Punta Gorda, Florida - February 21, 2008

We know we've been remiss lately in updating our log, so this time, we're doing a "3-for-1" deal to make up for it. Read on!

We stayed at Punta Gorda's Fisherman's Village until February 22nd. The people were so nice that it was quite hard to leave. We made many good friends there and Misty became the dock mascot. Since we love to eat and drink, the lifestyle there also suited us very well. While every night at 5:00 pm we had docktails (i.e. cocktails on the dock), on Wednesdays we also shared appetizers or a potluck dinner. For Mardi Gras, we even had a special themed potluck of Louisiana-style cooking with masks and other party accoutrements as well.

We have kept our eyes on the weather in Canada and frankly are delaying our return to avoid all that nasty white stuff that has buried the country from the Great Lakes all the way through to the East Coast. Our days have been busy with boat projects and Olga has managed to spend a lot of time on craft work and lessons with some of the other boaters on B-Dock. Time flies quite fast and our nightly entertainment from Misty keeps a smile on everyone's face.

Punta Gorda, February 2008
(Click on pictures to enlarge)
Jan, Joe and Mike came to visit us at Punta Gorda
Joyce and Bill's dog Annie got to spend a day with Misty
She was not overly impressed
But eventually settled a bit...
...without really accepting this intrusion
Mardi Gras pot luck dinner
Some nights over 20 people came for cocktails on B dock
Yakking away about the day's events
and then, of course we had some munchies
Even Misty got her introduction to shrimp (yummy!)
Some days she also got a bit too adventurous
so Olga had to remind her of who was the boss (yea, right!)

Everglades City, Florida - February 26, 2008

Our first outing in more than 2 months was a short easy cruise of 20 nautical miles across Charlotte Harbour. This was Misty's first experience underway and she took to the seas like she was born to it. Just don't try to immerse her in it! We made our way from Punta Gorda to Pelican Bay, and anchored just off the state park at Cayo Costa with m/v Gold Watch (Chuck and Barbara) and Sundancer (Bill and PK) . We spent 2 beautiful nights at anchor and despite being a weekend, we had plenty of space in the bay. Bill and PK had introduced us to the game of Rummikub. They are addicts. So one night we all had a game of Rummikub with the couples working in teams. On Saturday, Dennis and Cecilia on s/v Second Wind joined us and we had cocktails on board Mystic Bond and introduced them to our infamous drink of Pineapple-Mango juice in rum, along with several other adult beverages. The next day, we took our dinghies to a hurricane hole in the mangroves which apparently hosts some manatees. While we did see them, they were quite shy. Still, the small bay was beautiful and quiet and it was a nice outing.

We left on Sunday with m/v Gold Watch as we plan to buddy-boat with them for the next few legs of our trip. We are hoping to reach New Bern with them by the end of April so they can catch a flight to Europe for a short vacation, (wait for it!) cruising the canals in France. Despite a few yahoos who threw more wake than they should have in the narrow channels, we had a great sail to Fort Myer's Beach where we stayed in the municipal mooring field. A quick walk in town and a stop at the local watering hole was enough to show us how touristy the place is. Picking up fuel the next morning, we left for Marco Island and and continued on to a nice quiet anchorage at Goodland. This was also a good trip despite being a long day and having to pass through skinny water in many places.

The next morning, after a shorter cruise but in sometimes sloppy seas, we made it to Everglades City. We tied up to the concrete docks of a defunct resort free of charge and stayed there for three days waiting for a weather window. Visiting the town itself was like being in a time warp, back to the 1950's. Still, we had a good time and a couple of good meals at several of the local establishments. On our last night, we motored to to the entrance to the Gulf at Russell Pass and anchored out so we could make an early departure for either Little Shark River or Marathon. Although we hoped to make it all the way to Marathon, this entailed a long, open water crossing so we also plotted a course for Little Shark River in case we had unexpected mechanical problems or the winds and waves were not in our favor.

Misty has been quite blasé about being underway. When the seas are not comfortable,she snuggles into her carrying case which sits on the floor or else she curls up under the helm seat or on the most convenient lap. Quite a difference from our poor golden retriever Xanadu, who couldn't stop trembling from the moment we turned on the engine until we were safely back on a dock or at anchor.

Many of the pictures below are iincluded thanks to the generosity and talent of Chuck and Barbara. They are much better photographers than us and have a great camera. So, we borrowed lots and will continue doing so with their permission as we go north.

Everglades City, February 2008
(Click on pictures to enlarge)
Underway for Pelican Bay in beautiful blue waters
Mystic Bond at anchor in Pelican bay
Sundancer as our neighbors
Exploring a hurricane hole
Watching for manatees
Mooring field at Fort Myer's Beach
This boat even had an outhouse in the back
Smart bird, waiting for scraps at the fish cleaning station
The famous Rod and Gun Club at Everglades City
Everglades fishers on their way out to sea
Old town Everglades City
Olga's new friend at the Rod and Gun Club
Gators and frog legs, what a menu!
Olga, Barbara and Andre at breakfast in the Club
Chuck and Barbara advertising for the Rod and Gun Club
Airboats carrying tourists on the river
Mystic Bond anchored at Russell Pass
Russell Pass sunset

Marathon, Florida - March 14, 2008

The weather gods were kind to us and we had a very pleasant run from Russell Pass to the Seven Mile bridge outside Marathon where we exited the Gulf of Mexico and crossed over to the Atlantic ocean. Of course, as soon as we made our turn east to head the last few miles to the marina where we had reserved a slip, we encountered some head seas with lots of spray. Just a little reminder that you can never get complacent when you are boating!

We finally arrived at the Coral Lagoon / Boat House marina and resort after some 84 nautical miles, a long day. The resort is another gem, so it didn't take us long to determine that instead of staying for one week we will stay for two or three. There are also several other boats here that are cruising the Great Loop as we are, so there is an automatic sense of camaderie among the folks on the dock. Not so with the animals, unfortunately. So far, Misty has been rebuffing Molly, the yellow lab on the boat next door and Schooner, the cat three slips down from us. Oh well!

Sharing a rental car with Chuck and Barbara this past week gave us the opportunity to drive to Key West where we met up with Josh. Key West is a fun town full of younger people. Lots of bars, restaurants, "unique" people and lots of boats. Josh has been there for a month and a half at a mooring. He came back with us for a quick visit and his introduction to Misty. Of course she made the best of it since it meant there were three people available to serve her wishes as opposed to two. However, we took our revenge and dogsat Molly (the yellow lab) for a day after Josh left. Misty was not impressed but each animal showed lots of respects for the other's space, so the day passed without any fur flying or scratches on tender doggie snouts.

While in Marathon, we are doing some provisioning and the usual boat chores including more varnishing and cleaning vents and holding tanks. Still, it's not all work. We use our bicycles to explore the area and enjoy the resort's gorgeous pool on hot days. We've also gone snorkeling a few miles offshore at Sombrero Reef with Bill, Joyce and Annie (remember Annie, the airedale?) aboard m/v Sea Smoke. Again, time flies by very quickly and most days end with cocktails with the other boaters. After the 22nd of March, we will start making our way to Miami, then towards West Palm Beach where we will close the Great Circle Loop. More on that in our next update..

Olga and André on board m/v Mystic Bond.

 

Marathon, March 2008
(Click on pictures to enlarge)
A nice easy ride down the Gulf of Mexico to Marathon
Sighting the Seven Mile Bridge
More bridge pictures
Crossing through to the Atlantic
Yep, that's a head sea ...
with lots of spray on deck...
but Misty doesn't mind as long as she can cuddle up
Gold Watch underway with us
Misty in Olga's herb garden
Barbara, Chuck, Olga and Andre at the No Name Pub on No Name Key
Misty eating her morning banana with Olga
Key West revival, a pharmacy in an old theater
Old church in Key West
Beautiful gardens...
...around the oldest house in Key West...
...and the oldest "out house"
Andre and Chuck wonder if carpenters had levels in those days
Chickens roam free in Key West, by city ordinance

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