Sunday, November 13, 2011
Gulf of Mexico N 26 37’ W 082 14’ La Costa Island, Florida to Salty Sam’s Marina, Fort Myers Beach, Florida
“Bill I think you have a fish!” Terry watched the line move slowly with some strain.
Bill was helping to prepare to set sail.
“Bill, I think you should check your line,” Terry insisted.
Bill poo-pooed him and kept working; he probably wanted to get to Salty Sam’s Marina in Fort Myers as much as the rest of us did. It had been a long trip.
I started to pull the line in for him. Yes there was something on the other end.
Yay! Bill finally got his fish. While we breakfasted he put his carpet-thread fishing line overboard with a shrimp on it. A gaff topsail catfish didn’t care that the shrimp was almost a week old, a week dead. It appealed enough for the little guy to take the bait.
Then we made Bill pose for pictures.
“Hold it out in front of you, like this,” Rex extended Bill’s arm forward. “That way it looks bigger.”
“Yeah, that’s how the real fisherman do it.”
We scrambled for our cameras to document the monumental event while the captain gave orders to turn the motor on and pull up the anchor. With cameras tucked away we motored off anchor and hoisted sails – main, fore and staysail. It was a beautiful morning for a easy sail.
A bow watch was posted as the challenge of the day was dodging crab pots. Strings of green, yellow, orange, white and red, blue and white crab pots were in our path for miles. Fortunately the crab pots were willing to be pushed away from the hull by the small bow wake we created. Appledore V has a full keel and the prop is nestled in a cut-out of the keep, which can help prevent things, like crab pot lines, from getting tangled in the prop.
The sun reflected off the water ahead of us, making it tricky to see some of the crab pots. Andy and I were the primary bow watchers that morning. We found it easiest to spot floats by sighting the line to the far side of us. Knowing the color and general angle that the pots were lined up on, we then visually followed the line until we could see where they were in front of us. This allowed us to visually intersect the pots before the boat did.
“How far do they let people put crab pots?” I asked Hugh.
“All the way to Key West.”
That meant bow watch was going to be going on all day. All these crab pots gave me an idea – I decided I would have crab for dinner.
Off of Captiva Island, a little yellow airplane flew by. Once it passed it turned around and circled back to get another look at us.
“It must be a student pilot,” I offered as an explanation for the fact that the plane kept buzzing us. “Or maybe they’re taking pictures.”
That morning we dressed as we had almost every other morning we were on the water – layered and layered. As the sun came out these layers were starting to be peeled off. The heavy jackets came of quite quickly. Then the sweat shirts to leave most of the guys in short sleeved t-shirts. Captain Hugh had been wearing flannel lined jeans, as was I. It didn’t take long for him to change into regular jeans. I tend to chill easily so I kept my flannel lined jeans on along with a long sleeved denim shirt.
The popularity of western Florida was quite evident by all the condos and apartments along the shore. The closer we got to Fort Myers, the more populated it got.
Terry enjoyed pulling out the waterproof chart and following along locating where we were.
Captain Hugh said we weren’t in a rush, but was keeping us fairly close to the shore as he didn’t want us to loose precious time by being too far out. He wanted to make sure we arrived with the tide in to give us enough water depth to get into the marina. Just about lunch time, after dodging crab pots and sand bars we headed into the bay for Fort Myers and dropped sail. With the motor running we worked our way up the channel, under “the bridge,” which is now painted bright blue, and finally arrive at Salty Sam’s Marina at 14:35 (or 2:35 PM). http://www.fortmyersattractionsandtours.com/default.aspx
I had a surreal feeling as we prepared to dock. It was such a relief to finally pull up to Dock D and throw our lines over to tie off. We’d been with the boat for almost five weeks. It had been a long trip, especially with the tedium from the too many days on the rivers. And yet, there was a part of me that didn’t want to bring her to her winter home. I had a rhythm and routine with living onboard. And now it would have to change. Yes, I missed home, very much (you can read about it at juliemckay.wordpress.com). I was looking forward to having a proper bathroom and a kitchen where I didn’t hit my head and sharing a bed with my husband. And I enjoyed the pleasure that comes with living very simply, as one is forced to when living on a boat. At home we live a simple life, not fancy or glamourous by any means. At home, Hugh and I are off the grid and on an island, so we have to forgo a lot of things people take for granted – being able to go to the corner store when you’re out of milk or being able to go out for a nice dinner when you don’t feel like cooking. Living on a boat is similar and even more basic since there is not much room for anything but the necessities. Being on board for the last five weeks gave me another look at what possessions were important and what are dispensable. (I got to examine this when I moved in with Hugh and had to dispose of a lot of belongings, some of which were redundant and some of which were completely unpractical.)
I’d miss cooking for the guys and yet not having to be the first up to start breakfast was going to be nice. Having someone around to chat with or admire a green heron had been nice, and I was looking forward to not having someone always in view and to having my own room to get dressed in private, rather than having to ask Hugh to block the door to his cabin when I wanted to get changed. It would be different not being on board. All in all, it was like a grand vacation was coming to an end. It had been a grand adventure with lots of new experiences and fun memories to reminisce about in the future.
I’m sure the others felt similar, although I never quite got a chance to discuss it with them. The day on the water had had a leisurely feel to it. Being at the helm felt more like play than work. With the sun shining everyone had spent most of their time on deck rather than being below chatting or reading.
Standing on the dock as a six foot plus giant. It was Richard, one of Rex’s 600 cousin. Okay, well maybe Rex didn’t have quite that many but he does admit to knowing that he has several hundred cousins. Richard was a swell guy and rode his motorcycle from Ocala, FL to come see Rex and the boat.
Shortly after our arrival a friend of Terry’s, who lives in the general area, came by to say hi. John Hawkins had heard earlier in the morning where we were and decided fly over us in his Grumman Lynx ‘78. So it wasn’t a student pilot, but Terry’s friend, John, who was taking pictures.
After these hellos, I found a private corner to quickly change out of my too-hot and heavy flannel lined jeans and put on some light weight capri pants and a t-shirt. Ahh, that was much better. I then got sandwich fixings set out and got the hungry crew fed. It was a good thing I had been plying them with peanut butter celery sticks and no-bake cookies all morning, otherwise they would have been ravenous beasts.
It was time to shift into marina life. We were hooked back up to shore power and had plenty of fresh water again. The shore head available with a real shower. And cheap laundry! Showers and laundries were on the top of everyone’s list of must do. I also had “get ice” on my list, for the beverage cooler. We were still living aboard and would not be leaving until Wednesday morning. It was the first time in five weeks that I did not have to worry about finding groceries. The icebox was slowly but surely being depleted of perishables and the seat lockers where the dry goods were still had plenty of food for us if we decided to eat on board. But no one wanted to, so Sunday’s lunch was the last meal.
Richard absconded Rex and Terry went off to dinner with John, but the rest of us enjoyed a fun evening at Parrot’s Cay Caribbean Grill at the marina. A girlfriend of mine lived near by and joined us as well. We had not seen each other in about ten years, so it was fun to reconnect with Sharon. And raise a toast to our successful journey – we had arrived safe and sound.