Monday, December 07, 2009

"On the ball again, I just can't wait to be on the ball again..."

Apologies to Willy Nelson...
Yes, we are back in Marathon, and what a trip it's been.
On Thanksgiving Day, we sailed (and motor-sailed) across Lake Okeechobee. It seemed like the only good weather day for the crossing that week, so off we went. Our friends Sande and Donnie caught up with us at Indiantown Marina and sailed across the lake with us. We had a beam sea the whole way and for the first time in years, I had a little bout of an upset stomach from the rolling. We did make it safely across and settled into the marina at Clewiston. Sande and Donnie joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. We had turkey with all the trimmings. Morgan finally go to meet Pete, the blue and gold Macaw.
The next day the wind had picked up. As we were trying to leave the dock a gust of wind caught the boat and twisted us around. We made it back to the dock and waited until marina staff could help by holding the bow line until we had enough speed for steerage in the very narrow, rock lined fairway. We finally got under way about 8:30 and made it to a safe anchorage called the "Lollipop."
After that we made it to Fort Myers where we did a pump out and took on fuel. The inland waterway ends at Fort Myers, so the next day we sailed on the outside to Naples. We had a quiet night in our favorite spot nestled in among all the million dollar homes.
On Monday, we made the short trip to Goodland where we hoped to meet up with our favorite dockmaster, Paul Waterhouse. We were in for quite a shock. It seems Paul had suffered a tragic accident in his home. He cut himself on some broken glass and bled to death on the spot!
Our friends Juile and Tim from New Port Richey had driven down to Marco Island for a short break from their business. They met us at the marina and we all went out for lunch and then had drinks at their hotel. On Tuesday, they took us shopping and to a state park nearby.
We spent the next day and a half watching as a cold front approached from the north. Fearing that we would be trapped in Goodland until after the weekend, around mid day on Thursday we decided to set out for Little Shark River. The crossing was uneventful until the sun went down. As soon as dark set in our engine snagged a crab pot tether. The line had gotten so tangled in the prop that I had to climb down into the dinghy and take the prop off to clear it. It was not an easy task with the boat bouncing in the waves in the dark, but I got it done and we proceeded on.
Around 8:00 that night the clouds parted and the moon came out. It gave us a good reference to steer by and also lit up the mouth of the river as we approached the anchorage. We finally settled into bed around midnight.
After about 6 hours sleep, we set off at daybreak for Marathon. The wind was near calm and Florida Bay was like glass so we had to motor the whole way. We snagged another crab pot, but this time it was easier to clear. The sea grass was forming thick mats on the surface and our prop kept getting clogged with it. A quick reverse of the engine cleared it, but it was still a pain.
We finally pulled into the harbor about 4:30 and it was like coming home. The marina staff welcomed us as did many of the other boaters we had met on our last visit.
The marina has finally opened the new bath house and completely redecorated the clubhouse. There are now computer work stations with free wi-fi and two TV rooms with wide screen TVs and theater seating.
It was a good thing we crossed the bay when we did because on Saturday the front finally came through and kicked up a thunderstorm and some high winds. At least on the mooring ball we have no worries about dragging anchor.
It's good to be "on the ball again."

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