Friday, March 6, 2009

.......and Bob wanted to get naked!

Subtitle One: Local Knowledge is the Best Chart!!

Subtitle Two: Nothing is Sacred!!!

Following the Rendezvous, we headed a few miles north from Useppa Island to Pelican Bay, which lies next to Cayo Costa State Park. There, we anchored with a dozen or so other DeFever Cruisers who just couldn't let the party stop. There was a gathering aboard Tide Hiker for cocktails and munchies the first evening we were there. That's were we learned that Sea Pearl grounded on the way in. Now, it's important to say here that Pelican Bay, doesn't have more than 6 feet of water when studying the chart. But, several DeFeverites (September Song, Aurora and Last Laugh) have been there many times before and "knew the way in". Unfortunately, Sea Pearl took a narrow turn too wide and soft landed in less than 5'3" of water. (We've all done it!) He was able to just back out, move over 10 ft and was again in the 8' abyss and able to proceed into the anchorage. We're told that Salty, his dog, was a bit tense about the situation.

It was also at this gathering that Norm confessed to taking a swim in 63 degree waters with all his clothes on, while on his maiden kayak cruise. You see, he thought that since this all happened in the middle of broad daylight that everyone, yes everyone would be snapping pics of this spectacle. So, he came clean before any evidence would be forthcoming on the various blogs. He was adjusting the pedals when the kayak, without Norm's command, did a crocodile roll--hence the beautiful back pike that even Greg Louganis (sp?) would admire. There he was jeans-and-sweatshirt-wet-heavy on his upside down kayak, shivering like dog, waving to someone in a dinghy just 100 yards away. Why, why, it was Joe and Salty. Even at this distance Norm could see Salty was still a bit angry with Joe; and, the only one who understood Norm's dilemna. Anyway, Joe waves back like it's a greeting to someone out for a quick Sunday morning dip. As Joe got closer, it was only his 40-years of sharp NYC detective prowess that he got a hint that Norm might be able to use a tow. "Do you need help, Norm". Norm's reply-"Hell yes, I'm freezing my a__ off in here." So, Joe and Salty towed Norm, his kayak and bruised ego to Tide Hiker for a quick change into fresh warm clothes ("Vicki, I'm home") ; and, a get-back-up-on-the-horse successful maiden voyage No 2. The Kayak's christened name? The Red Titanic! But, hold on! Norm also discovered at this gathering that no one saw, or took pictures. It was at this point that Norm said. "Fooled you, I was only kidding. I make the whole thing up". No one was buying it though.

The next day's festivities were a picnic at Cayo Costa State Park. We all dinked over to the park entrance with our lunches. After a very strenuous group run on the beach, as you can see by these pics, we resumed what we came for--eating. After the picnic, Bob and Stephanie hosted a Bahamas Meeting aboard September Song. Steve and Di Koch gave us a spectacular tutorial on traveling the Exumas. They told us all the safe passages, the best anchorages, the best marinas, where to get WiFi etc, etc. Again, local knowledge is the best chart and this was a very comprehensive verbal chart. Thanks Steve and Di; and, Bob and Stephanie for having us over.

We hit a quiet moment after Steve finished the tutorial. At this point, Bob said that he was going to relax for a couple days--maybe even get naked tomorrow. Everyone chuckled, but the next day six boats left before dawn. Coincidence? Maybe. As expected though, the Gypsies were thinking about weighing anchor and moving closer, figuring that this might be better than a hot southern Florida outdoor Jimmy Buffet concert.

Then, the final supper at Pelican Bay. We enjoyed Carolina barbecue sandwiches aboard Rickshaw. Thanks guys--they were scrumptious.

So, we and Rickshaw began the trek across the Okeechobee waterway to the east coast of Florida. We're now at the state park just east of the Franklin lock and will be here today and maybe tomorrow. Nice docks with water and electricity for just $24 per day. What a find! Actually, it was not a find--Steve told us about this too. Thanks again Steve.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rendezvous....and more!

And what a wonderful DeFever Rendezvous it was. But first, let us bring you up to date since our last posting from Marco Island.

We met up with Captains Roy and Ted from Clark’s Landing Sea Ray Boats (Norm’s ex-employer in Chesapeake Bay) and their wives, Sandy and Peggy, for lunch at the famous Snook Inn on Marco Island. Roy and Sandy brought their Mainship down from the Chesapeake earlier; and, Ted and Peggy winter on Marco Island every winter at their family estate. (With a pool too!) It was great to see them again and get caught up. Ted and Peggy also took us on a tour of the island in their Toyota convertible and offered to help us with shopping. Peggy gave us some fresh, baked –that-day German Rye and a few special oranges that claim to be the juiciest. The claim is right on—Very juicy!!
The next day we were off to Naples. We anchored in the middle of a canal surrounded by multi-million-dollar homes. Very picturesque, but Norm felt like we were in a glass house. We dinghied into town for dinner at the reportedly best pizza house-the Napolia—It was very good, but did not match the pizza at No Name Pub on Big Pine Key. We rested in Naples for two days and then cruised up to Ft Myers Beach.
We had been anchoring for 10 days and looked forward to docking in a marina. We chose Moss Marina and had a wonderful time there for 6 days. Vicki needed to have a minor medical procedure (small cyst removed from her leg) and we needed to do the BIG PROVISIONING FOR THE BAHAMAS. So, we rented a car for three days and got all that done. At Ft Myers Beach we met up with Jim and Pam Shipp aboard Silver Boots, a DeFever 49; Nelson Hallman aboard Isolde III, a DeFever 44; and the Gypsies caught up with us aboard Gypsies in the Palace.
A real special event was our drive up to Sarasota and Tampa. Norm’s mom and dad are buried in the church grave yard in Sarasota. So, we stopped by and laid a beautiful rose on each and visited with them for a while. Then, it was on to Tampa to visit Norm’s Aunt Barbara and Uncle Larry. They rolled out the red carpet for their “favorite nephew”. We ate, drank, laughed, got caught up, and ate and drank some more. The highlight of the meal was in its preparation. Have you ever heard of a chicken cooked on the grill with a beer can up its butt? Well, take a look at these shots of this scrumptious bird. And it was scrumptious! What a pleasant and fun break from the rigors of cruising.
Moss Marine is also home to the Big M Casino-a very large boat that goes out beyond the International boundary and opens up the tables and one-arm bandits. As expected, the odds are reported not to be too good. Norm reminded many of the losers that walked by our boat, “Well, there’s always the stimulus package!”

The car we rented was a “speck” of an automobile. Made several trips to the various stores over the three days. But, we are well provisioned for our Bahamian Cruise. One of the highlights of the Ft Myers visit was the top of the Lanai Kai (SP?) Hotel. It’s a “s___-hole” of a place as one
guest said, and set up for the younger crowd that will be coming in next week for spring break. But, on the roof-top is a bar and restaurant with gliders for seating. You know—the ones people have in their back yards. We sat up there, enjoyed a couple of margaritas, rocked back and forth and looked over at the beach at the young adults doing the limbo during sunset! Awesome!!

Next was the DeFever Rendezvous. It was lots of laughs, learnings, work, get-togethers with friends, prime rib, crab cakes, chicken, key lime pie, choice beverages; and, beautiful paradise island setting, warm sunny days, 35-40 mph winds, horizontal rain, very dark fronts passing; and, Bahamian cruise planning; and, winnings of the silent auction. WOW! So, sit down, make yourself a choice beverage and listen up—It was a blast!!

We arrived Useppa Island (a private island club) on Friday. We docked our 15-foot wide trawler in a 16-foot-wide slip. We immediately remembered our first DeFever rendezvous in this same island paradise 3 years earlier. Vicki, who had volunteered to do registration, was off to set up.
Norm secured the boat, completed his final trip engine room check, hooked up water, electricity and cable.

Vicki welcomed many DeFever registrants from the northern and southern hemisphere after which we joined the Tierney’s for dinner in the ancient Colliers Inn. We had a 45-minute wait because the reservations system failed. So the manager sent us a free bottle of wine with a sincere apology. We felt really guilty, since we did not make a reservation. But, the wine was great; as was the food.
Saturday was the first day of organized events. The morning included a comprehensive slide show from Jim and Robin Roberts on their cruise to Nova Scotia. You might remember that we buddy boated with Jim and Robin to Maine. Then three DeFever members, including our buddies Bob and Stephanie aboard September Song, gave presentations on “Preparing for a Hurricane”. All three members have been in one. Bob and Stephanie were the only ones to survive with no damage; and, THEY WERE ANCHORED!!!!! A very interesting and informative report to say the least. Then Ole and Jan Pederson gave us an awesome slide show on their cruise in South America. Ole is the Chief Engineer for a major cruise liner and Jan was an Events Coordinator and HR official for the same liner. That’s where they met. Currently their DeFever 49 RPH (just like ours) is docked in the Panama area and they came to this event to give us a summary of their adventure. Another awesome presentation.

Vicki was asked to give a “mini-presentation” on interior decorating and refit. She held two 30-minute seminars aboard Tide Hiker telling folks about all the upgrades we have made to this 20-year-old-bucket. It was a “sellout”. Later, we captured Ole and Jan and held them hostage on Tide Hiker with Vodka and picked their brains about the details of their South American cruise. Their next cruise is to pass through the Panama Canal and head up the West Coast to Seattle. Our plans exactly!! Ole and Jan are great folks who are very willing to share and we very much look forward to catching up with them somewhere on the water.

Unfortunately, a cold front passed through on Sunday morning. It got very dark at 9 AM with 35 mph winds and horizontal rain—just one hour before the shuttle was to take us from Useppa Island over to Cabbage Key. It turned out to be just a squall and passed quickly. While the winds have not laid down yet (and this is Monday) we were able to safely shuttle over to this other paradise island for more DeFever events. Our friends Steve and Di, aboard Aurora also gave presentations. Di gave the same interior upgrade presentation that Vicki made the day before and Steve gave several 45-minute presentations on how to do an engine room check while cruising. He did this in his engine room. Both were excellent. The rendezvous’ final event was a prime rib and crab cake dinner at Cabbage Key. Double Awesome!! Here are some shots of the scenery on Useppa Island.

Winds were still very high and folks still had to get back to Useppa and more importantly, the anchorage. Our friends on Adventures and Gypsies in the Palace and others had to dinghy to their boats in significant winds and choppy seas. Gladly, everyone made it “home” but it was a very rocky night in 35 mph winds. Even in the slips we were rocking and rolling—a bit troublesome since neighbor boats were only one rubber fender (bumper) away. We had planned to depart Useppa today (Monday), but continued high winds and expected very low wind chill temperatures tonight (low 30’s) will keep us here another night. Tomorrow we will make a short run over to Pelican Bay anchorage for a couple days of parties with fellow DeFever-ites.