Thursday, March 15, 2018

Longboat Key - Feb 7-Mar 8

The PV2 continues it's well deserved rest at Longboat Key. While the boat has not moved, the crew has changed on a weekly basis. After spending a few days settling in at the marina and preparing the boat for his absence, the Captain headed back home to Michigan and back to work.  While the Captain's away, the crew will play!  Sheli called on friends to assist her in "caring" for the PV2.
Deb Deters, Vicki Stroven and Karen Dupy all took turns spending time living on the boat with Sheli and enjoying the many amenities of Longboat Key area.  Everyday was sunny, hot and wonderful!  Days were filled with walks, beach time, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the pools, exploring on the dinghy and of course shopping!

On March 3, the Captain returned to relax for a few days and reclaim his first mate!  It was so exciting to have the Captain back that even the manatees showed up next to the boat to greet him.

On March 8, we sadly left the PV2 behind and flew back to Michigan. We will return in April to bring the boat to Charlotte Harbor where we will have it hauled out of the water and stored on land for the summer.

    Docked at Longboat Key Club Moorings.

    Friends from home!  Marlin and Lori Brower stopped by!

    Sheli & Deb at Anna Maria Island.

    Sheli & Vicki at Bradenton Beach.

    Sheli & Karen in Sarasota.

    Awesome Longboat Key beach!

     What a day at the beach!

     Manatee - aka Sea Cow, aka Wally!

    Don't you just want to scrub those barnacles off his back?

    Cruising Sarasota Bay.

    OK, maybe it's not all work!


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ft Myers Beach-Longboat Key - Feb 1-6

Thursday morning we left Salty Sam's and traveled back north 30 miles to the small island of Cayo Costa where we anchored out for 2 nights.  We had a wonderful day that was warm, sunny and low winds. Finally! In the afternoon we dinghyed over to a sandy beach and spent some time enjoying the warmth. It was a great night to grill out and take in the awesome starry night.

Friday morning the winds were still down and the seas were calm so we set out for a morning dinghy cruise. We traveled around the point onto the Gulf where we observed hammerhead sharks, rays and dolphins swimming near and under the dinghy in the clear shallow waters. Amazing!  After a brief pit stop on the boat we continued our dinghy quest the other direction 3 miles to Cabbage Key which is a 100 acre island "reminiscent of days gone by".  On the island we had burgers for lunch at the famous Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant. The walls and ceiling are covered with dollar bills with patrons names written on them. As legend has it, sailors of by gone days would stick dollar bills with their name on it to the wall. This way when they returned, possibly empty handed, they were guaranteed a drink. There is currently said to be 70,000 one dollar bills adorning the walls.  After our burger lunch the first mate insisted on a walk, so we stopped at the dock and ranger station at Cayo Costa State Park. The walk was beautiful thru the palm forest and out to the beach. 

Saturday we traveled 20 miles to an anchorage near Englewood Beach. We walked the beach and had dinner at the White Elephant. 

Sunday on to Venice! Just a short 16 miles up the ICW we tied off at the Crows Nest Marina. The water at the inlet where the marina is located is clear aqua. Wow! We used Marina bicycles to visit downtown Venice. What a beautiful area of high end residential areas and palm lined streets. At night we watched the Super Bowl at the marina restaurant. 

Venice is only 23 miles from Longboat Key where we will be docking the the boat for an extended time. Captain and crew unanimously decided we needed one more night on anchor. Five miles short of Longboat we dropped the hook behind Otter Key. The night did not disappoint. The winds were calm. The temps were warm. The stars were spectacular. 

Tuesday we arrived at Longboat Key Club Moorings near Sarasota.  With Grand Haven 2200 miles in our rear view mirror, it's time to give the PV2 a well deserved rest. 

    Our private beach near Cayo Costa.

    Great calm night on the hook.

    Cabbage Key - dollar bills everywhere!

    Cayo Costa State Park.

   Captain Adorable!

    Local videoing dolphins in our wake.

     Otter Key sunset.

   Relaxing at Longboat Key.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Longboat Key-Ft Myers Beach - Jan 23-31

First we need to apologize to our dolphin friends. Last trip, we bragged them up so much and this time we have taken them for granted. Shame on us. They have been constant companions since arriving in Florida. At times, we don't even notice them until we hear a slap in our wake as they jump in the air and land on their back. This never fails to distract the first mate from her assigned duties. Love them!

Tuesday we traveled south on the ICW 45 miles to Stump Pass near Englewood. Here we pulled off the ICW behind a small island and dropped the hook, jumped in the dinghy and took off on a mission. Our mission was to find our way through a channel, down a backwater canal leading to a spot where Steve's friend and customer Kim Wagner is building a home. Kim met us at the end of the canal which is a short walk from his construction sight.  It was fun seeing the house under construction and learning about the Florida/hurricane building requirements.  We had been experiencing fog on and off throughout the day but by the time we pulled out of Kim's canal, the fog had set in again - thick!  We navigated by iPad to find our way back to the mothership.  Through the thick fog we traveled 2 miles to Royal Palm Marina for the evening. (Due to shallow waters, we had to enter late in the afternoon to catch high tide). The marina sent Bob out in a 16ft skiff to lead us in because their channel markers had been destroyed by hurricane Irma. As we were following him in through the dense fog, we  realized by watching our chart plotter that he was missing the channel and had to guide him by radio back into the channel. Crazy stuff!  That evening Larry (who works with Sheli at Ironwood Golf Course) and his wife Carole picked us up and took us to their favorite local pizza place. The food and fellowship were grand.

Wednesday morning we departed by 8am to again catch high tide out of the marina. We traveled 18 miles and anchored in a small protected channel near Boca Grande.  In the afternoon we dinghyed across to town.  While the first mate was happy walking and shopping, the captain became concerned about the status of the PV2 as the winds were picking up so shopping was cut short. It was a windy, rocky night.

Thursday's destination was Ft Myers Beach. After traveling 15 miles, we pulled into the marina at South Seas Resort on the north end of Captiva Island.  We enjoyed lunch with Steve's cousin Ross Hoezee and his wife Thea who were vacationing there with their kids and grandkids. Fun!
We continued another 15 miles to Salty Sam's Marina in Ft Myers Beach which was our home for the next 7 days.  During our week stay, we enjoyed time with Steve's uncle & aunt, Ken & Joyce Sterk, friends from Byron Center, Todd & Star, and friends from Keenan Marina, Gary & Lori.  Thanks to Gary & Lori for loaning us their car for a provisioning run!

Florida's winter weather this year continues to challenge us with cooler temps and high winds, but still enjoy every day and are thankful to be here.

    Cruising the ICW in the fog.

   Kim Wagner & Steve.

    Anybody seen the mothership?

    Larry & Sheli.

   Our night watchman.

    Ross Hoezee family.

     Ken & Joyce Sterk

    Gary & Lori

    Docked at Salty Sam's

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Port St Joe-Longboat Key - Jan 18-22

Thursday was fuel day! (ouch)  As we left Port St Joe we took on enough fuel to get us to Apalachicola where we knew we would be topping off the tanks in preparation of our crossing of the Gulf of Mexico on Friday.  A few hours later, after topping off the tanks in Apalachicola we inquired about pumping out our holding tank, only to learn that the nearest option for doing so was in Carrabelle. Going to Carrabelle would mean a 10 mile roundtrip side trip from our intended night anchorage. Once in Carrabelle after pumping out, yup...we again topped off the tanks. (Thinking it's time to start a go fund me page 😜)   Last time, with a slower boat, we did a 24 hour overnight crossing, where with the PV2 we are able to do a daytime crossing.  Because we had to leave before daylight, we made a practice run out East Pass, to leave a trail on our chart plotter to follow the next morning. Boy are we glad we did - we found one marker bouy to be under water and another one missing it's top.  That night we anchored out behind Dog Island.  A crisp clear night, with no moon, far from civilization,  provided us with a spectacular star gazing event.

We pulled the anchor at 5am and it was dark, dark, dark, black dark! We followed our tracks thru the pass, observed R12 red bouy diligently flashing, a foot under water! Once the sun came up it was a nice cruising day with 2-3 footers. We arrived 9 hours and 160 miles later at North Anclote Key pass and dropped the hook behind Three Rooker Bar Island. This is a beautiful sandy spit of land separating The Gulf and the ICW.

Saturday morning we traveled 15 miles to Clearwater Beach Municipal Marina. After washing the Gulf of Mexico salt off the boat we walked into town to explore and have dinner.

Sunday morning was sunny and warm. Finally! We traveled 35 miles and dropped the hook in a high class residential neighborhood on Anna Marie Island.  The afternoon was spent exploring nearby islands on the dinghy.

Monday was another beautiful day, so we traveled a short 10 miles and anchored off Longboat Key.
It was a perfect afternoon to dinghy out on the Gulf along the sandy beaches. In the evening we took the dinghy to shore for dinner at the Mar Vista Restaurant.

Two fer Tuesday! Tuesday morning we pulled up the anchor only to find another anchor line hooked on it. We were afraid it may be attached to one of the sailboats anchored nearby. But after unhooking it from our anchor and pulling it, up came 20 feet of line, 20 feet of chain and a nice used anchor that someone had lost. Captain "I don't sleep well at anchor" can always use another anchor!

    Anchorage off Dog Island.


 Sunrise on the GOM (Gulf of Mexico).

   Anchored off Three Rookers Bar.

    Captain installing a depth finder on the dinghy.

   On the GOM off Anna Marie Island.

    Two fer Tuesday- Lifting anchor/anchors.

   New addition to our anchor inventory!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Mobile-Port St Joe - Jan 13-17

Time to get the boat to sandy beaches, palm trees and warm weather! We flew out of Grand Rapids early Saturday morning with an additional crew member - Sheli's mom. Upon arrival in Mobile we were met by some fellow boaters who picked us up with the marina courtesy car and brought brought back to Turner Marine where the PV2 was waiting for us. We didn't have to chip ice around the boat however the lows have been in the 20s and will continue to be for the next couple days. Brrrr! We spent the rest of the day provisioning and preparing for an early morning departure.

Early Sunday morning we began our journey by cruising 30 miles across Mobile Bay. Though it was a cold morning we were warm bundled up in the sunshine. At Gulf Shores we joined the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and traveled 6 miles east to The Wharf Marina. Upon arrival we were greeted by Henk Witte who is vacationing in the area. Sheli & Mom had a fun afternoon shopping at The Wharf while Steve washed the boat. That night we enjoyed an awesome brisket dinner at The Wharf.

Monday was a big travel day and our new crew member was a trooper. We traveled a total of 130 miles including 50 miles out on the Gulf of Mexico between Destin and Panama City Beach Inlet.
Another sunny, cool day with low winds made it a comfortable travel day. We tried multiple times to contact a couple of the city marinas in Panama City to reserve a slip for the evening.  Due to lack of success, we just pulled in and tied off at the Municipal Marina. A sign on the office door advised us they were closed due to it being Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Really, a closed marina???

Tuesday morning after settling up with the marina office, we traveled 46 miles on the ICW to Port St. Joe Marina. Another cool, sunny, low wind day - nice! Once settled in at the marina, Sheli & mom walked into town for some more shopping and exploring. That evening, LaNell & LaVonne, friends from back home drove over from their nearby rental beach house and we all went to dinner in town for pizza.

We woke up Wednesday to strong winds, no sunshine and much colder temps. The winds made it absolutely miserable to be outside. We were so happy we weren't planning on traveling today.  Around noon, Mom's friends, Frank & Joyce Bierling from Tallahassee came to pick up mom to spend a few days at their house with them, before she heads back to Michigan. It was so fun to have mom on board and share our boating life with her. (If only she didn't beat us every night playing cards!)

Drilling platform base being towed out of Mobile Bay.

   The shops at The Wharf Marina

    Mom and Steve on the helm.

  Heading out the pass to the Gulf of Mexico at Destin.

    Out on The Gulf!

    Beautiful sunset from PV2 at Panama City.

     Cruising the ICW.

   Always changing ICW.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Demopolis-Mobile - Dec 7-13

Thursday morning we waited at the Demopolis Marina a couple hours for maintenance to be completed on the Demopolis Lock. (our only lock of the day) Sheli had to again man the lines in the rain and cold while locking through.  This is getting old!    We covered 98 miles - some fast, some slow - the rains forced us to slow down at times. Our travel days for this part of the trip are much shorter due to fewer daylight hours this time of year. We arrived at our destination - Bobby's Fish Camp - near dark. (4:30pm).  Bobby's Fish Camp consists of a historic restaurant famous for their catfish with a 200 foot long floating dock. The dock already had 9 other boats tied to and rafted off by the time we arrived.  They were all willing to come out in the rain and catch our lines.  Steve and the other captains worked together to make sure everyone could get hooked up to power from the few electrical outlets.  Though we are not big fish eaters, we joined the others for dinner at the "legendary" restaurant. Captain "Why Not" had the catfish while the First Mate "I don't think so" threatened to eat her arm but opted for a burger instead.

Oh the weather outside is frightful, Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

At 6am on Friday morning, the electrical power we all struggled for the night before went out. All the boats went dark and cold in a hurry. We looked out the windows to find that the predicted snow storm was upon us. Yuck!  We had hoped to leave at first light however we needed to take on fuel which now meant waiting for the owner to start a generator to power the fuel pump. Always an adventure!  After pushing the snow off the bow and windshield we started to move slowly down the river.  Traveling today required 4 sharp eyes on the chart plotter, radar and the river.  It proved to be quite challenging to see the river due to sleet, snow, fog and ice build-up on the windshield. Our new Buddy Heater saved the day again as we needed to put it on the dash to defrost the windshield. We had hoped to make it the 118 miles to Mobile but due to the weather, we stopped 1 lock (our last lock) and 65 miles later. Just before dark, we dropped the anchor at the Alabama River Cut-off.
Boating in snow was a first and hopefully a last for us!

Saturday we woke up to sunshine and blue skies! It was still only in the 40s, but sunshine made a huge difference.  We could see out the windshield!  Woohoo! We traveled fast for the majority of the remaining 52 miles on the rivers to Mobile Bay.  Once we hit the Bay, we traveled 10 miles south in the shipping channel and then turned hard to port and made way for the town of Fairhope, AL. Our home for the next two nights was the Fairhope Municipal Marina. We enjoyed our time exploring the quaint town, awesome food and an afternoon dinghy ride around the area.

Monday we headed back across Mobile Bay to Turner Marine at Dog River located on the western shore of the bay near Mobile, AL.  We will leave the PV2 here under the watchful eyes of some fellow loopers while we fly back to Michigan for the holidays.

Merry Christmas!

What, no windshield wipers?

Captain's having Catfish!

Anything's better than catfish!

First time for snow at Bobby's!

Fuel up and let's get south!

Sweeping snow!

Busy day on the helm.

What, no defroster?

Finally sunshine!

Docked at Fairhope

Oyster dinner at Shux on the Pier!