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.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

It's Good to be Back

Wow, it's been too long since Anna and I have updated the blog and I am sure there are quite a few of you that are wondering what the heck happened.  Did they give up? Did they drowned? Where are they?  To tell you the truth we have no good excuse as to why it has been so long, the plain truth is our arrival in Florida has been a bit of a head trip.  For the past eight months Anna and I have felt like a rocket that was launched into space.  On the day we left port we felt as if we were placed in orbit circling the earth filling each day with wonderful new sights and experiences.  As we entered Florida and the holiday season approached we arranged to leave Blue and drive home for Christmas. As the day of our departure home approached, mission control called and brought a new word into our looper vocabulary.  It was as if it came to us over the VHF radio in a static filled voice from far far away, "Blue Yonder, Blue Yonder" we heard. "this is mission control, prepare for REENTRY!"  As many of you have seen this whole trip has been just amazing, the things we have seen, the places we have been, the people we have met, they have changed us forever.  With our arrival in Florida, Anna and I realized that we have now completed over 70% of our trip and with that realization we find ourselves facing a harsh reality.  In four months time we will be home. That leaves us facing the big question, what's next?  The truth of the matter is, we have no idea.  The whole situation came to a head last week and Anna and I realized that if we spend the next four months obsessing about what is next, we might as well quit the trip.  All our time and energy is being wasted thinking about what is next, not on what is now.  Thankfully neither Anna nor I wish to give up on our dreams so with much thought we have determined that we will leave it to fate for now.  In our lives there have been many things that seemed to happen for a reason, some were good some were bad, but it has always seemed to fall together in the end.  Why should this time in our lives be any different.  With that being said, let me fill you all in on what we have seen in the past four weeks.  Right before Christmas Anna and I had a spent a few wonderful nights in Fort Myers. The Edison and Ford Estates were a must see for us and they did not disappoint.  The number of inventions and the contributions of these two men are astounding. After a long day at the museums, we connected with friends in the area and got to enjoy a fantastic evening with Donna and Joe Corso at a neat restaurant in downtown Ft. Myers.  We got a kick out of meeting them at the boat before dinner, it is always fun to watch peoples reactions to how we live on Blue.  Half the people that visit us say man I could do this, the other half say no way, you guys are out of your minds.  I think it was a split decision with Donna and Joe, Joe seemed to be into it, but Donna seemed more skeptical as we showed her the small space we call home.  I can't say I blame her, there are many a moments when Anna and I have freaked out over something on Blue, for instance I seem to have a habit of hitting my head on something every day and Anna seems to have a similar problem with banging her kneecap in things.  When these things happen we say to each other, give me a minute I am having a bad boating moment.  Thankfully the bad boating moments have become fewer and fewer as days go by, but I would be lying if I didn't say they happen. Leaving Fort Myers we made way up to Rialto Harbor on the Okeechobee waterway and left Blue safely in the hands of Buss, the owner and operator of one of the most fantastic marinas we have seen thus far on or trip. If you are traveling through the lake Okeechobee waterway, you must stop at Rialto Harbor, it is unlike any other marina you will find in the area, and offers one of the most peaceful and enchanting experiences anyone could ask for.  It is without question a fantastic representation of old Florida, from the horses to the beautiful landscaped paths, you think you had been brought back in time to an old Florida plantation paradise.  Feeling great about Blues new home, we hopped in our rental car and made the trek north.  Stopping at my Uncle Ed's home in Evingtion VA then on to NJ to spend a few days and Christmas eve with the Gulick clan.  Late Christmas Eve we pushed on to CT to see the other half of the family the von Pechmanns and were greeted by a winter storm that left us all filled with joy on Christmas day.  Our stay in CT was made all the more special by having been able to connect with our good friends Ryan and Kiley and their son Paxton from Nantucket.  To tell you the truth we could not have asked for a better Christmas, it had been to long since we enjoyed the company of or families.  It was truly one of the best Christmas's Anna and I have ever had.  With the holidays over we made way back to the boat and have pushed on south with the warmth of the keys on our minds.  We will make a stop in Naples and visit with friends and family then we will make way to Marathon.  It is good to be back on the path again, we are letting fate make the calls, and sleeping a whole lot better for it.  What comes next, who knows. But we can't wait to find out.

A stop at the Edison and Ford Estates in Fort Myers is a must

We had the best tour guide of our whole trip here and that made it so interesting to learn about Edison and Ford

Check out the really cool original lighting in this house.

This above ground swimming pool was truly a unique feature

Anna just loved this amazing tall palm tree

It is said that the phonograph was Edison's favorite invention- because it was the only one that worked on the first try.  He was deaf so you can see teeth marks on these where he bit into it to feel the vibration

The number of inventions and contributions that Edison made to society seem to be never ending as you walk around his museum

What would we do without Mr. Ford?

This car on the right would arrive without a cab.  What many did is use the wood from the car shipping crate to create the kind of cab that they needed.

We finally got to see some the cars that Uncle Ed is building.  It is truly amazing all the different projects that he has going on

Now that is a cool engine

Can you say Hemi!  OH YEAH!!!!!

One of my best friend from childhood, Dave.  Holding his youngest child, Ethan

Nephew Will- Holding his prized Sparkling Cider

Niece Grace- About to rock it out for us

Nephew Jeffrey- He loves his snakes!!

Jeffrey and Paxton playing together!  What an amazing sight to see. 

Blue all tied up safe and sound at Rialto Marina as we arrived home to her

Our Santa sleigh that took us many hours north and south!!

Many beautiful, well cared for boats were enjoying some tlc and time off at the marina

The wonderful private dock that we had at Rialto Marina

This is one of the horses at the marina.  These horses compete professionally.

The scenery here was just so tranquil

You can hear these beautiful Doves chatting away as you sit on your boat

A very private little house for all your showering and head needs

This is the barn building that Buss runs his marina and yacht brokerage out of.

Beautiful horses and yards surround the entire marina.

Notice all the chickens running around the grounds.  Mobey was not sure what to make of them

Two sets of brand new Bosch Washer and Dryers!!  A loopers heaven involves great washing machines

The beautiful home of the Rialto Marina owners.  Right there on the property

Ahhh! Peace and Tranquility

As we get underway we are met by a beautiful sunrise in Ft Myers Beach!