Englewood, Florida – Ft Myers, Florida January 29 – February 19

We have really settled in and feel at home – so nice to not be moving every day.

Yesterday we started refinishing our rails – they got pretty banged up on the trip south. I did say “we” – even though you never see me in the pictures – it’s only because he never picks up the camera – honest!!

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Bob and Carol met up with us along with a very nice couple, Bruce and Ann and a friend who is staying with them who are from Belleville as well. We had a great lunch at the White Elephant  and short visit to the beach in Englewood.

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We had decided to make a short trip to visit my sister, Laurie, in Ontario – being that it is Super Bowl weekend –  really it was so we could extend our stay 6 more months in the United States!

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Upon arrival in Toronto we where picked up by the police and taken to the Peel Region police station.

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Truth is Laurie is acting Staff Sergeant and was kind enough to pick us up and lend us her home and car while we stayed to renew our US visit time.

My first question was can we turn on the siren and race around ….Ah no Grant… she was no fun…soooo serious. But check out those stripes! We are so very proud of my little sister.

We had lunch with my mom’s brother, Uncle Bill, he’s a great guy and a wealth of knowledge and experience and a lot of fun.

Uncle Bill with Laurie

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Next stop Canadian Tire – we needed a couple boat things, really didn’t know what the heck these were at the front door.

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I need to mention that it was cold? So we shopped for appropriate Canadian winter head gear.

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Must say it was pretty though.

Laurie brought us home via the back roads to Kitchener from our shopping excursion  and as luck would have it we happened upon her favorite watering hole …… we popped in for a few to warm us up.

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The game plan was to return that evening for the weekly live entertainment with her best girlfriend and neighbor Ann.

Ann is 100% Newfoundlander and proud of it ..rightfully so – what a great culture. She brought us gifts for the boat from the actual Newfie Store in neighboring Galt,Ontario.

I now sport a new Nor-wester noggin cover and Cindy got new jewellery with the province’s flag on it.

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I’m wondering if anyone recognizes these two

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I believe they are wanted for questioning in Gore Bay from their last visit with us this summer … they are like the perfect storm when they get together. Cindy and I might have a little to do with it we can’t deny possibly encouraging a little rowdy behavior possibly.

Hey King .. there was some drinkin, food, might even bea been a fight ….etc etc ..lol

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It was a late night and the details shall remain unpublished … it was on par with Gore Bay.. and we really, really look forward to our next visit / adventure with the “Perfect Storm”.

We know a visit to Canada in winter could not possibly be complete without a little snow, how about the biggest bloody snow fall to date this winter! I swore I would never shove snow again but ….alas I was wrong.

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It was so cold we had to have a birthday cake with candles to keep warm…just kidding happy birthday to our wonderful niece Taylor!

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Well after 5 very fast days, great meals, spectacular wing feast a minor hang over and a lot of laughs we returned to Florida …sad yes ..happy HELL YA!!!!

Back to the boat at Chadwick Cove Marina, all was well it was just as wed left it save and sound.

There are snook that gather every evening to feed around a light that attracts bait fish, no they were not in season unfortunately.

Check out the video , note the bait fish that swim in a circle in the light, pretty cool.

We got back with a few days to spare, readying the boat for our much anticipated company of Deb Kerr and Paul and Muriel Thompson from the Newburgh / Napanee area in Ontario.

They brought much missed food items with them Habitant French Canadian Pea soup; Wilton Extra Old Cheddar Cheese; Vector cereal; wine gums; new Roots chair and bead supplies of the Nauti Girl!! ..thank you! thank you! thank you!!!

On the day they arrived we were joined by their good friends Chris and Marina from Newburgh who were traveling about Florida.

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We did a quick trip to the beach for some shark’s teeth hunting

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Deb brought me something VERY special, my new hat from Active Captain a user based website where you rate marinas and anchorages for the benefit of the users. We use it as a guide to safe anchorages and good marinas. For every review you get 10 points, gain 250 points and you qualify for the coveted hat.

To make this extra special my friend Greg Wright from S/V Fracas had a bet who would get the hat first … prize a bottle of rum.

I cant tell you how happy I was …pictures say a 1000 words!!!

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Greg has since conceded the win and purchased the prize which now sports a name “Rumbo”and has become a prisoner  …we need to catch him to have Rumbo liberated … a pirates booty ha ha ha.

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Our company all agreed to a one day party boat fishing trip aboard the “Reef Runner” to catch some fresh fish for dinner.

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Morning briefing and rules

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There was a bet placed for most fish and biggest fish to add to the fun.

All aboard ready to strike out.

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Broke out the never fail lucky fishing shirt …. nope didn’t work

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On the way out we came a cross a sail boat that had wandered out of the main channel and was hard aground. The skipper radioed the boat and asked if he might provide a wake that may lift him off enough to power back into the channel –HOLY SMOKES– a wake he got … almost capsized him poor guy.

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We traveled out about 13 miles in a bit of a rain storm, Cindy was kind enough to take a picture of my blue fish, sorry no pictures of her 15 fish I was too busy trying not to get my butt kicked by her …again.

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The first mate, Glen, was really great help

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The total was 13 keepers, Cindy caught 15 – not all keepers – and Deb got the largest …

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Then came the Pelicans

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Then first mate cleans the fish for a buck each, a heck of a deal.

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The Pelicans are great to watch quivering with anticipation and ready to scrap for a gutted fish. Check out this video

And here are our winners – $10 to the biggest and $5 to the most

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We celebrated Cindy and my birthdays from 2014, thanks Deb, Paul & Muriel. Got a few tears outta my girl!

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The next night we hit the White Elephant for some local entertainment.

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We did a trip down to Stump Pass state park and enjoyed a day at the pass fishing and relaxing in the sun. It was about a 20 minute dingy ride.

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A little cool that day.

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Paul and I caught about 30 catfish, fun but not edible.

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We spent the other days on the beach across the road Paul, Deb and I fished and soaked up the sun.

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Do you see the Blue Heron in the foreground?

Well I THOUGHT I liked those birds, in fact I’d say ….oh look how graceful, what a beautiful bird… well NOT this bird .. he’s a sneaky, low down, dirty, skinny legged thief .. that’s all he is …

I fished for I bet 6-7 days and finally caught a nice silver trout about 2 pounds …yum dinner … ya well that’s what the heron thought to!  Just as soon as I had my back turned he tip toed over to the pail, reached in and plucked that poor trout out and literally ran off with him. There I go chasing him down the beach until I realized there were about a 100 spectators …. cripes.

THAT bird can eat .. he spent 20 minutes swallowing that fish … errrggg.

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Deb enjoyed the fishing!

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We caught a shark, tickled its belly to relax it, petted it up a storm and released it …. got to wonder what it was thinking …what the heck just happened I bet.

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The girls had a few jewelry making sessions ..fun!

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Cupid arrived with Valentines to the boat complete with decorations and cards and yes chocolate YUM!!

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All too soon it was time to bid them farewell, we were really sad to see them go but look forward to another visit perhaps?

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Well we struck out the same morning for a state park south about 30 miles called Cayo Costa – the boat was ready, Cindy had completed her gardening chores

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We just had to slide the boat out of the slip she was wedged into.

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Couple of hands and a well thought out plan and we were on our way once again.

The anchorage was beautiful, a little skinny water getting in past the sand bar and we were set for the next three days.

A rose between the thorns I think the saying goes, of course the sailors would think differently lol.

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The park is spectacular and we were greeted by very friendly rangers.

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The road to the beach is about 1.5 miles, a great walk.

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The beach is pristine and vibrant in color.

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Sea urchins were plentiful, this little guy went back.

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We enjoyed a few nights at anchor. We had bought a new Mantus anchor at Christmas and had yet to have a chance to use it. Our first night the wind switched from east to west and we turned 180 degrees. Not an issue, the anchor bit hard and held all night no problem. The next day the wind blew 15 knots out of the south and the anchor held us perfectly. When we went to leave it pulled up like a dream coming up clean telling us that it was in sand and held beautifully.

Sand bar on the way out of the anchorage

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The forecast was for north winds and a strong cold front coming in gusts up to 30 knots possible so having come down with  a cold we decided that we best get tied up somewhere so off to Fort Myers Yacht Basin for a week.

We are seeing coconuts now .. which has Cindy yelling “Wilson”!!!! LOL

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A blustery ride down – 6 hours

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Floating bait shop on the way into Fort Myers

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We arrived to be greeted by Elaine from Twelve Stones and Connie and Joe from Chesapeake. It’s such a great feeling to have these folks come out to greet you! Loopers have become like our second family. I think we met Twelve Stones, Russ and Elaine, up around Frankford, Michigan many moons ago. Chesapeake, Joe and Connie, we did the big Gulf crossing with them. Elaine – what a sweetheart, came back to the boat with a bottle of cough syrup for us – not the usually docktails, but we sure did appreciate it!

Joe and Connie took us up to an incredible farmers market this morning to stock up on fresh fruit and veggies, the best we have seen in a long, long time.

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We are here for a week waiting for the weather to settle down and then we strike off across Florida on the Okeechobee water way a 3-4 day run that will take us through the heart of Florida, there is much excitement on board to see the next segment of this adventure…. cheers for now !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Englewood January 23-28

Just as I promised! You didn’t have to wait a month for our next post!

Grant is having fun fishing! The bait shop is nice and close and I think they should give him frequent flyer points! They know him so well – all he had was plastic and they only take cash – they said catch us next time around!

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I keep myself busy with jewellery – I belong to a great facebook group – Women Who Sail – over 5000 members – every Friday we can promote our business – this Friday I created a new Rainbow Anklet

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Did you know rainbows only occur when it’s both raining and the sun is shining simultaneously? Rainbows always bring happy feelings and on our boat I feel the happiest I have ever been!

Grant is still cutting my hair and I’m still getting compliments – he had a great teacher – Muriel Meeks!  Thought we’d share this sign we seen on one of our walks – “Cheaper Haircuts Repaired”

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We did pop into the shell shop – every kind of shell you can imagine and sharks teeth!

We decide to rent a car for the weekend and tour around the area where we didn’t stop on the boat.

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Got this fun upgrade as no one wants to rent the bugs except the Europeans they said! Grant now wants one of his own!

First day of the rental we decided to head to Venice and meet up with Lynn and Doug Burnett from Napanee who were staying in a condo there.  We first had lunch at Sharkys on Caspersen Beach – delicious!! and then a walk on the pier

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It was a great afternoon of shelling and hunting for shark’s teeth

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Just about everyone has a sand rake – you draw it through the sand and bring in a load of sand and shells in hopes of finding the treasured shark’s tooth!

The afternoon was finished off with a dip in the 82 degrees swimming pool at the Burnett’s condo – it was heaven!

Second day of car rental we headed south to the town of Punta Gorda first to deliver an anklet to a gal from Women Who Sail – it’s funny how we all connect and feel like family right now – women with like interests

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Checked out a couple of marinas looking for fellow loopers and had lunch a one – Burnt Store Marina – this is where we seen our very first manatee!!!

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you have to be quick – they just pop their nose up for a breath and then disappear again – Grant managed to get a video

Manatees are very well liked here – people like to decorate with them – here’s a mailbox – mamma and baby!

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and we stopped by a craft fair and they had wall art – not the cutest creature!

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It’s incredible to see the numerous flowers blooming knowing at home they are having snow!

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Third day – Sarasota – this is where Grant’s family vacationed every year20150125_125043 a trip down memory lane for him!

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It’s funny how you can travel such a short distance and the beach sand is different in every location – here it was just like soft flour

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We took the scenic route up to Sarasota and took in a garage sale – imagine a garage sale along this road where the houses run a cool million plus!! Nothing  here that would go on the boat except this parrot who unfortunately wasn’t for sale!

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We had a lunch a little Tiki Bar – Oleary’s – right on the water, and shared a table with a great couple from Minnesota. It was a busy area as there was a boat show on – we didn’t go look – quite happy with our little trawler for now!

 

 

 

Englewood January 21, 2015

We decided to change up our blog a bit and post a little more often seeing we are at a great marina with excellent wifi and are staying put here for over a month.

Yesterday was a great day – but hey – they all are! Living the Life! We are so fortunate!

We have started to really try and get healthier – we are walking every day – our phone has a pedometer on it – we walked 12050 steps = 10.8 km. Actually those are the steps we counted – when we got to the beach – those were uncounted – and there was lots of them! Shells are everywhere!

One of the walks – after the power walk – was for bait – going fishing! Grant fishes with live shrimp. Met Buddy20150121_102321 here he is netting out Grant’s shrimp. I was quite excited to see these live shrimp and he says “that’s nothing – have a look here” He opens another tank to show me seahorses that he caught while out crabbing! Too cool!

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We got in the dinghy – loaded for the day and headed to Stump Pass Beach State Park http://www.floridastateparks.org/stumppass/ for a day of shelling, sunning,reading and of course fishing!

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Grant was in his glory! He caught a whitening, a flounder

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and a couple of lady fish – all we tossed back either too small or not the eating kind.

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We seen several dolphins and even had a 3 foot shark come right in close to  shore! These beaches are loaded with shark’s teeth – everyone has a sieve and are combing the beach for them – I found a few more and some neat shells – they are all smooth and worn down – great for jewellery making!

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Scary seeing that shark fin though! Needless to say – we don’t go in swimming!

 

 

 

 

 

Dunedin, Florida to Englewood, Florida Dec 23-Jan20, 2015

It’s definitely Florida time, but not what we expected. Who would have thought that a person from Canada could be cold here. There’s a definite pattern to the weather, a cold front comes through and then it becomes really windy and then we get a warming then another front. Of course the folks down here blame Canada and we smile when they do.

We spent almost two weeks in Dunedin, its a pretty little town right off the inter-coastal on the main land side.

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We arrived just before Christmas to spend the holiday with our family from another mother – the Sears.

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We relaxed at their condo and just chilled for a few days. Bob ran us a round to gather boat things and really looked after us. We found that our bilge pump wouldn’t stop running – a common problem apparently, so he took us to West Marine for a replacement.

Bob and Carol allowed us to ship our new Mantus anchor to their house (what we asked Santa for) and it was there when we arrived.

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Carol had the place all nicely decorated for Christmas.

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Note the gnome hiding in the tree …. he has no feet but can dance up a storm!!!

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Christmas eve was spent at the Doral Village community centre for a soup and sandwich pot luck.

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There was some local talent providing a few songs and rounding out the evening a door prize draw where everyone in the room walked away with a little something.

Imagine my delight to receive a three pack of shoe nylons size gnome, like they say give something you’d love to receive 🙂

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What I had  asked Santa for

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To bed early with dreams of sugar plums covered in rum dancing in my head to awake to find that Santa had found us!

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Cindy received a handmade wooden stool that Carol’s father had made – brought tears – great to help Cindy on an off the boat with these changing tides.

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Cindy got a beautiful Dolphin necklace, it was very appropriate as it reminds her of the dolphins she has seen along the way so far.

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Christmas dinner was fabulous a full turkey spread complete with potatoes and gravy and a fantastic dressing and we all had a great time. I know I ate more than I should have but hey its the holidays. Carol’s girlfriend joined us for dinner.

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Over the course of the next few days we caught up on our sleep and watched lots of TV being couch potatoes for the most part. I for one chose to attempt to educate myself by learning to speak dolphin …watching Flipper re-runs …damn that was a smart Dolphin ….lol

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With an up coming visit from my daughter Jessica and her fiance Barry, we headed back to the boat to clean and install the new bilge pump.

John, Karen and their daughter Hannah came to visit us and we went out for a belated birthday dinner for John, it was really nice to see then and meet their daughter.

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So there was this ketchup bottle on the table, a little boat size bottle, a very nice bottle. I immediately became attached to this bottle and there was discussion around liberating the bottle with a covert operation. When the waitress came back I asked her for it, saying it’s nearly empty and hey it really wants to go to sea. Hannah laughed and said to her parents “you were right Canadians are soooo polite” lol

Jess and Barry were staying on Clearwater beach

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Hotel – drive by

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We decided to move the boat over to Clearwater Marina for the week they were there just so we were within walking distance.

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Cindy bought two shirts, one for herself and the other for Jessica… I’m  thinking this is going to be a really fun week!

“What happens on the boat stays on the boat!”

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Bob was so kind as to offer to take us to the airport to pick them up, he had even gone so far as to make up a sign with their names.

Bob looking very official

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They found him!!!!

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Bob dropped us off the boat and we spent the few days we had exploring and enjoying the company.

Dunedin farmers market.

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Clearwater beach on a busy day

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Took a run up to Tarpon Springs ….Sponge Capital of the world. I think it may be Sponge Bob’s home town but don’t quote me on that.

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Took a run down to Englewood to scope out the marina we where planning on staying at and stopped for lunch at a restaurant featured on the Diners and Dives show on the food network – the food was really, really good and believe it or not …yes there was a bead shop in the same complex!!!! Cindy says WOOO HOOO!!!

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Barry and Jessica

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There was a roof top bar spotted by, I’ll call them the kids, there not but hey I think I can get away with it. So we headed there for the sunset before going to a Mexican restaurant for a belated Jessica birthday dinner.

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The view was outstanding – Clearwater beach

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Clearwater marina

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I always seem to find myself having a good laugh when Jess is around 🙂

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We now know what ever became of Jaws – apparently working the tourists in Clearwater ….

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So we jumped in a cab and headed for Mexican on the mainland …. apparently we all share a love for Mexican food and had a great feast.

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Someone at the table mentioned that it was Jessica’s birthday dinner …not mentioning any names. The waiter came back with four shots of tequila .. of course tequila doesn’t travel alone … four more shots.

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Next thing you know the decision was made to have Jessica stay another week while Barry heads back to work.

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We went back to the boat and Barry got on the phone and made all the arrangements. I have to say I couldn’t have been happier to have the opportunity to spend another week with Jess. I don’t get to see her often enough. THANK YOU Barry!!!

The last day at Clearwater we hired a diver to clean the bottom of the boat and replace the sacrificial anodes.

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These are blocks of metal that give up their electrons easier than steel so that the take any degradation the water creates rather than our rudder or drive shaft.

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We had freshwater anodes on ..or so we thought ..here is what is left.

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Sunset bird on a wire

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Fishing off the Clearwater pier – got a nice spotted trout

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After we saw Barry off at the Tampa airport we chose to move the boat south to another marina.

We left in less than ideal conditions but it was only few hours south ..oh and did I mention it actually gets colds here …. yes that’s Jess… Canadian deer blanket courtesy of Carol Sears and jacket left behind by my sister Karen..thanks Carol and Karen!

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The Inter coastal water way is lined with houses now.

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First stop the Madeira beach municipal and then to Johns Pass Marina across the bridge from a great collection of shops and restaurants at Johns Pass.

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Gateway to the board walk

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The shops

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Some appropriate shirts

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Madeira beach had a ton of sponges wash up from the recent cold front, it was a very nice beach.

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We really enjoyed John’s Pass, there was plenty to do. Outside the Mad Pub trying IPA brews.

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And guess what there was a chocolate store Kilwins – the same company we had been introduced to in Michigan by Jeff and Keri.

Pictured here with my new best-est friend.

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I got some fishing in, lots of shark and a really big one that got my line up a against a marker post and cut the 60lb braid – otherwise I would have had him – he had the 12 foot rod bent over …it was great while it lasted.

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A fellow told me that if you turn a shark over and rub his belly he relaxes completely. I put this to the test.  Any time you catch something on a populated beach a crowd gathers, so to entertain the crowd I described this technique to the group and some guy says hell if you lay me on my back and rub my belly I’d relax too …lol

Lots of pin fish …so we fed the herons that gather

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Speaking of birds …do you know where crows winter …right here …holy crow!!!

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We met a really nice couple from Michigan, Matt and Karen they were down for a week and we met them on the beach. They came down to the beach the next day and Matt gave me some tips on beach fishing. He got a chance to fish for a bit until it started to rain.

The next day they showed up with  a package of hooks and a dip net for the shrimp …. not necessary but totally appreciated

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Jess finished up her visit in Madeira beach and reluctantly we had to take her back to the airport, not after once again trying the tequila ..to no avail she was missing Barry.

We struck out for Englewood our port of call for the next five weeks. We are looking forward to a visit from Deb Kerr, Muriel and Paul Thompson… they are bringing Wilton cheese …oh yes !!! OK not for that reason alone we are really looking forward to seeing familiar faces and having a fun time!

The trip from Madeira was just over 60 miles and we got away really early. The majority would be Inter coastal water way but we had 6 miles of open water across Tampa bay and a few folks had warmed us to be careful..this always raises my pucker factor if you know what I mean.

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Sky Way bridge

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The crossing turned out to be a little rough but we’d seen worse and with only 6 miles it was over with in less than an hour.

There are a lot of bridges on the ICW

Draw bridges

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and swing bridges

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Lots of Bald Eagles – they seem to like dead trees.

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We passed Venice beach and the Venice outlet – the water was absolutely beautiful.

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So with our company gone we have decided that a complete change of diet is in order … and with a wedding in only 10 months – Jess & Barry!

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The day was long at little over 10 hours but we made it to Englewood safe and sound and settled in nicely. The beach is just across the street and there is a state park at the end of the road. Needless to say we have been enjoying the area.

Fishing off the main beach has resulted ion one small flounder and a bunch of pin fish – mainly feeding the herons.

Beadgirl had an online order and we needed to go to the post office ..ok it was 4 miles one way ..we started the walk all full of piss and vinegar …lots of plants are in bloom resulting in lots of pictures.

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After about mile 3 things started to turn..there was some discussion regarding directions, distance the correct post office etc etc … by the time we found the place mailed the envelope and were about a mile into the return trip …then there was trouble …

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Not locked … we….OK, I…..tried to convince Cindy it wouldn’t be missed, I could simply put her between the handle bars and off we would go …geez no sense of adventure…lol. Wound up being a 15km walk!!

The next day we took the dingy … to tired to walk on sore feet .. down to the state park where the pass to the ocean is …GREAT fishing ..the day was spectacular .

Manatee zones are everywhere (Bald Eagle a top this sign)

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Catching sand fleas for bait with a sand rake.

Bead girl enjoyed her day reading and beading – there are tons of ancient sharks teeth in the sand so shes collected some and turned them to pendants along with broken but smooth shells.

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Cindy met the little girl next door, Harper, living on big Searay with her mom and dad and brother, she had her over to learn chain maille. Very proud 9 year old!

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The days end with a short walk to the beach to watch the sunset ..

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Home for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mobile, Alabama to Dundein, Florida November 16 – December 22

Well it’s been some time since we last blogged, far too long really, we spent a full month at Dog River Marina and got to know the locals and the yard dogs very well. This is Diesel – we called him Hannibal because of his muzzel until we got to know is real name – he was a real sweetie!!

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In this part of the states it actually gets pretty cold – ya ya I can hear it now ..in fact I posted this picture on Facebook and was promptly told to suck it up…

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However it was 23 deg F which translates to -5C so come on lets have a little sympathy especially as our reverse air decided that this would be the very best time to die ensuring maximum impact ..if your gonna go out you might as well make a splash right!

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The marina was so kind as to lend us a space heater and we huddled around that baby all night – they installed a new unit two days later – great service for sure. The unit really owed us nothing as it’s obviously seen better days.

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Now Cindy had met a lot of folks through her bead shop in Napanee and one couple whom she met have a place on Dauphin Island south of Mobile only an hour south of Dog River. They have a place on Hay Bay near Napanee – small world. They invited us for dinner and were the most gracious of hosts – David and Kim Brown

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David and Kim invited us to a Mexican Restaurant for Karaoke night so we recruited Blue Moon, King and Sharon and Wild Raven, Pierre and Jennifer to add to the excitement. It was a quiet night there (probably cause it was COLD). The food was excellent!

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King and Sharon cutting a rug with David and Kim’s neighbor Jeff Brown singing.

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Now I’ve been on a quest since leaving Illinois hunting for a bottle of El Dorado 12yr old rum, you see my buddy Dave Owen owner of Baycrest Lodge and Marina on Big Island educated me one night by pouring me a shot of very expensive rum to sip. Well life has never been the same with the new knowledge that there is a vast difference between mixing rum and sipping rum to which John from Last Mango can attest as well.

So where am I going with this? Well we have visited every liquor store south of Illinois we came in contact with – and this one in Mobile.

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Unfortunately we cant remember this fellow’s name but he was extremely helpful and fun. Alas we didn’t find the rum here either.

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We had a rental car for a weekend and as luck would have it Cindy found a Gem and Bead show near Mobile!!! Try not to smile too much for the picture.

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We then ran over to Orange Beach on the east side of the bay visiting Fairhope AL. a very pretty little town with tons of funky shops and then a nice walk on the beach.

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We found it odd to see folks with pine trees on the roof of their vehicles with no snow on the ground …..but it was COLD……

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Cindy met some kids at the marina dock office, they had a week off for Thanksgiving so she invited them down to the boat for some bead work. I think she really misses the kids she taught and looks for opportunities to share her passion. They had a great time coming for three days in a row!!!

Isabella, Nikkiah and Christopher

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Turner marine, the marina next door to Dog River, had a good number of loopers and put on an annual Thanksgiving dinner. The boaters bring potluck items and the marina provided turkey and some of the major fixins . it was fabulous!

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We got together with Last Mango, Karen and John and Fracas, Greg and Mary-Lynn for a great dock tail sort of thing and Cindy made Crocomole’ …lol

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As I said at the beginning of this post we had been at the marina long enough to become familiar with a few local folks. One being Wes at West Marine – he’s a great guy and his wife has a restaurant in Ocean Springs. John and Karen and ourselves decided to take the rental there for breakfast – and it was outstanding.

This is a gem of a spot http://bayviewgourmet.com well worth the trip anytime.

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There is a shrimp boat that operates out of the marina and returns around 2:00 pm when it is working, we managed to meet up with them and get dinner! Five dollars a pound straight out of the bay …. really good.

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We have been told that it will get hot, a rumor really but just in case it does we had window covers made to help keep the heat out and provide privacy during the day. Cindy can tell you that it certainly does keep the heat out she has me taking them off on the colder days lol.

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The end of the month came and we were prepared to move on, our friends John and Karen on Last Mango had been able to get the last of their three sails up and were ready to go as well, so we struck out for the big bend together.

It was a beautiful morning and the bay was very calm.

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Mango looking beautiful with her sail

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Cindy saw her first dolphin and was so excited, calling helloooooo there and squealing like a little girl. They played in the bow wake for quite some time.

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Video

The anchorage that night was just north of the Inner Coastal Waterway (ICW) and no sooner did we drop the anchor but the fog rolled in and it was THICK. There were two other sail boats traveling the same route that day and we had to get the air horn out and the 1000W flashlight to guide them into the anchorage, they were a little rattled. This would not be our last encounter with fog.

Leaving that morning Karen taking pictures and looking for dolphins.

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We crossed into Florida finally.

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Again we anchored off the ICW in 9 feet of water , having to really watch the tide now as we really don’t want to wake up sitting in mud.

Sunset that evening – The S/V Last Mango

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As we traveled by Pensacola we were treated to an air show by the Blue Angels who are based there, they train twice a week so we were lucky to see them.

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We also see a lot of these guys now.

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Our next stop was another anchorage on the south side of Choctawhatchee Bay near a bridge and restaurant. The four of us dingy-ed ashore and grabbed a beer and appetizer to get off the boats for a bit.

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The next section is called the “Grand Canyon” and is aptly named as it a channel dug out of the sand that travels more than 20 miles with no place to anchor so it needs to be completed in one day. We average 50 miles on a good day so the target for today was Panama City a full 66 miles and a marina for the night.

The Canyon

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The day was fantastic very little wind and the temperature was warm but not hot. The route took us under a bridge and into St. Andrew Bay where we intended to pull into the marina near downtown…..However ….. as we crossed under the bridge a fog rolled in and within 10 minutes we were fully engulfed with less than 50 feet of visibility. We could hear boats…. and voices …geez we couldn’t see them. Cindy called the nearest marina and got a spot using the GPS to navigate in we passed within 15 feet of two boats anchored in front of the marina ..a little close.

Safe in the marina.

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Boats are decorated for Christmas here …they look pretty in the fog.

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The town decorates too.

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John and Karen took me out for my birthday to a great pizza joint, two ice cold beers and a fabulous deep dish pizza … came back to the boat and had the best sleep in a long time …thanks guys for making my birthday special!!!

The next morning we did a grocery trip with Karen and then hit the shrimp lady for some straight off the boat shrimp at the marina.

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Cindy buying star fruit ..delicious

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There were a lot of jelly fish in the marina

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We struck out from Panama City the next day and took an anchorage not far away, our ultimate goal was Carrabelle, FL. for As The Crow Flies.

We had another anchorage in a little creek off the ICW just 8 miles from Apalachicola, it was beautiful, not a lot of room but the weather cooperated and it was a peaceful night

This is where we had to part ways with our very very good friends on Last Mango, they were going to meet up with Fracas in Apalachicola where they will stage for an overnight crossing of over 100 miles to Clearwater Beach Fl.

It was an odd feeling lifting anchor and leaving them behind as we traveled to Carrabelle to stage for the Big Bend route.

Last Mango in the morning

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As we travel we see a lot of abandoned boats.

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Carrabelle turned out to be a cool little town.

Coming into the river.

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There isn’t much there but the marina was the chosen hang out for the locals who came to do laundry on Sundays and drink beer… ya’ll can’t do that at the laundry mat they said.

The marina on the right side (Starboard that is)

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Welcome to Carrabelle

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The trawler “Beach House”, with Chuck and Susan, was staying at the same marina waiting a crossing window – the first leg of the crossing is 60 miles of open water from Carrabelle to Steinhatchee and is not to be taken lightly as there is no place to run if the weather goes south …so to speak.

We waited a few days and walked the town with Susan for some exercise.

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We even walked 5 miles to the beach one day

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Well no visit to Carrabelle would be complete without a visit to the worlds smallest police station, a must stop for anyone looking for the the true Carrabelle experience.

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And of course the dolphins

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We moved from Carrabelle to Alligator Harbor about 20 miles to cut down the crossing it was very shallow getting in but so very worth it.

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We left next morning traveling with M/V Beach House and a new found friend M/V Chesapeake,  Joe and Connie.

Up early leaving as soon as there was a hint of light.

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Beach House leading the way

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All started out well and then about two hours out Beach House called both boats and advised that they were slowing, their engine was over heating , next thing we saw was white smoke from the stern and they were dead in the water. This is why we buddy boat – we are a long ways from anything out here.

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We both stayed with Beach House until there was confirmation that Boat US was sending a tow boat. They had a long day ahead but were safely towed back to Carrabelle for repairs.

We continued with Chesapeake for the remaining 5 hours and arrived safely in Steinahatchee at the Sea Hag Marina.

Sea Hag caters to fishermen, the showers were clean and the walls were cinder block, Cindy and I thought it would be refreshing to take a quick shower before dinner to wash the salt off… yes refreshing we ran out of hot water, Cindy can curse like a sailor through a cinder block wall …holy cripes I turned my shower off immediately to no avail, she was not a happy camper …lol

Morning dawned bright and clear, little wind a bit of fog that blew off early we were ready for step two.

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They throw the fish guts in the water after the guys clean the catch, and the pelicans are there for a free meal.

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This one was no way bud, your not gonna swallow !!!

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I cut this one’s hair ..like I said everyone gets the same hair do.

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We struck out for Cedar Key and anchorage and all along seeing dolphins galore with the water being crystal clear.

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and humming

We are now running into a lot of these, literally hundreds and hundreds, one of these crab pots will ruin your whole day – and make it necessary to call Tow Boat.

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Then we ran into FOG and for the next 5 hours we simply navigated by GPS, fortunately Chesapeake has radar and could see us and let us know if there was anything out there. We just had to keep eyes pealed for crab pots – poor Cindy got tired arms from pointing them out.

Last picture of the day – the rest was white

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That night we anchored in fog and dingy-ed over to Chesapeake for a wonderful dinner aboard their Krogen Manatee trawler, what a beautiful boat and fantastic evening.

Also of note were the dolphins in the few miles into the Cedar Key anchorage we must have encountered over 25 and as many leaving the next morning.

We left in the fog and spent the rest of the day in and out of fog banks winds 10 plus knots from the south west across the Gulf not a pleasant day , but no where to go. Thankfully it was 90% on the bow the waves went to 3 feet and then subsided as the wind clocked to the west – we arrived in Tarpon Springs had three jugs of beer with Joe and Connie celebrating our completion of the bend – hallelujah!!!

As Chesapeake moved on to Clearwater we moved up the river to the city dock in the heart of town and spent a great couple days exploring Tarpon Springs and the famous sponge docks.

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Sponges drying

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Town decorations

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This guy really gets into the spirit !!

 

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We left Tarpon for Caladesi Island State Park for a couple days of R&R it was wonderful !!

Very quiet

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The beach was amazing

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We were told by a local gal that this was the best beach combing since May due to the very low winter tides.

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I tried beach fishing and stared at the tip of my rod for an entire day – it was mindless and wonderful after months of navigating – I was truly in my empty box lol.

Lots of little sharks

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Cindy loaded up on shells to play with 🙂

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And a perfect sunset before striking out20141219_173640

the next day for our Christmas home of two weeks in Dunedin with our dear friends Bob and Carol Sears.

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My daughter Jessica and her fiance Barry will join us for a few days come January rounding out what will become a perfect holiday season.

Cheers to you all, from Cindy and I we wish you and yours the very best Christmas and a happy healthy New Year !!!

 

 

Demopolis to Mobile Oct 30-Nov15

This will be our last river section and we are excited to get into Mobile Bay. However there are no services to speak of in this section and we have 216 miles to go.

Demopolis was a great marina and the first time we ever had the boat under a roof. We are now looking for a Florida marina that would allow us to have the boat in a covered slip.

We stayed in Demopolis for four days doing laundry, getting groceries and having a few dockail parties and even a short seminar put on by the Trawler Beach House folks who produce a book series called the Great Book of Anchorages.

We struck out on October 31st and true to form Cindy has us dress for Halloween

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Too much fun coming into the first lock of the morning yelling AARRRHHH and Cindy waving a broom!!

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Our target for this day was Bashi Creek  at mile 145 a little narrow creek off the river that could hold a small number of boats.

This was to be a tough night, the winds kicked up to about 25 mph and blew directly down the creek. We were anchored at the front of the creek with Last Mango directly behind us and then Ta Ta, a sail boat and two Ranger tugs. We settled in for the night and heard a ping or a twang, a noise that was not a typical sound that one becomes accustom to. We jumped up to find the anchor had dragged and we were butt into the bank and in the rhubarb as the British say. We were so fortunate to be traveling with John and Karen on Last Mango, John came to our rescue. Cindy in her wisdom had convinced me to tie the stern off to a tree which had prevented us from dragging into Last Mango. John had a 100 plus length of rope and he managed to tie us off to a small dock about 80 feet away. I then rowed over in our dingy and took the left over rope from the end he tied off to a tree. OK…. so our other boating buddy’s from Grand Vida, had taken a picture of this big ass snake (Timber snake later identified) swimming across the river in front of their boat.

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IT’S DARK… VERY DARK and the wind is blowing and I’m trying to gather enough guts to step onto shore wrap my arms around a tree and tie the rope off …please lord don’t let a snake drop on me !! There was a lot of flashlight searching let me tell you and a I wasted no time ..heart pounding ..did I ever mention I don’t like snakes.

We manged to get the bow around into the wind and John took the anchor and chain an rowed about 60 feet out towards the mouth of the creek and dropped it, Geez the chain took on a life of it’s own and started wildly paying out, all we could heard was John yelling don’t pull for fear that the anchor would tear the back of his dingy off, fortunately it stopped and he was able to throw the anchor over – we took the chain to the windlass and set it, all appeared to be better … appeared that is. We took anther anchor seldom used… well never used – this is a note that ropes should be checked regularly because as soon as we had the anchor set and tighten the wind pushed us sideways and Cindy and I watched as a strand goes ping – yup another sound seldom heard. We looked at each other and said hmmm I don’t recall the rope being frayed do you …snap there goes the anchor – we then simply dragged into the bank sideways to rest in the trees ( yes you guessed it Grants thinking about snakes again) – there was nothing we could do. Pitch black we spent the night with me laying on the bed in my clothes – not sure what that did to help, but I think I was at the ready in case another strange sound were to startle us awake. We were up with dawn and manged to pull out with no damage but a huge amount of tree debris all over the boat and no snakes!!!

Last lock today – so very glad to see our last lock as luck would have it as we rounded the last bend before the lock we saw something in the water moving a cross, at first we thought it was an alligator but as we got closer we recognized it as a wild boar – doing the piggy paddle – swim fast little guy there’s an alligator that would love to have a lean ham sandwich.

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The last lock was super windy and both ourselves,  another boat from Canada,  “TA TA” and Last Mango handled it like the seasoned pros we have become.

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TA TA …. a 27 Albin same maker as our boat

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On a side note someone (who shall remain nameless for his own protection) made the comment that another looper boat called ”Bodacious” should be parked beside “TA TA”…… I’ll leave it at that ..lol

Our next stop was Sunflower Creek and we chose to anchor on the main river behind the floating red markers about 10 feet off the channel. It was a great anchorage and we slept like the dead that night having been awake most of the previous night.

Beautiful sunrise at Sunflower Creek

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Last Mango at Sunflower Creek

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The river really starts to wind at this point making it a little more challenging dealing with the tows. This picture shows the river and a tow boat that we stopped for to allow it through the bend.BW10

 

They tend to use the entire width of the river in order to push the barges around them.

The tows are getting smaller fortunately

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We were also seeing alligators which definitely removes any urge to swim.

This one smiled for the camera !!

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They really like the sunny side of the river.

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We are seeing different birds now as well as we get closer to salt water.

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The scenery is definitely picturesque

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Our last anchorage on the river was the Tensas River which turned out to be a fantastic anchorage wide, not too deep and it had it’s own resident alligator!

I got pretty close in the dingy but after he slipped into the water I decided that it was time to go.

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This red rope was hanging nearby and John thought it looked a lot like a gator line or trap – Karen said he thought about pulling it up – quick where’s the camera!!! but the idea didn’t last long lol.

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The Last Mango, Karen and John, invited us over for a meat loaf dinner complete with mashed potatoes, they are simply a joy to travel with and are great folks to know.

At anchor

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We woke to fog and a not so rushed morning we are on the last leg of the river systems and we were feeling really pumped, a sense of accomplishment having made it through the Great Lakes , the Mississippi and all the locks it’s been a challenge.

Next stop Mobile Bay Alabama!!

We had a stop at 14 mile bridge while we waited for a train to cross, John dropped his hook and we rafted and chatted while we waited for the train.

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We were not prepared for the scale of the shipping in Mobile Bay – it was a busy port with lots of barges parked waiting to be rafted for the trip up the river.

Coming into Mobile

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Scrap barge for Brad

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The Last Mango crossing under the bridge
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Local boys fishing

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Captain Phillips escape pod – cool!!

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Lots of ships

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The Last Mango shows how tiny were were in comparison to these ships.

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War ships

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Penguins or a ghost walk not sure which?

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We passed this ship coming in, they must really churn up the fish with all the sea birds following – unreal!!

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Turning off the main channel we headed for Dog River Marina and our home for the next month it’s going to be really good to unwind and settle for a bit after months of traveling.

We are at the end top right in the main channel a great spot.

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So what do you do when your neighbor’s Newfoundland Dog cant jump off the boat – well you put him in a sling and lift him off of course.20141105_162534 20141105_162619

So one reason we had chosen to stay a month was to take a side trip to New Orleans – pronounced “Nawlins” by the locals we had a car rented with Last Mango but a trip to the Oyster / Craft Beer Festival was in order first – a warm up for Nawlins!!

This event was fantastic and we were joined by other loopers Greg and Mary Lynn from Fracas pronounced “Fracaaawwww”  ….. we are learning that nothin sounds out as its spelled 🙂

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Craft Beer tents

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Great live band

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Bloody Mary Competition

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Shucking Oysters

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Cindy having her first raw Oyster – proud of her for trying them

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Enjoying some gumbo with John and Karen and Mary Lynn in the middle

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Took a walk on the beach

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Dinner at Lu Lu’s restaurant the sister of Jimmy Buffet

From left to right John, Karen, Mary Lynn and Greg (Canadians from Little Current ON)

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Cindy out front of Lu Lu’s

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Well I’ve started fishing we are in the prefect spot, there are spotted trout and Red Drum to  be caught.

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Caught a Croaker – it literally croaks when you pick it up

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First trout

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There are shrimp boats working out of these marinas and we got 4 lbs of shrimp for 20 bucks and had a great feed with John and Karen

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Cleaning

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Nice shrimp

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Here we go…….. off to Narlins for three nights with John and Karen WOOT!!

We stayed right in the French Quarter at the French Market Inn

Court Yard

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There was no end to people watching and the buildings and streets were way cool. We first visited a huge market and got our bearings.

We came a cross a crowd and found ourselves watching a street performance by the Calypso Tumblers, for those of you who don’t recall they were one of the acts on Americas Got Talent – it was VERY entertaining

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This fellow told Cindy he liked her hair, I cut it!!, and she in turn complimented him on his doo!

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Returning to the room for a power nap I went to get a bottle of water from the vending machine, got a Monster power drink by accident or like they say everything happens for a reason lol.

Heading out first night

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The streets fill as soon as the sun sets. The French Quarter is huge at about 98 square blocks but most of the action is on Bourbon Street and then there is Frenchmen St which is just east of the quarter.

One of the streets during the day

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Lots of great buildings

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Bourbon at night

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You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting another bar with live music, it was incredible being able to listen to grass roots Jazz and then walk 50 feet to the next bar and hear rock and then cross the street and hear a brass band to be followed up by another bar with MO town tunes – it was a music lovers paradise.

Karen and John cutting a rug

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So they say we live in a small world – its true! Here Cindy ran into some Canadians and it turns out one fellow went to NDSS, Cindy’s high school, one year head of her – WOW ( the guy with the striped shirt) – we should have wrote his name down!

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We did a fair bit of wandering

We met a young lady who apparently idolizes Lili St. Cyr I didn’t know who this was until John later explained that she was one of the more influential Burlesque performers of the the 20th century …. ok then

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Soooo … see the drinks in hand , yes you can wander from bar to bar

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You buy them from little shops like this

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There was this guy in the middle of the street with a sign for Huge Ass Beers

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This seemed like a great idea at that particular point and time – he would hand you the sign and then take your picture – probably my most favorite picture from the whole trip ..life is good!!!

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John tried one of the specialty drinks that are a tradition for the tourists – it appears to be a might sour – and he said it got stronger as he worked his way through it – the Hand Grenade

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Topping the night off with a slice of pizza we retired to the room near 1 am – WAY after boaters midnight.

Day two was the tourist day

We visited the War Museum for a Veterans day ceremony and were able to pay our respects in the benediction at the end.

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We sampled a Muffuletta pretty darn good

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Great shot of Karen and John under a Mango Restaurant sign how perfect.

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Once again a power nap and a Monster out the door and dinner at Coops

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Coop’s was a great representation of New Orleans food fair – great stuff more bars and bands and a tour of Frenchmen street.

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We started our third day with another New Orleans tradition the Beignet,  a soft warm doughnut like thing, smothered in icing sugar – they were wonderful.

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We took in Cemetery 1 and came across a few unusual vaults

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The Queen of Voo Doo

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Nicolas Cage’s future grave site

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Chicken feet left in front of this one

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We hopped the street car and did our own tour

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We took in some more great music and again walked Bourbon street however this night was to be different. Unknown to us we were walking back to cross paths with HIP HOP – Yes BIG K.R.I.T we stood like groupies up at the bus and waited him out – TRANSLATION – Us thugs was ridin wit some buddies waitin fo’ Big – we was rappin’, n’ gawkin until he run up tha door ta tha bus

Karen almost got us invited to the after party – we were playing the token white old folks card but they wouldn’t bite … oh well

Yes he’s the guy with the towel

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This guy came out not sure who he was – Cabeaze – something like that but he’s driving a Bentley …

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We met up with Greg and Mary Lynn from Fracas on our third night seasoned Narlins pro’s at this point and had another great meal and then headed out to tour the town.

The police ride horses here, very intimidating!

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These guys worked the corner on Frenchmen street – they were excellent!!

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We finished the night with a drag bar where everyone was asked to show hands as to who was straight, I wasn’t sure what they had said having just exited the facilities and failed to raise my hand in a timely fashion…….moving on.

We completed the night at a great bar where a 7 member band played great funky rhythm and blues what  great way to cap off the trip.

These guys were fantastic

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We’re done…..

Three night’s up way past boater midnight the 2 plus hour drive home with visions of pajamas and a good movie danced in our heads, only to arrive to find the boat hard aground in the middle of the slip with 3 feet on either side and no way to get aboard her. The tide had retreated and the wind was blowing so hard that it literally pushed the water out of the bay. The majority of boats in the marina were tilted and apparently it’s not uncommon, we just waited a couple hours and the water came back. Next day we moved her back to the deep spot at the end of the dock where we where before we left.

Got into our walking – great to see oranges growing on the trees!

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As I mentioned I’ve started fishing and caught a few nice trout and a few small reds – John gave me a holder for my fishing rod – it works like a charm!!! Cindy says it’s lazy fishing!! lol! Love it!!

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and then I caught this guy.

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Its a Red Drum of about 25-30 lbs caught on a Walmart rod with a 30 pound leader tied to 8 lb test – not too shabby. Potluck around the BBQ with a bunch of loopers tonight a great way to end a Sunday.

 

Cheers

 

Pebble Ilse to Demopolis AL Oct 20-29

Grant Blogging

Hey Y’all…… we last left off we were leaving Pebble Ilse.

The Pelicans were there to send us off.

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Tennessee Lake turns into the Tennessee River which becomes narrow  with a decent current against us. Combine that with a lock and dam at Pickwick Lake that maintains the water levels and you have fluctuations. There has been stories circulated that the water levels can change as much as 3 to 4 feet over night so we were a little anxious to get this over with.

We had one Marina and one anchorage to get to the next stop at Grand Harbor on Pickwick lake and the start of the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway.

We intended to stop at Mermaid Marina at mile 140 a day of 44 miles pretty good for us really. The Marina was small and the owner was very nice.

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We had the place to ourselves and decided to go for a walk. During our last walk at Pebble Ilse we had a local dog join us which was kinda nice. Well damned if a local dog didn’t join us here, I joked that the last dog had called ahead and said we were “OK” well before we knew it another dog joined us and then another so then there was three.

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Well at the end of the walk they disappeared as fast as they had appeared save the first dog which turned out to be the marina dog.

The weather has been perfect and the river is narrowing and getting very pretty. Its cottage country, not really as we know it, but the river is lined with cottages on stilts. I asked a local about flood insurance and was told that they build them to the 100 yr flood level so they can get insurance.

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There was one cottage in particular that we thought we could pick up rather cheap – a fixer upper as they say.

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The ad might read like this – Spectacular view !!!

Still seeing barges – not as big but still with the narrow waterway they need to be called ahead to get passing instructions. Then these tows as they are called negotiate some of the bends in the river they can swing across the entire waterway leaving no room for the little guys. One other navigational tid bit is to try not to be on the wash side of the tow as they can literally push you out of the waterway.

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To put these into perspective here is a chart that shows you the capacity of these things.

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Impressive, scary part is you don’t want to get in the way or too close.

After Mermaid Marina we headed for the anchorage at Wolfe Island at mile 192 a distance of 52 miles which is a REALLY good day for us but with the current of somewhere around 2 knots against us we were not making really good time. Our fuel was good but we were using a lot and on a lark we decided to stop in at Clifton Marina for a top up.

Clifton is a very nice marina , it had a patio that simply said – sit here relax and have a few cold beverages and while away the afternoon ( at least that’s what it was saying to me).

WELL…… as we were fueling Cindy mentioned her jewelery to the marina manager Miss Sonja – yes we are in the south and that is how she was addressed. Next thing you know Cindy has a sizable order we have a free slip for the night so she can make it up and Grant is sipping cold beer on the patio using the free WIFI – LIFE IS GOOD !!!

Cindy hard at work

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The Marina -note patio on right 🙂

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We were off the next morning after waiting out a brief fog delay – morning fog is becoming the norm with the temperatures in the high 40’s over night.

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We had a great run to the anchorage at Wolfe Island, anchored off the channel in about 20 feet of water with a 2 -3 knot current – this keeps the boat straight but I’ll tell you the anchor rope was banjo string tight.

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The sun set was spectacular!!

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Early morning and off to the lock at Pickwick – 14 miles that took us over 3 hours, so do the math on that one and we were able to travel at a whopping 4.6 mph average or just over 4 knots – normal is 6.5 -7 knots at the same throttle position – yes there was a lot of current !!

Pickwick Lock – its a big one at a lift of 55 feet.

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Once through the lock we were back on a lake – hallelujah no more current in fact that is the last of the apposing current were are now going downstream.

Next stop Grand Harbor Marina a Looper stop and yes another home coming – we are getting excited about these now.

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There was a large number of Loopers here that were returning from a rendezvous at Joe Wheeler Marina at the state park up river. The same as us they were now heading south to the gulf.

On arrival we met up with John and Karen aboard Last Mango a 1991 Island Packet 32 #61 sail boat (best boat name ever !!). Have to say we are considering ourselves very fortunate to have met these folks, they are fun, straight up and enjoy life to the fullest!

Being with other loopers at a marina brings on a different routine than the one adopted during the travel days. My observation has been that the following occurs.

1. Coffee – make bed – stretch

2. Step out onto the dock and check the weather – look about for other loopers

3. If another looper is spotted – approach and discuss weather (safe subject), finish coffee.

4. Retreat to boat for second coffee and check weather to confirm weather observations.

5. Discuss breakfast – decide – eat

6. Discuss possible outings – think about courtesy car – think about lunch

7. Return to dock wander until finding a sail boater – inquire about forecast winds – return to boat

8. Select highest priority on fix it list – think about this.

9. Go back out on the dock and find another looper and discuss items that need fixing or find another looper fixing something and discuss -on length.

10. Go to marina office and book courtesy car.

11. Lunch – discuss – fix eat

12. Read book – nap

13. Find appropriate stuff to fix most urgent item and collect in an appropriate place for next day.

14. Fix something minor – feel good and have a beer.

15. Discuss dinner options

16. Discuss Dock-tails – make appetizer and have a beer.

17. Attend Dock-tails – from 5 to 6 – discuss items requiring fixing, weather and wind, return to boat – fix and eat dinner or take the car to a restaurant (decided earlier).

18. Return to boat -check weather

17. Watch TV if available or re-run a movie till 9 pm – check weather on phone – lights out

Course this is all in a perfect world – what really happens is during travel days depending on distance we are up with the sun wait for the fog to burn off travel 6-8 hours get anchored and then do it again the next day. We get excited to be at a marina so we can have down time, but in reality there is maintenance in oil changes, fixing items that do need attention and the regular house keeping. Laundry needs to be done, shopping for food , restocking, washing the grime off the boat and updating the blog all of which takes time – the days flies by.

So I mentioned Dock-tails – this is a daily social gathering that typically lasts an hour or so. LOTS OF FUN …. Last Mango has taken the art of the Margarita to the next level – I’ll let this video speak for it’s self.

As luck would have it Grand Vita our new friends from Ontario that we met in Nashville arrived at the marina – it was a fantastic.

We did a side trip with Last Mango and Grand Vita to Shiloh National Military Park, it was impressive and sobering. They lost over 23,000 men combined in a three day period – devastating.

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Last Mango, Grand Vita and ourselves all travel at about the same speed so we have joined up for the trip south to Mobile and we couldn’t be happier. We enjoyed company, food and drinks with each boat hosting meals or pot luck each night – we have had too much fun. These folks definitely want to stop and smell the roses.

Striking out

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We traveled the first couple days with Bar-B and Fracas so we had five.

Our first stop was an anchorage above the Jamie Whitten Lock – we dingy-ed over to the visitor center and checked out the displays – a pretty good afternoon.

Next morning was a little foggy

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Photo courtesy of Jeff and Susan – Grand Vita

Jeff practicing his swing while waiting for a lock

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Our next anchorage was Waverly – a channel that was very good and gave us an opportunity to tour a Antebellum Mansion called Waverly Manor

Grand Vita heading in – now referred to as Lewis and Clark by Last Mango for their adventurous spirit

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Jeff, Susan, Karen and John heading over

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Begun in the 1840s and completed in 1852, Waverley is distinguished by the immense octagonal rotunda which projects through the roof as a cupola. This structure combines ornament and technology in the tradition of Jefferson: the varied decorative treatment of each room is artistic and the lighting system, using gas manufactured on the site, was scientific.

The antebellum home was originally owned by George Hampton Young, a colonel from Georgia. At one point, the Waverley plantation was independent, providing its own produce and meat, textiles, and energy. The mansion fell into disrepair following the end of the Young family line in 1913, but was restored by the Robert Snow family beginning in 1962.

We were told the property at one time was 50,000 acres and had 1000 slaves, share croppers and workers on site.

The entrance way

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The largest magnolia tree in the state – 200 plus years old

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The mansion

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The owner giving us a tour and talk

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The group Jeff and Susan on the left , John and Karen centre and us guys 🙂

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Off to the next anchorage – Windham Landing cut off

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Cindy makes muffins and we have chilli aboard Last Mango

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Striking out the next morning we begin to encounter cabbage – well water hyacinth actually and not just a little but a whole lot.

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Our second last lock to traverse -note the flotsam

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Cindy wanted to call the lock master and tell him what a great gardener he was – luckily it was all floating and didn’t cause and issues.

We also passed the four month mark one day and 2000 nautical miles the following day

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On the waterway -cabbage

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Next stop was the information centre at the last US Snag boat a huge paddle boat that removed trees and other debris from the navigation channels of various rivers through the south.

Anchored and dingy-ed in

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The information centre was a recreated antebellum house which had an enormous staircase where we had fun taking pictures.

See the bald head?

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Looking up

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We have traveled this far – great lakes are the two blue parts at the top of the map

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Cindy spotted this tree with red berries but no one knew what it was

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We continued on to our last lock at Rattle Snake Bend – great anchorage

On the way Jeff and Susan aboard Grand Vita spotted this – thanks for the pic guys – there will be NO swimming anymore till we get to the gulf.

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They also spotted a Timber Rattle snake – we are really south now.

Still seeing Bald Eagles

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Also seeing Spanish Moss

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Lots of marsh flowers

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And Palms!

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We passed through a very cool section where the river suddenly has white cliffs

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Karen on Last Mango

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Again thanks Jeff

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I’m wondering now if Rattle Snake Bend got it’s name from the river course or – well rattle snakes lol

Setting anchor in Rattle Snake Bend

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Only 6 miles from Demopolis a stay of a few days in order – next it will be 5 nights at anchor and end up in Mobile AL – 217 miles away – cheers