Monday, February 22, 2016

Edison Festival of Light and Dockside Doings

The Edison Festival of Light was held over the weekend to commemorate Thomas Edison's birthday- Feb. 11, 1847. Edison had a winter estate here in Fort Myers and is quite the local hero. Events included a craft fair, a 5K race, fireworks, and a 2.5 hour parade, all right in front of our marina. We were invited to a potluck dinner and parade viewing on Chesapeake


Edisonia Royal Court

Mr. Light Bulb balloon
The Budweiser Clydesdales

The following evening we invited folks to "A" Dock for docktails. The crews of Short Vacation, Phantom of the Aqua, Seven Tenths, Gran Vida, Nearly Perfect,  Motivator, Sea Lore and Attitude Changer made a lively group.

Views from our backyard

We continue to work on boat projects during the day: updating our chart plotter software; installing an on/off switch for our AIS transceiver; having the cushions in the bridge recovered, and more. 

Another fantastic sunrise today

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

It was a gorgeous day- perfect weather to get off the boat and explore. We borrowed our friends' car (many thanks, Short Vacation!) and went out for breakfast before heading over to Sanibel Island and the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. An aside- Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling was a Pulitzer Prize- winning cartoonist for the Des Moines Register in the early 1900's. He was an important conservationist and designed the first Federal Duck Stamp. Lake Darling State Park in Iowa is also named for him.

It took nearly an hour to drive 27 miles over to Sanibel, due to the ever-present stream of traffic. It is a beautiful island, but a very busy one. We took the Wilderness Drive route through the refuge, stopping occasionally for photos. So did thousands of other nature-lovers in trams, bikes and cars. It reminded me of a major mall in December. We saw a few birds  (pelicans, willets, and osprey) and one gator. We also walked the Calusa Shell Mound Trail and checked out the Visitors' Center.

Like us, these white pelicans spend the warm months on the Upper Mississippi and winter in Florida.

The water all around Fort Myers, Sanibel, etc. is very brown due to the heavy rains necessitating huge releases from Lake Okeechobee. Locals are up in arms- this is not good for wildlife or tourism.

I can't distinguish between male and female osprey- one caught a fish and after eating part of it, took it to the mate waiting in the nest. I would guess there were eggs in the nest, since we didn't hear any baby chirps.

After leaving Sanibel we visited Total Wine (my new favorite store), West Marine (Mark's favorite store), Harbor Freight and Publix. As they say, we "made a day of it."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Daily Life Onboard

Nothing major to report for the last few weeks. We shared cocktails with the crews of Fruitcakes, Short Vacation, and Shell Bell several evenings. We have enjoyed visits from several Iowa friends- John and Becky from Muscatine; Bryan and Letty from Sheldon; and cousins Maureen and Reiney from Ames. None of them seemed overly sad about missing out on sub-zero temps back in the Hawkeye state!

Becky and Becky

Robert, Mark and Kay

Kay, Becky, Patsy and Pam

Our view of sunset

Cribbage and cocktails on the bridge with Caitie

Pam and John are our next-door neighbors on their new boat, Short Vacation, a DeFever. They are Mississippi River boaters from Illinois who we met through mutual friends several years ago. It's such a happy coincidence that we ended up in adjoining slips! They hosted a Super Bowl party for us, Andy and Julie from Fruitcakes, and Werner and Kathy from It's About Time. Great food and fun, but no pictures.

Cousins Maureen and Reiny and their good friend Sally. Jerry snapped the photo.

Mark is an expert at sautéing scallops

Our home

Meanwhile we (and by we I mean mostly Mark) works on the boat nearly every day. He actually finds purpose and satisfaction in these tasks. Some of the jobs he has tackled recently:

  • replaced impellers
  • changed oil- 2 engines, the generator, the dinghy motor
  • reworked the dinghy motor
  • removed the auto pilot and sent it in for repairs
  • arranged to have the bridge cushions recovered
  • replaced the galley faucet head
  • obtained the necessary parts by bicycle or borrowed car
  • found a gauge for the holding tank, which he will replace
  • arranged for the exterior of the boat to be detailed next week
Mark had to drive the dinghy about 1/2 mile to have it pulled out of the water so a mechanic could work on the lower unit right there near the boat ramp. As luck would have it, that was a day with gale-force winds. Once he got to the boat ramp, the mechanic discovered he had the wrong impeller and had to send back to the shop for the correct one. During that hour of waiting, the winds increased. Once the repairs were complete the dinghy went back in the water and Mark headed for Mara Beel. After a very short time, the motor died and Mark was forced to row the dinghy into significant waves and wind. It was quite an experience! He did manage to a) miss the huge luxury yacht tied to the face dock, and b) restart the engine after several minutes. The wind was unbelievable, but he made it back and John helped get him and the dinghy back on board. I couldn't even get off our boat to help because the wind kept it too far from the pier for me to jump, and I wasn't strong enough to pull the boat closer. Good thing John could hop off his boat! Mark is not anxious to repeat this rowing in a gale experience!

This is a storm flag, denoting winds 55-73 mph.

Needing a break from the boat, we borrowed our friends' car and went to Pine Island to pick up a part Mark needed. Since we were in the area we went to Galt Nature Preserve, anticipating a nice nature walk. Sadly, most of the trails looked like this:

Flooded trail=no hiking

Great Grouper lunch in Bokeelia, Pine Island

Our next stop was a visit with long-time friends Dick and Susie in Cape Coral.
(again no photo- I must be losing my touch)

Our normal activities include filling our water tanks every 5 days or so, pumping out our waste tank on the same schedule, pulling our folding wagon to Publix for groceries (2.2 miles round trip), walking, biking, playing Mexican Train dominoes or Cribbage at night, socializing, meeting new friends, and planning the next adventure.

Every now and then a Sax player plays under the bridge near us.

Mark and John from Serenity headed to the Miami International Boat Show yesterday while I hung out with Pam and John, and got acquainted with Art and Pam who, over the course of 10 years, completely rebuilt their 59 foot boat, Tinacious.

John, Art, Pam, Pam and Becky at Marinatown.

And this brings us up to date!

Caitie's Visit

Our daughter Caitie flew down to spend a week with us. She is such delightful company! We toured the Edison and Ford estates on a breezy but gorgeous Monday. We were long overdue for good weather. Fort Myers averages 2 inches of rain in a typical January-- but this year we had 13 inches. No wonder Lake Okeechobee is spewing water into the Caloosahatchee and desalinizing the coastal waters around here! Caitie picked the best weather week to be here- sunny and around 80 each day.

Tuesday we waited out early morning fog before refueling and heading to Pelican Bay and Cayo Costa State Park- 40 miles or so from FM. Pelican Bay is our favorite anchorage, and this was our third visit there.

The dolphins showed up just for Caitie!

Love to see dolphins!

The sunset was spectacular.

Caitie and social media

Sunrise on Pelican Bay after a peaceful night on the hook

A beautiful morning for a walk on the beach

You never know what might wash up on the beach!

A sand shark??

We left our anchorage just as the ferry and its load of day trippers arrived from Pine Island- perfect timing! Back in Fort Myers, we drove over to the nearby power plant to see manatees taking advantage of the warm water discharge. The few animals we saw were even more lethargic than usual, so it was not exciting.

We walked over to the nearby Famers Market on Thursday to buy fresh produce and fresh caught Gulf Shrimp, which made a delicious meal of shrimp and wild rice with spinach and tomatoes.

Our Chicago friends Bob and Kathy spent Thursday with us. I unfortunately forgot to take a photo of them, but they brought me a framed sock. This is relevant (and funny) because not once, but twice they recovered a sock of mine that I accidentally left behind. The first time was at the marina laundromat in Leland, MI, in 2013. Kathy found the errant sock in the dryer and brought it to our boat, leading to a great and lasting friendship. We visited them in their home the following year, and the very same sock somehow became entangled in the bedding. How does that even happen?? A few months later that sneaky sock disappeared in the laundromat in Dunedin, FL. Sadly, Kathy was not there to retrieve it, so it is gone forever. I now pin my socks together while doing the laundry!

There will be no losing this baby!
On Friday Mark attended the chart review at Legacy marina presented by Robert Creech. We then met our dear friend Patsy at Pinchers for lunch.

Caitie flew back to Des Moines on Sunday afternoon- the week was fun and went by all too quickly!