uneventful. Once you are across the lake to Clewiston, you follow the shore route along the west side of the lake to Moore Haven and go through the locks there and into the Caloosahatchee Canal. We stopped at Ortona and tied up at the dock behind Joyce and Mark’s house. They live in a community that has a canal system through it and all the homes have waterfront property.
Courage stayed there until January 1st and I stayed for 5 days to work with Mark on Courage projects. Ethan drove over and took Sue back to their house so she could play with granddaughter Kaya! Mark did a major rewiring of the DC electrical system and installed a new 2000-watt inverter to replace the one that came with Courage and was not working properly. He also built a new set of hatches for the front deck locker to replace the original teak covered ones that had gotten really bad. Two major improvements and as usual Mark did a great job. He and Joyce are also good friends and great people to be around.
Ethan and Sue drove over to pick me up on the 18th and we spent the Christmas holiday with them. Christmas is especially nice when small children are there since they enjoy the wonderment of it all so much. We prepared a Christmas dinner feast and had their friends Steve and John over to join us. We did the Christmas cracker thing and all wore the hats that come inside of the crackers during dinner.
Sue and I returned to Courage on the 28th to leave their guest room available for Carolyn’s parents Jane and Bruce who arrived to visit on the 30th. Ethan and Bruce drove over to Courage on Jan 1st and Sue drove Ethan’s jeep back while Bruce, Ethan and I took Courage west through the Ortona and Franklin locks to the municipal marina at Ft Myers. Ethan and Bruce each took a turn at the wheel and seemed to enjoy it. It was a beautiful day with very little wind so the trip was great.
We signed up for a month at the marina and settled into a slip surrounded by many live aboard permanent residents of the marina. It is convenient to Ethan and Carolyn’s house and is within walking distance of down town Ft Myers where there are some nice restaurants, shops etc.
I have been busy doing a long list of boat projects. I enlisted Mark’s help again and he drove over to remove the leaking stainless steel holding tank by cutting it in half to get it out of the bilge! We made a mock up of the size of the new tank to make sure that it would go back in the bilge and Mark took it home and made a new one from fiberglass that turned out great. He delivered it about a week later and it is now installed and working. Another big problem solved!
I had been procrastinating cleaning the engine room and bilges since it is a nasty job so I decided to hire it done. A local lady named Michelle works for the Yacht Broker here at the marine and she agreed to do it for me. It was worth every penny I paid her and she did a nice job. I then painted the bilges white so they now look as clean as an operating room! I am also painting the “walls” of the engine room white to refresh them and this also is an improvement. I have done a number of other smaller projects that I won’t take the time to mention except to say that I feel like it has been a really good month for boat improvements.
We had a visit from Marsha French a week ago. She and her husband Bob retired to Venice several years ago from the Chicago area. Bob and I worked together at GE in Erie, PA in the mid 1960’s and our families became friends and we have been in occasional contact ever since. Bob was diagnosed with ALS several years ago and died last March. It was very sad. We will visit again with Marsha as we go north through Venice in the next few days. Our visit with her was full of nice memories of our times in Erie.
I returned to NJ Jan 15th to attend the Fresh Creek board meeting and visited with daughter Liz before returning to Sue and the boat. The travel went smoothly in both directions and the weather was cold but clear so there were no problems. Liz is really enjoying her new fireplace and it was nice to be able to sit (and snooze) in front of a fire. It is something we don’t get to do very often since we migrate to be in warm climates year round!
I need to sign off so I can prepare the boat for departure from the marina. I will try to remember to update the log more frequently this year. As I get older, every thing slows down, including my enthusiasm for doing the log!

Posted by Dick at 09:44 AM