Monday, September 30, 2013

Doing well in Florida


I’d like to tell you we’ve been tracking across islands, swimming in clear blue water and sailing the deep blue sea, but I cannot. Rather, we’ve been tied to a mooring ball in Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor. We’ve taken advantage of the amenities that came with the mooring ball like use of the marina rooms, day time internet, showers and the laundry facilities. We’ve met several people we buddy with on occasion, have attended potlucks, borrowed bikes to ride to the grocery store and have eaten out a few times. We may not be out and about exploring the world, but we are still having fun and making the best of things.

I’ve kept myself quite busy spending much of my time in the marina day room on the internet. Our boat neighbor, Nancy, and I have gone to lunch a couple of times, to the library and rummaging through the Salvation Army. I found several new (just out of the package), brand name shirts perfect for this lifestyle: sleeveless and airy. None were exactly my size, but we’ll tailor them. Having showers on shore has been a luxury we cherish and the laundry facilities, while expensive, have been wonderful. Our first community potluck was a Caribbean theme. We decided to take Hawaiian sweet bread ,changing the name to Caribbean Sweet Bread (wink, wink). We hoofed it to the grocery store getting back to the boat in enough time to make the bread, or so I thought. I read the recipe wrong and I didn’t have the time I needed for the bread to rise. I tried cutting the rise time in half and baked the bread. Already twenty minutes late, I pulled the bread out of the oven and cut it open. The outside was done, but the inside was an ooey gooey mess. No potluck for us, however, we waited half an hour, took our beverages and headed for shore joining in on the socializing portion of the evening. Our second potluck was an appetizer theme. This time we wanted to be ready and went to the grocery store the day prior for our ingredients. We took bacon wrapped bananas and to everyone, except the vegetarians, we were a hit; we were the appetizer stars of the potluck. Our boat neighbor, Nancy, graciously gave us the combinations to her bicycle locks. We have had three bikes at our disposal anytime we need them. The two mile walk to and from the grocery store has been cut from a couple of hours to twenty minutes round trip.

Jimi has tried to keep busy, but mostly he is bored stiff; antsy and ready to sail some more. He has fixed an ole’ teak ladder we have on board, scraped the bottom of the dinghy and Sanibel. Emerging himself in the harbor water is a nasty job. Miniature shrimp quickly attach themselves to anything including humans. They especially like the interior of the ear. Jimi said he could feel them biting his flesh when he got out; an irritating tingly feeling all over. A shower was quickly necessary when the job was finished. This is probably the reason most cruiser hire the job out. The dinghy wasn’t so bad, but Sanibel’s bottom was a fuzzy furry sheet of carpet. He’s done maintenance work on the outboard motor, changed the oil in the diesel engine and found other miscellaneous projects around Sanibel to do.

We’ve met two people in the harbor who have the exact boat we have, an Allied Mistress. The Allied company produced only sixty Mistresses in the seventies. We have hull #4, our neighbor has hull #6 and our new friend, Harald, has hull #8. To add to it, two Allied Seawinds, Sanibel’s grandmother boat, are also in the harbor. It’s impressive to have so many (5%) Allied boats in one place at one time. That says a lot about the company, though they are no longer in business, they made a pretty good product.

There is never any shortage of interesting people in the cruising world. It doesn’t matter if they are stay-put live-a-boards, part time cruisers or full time cruisers, everyone has a story. One fella we’ve recently been acquainted with is Bobby the Viking. That’s what they call him and for good reason. I’m guessing he is in his fifties, a dark complexion (probably from the sun) and bleach blond hair just past his shoulders. We are told we will probably never see him with a shirt on. He always wears cut off blue-jean shorts, a belt, leather wraps on each forearm and a grin on his face from ear to ear. He lives on his sailboat anchored in the harbor. For $2.50 a foot he will dive the harbor scraping growth off the bottom of your boat. The thing that really sets Bobby aside is his dinghy. It is a small boat from the Viking era, or looks like it at least. I haven’t snapped a photo of it yet, but I’ll try to before we leave the area permanently.

Molly and I will fly to Nebraska on October 1st. For me, it will be a seven week visit with my family and friends. For Molly, Nebraska will be her new home. Though she’s been great on the boat, we’ve decided the passages are too rough for her, given her age, and we worry about her safety and the longevity of her life. We are convinced she will do better and live longer on land. I can’t imagine her not being with me. She keeps me on schedule waking me up at precisely 6:30 every morning by touching her nose to my nose, her whiskers tickling my face. When I turn over, she’ll try to walk over me to get to my face. When I bury my face in my pillow, she’ll rub the side of her face on my ear with meows in between until finally I get up and get her breakfast. You may think it’s annoying and some mornings it is, but not always. Her subtle touches and soft meows are comforting. Even though I know she wants breakfast, I feel as if she is giving me a little bit of kitty love, because she goes about it so sweetly. After I feed her, I can peacefully go back to bed, but usually I stay up. She meows precisely at noon and 5:30 pm for dinner. And often would meow leading me to the bedroom between 9 and 10 pm every night. On Sanibel, though, she usually just falls asleep in the galley and I take her to bed with me when I go. She’s like a dog: taking nightly walks around the perimeter of the boat, often following me around and always wanting to know what we are eating and if she likes it, she wants some. I could go on with many more cutesy things she does, but I won’t bore you anymore. Jimi and I will miss her a great deal.

Jimi is going to sail to Charlotte Harbor meeting up with friends and re-provisioning at Sam’s Club. His friend, Matt, is flying in to the Fort Meyers airport on October 15th (Jimi’s birthday). Matt will help Jimi sail Sanibel 130 nautical miles from Fort Meyers to Key West. It just so happens they will be arriving in Key West just before the annual Fantasy Fest party begins (Key West’s version of Mardi Gras). I fly in to Key West on November 19th.

We are planning to be in Boot Key Harbor for Thanksgiving. And after Thanksgiving we’ll begin watching for a weather window to the next leg of our journey. Our plan is to sail west across the north coast of Cuba, then south hitting designated spots along the Mexican coast, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. We will remain south during next year’s hurricane season and then make a reverse trip back to the U.S.A.

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