St. Johns River '10

April 3 to April 9, 2010

April 3, 2010 -Ft. Myers Beach

Bob and I slept in and then did a few boat chores. We dinghied to shore to meet my parents and our friends, Nancy and Nick, who had taken the drive up from Marco Island to meet us for lunch. We all met at Matanzas Restaurant and Marina around 11:30. We sat outside on the shady deck and had a nice lunch--just visiting and catching up on things.

 
 
After lunch, Mom and Dad drove the 2 1/2 hours back to their home in Bradenton, and Nancy and Nick took their hour drive south to Marco Island where they have a winter home. We hope to make a stop in Marco Island with the boat and see them again before they head north for the summer to Waupaca, WI. Bob and returned to our boat with some goodies left over from the charter boat trip and just relaxed in the afternoon. It was another warm day with high, wispy clouds scattered throughout the sky. Bob had to switch the batteries on the boat to see if they were holding a charge. I worked on my blog and did some reading. At around 3:00, we got a call from Bernie and Barb (we stayed at their house in Cape Coral) who were driving by in their boat, Sitting Duck.

 
 
They had decided to take a boat ride from their home in Cape Coral on such a beautiful day and stop by to see us. We talked on the phone as they circled around us and then left to head back home. At 5:00 we dinghied over to see Rick and Pat from Sea Gator.

 
 
We visited awhile on their boat before heading out in our dinghies to get something to eat. The 4 of us went to Doc Ford's Bar and Grill to check it out. Doc Ford happens to be the main character in Randy Wayne White's books. Bob got turned on to his books by a friend because they take place in Florida. The restaurant and bar were built in a fishhouse style.

 
 
We got a table on the deck near the water and enjoyed the warm night air.

 
 
Outside on the deck, the band, Chicago Mob, was playing blues and rock and roll. Quite a crowd was gathering.

 
 
As the sun was setting, we dinghied back to our boats before it got dark. I was feeling a little sad that the week with Randy and his family was over, but content in knowing that we talked about doing another charter boat trip in the near future. We watched a movie on TV before going to bed. It was a warm night and the winds calmed off as darkness fell.

April 4, 2010 - Ft. Myers Beach

When we woke up this morning the sun was shining brightly and the temps were already in the 70's. Rick came over this morning to help Bob test our batteries and to return our anchor alarm. After a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, we dinghied in to shore to do some wash.

 
 
We spent about an hour and a half doing wash and then returned to the boat with clean clothes. After putting things away, we dinghied to the Topps Grocery Store, down a canal to the rear of the store where Bob would drop me off.

 
 
He dropped me off at an abandoned house and docked the dinghy at the pier. He waited patiently while I shopped and when I returned to the dinghy, we went back to the boat to put the groceries away. Then it was time to spend some time at the pool. The day had heated up to 85 degrees and without the wind, it would have felt a lot hotter. Going to the pool would help relieve the heat and feel great. I swam, while Bob hung out under the umbrella in the shade.

 
 
It was very refreshing. After awhile, we went back to the boat to shower and change. Then we went to the Parrot Key Bar and Restaurant for a drink.

 
 
It was a cute place run by a guy from Madison, WI who was a Green Bay Packer fan. Hanging from the ceiling were colorful parrots everywhere and a couple of Green Bay flags. We felt right at home.

 
 
We returned to the boat to make ham for Easter dinner. For dessert, we shared a chocolate bunny that I bought Bob for Easter.

 
 
A boat called Heaven Bound pulled into the anchorage from Sturgeon Bay, WI today. What are the chances of that?

 
 
The sunset was awesome and left a warm glow in a cloudless sky. The temps tonight will be warmer than they have been in awhile. We watched a movie and turned in early. We would make our plans for the next couple of days, depending on the weather report tomorrow.

April 5, 2010 - Ft. Myers Beach to Naples, FL

We threw off the pennant to the mooring ball at 9:00 and motored through Matanzas Pass reaching the Gulf at 9:25. We then cruised south along Ft. Myers Beach about 3 miles offshore.

 
 
The sky was blue and cloudless. The sun was shining with light winds and a temp of 83 degrees. The beachgoers were not out in full force yet, but we were sure they would be on a day like today. There weren't many boats out either and the seas had 1' waves as we headed south to Naples. The Naples' skyline grew bigger as we approached and so did the waves. It will give us a chance to see what the boat can do in bigger waves and the ride was not uncomfortable. The closer we got to shore, the less the wind and waves became a factor. We dodged crabpots along the way and made the 34 mile run, arriving at 11:05. We entered Gordon's Pass

 
 
and were awed by the size of the homes.

 
 
One canal had boat houses for its residents.

 
 
We were required to stop at the town dock to get a pumpout before taking a mooring ball ($10/day). That is Naples' way of controlling their transient slips. Most of the marinas in the area are private, open to yacht club members only. We pulled up to the gas dock and took on fuel and water, and got a pumpout, mandatory if you stay on a mooring ball.

 
 
We have to put our own pennant on a mooring ball before we can hook up. What kind of operation is this anyway? So...we left the boat at the fuel dock and dinghied over to the mooring field to attach a rope and a float to ball "C".

 
 
Then we moved the boat over to the mooring field and hooked up to our own line.

 
 
There are only 6 mooring balls in this section of the field and only 3 were occupied for the night. We relaxed in the shade of the boat canopy and had some lunch before going ashore to explore the area.

 
 
I found a cute boat name in the marina. This one is for you, Dad......."Ken Den".

 
 
We took the dinghy back to the dock, tied up, and walked into town. Some pelicans had taken over someone else's dinghy at the dock. Hopefully, no pelicans will leave their mark on ours.

 
 
We found an interesting complex of shops and restaurants just behind the city docks. We stopped in Naples' Ship Store which carries anything nautical. I couldn't talk Bob into a pair of beer goggles or a pirate cap. Oh well.....We continued walking into the downtown business district and ended up at The Dock Restaurant at Crayton Cove for a beer.

 
 
The guy next to us was eating a delicious looking dish called the Keewadin Lobster Clam Bake. Umm....umm..good.....for $25.50. We brought our dinghy back to the boat and had a drink while we watched a mini sailboat regatta from the yacht club. The mini boats were sailed by adults instead of kids. It seem like they tried to get as close to each other as they could, without crashing into one another.

 
 
One guy sailed so close to the back of our boat that Bob could have handed him a drink as he went by. Their little regatta was over in no time, so we sat in the cockpit and watched the boat traffic in Gordon River go by. It was pretty active for a Monday. The marina traffic was light, however, and many docks were unoccupied.

 
 
It was very hot today walking in town, but down by the water there was a cool breeze blowing. The humidity dropped off and the cottonball clouds moved in. We enjoyed lamb chops on the grill before relaxing with a movie. The evening air was cool and the sun set in the sky with an orange glow. The anchorage would be calm and peaceful here tonight.

April 6, 2010 -Naples, FL

It was a beautiful night for sleeping. We even slept with the hatches open for the first time. We had breakfast and did some business on the computer before making our plans for the day.

 
 
The other 2 sailboats on the mooring balls left early this morning, so we'll see if anyone else arrives, or if we'll be alone in the anchorage tonight. We talked on Skype to our grandson, Kaya, and found out about his visit with the Easter bunny. Afterwards, we got ready, took our dinghy to shore, and made the 8 block walk to Tin City.

 
 
Tin City is a series of gift shops, restaurants, and retail businesses of all descriptions under tin-roofed buildings.

 
 
This was once the hub of a clam-shelling and oyster-processing plant and is situated on the west branch of the Gordon River across from the working docks of Naples.

 
 
We stopped at Pinchers Crab House for a beer and some delicious calamari for lunch.

 
 
We watched people touring the Nina and Pinta replicas that were docked nearby. They are making their way around the state.

 
 
We checked out the menu at the Riverwalk Restaurant at Tin City and Kelly's Fish House which was across the bridge overlooking the river. We were in search of some nachos!

 
 
We shopped in the Boardwalk shops and found Bob a pair of shorts on sale. Nothing for me, though.

 
 
On the walk back, we checked out the Boathouse Restaurant where we had heard they have a great "happy hour" that we'll have to try out tomorrow.

 
 
We took the dinghy back to the boat to relax in the shade . It was a warm 85 degrees away from the water. After resting awhile, we took a dinghy ride down the Gordon River to see what we could see.

 
 
We passed under a bridge and continued down a marked waterway, past a cool-looking complex of condos and shops.

 
 
We went quite a ways along the mangrove-lined waterway, but eventually turned around and took another branch of the river past Joe's Crab Shack and back out to where we started.

 
 
We dinghied past the other section of the mooring field and down a canal along the Naples Yacht Club.

 
 
It was lined with a mixture of large and small homes and boats. One guy had a huge covered slip behind his house....bigger than his house. I guess we know what's important!

 
 
Apparently, God is a sailor. Here's proof! Notice the name on the sail cover and side of the boat. Denny....and all you other sailors.....I hope you're happy!

 
 
We motored past a lot of yachts in the marinas around the area. Here's one with its own garage. Inside it had a 14' Novamarine inflatable with an I/O. Very unusual!

 
 
We got back to the boat in time for cocktail hour and relaxed in the shade on the back of the boat. Another sailboat pulled in for the night behind us, so there would be 2 of us in the mooring field tonight. The view off of the back of the boat was great. We got to watch all the boat traffic that traverses the Gordon River from our cockpit. It was a busy boating day!

 
 
We grilled chicken for dinner and enjoyed a pleasant evening as the sun set. We watched some TV on the only channel we could get and retired early. It was an active day!

April 7, 2010 - Naples, FL

I got up earlier than Bob today and worked on my blog. I tried unsuccessfully to log on to it last night and finally gave up. So while Bob was sleeping in, catching a few extra zzzzzzzz's, I got caught up on my blogging. After Bob woke up and had his coffee, we made preparations to go down to Naples Pier.

 
 
We dropped the dinghy off at the dock and walked down 12th Avenue toward the Gulf. The streets were lined with beautifully landscaped gardens of private homes, apartments, and condos. Every place was well-manicured and cared for. We walked the 5 long blocks to an array of high-end shops and restaurants on 3rd St.

 
 
Two places that we read and heard about were Tommy Bahamas Tropical Cafe

 
 
and Old Naples Pub.

 
 
It was only 10:30 so we decided to continue on to the Pier and come back for lunch at the Pub. (We had finally found our nachos!) We walked another 3 blocks of palm-lined streets to the beach entrance.

 
 
The wind was blowing a little stronger than yesterday, which created a nice cooling sensation on the hot, powdery white sand beach.

 
 
The beach was drawing many people out on such a beautiful 86 degree day

 
 
and the pier collected fisher-people of all ages. We had never seen so many active fishermen on a fishing pier!

 
 
While dolphins fished the waters, fish like the mackerel and pompano were being taken from it. After watching the fishing action on the pier for awhile, we walked back to the Old Naples' Pub for lunch. The outside gazebo area of the Pub was gorgeous! Vines wound their way up the pillars and stairs, to the ceiling.

 
 
It was shady and the forest green tables gave the area a feeling of "jungle coolness". The birds chirped as they flew up to the highest reaches of the ceiling. This is the ceiling, looking up from where we sat. It was very serene!

 
 
We shared nachos (that we've been searching for for 3 days) and had drinks. A little girl at the table next to ours, was eating giant pickle slices that she plucked from a huge jar.

 
 
It seems if you order a meal, they bring you a jar of pickles to help bide the time. What a novel idea! After lunch, we walked back along the streets with high-end shops and fancy cars. It was kind of ironic to see a "hopped up" golf cart parked next to a fancy jaguar.

 
 
A beautiful fountain graced the area in front of a store and flowers were in abundance everywhere.

 
 
We made the short walk back to the dinghy. (Why does it always seem shorter on the way back?) Bob stopped to talk to the trolley operator to see where the trolley actually went. This particular trolley provided a narrated tour of the city.

 
 
We returned to the boat around 1:00 and just relaxed. Our stomachs were full and the sandman was calling Bob for a nap.

 
 
I resisted the urge and did some reading. We got a call from our friends, Nancy and Nick, from Marco Island who wanted to meet up for dinner later, so we just took it easy for the rest of the afternoon. The clouds began to form over land and farther inland, but over us the skies remained clear and blue. Around 4:30 we dinghied into shore to meet Nancy and Nick at the Boathouse Restaurant for dinner and happy hour. At the main dock, one of the charter fishing boats had just come in with their catch. They had caught red and gag grouper, and cobia.

 
 
They had one 30 pound cobia that they had caught 30 miles offshore. The piles of fillets on the table were huge.

 
 
We walked over to the Boathouse where we met Nancy and Nick. We sat at the bar for happy hour which consisted of two-for-one drinks and free appetizers (chicken wings, snack mix, cheese, and chips.) Who needs dinner? But we moved into the dining room after an hour or so and had a nice dinner at a table near the water.

 
 
After visiting for a couple of hours we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. We would see them again soon....either in FL or in WI this summer. Bob and I went back to the boat to clean up and relax. The sun set leaving the sky and mix of pink and blue. The wind had totally calmed off and some clouds moved in. It was a beautiful night. We watched a little TV and made it an early night. We would leave Naples tomorrow and head back to Ft. Myers Beach for the weekend. We have enjoyed our stay in Naples immensely.

April 8, 2010 - Naples to Ft. Myers Beach, FL

The sun produced a beautiful golden glow on the homes this morning. The temps today should continue to be in the 80's. We have had the best weather! Warm and sunny during the day, and cool at night. In discussing our options, we have adjusted our travel plan a little. Instead of going down to the Keys right now, we will return to the Ft. Myers area, hook up with our friends, Pam and Don, in their 56' Jefferson and go across the state together. This may be our only opportunity to travel together before they leave the state with their boat. It is something we have talked about doing for years. We had breakfast and readied the boat for departure. We left the mooring field at 9:10 and slowly motored out the Gordon River to the Gulf. Entering the Gulf and heading north we had a following sea of 2-3' swells. The ride was comfortable and the boat rode well. We would parallel the coast for the 34 mile run back to Ft. Myers Beach. We saw the high towers on the north side of Naples on Gulf Shore Blvd. where my aunt and uncle have a condo.

 
 
We had to slow down as we weaved in and out of crabpot strings for awhile. There were a few boats out cruising today and a lone sea turtle that poked his head up for a breath of air. The high cirrus clouds blocked ou the intense sunlight and kept the heat index down. As we traveled about 4 miles offshore, I acted as lookout for the crabpots while Bob tried to drive aas straight a course as possible. The boat traffic got heavier as we neared Ft. Myers Beach and the swells became less in height. We entered Matanzas Pass which would take us to the mooring field. People were out enjoying the beach along the channel.

 
 
At 11:05, we picked up mooring ball #17, had lunch, and settled in. After checking in at the office, we walked downtown. We stopped in the Tiki Bar at the Lighthouse Resort that had some Packer flags hanging from the ceiling. Packer fans are everywhere.

 
 
We did a little shopping and took a walk out on the Pier. If it's possible, there seemed to be MORE people on the beach than there was the week before.

 
 
As we walked along the beach, we could see more people enjoying the water with the Gulf temp now about 76 degrees.

 
 
As we walked back, the wind had kicked up the waves since we got here this morning and there were wind surfers taking advantage of the surf. Bob spied a sea plane near the beach. After talking with the cops on the scene, we found out that when the pilot tried to land the plane, a wave hit the pontoon and twisted the struts that held the pontoon. The plane was disabled and they were waiting for a tow truck to haul it away.

 
 
We met Boston, a bulldog, and his owner sitting back-to-back in the sand, using each other as a back rest. Unfortunately, my picture of them didn't turn out, but what a cute couple they were! We walked back to the dinghy and headed back to the boat. The skies clouded up and it looked like some weather was moving in. We got comfortable in the shade and made ourselves a cocktail while we listened to some tunes and watched the action going on in the mooring field. Bob spotted the disabled plane on the flatbed of a towtruck going over the bridge almost 3 hours later. It looked like they had removed the wings to transport it. It was a lazy afternoon. We grilled steaks for dinner and enjoyed the evening. We watched a beautiful sunset and a little TV and then called it a night.

 
 
April 9, 2010 - Ft. Myers Beach, FL

Around 3:30 this morning, a rain shower moved in and we woke up to the sound of raindrops. We closed the hatches and fell back asleep to wake up around 7:30. After breakfast, we dinghied to shore to visit the Farmer's Market under the bridge.

 
 
It was limited and there wasn't anything there that we needed, so we went back to the boat. Bob worked on solving the battery charging issue and I did some cleaning on the boat. It was a breezy, muggy day. The sun came out after the rain, but it was hazy out on the Gulf. We just putzed around on the boat for most of the early afternoon, just taking care of business. Bob took me to the grocery store by dinghy to get a few items around 3:00. Later, Pat from Sea Gator, came by to invite us to happy hour at the Tiki Hut and then to the Beached Whale for an early dinner. The clouds had cleared off and there was a nice breeze blowing. Neither Bob nor I were very motivated today. We dinghied to shore and met Rick and Pat at the Tiki Hut around 4:30. We had a couple of drinks there and then walked to the Beached Whale to meet some other boaters. There were four other couples there who also had boats in the mooring field. We chatting about our boating experiences and ate.

 
 
The food was great and as you can tell by this picture, we didn't take the time to stop eating to look up for this shot.

Everyone was very friendly and had some kind of boating story to share. After awhile, Bob and I said our goodbyes to everyone and walked back to the dinghy. We went back to the boat to clean up and relax after dinner. It was a nice end to quiet day. The wind kicked up a little as the sun set and moved the boat around a bit. There is no rain expected overnight, so we should have a pretty uninterrupted sleep.

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