Monday, January 17, 2011

One Ferrari Two Ferrari Three Ferrari Four......WOW!

Okay, so we have all been to some pretty nice places in our lives right?  Well I have to tell you I think we found Florida's playground for the rich and famous.  After a great nights staying on a mooring ball in Fort Myers Beach, Anna and I gladly paid the ten dollar charge and got an early start bound for sunny Naples, Florida.  We had been looking forward to getting down this way because we had been extended a fabulous invitation to spend a few nights tied up at the old Naples Yacht Club.  Our cruise on the outside of the gulf to Naples took about five hours, and gave us some wonderful views of Florida's west coast.  The crab pots seemed to thin out and we had a following sea which gave us a sweet ride all  down the coast. As we made our approach to the narrow cut I sensed a major change in our surroundings.  The tall motel high rises seemed to have disappeared and the boats seemed to have been on a heavy regiment of steroids.  Not since we have left Nantucket have we seen such well manicured lawns and our descriptions of the surrounding boats shifted from look at the cool boat to look at the massive yacht!  I could hear fellow looper Bill Peters now, ok everyone he would say, we are now in an area where we must shave and wear underwear, two things often joked about once you spend a few days away from land.  Our short 20 minute trip from the gulf to Naples Yacht Club was a white knuckle experience.  It seemed that everyone and their uncle was out on the water and the big boys were using every bit of the 30 foot wide channel.  Upon our arrival at the club we got tied up, washed Blue, and took a long walk down to the very posh 5th ave in downtown Naples.  It looked like the opening scene of a southern California movie.  In a span of two miles I saw more fancy cars than I had even seen before in my life.  I guess if you have it all you must have yourself a Bentley Convertible filled with designer bags.  I must say after the initial shock over the change in atmosphere and it's occupants Anna and I truly loved Naples.  Where else can you get a cup of "Bad Ass Coffee" and sit back on a bench seat and experience some of the worlds best people watching.  I use to be a firm believer that if you wanted a good people show the best place to see it was waiting for a flight in a major airport. I now feel like a guy that got bumped to first class on an international flight and upon landing realizes that he will never again enjoy flying knowing what lies on the other side of the brown curtain in the front of the plane.  Our hosts in Naples, Bill and Ann Westerfield, treated us to a wonderful evening at their club with friends.  With all of them having been accomplished sailors our evening was filled with fabulous stories of having cruised to Bermuda then on down to Granada and all through the Caribbean.  It is funny, they looked at our trip with wonder, yet Anna and I look at their travels with amazement, there is a big difference between cruising one night across the gulf, and making a passage to Bermuda. On our second day in Naples we prepped for the arrival of my Mom and Dad and my Uncle Bob.  Bob who lives in Naples did a great job playing tour guide and ferried us around in his Hybrid car which fit right in parked next to the fancy cars that filled the parking lots.  It was on the drive to Bob's home that Anna and I got to see how huge Naples is.  I swear there is more traffic and cars in Naples than I have seen in any other town on our whole trip.  At times you would think you were in NYC.  We had a fun filled day with the family, we got to the famous Tin City and visited one of the most posh shopping malls I had ever seen in the nearby Pelican Bay area of Naples. With the weather looking good for the next few days and a strong cold front hanging ominously out in the gulf Anna and I had to cut the lines and make the run south.  We cruised down the old ICW which allows you to make a run on the inside from Naples to the back side of Marco Island and Goodland Florida.  We set anchor at Tripod Key just south of Marco Island and had a beautiful evening on the hook.  Not a soul was in sight as we watched the sun go down over the tops of the Mangrove trees which surrounded our little anchorage.  In the morning we made a short jump to Russells Pass an anchorage right outside the channel to Everglade City.  Soon after our arrival we were joined by our friends Craig and Danielle Parrent along with their kids Ryann, Morgan and Jaxon.  We had a blast with the Parrent Tribe back at Treasure Island and were overjoyed to find that they will be spending the month in Marathon with us at the Marathon Marina.  I have to tell you we get a huge kick out of spending time with the kids, they have the greatest time exploring their surroundings and love to share there school projects as well as demonstrate their winning dance moves while playing "Just Dance" on the Wii.  I don't know what the people around us think when they hear the kids laugh their heads off and getting the boat a rocking as they break it down to "The Eye Of The Tiger" and MC Hammers "Can't touch This".  I am yet to play a round with them for fear of shattering a child's dreams by getting beat so bad by a 37 year old guy.  NOT!  They might see my disco moves yet, but you will be sure there will be no recording devise anywhere near Anna and my cosmic moves.  After a fun night in Russells Pass we awoke to a foggy morning and a tough decision.  Both Craig and I agreed that we did not want to run into the keys in the dark, and with a 80 mile run and a major front coming through the next morning, we either had to push off in the fog now or we will be here for at least four days.  It took a few moments, but a slow run trough some of the thickest fog I had ever seen seemed to be our only option.  Pushing Blue at idle speed with our fog horn running and our radar spun up we slowly pushed out to open water.  For the most part it was an uneventful run to the outside, We saw one or two crab boats on the radar, but we all gave ourselves a miles distance and soon we were 15 miles off shore and felt pretty good about our run.  About two hours into our run down the coast, Craig radioed that his boat was almost hit broadside by a small center consul fast fishing boat running at wide open speed in less than an eighth mile visibility.  Luckily Morgan whom was on watch with her dad called out the boats approach off their port beam and the driver of the small boat turned hard, launching his little boat over their stern wake as he dodged them just in the nick of time.  Craig and I were just floored that anyone would run such a small boat with little to no radar signature at such a high rate of speed in such limited visibility with what looked like no electronics.  I guess he thought this far out what could he hit.  Well we all got a good taste of what if and I thought maybe a trip to church might be in order.  I have always told myself it is not me that I have to worry about in the fog, it is the guy with no instruments and a death wish that put the fear of god in me. Around four hours into our run the fog finally lifted and we had one the most beautiful afternoons anyone could ever ask for on a run to the keys.  Our arrival in the keys was once again a sentimental moment for Blue's Crew, this is as far south as we will travel on our trip. That is unless the scratch off tickets I have been playing hit.  As we rounded the Seven Mile Bridge, Blue's hull shook hands with the Atlantic ocean one again. With the our lines tied to the dock and the sun setting on the horizon we heard the sounds of a dozen conch shells being blown signaling the end of another beautiful day in the Conch Republic.  I don't think there is any doubt we are going to like our time in the keys, bring on the sunshine.

One of the first of many ocean estates we saw as we entered Naples.  I wish I could have taken more but the boat traffic was out of control.

Anna and I went to a great Farmers Market right in downtown Naples.  The fresh fruits and vegetables were fantastic.

A mall for the common man.  Nothing to buy here but funny post cards and tee shirts.

You have got to look hard, but you can still find a fishing boat or two mixed in with all the Trumpies and Berger Boats.

We had a nice morning Coffee with Bill and Ann Westerfield as well as my Uncle Bob and my Dad.

I don't know why I am not smiling, this was a great day and I had nothing to frown about. 

There we go, the beach always brings a smile to my face.

You can see Negotiator off in the distance, Craig and his family had a great day looking for sharks, stingrays and dolphins in the water.

I wasn't kidding about the gulf.  I don't think it can get much calmer than this.  Those white dots are crab pots.  We had to dodge them all the way to the keys.  We joked that at times you could have walked on them they were so thick.

I hate to brake it to all my friends at home, but every town in Florida has a Miss China.  This shrimper has beached herself off Marathon and is now abandoned.  Check out the Parrents link on my blog list, they explored the abandoned ship with the kids.

Marathon at 5:55pm.  I intend on being in this spot every night for the next month.  I will have to find myself a Conch shell and give it a try.  Who knows this summer you might hear the conch shell blow its deep call as the sun crests over the west end of Nantucket.


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