Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fort Meyer


What a sail we had from Key West. It was perfect. Wind 8 to 10 Kts just aft of the beam. We had very little wave action and nearly a full moon to light our way during the night. I was able to run with all four sails up the entire 24 hour trip. The seas never got over a foot or so in height so the ride was like a magic carpet; smooth and even with very little heal or motion. If sailing was like this all of the time the ocean would be covered with boats.

The Fort Meyer/ Cape Coral area is filled with man made canals and expensive homes, I heard one estimate that there are over 4 hundred miles of these canals in the area but, this figure seems a bit large to me. Because of the large river between these two cities there are many spots to anchor and get ashore. First we tried the mooring field down by Estro Beach but after an hour we moved up to Glover Bay where a few of our friends were anchored.
The entrance from the Gulf is at the bottom of the picture, Fort Meyers is to the right and Cape Coral isat the top (where Bimini Basin is). (Oops, one too many "n" in Bimini)

 The next day, I said good by to Ralph and he headed back up to the frozen north and work. (6 inches of snow the next day). The day after that Anna was due in so I moved the boat once again to be in a better/close anchorage to the airport. I headed up the river and turned left into one of these canals for about a ½ of a mile to Bimini Basin. It’s a man made lake right in the middle of town with a public park, dinghy dock and stores near by. Everything that a cruiser could want and as a bonus, there were two boats that we knew anchored here!

View from the top of the mast with the public park in the back ground
Anna arrived, sick,( her parting gift from one of the grand kids). Not to worry though, for there is a med clinic right across from the park... (is this place is great or what)? As soon as Anna gets better we plan to socialize and explore a bit.

One of our neighbors is  Wind Singer, a steel boat from Canada that the couple built themself. Nice job Ey?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Life in Key West

Early Monday morning I walked up to the bus (at 6 AM in the dark) and rode back up the island chain to Marathon for a new starter.
Bad day for the pilot! (this was on a roof top at a bar in Marathon)

 I had a bit of good luck, for the owner came into work early and I was able to purchased the starter in time to make it back out to the road and catch the returning bus. If I had missed it I would have been waiting over 1 ½ hours for the next bus. Once back at the boat it was a ½ hr job to install the new starter Ah, the sweat sound of a diesel engine.
New starter on top, much smaller than the original one.

The best thing about having the motor running again? Hot water for a shower!

To pass the few days while we were held up by weather in Key West we took the bikes ashore and road around the island.
An old fort with a HUGE anchor beside it.

Key West abounds with wild chickens!
Don't those umbrellas and deck chairs look comfortable?
Sloppy Joe's was the hangout of Ernest Hemingway (and the food was great).
There’s a lot of history to be found on the island as well as a lot of, well, lets just call them “different” kinds of people to see. It's like being in a small New York City. You can find every type of person or personality that you can imagine all using a 1000 different ways to shuck a dollar from the tourist trade. (Since up to 3 cruise ships dock here every day there’s LOTS of tourists). There is street performance right beside of live theater performance as well as live performers at every bar.

He said that he was 66 years old.

human statue

The ladder is being held by members of the crowd.

Tourist attractions abound and the booze flows easily in Key West. Ralph thought it was a bit too much but I love the shear vitality of it. Afterwards we spent a day out to Boca Grande Key.
Boca Grande Key, No people, nothing but sandy beach and blue waters
 We then headed back to Key West for one last day before turning north for Fort Meyer and the end of our round Florida trip.
Great sunset to end the stay in Key West.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Another day another repair

This year’s cruise is becoming the “Maintenance & Repair” cruise. It’s going to be VERY windy here in Key West. When you folks up north get cold and snow we get big winds. So, yesterday, we motored into an excellent secure anchorage for this blow and went to bed happy as a clam. In the morning with a forecast for clouds (which = little sunshine and not much solar cell output), I went to start the motor and charge up the batteries but all I got was… nothing! No click, no start, no nothing. Half of an hour later I had the starter off and apart to find this:
You know it's bad when parts and bits of metal fall out when you take it apart.

Black and burned

Insides melted and twisted apart
The starter had destroyed itself. (This stuff only happens on weekends). A bit of a search on the internet found one 50 miles away, back in Marathon, but they close in 1 hour. So, Monday morning, I will be on the bus heading back to Marathon to buy our new starter. As I said, “cruising is the art of repairing your boat in exotic locations”.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Outboard repairs

My mighty mite outboard, the 2.5 HP Suzuki that we use to power the dinghy around developed a crack in the lower plastic housing. I called the dealer (just in time) and found out that I had 2 weeks left on the warranty so, they ordered up another cover and I told them that I’d pick it up when I sailed by.



 By the time that we got there the mechanic was out on another job so I replaced the cover myself. It was a bit of a job since you had to disassemble the engine and then remove the engine from the drive leg just to be able to remove the lower cover from the unit.

New cover going on the engine and ready to re-assemble the little beast.

I’m always glad that I have a mechanical background when little jobs like this occur. I have a hard time believing that anyone can become a cruiser without a bit of mechanical skill for (as I’ve found out) cruising is “the art of repairing things in exotic locations”.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


After 3 days of great sailing we got to Marathon Harbor in the Keys and found that all of the harbor moorings were full so, we dropped anchor down in the “low rent district”  instead. The harbor holds hundreds of moorings balls but it still has a bit of room for anchoring off to the west.

The dinghy docks were full

 This was to be a 2 day stop over so out came the bikes and we headed into shore stopping off at a couple of boats first to say hello. They in turn, invited us to a Mardi Gras party that night on their catamaran. What a party, I’m surprised that the harbor police weren’t called. Lots of food, drink, friendship and most of all laughter. A great way to introduce Ralph to life in Marathon (I think that he was a bit over whelmed).
The hosts of the party getting dressed for the night

The gang (Ralph is taking the pictures)

The desert was "slurping" good! (Bananas Foster)
Bonnie brought a Pinata and took several good WHACKS at it.
Walt got a great hit.

Ralph however, had one too many Margarita's and missed.
 The next day was hard to get up but we did manage to go to shore and bike the entire island.
Biking out to Pigeon Key on the old railroad bridge/converter to a car bridge.
We made it out to Pigeon Key where the Flagler Railroad Museum is located. The island was the main work camp for the building of the overseas railroad that linked the Fl Keys together back in the 1910’s.  It was a beautiful day up in the upper 70’s ,,, just another typical winter day here in the Keys.
The old bridge was used until the early 1980's and I drove out to Key West on the old bridge... Very scary drive.
One of the original work camp buildings, (now a museum) left on the island
 Tomorrow we start for Key West. Stay tuned for more of  Rich and Ralph’s around Fl trip.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Heading south (again)

I’ve picked up my friend Ralph and we are heading south to the Keys.

I don’t have any pictures of the start of the trip for when we got out on the ocean the breeze was over 20 kts and it was mighty rough. The first 4 hours of the day were really YUCK. So, we ducked into the Miami shipping channel and continued south in Biscayne Bay. Our destination is Boca Chita harbor.

It’s one of the first decent sized keys that starts the Florida Keys and it has a nice harbor, buildings that are built of coral blocks and a private lighthouse on the island.

Back in 1937 an industrialist, Honeywell, (Yes, the man who invented the control systems for large buildings) bought the island and made it into a paradise retreat for the wealthy.

 This lasted only a few years until his wife fell on the island and died of her injuries. Afterwards, he lost interest in the island and the National Park Service bought it and converted it into a harbor/park within the Biscayne National Park. It’s a great place to visit. Hope that you can come here some time for a picnic!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Trip to town

Nick (an English sailor from Tivakie) stopped over today and asked if I’d like to bike into town with him. It sounded like fun so we loaded the bikes into the dinghy and headed up the canal to the launch ramp where I could safely leave the dinghy. The canals of Fort Lauderdale are chocked full of huge, expensive yachts with multi-million dollar homes everywhere that you look. Some of the yacht’s were very beautiful  and some were (in my opinion) just ugly, I’ll let you decided.
On shore we took a long bike ride to Home Dept which took us under the New River heading into town (the road runs thru a  tunnel) and on the way back, we went over the New River coming back.
Several stops later, one to Sailorman, (a used and new nautical gear store) we hopped back into the dinghy and headed home with our “loot”. It was lots of fun.

Nick and I headding back home with the "loot"