Update from Richard and Sharon on Lucky, Feb 25, 2012
Our last update was Jan. 18, and a lot of water has flowed under Lucky since then.
For the rest of January, we continued to work on the hard, climbing up and down ladders all day. I was usually the gofer, and drove to the hardware store and into Stuart many times to pick up and return things, and finish the grocery shopping.
Richard installed a new macerator pump to replace the one that burned out last year, and a bigger bilge pump. I cleaned up the work areas when he was done, and scrubbed the deck and topsides. I packed all of the groceries and made lists of what was where.
We had a big fight when Richard started moving the groceries around, as it is very hard for me to keep track of what is where, when it is where I put it! A month later, neither of us can find some of the things he moved.
It took us several days to get the blue and white delineation stripes repainted. I cleaned out the big deck box that Richard built over the coach roof several years ago, and painted the inside. Then I attached everything that had been in the deck box or on the deck (and was now on the ground) to lines, and Richard hauled it back up to the deck and packed it away. This job took three days.
In the meantime, I sold a few copies of Idiot Afloat and made trips to the post office to mail some, and pick up money orders.
At night, we ate with friend or watched part of a movie and fell asleep before it finished. Friends Bill and Diane Restivo, who were cruising in the Bahamas when Vonny and I first went there, stopped by to visit. They now live in a condo in Stuart in the winter. When I asked if they would like a book, Diane said, “No thanks. I’ve been there and done that, and I don’t want to read about it.” Oh, well.
Richard pumped up my eleven-year-old Caribe hard-bottomed dinghy and flipped it over. When he hosed it down and squirted it with soap, little streams of bubbles came from all over the bottom of the pontoons. It was worn out. That day we went into Stuart and bought a nice 9.5 foot AB hard-bottomed dinghy. No more patching! I painted the numbers onto the sides.
Vince, of Finn MacCool showed up one night to store his Westfalia van, and we drove them back to Stuart in our Mercedes. They took us out to dinner. The next day, they headed for the Abacos.
Finally, on Feb. 2, Lucky went into the water. On Sunday, Feb. 7, we were on our way, cruising at last. We love the route west – lots of alligators spotted, but no sounds of traffic most of the way. We anchored in the Rim, surrounded by patches of lilly pads, the first night, just north of the Moorehaven Lock. The next night we tied up on the fuel dock at Port LaBelle. In the morning, the attendant looked unhappy when I told him we hadn’t just pulled up, but had spent the night. More paperwork for him when he had to collect the money. Seven miles later, we anchored in the channel, at the foot of Dennis and Kika’s lawn. I had, by chance, called in the morning to see where they were now, expecting to hear that they were in Honduras, on the boat. A pleasant delay.
On Feb. 9, we got to Fort Meyers Beach and hooked up with Lynda and Jim, on Morningstar. We took a mooring ball near them, a bargain at $13.78 a night. Laurel and Murray Thompson, now land cruisers, drove over from Bonita Springs and brought steak for the BBQ.
Monday, Feb. 13, we escaped from the mooring, and had a perfect sunny broad-reached sail in the Gulf of Mexico to Gordon Pass. And no microburst this year to soak and scare us. We laid over for a day in Rookery Channel, and rafted together, where Jim and Linda caught fish and I painted a picture. The next day was a work day, as Morningstar’s sail had torn and fallen down just before Gordon Pass, and our head was leaking. The sail and head got fixed. That night we saw an unusually brilliant falling star, with a bright orange fan of a tail. Then on through the inside channel from Marco Island to Goodlands, where there was a big anchorage with hardly anyone in it, except some old friends of Richard, Frank and Debrah, on Debrah Dawn. We met them last year when they sailed across our path in Blackwater Sound. Small world. We had worried about this part of the voyage, because the chart showed several spots with depths of 3 to 4 feet. But we must have hit the tide right, because the depth sounder showed lots of water, and we saw more beautiful everglades scenery, all mangroves, water, birds and fish. We celebrated at supper in the Marker 8 Restaurant, located just off –yes- marker 8.
The next day we travelled on to Russell Pass, and anchored in a rushing current, where we caught enough fish for supper. Jim put the entrails in his chum bag and hung it off the stern, hoping to attract more fish. He did – three sharks. One swished past the bag. Gone wer the entrails and the chum bag was in tatters. Later, the stars were thick and bright. Then we moved on down the gulf to Little Shark River. The next morning the half-dozen boats that had been anchored in the river the night before all left, early, swatting at noseeums as they went past. But we had our coils burning, and were not bothered very much. I made bread, Richard went exploring, and Lynda and Jim fished. They were disappointed. No fish. Just a long scummy string of oil that stretched in from the Gulf of Mexico, though the beauty of these rivers, in the largest and highest mangrove forest in the world.
As we were leaving, I screwed up really badly. I instructed Lynda to let off the bow line from our rafted boats before Richard and Jim were ready to release the stern line. The strong current pushed the boats together at the back, driving Morningstar’s stern into ours. Only quick action with sharp knives to the lines by Jim and Richard saved us from disaster. Morningstar motored safely away, but stopped a short way out the river, the dropped bowline tangled in the prop. Jim had to dive and hack it off before they could continue.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, except for the stop at the Lorelei Restaurant, where we danced the night away and hobbled home – after nine p.m.! When we stumbled into the dinghy in the dark, Richard, with his usually unerring sense of direction, took off in a wide arc around the anchorage, and only found our boat when the crew of Morningstar kindly shone their flashlight on it.
Now we are in Marathon, on a mooring ball. Captain Alan overimbibed on O’Doules (sp?) at the Lorelei and has agreed to sail to Cuba with us. We are just waiting for the right wind now. Chris and Divya on Maggie M are here, and tonight we’ll teach Jim and Lynda to play Farkle. They are so lucky to have us teaching them all we know about cruising. – Sharon and Richard on Lucky