Catching Up: Where Have We Been?

The long-overdue (and possibly temporary) post to fill in the last two missing months of cruising.  Pardon the much-too-lengthy post.

Days 56 – 84, December 9, 2018 – January 6, 2019

The last post was St. Augustine, which seems a lifetime ago.  An update is long overdue.  I would still like to complete detailed posts for each segment of our trip, and I may attempt to do that at a later date, but for now, I simply want to fill in the blanks to bring this record up to date.  To that end, I will use a broad-brush to simply document our path and the places we have visited.  This will cover our route from St. Augustine in early December, when the holidays were just grinding into gear, to our arrival in Key West just after the New Year.  2019 has arrived.

St. Augustine to Daytona, December 9
Lovely weather for a boatride.

After a pleasant enough visit in St. Augustine, we left at 0700 amid the torrential rain of a frontal passage.  During the day we saw up to 30 knots, with generally 20-25 knot winds and some lightning. Tornado warnings were posted in Tampa.  It might have been a pretty ride, but it wasn’t, thanks to the weather.  The ICW took us along the Matanzas River, through state parks and state forests, the Palm Coast, and Flagler Beach.  There were plenty of derelict boats — one of the black marks of cruising Florida’s lovely waterways.

Historic Daytona Riverfront

After a 45-mile run we got ourselves settled in at the sprawling Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona, where we watched a wretched Patriots football game while we waited for the weather to improve, then wandered around the surprisingly pleasant but economically stressed Daytona waterfront.  The city infrastructure was lovely and park-like, but there was high commercial storefront vacancy and the businesses that were there were a little down-at-the-heels.

Daytona to Cocoa Beach, December 10
Daytona Historic District

Our stop in Daytona was a nice, easy, simple visit.  The folks at Halifax Harbor Marina were pleasant, there was plenty of good space for walking the pups, and we had a fun chat with the owner of the yellow American Tug Chelsea.  After a morning walk with the dogs along the downtown waterfront and a satisfying bagel and coffee at Sweet Marlay’s Coffee on the main drag, we were under way at around 0930.

Haulover Canal and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

We had a nice run, and it was mostly easy work.  We started to see our first Florida trailer parks!  The ICW wandered down the Halifax River, across the Ponce de Leon inlet, around some dredging equipment, past New Smyrna and the Indian River North, and the Mosquito Lagoon.  It was fun going through the funky Haulover Canal and we enjoyed the lovely Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.  It was a mostly sunny, pretty afternoon as we passed Titusville and Canaveral and made our approach to Cocoa Village.

Failed exhaust elbow.

About an hour before we arrived at Cocoa Village Bruce discovered an exhaust elbow leak during an engine room check.  Not one to delay any maintenance issues, he got on the phone and located an acommodating welder. He made arrangements to drop the part off at 0700 the next day for repair.  After we were secured at the Cocoa Village Marina he dove headfirst into the ER while I walked the pups. Cocoa Village is a charming little spot with funky shops and casual eateries.  It doesn’t take long to see the whole place.

Bruce successfully removed the elbow, and, weary from the effort, at the advice of the marina staff we wandered to Ryan’s Pub where we enjoyed a big salad and exceptional pizza.  And I do mean exceptional.  Definitely thumbs up, and the bartenders were a hoot!  It was an entertaining evening full of comic relief, which was healthy for us after the exhaust elbow debacle.

Cocoa Village to Telemar Marina to Vero Beach, December 11
Cocoa Village Riverfront Park

The day got off to an early start. Bruce was off the boat and in a taxi by 0645 and at the welder by 0700.  I took the dogs for a hike and we enjoyed a brisk and beautiful early morning through the small park along the waterfront. We did two or three loops through town: it’s not a big place.  Bruce was back on board by 0815 with a repaired exhaust elbow (it’s a long story of an inferior part that we will fill in later).  He dove back into the engine room and, remarkably, we were off the dock and under way by 0950.

A gusty day on the Indian River, leaving Cocoa Village.

The day was gorgeous but windy, with temps starting in the upper 40s and wind hitting 25 knots.  We were headed for Vero but didn’t have enough fuel to get there (we had planned to get fuel at Cocoa Village, but they don’t have any) so we made a pit-stop at Telemar Bay Marina for a short fill.  They were not busy and very pleasant, and it was a quick in-and-out.

Homes along the Indian River.

The north wind pushed us hard and we had a gorgeous run down the Indian River.  The weather was beautiful and the scenery was exceptional.  The homes…very impressive!

By early afternoon we pulled in to Vero Beach Municipal Marina.  By luck, we were able to get a spot along a T-dock at the marina, which was very convenient and fortuitous. We are not big on rafting and all the moorings at Vero Beach require a three-boat raft.  Not our gig.

Jaycee Park is a lovely spot on the ocean side of Vero Beach.

We had a lovely stay in Vero, mostly because of the thoughtful generosity of good friends who looked out for us.  We enjoyed a lovely evening in one of their homes, a fun dinner out at Bonefish Grill, walks around the neighborhoods, and we even had the luxury of a loaner car for the duration of our visit.

The mooring field at Vero Beach Municipal Marina.  Esmeralde is the farthest boat at the docks, left of center.

That car made at least three round-trips to West Marine!  It also got us to some grocery stores, the excellent Tea and Chi to replenish some of our unique tea supplies, and allowed us to splurge for some great fish at Rhonda’s Seafood Market. And Vero has a nice little running store conveniently located right next to West Marine, so I splurged there too!

Vero Beach to Stuart, December 14
We cooked our hogfish from Rhonda’s in Vero after we arrived at Stuart.

We spent three nights at Vero Beach, then pressed on.  We were under way at 0730 after a pleasant walk with the dogs around Vero.  It was a gray and humid start for the short ride to Fort Pierce, where we made another pit-stop to fill the fuel tanks.  The breeze kicked in as we pushed south, and the water turned lovely clear blue as we made the ten into the St. Lucie River and the Okeechobee waterway.  It was a pretty ride up to Stuart where we found a slip at Sunset Bay Marina.

Resolute, one of the five American Tugs at Sunset Bay.

We spent two enjoyable days at Stuart.  The marina was fun, had good staff, and there was a nice on-site restaurant (Sailor’s Return).  There were five American Tugs (including Esmeralde), which was a first for us and we enjoyed catching up, especially with Tom and Jean aboard Karma, who we had met at our home marina in RI when they pulled into a slip next to ours.

The Christmas Tree Lighting was lots of fun.

We went to the Christmas Tree lighting party at the marina and took long walks along the waterfront boardwalk and through town.  We had yummy breakfast on the opening day of a small new restaurant, Three Little Birds Cafe, which is owned by two ladies who live aboard their boat at the marina.

Stuart had some pleasant parks and a boardwalk that offered good walks.

The weather was warm and muggy, and we got rained on several times during our walks around town.  We enjoyed catching up again with Tim and Diane, who had brought us SPAM in St. Augustine.

Stuart to Moore Haven via Lake Okeechobee, December 16
Leaving the St. Lucie Lock.

After weeks of anticipation, we finally got to cross Lake Okeechobee.  We left Stuart at 0800 and enjoyed a lovely ride up the St. Lucie Canal.  The lock at St. Lucie was easy.  It was cool and sunny and we were on the flybridge enjoying the scenery.

A blissfully calm Lake Okeechobee.

The Port Mayaca lock was open so we cruised right through into the lake.  We had debated whether to go Route 1 — straight across — or Route 2, around the rim.  In the end we went straight across, taking advantage of the glassy calm conditions and went fast, 15 knots.  It was an easy and quick run.

We had planned to stop at Roland Martins Marina in Clewiston, which is on everyone’s must-see list.  However, it was a Sunday and there was a big bass fishing tournament under way so they told us we couldn’t come in until after 5:00.  We would be there by 2:00 so that wouldn’t work well.  We proceeded around the rim to Moore Haven and passed through the open lock.

Alongside at the Moore Haven City Dock.

The public Moore Haven City Dock was right on the other side and we pulled alongside for the evening.  It was an easy stop.  The town is sort of nothing, but the waterfront area is pleasant enough and we were able to give the dogs a nice walk. We had a nice chat with other boaters on the dock, and enjoyed a lovely flybridge evening and a pasta dinner on board.  Note for the next time: everyone says you need to experience the drive-through liquor store/pool hall/burger spot.  Ok!

Moore Haven to Fort Myers, December 17
The lovely Caloosahatchee Canal.

It was a chilly morning in Moore Haven but a gorgeous clear and sunny day.  We were under way at 0900 and had a lovely ride down the Caloosahatchee Canal.  It was simple, plain country and an easy trip, although the chart plotter and our iPad nav showed us cruising comfortably down cowpaths and across fields while we motored dead-center down the river.  So much for modern electronics.

One of the two locks on the Caloosahatchee.

It was chilly so we were in the pilot house, but we enjoyed the lovely river scenery.  The two locks, Ortona and Franklin, were straightforward and easy. The channel was wide and deep and other than a few bridges that required some forethought, there were few markers and alerts to worry about, which made it a very relaxing trip.

On the Caloosahatchee River.

Things got a little weird as we approached Fort Myers.  The charts were dead wrong in a variety of places, and had us on the wrong side of markers and going under bridges in the wrong places.  This became one of those situations where you had to trust your judgment, and ultimately it was better to follow the markers rather than the charts.  We made it, but there was some head-scratching.

We crashed nightly docktails at Legacy Harbor.

At Fort Myers we stayed at Legacy Harbor, which was in a good location and would be protected from the bad weather we were anticipating for several days.  Once again, the staff was very helpful.  There was a critical mass of winter snowbird liveaboards who had docktails every night.  They were warm and welcoming and we enjoyed the company of new friends.

Fort Myers was a great place to be “stuck” by weather.  Lots of restaurants a short walk a way, and a Publix supermarket just two blocks in the other direction.  And most importantly, Bennett’s Coffee Roasters, home of homemade awesome doughnuts, right across the street.  What more could a cruiser want?

With the help of WalMart and Rody we decorated Esmeralde for Christmas for the first time ever.

This was also our pre-Christmas staging spot.  Well behind the holiday curve, we had yet to decorate Esmeralde.  I ubered to WalMart and purchased a tree, lights, decorations, cards, and other Christmas supplies.  I think the whole lot was about $28, which is pretty modest for Christmas! Bruce ordered our beef tenderloin from Lobel’s which was a big splurge and more than wiped out the savings from the WalMart decorations, but hey, Christmas only comes once a year, right?

Miserable weather at Fort Myers.

We ended up at Legacy Harbor for five nights because of the stormy weather.  It which blew hard and rained torrentially for a few days.  A short distance up the coast, at Tampa Bay, the Sunshine Skyway had to be closed because of high winds, reportedly almost 80 knots plus tornadoes. It got pretty wild in Fort Myers but we were snug in our slip, and tended to lots of basic boat chores, laundry, mail, bills, prescriptions and other administrative stuff.  It was a good stop.

z8S2szgASJuW0WkOZV8YBAWe also got the boat decorated for the first time ever.  It was fun!  Even Bruce, who generally isn’t much into Christmas decorations, was in the spirit.  We think we did an excellent job making Esmeralde cheerful and fun without going overboard.

Cayo Costa State Park, December 22 – 26

Cayo Costa was, for me at least, one of the highlights of our trip.  We had been looking forward to getting out of marinas for some time, and Cayo Costa was highly recommended.

Bruce ended our visit to Fort Myers by coming down with a cold.  Oh Joy.  The storm was gone and the day started gray and calm.  We had a lazy start with a walk with the dogs and a last stop at Publix, then a last trip to Bennett’s Donuts.  The sun came out and it turned into a beautiful travel day.  It was our first day traveling with our Christmas decorations up.  The stockings hung in the pilot house fluttered in the breeze!

We had a leisurely meander out the Caloosahatchee River, passing south of Cape Coral and out through the mangroves.  There were more boaters than usual, probably thanks to the pre-holiday weekend and the nice weather after the storm.  We passed by the Ding Darlin National Wildlife Refuge and Pine Island Sound, with porpoises playing and feeding all around us.

Esmeralde anchored in Pelican Bay, with Cayo Costa State Park at top left.

We made it safely through the unmarked and tricky entrance at Cayo Costa State Park and made our way into the Pelican Bay anchorage.  We tucked ourselves up inside a cove where we were all by ourselves.  There were only three other boats in the entire bay.  It was lovely.  Bruce launched the dinghy and we buzzed to the state park dock.  We had burgers on the grill and enjoyed a beautiful full moon.  And Bruce was miserable with a cold.  Ugh.

The pups enjoyed many lovely walks along the trails and road across Cayo Costa.

Our five-day Christmas at Cayo Costa was absolutely beautiful.  We enjoyed pleasant walks with the dogs at the park, explored by dinghy, I went for a few runs on the park trails and the beach, there was gorgeous weather and a full moon.  We took the dinghy over to Cabbage Key for our “Cheeseburgers in Paradise” lunch. I made pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner.  We had cocktails and Christmas Carols on the flybridge.   Oh, and I came down with Bruce’s cold.

Mother Nature treated us to gorgeous weather and a full moon during our Christmas visit to Cayo Costa.

New friends Dee and Jocelyn came over from Burnt Store on their boat Tender on Christmas Day.  We had champagne and smoked salmon with them, then they joined us aboard Esmeralde for Beef Wellington, green beans, salad, pumpkin pie and whipped cream. It was really a perfect Christmas on board.  We were so pleased.



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Cayo Costa to Punta Gorda, December 26
It was a wet Boxing Day ride up Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda.

On Boxing Day Dee and Jocelyn treated us to an exceptional brunch on board Tender.  We had fresh berries, eggs with gulf shrimp and stone crab, home made guac, and of course bloodies.  What a treat! It was a spectacular finish to our wonderful Christmas holiday at Cayo Costa.

It was time to leave.  The wind was picking up and the bay was a lot more crowded than it had been.  We finally headed to Punta Gorda.  It was a wet and bumpy ride, but not far.

img_2247We tied up at Fisherman’s Village Marina  which was nice enough, but quite a touristy spot and not really our thing.  Services were not exactly convenient but it was fine for a short visit. The waterfront area between the marina and downtown was very nicely developed parkland and fun for walking the pups.  We enjoyed a pretty good dinner at the popular Carmelo’s Restaurant.

Punta Gordians take their pickle ball very seriously.

I finally saw Pickle Ball in action for the first time: it is a serious activity in Punta Gorda. We also did the less-pleasant hike to West Marine, Publix and CVS. Bruce found some nice clothes at a good men’s shop at Fisherman’s Village, which is a rare event.

Punta Gorda to Cabbage Key, December 28
The old fishing lodge at Cabbage Key.

Because we had such fun on our dinghy ride to Cabbage Key, we decided to spend a night there with Esmeralde.  We re-traced our steps down Charlotte Harbor, past Cayo Costa, and made our way into the tiny, narrow channel to Cabbage Key.  It was very busy at mid-day thanks to the warm sunny weather and the holiday, and a bit of a circus getting ourselves secured, with half a dozen boats all trying to dock at the same time.  I was afraid the dock attendant might shoot himself!

Climbing the historic water tower.

The nature trail on Cabbage Key is fun, and a climb up the historic water tower is essential.  The island is pretty and has the “old Florida” feel that is missing in so many places.  We had dinner at the bar in the lodge, where we happened to be sitting next to the owner of the place.  That was an interesting conversation, perhaps the best part of our overnight stay. We enjoyed our visit, but in the end it is better as a day-trip by dinghy.  Going overnight on the big boat is unnecessary.

It was a pea-soup fog morning at Cabbage Key.  We thought we were in Maine.
Cabbage Key to Useppa Island, December 29
Useppa Island.

This is — and will probably remain — the shortest trip of our long cruise.  It is maybe one mile from Cabbage Key to Useppa Island.  Useppa is a truly unique spot. We were invited to Useppa Island by one of our new friends from Cape Coral who we met in Fort Myers, and we are grateful to him for extending privileges to us during our adventure here in Florida. It is a private enclave with history and tradition.

Useppa Islanders take their croquet seriously.

“The Useppa Island Club and its individual property owners continue to be driven by a vision of excellence founded on the island’s centuries-old tradition of gracious hospitality, and its long legacy of historical significance. The Useppa Island Club has been established as a private club and offers seclusion and amenities of one of the world’s truly unique islands.”

Useppa is a veritable botanic garden.

The marina facility on Useppa was largely empty when we arrived.  It was a still, hot and humid day when we pulled in and we were happy to be able to plug in and power up the A/C.  However, one we got ashore, the shady paths and gentle breeze made the climate perfectly acceptable, even for the dogs.  We went for a leisurely walk among the palms and landscape properties.  It was very pleasant, very interesting.

The historic Collier Inn.

We stopped at the small history museum, which gave us excellent background not just about Useppa Island, but about the geologic and cultural history of the surrounding area.  The museum was very well done. On the beach we watched a large and energetic croquet tournament get under way.  The pool was full, luncheon on the Collier Inn terrace was lively, and the homes were quiet.  Golf carts were everywhere, and although they are normally available to rent, they were “sold out” during our visit.   The holiday had everything maxed out.  The marina filled up shortly.

We were fortunate to be able to visit Useppa Island.  Thank you, Lee, for making it possible.

Useppa Island to Fort Myers Beach, December 30

As we pondered where to go next, the problem was getting into the places we wanted to visit, like Boca Grande, Sanibel and Captiva.  When we left Punta Gorda, we were unable to get a spot at any of these places for any time, thanks to the good weather and the long holiday week.  Everything was booked solid.  So after Cabbage Key and Useppa, we did the heavy sigh thing and decided we might as well push south towards the Keys.  So push south we did.  After a few phone calls we finally got a spot for ourselves in Fort Myers Beach at Moss Marina.

The Sanibel Lighthouse on a post card day.

The run from Useppa Island to Fort Myers Beach should have been a lovely one.  It was a beautiful calm sunny day.  Bright blue water. Picture perfect.  However, it was also a Sunday, and a holiday long weekend.  Everyone who had a boat on the west coast of Florida was in the channel between Fort Myers and Useppa.  Or so it seemed.  It was like Route 95 at rush hour, but everyone was going a different speed.  Crazy, with boats of all shapes and sizes going anywhere from four knots to thirty knots, all in a tight winding channel.  A yellow Sabre 48 (?) Indigo passed us within half a boat length, on a turn, doing at least twenty-five knots.  What an idiot.  We were really really happy to finally approach Fort Myers Beach.

It is a tiny winding channel into Fort Myers Beach.  We joined a parade at the entrance.  No passing, no room to pass.  Lots of boats in tight quarters.  One boat had just left his slip at the marina but could not get into the channel because of the long stream of boats, just like sitting at a stop sign trying to turn across traffic onto a busy road.

Holiday crowds pack Fort Myers Beach.

Finally we made it to Moss Marina.  They had just reopened after hurricane damage repairs, and didn’t quite have “the system” figured out.  After numerous exchanges on the VHF we were finally able to organize pulling up to their fuel dock.  In the end they could not have been nicer and we enjoyed a pleasant stay.

Fort Myers Beach is quiet during our early morning walk before heading for the Everglades.

Fort Myers Beach was jam-packed with day trippers enjoying the holiday on the beach.  We wandered the streets and plazas enjoying the scenery, trying to keep the dogs out of the sun as much as possible.  In the evening we made our way to Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria. It had just opened and was off the radar of all the reviews and websites, but we liked the feel of the place — and it wasn’t crowded — so we went in and sat at the bar.  Great choice!  The bartender was excellent, and so was the food.  Happy evening.

Fort Myers Beach to Everglades City, December 31, 2018

It was time to make a move.   From Fort Myers Beach to Everglades City is about a 70-mile run, and we had a picture-perfect day to do it.  We were headed off the beaten path, which made us happy.

Another post card day on the water headed for The Everglades.

The breeze was out of the southeast, but it stayed generally light.  The water stayed generally flat and we travelled fast.  It was beautiful and fun, and we saw few other boats.  The breeze piped up around Marco Island and Cape Roman, but it was brief and never slowed us down.

Meandering through the Everglades to Everglades City.

We picked our way around the shoals, went in past Indian Key, meandered through the mangroves and found the entrance to the well-marked Barron River.  We knew there were some shallow spots but we were on a mid-rising tide so we weren’t too concerned.  We were on the flybridge and it was very special to experience the Everglades from this vantage point.  There were eagle nests on top of many of the channel markers, and from our vantage point on the flybridge we were able to see into the nests as the chicks peered out over the edge.  So fun!

The channel was definitely skinny in spots, but our 3.5-foot draft didn’t have any problems.  We arrived at Everglades City safely, picked our way along the winding river and eventually made it to our destination, Everglades Isle RV Resort and Marina, without any difficulties.  Bill the dock manager was very helpful and gave us a nice slip.  There were only two or three other boats there, and the RV park was mostly empty, so it was a very quiet place.  Except for the Air Boat Rides!  They were NOISY!  Of course, we planned a ride in one so we couldn’t complain too loudly.

Everglades Isle is definitely a diamond in the rough.  Everglades City is a little on the rough side, an outpost with not much but a stone crab fishery and air boat rides.  Everglades Isle is mainly an RV Resort, and having been to many RV “Resorts” in the past I was a bit astonished at the quality of the facilities.  The “Clubhouse” is lovely, the pool is pleasant, the gym is excellent, the laundry is clean, new and free, and there is a theater with big comfy recliner seats, a huge screen, and popcorn.  We aren’t really into “resorts” when we travel, but I do have to credit this one for having excellent facilities.

A gator enjoyed the morning sunshine.

Bill hooked us up with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours.  It is a mile or so away, but Bill assured us it was the best experience in the area and he gave us a ride.  We were the only folks there for the 9:00 am ride, so we had a private tour.  Our guide was great and we had good fun.  The wildlife was remarkable.  Personally, I would prefer doing it in a quiet and peaceful kayak but it was still fun, and Bruce was definitely a happy camper, loving the engines and the boats.

Everglades City is the Stone Crab Capital, so we enjoyed some overlooking the river at Triad Seafood.

Bruce was still feeling lousy with his cold and mine lingered also, so we weren’t up for a lot of exploring, especially since it was very hot and humid.  We did go over to Triad Seafood for lunch.  Everglades City is basically the capital of stone crab fisheries so we had to have some.  Apparently it has been a terrible season.  The catch is low and prices are sky-high, but I had some anyway.  It was delicious.  We ate crab and shrimp on the dock overlooking the river.  It was very pleasant.

Hoppin’ John for New Year’s good luck.

After a siesta back at the boat it was time for our New Year’s Eve celebration.  Um, no.  But I made Hoppin’ John for good luck, using Carolina Gold rice and sea island red field peas from Geechie Boy Mill on Edisto Island, and it was delicious.  Good by 2018, Hello 2019.

New Years’ Eve: goodbye 2018, hello 2019.
Everglades City to Marathon, January 2, 2019
The ride down the river from Everglades City is lovely.

We woke to yet another gorgeous day in Everglades City.  Under way at 8:45 for our 75-mile run, we had a lovely trip back down the river.  We skimmed over the shallow spots just past dead-low and saw the lowest spot of about four feet MLW.  Definitely doable for us, but you have to pay attention and stay in the deepest water.

Gorgeous water across Florida Bay outside the Everglades.

Leaving Indian Key, we put the throttle down and had a fast trip for the first half of the day.  It was clear and sunny with a light southeast breeze.  The crab pots were plentiful and required vigilance the whole way.  It was pretty easy in the morning while the water was flat, but as the day went on the breeze picked up and so did the sea state.  The last two hours were bumpy and wet, and it was very difficult weaving around the little black bombs that were scattered everywhere.  In addition, we were tossing kelp and weed up over the deck and flybridge, which became comical at times.  Bruce worried about our strainers, but we didn’t have any trouble.

img_2491Farro Blanco Marina was everything we had been told.  The staff was professional and got us into our slip easily.  We were right smack in front of the bar and the pool!  Usually we don’t care about that (well, we don’t care about the pool anyway), but it was fun.  There were loads of our FaceBook Trawler Living and Cruising friends there so we chatted with lots of folks, walked the docks with the dogs and enjoyed the buzz.

For dinner we put our lives at risk by walking to Burdines on the other side of the island.  It wasn’t a long walk, but it was definitely hazardous crossing Route 1.  Yikes.  We enjoyed Burdines well enough but wouldn’t give it quite the review that others seem to.  I can really love a good onion ring or fritter, but I found the menu a little too over-the-top in the un-healthy department.  I definitely wouldn’t risk my life a second time to get there.

Although there are no places for nice long walks, the dogs are welcome at Farro Blanco.

We had a lay-day at Farro Blanco and managed to stay busy.  The biggest problem with these Keys destinations, for us, is that there really is nowhere to go for a good walk.  Everything is bisected and focused on Route 1, which is a horrible road even in a car.

We  walked the dogs around the marina property, which does have some nice dog-friendly landscaping, and we are grateful for that.  Bruce risked his life (again) going to West Marine.  It is close, but it is on the other side of Route 1 so it is not easy to get there.  Bruce and I then walked to Publix which is about two miles away on Route 1.  That was exercise for us, but no fun at all.  At least we could cross at a stoplight.

Docktails by the lighthouse.

After that walk I enjoyed a well-earned dip in the pool.  We had docktails with our FaceBook friends, then dinner at on-site restaurant The Lighthouse Grill, which was good: Bruce had the happy hour Prime Rib and I had a kale salad.

Marathon to Stock Island, January 4

We were smelling the barn at Key West.  The end of the line.  The destination.  We were almost there.  But we had one more stop first: Stock Island.  We have been to Key West almost every year for the past five years, but by Airstream instead of by boat.  For four of those visits we stayed at Boyd’s Campground on Stock Island.  Roostica, one of our favorite restaurants, is also on Stock Island.  So leaving Farro Blanco we headed for Stock Island and the Stock Island Village Marina.

We had a colorful departure from Farro Blanco, as we, um, forgot to unplug the power cord as we left the dock.  Fortunately we made a quick recovery.  No damage, and we don’t think too many people watched it happen!  Off we went, headed for Moser Channel at Seven Mile Bridge, then Hawk Channel down to Stock Island.  It started out lovely and calm, but after Moser Channel the breeze picked up to 15 to 20 instead of the forecast 10 to 15, which made the sea state pretty bumpy.  It was a wet ride, and once again we had to pick our course through the crab pots, hand steering most of the way, which was very tiresome.  Fortunately it wasn’t a long run.  By 1:00 pm we were at the marina.

The pups enjoyed the activity at Stock Island Village Marina.

Stock Island Village Marina is a pretty good facility.  Excellent staff, nice reception area (free beer!!  dog cookies!!), clean laundry room, nice bars and restaurants on-site at The Perry Hotel, and a nice pool.  The “fitness center” is a joke and needs to be put out of its misery.  Fortunately there is a plan in the works to do just that, hopefully by next season.

The down side of Stock Island is, well, Stock Island.  It’s not the kind of place that makes you happy to wander around and explore.  Trust me.  However, Roostica is excellent and worth the [not pleasant] walk. The Hogfish is also a fun place for a beer and some food. And we had fun wandering around Boyd’s, for the memories.

Our second day at Stock Island was cool and cloudy, so the morning was perfect for a long walk with the pups.  We took them over to Boyds where we enjoyed another wander around the campground.  Bruce then tackled polishing stainless while I did boat laundry and dog laundry.  A manatee visited a boat near us, which was fun to see but it was actually a problem because the manatee had been attracted to the boat by a leaky fresh water hose, and that’s a no-no in the manatee world.  The hose was turned off and the manatee went on his merry way.

I went for a run on the treadmill in the grubby “fitness center”, then we enjoyed a very chilly flybridge evening.  Long pants and a jacket.  It is winter!

Stock Island to Key West, January 6

The trip from Stock Island to Key West is a whopping seven miles.  We didn’t need to rush.

Post card perfect days never get old.

We had a leisurely morning walking the dogs around the marina, then had a mid-morning cup of coffee on the flybridge, just because it was a lazy and relaxing thing to do.  We had enjoyed our visit to Stock Island and the Stock Island Village Marina, but we were looking forward to getting to Key West.  We had a perfect day to do it.

The trip around to Key West Bite was spectacular.  It was an A+ on-the-water day.  Crystal clear, sunny, and calm.  The water was bright blue.  The scenery was stunning.  This is what it is all about.  It was actually sweater weather, but that is just fine with out.  Much better a bit chilly than too hot.

Cruise ships are a fact of live in Key West.

We found our way easily in to The Galleon Marina, where we had a one-month reservation.  Cyndi was there to welcome us and take our lines.  We had made it!  We happily wandered around town, soaking in the fun atmosphere and sunshine, and ended the day with a lovely flybridge evening.  Our visit to Key West has begun.

Our first of many Flybridge Evenings in Key West.  Our home for an extended stay.



2 thoughts on “Catching Up: Where Have We Been?”

  1. Dorsey and Bruce,
    It was such a pleasure and a high point of our recent Key West visit, to meet you and get a tour of your beautiful boat! You were so warm and kind. Your boating and travel history is very interesting. You write an amazing blog! We thoroughly enjoyed your recent entry and have been catching up on some of your past adventures too.

    Thank you again for your taking the time to talk and welcome us into your amazing vessel/home.

    We will keep our eye out for your updates and wish you every joy possible on this life voyage…..we hope to see you again on the water.

    Warm regards,
    Mary and Dane Larsen


    1. Hi Mary and Dane! It was great to meet you guys too! We look forward to seeing you guys again, and your new boat. Next year in Key West maybe? Stay in touch! -Dorsey


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