131 Beaufort, SC to Everglades, FL

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Beaufort has a unique charm that continually draws us back. It’s a small, quiet southern town with just a bit of tourist trade to support restaurant and shop diversity. It was a treat meeting up with Ralph and Bonnie Jean on Ammy Boo again– a sister ship to Odyssey. It was an Endeavour dock show when Ron and Judy on Ody Sea an Endeavour 44 showed up. We had a ball getting to know the new Endeavour owners a bit better, and the three trawlercats attracted quite a bit of interest.

The weather forecast talked about a nasty night, and we’d called ahead for a slip at Two Way Fish Camp on South Altamaha River in Georgia. Approaching at dusk the tee head the marina was holding for us was gone. They recommended we take a slip inside commenting it was a down current landing. What an understatement. Coming to the marina we’d estimated the current running at two knots, and it had been a few years since we’d done a down current landing. Ruth worked us upstream to the very edge of the upstream fairway while I rigged lines and all our fenders. We started cross current and all our discussed plans were instantly obsolete. Odyssey started moving swiftly downstream and was slow to swing parallel to the current. We’d been planning on a starboard side tie. The current had it’s own ideas and we were now heading for port tie on the opposite finger pier. For a moment, it looked more like we’d be t-boned by the finger pier as the current swept us sideways toward it.

Ruth’s rapid throttle work got us a bit more around so it looked more like we’d suffer a glancing blow as we closed on the very lethal looking floating cement finger pier. I was rapidly relocating fenders while watching the two marina dockhands relocate (run like crazy) from the starboard to port finger pier. Everything came together at once. The fender hit the pier corner and four strong hands and arms stopped Odyssey’s progress and held her as she lined up with the slip. As the dockhands strained, I came over the rail and got a spring line secured to stop our forward progress. Minutes later everything was back to normal. Very grateful for the much needed help, I was reaching for my wallet for a generous tip when both dock hands held up their hands and said: “Don’t do that, we were just doing our job and this is a tough marina to enter when the current is running.” They were adamant that a tip was not in order. We celebrated our saved crash landing over dinner at Mudcat Charlies and figured out how to do it better when we have another down current landing.

Thanksgiving Day we thought we’d be the only boat moving. We weren’t. Out of curiosity we started counting and passed 22 sailboats also heading south. Wonderful smells of the turkey cooking in the oven wafted up into the cockpit making us itchy to be at anchor. Just as the sun touched the trees of Indian River Lagoon we anchored off Addison Point and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with a nice sunset.

We’d come south more quickly than planned to visit Jim, Ruth’s brother. He was in the hospital recovering from a very unplanned triple bypass surgery. We spent a couple days visiting as he recovered his strength.

Heather and Danielle having fun at Disney World

Heather and Danielle

Jeff, Debbie, Danielle, and Heather were in Orlando for their week in their time-share condo. We headed over for a wonderful visit. Got a kick out of seeing the grandkids’ reaction to the characters at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. For us, we got in our grandkid fix and a bit of a family fix since we were staying south for the holidays.

Strong south winds kicked in as we headed south providing a bumpy ride down Florida’s east coast to the canal at Stuart. The west coast proved to be just as frustrating when north winds kicked in as we headed north to St Petersburg.

After 20,000 miles we planned some upgrades and a refit at St Pete. The fun part was adding teak doors to replace the laminate ones. A new cabinet provided more storage space in the galley for Ruth. We had the engine access improved with new panels that hook to the overhead. Finally, on deck recessed latches replaced the raised ones we were always bumping. Then there was the refit work that wasn’t fun but necessary. The AC compressor and turbo charger were replaced. One injector pump was rebuilt a second time. Now we are better than new.

Being at dock with the new Endeavour owners was fun. Steve and Joan on Colorado Cat were across the dock from us. Chandelle with Bill and Joy were just down from us. Both boats were new 44’s with all the latest goodies. John came down and demonstrated his new line of cleaning products, Sun-Durance, on Odyssey while Sean took pictures for the sales brochure they are planning. Odyssey sparkled, and John made a sale since Ruth felt the products worked better than what we’d been using.

It was a delight being in St. Pete before Christmas with their beautiful lights and decorations. Their farmers market is a treat. We even got to see “Return of the King”. We had a couple days of fun and laughter with Dean and Linda on Seagull before they left for the Keys.

Ruth gave Jim and Diane a ride to the airport, and we used their truck while they were gone. They returned for the launching of Down Time, a sister ship to Odyssey; but unfortunately Jim was ill dampening some of the joy of seeing one’s new boat finally in the water.

Having the truck and access to the other Endeavour owners’ cars came in handy as shore hassles got mixed in with our upgrades and refit work and took some of the fun out of being in St. Pete. A failed PDA, and cell phone started a cascade of hassles. AT&T slammed us into an expensive plan to force us to a new cell phone provider. We are now with Verizon—it’s a painful story. To add to the aggravation our bank called to tell us we needed to move our checking account to a new plan or face huge monthly charges. Switching accounts using mail forwarding while traveling is not easy. Shore activities were a hassle that we seemed to attract being at dock. As soon as possible we were underway again.

Sarasota’s anchorage area was filled with mainly local boats anchored out at random. We worked our way in and found a hole that gave us a short dinghy ride to town to get some exercise walking. Evening found us at Selby Gardens enjoying the orchids in bloom and their special Christmas decorations mixed in with all the tropical flowers.

 Our anchorage for Christmas

Our anchorage for Christmas

Hugging the shore we worked our way into a tiny cove, dropped the anchor and tied a line to shore at Point Blanco. Sky, water, trees and nothing else filled our view. Slowly nature’s rhythms made themselves visible. Dolphins poked around the cove looking for a snack.
Feeding Frenzy

Feeding Frenzy

Noisy splashing brought us up to see what was happening. Fifty or more white pelicans moved purposely into the cove driving a school of fish ahead of them. Cormorants preceded the pelicans and then took off noisily to get to the opposite side of the school and work back toward the pelicans driving the fish into frenzy to escape being lunch. We watched the ebb and flow on a quiet Christmas Day.
Anchored at Point Blanco

Anchored at Point Blanco

After four days our idyllic world dissolved as boats started showing up. The Fort Myers Yacht Club was doing a club cruise. We watched six boats arrive; tie off to shore like we had. We had neighbors almost a handshake away. A dinghy came over and invited us to the party that night and indicated more boats were on their way. We gave our regrets and left.

At Naples we lucked out and got a mooring at the City Marina. We poked around enjoying the upscale, almost over the top town mixing art galleries, interior decorators, high fashion shops and very upscale restaurants. A long walk took us to a Nature Conservancy site and a unique glimpse of nature; wounded animals being rescued and a quiet electric boat ride through the mangroves with a very capable guide.

An evening dinghy ride brought us across the harbor to Double Pleasure, the sailing version of Odyssey, and Bill and Joan. We’d planned to spend New Years Eve together and Joan had managed to get us a reservation at a very upscale restaurant. For northerners it felt a bit unusual to walk to the restaurant in shirtsleeves. Our hostess greeted us and then said: “ follow me”. She came out from behind the hostess station and walked out the door we’d just entered. We weren’t sure what was going on, but followed. We hit the sidewalk, turned left and headed down the block to a courtyard. Following the hostess was easy. Her gown seemed to be made of tiny mirrors that shimmered and glimmered as she moved gracefully along. We turned again and reached an outdoor seating area behind the restaurant only reachable from the kitchen or the route we’d taken. During dinner Naples fireworks, scheduled for 8 instead of midnight since most of the town is in bed at that late hour, provided entertainment.

We walked town after dinner enjoying the odd mix of dress on the sidewalks. Waves of high fashion couples with men in tux’s and ladies in stunning gowns would be followed by a clump of people in shorts and t-shirts. Mixed in were more conventionally dressed people like us in slacks and long sleeved shirts. It was a fun night, but like most of Naples we were in bed before midnight.

Marco Island went on our list of places we wouldn’t visit again. Way too over developed. We took on supplies and headed off for the quiet of the Everglades and the Little Shark River.

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