|May 5, 2010 - Rivertown Boatyard - Bradenton, Florida
Yesterday when Eddie and Sandy were here, Sandy surprised me by saying that a huge rain event was on the way. I have been
working hard to get this done and don't need a couple of days of rain to throw a monkey wrench in the gears. Fortunately, the
new weather reports this morning say that the rain has fallen apart and we shouldn't get much at all. Still, I need to get out there
and get the primer finished as soon as possible.
|RJ came by and helped me with the primer and then, after a wait while I dug a bunch of stuff out of the boat to give to him
(about 75 pounds worth) we applied the first coat of bottom paint.
The bottom paint, primer and paint materials I've been carrying but have used this trip will add up to about 100 pounds. Brushes,
rollers, trays, etcetera, will be tossed, as well as the empty cans, but the primer and paint stay on the boat, albeit in another
location. I can only add about 10 pounds to the 'lighter by' list. So far, Falcon is lighter by about 1185 pounds.
I just took the watermaker out of the head and have it staged at the ladder to go up on deck. I'll get it up there soon without
pulling anything - it'll just take a little thought. Things are coming along.
I spoke with Ray (the yard manager) and he'll put me in the slings on Saturday so I can do the six pads spots and the three block
spots. I'll get splashed on Monday between 10 and 11 AM.
|May 6, 2010 - Rivertown Boatyard - Bradenton, Florida
I got the watermaker up on the deck yesterday, then went through the aft storage compartments and pulled out everything that I
don't need to keep. I will make a few trips to the dumpster today, and fill Donny and Barbs car with books for the laundry room
at the Seafood Shack Marina. I will drop off the car at that time and say goodbye to Paul so George and Kim and I can avoid the
stop once we're off and heading south.
I have a lot of painting to do today as well as sorting out clothes, bedding and other things. It will be impossible to make an
accurate estimate of how much weight I'll be getting off the boat, but I'm certain that I'll reach a full ton, and maybe more. I
forgot to add to Randy's list the full set of cockpit enclosures that Eddie gave me. They have to go due to the weight issue. They
probably add 20 pounds to the 'lighter by' list.
RJ came over this morning with breakfast and I gave him more stuff. I'd just finished applying the second coat to the waterline (1
foot wide) and to the two lifting strap areas (3 feet wide) and the rudder and prop. I used the main halyard to lower the
watermaker to the ground and also handed down a bunch of other stuff that will be picked up by other people. I have to start
calling around right now to see when Eddie and Yvonne might show up and George and Kim. I want to get the mail situation
squared away for Don and Barbara at the post office and that will mean taking a quick run to Cortez.
I got back from Cortez and George and Kim showed up and we went over our plans and some charts. It looks like a real pain to
get into Flamingo and I'm not looking forward to it at all. The main problem is the shallow water and all the work I'm doing right
now. The last thing I want to do is scrape the new bottom paint off my keel by going aground almost immediately after I get it
done. George's health situation means that speed becomes an issue. Consequently, the slow, visit friends along the way trip I'd
first envisioned is off. Instead, we have to go straight for Marathon and do what we're going to do in the Keys so he and Kim can
head back and get back into treatment.
Shortly after they left, Eddie and Yvonne stopped by and picked up some stuff I'd set aside for them. I finished sorting out my
clothes and bedding and after Yvonne took the only good stuff, a comforter with matching sheets and pillow cases, I tossed the
rest into the dumpster. I also worked with the Garmin GPS again, doing exactly what the guy at West Marine said to try to no
avail. I called Garmin and they said that before they can make any determination about whether or not they could help, I'd have
to fax in my receipt for when I bought it. That brought me to a couple of hours of digging through piles of old paperwork looking
for the receipt. No luck, but I did finally empty all the stuff out of the ice box.
Frustrated, I called RJ - he told me to call him if I was going to paint - and he came over and we painted the hull Largo Blue.
|I still have stuff to do, things to give away or get rid of, but Falcon is very close to being ready to go. There will be plenty to sort
out on the trip and once I get to Marathon.
|May 7, 2010 - Rivertown Boatyard - Bradenton, Florida
It was hot and stuffy in the boat last night and I woke up at 2:45 AM swatting at mosquito's. Unable to sleep, I got up and
finished yesterdays post, then went through some stuff on board and laid back down at 6 AM. I got up at 8:30 and started the day.
I reached Garmin Tech Support and the guy told me to do a software upgrade and see what happens before sending the unit in.
Unfortunately, Garmin's Server is down so there's no way to try it just now. I also reached Pyacht and they sent me a copy of my
invoice so I can now send it into Garmin if the software upgrade doesn't work.
Paul came to visit me earlier and we talked for a while and said 'Goodbye' in case I don't see him at the marina this weekend. I
spent at least a couple of hours sorting through a huge stack of papers and tossed most of them out, finding in the pile my birth
certificate, my mother's Death certificate, and the article and remembrances of my Aunt Mary's death.
I opened the 4 aft lockers and found about 200 pounds of wet line. Too much line, but I have it drying in the sun and it will get
stored forward for the trip to Marathon as much weight as possible will be stored forward to avoid the squatting stern effect that
brings water into the cockpit.
I have most of the tools outside now and will sort them all out when the shadows cool the rear area and I have most of this stuff
inside under control.
The boat is emptying out. Even though the aft lockers are empty except for 1 anchor/rode in each of the two large ones, all those
lines are out on the deck right now. I have been loading up Donny's car with things to bring to RJ, Randy and the laundry room
book table. I still have to re-install the sink drain, dry the bilges and get them ready for stored items, then decide what will go
I have one of the Carframo Fans hooked up and I will not spend another night in stifling heat swatting at bugs. By tonight, all 3
of them will be connected and hung.
Ray got me the final bill - early, I wanted to get the money out of the bank today, when it was easy - and I paid the rest of the bill.
I'd given him $500 on Monday, and another $526 covered it today. All paid and done.
I have the bilges cleaned and dried and the depth transducer cable threaded through the frames into the main salon. The forward
sole is back down and the head door is re-hung. The depth sounder cable is now strung all the way through a 10 foot piece of 1/2
inch PVC pipe I just installed into the center bilge. It is past the engine and right below the depth sounder and ready to be hooked
up, a simple matter of plugging it in.
Outside waits the monumental job of sorting the tools I will keep from those I will give away. Intellectually, I know I will want to
have a small and simple set of tools on the boat. Emotionally, however, I find it difficult to dispose of items that have made my
living for me for almost half a century, and that I've had in my hand since before I could walk. Tools are not possessions so much
as the means to and end.
|May 5, 2010 - May 17, 2010
|May 8, 2010 - Rivertown Boatyard - Bradenton, Florida
I went to bed early last night and didn't wake up until 5:45 this morning. I only mounted 2 of the fans and that was all I needed.
With both fans over my bunk operating at slow speed, I stayed cool and bug-free and slept all night. I saved the last fan for a spot
near the computer desk chair.
I never did sort out the tools yesterday, but I have almost all of them outside on the ground. I'll do them this morning before it
gets too hot, and keep to the shade made by the boat. Don's car is now parked right behind the boat and I am loading it with the
stuff that's going to Seafood Shack Marina and RJ's.
|All the tools are sorted and divided and ready to go. The big
single item tormenting me right now is that I can't find the
power cable for the depth sounder!! I had it in my hand a week
ago and I put it somewhere that would make it readily
available! Now, I have a full 2 hours into the search for it. I'm
telling you, this crap is making me crazy. Oh, well. All this work
and still no GPS and no depth sounder.
Okay, I just found the sneaky little rat basstid power cable. It
was hiding out with the Autopilot control head masquerading as
a second cable connection. I think those two got something
going on. Anyway, I have the cable and will make short work of
connecting that system when it cools off a little.
At 3:30 PM I couldn't sit around any more and loaded up the car
and went to Seafood Shack Marina. I met Randy there and gave
him all the stuff I'd put aside. I returned Eddie's battery tester
and dropped a bunch of books in the laundry.
|I came back to the boat and put bottom paint over the primed pads spots and block marks. Oh, and Randy gave me a Garmin 182c
GPS. I need to get a power plug for it. The one I have for the bad Garmin GPSMap 545 doesn't fit.
|May 9, 2010 - Rivertown Boatyard - Bradenton, Florida
I have a full day today. I will finish the bottom painting and deliver Don's car and Geoff's Hookah to Seafood Shack. I'll have to
coordinate with someone to get the ride back. I'll store all the lines that were wet in the aft lockers, now dry, way up forward,
only keeping out those that I will need for mooring in Marathon - eventually. I will not have the money to get a mooring until the
1st of June, but once I reach the 1st of July, the expense of this stage will be behind me and I'll be able to start the serious
business of publishing. Meanwhile, one by one, I'll sort out the systems aboard and get everything working well. I hope I still
have enough tools.
I have to re-install the sink drain right now so I don't forget. Be right back.
Okay, that's done. I also lubed and exercised the valve - it hadn't been done in years. Now, it's getting light outside and I need to
be getting stuff done. I'll be working that bottom paint first. I should get the rebate form mailed off for the new modem. If I don't
do it today, it could end up being the end of the month. I should also get water and a few other things, like food to eat for the trip.
And I should send out a couple of apologetic emails for not being able to stop and visit with people I told I would. Like I said, I
had originally seen this as a slow, enjoyable three week cruise. Because George has a pretty pressing schedule, it will now be
more like a mission. But it the only way he'll be able to cruise a little, so we're doing it and we'll have a good time.
I did speak to Geoff last night and he said it would be fine if I left the Hookah with Paul at the Seafood Shack. It also JUST
occurred to me that when Randy called the heavy naugahyde I returned to him 'Cadillac upholstery' (I thought he told me it was
for Golf Cart seats) that he meant he would use it inside the new 1960 Sedan DeVille he just got and is restoring.
I went to Garmin Software Updates and downloaded the new version of software for the Garmin GPSMap 545 , then did what the
guy from Garmin Tech Support, Alex 6976 (cool name, like an advanced Terminator from the 'Terminator' movies) said to do,
and the unit seems to be working fine!! Awesome! I am a GPS updating legend.
I painted all the single-coat areas on the bottom and used up the very last of the paint to apply one more, as in 'the third', coat
around the waterline. Two minutes after I finished painting, Espin called back and I chatted with him for only about a minute or
two - they were just getting underway - then RJ came over and we ate and sat and chatted for a while. Then Randy called. He
wanted to use Geoff's Hookah and would call Geoff to clear it. I loaded the Hookah into the car and headed to Seafood Shack. RJ
followed to give me a ride back. I explained the Hookah thing to Paul, put the car where he wanted and gave him the keys so he
could move it if he had to, and moved the Hookah to Lil Toot for Randy. Then RJ and I went to his boat and used the SD card I
had loaded with the GPS update to update RJ's 545. It only took a second. Again, I am a GPS updating legend. After a little more
chat and 'goodbyes' at the Shack, we went to the Publix on the Island and I got three 2 1/2 gallon jugs of water for the trip, plus
some dark brown sugar for my coffee. RJ dropped me off and headed off to work on his dinghy and I am here now doing this.
It is 12:24 and I have a lot of work to do. Be back later.
It's 3:55 and I'm about to take a short break and watch a little golf. I have everything stored and the deck cleared, leaving only
two lines for handling during launch. I just went to try to move the dinghy around, but it's way high and dry - maybe later. The
depth sounder is all connected and ready for power. Originally, I hooked it straight to the #1 buss, thinking it had an 'on/off'
switch. It doesn't, so I had to lace a wire to the electrical panel. Now, it's time to power up the panel and begin connecting circuits.
I have been doing the grunt work of connecting the big ( 2/0 ) battery cables ( making the cables first ) to provide power to the
DC side of the electrical panels. I have also connected the Outback to charge the batteries, but I may have to disconnect it if I
can't sort out the programming for the Gel batteries. We'll see how things go in the morning when I'm rested. Personally, I think
I may leave it alone and just put all the batteries either on buss 1 - the solar charger is on buss 2 - or off while I motor down the
It still feels like there's a lot to do to be prepared for sea. The computer has to come apart and be made safe again, or I'll have to
find a quick way to make it impossible to fly onto the floor. Oh, well. Hopefully I'll be able to get the inverter going and have the
computer when we stop for the evening. I'll be back and talk to you as soon as I can.
|May 10, 2010 - Rivertown Boatyard - Bradenton, Florida
Splash day. I slept well from 9 PM last night until 6 AM this morning. I corrected the wiring from the Shore Power Charles
battery charger to the busses by eliminating the feed to Buss #2. Now, the solar charger feeds Buss #2 and the Charles, OR the
engine, feed Buss #1. The solar still doesn't have enough daylight to charge, but the Charles is working on 3 of the batteries right
Also, I have just tied the computer down like Gulliver on the beach and will do the same for the printer in a few minutes. I think
this is going to work out. I moved the dinghy around this morning, but there are two small boats right in the way and I can't
bring it near the haulout slip. I'm hoping that I can rotate Falcon by hand and not have to try to back it out of here. It doesn't
The Solar just got enough light and is charging the battery! Cool. Things are working as they should. I should try to get off an
email to Leslie Soodak. She came from Danvers, Massachusetts, same as I, and graduated I year behind me, and now lives in
Venice. With luck, George, Kim and I will make it to Venice, but there will be little or no chance to visit. We will be getting in late
and leaving early and there is no longer any 'overnight' allowed at the 'Free Dock'.
It is 8:23 AM and everything is ready to go. I left Leslie a phone message and have secured the printer. I think I'm all set. I'm still
connected to yard electric right now, and will stay connected, allowing 3 batteries to charge on the Charles for a while more. I just
noticed that the max volts out on the Outback runs to 14.4 and I can't have that. The Gels can't take any more than 14.2. I have to
find out how to limit that or risk losing the batteries.
Okay. I just did it. Took all of two minutes. I love this unit. AT&T wireless Internet, however, is another story. It is just freakin'
awful trying to connect here. I can't wait to be out of the yard and see if it's any better, but I won't be able to do that until much
later. I did just realize that I now have a nice length of 10/3 cable in the boat meant to connect the watermaker, that I can now
use for other things.
|May 10, 2010 - At Anchor at Lido Key, Florida Gulf Coast
Well, here I am, 20 minutes after we dropped anchor after 7 1/2 hours of straight running, I have the inverter connected and
fired up and I'm writing the log. The Garmin GPSMap 545 consistently wandered and had to be rebooted - shut down and
restarted - at least 30 times during todays run. Also, the Raymarine ST40 Depth sounder is stuck on 1.9 feet.
The boat still brings water into the cockpit, but not near as bad. I'm going to plug those holes. They are the cockpit drains, not the
cockpit sea letter-inners. This anchorage is real rolly. There was supposed to be Easterlies and instead, here approaching dusk,
it's Westerlies and a swell from the South. Go figure. George and I both have heavy boats though, so we don't mind, and we both
have good ground tackle, so the boats will be secure. We are anchored in the Gulf, not inside in the Intracoastal Waterway.
|The inverter is draining the batteries pretty good. Maybe their not so good or maybe I'm mistaken. We'll see. Either way, I just
want to get this post done.
|May 11, 2010 - At Anchor at Lido Key, Florida Gulf Coast
It's 5:45 AM and I'm up having coffee. Yesterday was a good day, the only negatives being the water coming in the cockpit and the
Garmin GPSMap 545 having to be reset about 50 times. The Raymarine ST40 Depth sounder will still not operate below 13 feet
of water. I'll see what I can do to remedy that today. I'm also going to try to put the dinghy on the cabin roof. It's been taking in
water through the centerboard trunk and the extra weight must also be creating some drag on the boat as well as pulling down on
It's still fairly rolly here this morning, but it was a perfect night. Some cloud cover obscured the stars, but it was warm enough to
sit outside and cool enough to not need fans. I think I might be able to nurse these batteries back to health by deep-cycling them
for a while, so I'm going to try it.
|Above are a couple of more pictures from yesterday. The first one is the Longboat Key Bridge. The second is CJoy under her
mainsail. George said the biggest effect was that it settled her down and eased the rolling.
The AT&T connection is strong here. The Force is with it, and carries 4 to 5 bars and works good.
I just did a quick measurement and calculation. We only made 27 miles yesterday - because Falcon is being slow - and there are
203 miles left to go to get to Marathon.
|May 11, 2010 - At Anchor at Punta Blanca Island, Florida Gulf Coast
Today we did just about 50 miles. It took from 9 AM - George had a couple of quick technical problems he had to fix before we
could get under way - until about 6:30 PM, when the anchors went down. That's a much better average than yesterday. I put the
dinghy on the cabin roof and plugged the cockpit drains and ran the engine at 1900 RPM all day. With a smaller wake than
yesterday and zero water in the cockpit.
The Raymarine ST40 Depth sounder worked down to 11 feet today, but the Garmin GPSMap 545 still wanders all over the place
and needs to be rebooted every 5 minutes or so, often multiple times before it comes back.
|May 12, 2010 - At Anchor at Punta Blanca Island, Florida Gulf Coast
I scanned for channels and watched a little TV last night, mostly just searching for weather news, then went to sleep. I was
awakened at about midnight when the front that is leap-frogging us passed through with some gusty winds. High currents and
winds here cause the boat to anchor oddly - the chain is sometimes leading back under the boat, making for some odd noises in
George is out of fuel and needs to run 10 miles north, in Charlotte Harbor - across the mouth, actually, to the Gasparilla Marina
for diesel. We're both surprised by the consumption. We've only traveled 77 miles or so and he only has a little 3 cylinder
Yanmar. There is the possibility that pushing the little boat so hard sucked down the fuel, but also that he might have
miscalculated the size of his fuel tank and how much was in it. I DID push a little as far as speed to try and make up for such a
miserable showing the day before. I should start calculating my own usage, measuring the tanks with dipsticks and not relying
on the gauges.
|These are some pictures from yesterday. I'd hoped they might better show the color of the water, but no such luck. The Gulf
looks big and empty. Further away from shore, the water turns crystal clear and a beautiful blue. We are staying near the beach
because the East wind just makes it rougher and rougher the more fetch you give it. Below is the dinghy on deck and a very cool
|Yesterday was a long, boring day, so I elected to try the magnetic, but very 'iffy' and dangerous to beginners, shortcut into Boca
Grande, against the beach. Conditions were perfect, so we went right for it. Unfortunately, the solar panels shroud both of my
GPS antennas, so the signal bounces all over the place, as well as the image of my boat on the tiny screen. The more I zoomed in,
the bigger the pass looked, and the more violent the leaps of Falcon. I slowed down to 2 knots and motored carefully through,
with George shadowing my every move. He draws almost a foot less than me, so anywhere I go he has no sweat.
We made it, and saved ourselves at least two hours, maybe more. The tide was roaring out at the time and many boats filled with
eager anglers were fishing for Tarpon during the annual tournament.
We are taking a rest day today. For one thing, both of us have work we need to do on the boats. Above that, I have been working
like a dog for a long time now - you know, like a month or so, I don't count the first 25 years - and I desperately need a little 'off'
time. George has been knock-down sick for a few years now and the Chemo he's on now is really draining him. He has done very
well to this point and the exercise and activity are good for him, but there is no way we should push it. He has already had a heart
attack and that is no way to enjoy a cruise.
I just chucked the dinghy into the drink and will go over to CJoy for lunch. Meanwhile, I'll post a few work pictures and some
shots from the past two days.
|On the left is the last shot I took of
the boat while in the Rivertown
Boatyard. The Outback is powered
up and ready to go with everything
connected except the red power
lead from the panels. It looks like
it's coming from the big selector
switch, but it's really coming
through the bulkhead between the
two switches. I didn't connect it
until after dark because someone
told me cover the panels with
blankets or something before
connecting it to prevent a big jolt.
Sound advice, but the wind wasn't
going to have any of that, so I just
waited a couple of hours until it
was dark. The system is awesome.
The two big battery switches are
for the electrical panel and the
inverter. I can select either buss to
power each item. With my
|batteries all on the same system, I can easily switch batteries from the running engine buss to the solar charging house buss at
will, while under way - as long as I remember to switch batteries onto the engine buss first to prevent the alternator from ever
not seeing a battery and burning out the $300+ Balmar Regulator.
I am just now starting to cycle through the batteries to see how long they last running the computer. Of course, when I'm on the
mooring at Marathon, I'm pretty sure that I usually be running just 1 monitor, but it might not be that big an issue because these
monitors only draw about 40 watts each. It is awesome, however, to have full AC power while on the hook or at the mooring.
Falcon performed awesome yesterday. I will continue to work on it and get her optimized. I had to hold off to keep George in
sight behind me. No wallowing, no water in the cockpit. I'm going to post some of the pictures from the past 2 days. The first
ones will be from the 10th, in order.
|The narrow channel I'd have to turn around to leave Rivertown, and the #'s 7 & 8 markers where I would be meeting CJoy.
|25 years of working toward this, I suppose you'd think I'd be more excited. Excitement is wasted on the young. On not. Kim is
waving as I pull alongside and George goes below to check his charts.
|CJoy is under sail, but mostly just to ease the rolling. The distant island is Anna Maria, but the real thing in this shot is how dirty
Falcon's deck got in the yard. If you notice, the foredeck is clean from waves washing it.
|The bridge over Longboat Pass that I studied so often, thinking I would be leaving through it. To the right, some of the buildings
on Longboat Key. Typical Florida Waterfront development.
|One of the older waterfront hotels that I've always liked better. Fewer people, more 'vacation' styled. CJoy at anchor at Lido Key
at the end of the first day - and what was to be a very rough night.
Below are the pictures from the 11th.
|The coast of Siesta Key means nothing from a distance, but from closer to the beach it's much better. Those little things that look
like ants walking upright really are ants walking upright. No one vacations here any more. The houses are too small.
|There is a lot to be said for the warm, colorful water down here. CJoy pulls past me into the anchorage at Punta Blanca Island,
behind Cayo Costa on the Southern lip of Charlotte Harbor.
I am presently doing some little things - I moved the remote antenna for the Garmin GPSMap 545 to see if it helps. It is
presently lashed to the boom aft of the solar panels. I am also going over the Wilcox-Crittendon 51Junior all bronze head, getting
the seals and valves all ready for service. I will be using it soon.
|George and Kim had me over for dinner this evening. It was great. Chicken and sausage with potatoes and carrots and toasted
bread with melted cheese and ice tea. The evening is warm and breezy and I just had a great time taking some pictures outside.
Oh, an aside. Rowing back and forth between the boats was the thrill of a lifetime. The wind and current were both in the same
direction and trying desperately to push me away from the boats and out to sea. I had to row like Popeye chasing Bluto to make
the trip each way, but coming back was the most desperate. Here are a couple of sunset shots using different angles and camera
|May 13, 2010 - At Anchor at Punta Blanca Island, Charlotte Harbor
It is just before 6 AM and I have been up since 5 preparing the boat to get under way. Our plan this morning was to leave the
anchorage at 6 AM, when we thought it would be light enough to see, but it's still much too dark. We will wait until we can at
least see the markers without a spotlight.
Our first top will be the Gasparilla Marina 10 miles to the north, then it's out the Boca Grande Pass to the Gulf and down around
Captiva and Sanibel and in toward the coast. We are looking to halve the distance to Marco Island, which will be our next stop on
the way. I just checked all the charts and I'm not sure Marco is a good place to stop. There has been a lot of cruiser harassment
there in the recent pass and none of the anchorages that are readily available seem to offer much shelter from Easterlies. I could
be wrong, but our best bet may be to push closer to Naples tonight, the pass Marco and get closer to Everglades City. From there
we will easily reach Cape Sable and on the last day, Sunday, make it into Marathon with plenty of daylight.
|I was just reading an email from Ken and Sandy and
realized I'd forgotten to include a picture of the new
GPS antenna mount. Here it is. Time for me to warm
up the engine.
We are at the entrance to Matansas Pass and are
anchored in what SEEMED to be a flat, calm, protected
anchorage. The only problem is that, while the OTHER
boats look calm and peaceful, Falcon has somehow
found a way to stay sideways to the very minor wind
waves. And I've moved from one side of the anchorage
to another. Same thing. Go figure.
The day was the longest and most grueling so far.
From 6:30 AM until 7 PM. Going 'outside' into the
Gulf instead of the Intracoastal proved to be a huge
mistake. It cost us about 5 extra hours and all our
energy. I am posting now in a wildly rocking boat and
want nothing more than to lie down and rest, so I will.
I'll catch up tomorrow.
|May 14, 2010 - At Anchor at Marco Island
So, you're probably wondering what happened to me this morning. It's a funny story. Ha ha. Okay, no more laughing. I woke up
and George and Kim were gone. They'd left in the night. And so had the other boat in the anchorage. What really hurt was that
Matansas Pass had also left. Ahhh, that's when it hit me. They hadn't left, I had. I anchored poorly with too little scope and
Falcon had dragged anchor for a mile and a half. Very lucky that I hadn't run into anything or run aground. Just at the end of the
stretch of deepish water, the anchor set and held. Obviously, I had no time to get on the computer. I called George as I motored
over to him and he raised anchor and we went on our way.
It has been a beautiful day and we made it all the way to Marco Island without incident. Once we got to Marco Island, we created
an incident by anchoring in the wrong spot and stirring up the ire of a local waterfront gasoline stop. They did fuss some and
Tarquin, with Eddie and Sandy aboard, returning from a trip to Everglades City, heard the gas stop crabbing at me over the radio -
I didn't hear a thing, I turn the radio off when I'm stopped - and motored into the anchorage and blew their horn at me. I came
out and they laughed and told me the gas people were ranting.
We were a little too close, so we moved across the way and anchored there. Some people on a deck boat - from Boston - saw the
home port on Falcon and stopped by to visit in the middle of all this. They politely left for twenty minutes, then came back and
visited with George and Kim, then me. I took their pictures and will post a couple here. I also need to do a little rough calculation
for our distances traveled the past two days.
Yesterday we traveled 60 miles, but only made 37 miles good toward Marathon.
Today we traveled 40 miles, with only 32 made good toward Marathon.
There are 97 miles left to go, as the crow flies, which we can't do.
|Everybody here was very nice and some were from Boston. The man at the helm is a retired Boston Harbor Pilot. I can't help but
wonder what the guy sitting in the back gate with his back to us is doing.
CJoy under sail and apparently sailing well. It was a great day for it and George made the most of it.
I have more pictures of today that I will post later.
|May 15, 2010 - At Anchor at Marco Island
I was up and watching the anchor carefully from 11:30 PM until midnight as the tides switched directions and all the boats in
the anchorage turned and shifted. Falcon stayed put and no other boats came near.I went back to sleep and didn't wake up
until 5:15 AM. It's 5:50 now and I'm ready to get going. Of course, we won't leave until first light. Some pictures I neglected to
take last night were of our anchorage, so I'll get some in the morning.
After much discussion with George and Espin, we have made two big decisions: First, we will not attempt the 'inside' passage
through Goodland on this trip. With Espin's directions I feel confident that I could make it, but George was nervous and, I
think, much preferred the opportunity to spend another day sailing. Second, instead of trying to make it to Marathon in two
days, and arriving completely used up at night on the second, we have decided on three days, staying tonight at an
anchorage near Everglades City and the next night at the Little Shark River. From there, Marathon is a shorter distance and
we can take our time 'working through the muddy shallows'. (A line from "Riddle of the Sands" by Erskine Calder.)
|I tried to get a nice picture of the bursts of spray that Falcon sometimes through when busting through the faces of waves, but all
I got was this one little poof. I feared leaving the camera exposed and ready, worried that it might get wet. On the right is the
anchorage at Matansas Pass entrance where we spent the night and I dragged 1 1/2 miles. Nice to have that much lea if you're
going to screw up that bad.
|To the left is the Sanibel Bridge that I was dragging down close to. On the right, you can see the Matansas Bridge, which is
probably called the Ft. Myers Beach Bridge or Estero Island Bridge, but whatever, it goes over Matansas Pass.
|From Ft. Myers to Naples there is an almost unbroken line of coastline condos. Only Keywaden Island between Naples and
Marco Island escape the treatment. Not that I wouldn't like to have a condo in there somewhere, don't get me wrong, but it does
make the sightseeing boring.
|George and Kim still sailing and me still trying to get a shot of spray.
|On the left is (I think) a Wharram Cat) that Espin admires so much as an inexpensive, competent cruising cat. On the right is
another shot of our visitors in the Marco anchorage.
|CJoy anchored and to the far left, the much 'ballyhooed' Snook Inn, that features a grizzled old favorite sitting on a stool with an
acoustic guitar playing Jimmy Buffet favorites. I love the place, just couldn't make it this time.
|A better look at the Snook Inn, and the other boats that joined us in the anchorage.
|The sun had still not risen as I took these pictures. To the right is the establishment from which the irate gasbag was screaming
at us. It's too bad we had our radios off, but Eddie said it was quite a radio air show.
It is very possible that I may not be able to get on line on either or both of the next two days. I will catch up, however, when we
get to Marathon.
I'm back, and it's only 7:38 AM. I started the engine to warm it up and called CJoy and got Kim. George is not feeling good this
morning. He is tired and stiff all over, but worse, he has chest pains. We are standing down. George called me back just now and
says that all he needs is an hour to rest and relax and he'll be ready to go. He also told me about something that happened
yesterday that I missed.
He asked if I'd seen the small skiff with three fishermen in it that was hanging beside his boat yesterday. I had noticed them and
said so. Then he said, "All of a sudden there was a big splash and they'd hooked something. One of the guys pulled up their
anchor and something dragged them all over the anchorage. (Sorry I missed this.) They were pulled almost to the far red marker
when they finally had the fish tired out, and they pulled a 130 pound Tarpon aboard the skiff with them."
I don't know what most guys do with Tarpon, but I think they release them. George told me that they guys told him they'd caught
a 180 pounder before. I'm pretty sure they must have released the fish because they came back to the same spot and started
I will post this again and go wait in the cockpit to see if George feels up to carrying on. If not, I'm not sure what our options will
|May 16, 2010 - At Anchor at Russell Bay Anchorage, Everglades City
Yesterday was a long siege in rough water but a great night in an awesome anchorage. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, got
tossed around inside the boats. George had to slow down because his engine was trying desperately to break loose. This
happened in one of the roughest areas - the southern section of the Cape Romano Shoal where we took a slight short cut along a
24 foot depth cut in the shallows. Once in the area between the shallows and the Everglades City channel at Indian Key, it was
much better. I would have been sweet to have a depth sounder or a GPS.
I took 5 movies and will try to find a way to post them here. It was an awesome ride, and you'll love the videos.
We have no phone or Internet access here and have to communicate by shouting. Obviously, I can't post. Today we will make the
run in shallow water along the coast to the Little Shark River, about 40 miles to the south. I have to get ready now. See you later.
We started out late because George had a lot of stuff he wanted to do, which turned out to be a bad thing later in the day. The run
down the 'Swamp Coast' was uneventful and boring until we were about 2 hours shy of the Little Shark River. That's when a
pretty nasty front clapped us right in the teeth. The wind howled and the waves in the shallow area quickly climbed to four, five
and six feet. Between the wind and waves, our forward progress was often halted - I'm serious, zero forward momentum. We
were getting thrown all over the place. My port fuel tank came loose and started spilling fuel into the bilge. We got soaked with
rain and it took us over three hours to finally find shelter in the Little Shark River.
I have never in my life been on any cruise with so much wind and current and storms straight against me. It's just unbelievable.
And we are now stuck in the Little Shark river for at least one more day, maybe more. The marine forecast is for more of the
same all day tomorrow, then maybe a break on Tuesday. Now, there are other places where it is not quite so desolate as this that
are called 'the end of the world', but this is really, the end. No telephone or TV signals reach here. No Internet or method of any
kind to reach people and tell them we haven't sunk and we're okay.
|May 17, 2010 - At Anchor in the Little Shark River, Cape Sable
The anchorage here is a tad crowded, but not bad. Two boats have already left this morning and we're hoping another one or two
will follow suit. I would like to move more to the middle.
I had already set the sliding fuel tank back where it belongs and siphoned off 5 gallons of fuel for George - he's running low
again. I have to find a suitable way to secure this, and the other, to prevent them from being able to slide backwards. That is what
this one did. I don't think I lost much fuel. It's difficult to tell. The bilge pump was kicking it overboard during the storm. The
tank still feels very heavy. The gauges are not at all accurate so I'll have to 'stick' both tanks today and do some calculations.
I rowed over to CJoy to bring them the 5 gallons of diesel and stayed for quite a while. Kim made a fantastic breakfast that can't
be beat and also made me a 'Bag Lunch' to take home with me. In a moment I will crawl back behind the shifting Fuel tank and
lash it into place so it can't move, then I'll watch another 'Bourne' movie - watched one last night - and consider what else I can
do to prepare Falcon for the last 50 mile stretch to marathon. It is about the most 'exposed' stretch, though only the first 40
miles if really 'out there'. Once you get under the 7 Mile Bridge, there's a little shelter fro the Easterlies. We are leaving at 6 AM
to get as good a start as we can, hoping to cover almost 20 miles before 9 AM when morning winds begin to show.
Okay, the tank is lashed. The other one doesn't seem to need it. Go figure. Pray for light winds tomorrow. I'm taking some
pictures and downloading them by day. Once we get to Marathon, I'll put together a more colorful post of this trip.
I've calculated the remaining fuel to be 60 gallons. I gave 5 gallons to George and spilled a little, though I do not think more than
about a gallon - it was sloshing out of the fill spigot during violent pitches and rolls. Since I'd probably used only about two or
three gallons in the marina, and I started with exactly 100 gallons, that means I've burned about 32 gallons or so on the trip. I
haven't had a chance to closely measure the distances to get some idea, but with 40 miles left (in a straight line) and 50 (going
under the 7 Mile Bridge) I think my use will be about 40 gallons all told. More than I'd expected, but considering all the wind and
current we've had to buck, damn near every inch of the way, I'm not that surprised.
I have never had a single trip where I wasn't being forced to go in a hurry, against the weather, on routes I would have avoided, or
just plain on a freakin' mission. I would someday love to try heading out at my leisure, going where I wanted to go at my own
pace. I'd like to have sails ready as well.
One more day on this mission. Hopefully. The wind is banging away out there right now, just as they said it would. I surely hope
tomorrow it really does curl off toward the East and stay below 10 knots.
|The day was made longer and more tedious by a Raymarine ST40 Depth sounder that was useless and a Garmin GPSMap 545
piece of crap that had to be constantly reset so I had snapshots of my position and could avoid shoal areas. If you're wondering
why I use the complete registered names of the units each time I mention them, it's because, even though the company's know
the units are brand new and are bad out of the box, my buying them earlier - when I could afford them - voids the warranty. They
know I just started using them, but they're giving me the grin and the purchase dates as reasons why I lose and they don't have to
stand behind the product. They just don't have to so they won't. I think I have the right to make sure that anyone who does an
Internet search for these products gets to know what the companies are really like.