March 18 & 19, Sunday and Monday
We left Naples Sunday morning with much turbulence – not the weather – the other boats! Strangely enough, to us anyway, there were no speeding restrictions on the river/inlet running up to Naples so we were tossed this way and that again. Bookcase on the floor etc. But once we were on the Gulf it was smooth cruising. How’s that for a switch?
An inside passage exists between the Naples inlet and Marco island, but with the weather so perfect we decided not to take any chances meeting up with shallow shoals. We had thought of stopping at popular Marco Island, but from the Gulf we could only see tons of high rise condos so passed it by.
Using our paper and online guides we found a lovely anchorage for Sunday night (called Panther Key), settled in and checked weather and winds for the rest of the week. Since strong winds are predicted for Tuesday through Thursday we arranged for a marina in Everglade City starting Tuesday evening.
Monday we traveled to a another anchorage (Russell Key) closer to Everglade City – again a great place to see the Milky Way after dark. I’ll be missing these great anchorages and views soon.
We’ve arrived at our slip in Everglade City at the Everglade Isle Marina and RV Resort. Very special RV Park with large paved and landscaped spots for each individual RV (also high end) and a luxurious lodge as well. The floating docks and boat slips are excellent as well. Maybe a little over our price range but there isn’t much choice around here. 🙂 The only downside is the almost constant airboats running back and forth up and down the channel near us. They are very noisy – kind of like staying next to a small airport! But when I went inside the boat to whine about it to Dirk he was sleeping! So I guess they aren’t that bad!!!
Some sites as we came to the marina and one from the lighthouse in the marina. The photo of the eagle on a post also had an airport in the background – and an airplane was landing as we cruised by.
March 16 – 18am; Friday to Sunday morning
We left Rick and Elenor’s rental in Cape Coral on Friday morning and Rick joined us for the journey to Naples. I took a few photos of their beautiful rental as we left.
We had determined that the Gulf would be calm and traveled about 6 hours to the entrance to the river into Naples and then north to the city. What views we had of mansions!
We were amazed how Naples rivals Miami mansions one after another. We learned more about this later when we looked at real estate listings. Very high end and high priced. But fortunately there was a place for us at the City Marina and we were docked by around 3:30. It was great traveling with Rick and Dirk had him at the helm avoiding crab pots after a while. Rick headed home via Uber, we finished checking in and made plans to my meet cousin Donna who winters in Naples! I took a walk to the Tin Roof mall and saw more lovely homes and condos on the way.
Friday night we enjoyed catching up with Donna at The Docks restaurant next to our marina. On Saturday she took me to the Naples farmers market where I bought more beautiful veggies and was tempted by a lot of goodies as well. We picked up Dirk back at the marina and headed to her place so we could go to the beach.
Ok- this is when we learn about condos and high rise condo communities and the beach access. There were maybe 8 very 20 (?) high condo buildings and many 2 story condo neighborhoods in this area north of downtown Naples, and they all belong to a community the includes various services including access to the beach and beach restaurants. Since the beach isn’t that close to most buildings, people can drive, walk or bike to shuttle areas and get on a free shuttle to the beach! Once we arrived at the beach, cabana boys set up chairs and umbrellas for you (and are tipped). There was also a casual but very nice restaurant on the beach for people with the beach passes. This kind of community and service was interesting and all new to me. And want to once again thank Donna for a fabulous day in Naples.
Later in the afternoon we did a load of laundry at the marina and then ate on board. This morning we walked about 6 blocks to a great breakfast place (Janes) since we hadn’t had breakfast out for a while. Nice- they even had a vegan option!
March 7 – 14, Lantana, Fl
My daughter asked us in January if we could take care of Arden while she and Chris went to a wedding in North Carolina and of course I said “of course!”. As a result, last Wednesday we first headed 3 hours north to Tarpon Springs and had lunch with our new good friends Kris and Roger, next, Dirk went to the dentist to have a permanent cap installed from his emergency dental visit, and then we drove about 5 hours to Sarah and Chris’s house in Lantana, a bit south of West Palm Beach.
I surprised our grandson Arden in the morning when he started making some noises, and then proceeded to have a great time with him for the long weekend. Sarah and Chris left Friday morning and came back late Monday afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed taking Arden to parks, making pancakes with him, and playing in the backyard, etc. Arden is full of energy and charm and made both of us laugh.
Just a few photos of joy follow. We are now back in Cape Coral and leave to head south tomorrow.
March 2 through 5 – Friday through Tuesday in the Cape Coral area
Last Thursday evening we traveled up to Chattahoochee River toward Ft Myers, but took a turn north to Cape Coral where our friends Rick and Eleanor Gentleman from Acton Mass rent a house for about 10 weeks between January and March each year. We stopped here last February when we were looking for a boat and they told us to cruise back the following year. The house they rent has a dock and even a marine electrical outlet. Note: Rick and I are twins from different mothers – we share a birthday and year!
We’ve been tied up their dock since last Thursday, and are enjoying the area very much. Not only do we have a place for the boat, but we are also staying in their guest room – such comfort! It was perfect timing because (1) we need to head back to Tarpon Springs area tomorrow afternoon so Dirk can finish his emergency crown replacement started up there and (2) then we are taking care of our grandson in Lantana FL while Sarah and Chris (daughter/son-in-law) go to a wedding for the weekend. So we were able to relax while Eleanor and Rick took us to local activities like an art walk, farmers market, the Irish Fest, the artsy town of Matlacha, and beaches to see sunsets in Cape Coral and Fort Myers beach and to visit the Edison museum in Fort Myers.
The Irish Fest:
Famous artist (Leoma Lovegrove) shop in Matlacha
Cape Coral public Yacht Club
Fort Myer Beach
We later walked along the long pier at the beach and then found a place for dinner. (Never go to Nervous Nellies! Horrendous service!!!!)
Visit to the Edison Museum in Fort Myers: Edison and Henry Ford had winter homes next to each other on the river, while Edison conducted research in his labs to find a source for artificial rubber. His lab grew and analyzed 100’s of tropical plants including banyan trees such as this massive tree planted around 1905.
Note: I’m sitting next to his second wife, Mina, who donated the Edison summer home, gardens and labs to the city of Fort Myers. The water sculpture is in the butterfly garden on the grounds of the museum.
March 4, 2018 Monday in Cape Coral Florida
I’ve been remiss in updating the blog this week. We are visiting friends from home and I got out of my routine. More on this visit in the next blog entry.
We left St. Petersburg on Wednesday Feb 28th and anchored out two nights on the way to Cape Coral. We looked behind to say good bye St.Pete, traveled into the bay and under the bridge and traveled on bays and canals for only about 4 hours – we were tired from a rough night in the mooring fields due to strong winds blowing right into the bay most of the night.
As you can see from the above 2 photos, the anchorage was popular but there was plenty of room for us.
On Thursday we passed Sarasota and numerous lovely or ridiculous large homes along the water.
As we traveled south on the Intracostal we were once again blessed with dolphins playing with the boat along the way.
We took a slight risk heading into our somewhat shallower anchorage this night but it was almost high tide and we made it. I was delighted because we were close to an opening to the Gulf. Once we were settled I suited up, got out the rope ladder so I could climb back on the boat when I returned and then swam ashore. There was a dock nearby, but the current took me further toward to channel than I expected. I noted that I’d have to be careful to start further up the current from the boat when I returned from my adventure.
I walked a mile or two along the Gulf coast, floated in sand dune ponds and the open gulf, and smiled and exchanged hellos with some small boat people along the walk. With the smaller boats I saw that they were just driven up to shore, someone sets an anchor in sand and people relax on the beach – neat. There were shells everywhere and I just had to bring a few back with me, even though I knew I’d have to stick them somewhere in my bathing suit while I swam to the boat. It was a lovely time.
When I returned to the dock near the boat I got lucky. A small boat was just pulling us near the dock, and I quickly said hello and asked them for a ride to our boat. They looked confused but I gave enough of an explanation (current is strong; don’t have a phone to ask my husband to get out the dingy) and they were nice enough to let me climb on board and take me to the boat. I was almost able to gracefully get onto the swim platform, but fell back in the water. I waved bye and and thanks and then struggled for a while and finally got back on the boat. (That’s another story). But it was worth it! Loved that Gulf water.
February 27, Tuesday – St. Petersburg
The mooring area of the marina where we spent the first night back from our travels to Marathon looked beautiful in the morning.
After breakfast (still ginger, cinnamon, banana oatmeal) we took the dingy to shore and walked to the Salvador Dali museum – a work of art in itself. It contains the largest collection of Dali’s work outside of Spain thanks to the Morses’ who were passionate collectors, and decided that their museum should be located in St. Petersburg. The collection contains works from his traditional beginnings, through his very surreal phase and then his grand religious works later in life. But I was amazed at the complex details in all he painted – tiny figures that actually made up a face from a distance for example. Thanks to a number of docents describing the painting we also learned of the deep symbolism in the images – most of which I would have missed.
We had lunch at The Hanger – a cafe located at the local private Albert Whitted Airport next door to the museum. The airport will also soon be hosting the Grand Prix – grand stands were already being set up on the field. We hear that the the downtown will be very busy and noisy for that weekend (glad we won’t be there).
Dirk headed back to the marina but I was excited to see the Chihuly Collection – a master glass artisan whose work is astonishing. There was a exhibit in Boston a few years ago that I missed (but there was an example for us to see during the Lake Boon Boat Parade that year! (Lots of colorful balloons in a boat!)) I digress…
Again there was a docent to provide background to what we were seeing including how the glass is illuminated (always from the outside) and moved to each site (individual pieces that need to be reassembled). And to describe how something that looks rather simple is quite challenging (glass balls).
The Glass Garden Room was about 40 feet long and contained so many glass shapes…
We were also able to view a lengthy example of glass blowing with many layers of glass to produce the multi-colored effects inside and out. It takes a lot of strength and patience from what I could see.
As I walked back to the marina I saw more examples of wall murals and building art. It’s quite the artsy city!
We joined our friends Jane and Bryce for dinner on their sailboat, also in the mooring field. It was a great last day and evening in St. Pete.
February 24, 25, 26 (Saturday, Sunday, Monday from St. Petersburg to Marathon in the Keys and back.
Our friends from Brick NJ who helped us when we grounded our boat a few time in New Jersey and also helped me see a doctor when I was pretty sick there, were having a party in Marathon, FL (6 hours driving away) on Sunday and we didn’t want to miss it since it would likely be the last large gathering of fellow loopers we’d be able to attend. On Saturday we wandered around two nearby parks in St. Petersburg and enjoyed an amazing display of art for sale ( maybe 50 booths) and then a very huge farmers market with many temptations. Next we rented a car, moved our boat to a mooring ball vs the slip to save money ($15 vs $80 /night) and then drove to Homestead Fl for the night as we headed toward the Sunday party in Marathon.
Sunday morning we stopped at our boat’s home port in Islamorada and visited with the owner, Pam Anderson, for a while and then continued south. We almost made to the party spot, Banana Bay Marina, when we saw the Air Museum that had been closed last time we tried to visit. In we went, only to find out that a number of the antique planes blew away or were destroyed in hurricane Irma last year. Very sad. But Dirk talked with the manager, looked at what was there and enjoyed the stop.
We reached the marina where Pat and George Hospedar, authors of two Great Loop books, greeted everyone, gave us name tags (very useful!) and we immediately spotted our friends Jan and Ron.
We chatted with friends we had met along the way, Loopers that finished their trips years ago and a couple that was just started to plan their journey. Pat H. hired a wonderful band and even sang with them at one point (she was a music and choral teacher) and many people gathered for a sunset photo.
We stayed overnight in a lovely place – Coconut Bay Resort – which has gorgeous grounds and lovely cabins. It felt like we were in a botanical garden! In addition the owner makes delicious multi-flavor scones every morning for the guests. I’d love to spend more time there if I ever get the chance.
We travel back in St Petersburg most of Monday. We returned our car, Ubered back to the marina and found our dingy still at the dingy dock (yea) and traveled to the boat for a quiet night.