Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Winding down

Just before leaving Marco Island I convinced Jimi it was a great idea to buy Kayne, our step-grandson a hermit crab for his birthday in May. So we went to the tourist shop, I picked out a Batman hermit crab and bought it. I was thrilled with my purchase and thought it would be the coolest gift ever and I would be the coolest grandma ever. That evening we played with and got to know the alien like creature and in doing so, we learned that they need a companion. This time it was Jimi who convinced me that we needed to go back to the store and buy another one and so we did. The next few things we learned were that the tiny box that the store sold was entirely too small for permanent living, they need lots of exercise and should have a bath once a week. It turns out that these guys may require more work than I originally planned for. However, I’m confident that we can make them a nice home in a five or ten gallon fish tank with lots of branches and toys to climb on. The good news is they do not smell or cause a mess, they eat very little and sleep quite a lot.
We discovered later that Batman is actually a female, so we renamed her to Batgirl and she out grew her shell. We provided her several shells and she changed them like a female changes her shoes. It was always a guessing game as to which shell she would occupy when we woke in the mornings.
The companion we bought is a male and we named him Alfred. I love these guys; and I’m serious when I tell you they have so much personality. We try to take them out every day. Batgirl is very adventurous. She loves to climb on us, on anything and everything she can. She not so shy to hide like Alfred is. She especially loves to climb up the helm pedestal to the top of the helm.

 Batman (now Batgril) when we first brought him (her) aboard.

 This is Batgirl trying out a shell we found on the beach and climbing the helm.

 This is Alfred in his shell.

This is the fifth shell Batgirl has tried out and the one she's in today. 
Sorry for the blurry picture. She would not hold still.

Jimi enjoying the sail!

When we left Marco Island we sailed to Fort Myers Beach. It was crowded. I think this is the first time we’ve been there during spring break. The people never ended. We only stayed a few days before moving along.

For the first time we stopped at Cayo Costa National Park. We’ve been through there numerous times, but never took the time to go to shore. We spent two days walking the beach and a couple more days just hanging out on Sanibel.

 Sand art we found on the beach,

 Gotta love this sign...such a comforting feeling.

 More sand art, however the picture doesn't capture it.

 Sand art is very popular here.

 This guy was collecting bait fish that were hiding in Sanibel's shadow.

Since our new plan involves us snow birding and traveling to Nebraska and back annually, Jimi decided to buy us a better long distance traveling vehicle; he bought a 2003 Lexus LS430. Although it’s fifteen years old, it’s immaculate. The car has been garaged its entire life and well taken care of. We are both very happy with his newest purchase. We will be taking both vehicles back to Nebraska. The van will remain there for a work vehicle.

We also decided it would be best to get the van from Jacksonville, in order to avoid loading the outboard motor into the Lexus and properly pack for our trip. We chose a Saturday and left Sanibel at 7:40am. The van was stored at the boat yard, which would close its gates at 4pm on Saturday and not reopen until Monday morning.

Our drive there went well and we got to the van at about 1:30pm. Jimi connected the battery, but the van would not start. He tried a few other things, but it still would not start. He needed to narrow it down, so with the clock ticking, we went to the auto parts store and bought some starter fluid. Still the van would not start and that’s when he was pretty sure he knew what the problem was. When he first opened the hood he noticed rat poop…a lot of rat poop all over the engine. Now he feared that the rats had chewed through anything and everything they could.
Next he began disassembling the dash board, as this’s how the engine is accessed in an Astro. What he found was crazy. The rats had chewed threw and literally eaten ½ the fuel injection wires, the wire to 2 sensors were completely eaten including the copper, 1 spark plug wire and they ate the entire ignition coil wire from boot to boot. He also found chew marks on other things like the heater hose, foam insulation, etc. 
By this time it was 3pm and we had 1 hour before we would either be locked in the gates or out of the gates. He said we were going to push on and do everything we could and he sent me to the parts store with a list of tools and supplies. I returned 30 minutes later to find him and two other guys walking the dirt road. It turns out that another guy was trying to get his car as well, but it wouldn’t start either. Jimi helped them push their car outside the fence. However, the van was too heavy to push. But Jimi remembered that the Lexus has a towing ring on the front bumper, so they hooked it up to the van and Jimi drove the Lexus in reverse towing the van out of the boat yard. By this time, it was 3:40pm.
He worked on the van and sure enough at 4pm on the nose the staff came by and locked the gates. Roughly three minutes later the van started. Amazing. I just knew we were going to be there all night and possibly even sleeping in the car. He was able to replace and hook up just enough wires to get it running. Although, he still wasn’t sure it would make the long drive back to Punta Gorda, he decided we would just go. Of course it was running rough, very rough, but we made it and arrived back on Sanibel at 11pm.

No Captain ever wants to hear that the head won't flush. But that's what I had to tell Jimi one morning. Upon taking it apart he discovered that this poor little guy had swam up the intake.

Our final sail for the season was to Charlotte Harbor. This was the first place we anchored when we splashed more than five years ago. While there we met up with some long time friends, ate at a couple of local places, visited the beach where we were married and purchased some folding bikes for future seasons.
 Great ice cream place in Punta Gorda

 Our favorite fajatas in Punta Gorda. We always share an order and are plenty full.

 We even got $19 off this price.

 This is the hotel our guests stayed at when we were married down on the beach.

 The water has moved in - not alot of beach left.
 This was the magic spot.

Meet Sammy. 
Sammy belongs to our sailing friend Dan on s/v La Bella Vita. 
We haven't seen these guys in a few years, but ran in to Dan at the boat yard.
Sammy loves Jimi and escaped the boat when he heard Jimi's voice in the boatyard to find Jimi. 
Jimi put Sammy safely back aboard until Dan came home.

Sanibel is safely dry docked at J&R Marine Services for the season and we are on our way to Nebraska.

 They pack them in here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sweet Marco Island

We’ve been at Marco Island for nearly a month now. We had no intention of staying here that long, but when we find a good thing, we may as well go with it.

This little bay is tucked away, free from wakes and swells and we are close to shore with a free dinghy dock at the grocery store. Laundry is close by and we’ve managed to find a few things to do for entertainment. Thursday nights, CJ's on the Bay has live music. The downside is it’s the exact same songs in the same order every week. We've only gone once, but can hear the music on Sanibel.
It looks crowded and it may be over by the bar and musician. We sat back a bit, on the edge of the fountain. It was nice.

There’s a great farmer’s market on Wednesday morning and we’ve found our favorite coffee shop in the area named ‘Wake Up Marco’. It’s quiet and quaint. There has been an Antique Road Show (but we didn’t go), a Strawberry Festival (but we didn’t go) and an Art show. We’ve splurged on Cold Stone Ice Creamery twice – yummy! And we’ve gone for a lot of walks to the park and Bealls Outlet (my favorite store right now).

 The market is massive.

 Cheese vendor.

 The flowers are beautiful. There are probably five or more floral vendors.

 Dozens of fresh fruit and vegetable vendors all at good prices.

 And long lines.

 Jimi and I fell in love with the plants and of course, I bought a couple.

 This is the one Jimi wants, but he hasn't purchased it.

 Our score the second time we went.

And look at the name of this coffee - fitting.

We, however, are on the low end of the totem pole. This is a very rich area and we are a bit out of our league. We are surrounded by privately owned vacation condominiums, big yachts and power boats. We haven’t met any other cruisers here. We’ve seen some and talked briefly in passing, but it seems people typically stop through here for a night or two rather than staying like we have.
 This is the entrance to the Esplanade. It's full of shops and restaurants.  The second floor and up are the condos. The Bay to this is where Sanibel is anchored.

 See our tiny dinghy compared to the large yacht?

Eagle, fountain and Vet Memorial at the park.
 Jimi flying his drone.

 Supper on the grill.

This is the Art festival at the Esplanade.

Yesterday, we got word that a fulltime live-aboard friend of ours was involved in a boating accident. His body is missing and he’s presumed dead. His name is Farroh. We first met him five years ago in 2013 in Clarence Town of the Bahamas. At that time he was in his early sixties. He was born and raised in Iran. At the age of nineteen he came to the United States of America with his parents and started a new life. He went to college and became a Professor working at CU in Boulder, Colorado. And then he retired and began sailing the world by himself. We spent some time together and were practically inseparable. The last time we saw him, we were in Rum Cay. However, I kept in touch with him over the years via email. His son emailed me with the news and it breaks my heart to hear it. R.I.P Farroh, my friend.

While we've been here, Jimi has worked on the VHF antenna. Our reception wasn't as good as it should have been. He discovered that the cables had some water intrusion and needed to be replaced. In an attempt to replace the cable that runs down the mast, he discovered that our mast is filled with packing peanuts. This is common to ket the cable from rattling; however, he is not able to run a new cable down the mast now and has to come up with a new plan.

He also rebuilt the alternator. It quit after we left Marathon. He ordered the parts and got it all fixed up.

Every evening at 6-ish the Black Pearl comes by, loaded down with tourists singing the YMCA. The boat always stops at the apartment/condo where residents are waiting to sing with and cheer them on. 

We’ll head on to Fort Meyers Beach as soon as we get a weather window.