Tuedsay, Gasparilla to Fort Myers

December 2nd, 2008 john

Miles Today:  44      Miles Total:  1212

Today was the day.   Our first leg was to end in Fort Myers and today we would reach it.

We departed Gasparilla again under very windy conditions.  The off-shore forecasts were bad and they also added high-surf warnings.  We would be in protected waters most of the day so off we went.

Most of the day was fine.  We did have to cross Charlotte Harbor, which is a big bay and it had 1-3 foot waves, but it still was not bad.  Then we wound through the islands of Useppa, Cabbage Key, and Captiva.   Now the real challenge of the day, we had to navigate through the “miserable mile”.  This is a narrow straight channel that crosses the mouth of Okeechobee River going into the harbor at Ft Myers.  The reason this channel is particularly miserable is that not only is it narrow, but it runs directly across the river so you have a several knot current running left to right or right to left across your path.  The waters just outside of the channel are very shallow; in fact the channel itself tends to shoal in due to the heavy current so you want to stay right in the middle.  You have to constantly look forward and backward to make sure you are not being pushed sideways out of the channel.  This stretch is so notorious that Towboat US stations a boat right on the channel waiting to pull you out for a fee.

We made it through without any trouble and entered the river toward our destination, Legacy Harbor.  I called the harbor and they assigned me a slip, but told me that I would have to back into the slip.  Here we go again.  As Barbara says, boating would not be bad if you could bypass the departures and arrivals. We motored in, the wind died down, pulled passed the slip, rotated the boat and backed right in on the first try.  I got down on my knees and said “thank you, thank you, thank you.” 

We were home.  The crew helped me wash down the boat to get some of the salt off of it and then we packaged her up, packed our bags and made plans for a departure home in the morning.  I rented a car and we drove to Carrabelle where we had left the car that John and JC had driven down.  We then went 25 more miles to Apalachicola and had a good dinner of oysters and shrimp. While at dinner I called a local 100 year old inn and found out that they had rooms at a very reasonable rate.  We stayed the night, had a tremendous breakfast of pecan or blueberry pancakes, Belgian walfels, etc.   Then we departed for Memphis.  By the time we got home the temperature was in the 20’s and we were already missing the warmer climate of South Florida. 

During this December break, we have two grandchild birthdays to celebrate, have to host the Coast Guard Auxiliary Christmas party, as well as the US Power Squadron party.  Have a wedding in Colorado Springs before Christmas and another in Houston right after Christmas.   I am already looking forward to New Years on the Emery El.

Till the new Year

Happy Holidays to All and All Hands on Deck

Posted in The Loop (Memphis to Ft Myers FL | No Comments »

Monday, Sarasota to Gasparilla Fl

December 1st, 2008 john

Miles Today:  47      Miles Total:  1168

The rain and thunderstorms had passed but the winds were still up.  They were projected to be 25 to 30 offshore with gusts higher, but we would be in protected waters and since we have a big heavy boat we decided to move forward.

We left the safety of Marina Jacks with winds a blowing but it was not too bad.  The Emery El really rides well.  We turned on the stabilizers to soften the roll and continued on our trip south.

The whole day went very smooth until we got close to our destination.  We had four bridges to open today and the first three opened on request.  But as we got to the Boca Grande Bridge, the final bridge was on a schedule we had to wait.  This bridge only opens every half hour and we had just missed an opening.  .  That does not seem like a big deal but with 30 mph winds and the boat not moving, it is not easy to stay in the channel.  We went forward, turned, ran in circles, etc, just trying to eat up the time.  It kept me very busy at the helm.  Finally it opened and through the bridge we went and soon turned into a side channel going into Gasparilla Marina.  I had spent 10 days in April at Gasprilla, while provisioning my boat for her first trip to Tennessee.  I was looking forward to the little restaurant just across the bridge from the marina.

We entered the marina and were assigned an end dock.  There was no one there to receive our lines so we had to do it ourselves, again under a good little breeze.  I had purchased a telescoping tool for Barbara to assist in putting a line on a dock cleat without jumping off the boat.  This would be our first try.  Well that part worked well. Unfortunately the line was not tied to our boat at the right length and we started to drift off.  With a little effort I used the line like a spring line and pulled the boat back to parallel and up to the dock, where we could now get off and tie her up.  More lessons to learn.  More practice needed.

After securing the boat and a little cleaning up, we departed for the walk to the restaurant.  Wouldn’t you know it, the restaurant was closed on Mondays.  We were not having good luck in restaurants. After a three quarter mile walk there, and then three quarter mile back, Barbara came to the rescue by making tomato soop and the best cheese sandwich you ever tasted.  It really did hit the spot.

Posted in The Loop (Memphis to Ft Myers FL | No Comments »