Friday, January 29, 2010

Our Winter Home!!

Today's route and location:  Apollo Beach, FL

We had a great cruise today through Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay.  It's supposed to turn "ugly" tomorrow with high winds and lots of rain.  So, we arrived today to miss that--ugh!!  Surprising! We were in a major shipping channel near three major cities and one major port and we did not see any commercial vessels--only a few private fishermen.  Have we lost everything?

We'll be docked here at a friends place for some maintenance; then, if necessary we'll be moving over to a marina just a short distance away.  (Our friend may have another boat coming in for some work.  As you can tell, he works right out of his back yard.)  Anyway, Apollo Beach is were Tide Hiker will be for the remainder of the winter.  Apollo Beach is on the Eastern shore of  Tampa Bay south of Tampa and north of Bradenton.

Vicki will be flying to Tucson to visit her mom next week and Norm will be "batching it" while getting some needed projects completed.  He will also be visiting friends and family living in the area.

More later............

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Useppa Is to Sarasota, FL

Our most recent route and location:          Useppa to Venice and Sarasota

We had two great cruise days from Useppa to Sarasota with a stop in Venice.  Yesterday we had a really cool auto tour of Venice courtesy of Barbara Dien.  We've never been there before and found it to be a really neat place.  There are only 18,000 there year round and that triples in the winter--SNOWBIRDS!  Fantastic old spanish homes and tons of city parks--all part of a well-planned out city courtesy of John Nolen back in the early days.  Lots going on in Venice--concerts, symphony, and art galleries; and of course, all the water sports. 

After the tour, Bob joined us and we went out for "Tomato Pie:"  That's pizza to the folks in this town.  It was a wonderful, quiet evening with lots of laughs, good food and great company.  Thanks Barbara and Bob for being such great port captains and super friends.
Norm, Vicki, Bob and Barbara getting ready for "Tomato Pie".

Today, we cruised up to Sarasota.  We were originally going to anchor just off the Long Boat Key Inlet, but decided at the last minute to pull in here and check it out.  We took the dinghy down and went to town.  Sarasota's historic district, that is.  Again, lots of shops, sidewalk cafe's, and art galleries.  A bit bigger than Venice, of course.  Norm is a bit familiar with Sarasota because his parents retired here many years ago.  But, he says they did not spend much time in the city.  Anyway, just a short visit for us here because we'll be off to Apollo Beach tomorrow.  See ya later.

Ahhhhh! The detox continues...

We're anchored in Useppa Island Anchorage.  Here's today's route and location. 

Ft Myers to Useppa Is. Anchorage

This spot is about 15 miles north of Ft Myers Beach on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.  Our 46 mile run today was longer than expected.  We forgot about all the Manatee Zones, which require us to cruise at slow or idle speed between Nov 1 and March 1.  Anyway, we're anchored, it is a great evening, and the sunset is spectacular.  And, just as we were reviewing the charts for tomorrow's trip to Venice we were treated to a wonderful surprise visit from Bob and Barbara Dein (Gondola) out for a dinghy ride.  (They are docked in Useppa's Marina).  We're already planning a pizza dinner tomorrow night at Venice, they're home port.

Yesterday, the dock/campground managers insisted we move some boats to make room for a BIG boat coming in.  The owner of the BIG boat demanded no one be in his reserved slip or else......
So, Roberto took charge and figured out how the seven of us could rearrange ourselves to accomodate the BIG boat.  We had a combination of trawlers and sailboats.  So, we had to squeeze another boat into the slip next to us.  We had a few inches to spare.  See?

Tide Hiker is on the left.

Guess what?  The Big boat never showed up!!!!!!!  We still had to get everyone there this morning to help us slide Tide Hiker out.  Everyone was responsible for bringing a jar of vaseline and we slid out like a....... well nevermind!

Except for the slooooooness today, the ride was wonderful.  Lots of dolphin playing in our bow; lots of coots, osprey, pelican's and other winged wildlife "buzzing" our boat; and, comfortably cool temps and sun all day with only a light breeze. We are blessed!!

BUT, we already miss our friends remaining at the Franklin Locks.  They're staying a few more days.  (We had to depart to make sure Vicki makes her flight out of Tampa to Tucson early next week.)  Norm will be batching it for a week.  Don't be too long getting over here, guys.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yes, we're still alive and well and cruising Florida...

We're on the move again.  After a month in Stuart Florida we departed last Saturday for the the Gulf Coast.  We have a lot to tell you so grab a cold one, sit down and relax while reading the "Tide Hiker Times"--sorry no crossword puzzles.  First, our latest cruise route and our current location:  (Remember, just click on the link below to see our cruise route and our current location.  And use the "+" or "_" to zoom in or out for more or less details.)

We're actually located just east of Ft Myers at the Franklin Lock and Dam.  The Okeechobee Waterway includes 5 locks and dams run by the Army Corps of Engineers.  These locks and dams keep the water levels where they want them.  Some years, when there has not been much rain, this waterway is closed to boating traffic.  But, no problems this year, or last year when we traversed it eastbound.  Now, on with the stories.

When we last left you, we were in training for the Defever Rendezvous and the Stuart Boat Show.  And, I might add that the training was very beneficial.  We were physically ready for long walks to the show, boat tours, sleepless nights, stomach-aching laughs, and the rigors of continual partying!!  Oh yea, the boat show conferences were also quite informative and very well-done.  Unfortunately, it was a small show and the vendors were not many and were not too keen on "show prices".  So, we obstained from any purchasing of equipment until we can get decent prices.  BTW, the Defever group here accounted for about 90% of the Cruiser Expo's attendance.

We may not have the order right--so many parties and so little gray matter left.  Here we are aboard Aurora.  Emir Steve and Princess Di hosted 10 of us to scrumptous Moroccan Chicken.

There were so many people aboard at the dinning table, Di and Steve relegated themselves to the kids table.  Is that wine there at the kids table?  Thanks Di and Steve.  The party was fantastic!

Stephanie Moralesaklin and Roberto Rodriquesjechte hosted about 20 of us aboard September Song for Roberto's famous Enchilada's.  They were at least a pound a piece and were prefaced by tons of mexican apps.  Thanks guys.  Everything was awesome. (Sorry, I forgot the camera.)

Of course we could not forget the Rendezvous' formal dinner at the Yacht Club.  We had to get dressed up, which meant jackets for the men (tie not necessary) and our dusty funeral shoes.

Chuck and Pat Berry hosted a bunch for bourbon slushes and apps before the Club's happy hour and roast beef sliders.  I admit, I had 4 slushes--they were quite refreshing.  Ganks Tuys.

Vicki and I hosted about 23 folks for an old fashioned weenie roast dock party.  Vicki russled up some baked beans, potato salad and cole slaw.  Norm grilled the dogs, italian sausage, kielbasa and similar tubesteaks.  Folks brought a lot of extra apps and trimmings.  And our new friends from Quebec, Louie and Danielle, brought drunken grapes. (Grapes marinating in port wine for 24 hours--Merci guys to everyone).

Port side crowd at the weenie roast.

Starboard side crowd at the weenie roast.

Midship crowd at weenie roast.

And, a weenie roast would not be complete without smores for desert.  Here's the smores assembly line up on the boat deck of Tide Hiker.  Norm, Bob and Nancy.

It wasn't long after that day that Bob displayed his new piercing.  Fortunately, in the correct ear.  Looks great Bob!  What's next?

Dave and Penny Stormont hosted about 20 folks aboard Stormy for cocktails and appetizers that were fit for a king.  It was truly our meal for the night. Thanks much Penny and Dave.  And, congratulations for deciding to remain DeFever Cruisers.

Well, it was time to move on.  The weather broke, our paid month was up and we were ready to start detox.  Oh, I mean, move on to the Gulf Coast of Florida.  We planned to meet Aurora about 7 miles up the south fork of the St Lucie river at 0800.  So at 0715, we departed the Harborage Marina with great memories.  Well, it was a quick re-immersion into cruising.  The fog was so dense we cold not see more than 50 yards.  But with modern electronics, a fog horn, experience in Maine and 4-eyes on the bridge, we kept our date--just a few mintues late.  We navigated in this fog for another couple of hours.

That's Aurora out there.  They just left the Port Myacka Lock and are entering Lake Okeechobee. We're right behind them.   As you can see the water levels on this part of the waterway are such that the Corps of Engineers has both lock doors open and we only had to pass through.  Not so at the other locks.  We had to either lift or fall about 8 feet in each.

All the conveniences of home and on the waterfront.  Let's sell the boat and be squatters here.  Whatta ya say?

We wondered if our davit (crane) could lift this wonderful looking "meat on the hoof".  Too bad it's a hangin offense down here.

Upon arriving at the Franklin Locks we spotted a couple of friends we met here last year.  They were in the same camping spot.  It was John and Nel from Indiana.  (That's them on the far side of the pic).  What are the odds?  It was great fun getting re-acquainted and sharing laughs again.