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    Tuesday, November 17, 2009
    10:10  Depart Clearwater, FL      GICW M136
    1:30    Arrive Gulfport, FL        GICW M115.7 + 4
    Distance travelled:   24.3 miles
    Weather:  Low=65, high=83; sunny

    At 8 a.m. we bid adieu to Last Dragon and Watauga - Last Dragon to an anchorage and Watauga to Palmetto.  Just before they left 3 looper boats came into port.  We walked over to talk with them; they had just completed their overnight crossing and had a smooth ride.  We departed 2 hours later than our flotilla as we were going a shorter distance.  Today was another one of those days when it was necessary to pay close attention to the channel markers.  We went through another area known as 'the narrows' - well named.  We saw many beautiful and not so beautiful homes and condos along the ICW.  We had to pass under a number of bridges today and only had to have Treasure Island bridge open for us.  We are now at Gulfport Municipal Marina, a very quiet area with friendly marina staff and boaters.  Tonight we charted our course for tomorrow's journey to Bradenton.

    This is just about to enter the section of the GICW (Gulf Intracoastal Waterway) called "The Narrows".  It narrows down considerably in the distance, and the population along the waterway is intense.

    We requested an opening from the Treasure Island Bridge, and were immediately accomodated.  The  Bridgemaster was very courteous.  These are rather attractive bridges.

    As you can see, there were many birds in the rigging at Gulfport when we arrived.  Strangely enough, 10 minutes later they had disappeared.  Perhaps they heard of our ferocious Miss Molly on board.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
11:00 Depart Gulfport Marina, Gulfport FL             M115.7 + 4
2:30  Arrive Twin Dolphin Marina, Bradenton, FL   M 93 + 9.6
Distance travelled:  31.7 miles
Weather:  Low=65, high=80; sunny, some breeze

After taking on diesel fuel and getting a pump out, we were finally on our way at 11 a.m.  We had an easy, leisurely journey on the water today.  We saw very little boat traffic.  We passed the Tierra Verde area which is where Tellico Lady lived when we bought her. For some time we could see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge which spans Tampa Bay.  Since we paralleled the bridge for quite a distance, we got close-up views of it - impressive, indeed!  After a benign crossing of Tampa Bay, we headed up the Manatee River 6.5 miles to Twin Dolphin Marina at Bradenton, FL. Upon our arrival we heard "Hello Tellico Lady, welcome to Bradenton".   It was William Mayberry, who had lived in Crossville, TN and had kept his boat at Blue Springs Marina in Ten Mile TN where Watauga and Sundancer were based.  He had contacted Ken by email back in August to tell us about this marina.  He and his wife now live on their boat here at Twin Dolphin Marina.  Watauga is across the river from us at Regatta Pointe Marina.  Since we plan to stay at this marina for 1 week we may not update our website until we move on.

On the way from Gulfport to Twin Dolphins marina in Bradenton, we passed these poor souls who have to resort to walking on water since they lost their boat.

Sometime later, we believe we have found the remains of their boat, but it surely has become a project boat at this point.  As the brokers would say; "needs some work".  Looks like it was rather large in its day.

We passed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, and I could not get a better picture than our photographer par excellence Bill Rogers did, so here I simply steal his work.  Very impressive bridge!

When we arrived at Twin Dolphin Marina, we were pleasantly surprised that things were so orderly.  Apparently the seagulls had been instructed to each take their own piling on the seawall and remain at attention until we were fully docked.  Nice to see such military precision in a bird-brain.

Thursday November 19 to Thursday, November 26, 2009

We had planned to leave Bradenton on November 24 but rain and dreary weather moved in so we decided to stay until after Thanksgiving.  While at Bradenton we did a lot of walking - from the marina there is a brick walkway along the waterfront for miles so we walked much of that as well as part way across the bridge linking Bradenton and Palmetto.  In Bradenton we visited the Art Center and the South Florida Museum.  The museum houses the museum, aquarium and planetarium, all very worthwhile visiting.    All of these attractions were very close to the marina.  At the aquarium we saw 'Snooty' who is a 60-year-old manatee.  He has always lived in captivity and is very spoiled.  He wants to be fed and petted at every opportunity. We attended 'Get Down Downtown' which is held every Thursday night. The downtown is closed to traffic, and booths with craft vendors line the street.  There was a live band at either end of the street.  Nancie and Bill had use of a friend's car so came to our side of the river on Saturday and we all went to the farmer's market; again the street is closed and vendors (both agricultural and craft) line the street.  The next day, Bill and Nancie picked us up and took us to their side of the bridge to visit Palmetto.  We walked the area and toured the Manatee County Agricultural Museum & Palmetto Historical Park.  Then we went to Bealls outlet store and Walmart. On Monday nights, live-aboards from the marina go to Fav's, a local restaurant, to socialize.  We went with William and Judy Mayberry and Allen and John.  Downtown Bradenton is like many other downtowns - government offices and many lawyers' offices but very little retail, thus it is only alive during the daytime. Bradenton was originally discovered by the explorer, Hernando De Sota.  Tropicana orange juice is produced in Bradenton.  Ken watched a train leave the Bradenton area headed north, and counted 41 Tropicana railroad cars!  Obviously a lot of OJ is being purchased.  We had a typical Thanksgiving dinner at the marina restaurant which we very much enjoyed.

Here is a shot of the Bradenton Twin Dolphins marina with Tellico Lady front and center.

This is the Bradenton walkway that goes along the harbor for miles.  Great walking area.

This is the railroad bridge that seems to almost be exclusively here for the Tropicana shipments of product.

There has got to be at least a meal for me in this high-wire act!

Friday, November 27, 2009
8:10    Depart Twin Dolphin Marina/Bradenton, FL  GICW Mile 93 + 6.5
11:30  Arrive Marina Jack Marina/Sarasota, FL       GICW Mile 73
Miles travelled:  26.5 miles
Weather:  Low=55, high=64; sunny, cool, windy (around 12-15 mph with gusts to 23)

There was a light chop on the Manatee River as we made our way to Tampa Bay.  Jim Angel had made the comment that Tampa Bay can get your attention if there is any wind, and it did!  Thankfully, we were only on Tampa Bay, which was rough, for about 1 hour before travelling into the more protected Anna Marie Sound.  Again, we travelled through some narrow areas with shallower water.   It was another day of paying close attention to staying in the main channel , especially between buoy pairs as there was a fairly strong crosswind that created a drift to be countered.  In many areas of the ICW it is necessary to travel at a slower speed due to narrow channels and manatee zones.  We did not see any manatee but did see a few dolphins and pelicans.  After arriving at Sarasota and getting settled into our slip, we then walked for about 2 hours.  We went downtown and then walked around the park that is at the marina.  Sarasota is a beautiful city with a busy downtown with many restaurants and small shops.

There are some clues that you better stay in the channel!

There are some very nice residential areas on the way to Sarasota.

The marina grounds are very nice here at Marina Jacks as you can see.  Brenda at the fountain.

The question here is, who is the older, Ken or the Banyan tree?

Hate to say it, but I think we have targeted another restaurant.

Could this be due to fuel prices?  Naww, these little toys are way too expensive.  There must have been 20 segways!

This is sunset shot from the aft deck of our boat.  Pretty site from a very nice marina.

Saturday, November 28, 2009
Marina Jack/Sarasota, FL
Weather: Low=51, high=73; sunny but cool

The morning started out cool but got warmer as the day went on, especially when in the direct sunshine. We walked to downtown Sarasota to the farmer's market.  It was quite large with many good vendors including floral, agricultural, and crafts.  After lunch we walked about 1 mile to the Ringling Causeway Bridge.  While there we walked out onto the fishing pier.  A girl reeled in a sheepshead fish and a young boy caught a stingray; both were released back to the water.  When we returned from our walk we noticed another 'looper' boat had arrived at the marina. It was Ron & Marji on Meander.  We met them previously at Joe Wheeler State Park not long after we started the loop. We enjoyed sharing looper information with them. They will finish the loop on Monday when they arrive in Punta Gorda.  We plan to stay at Sarasota for 1 more day.  

One of Sarasota's beautiful buildings.  This is "One Sarasota Tower", thumbing its nose at hurricanes.  But, what's going on behind that tree?

Aha, still celebrating the cessation of WWII.  However, they have grown over the years, as can be seen by comparing them to the SUV parked near them.

Fisherman's wharf, Pelican Style.  Or, maybe old Pelicans home?

Sheepshead being hauled bodily from the water.  The pier is about 20 feet above the water, so there is not much in the way of an option.  Your line better be pretty good test to do this.

A not very happy stingray.  He fought very hard with that big plane surface of his to take advantage of.  He was finally walked the full length of the pier and then released back to his home, tired but wiser.

Sunday, November 29, 2009
Marina Jack/Sarasota, FL
Weather: Low=55, high=72; sunny and cool

Today we went by taxi to visit The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.  On this 66-acre estate are housed the Ca D'Zan, Museum of Art, historic Asolo Theater, and Circus Museum.  The Ca D'Zan is the mansion built by the Ringlings which they used as their winter home.  We visited the Circus Museum which housed many of the original circus animal cages, calliope, and the Ringlings' personal train car.  We found the Howard Bros. Circus to be particularly interesting.  It is a miniature replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  It includes a complete reproduction of the circus as it was in the 1920s and is just magnificently done.  We were surprised to see many miniature replicas of buildings in Knoxville (eg. Knoxville Railway Station, Lays, Coca Cola and others).  It turns out this miniature circus premiered at the 1982 World Fair in Knoxville and was built by Howard Tibbals who is from Oneida, TN, near Knoxville.

Nope, I am not the owner.  This is John Ringling's house.  Utterly magnificent interior.

Look at these lovely windows.  Each pane of glass was colored, so that the white curtains look like they are colored when viewed from outside the house.  Very delicate pastels in each pane.

This fellow does a good business, despite a rather ungainly craft.  Then again, -- perhaps everyone should have palm trees on their upper deck?

Monday, November 30, 2009
7:20  Depart Marina Jack/Sarasota, FL      GICW  Mile 73.4
1:15  Arrive Gasparilla Marina/Placida, FL  GICW Mile 34
Miles travelled:  39.4
Weather: Low=60, high=84; sunny until late afternoon when it clouded over

We travelled through Little Sarasota Bay, Roberts Bay, Blackburn Bay, and Lemon Bay.  This portion of the ICW is narrow and close attention had to be paid to the buoys.  Getting out of the channel would probably result in a grounding.  There were 10 bridges on our route; 7 we were able to go under, and 3 had to be opened for us.  There were a few other boats on the water today with most of them heading north.  We saw a few dolphins, 1 manatee, and several pelicans.  After getting settled at our marina we went walking.  As we walked around the marina we noticed 2 boats with Canadian flags so stopped to investigate.  We chatted with a fellow on a boat called The Westie; he and his wife are from Kingston and are spending the winter on their boat here.  Another Canadian boat moored here is Tikkityboo, a boat we met way back when we were in Panama City.  Tomorrow we plan to travel to Fort Myers where we will spend the month of December at Legacy Harbour Marina.

As you can see here, there are sections of the GICW that are man-made and rather narrow.  Memories of the Tenn-Tom come to mind.

Just to add insult to injury, not only is the GICW narrow, but in some areas you need to get bridge openings.  What you can't see is that the tidal current is just zipping through the opening making the required slow pass a bit of challenge!

This was taken on the section of the GICW near Venice.  There are some not-so-humble homes here.

As seems to be the case, when we arrive at a marina, we are met by the locals.  These two definitely had "attitude" and watched our docking procedure with a critical gaze.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
7:30 Depart Gasparilla Marina/Placida, FL                       
1:15 Arrive Legacy Harbour Marina/Fort Myers, FL
Distance travelled:  48 miles
Weather:  Low=64, high=84; sunny with some breeze

Our travel took us through Gasparilla Sound, lower Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound, and into the Caloosahatchee River.  The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, at least the navigable part for our boat, ended with our entrance into the Caloosahatchee River and we are now on the Okeechobee Intracoastal Waterway.  We saw many, many dolphins - they were extremely playful and frolicked around our boat many times.  We again travelled through many wide open areas but with narrow channels that we had to be sure to stay within, particularly the "miserable mile" which is actually about 3 miles in length and subject to cross currents.  There were a lot of small cruisers enjoying the water and again most boats were going in the opposite direction to us.  We also saw 2 or 3 looper boats.  We are settled into our slip at Legacy Harbour Marina in Fort Myers and plan to be here for the whole month of December.  While here we will probably update our website about once a week.

To give you an idea of how hard it is to catch these dudes, here is a dolphin accelerating in our wake, get ready!

Here he goes, coming up for his leap.  You have VERY little time to snap the photo.  Brenda did a great job on this.

Gazing at the moon off the aft deck with an adult beverage in hand, the moon is gorgeous as the sun is setting off the bow of the boat.  Joe's Crab Shack is calling.

Look at that moon.  Almost looks phony, and while the photo does not do it justice, you can even make out some detail on the surface.

Wednesday, December 2 to Friday, December 11, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina
Weather: cool mornings and nights with sunny days; a couple of days of rain; some fog

On Thursday, December 4, Pat Sheridan came to visit us.  He is a friend from Canada and now winters in Punta Gorda, FL.  It was wonderful to see him again and catch up on each others' news.  Since he is only about 45 minutes away, we hope to see him frequently while we are here.  

My longtime friend Pat Sheridan and Brenda and I enjoyed a wonderful evening of conversation.  We served in the RCAF together 41 years ago!  Good grief, time flies when you are having fun.

On Friday, Bill and Nancie (Watauga - part of the original flotilla arrived).  Nancie and Brenda walk each morning from 8 to 9 a.m. and as a foursome we have done some exploring by foot.  Now we have jointly rented a car so that we can explore a larger area. On Sunday, December 6 we hosted the MBSA, which means the Madeira Beach Stalking Association, better known as Mark and Karen Semone and their friends Orchid and Armando.  Mark had found our website at random and since they plan to do the Great Loop in the future, they contacted us to see if they could visit and ask questions and discuss the Loop.  On Tuesday, December 8 we celebrated Nancie's birthday with a spaghetti dinner.  Sue and Jack from the boat Passage joined us (they are friends of Jim & Sharon Angel).  

We had a very pleasant evening with Sue and Jack to help us celebrate Nancie's birthday.

On Thursday December 10,  Brenda and Nancie attended a Christmas program at the Presbyterian Church.  This was the 19th year for this program which is a fundraiser for feeding those less fortunate. On Thursday nights there is a potluck dinner at the marina for any boaters who wish to participate so we attended our first one on December 10.    Today, Friday the 11th, Ken and Brenda visited the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.  

Here is an arial picture of the Edison  and Ford estate in Fort Myers.  Beautiful, and a botanical wonder.

In 1885 Edison purchased his vacation property here in Fort Myers and built his winter home called 'Seminole Lodge'.  In 1916 Henry Ford purchased the adjacent property called 'The Mangoes'.  Mrs. Edison donated the Edison property complete with furnishings to Ft. Myers.  Their model T Ford is also on the property.  In addition to the 2 estates, there is also a museum and a 17-acre botanical garden.  Edison's botanical garden contains more than 1000 varieties of plants from around the world.  Located in the garden is a banyan tree that occupies approximately 1 acre of land; it was a 4-foot plant when given to Edison in 1925 by Harvey Firestone.  Also on the property is a botanical lab which was funded by Edison, Ford, and Firestone.  It was at this location that Edison did the majority of his research to find a source of latex.  The row of royal palm trees for a distance of 1.5 miles along McGregor Blvd. were planted by Edison and now palms stretch for 7 miles along the boulevard making Fort Myers known as the City of Palms.

The old downtown of Fort Myers has really been upgraded to a lovely area.  You can see the many palm trees that give the city its appelations as the "City of Palms".

Saturday, December 12, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Together with Bill & Nancie, we drove to Sanibel-Captiva Islands where we walked along the beaches and collected a few seashells.  Then we drove to Ft. Myers Beach and Bonita Springs.  We had dinner at the fish house, a funky little place on the water.  While at the restaurant we saw many boats decorated for a Christmas boat parade which had its starting point at the restaurant.  Boat Christmas parades seem to be very popular in the area.

Some folks go all out on their boat decorations.

Sunday, December 13, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

We drove to LaBelle to the marina where Ben and Sharon have their boat Last Dragon.  Since they are back in Knoxville, we drove over to check their boat and make sure all was well.  We went to the lock near there so we could see what we will be dealing with when we cross Lake Okeechobee.

As you can see, Port LaBelle Marina is rather small in a little bay off the Okeechobee ICW.

As you can see here, the Okeechobee Locks are quite small compared to the Tennessee river locks.

Monday, December 14, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

We drove to Sanibel Island and took the tram tour of the 'JN "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  We saw mangroves up close and in the branches there were quite a few fiddler crabs.  In the tidal mud flats we saw many birds including pelicans, herons, ibis, and egrets.  We did not see the 9-foot alligator that supposedly has been spotted on occasion.  We finished the day by visiting Ft. Myers Beach.

Here is one example of the denizens of the mangrove thickets.  I hope that my neighbor Clair Smith will let me know what kind of bird this is.

Here is another inhabitant (occasional).  These tiny crabs are very hard to see in the gloom of the mangrove canopy.  The flash showed him up pretty well however.  They are everywhere in the thickets that grow out of the water.

These birds are definitely "in the pink".  Again, I am relying on Clair to educate me as to what species they are, and why they are pink.  Is is diet, like the Flamingos?

Here is a shot of a sandbar in a tidal pool in the Ding Darling Refuge.  The tidal current is quite strong and deposits these sandbars when it widens out and slows down.  More mangrove lined island in the background.

This fellow is much slower than the other Refuge Inhabitants.  Also, we found out that he cannot swim, but lives in burrows that he makes in the sandy soil.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Our long time Canadian friend, Pat Sheridan who winters in Punta Gorda, FL came to visit today.  We took him on a boat ride down the Caloosahatchee River to its junction with the gulf intracoastal waterway, a distance of approximately 28 miles return. He brought enough steaks to include Nancie & Bill in a cookout once we got back to the dock.
Just the end of another tough day on the water at Fort Myers.  Pat and I enjoying the high-end Bourbon that he brought to accompany the beautifuo steaks that he arrived with.  Buddies like this sure keep the cruising budget down!

Wednesday, December 16 - Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

On Wednesday night we did the Christmas tour of the Burroughs Home & Langton-Kingston homes.  Christmas tours are offered as a means of exposing the public to some local history as well as raising money to maintain these 2 historic homes. They certainly were beautifully decorated. A school group was playing Christmas music on recorders in one of the many surrounding gardens.  It certainly put us in the Christmas mood.

On Thursday, Ray & Delila on Sundancer arrived at this marina.  We all participated in the weekly Thursday night potluck for boaters.  This was the Christmas potluck and was well attended.  Everyone brought a side dish to share as well as gift for a child.

Captain Swashbuckle and his first mate Delila on the left arrive to a resounding welcome on board Wautaga.  Never let it be said that shrimp boat Captains ignore dress code regulations.

On Sunday, we attended an evening program at a local church to see 'Alathea' which is a musical duo of 2 girls from Johnson City, TN.  There Christmas presentation was entertaining.

On the other days we occupied ourselves with various activities including walking, shopping, eating out, cleaning the boat inside and out, doing laundry, playing Sequence, playing euchre, reading, cooking, watching documentaries and videos.

Thursday, December 24, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

On this Christmas Eve we had heavy d'oeuvres on Sundancer followed by Delila playing Christmas carols on her keyboard and leading us in the singing of Christmas carols. Delila & Ray, Ken & Brenda, Bill & Nancie & their daughter Sadie (from Chicago) participated.
Here we have the very skilled musician Delila on the keyboard and some of the choral group for the Christmas singalong.  As the pro she is, Delila had song sheets ready for everyone.

Here is Bill and Nancy's lovely daughter Sadie with her "baby" by the name of Aragorn.  Both cute.

Friday, December 25, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

We had a turkey dinner with all the trimmings on our boat.  Joining us were Ray & Delila and Pat Sheridan and his son Phil who was visiting from Toronto.

Clockwise from Ray in foreground is: Ray, Delila, Phil, Pat and  Brenda.  

Saturday, December 26 to Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

On Tuesday, Pat and Phil Sheridan picked us up and we visited the Florida Southwest History Museum in Ft. Myers.  It was a very worthwhile museum to visit.  Then they took us to Pat's place in Punta Gorda.  We had dinner at a restaurant at Fisherman's Wharf.  We were quite impressed with Fisherman's Wharf which is like a little village - it has a marina, restaurants, and many little shops.
This is Fisherman's Village in Punta Gorda.  The restaurant at the lower right corner (at the end of the mall) is "Harpoon Harry's" where we dined.  Prettys nice marina as well.

On Wednesday, Ken, Ray, & Bill drove to Ft. Lauderdale to visit the mega boat supply store, Sailor Man.  

A delightful way for a boater to while away their time (and money).  Too many "well I'll be darned's".

Thursday, December 31, 2009
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Today we had a very pleasant surprise when Mike & Connie Cocking, our neighbours back in Tennessee, contacted us and stopped in for a visit.  It was wonderful to see them and we very much enjoyed our visit with them.

To celebrate New Year's Eve, we and Bill & Nancie walked downtown and had dinner at Vino de Notte. We then enjoyed some of the New Year's festivities before returning to the boat.  The downtown was blocked to traffic and the streets were filled with people enjoying the live music, eating at outside cafes, dancing, wearing funky clothes and hats with lights, and just generally having fun as they waited for midnight to watch the countdown to 2010 and the ball dropping.  There was a spectacular 'blue' moon in the sky behind the ball!

There is the ball to drop at midnight, and above it is the moon doing a second good imitation!  Lovely evening for the revelries.

Lots of New Years Eve free entertainment around the downtown.



Friday, January 1, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Ken & Brenda, Bill & Nancie, and Ray & Delila had New Year's dinner on our boat.  Delila prepared the main part of the meal and Nancy and Brenda contributed side dishes.

Saturday, January 2 to Monday, January 4, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Cold weather has kept everyone indoors doing reading, computer work, etc.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Fred and Charlie Meadows, friends from Maryville, arrived today so we all assembled on our boat for dinner and fellowship.  The group consisted of Ben & Sharon, Bill & Nancie, Ken & Brenda, Fred & Charlie, Ray & Delila.  We had a great time and it was wonderful to see Fred and Charlie.  Ben & Sharon stayed overnight on our boat and Fred & Charlie stayed in the hotel that is located at this marina.  Unfortunately, Fred & Charlie did not experience warm weather while here - it was windy and cold with lows around 34 and highs around 60.

Fred and Charlie enjoying the get together.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

We all met for breakfast before Fred & Charlie departed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Ken & Brenda and Bill & Nancie drove to Naples, FL.  This is a very affluent, beautiful area.  We walked a bit on the beach and then checked out some of the expensive shops.
Photo of downtown Naples showing the high quality of the city.

Ken and Brenda on the beach at Naples.  Beautiful, but NOT swimming weather in this crazy year.

Friday, January 8 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

We went to the Flea Masters Flea Market here in Ft. Myers.  It is a huge complex consisting of several buildings filled with vendors galore.  

The fleamaster market is enormous and would take about 30 minutes to walk around without stopping.

After leaving there we then went to the Manatee Park.  Due to the unseasonal cold weather causing the water to be colder than normal, the manatees are becoming distressed and seeking warmer water.  Manatee Park on the Orange River is such an area.  Warm water released from the nearby steam plant goes into the Orange River so manatee have been gathering there.  Only the tops of their backs stick out of the water and there were so many manatee that it looked liked stepping stones on the water's surface.
Here you can see how the manatees had crowded themselves into this river to get the warmth from the Power Station outfall.

Saturday, January 9, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Today it is cold with rain on and off.  The day was spent inside reading, doing laundry, cleaning, etc.

Sunday, January 10, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Cold weather in Florida!  Today the low was 32 and the high was only 47 - what happened to warm Florida.  There were pictures on TV showing people wearing winter coats and hats as they walked along the beaches.  Nancie & Bill left today to visit family who are coming to Disney in Florida so we are babysitting their dog Stella until Thursday.

Monday, January 11, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL
Weather: Low = 28, high = 60

This morning's low temperature was a record breaking low temperature surpassing a low of 29 in 1959.  Brenda took Stella for 4 walks today.  Stella definitely had to wear her little coat and step lively.  We had dinner at the Morgan House with Dave & Pam Feltnor who are loopers we met at Joe Wheeler State Park way back in October.  They are leaving tomorrow by boat to go to the Florida Keys.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Ben & Sharon (Last Dragon) came over from LaBelle today at our request so that we could take Miss Molly to the vet. Miss Molly has been sneezing more and last night sneezed a lot of blood.  The vet did extensive blood work.  She believes Miss Molly has some infection due to a fractured tooth.  Once the blood work results are obtained we will decide what needs to then be done.  Tonight we went out with a group of 17 other boaters from this marina to enjoy a 'southern-cooked' dinner at a local restaurant. In the winter, the boaters at this marina go out every Tuesday night to a different restaurant and on Thursdays they have a potluck dinner at the marina (weather permitting).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Brenda has been taking Stella on walks 4 times a day - they both enjoy it!  The veterinarian called with Miss Molly's blood work results.  All the results came back normal.  She believes Miss Molly's tooth is causing her problem so on January 21 Miss Molly will have her teeth cleaned and the fractured tooth removed.

Thursday, January 14 to Sunday, January 17, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft Myers, FL

Ben & Sharon (Last Dragon) came over on Sunday and will stay on our boat with Miss Molly while we go to the Keys for 3 days.  We are so grateful to them for doing this.  We are telling everyone that Miss Molly has her own private dentist while we are gone (Ben is a retired dentist).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Today Ken & Brenda and Nancie & Bill started their journey by car down to the Keys.  We drove Hwy 41 through the Everglades - a neat experience!  The topography is very flat and swampy with some areas covered in tall grass and other areas covered in mangroves.  Canals run through some areas of tall grass.  We saw a lot of dead fish who just could not survive the cold water.  We only saw 2 alligators but saw hundreds of birds including herons (white, blue, & tri-colored), cormorants, ibis, and birds we did not know the names of.  The white ibis silhouetted against the green foliage was very picturesque.  The alligators we saw were the first ones we have seen on the trip.

Look at all the dead fish that have died thanks to the record cold weather.  The 'gators will eat well.

After driving through Key Largo and Islamorada we arrived at our hotel in Banana Bay Resort in Marathon Key.  This resort has a marina so we checked it out as soon as we had checked into our hotel.  While at the marina we met David Smith who is an MTOA member (MTOA stands for Marine Trawler Owner Association), an organization we also belong to.  He gave us a lot of information regarding marinas and anchorages along the east coast and in fact gave us a printout listing the names of these places.  He also arranged for us to meet Cass & Fred Olverson (also MTOA members) and we all met at 5 o'clock in the Tiki Hut to introduce ourselves and of course discuss boating.  Then David and Geri (Geri is a friend of David's who was visiting from Ft. Lauderdale) took us to Lazy Days restaurant for dinner.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This morning we all met for breakfast at the Stuffed Pig - a great local restaurant.  After saying goodbye to Geri and David, Fred & Cass then took us on a guided tour of Marathon.  

Breakfast with the Marathon hosts.  Clockwise from left is Nancy, Cass, Geri, Dave, Fred, Ken and Brenda.

Cass had to return their boat at Sombrero Marina but Fred took us to other areas of Marathon.  He took us to Boot Key Harbour which is where loopers like to spend the winter.  This harbour has over 200 mooring balls from which boaters dinghy to shore.  There is also a small marina for those who do not want to tie to a mooring ball. Fred took us to several areas around Marathon so that we could see what life is like there.  We also saw the sad state of real estate there - there was one area, while beautiful, was very over built and just sitting there almost empty, another victim of the real estate bust. It is experiences like we had today and yesterday with David Smith and the Olversons that make such wonderful memories and we are so grateful to them for taking time to make us feel so welcome.

Here is a picture of Boot Key Harbor at Marathon.  Primarily is a mooring ball location with over 200 mooring balls.

Here is a plan of the mooring balls at Boot Key Harbor.

We then motored on to Key West. We checked into the Southernmost Hotel and then began our exploring by foot.  Our hotel was on the south end of Duval Street so we slowly walked our way the 1+ mile to the other end of Duval. Along the way we digressed to side streets to explore.  Along the way we stopped at a coffee shop and shared a slice of Kermit's Key Lime pie - delicious!  We visited the Hemingway House and participated in a guided tour there.  Hemingway was a colorful character and we enjoyed learning more about the man.  We also toured the building that housed his study and was the location where he wrote some of his books.  We saw several of the cats that live at the Hemingway House. Apparently, there are 41 cats on the premises at any one time and each one has been given the name of someone famous eg. Charlie Chan, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kim Novak, Pablo Picasso, etc. Many of the cats are polydactyl with 6 toes and even some of them with 7 toes. They are treated like royalty and you can tell that they very much enjoy their status.  There were 3 cats on the bed in the master bedroom and they looked totally comfortable.  

Would the last person out please turn off the lights so we can get some sleep please.


As we made our way down Duval we toured side streets where we saw some beautiful homes as well as homes that were boarded up or not well kept. Of course we saw many colorful sights during our walking tour such as someone with flamboyant clothes riding on a bicyle that was decorated with lights, etc. or chickens walking around on a street or on a front porch - anything goes in Key West!

At least you don't need to wind this alarm clock.  A chicken in every pot?

 There were also the usual street musicians trying to earn a living. We made our way to Mallory Square by sunset where we sat on the patio overlooking the water at the Westin Resort and Marina where we had a margarita and watched the sunset while we shivered and shook - it was very windy and cold.  The sunset was not spectacular as there were too many clouds.  Apparently, there are usually several vendors and performers every night at Mallory Square but they were few and far between tonight, probably due to the weather.  We did see a musical group from Africa, a man who juggled a chainsaw, a Houdini act, and a guy who had cats performing tricks as well as a couple of  T-shirt vendors but that was it.  We did not stay too long so maybe more happened after we left.  Most of the action was in the bars all along Duval Street.  By now we met up by Bill & Nancie, just by chance, so we all made our way back to our hotel.

Some big statue in front of one of the Mallory Square Theaters.

One of Mallory Square entertainers who exists on tips from the crowd.  He really had the cats trained pretty well.  All were rescue cats.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This morning we visited the southern most point in the continental USA - it is marked with a huge red, white, black, and yellow buoy and is located near the beach and is closer to Cuba (90 miles) than to Miami (150 miles).  It is one of the most photographed spots and of course we had to have our photo taken in front of it, too.  We finished our visit at Key West at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.  It was almost magical inside this glass-enclosed, climate-controlled habitat.  Birds and hundreds of beautiful butterflies were freely flying around the habitat and it was not unusual to have a butterfly land on your shoulder or head.  

Here is a couple of the resident butterflies feasting on some fruit juice.

We travelled back to our marina via Interstate 75 which also took us through a section of of the Everglades.  When passing through the area known as Alligator Alley we did see many, many alligators and birds in the roadside canal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Today we took Miss Molly to the veterinarian clinic where she had her teeth cleaned and the fractured tooth extracted.  The vet said her tooth was not infected and she is not sure why Miss Molly has had a nosebleed.  An x-ray did not show anything unusual.  Although she was not pleased by the whole ordeal, Miss Molly did well and is now in the process of recuperating.  Jim & Sharon Angel (Blue Angel) who anchored near our marina last night came by dinghy to visit us this morning before they left to go to LaBelle on the Okeechobee Waterway.  It was wonderful to see them again.  We last saw them way back in October when we anchored at the Tensas Cut-Off on the Tombigbee River.

Friday, January 22, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Today started out foggy followed by about 1/2 hour of sunshine and then rain on and off for the remainder of the day with of course wind as well.  This was another one of those 'activities on the boat' days.  

Saturday, January 23, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

We spent most of the day at the home of Jan & Gene Boys (We Be Blest) in North Ft. Myers.  We met Jan & Gene 2 years ago when they were boating on Tellico Lake and stopped at our marina.  They invited 5 couples from Legacy Harbour to their home for fellowship and food.  The couples consisted of Ken & Brenda, Bill & Nancie (Watauga), Ray & Delila (Sundancer), Bob & Kay (Loriel), and Libby & Clark Baker (Kindred Spirit).  We had a wonderful time with the Boys - they are most gracious hosts.  Jan loaded up her golf cart with all the girls and took us on a tour of their subdivision.  The subdivision has many water canals throughout and many of the owners are able to dock their boat right at their back door, including the Boys who keep We Be Blest at their home.  While on the tour we passed a large pond that had a huge alligator sunning itself along the bank.  The other highlight of the day was a shoe incident - Clark Baker can tell you that story.

What a lovely setup our gracious hosts have.  Their boat is in their backyard!  The Boys are at the far end of the table.  This is what Loopers do for Loopers.

Sunday, January 24 to January 31, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

Weather:  for most of the week it has been cool in the mornings and evenings but in the high 70s and even 80 one day during the day and sunny; on Saturday a cool front came through so Sunday was cooler and with some wind which made it feel even colder.

This has been one of our quieter weeks.  We have been doing our usual - walking everyday, laundry, cleaning inside and outside the boat, mechanical/electronic maintenance, watching DVDs, planning our travel across Lake Okeechobee and up the east coast, etc.

Pat Sheridan visited with us on Monday and stayed over one night.  On Tuesday afternoon, Ken & Brenda and Bill & Nancie drove over to Port LaBelle to visit with Jim & Sharon (Blue Angel) and Ben & Sharon (Last Dragon).  They plan to leave there soon and begin their journey by boat to Marathon in the Keys.  While at Port LaBelle we saw one huge alligator and one baby alligator at 2 different locations on the shoreline.  This marina will probably be our first stop when we leave Ft. Myers so we will watch for those 2 beasts when we get there.   

Albert Alligator enjoying the sun after a long cold spell.  No doubt satiated with dead fish meals.

Finally, a picture of our resident photo pro.  Bill Rogers looking out over the Okeechobee waterway at the town of LaBelle.

Monday, February 1 to Sunday, February 7, 2010
Legacy Harbour Marina/Ft. Myers, FL

The weather has generally been windy and cool but sunny for the most part all week. It just is not weather that one associates with Florida.  On Friday night a cold front came through and we had a lot of wind with gusts to 20 mph and a thunderstorm with driving rain in the late afternoon that lasted for about 1 hour. The wind has persisted with gusts up to 22 mph.

On Tuesday (2nd) we drove to Ellenton (near Tampa) where we met our neighbors Ray and Geneva Anderson for lunch at the Crab Trap II.  It was great to see them and we had an enjoyable lunch.
Another fine meal with our neighbors Ray and Geneva who are in Florida on their "Land Yacht".

On Wednesday, the 3rd, we were on our dock to watch our intrepid former flotilla members Ben & Sharon on Last Dragon and Jim and Sharon on Blue Angel go by on their way to the Florida Keys.  Blue Angel was leading as Jim and Sharon have done this before and know all the good spots to anchor, moor, etc.

Here is Blue Angel on her way to the Keys.

Here is Last Dragon on her way to the Keys.

 On Saturday (6th) we went to the annual art show held in downtown Ft. Myers.  It was windy and cool but sunny, but this weather did not keep the crowds away.  It was an excellent art fest with mostly upscale art work and crafts.
This is an example of one artist.  This image is entirely done by indenting normal screen wire, thus resulting in a 3 dimensional image, and the warping of the screen mesh yields the light/dark effect.

Later in the day, Pat Sheridan came to visit and spent the night with us.  We hope to see him again when we reach Trenton Ontario.  We plan to leave this marina tomorrow morning and cross to the east coast of Florida.  We will update our website as internet access permits.  Since we will be travelling quite a lot, these updates may be sporadic.

From here on, our postings will be on the Logbook Section entitled "East Coast"