St. Johns River '10

April 10 to April 16

April 10, 2010 - Ft. Myers Beach, FL

About 5:00 this morning, the tide changed directions and combined with the wind direction, the mooring ball started bumping into the hull of the boat. Needless to say I didn't sleep well after that. The day was sunny and started off cooler and less humid than yesterday. It was a little breezier too. We read and relaxed in the cockpit of the boat while watching the boat traffic and bridge action behind us. Traffic on the bridge was busy as beachgoers flooded the highway to the beach. After lunch, we took a dinghy ride along the inside of Estero Island where the city of Ft. Myers Beach is located. We went about as far as Estero Bay and Snook Bight Marina.

 
 
There we turned around and crossed through the free anchorage area to Hurricane Bay.

 
 
The channel took us through a back bayou of Hurricane Bay and around San Carlos Island. We discovered where the Luna Rossa Bar and Restaurant was located.

 
 
The marked channel brought us out to the opening of San Carlos Bay, where boaters enter the Ft. Myers Beach mooring field in Matanzas Pass and back to where we were. We dinghied past the commercial shrimp boats that were sitting dormant at the docks due to the importation of foreign shrimp.

 
 
We motored past the Big Game Club Restaurant before going back to the boat. Our little adventure today took us completely around San Carlos Island. As we were finishing our little tour, the sky clouded up, but the temps remained very comfortable. More boats were coming in to the anchorage to spend the night. We saw a sailboat with a cute name.

 
 
We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the back of the boat listening to Jimmy Buffet and the Eagles on CD. Dark clouds moved in and out all afternoon, but rain was never in the forecast. The winds finally calmed down some, but still kept us refreshed. We cooked dinner on the stove tonight because of the wind and sat outside to watch the sunset. When the clouds took over the sky and covered the sun, we went inside to watch some TV before turning in for the night. The winds picked up as darkness fell. It may be a noisy night tonight.

April 11, 2010 - Ft. Myers Beach, FL

I woke up after the wind kept pushing the boat around on its mooring and I was getting rolled around in bed. I got up to work on the computer and let Bob stay in bed for awhile. Bob got up a little later and he made breakfast for us. Around 10:30, it started to rain hard. Shortly after the rain started, the wind kicked in. The boat was swinging violently back and forth on its mooring ball. The windshield cover started flapping and banging against the windshield. It was very nerve wracking. We had forgotten to secure all the snaps and we were afraid it was going to get ripped off. We couldn't go outside to snap it down for fear of getting blown off the boat and into the water ourselves. Bob was standing in the driving station out of the rain listening to distress calls on the marine radio. Many boats were stranded or in trouble of sinking from what we heard. The Coast Guard was kept very busy....and so was I... trying to stop the rain from leaking in from the hatch over the bed and the kitchen counter. I grabbed a couple of pots and pans to catch the water, while I figured out the problem. Bob called me up top to see a sailboat, Mystical Dreamer, which had broken loose from the mooring field, mooring ball and all. It floated up against someone's pier and luckily, it ran aground before hitting other boats or destroying the pier. The sail on the boat behind us came loose and was flapping in the wind. He finally got it secured.

 
 
A power boat at the height of the storm, came in to try and pick up a mooring ball. You can see the person in red on the bow of the boat. They were successful and then tried to tie down their chairs and bikes topside. I'm so glad I wasn't them.

 
 
We heard on the radio that one sailboat aborted his plans to to go into Moss Marine during the storm and decided to tie up to the fender boards around the bridge pillars and stay under the bridge until the storm ended. We saw him tied there. Good plan! We could see other boats in the area with torn canvas and sails.

 
 
At the worst of the storm, the wind was blowing 50-60 mph. with the rain going sideways and 3' waves in the anchorage.

 
 
Later we heard calls on the marine radio of stranded jet skies and more boats that had broken free in the other anchorage farther down in Matanzas Pass. After about 2 hours the wind subsided, but the steady rain continued until 1:00.

 
 
After the rain died down, Pat from Sea Gator came by in her dinghy and asked it I wanted to go a little closer to the sailboat that was aground, to take some pictures. You can still see the mooring ball attached.

 
 
We motored close to the boat and saw that it was leaning against one piling of the pier. Hopefully, it won't float away when the tide comes up.

 
 
After we motored around the sailboat for some pictures, Pat dropped me off at our boat and Bob and I went ashore to do some wash. After a couple of hours we were done. Luckily we had brought along large plastic garbage bags to cover our clean, dry clothes with because the rain started again. We dinghied back to the boat in our raincoats and prepared dinner on the stove. Bob and I had a toast to celebrate our "survival" after one of the worst storms we've ever experienced on the boat. We toasted with two of Jeff's beers that we saved for a special occasion. Thanks, Jeff!

 
 
The sky lightened eventually and the rain stopped. When the rain finally ended, the blue sky broke through in places just as the sun was starting to set. We dried things off as best we could and watched some TV. It was an crazy, exciting kind of day.

April 12, 2010 - Ft. Myers Beach to Cape Coral

After rising, we had breakfast and got things ready to leave. The day was gray and cloudy, but the winds were fairly strong. We made our plans for the day and pulled our lines from the mooring ball at 9:30. The line looked burnt after the high winds pulled on it yesterday.

 
 
Good thing Bob had put an extra line on it before the storm and even that was frayed. At least we held and that's all that matters. The skies cleared and the sun shone brightly. Temps should be around 83 degrees today with a fair breeze. We motored out of the Pass slowly and spied a pod of dolphins ahead. As we passed them, they swam along beside us and started jumping out of the water.

 
 
One jumped over 5' in the air in one fantastic aerobatic maneuver. I ran to get my camera and started snapping pictures as fast as I could. From what I could tell. there were 3 of them and they kept me busy.

 
 
They must have liked the sound of our motor and the huge wake we created behind the boat because they stayed with us for about 15 minutes, jumping in the air and surfing the waves behind us.

 
 
It was great fun to watch them! Then they were gone! I'll never get tired of watching their beauty and grace in the water. They are amazing creatures!

 
 
We passed under the bridge and into the Caloosahatchee River.

 
 
A fair number of boats were moving around on the ICW after the storms yesterday and we took it easy on the gas pedal traveling at trawler speed ( 7.5 knots or 8.7 mph.) We entered the channel that would take us to the lock at 10:30 and motored along at idle speed. We entered the Chiquita Lock afer waiting for 2 boats to pass through.

 
 
In the lock we rose 1 1/2 feet . Then we cruised slowly down the canals to Bernie and Barb's house, arriving at 11:30. We went about 10 miles today. It was a very pleasant ride. Bernie and Barb were waiting for us when we arrived. We got the boat all situated at the dock and got a chance to visit. After awhile, we all went together to run some errands at WalMart, ABC Liquor, Walgreens, and the post office. We were back at the house in no time. Bob and I defrosted the refrigerator in the boat and dried out everything that got wet from yesterday's storm. We relaxed around the pool for awhile and then Bob grilled some steaks and asparagus for dinner. The day turned out to be very pleasant---with sunny skies and less humidity. The wind was still gusty at times and whistled through the screens of the cage on the lanai. After dinner, we sat in the hot tub while watching some TV. Then Barb and I did some computer work while the guys hit the pillow. The evening sky was filled with stars and we all slept well.

April 13, 2010 - Cape Coral, FL

We slept in....boy did we enjoy our sleep! It's such a treat being at Bernie and Barb's house after being on the boat for almost 4 weeks. We had breakfast and Bob did some boat chores. Barb went to Hospice to visit with the people she sees each week. Bernie and I hung out. I was doing some research on the computer finding mini dachshund breeders in FL. We are planning to get a puppy after we get done with all our travels this summer. After lunch, Bernie went out to do some trimming and wedding in the flower bed in the circle in front of his house. I went out to help and when Barb came home, she joined us. I love gardening and it is very gratifying work.

 
 
Later, Bob and Barb walked down the block and took a tour of a house that was abandoned. It was a very breezy day, but sunny. The wind whistled through the screen porch on the lanai. We had cocktails while Bob cooked dinner with Barb's help.

 
 
We had a great meal of stir fry chicken. Nice job, Bob and Barb.

 
 
We relaxed a little after dinner and went in the hot tub to watch a movie. It was a beautiful night and we enjoyed watching a movie under the stars.

 
 
After the movie, I did some reading and the others watched a little TV before going to sleep.

April 14, 2010 - Cape Coral, FL

Bob and I started our day early around 7:30. After breakfast, the 4 of us took a drive into Ft. Myers down to the Yacht Basin where we dropped Barb off for her 9:00 hair appointment at Rumours.

 
 
Rumours is a houseboat that was build to be a beauty salon. It's a cute little place.

 
 
After dropping her off, the 3 of us went to a marine surplus store so Bernie could pick up a piece of Starboard for a project he's doing on his boat. Bob and I just looked around at all the stuff for boats they had inside.

 
 
We left there and made stops at Sam's Club and Costco. We got a few items for ourselves and salmon for dinner tonight. We picked up Barb when she was done with her appointment and stopped at the Ft. Myers Yacht Basin to pick up the new battery charger we had shipped there. We had a quick lunch at Quiznos on Main St. and headed for home. On the way back, we dropped Barb off at Star Nails to get a little more pampering and the 3 of us came home. Bob and Bernie got started on changing out the old battery charger for the new one, while I did some wash. The boat project took a little longer than anticipated, but things went well. Barb called to say she was done with her nail appointment, so I went to pick her up while the guys finished working. Barb and I got home and shortly after that the guys were done. We all relaxed with a cocktail before dinner. Bob cooked the salmon on the grill and we enjoyed the evening. Tomorrow we will be heading out to spend a couple of days at the Ft. Myers Yacht Basin, and Bernie and Barb will be leaving to spend some time with family in North Carolina. We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay with the Heinemanns and thank them for all their hospitality.....again. We have such a good time when we spend time together.

April 15, 2010 - Cape Coral to Ft. Myers Yacht Basin

Bob got up early to check on the boat. He had turned off the shore power and left the battery charger on to do its work. The test was successful and things looked good. The true test will come when we are anchored out for a couple of days in a row. I got up and did some house chores to help Barb get the house ready for their week away in North Carolina. Bob and I got the boat repacked and ready to go. We said our "goodbyes" and untied the lines from their dock at 8:45.

 
 
We were back through the lock by 9:15 and on our way to Ft. Myers Yacht Basin. The day was sunny and a little breezy. The forecast is for the winds to increase to 15-20 mph later this afternoon, so we wanted to get an early start. Boat traffic on the ICW was light this morning. We arrived at the Yacht Basin at 10:15 and stopped for fuel before proceeding to our slip. We were tied up in our slip, C-29, by 11:30.

 
 
I gave the boat a bath from all the salt water spray and settled in. Bob went up to the office to check in while I soaked some of our stiff lines in fabric softener and did a little cleaning up. We took it easy after our 13 mile run today. We have a housewarming party to go to tonight and we didn't want to overdo it. The day continued to be warm and breezy with fluffy white clouds overhead. There was no threat of rain in the forecast. At the marina, our friends, Pam and Don, on Gallavant were working on getting their boat ready to leave with us in a couple of days. We left them alone for awhile to get their work done. We'd be going to the party with them tonight and we could catch up on things then. Later, Bob went over to be the spotter while Donny dove under his boat to clean off the barnacles. It only took about an hour and Donny was done.

 
 
I stayed on our boat and checked email. There was quite a surge in the marina from the east winds and the boat bounced around in the slip. Bob returned from helping Donny and took a nap. I did some reading. After awhile, I took a walk up to the marina office and across the street to Palm Park. I don't know if that is its official name, but that is what I call it because it contains different palm trees from all over the world. Each one is labeled with its country of origin.

 
 
At the corner entrance to the park, there is also a memorial to the paratroopers and glidermen living or dead. It is a neat monument.

 
 
I walked the docks in the marina and spied a couple of cute boat names.

 
 
 
 
It's kind of hard to read, but it says Oarfun Annie, from Madison, WI. What are the chances?

When I came back to the boat, Bob was still napping, so I worked on the computer until he woke up. Then we got ready to go to the housewarming. We packed up some chairs, our drinks, and an appetizer. Around 4:45 we walked over to the Gallavant and waited for our ride. We would be taking two cars since there were 7 of us. We were one of the first to arrive at Dianne and Bob Barry's new house. It is located on a canal where they can keep their boat in their backyard. It has a nice lanai with a pool.

 
 
They only bought it about 2 weeks ago and are sleeping in their boat until the house is ready for habitation. They will be bringing some furnishings back from their other place in Colorado later in July. We got to meet many of Pam and Don's marina friends and enjoyed some good food and conversation.

 
 
We left around 9:30 and went back to our boats. Pam didn't have the key to hers so she sat with me on our boat until Donny and Bob got back. They arrived shortly after we did and we said our goodnights and went back to our own boats. The stars had come out under a clear sky and the humidity had dropped. It was a very pleasant night. We watched a little TV and went to bed. The boat continued to move back and forth in the slip. We would be rocked to sleep in no time.

April 16, 2010 - Ft. Myers Yacht Basin, Ft. Myers, FL

Bob and I slept well and woke up around 8:00. We heard a knock on the hull while we lay awake thinking about the plan for the day ahead. It was Donny who invited Bob to go up to the boater's lounge for morning coffee and then for breakfast to the Boar's Head Cafe. Bob left and I got up to have breakfast on the boat and check email. It was a beautiful day with light winds and clear blue skies. After Bob returned, I took a walk up to First Street to check out what "main street" had to offer. I was looking for some greeting cards which I found at a "dollar store". The street has been refurbished in the last couple of years to be one lined with palms, restaurants, and businesses.

 
 
The buildings have been redone and the streets have been paved in bricks. There are quite a few outside cafes where people gather for something to eat or conversation with friends.

 
 
When I got back to the boat we got started on some boat projects that needed to be done. Bob worked on polishing the rails around the boat, while I worked on ridding the underside of the canvas of mildew. We both finished our projects around the same time and then we relaxed in the shade listening to tunes. White puffy clouds moved in as the afternoon progressed, but it was pleasant to sit on the boat as it rocked in the slip. Bob and I decided to take a walk along the docks in the marina. To our surprise we met one of the guys from the party last night who was putting hurricane shutters on his boat. That must be a first! Maybe the trend will catch on.

 
 
We continued on our walk and chatted with people who were working on their boats or just enjoying the day. We went back to the boat to relax and after awhile we got ready to do "happy hour" uptown. We walked over to meet Pam and Don at their boat and then walked up to the Bacchus for drinks and appetizers.

 
 
They had some great free food and the place was busy. Many people from the marina gather here every Friday.

 
 
We filled our plates multiple times and realized there wouldn't be any need for dinner.

 
 
We had a few drinks there and then moved on to the second place for "happy hour"....The Morgan House. It was up a block and around the corner on First Street. The place was hoppin'. They had free appetizers as well and we jumped at the chance to try their hot wings. Wow! They were fiery hot and at the meer touch of the meat to our lips, our lips were set on fire. That's ok. The beer would put out the flames!

 
 
More marina friends were already there. We had a few drinks and then everyone decided to move on to the Patio where they had live music. As we left, we could hear the live music that was beginning at the Morgan House, but many people had already moved on to our next venue.

 
 
We walked across the street and into a courtyard area called The Patio. There was a reggae band setting up and beginning to play there. People were starting to gather on this beautiful, warm night. The lights in the trees really set the mood.

 
 
The beat really got our feet to moving and before long Bob got right in there and was dancing with the singer in the middle of the plaza.

 
 
They entertained us all for quite awhile. We enjoyed spending time outside with all the people from the marina listening to the great music.

 
 
One of the bicycle policemen that they knew, Officer Youngblood, stopped by to chat. What a nice guy!

 
 
More and more people were gathering to listen to the great music and before long they played a song that I knew, The Electric Slide. It was a song to do some line dancing to, so a bunch of us got out there and did our thing.

 
 
Everyone was getting into the act and having a good time. Bob and Dianne Barry did some chair dancing together. At least I think it was chair dancing....? Bob seemed to enjoy it!

 
 
After awhile, we decided to make a visit to the piano bar at the Veranda. So off we went. The Veranda is an elegant restaurant set in two restored old houses. They built a kitchen to connect the two houses and made a lovely area outside, hence the name Veranda. It was surrounded by beautiful greenery and a Coi pond. The lights in the trees and the waiters in tuxedos made for a very lovely setting.

 
 
We sat inside at the piano bar and listened to some great piano music. At one point, one of the customers serenaded his wife with a love song, accompanied by the piano player. It was very romantic and sweet.

 
 
We left there when the piano playing ended and took the short walk back to the boats around 11:00. The streets were wrapped in a golden glow from the lights, as traffic thinned out and people made their way home.

 
 
We stopped to look at the interesting light patterns that were reflected onto the Art Center building. It was quite a sight!

 
 
We said our "goodnights" back at the marina and headed off to our boats. It was a wonderful night spent with good friends.

April 17, 2010 - Ft. Myers Yacht Basin, Ft. Myers, FL

The night was very peaceful and warm. We slept with the hatches open for a nice breeze and we woke to birds chirping nearby. Bob went off with Donny and the guys to have coffee again in the boaters' lounge and breakfast at the local eatery. I stuck around and worked on my blog. When Bob returned we made our plans for the day which included washing the boat, filling the water tanks, emptying the holding tank, and preparing the boat for our departure tomorrow morning. It will be bittersweet for Pam and Don, who will be leaving their marina "home" after 3 years. They have made many good friends, with great times, and lots of good memories. They are off to new and exciting places in their boat and we will accompany them for part of the way. Their final destination is Chesapeake Bay with stops along the way. We hope to make that trip next year. Their plans may include a return trip to Ft. Myers in the fall, but time will tell. It was a cloudy, humid day. The forecast said there was a 40% chance of rain today, but you never know for sure. Every now and then a dark cloud would hover over us and give us a little sprinkle. We waited for the sprinkling to end to begin on our outside boat chores. It didn't take long and we were back to work. We cleaned the boat and did everything else in preparation for our departure tomorrow morning. Not much else was going on in the marina or in town for a Saturday. There was no wind and the water was like a mirror. Everything was quiet! We just hung around for the rest of the afternoon until it was time to clean up for dinner at 5:30. We walked over to Pam and Don's boat to pick them up.

 
 
Then we walked the 3 blocks to the Downtown House of Pizza. The pizza was good and it hit the spot.

 
 
The rain had started by the time we came out. Good thing we brought along the umbrellas. It might be raining for awhile. We'll make it an early night since we plan to leave around 8:00 A.M. Sunday morning. Phase two of the adventure begins.....

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