Punta Gorda, Florida - January 25, 2008
Well, we're still in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Christmas came and went but Olga's birthday present will be staying with us for quite a while. Her name is Misty, in keeping with the colour of her coat and the theme of Mystic Bond. We adopted her from the local animal shelter to celebrate Olga's birthday. She has already changed our boat habits, including keeping all cupboards, hatches and closets closed at all times, not just when we're underway.
Although she's very cute, so far she has been nothing but trouble except when she naps. We had to buy a harness, a leash and a fish net on a long pole on case we need to scoop her out of the water. We are just waiting for this event to happen. She is curious, loving (for a cat) and provides constant entertainment. She has taken to life on the water, at least tied to the dock, like a fish to the ocean. You guessed it, she hates water except in her drinking bowl but she keeps watching the seagulls land around the boat and the harbour fishes jump.
At our nightly five o'clock cocktail hour on the dock, she enjoys the company of other boaters and she has become the official mascot for "B" dock where our boat is tied up.
We've decided to stay put in splendid Punta Gorda until late February. With a few boat projects on the go and a cat to be trained (yeah right!) we are enjoying the warmish weather and our fellow dockmates. There are some 25 boats with other people living aboard full time like us. They come from all over including Nova Sotia, Lake Ontario, Georgian Bay, Maryland, Indiana, New York, Texas and so on. They are a wonderful group of like-minded folks seeking sun and warmth on the water. One couple from Kingston has been coming here by car or boat since 1972. Everyone seems to have boat projects of one type or another. Our 5 o'clock cocktail hour on the dock is on every night unless the weather gets below 60 F. That's about 15 C for us Canucks. It's a great venue to discuss boat projects, compare notes on the weather and pity those that are still up north.
Our trip to Punta Gorda was quite pleasant with Monica aboard. She managed to take hundreds of photos with a major bent on nature and wildlife. We attached a few pictures for you. The most dramatic one was the jumping dolphin which Olga and I never managed to capture at the right monent with our own camera.
Joshua managed to join us on Christmas eve as well. It was great to have them both on board for Christmas. After Monica left, we drove Josh back down to Marathon where he had his boat at a mooring. It also gave us a chance to check out some of the marinas and anchorages available when we eventually bring our boat further south. Meanwhile, Josh will be making his way on his boat to Key West where he will stay a month. If the weather and our cruising schedules coincide, perhaps we'll meet up with him again there.
Finally, we should say that we really enjoy being tied at a dock for a couple of months. It is nice to rely on clean washrooms, showers, laundromat, restaurants and regular cocktail hours. The area is quite pretty and we're able to use our bicycles to get around to see the area and run errands for groceries, boat parts, etc. Our plan is to leave here around February 20th and start making our way down to the Florida Keys before going back to Canada along the Eastern seaboard. We keep track of all of the snow storms up north this winter and feel quite priviledged to be here in shorts and t-shirts.
Olga and André on board m/v Mystic Bond.