Sunday, January 25, 2009

Everglades City to Cudjoe Key via Russell Pass & Little Shark River

We our goodbye’s to everyone present at the NCOBS and left Everglades City about noon on Friday. It was rather sad to leave the place we had enjoyed so much but it was time we moved on. We met Blue Max in the Gulf outside Indian Key at the mouth of the channel into Everglades City and ran back into the channel to anchor in Russell Pass. It was a beautiful evening. Bill and Shelly and I took Blue Max’s dingy and explored the area a little. We got to watch a dolphin playing with a fish it had injured. It played with it like a cat playing with a mouse it had caught. The evening was beautiful with clear skies for the sunset and very light winds.
We had a beautiful night at anchor in Russell Pass and a leisurely start in the morning. Bill had several little items to tend to and we got under way about 9:00. The gulf was beautiful for the 37 mile run to the Little Shark River. This looks like a nice anchorage. There was one sailboat here when we entered and another trawler right behind us. We went in beyond the elbow just inside the river and dropped the hook in the channel in about 12 feet of water. The trawler has a sailboat following in to anchor with him in the elbow. We were all settled by 3:15 and Bill and Shelly are on in Bill’s dingy fishing. Muriel is reading on the foredeck and I do not know where Eileen is. Our intent is to cross Florida Bay to Cudjoe Key tomorrow and anchor there for one or two nights and play around before we venture on to Marathon.
While Bill and Shelly were fishing, no luck by the way, they went over to the other trawler and they are loopers so they invited them over to Blue Max for a visit at 5:00. We had met them at Joe Wheeler State Park but did not recognize them until we began to visit. They started the loop in the Tennessee River this fall. By evening there were at least a dozen boats in the Shark River. We were surprised this morning at the tide range here. The water is down five feet from when we entered the river at near high tide yesterday.
We left the Little Shark River at 9:00 am and made the 40 mile crossing to Cudjoe Key. We worked our way into the Cudjoe Channel and got anchored about 4:00. Bill and Shelly and I took Bill’s dingy over to the nearest key and roamed around the beach a little. The water is 63 degrees, a little cool for enjoyable swimming but not bad for walking. Back on the boats, we took showers on the swim platform and enjoyed the 5:00 hour. We plan to move on to Marathon tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Our Stay at Everglades City, & NCOBS

We have talked for some time now about leaving Everglades City on Monday, January 12, to head on down to the Keys. There is a cold front forecast to move through the area Tuesday with some increased winds and unsettled weather for a few days so we may stay here a little longer. We did run up the Barron River here in Everglades City yesterday and fill up with diesel fuel at a very good price. While there we ate lunch at the City Seafood Market. It was very good. The owner, Richard has a trawler parked at the market and he talked at length about doing the loop. He has owned commercial fishing boats for years but has never cruised for pleasure. We encouraged him to join the AGLCA for information and to meet other loopers and take off. We plan to meet Blue Max today and help them get moved over to Goodland because the rental period on the house ends today. We will get our final shopping done in preparation for leaving.
All that is done but the weather is not favorable to our leaving for a few days. There is a cold front moving through with winds forecast to reach 30 mph with 7 to 13 foot seas out on the gulf. This is off shore but it will create a significant swell inshore which will make travel uncomfortable and preclude our going to Gudjoe Key which is fairly exposed. This morning we had kitchen duty for breakfast and then we helped paddle several canoes over to the national park headquarters where some crews will begin their course. This afternoon we plan to go to dinner with Jeff and Anne.
On Saturday a crew of ninth graders had gotten stranded by extremely low tides and could not get back to the base in time to depart with the rest of their group. Later in the day nine of us left with Jeff on the ferry boat, (pontoon boat), to go out so that they could ride back on the ferry and we paddled the canoes back. On the way out we had problems getting across one shallow bar due to the low tides, they were extra low due to the continued northerly winds blowing the water out of the islands, so we all got off and pushed the ferry. We were in mud about knee deep. I finally lost one of my Crocks so I began to go bare footed. I got several cuts on my feet from oyster shells in the mud. They are sore but they do not seem to be getting infected.
We have lost track of days. We are still at Everglades City waiting on the weather to favor our leaving. Today is Monday, January 19, 2009. The weather forecast this morning shows more cold fronts moving into the area with strong winds and possibly rain. The lows over the next several days may reach the high thirties. That will feel cold. The forecast looks like maybe we will see some good travel weather by Thursday. Another boat which Jeff and Anne met a couple of years ago at an anchorage along the North Carolina coast has been holed up here in Everglades City also. They completed the loop two years ago. They are just cruising the Keys this winter. Jeff invited them to tie-up here at the camp’s docks for a few days until the weather improves. They are traveling on a 23 foot sailboat so there is space for them.
As we prepared to leave the NCOBS to drive into Naples to buy groceries, Muriel went back to the boat to get her shopping bags and she tripped on a line from our boat to the dock and fell hard on the concrete dock. She had a huge bruise on her right wrist and she split her right knee open and was bleeding profusely. Jeff and I checked her and bandaged her knee and I took her to the ER in Naples where she received three stitches in the knee. X-rays showed no problems in her wrist and no foreign material in her knee. She is quite sore this morning and her knee is stiff but she was up at 5:15 to help me make four dozen rolls with sausage rolled inside and three dozen cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then we did most of the dishes before returning to the boat.
The weather looks favorable for our departure on Thursday. We had a squall here about 4:30 this morning with heavy rain and strong winds. It is supposed to remain cool today with an overnight low in the high thirties tonight and tomorrow. Highs this weekend in the high seventies. We are ready to get back on the move but we were planning on doing some snorkeling and Muriel will not be able to get her knee wet for a couple of weeks.
Today is Friday, January 23, 2009, and we are going to move at last. We have truly enjoyed our stay with Jeff and Anne and the group here at NCOBS, Everglades. We will miss them and Carlie but it will be good to get on the move again. Blue Max is leaving Goodland right now and we will leave here shortly and meet them at Indian Key which is the mouth of the channel to Everglades City. We will see what time we meet there and decide whether or not we can make Little Shark River in daylight or maybe we will anchor at Russell Pass, just inside of Indian Key. The weather looks good for the next several days so we have no need to hurry.
I am going to post this without pictures so I can get it finished and get on the move.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Time in Everglades City

The first photo is a picture of the open sailboat which Jeff and two other Outward
Bound people sailed from Everglades City, Fl to Beaufort, NC a few years ago. The second photo is me installing a new door in one of the staff houses on base. The third photo is the group which Blue Max had for dinner on last Friday. The fourth photo is Bill riding the inflatable toy in the pool at the house they had in Marco. The last photo is just some of the group eating dinner at the Outward Bound Base where we have stayed since Christmas.

Another exciting day for Sunshine…we had a leisurely morning and got away about mid-morning to do It was fun to see them and hear about their fishing trip into the ten thousand islands. They did quite well. I needed some supplies to finish the installation of an anchor washdown system and Muriel needed some food on the boat because we plan to leave tomorrow to spend one night at anchor and then go on to Goodland to party a little with Ithaka, Southern Comfort and Blue Max. Then we will return to Everglades City.
We worked on various projects around the NCOBS on Saturday morning. I got the washdown system completed except for the electrical connection. We were a little later than anticipated so we anchored for the night at Camp Lulu Key. This is where we planned to be on New Year’s Eve. It was a pleasant anchorage rafted with C’est Le Vie, Jeff and Anne’s boat. We enjoyed breakfast on Sunday morning and then left to make it to Goodland in time to meet the group. We were the first to arrive! But Blue Max and Southern Comfort were not far behind. It was great to get together again! We were joined by Jeff and Anne and Ed and Tracy. We walked from Chip and Michele’s cottage over to Stan’s, a local Sunday afternoon party happening. I call it a happening because that is what it is. We all had good laughs and then went back to Chip and Michele’s for hamburgers and hot dogs. What a great time, visiting and sharing remembrances of this past summer. Shelly had spent the night at the cottage on Saturday night with Chip and Michele and Chip and Shelly did quite well fishing from Chip’s pier. Naturally Bill had to try his luck on Sunday and as usual without any success. He and I have the same fishing luck.
We, Sunshine and C’est Le Vie, spent Sunday night at Chip and Michele’s pier and left Monday morning after breakfast. C’est Le Vie went straight back to NCOBS. Sunshine stopped for a while at Panther Key and spent some time on the beach before continuing on to NCOBS. Muriel and I got the boat washed and then I finished the electrical connection of the washdown pump while Muriel helped Anne in the kitchen.
Shelly lost the cap off her front tooth last night so Muriel has an appointment at 9:00 tomorrow morning in Naples to get it fixed. We ended up spending the entire day in Naples. The dentist did an excellent job on Shelly’s tooth then we went for lunch and spent the afternoon running errands and collecting needed items. Then in the evening after we had returned to NCOBS and eaten dinner, Muriel dropped her glasses and the frame broke. So in the morning it was back to Naples to a Vision Care Center to get new frames. Luckily they were able to fit the lenses into new frames. Then we met Bill and Eileen for lunch. After lunch we did a little more shopping and got back to NCOBS just before dinner.
On Thursday I spent the entire day removing an old door and installing a new door in one of the staff buildings. There are three crews on base tonight for their final day. Anne will feed 96 people tonight. Muriel helped today by making five 9x13 inch chocolate cakes. We still have to figure out how we are going to refuel before we head south to the Keys. It is still comfortable staying here and working on base but Blue Max will have to move to somewhere on Monday. We are going to eat dinner with them on Friday night so we will decide then what we will be doing.
Friday morning we messed around on the boat and then I set out around town to try to find someone who would sell me some diesel fuel. I located a man who agreed to sell me some of his fuel. No one in town sells fuel on the water any more so most of the crabbers have their own fuel tanks at their docks. Most of them will not sell any fuel. Dinner on Friday night was a lot of fun. Eileen and Bill prepared a lovely meal for nine of us, Blue Max, Ithaka, Sunshine, and Golden Lily. Jim and Barbara drove down from Punta Gorda where they are staying until the end of February. We spent the night with Blue Max in the house their daughter and her husband had rented for the holidays. Saturday morning was fun, we all went out for breakfast and then Bill, Shelly, and Muriel enjoyed a swim in the pool. We finally left and returned to Everglades City. There were a lot of people here last night and Anne had her hands full preparing food for the group. She had worked hard all day getting food ready for some crews who are departing on Sunday and Monday. As usual, she pulled through with another excellent dinner.
We have to get some shopping done on Sunday so we can leave on Monday. The tides may be a bit awkward for us to be departing on Monday morning. I have to take another look at that situation. We plan to backtrack to Marco to reunite with Blue Max and anchor at Keewaydin Key just north of Marco. From there we will head south to anchor a few nights in the Ten Thousand Islands and then on down to Cudjoe Key to start working our way up through the Keys.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas at Everglades City

The first photo is Muriel and Scooter, a staff member, working on Christmas dinner. The next two are sunsets from the island. The fourth photo is the Christmas gift exchange at the Camp. The last photo is our family Christmas on the boat.

These are additional photos from the Christmas in Everglades City.

Naples to Marco & Christmas and on to Everglades City

The first photo is the Everglades base from out boat as we arrived on Christmas day. The second photo is the Lovetts on Christmas day at the house the Maxwells daughter, Tracy and her husband, Ed, had rented in Marco. Anne and Shelly drove back to Everglades City and Muriel and Jeff and I brought the boat down. The third photo is Lovetts, Maxwells and Tracy and Ed on the patio of the house. The fourth photo is Shelly and Bill having Christmas on our boat. The last photo is Chip from Ithaka, one of our baoting companions from the summer in Canada

Bill and Eileen prepared a wonderful meal for Christmas Eve. Jeff arrived shortly before dinner so he ate dinner with us. Anne was unable to get away from the camp so Jeff went back and they will come together Christmas morning and Jeff will ride down to Everglades City with us. It was quite relaxing to sit and visit before and after dinner.
Shelly was up on Christmas morning before Muriel and I. When she turned to leave our room she said “What is wrong with Bill’s boat, it is leaning way over.” I got up to see and sure enough, Blue Max was heel ed way over to port. We jumped outside to see what was going on and realized that the tide was very low and Blue Max was hard aground. Bill said it did not do that yesterday, but he moved forward yesterday before we came in to make space for us. We might be lightly on the bottom but we are still level.
Jeff and Anne showed up about 9:00 and we got underway about 10:30. The tide was rising as we went through the Marco River and out past Coon Key. This was the perfect time to pass the shallow waters in this area as they were rising. We went right through without even bumping the bottom. We arrived in Everglades City at the camp at mid-afternoon in time to help with preparation of the Christmas dinner. We had turkey, ham, squash, mashed potatoes, gravy, snap peas, and key lime or pumpkin pie for dessert. Afterward everyone participated in a gift swap.
This morning, Dec 26, we are working on projects around camp. Shelly is anxious to get her Florida fishing license so I will go on line shortly and get that done for her.
I got Shelly’s license for her so now she is using her new pink Lady Shakespeare fishing rig. Yesterday, Saturday, Jeff and I drove over to Ft Lauderdale to shop for items for our boats. I got an anchor wash down pump for Muriel. She hates using the brush we have and a bucket to clean the anchor rode and anchor. Today, Sunday, we went for a late breakfast with a friend who lives on Chokoloskee Island right here in the bay out from Everglades City. We had a nice visit and then returned to the base to work on several projects. Right now Muriel is helping Anne prepare dinner to earn her keep.
Monday Jeff and I worked on several projects around the site. We repaired a dock which was damaged by the hurricane this fall. We re-piped a water heater which was leaking and we put down new ceramic tile in one of the living spaces for staff. We are still working on the floor on Tuesday. It is all done now except for a little grouting. We had to make a run into Naples today to get some more adhesive for the floor so while there I bought a wash down pump for the boat. I will try to get the installation done before we leave here. Muriel bought new boat cushions and a new fender to match the one we lost up around Steinhatchee. She also got some herbs and a planter so she can have fresh herbs on the boat.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, we plan to get out about noon and go to a small island a little north from here called Lulu for the same new year’s eve party we attended down here last year. It was a lot of fun last year and we hope it will be as good this year. We have been working hard during the day but relaxing in the evenings. It will be hard to decide to leave such a relaxing place.
The New Year’s Eve at Lulu did not happen for us, Jeff had an emergency with a student in the field which required his presents at the base so we all decided to spend the eve there together. As it happened, we went across the river, all of us in a 27 foot canoe intended for 12 people, and rang in the new year with some people Jeff and Anne have come to know here. We may get out to Lulu on new year’s day for a while.