The Adventures of the Fort Myers' Gypsy
January 17, 2013
For those of you who expressed interest in the travel updates, I finally had time to write. It was with great excitement, trepidation and pure exhaustion that the day had come to cast off the last of the lines from Dock of the Bay Marina on Ft Myers beach and head fully loaded to Ft Myers Yacht Basin for a last night of revelry with the club for New Years Eve. It still wasn't real yet...this trip...that I had been planning for the last 3 months. I never realized it took a village to get to the Bahamas!
I wasn't sure everything had been finished however; if I didn't leave I am sure I'd still be trying to. Bob Miller and I left Ft Myers Yacht Basin around noon January 1st with having said our goodbyes to the boats and crews headed back to Ft Myers Beach with the exception of Hare Maru. George Cuic, and his lovely first mate Diane, sailed in tandem with us to the Franklin Locks where they would be spending the night. I have to admit I had butterflies in my stomach as I motored east and they waived goodbye. Now IT was becoming real. Words cannot describe how beautiful the scenery and ride was across the state.
This is something the club should definitely do. Everyday when the daylight threatened to disappear we dropped anchor for the night and hurriedly put up the mosquito netting. Nestled along the river bank amongst the biggest lily pads I've ever seen, the Budweiser frogs sang us to sleep and alligators lurked in the waters nearby. At one point along the river I said I felt like Kathryn Hepburn in The African Queen! We chose the rim route to cross the Lake and traversed a few locks of various depths. This was very interesting and nerve-wracking for me, being a newbie. Out of the St. Lucie River we arrived on the east coast where I promptly ran aground near "Hell Point" (how appropriate).
It was getting close to dark and we were trying to make an anchorage called "Manatee Pocket." We mostly motored up to this point because of headwinds, but got almost 7 knots out of the St. Lucie. But we needed the extra time gain while waiting for Sea Tow to nudge us off the ONLY hump in the whole basin. I did find out that Sea Tow covers the Bahamas and Islands...good information to know, but I should have just called! That same night we dragged anchor and, in the dark of night, had to reset it. We came pretty close to some really expensive sport fishers, but did not hit anyone. Boating over here is a whole new animal...makes you appreciate the slower pace of Ft. Myers.
Next up, as we moved south, was to find wi-fi. That took some time and it was a challenge without a car...8 miles round trip on foot. It was beginning to feel like the "What will go wrong next trip"...then the alternator quit! That burned up a few days and several trips to the store for small parts and wires needed to refit the new one. Meanwhile, the wind howled at 25+ MPH, and we bobbed around on anchor trying to get business done. Finally, we headed south through the many bridges on the ICW. As an under-powered vessel, unless the tides and winds are just right, you don't venture out of the inlets because it's quite a distance before you can get back in a wide one.
As I type this, some 16 days into the adventure, I sit at anchor in Dania expecting to make Key Biscayne tomorrow evening. Then we will move further south to perhaps Marathon before catching a weather window across to Bimini, with the help of the Gulfstream, instead of fighting it. Not sure if it's what I expected, but I'm sure not missing my "stuff" yet or the place I call home. It's been more work than I expected (don't know what I was thinking) and we haven't really gotten any sailing in with mostly un-favorable winds and multiple bridge openings. It takes a village to go off on a sailing adventure and I appreciate those of you who facilitate it...you know who you are. Thank you bunches.
Kathy Maciel and Bob Miller