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April 29, 2009

Lake Okeechobee to Beaufort, SC

During our visit with Mark and Joyce at their house in Ortona, Mark did several more projects on Courage. He repaired the lazarette hatch on the “back porch” so it no longer “bounces” when you stand on it. It turned out to be a relatively straightforward fix that didn’t take long and is another big improvement to Courage. He also was able to fix the leak in the starboard water tank using the “thick” epoxy I bought. By smearing 2 quarts of it all around the inside of the tank, the leak was sealed. We never did see exactly where the leak was but it doesn’t matter – its gone now!
We left their house on Friday the 17th and continued east to Moore Haven where we anchored in the canal on the west side of Lake Okeechobee to wait for the wind to die down and shift to the east. The next day we had a nice, relatively smooth crossing and made it all the way to Stuart before anchoring for the night.
Our next stop on the way north was Fort Pierce where we visited with the Lunds by having them aboard for dinner. We invited them to join us for the next leg of the trip north to Sebastian. When we got to Capt’n Hiram’s Marina and Resort, we launched the dinghy for the trip ashore where we met their neighbors Cindy and Gary who had driven up to pick them up for the ride home. We all had a nice dinner at Capt’n Hirams and listened to Gary tell his most interesting stories about his career as a detective with the St Lucie county Sheriff’s office. They were just like the fictional stories we read in the detective novels!
We decided to push on to stay on “schedule” to be in Morehead City, NC by May 7th. After overnight stops in Titusville and Daytona beach, we anchored in St Augustine and went ashore so Sue could visit the book exchange store and do a shopping walk about through the town. Pressing on, we anchored at Alligator Creek, Golden Isles, Wahoo Creek before pulling in to Sail Harbor Marina on Turner Creek just south of Savannah where we met up with friend Terry Temperly on the Brewer 12.8 Island Time. Terry joined us for dinner and gave us a ride to the local grocery store for provisions the next morning before we shoved off. Last night we anchored at Beaufort, SC and had a quiet night. We are underway this morning towards Toogoodoo Creek – a great name! Then on to Charleston where we will spend two days at the Ashley Marina and enjoy the sights and sounds of one of our favorite stopping places.

Posted by Dick at 09:30 AM

April 14, 2009

Winter in Fort Myers

Another long stretch between updates to the ships log!
Since January, we took a mini cruise up the west coast of Florida. We left the Ft Myers Marina on Jan 31st and went a short way down the river to Redfish Point and anchored for the night. We then turned north and went up to Useppa Cay and anchored next to the famous Moore’s Stone Crab restaurant but didn’t go ashore for dinner. Useppa Cay is a very old fishing camp settlement and is now a very up scale community accessible only by a ferryboat or private boat. Our next stop was at Lemon Bay where we anchored out again.
February 3rd took us to the free dock in Venice and we met with good boating friends Nan and John Weston who have a cute little condo there near the waterfront. After cocktails at their home we made the brief walk to downtown Venice for dinner at an Irish Pub type place. It was nice but a little noisy with the live band. Venice has a lot going on and Nan is involved with a group of people who enjoy writing and the fellow who runs it assigns topics or themes for them to create a short story about. Nan has been very creative and draws on their cruising experiences to invent her stories. She is also a talented wordsmith and her stories are great reading. Venice also has visiting lecturers on a wide variety of topics and lots of arts and crafts thing for retired people to participate in especially during the winter months. There is also a local theater group and touring off Broadway shows and musical groups come through town. It seems to us to be a very alive and interesting town. Since the average age is quite high, the local joke is that people retire to Sarasota and their parents retire to Venice!
One night Nan and John took us to Buddies pizzas restaurant where a woman singer and does her own accompaniment and sounds a lot like Patsy Kline from the 50’s. We then went to the local VFW post where John is a member and danced to the Dixie Land band and enjoyed their Mardi Gras celebration. The band was made up of older men but they were good Dixieland musicians and they had a female vocalist who must have been 80 or 85 but she had a great big band voice. She looked like a little old grand mother (and probably was!) but could really belt out the songs – albeit with a complete deadpan expression!
From Venice we went north to Sarasota and stayed two nights at Marina Jacks while we did the local sights. We went to the Ringling Circus Museum and Art Gallery and spent the day. It was fun and the high light was the miniature circus model that a man spent his entire life creating. It is really impressive and does a good job of depicting the circus at its hey day with the “Big Top”, sideshow, circus train, cook tent, etc. The museum also has several buildings each devoted to a particular aspect of the circus (costumes, posters, wagons, etc.) and they have Ringling’s private Pullman car there being restored by volunteers.
North of Sarasota we anchored at Longboat Cay two nights before continuing on to St Pete where we got a slip in a local marina near where our boating friends Kay and Scott Heims have their condo. They sold their boat “Goldie” several months ago and had just bought and closed on a house. They are spending a month fixing up the house before they move in so they had a lot of contractors and projects going on. Scott works the night shift as a security policeman at the local campus of the University of South Florida and Kay is a home caregiver so they are both busy.
We hade fun visiting with them and the four of us took Courage “around the corner” to Clearwater where we anchored and went ashore to the USF college dock thanks to Scott’s connections. We went out to dinner at the pier that has many restaurants and gift shops on it and also went with Kay to the Salvador Dali museum. His stuff is really way out there and is interesting to see. His famous surrealistic paining that looks like a portrait of Abraham Lincoln if you squint is in this museum.
We then returned to the Venice free dock and had another visit with John and Nan before going south to Punta Gorda where we stayed at the Fisherman’s Village Marina and visited with John and Judy (Super) Keene. Judy was in our high school class and has been a life long friend of Sue’s – one of the “girls” that Sue met with monthly until she moved in with me. John is x Navy and gave me an interesting historical novel about the Union Navy blockade of the Florida west coast during the Civil War. It is well written and it is always fun to read a sea story about places that you have visited and seen from the water. From Punts Gorda, we returned to Ft Myers on February 25th and got a long-term deal on a mooring at the Municipal marina. It is much cheaper than a slip but we needed to use our dinghy to get ashore.
We stayed in the Ft Myers area through April 13th when we headed across the Okeechobee Waterway on start of our journey north to the Chesapeake.
During this time we had two nice visits with our HS classmate Dick Bean and his wife Jan, and a mini reunion of people I worked with in Erie, PA between 1965 and 1970. I had not seen Al Gaetjens or Phil Mickelson for over 40 years and it was fun to get caught up with them after all this time. Marsha French got us all organized since she knew how to contact them.
WE also made contact with John and Judith Stang who I worked for at GE after we moved from Erie. They are retired in Naples and we spent another fun evening with dinner at their beautiful “carriage” apartment.
I flew back to Philadelphia on April 8th (Sue’s birthday) for a Fresh Creek board meeting on the 9th and then spent two days visiting my daughter Liz in Bensalem, PA before returning to Sue and Courage.
All through this period, we spent a lot of time with Ethan, Carolyn and their daughter Kaya at their home in Ft Myers. It was a nice break away from the boat and we both really enjoyed babysitting and just being with Kaya. The three months we were there she really grew up and is now talking in sentences and is fun to be with. She loves book and will come and get your hand (actually your finger!) and lead you into her room to pick out a book for you to read to her. She calls Sue Nana and I am Pop Pop!
Yesterday we arrived at the dock of the home of Joyce and Mark Richter in Moore Haven and will be here several days while Mark and I do some boat projects. We will then head across Lake Okeechobee to Stuart where we turn north towards the Chesapeake.

Posted by Dick at 07:58 PM