Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ft. Myers Beach to Dunedin (Florida, not New Zealand)

Tuesday, March 1- Our lovely time in Fort Myers Beach is over for now...and we're ready to leave for the 2 month journey home. The weather here has been just gorgeous...dare I say a little too warm at times if there's no shade around.

We did rent a car and drive over to Miami Beach for the boat show. We left on Thursday, the 17th of Feb., and got there in time for Wayne to meet with a supplier for his business. We spent the night in an area of Miami called Miami Lakes and it took us a while to find it following the Google map we had. (As in...the map was mistaken.) The next morning we drove down to the convention center on South Beach and I dropped Wayne off at the show. He spent about three hours there while Lucy and I went back to Miami Beach and walked around the gorgeous neighborhoods and beach. (Miami Beach has wifi available to visitors at no charge so I was even able to check my email once we were back in the car! Ah...the little pleasures.)

Wayne didn't buy anything at the boat show...but came back to Ft. Myers and ordered an AIS system for the boat. This technology will allow us to "see" commercial vessels (tows) for miles out. Should come in real handy on the Tenn-Tom.

Wednesday, March 2 - When we left Ft. Myers yesterday we had thoughts of meeting Ben and Sharon at Cayo Costa for an anchor out before heading into Sarasota today. As it turned out, the winds were due to pick up Tuesday night...and we have another "issue" with our generator, so we opted for a marina a little further north. We stayed at Cape Haze Marina and fueled up there since their diesel was...well, I started to say reasonably priced. Let's just say diesel is, like all oil products, inching up in price daily and their price hadn't reached the extremes yet.

Cape Haze was a friendly little marina based around a community of townhouses.

We could see signs of their having started new construction and then, like many, cut it short because of the economy. Still...a nice feeling place.

So today we left Cape Haze at around 9AM and the Birdwells left Cayo Costa at 7AM. We were traveled within easy hearing distance most of the time and both came into Marina Jack's in Sarasota at around 2PM. After taking time to dock, register, and clean up some...we walked up to Patricks for drinks and dinner.

Thursday, March 3 - We met Bob at First Watch for breakfast and got back to the boat in time for Wayne and Ben to evaluate the generator problem. Looks like they've got it working.

We all set out for a walk then to St. Armand's Circle, across the John Ringling Causeway Bridge. It was a gorgeous day, even if a little windy!

We went to the Columbia restaurant for lunch and, after a brief spin around the circle, back to Marina Jack's. That evening Bob and Shirley came over for a visit. We had hoped to sit outside on the deck...but came inside because the winds were too high.

Friday, March 4 - We left Sarasota early knowing we'd have a long trek today to Caladesi Island. Fortunately, the trip across the Tampa Bay area was not bad and we ended up making pretty good time. Segue found one of the two wide slips open and hopped on it, while Last Dragon took a slip near the end of Dock D. (Last Dragon later had to move over to a narrower slip on "C" dock. The marina was by no means full...and we think there was a "regular" scheduled to come in that weekend who used the slip on "D" dock.)

Caladesi was just as beautiful the second time around...and Ben and Sharon seem to agree. Despite my resolve to leave shells where they lay...I came back with another baggy full! Oh, well. I just couldn't resist!

We were watching the weather daily, hoping for a 2-day window that would get us from Caladesi to Yankeetown...then Yankeetown to Steinhatchee. We were determined to anchor on the Cross Florida Barge Canal near Yankeetown instead of going into a "marina" (most would agree there are no REAL marinas in Yankeetown...least none that willingly take transients.) It looked like we had a chance to leave on Monday morning so we moved to Dunedin on Sunday afternoon. The low tide is just about sunrise when we'd want to leave...and the channel into Caladesi is pretty shallow for us at low tide.

Dunedin Municipal Marina had a slip for Last Dragon inside the sea wall...but Segue ended up tying up to the transient docks just out side the protected basin. It may have been the roughest conditions (high winds, tall poles, etc.) that we've done in a long time, but we made it in just fine. This is our view from the transient slip that afternoon. Uh, we were the only boat in the slips that evening. Wonder why?

After putting out every fender we own to buffer the side next to the dock, we went over to Last Dragon for a final check of the weather at 4PM.

Were we ever surprised to see the weather prediction for Tuesday had changed drastically...and there was no way any of us wanted to be traveling in the waves that were forecast. We stood the chance of getting "socked in" at the Yankeetown anchorage for maybe a week if we couldn't leave Tuesday morning. So...reluctantly...we decided we'd be in Dunedin for the week.

Monday, March 7 - Waking to a leisurely day plan, Wayne checked the weather, as usual. Suddenly Monday and Tuesday looked good for a run! We called Ben and Sharon and started the process of gearing up for a 75-80 mile day when we realized it was just going to be too rushed. There wasn't a way for us to get out before 8AM and we really needed all the daylight we could get. The other problem was, there wasn't a backup plan for us: no where to go if for some reason we were unable to anchor at Yankeetown.

OK. We're in Dunedin for the week.

Wednesday, March 9 - Lucky us!! We love Dunedin! The historic downtown is near the marina with all kinds of good restaurants and shops. There are several long walking/biking trails nearby. And we hear from a fellow boater who stays here a good part of the year that Dunedin loves to throw a party. The day we arrived they were wrapping up an art and antique festival and a "taste of Dunedin." Last night they celebrated Mardi Gras, complete with a parade! Ben, Sharon, and I decided to wait out the parade (Wayne headed back to the boat). Here we are decked out in our beads...most of which Ben caught!

Oh, wait. That's the wrong photo. Here we are.....

We're watching the weather and might get out on Saturday. No problem-o, though, for this bunch. Friday and Saturday the town has a great Green Market nearby...and on Friday night they will have the second Friday Wine and Art Walk. We'll be just fine, thank you!

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