The End or The Beginning

Is this the end of the adventure or the beginning of a new one? This adventure is over, the dream fulfilled; 6000 miles of wonder!

We have crossed our wake in Nettles’s Island. Now officially Gold Loopers! The trip has been an incredible adventure! We were in places I never knew existed and got there in ways I never imagined existed.

What did we learn:

The world is full of places to explore.

How to tie a clove hitch but not a bowline

Writing is very therapeutic.

Stay healthy —neither of us got sick or sick of each other

Travel with a seasoned captain and an able mechanic 

Docktails are fattening and addictive

 

Where do we go from here?

There is so much to do and so little time left to do it in. Some time at home is a good thing but after that?  Something will come to mind. 

When Connor gave me this poem written by Marilyn and Al McCrory,  it really gelled with me.  Although the poem was written in 1990 before ease of communication and the fact that they wrote about life on a sailboat, It still epitomizes life at sea with the good and the bad and the downright funny. I wanted to share it with you as my farewell to this blog; the theme is universal.

Halcyon Days

Written by Marilyn and Al McCrory

 

Mother and father go sailing you know

Every autumn they pack up and go

Far from the winds and the cold and the snow

South to the sun and the sea

I love to think of their sailing there

The blue of the water the gold of the air

Skimming the white caps without a care

Imagine a life so free

I build up a picture of sand and sky

Of lazy harbors and bass drifting by

I build up the image of pie-in-the-sky

Till their first letter reaches me

          It says

                           Oh— The propeller shaft is knocking

                           And the fuel injector is logged

                          There is dry rot in the transom

                           And the hull is water logged

                           The heat exchangers bunged up and won’t exchange its heat

                           When the spinnaker blew out last night we lost another cleat

            But in spite of these small incidents

            When all is said and done

            Its great to spend our holidays

            Sailing in the sun

Mother and father are sailing you know

Down in the south where the fair winds blow

Basking all day in the warm sun’s glow

Where the seabirds circle and dive

I think of them strolling the silver shore

Small dinghy bobbing— the flash of an oar

Sleek hull shadowing ocean’s floor

Then a second letter arrives

                   It says—— Oh—- We lost both anchors overboard

                                                   And now the gaskets blown

                                                   a connecting rod is broken

                                                   and the piston rings have gone

                                                   Some moron ran aground last night and blocked

                                                  the harbors mouth

                                                 But we couldn’t leave here anyway— the winds not from

                                                the south

            But in spite of these small incidents

            When all is said and done

            Its great to spend our holidays

            Sailing in the sun

Yes, mother and father are sailing today

Crisp bow throwing a fine salt spray

Sails stretched taut as they cleve their way

Through crystal waters clear

I’d like to think of them browned by the sun

Enjoying the speed of a long clear run

To a small still bay when day is done

But a third letter is here

                                It says —  Oh—- The Captain gets quite anxious

                                                              When the oil pressure drops

                                                              The main bearing seized solid

                                                              And the halyard ties in knots

                                                            We hit a small reef yesterday so now the bilge is full

                                                            And he says the blasted bilge pump is clogged

                                                            with knitting wool

            But in spite of these small incidents

            When all is said and done

            Its great to spend our holidays

            Sailing in the sun

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Gold Loopers
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Gold Loopers
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attaching the flag to Dream Seeker

 

Okeechobee Waterway across Florida

The Okeechobee waterway is a shallow man made waterway stretching across Florida, from Fort Meyer on Florida’s west Coast to Stuart on Florida’s east coast, one-hundred and thirty-four nautical miles and as we now know, contains five locks.

This peaceful waterway goes through miles of untouched Florida Everglades and thousands of acres of old Florida scrub and ranch land.

Ospreys on every marker and Seagulls flying and diving behind the boat followed us almost all the way across the lake. Our wake was stirring up lunch!

Roland Martin Marina in Clewiston was a lively stop with a Tiki bar, restaurant  and music. JoJoFa, tied up behind us, just completed their second loop and earned their platinum flag.

For Me, once around is enough. So many  beautiful places in the world to explore!

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seagulls following Dream Seeker
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Marina
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shoring up the Okeechobee Dike
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Tiki Bar
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Osprey

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floating sea strainer danger
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Bridge tender on swing bridge

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Peace and Perils of the ICW

A second coffee pot shattered to pieces on this trip. The first was on the Atlantic Ocean’s savage seas, this one by a speeding go fast boat.

Motoring peacefully and lawfully at eight miles an hour in the intracoastal waterway just south of Sanibel Island and —Whoosh! Where did he come from? No warning! No AIS!  Just sheer unadulterated speed! Went around us like a cheetah in heat.

Drying dishes flew everywhere along with the French Press carafe and the bananas. Fortunately, I had the important things like computers and liquor secured and I have a spare coffee pot. It must have been this offending boaters first time driving; at least that is what Denny said when he called him on the radio.

Denny lied to me! He told me we only had one lock to go; the Okeechobee waterway.

Apparently it turns out that the Okeechobee has five locks in its system. He misled me into thinking that the five locks are really one. I should have done my homework and checked up on him.

East of the W.P. Franklin Dock and Dam on the Okeechobee Waterway is a small but attractive Army Corps of engineers marina with full facilities. The peninsula, lush and green, surrounded by water, includes, RV slots, marina slips, treed picnic areas, fishermen and an occasional alligator.

A Gold Looper met us on the dock and helped guide our 49 foot trawler into a slip meant for a much smaller boat. The sunset and the weather were breathtaking! Two days from home!!

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sunset
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Park Site
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endangered
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Cabbage Key. Do you see Jimmy Buffet?

Sarasota to Pelican Bay

A free dock at Indian Rocks beach embraced Dream Seeker overnight; the beginning of the long Thanksgiving weekend. Children were everywhere, fishing swimming and just running around yelling. 

The sign said no overnight docking but we had gotten an imprimatur from Terry England who knows these waters, so we stayed but we did leave early in the morning for Sarasota.

Sailing down the gulf intracoastal on Thanksgiving weekend brings out what Denny calls cowboys. Weekend warriors, full of hubris, and attempting to make their imprint on the waterway, weave in and out of the channel impeding our progress toward home. They are having  a lot of fun in these gorgeous waters. The homes are beautiful, the weather ideal, and the magnificent dolphins are ever present.

Marina Jack in downtown Sarasota was our next stop. We were greeted by two Looper wannabes having just bought their first boats and one who just finished the loop and flew their Gold flag for the first time. We currently fly a white Looper Flag but when we cross our wake (complete our Loop), in Stuart we will fly a gold one too.

We were very pleased to see Connor Davis, a Sea Craft buddy of Denny’s walking down the dock. It is such pleasure to me when friends take the time and effort to join us on our travels. A delightful man I had never met but who felt like a friend immediately.

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sunset in Sarasota
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Denny and Connor
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Sarasota Park
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Connor
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The Marina Jack
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Sarasota
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Growing Sarasota

Tarpon Springs, Florida

Tarpon Springs on Florida’s Gulf Coast enjoys a legacy of Greek sponge divers who settled there in the early 1900’s. Historic sponge docks are a reminder of a once booming industry.  Greek eateries, sponge boats and a profusion of tourists, line the waterfront.

On a usual year, we are fortunate enough to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.  This year, an unusual year, November 28 was not only Thanksgiving but Denny’s birthday. In spite of an invitation to spend Thanksgiving together with the other loopers we (mostly me) chose to spend the holiday on the move. I am eager to get home and scrape the barnacles off my body and remove the ravages of the sea from my face.

The two occasions were not forgotten though. Wild turkey makes great cocktails, a turkey roll substituted for the full blown bird which would never fit in Dream Seeker’s oven and Denny’s favorite, chocolate cake for a birthday celebration.

Broken bolts and a leaking transmission are still part of our daily engine clean up. Denny thinks he is getting closer to solving these problems every day, perhaps it will be fixed by the time we get home.

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dinner and music
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tourist
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broken bolt /locking ring
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young tourists learning
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sponge boats
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Denny wouldn’t stay
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marina

Crossing the Gulf

Two boats are making the crossing with us, Gyp C and Bite Me (not a Looper). The three of us run about eight knots basically ten miles an hour, each boat has a crew of two. 

The forethought:

Start at three PM, travel for twenty-one hours east, south and then east again to avoid the blinding morning sunrise and arrive at Tarpon Springs about eleven AM, without hitting anything.

Stay as close to shore as possible to avoid large swells,  stay in 50 feet of water or more to avoid the crab pots and watch out for large ships traversing the gulf. Be vigilant!

What Happened;

3 PM:  A picture post card day!  We embarked!  The seas are almost flat. The three of us are in hourly radio contact. The only boats we encountered the entire trip were Looper boats.

11PM:  Armed with a spot light,  “Bite Me” had a pod of dolphins following her,  I didn’t go out and check our bow, the moon had not yet risen and the spotlight was arbitrary.

1 AM   Dream Seeker, Bite Me, this is Gyp C,  are you all awake? It is so quiet and calm here.  The seas are still almost flat and the stars at their brightest, the way was lighted.

2AM: the winds shifted: it was a little bumpy for a few hours but calmed down by daylight. 

A perfect crossing with no unusual incidents of any kind! God is Good!

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Dream Seeker Crossing the Gulf (photo by Gyp C)
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Morning sunrise through the windshield

Carrabelle, Florida

One grocery store, one liquor store, one post office, one hardware store, two restaurants, and three marinas, a quintessential small boaters paradise on the panhandle of Florida. We are here awaiting a favorable weather forecast so we can cross the Gulf of Mexico with the least amount of turbulence, a twenty-one hour trip in an eight knot boat. (10 miles an hour). 

Escorted along the Seaway to Carrabelle by the indefatigable and energetic dolphins, we found that all boats are seemingly treated to the same pleasure. Two other Looper boats are at the marina with us, Gyps C, from Canada, and Talisker, named for an expensive Scotch that I have never tried but will at my first opportunity.  Talisker said they drank their last ounce after they safely traversed Lake Michigan.

Buddy, an old time mariner led a discussion on the Gulf crossing at the marina next door. He filled us with fact and lore as he knows it. The heavens opened as we ran to the closest restaurant. Paper is a poor substitute for cloth when you are trying to get dry.  A delicious flounder dinner and a bottle of wine helped us weather the storm.

Denny installed hand rails in the pilot house for the captain’s comfort on bad seas and secured the engine room for travel.  I tethered the liquor cabinet and protected the galley (the important stuff).

A forecast from Captain Chris and the calm breezes determined; We are ready!

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a calm waterway
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beautiful anchorage
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Carrabelle Church and state together
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Buddy pontificating
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grocery store
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one restaurant

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marina
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Talisker Bob and Kim
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safety is no issue