Saturday, Legacy Harbor — Fort Myers, Fl

January 31st, 2009 john

Day 105    Miles Today:  0   Miles Total:  1212

The week started out cold.  I guess that is a relative term, but for us, getting up one morning at 31 degrees was cold.  Had to put on a sweater and wear the old jeans. But it only lasted a few days and then we were back up into the 80’s.   Great weather!

 

We continued to do projects on the boat.  We installed blinds in the salon and roman shades on the back double doors.  We replaced the chairs on the upper deck with new ones of the same style.   Today I broke down and ordered a “Day Clock”.  That is one of those clocks that I always said was useless, as it only tells you the day of the week and not the time. But after several weeks of questioning which day it was, I just broke down and ordered a day clock on the Internet. I tell you, I can’t wait until I get on the road again so it will be harder to spend money. (At least I hope so.)

Today, I scheduled an appliance service man to come and look at our washing machine on the boat.  We have a full size Westinghouse washer in the engine room, a bit dated.  The last time Barbara used it, it dumped all of its water into the bilge which at first gave her a bit of alarm.  She has been using the laundry rooms in the marinas ever since.  While he is here, maybe he can order a new knob for the Jenn-Air range.  I broke one off this summer which puts one burner out of commission.

I also have been trying to contact the manufacturer of our Lectra/San waste treatment system for a replacement part.  Like I said, there is always something to do.

On Friday morning there was a knock on the hull.   When I stuck my head out, I was happily surprise with a visit from an old acquaintance from my corporate life.  Neal Parker was a senior executive at Thomas and Betts when I was there.  I had completely lost track of him after he retried.  He had run into Dave Myler, one of the friends who visited with us on New Years Eve, and Dave had mentioned that I was living on a boat in Ft Myers, so Neal came looking.  I was in the second marina that he came to.  It was a very pleasant visit.

On Saturday, Barbara and I decided to go for an adventure.  We had the dingy still in the water, so we joined two other couples with their tenders and went for a cruise up the Caloosahatchee River. After several miles we came to a little contributory, the Orange River.  This is a short little river that winds it way up to where the power plant drains its warm water.    It’s this warm water that attracts the Manatees.  The previous day, conservationist had counted 640 manatees in this area.  This was our destination for our day trip.

I had noticed after our previous brief outing, that my state sticker on my tender was out of date.  I immediately got on the Internet and renewed my registration. I am still waiting for it to arrive in the mail.  So, prior to leaving on our day trip, I put on my USCG AUX lifejacket.  The thought process was that it might discourage Wildlife Officers from stopping and inspecting my boat.  Well it backfired on me.  Just as we wound our way up to the source of the Orange River, a patrol boat turned on his blue light and pointed at me. 

Ah, !)@#.

After tying up along side and asking where we were from and “Do you know the rules regarding Manatees?”, the officer announced that we had been stopped so that the local TV channel could interview us if it was ok.  Of COURSE it was OK.  I was the fastest talking southerner you ever heard.  I believe that is was my lifejacket that singled us out for the TV interview.  My luck; what I thought would keep them away, brought them to me.

Well that night we made the local NBC news (maybe 30 seconds) and I am quoted on their website.  

  • John Haluska from Tennessee came to Florida for the first time to go boating and he appreciates what the FWC is trying to do. 
  • “I think it’s great that they’re trying to get some publicity and promote safety. This is one of Florida’s greatest assets,” said Haluska

And the good thing was nobody mentioned anything about my out-of-date out-of-state sticker.  Another great day in paradise.  [Update: we now have our current registration.]

Sunday, was not quite as exciting.  I got 14 more of my 21 batteries replaced… $$$$$…   They were all getting dated, so I had them replaced.   That means that now, 19 of my 21 batteries are new.  I will work on the other two, but no hurry.

Barbara has been buying a few plants and flowers.  She just has the basic need to have a few live plants around.  I have gotten two of the macramé hanging planters done for her with one more to do.  Everyone keeps walking by and saying things like, “I used to know how to do that!”

Sunday night, I ran into an old acquaintance on the dock, Bob and Mel Taylor, also from the Memphis area.  I had met them last year at Orange Beach AL when I was bringing the boat up to TN and then heard them on the radio several times on the trip South.  They will be staying at this marina several weeks on board their beautiful Nordhavn 65 Trawler.

Monday it was back to work.  I spent all morning on the computer and Barbara was outside putting the first coats of primer onto the rub rails.  It is a long process, but it will look really nice when she is done.  Plus the fiberglass guy was up top cutting grooves into the new fiberglass to match the non-skid pattern of the decks.

Tuesday night is “Dinner Out” night.   Each Tuesday night, those who are interested get together and go to a special restaurant selected by a volunteer couple in the group.  This last week we drove about twenty miles to the Alva Country Diner, for a taste of “Old Florida”.  I had their famous “Broasted Chicken”, (yes Broasted) and it was pretty good.   If I did not know any better it seemed like I was eating at the “Catfish Company” in Olive Branch MS.    (Inside joke)

On Thursday nights we have a pot luck dinner in the TiKi Hut here at the marina.   The fun is they refuse to organize it.  This week we had mostly deserts, but since everyone is in there 60’s, no one complained.  Next week will be a landmark pot luck night.   We will be conducting our first organizational meeting of the Legacy Harbour Yacht Club.  Yes, we are forming a new yacht club with dues set at $25.00 per year, which includes an ID card and a burgee.   What a hoot!  Guess Barbara and I will be charter members.

Who said us young “old folks” can’t have fun.

Yesterday a cold front came through so we had a little rain and then temps in the 60’s.  We took a day off the boat and went with our friends, Gary and Maggie from Cape Coral, to have lunch at Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda. It was a very attractive restaurant setting, overlooking the harbor with over 500 slips.  We even had a Dean Martin sound-a-like, serenading our lunch  Afterwards we headed over to Fishermen Village Marina for some shopping in the village stores, etc.   The “etc” means that Gary and I went straight to the bar and shopped beers while the girls meandered through stores. Both marinas are on the shores of Florida’s Charlotte Harbor, a large bay on the Western coast.

“Another nice day in paradise!”  (I have to keep saying this to offset all those bad days that we had at the start of our trip.)

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Sunday, Legacy Harbor — Fort Myers, Fl

January 18th, 2009 john

Day 92    Miles Today:  0   Miles Total:  1212

Another week in paradise!  This week brought colder weather.  It went down into the low 50’s at night and then into the upper 60’s in the day.  We must be getting acclimated because off went the shorts and on went the jeans, sweaters, etc.  But as we watched the news reports on the rest of the country, it was still pretty nice in Florida.

Let’s see what happened this week.  We went to the store, then went to the store, ete, etc.  I will be happy when we will again be on the move and do not have a car.  As expensive as fuel is, I think that is a lot cheaper then all of this “shopping”.  I have been to West Marine at least 6 times this week.  I am on a first name basis with the employees.  I bought and installed a new AM/FM/CD radio in the pilot house.  The old one had died on the trip down.  It is also connects to my XM receiver which is something I really did use quite a bit on the trip.

Barbara bought two new chairs and a table for the aft deck.  These were to replace the old wickers chairs that were there.  However, so far only one chair has left.  We are up one chair but who is counting.  I am going to get her back though.  I saw chairs like we have on out upper deck at Home Depot.  I think I may buy four new ones and get rid of the existing three that we have up there now.  They are very weathered and are starting to crack.

We had fuel delivered to the boat this week, so I topped off all tanks.  They arrive in a truck and pull a line down the dock to by boat, and fuel us right in our slip.  Pretty nice service!  It took 270 gallons at $2.19 per gallon.  At least it better then when we started when it was about $5.00 per gallon.  That also gives us a pretty good gas mileage at a little better the 2 miles to a gallon.  I know in land measurements, that sounds horrible, but in boat measurements that is more then double what most boats get.

I then replaced the battery in the dingy and rewired the navigational lights.  I had a mechanic come on board and do an annual service on the dingy engine as well as replace the impeller. 

We have had a two brothers work on the boat’s fiberglass.   There were about ten spots that needed to be looked at.  All were normal wear and tear but needed to be cut and re-glassed, sanded and painted to prevent any water from getting into the structure of the boat.  They have worked on it for several days and will come back on Monday.  Can’t wait to get that bill.

At the same time Barbara has tackled the rub rails.  They are wooded rails that run down the side of the boat that protect the boat when you are coming into a dock or pylon.  The paint was all cracked, so she has totally removed all paint and is getting ready to refinish the one side.  This is working out well with the professionals on board to answer questions and to keep an eye on the progress.

I installed new lights in the pilothouse over the table.  Now I can work at my laptop without turning on all of the lights.  Barbara got the rust stains out of the front deck and she polished all the instruments in the pilothouse including the brass clocks and barometers.  It is looking pretty spiffy.  We found a new product to help with the polishing called Barkeeper’s Friend.  You can get it in the grocery store and it works great. 

I also had an electronics guy come over and remove my radar unit.  It has been cutting out and it is brand new.  He has tested it in his shop, so he is coming back to reinstall and test it on the boat on Monday.

The list is a lot longer, but I will stop there.  The message is that it is definitely not boring, living this life. There is a lot to do.  Mix that in with the small pleasures. On Sunday we walked to church and then to the store for a paper.  On Tuesday night we joined 8 other couples and went out to a restaurant together.  Then on Thursday night we had a pot luck dinner up at our Tiki hut.  Saturday night there was a jazz concert in the park, right next to the marina, so we had music and a longer then usual nightly cocktail hour on the dock.

Today, we had a beautiful day.  The temps went up a little bit, so back to the shorts for the first time this week.  Barbara and I went to church, then got a paper and went out for a fine breakfast.  The afternoon was spent sitting in our new chairs on the aft deck and reading the papers.  I started a new macramé project.  Barbara has asked repeatedly for some hanging pot holders for the aft deck and that is right up my alley.  On one of our shopping sprees we searched for cordage.   Can you believe that you can walk into one of the hobby stores such as Hobby Lobby or Jo-Ann’s and the clerks don’t even know what macramé is.  Talk about feeling old.

Just after starting the project, a couple of dock friends came over and started teasing me about lowering my dingy into the water.  Since we have only done this one time, I said what the heck! Down came the dingy.  It really is very easy to launch with the hydraulic powered crane, but it was a little dicey doing it in my slip.  We were backed in and measured the space we had behind the boat.  It looked like it would barely make it.   Then you have to launch it over the side of the boat, then swing it around in midair. (over the transom of the boat next to us) and then into the water trying not to hit the dock.   No problem, all went well; six inches to spare.  It was especially fun with all of the coaching.

And of course she started right up.  Don and I decided to take her for a test run. We slowing crawled between our boat and the boat next to us and went for a dingy ride.  Boy, does that boat move.  It is a real fine dingy.  It looks like an inflatable but is really a hard fiberglass boat.  I can stand on it’s gunnels (sides) and it holds me just fine, doesn’t sink or try to flip.  And if I can do it, anyone can. It is 12 feet long and sports a 40 horsepower motor, so she will just fly if you let her.

We got back just in time for the nightly cocktail hour(s).

We are enjoying our stay in Ft Myers.  And I was right; time is passing way to quickly.

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Sunday, Legacy Harbor — Fort Myers, Fl

January 11th, 2009 john

Day 85    Miles Today:  0   Miles Total:  1212

Barbara and I are enjoying our visit to the Ft. Myers area.  It is very nice to be in a new area and also have a car. (We brought our car back after Christmas,)  I am just afraid that the time spent here will just pass way too quickly.

We have adventured out on different shopping sprees and have had a lot of fun.  I don’t know what we did before having a car GPS.  At our age, we would never get around without it.

Weather-wise, it has been just great.  We had a cold front come through, predicting rain and cooler temperatures.  In our case the rain consisted of sprinkles for about three minutes. Then the cold temperatures brought the day temps down to 70 degrees, it was just “terrible”.  But I must admit that after about 1 and ½ hours into our daily 5:00 cocktail “hour” on the dock, a sweater did come in handy.  Today the temps went back up into the 80’s.  Just about right.

Everybody on the dock has been real friendly.  Most are couples that either live here full time or are “snow-birds”, just wintering here on their boats.  I have become friendly with two boaters who are doing the loop, Donnie on Double-Trouble and Bob on Headquarters.  Donnie will be here for about a month before they move on, and Bob had been here for 6 weeks and departed yesterday on their way to the “keys”. 

Bob and I seemed to hit it off especially well, so I was sorry to see them leave. Headquarters is a beautiful streamlined cruising boat so they will travel at a different speed then our trawler, but maybe we will get lucky and see them again on the East Coast.  He and his wife are on their second Great Loop.  They made it around once and just kept going.  They plan to stop at more places this time around so maybe we will see them again.

We had a “boy’s” day out last week.  Bob and Donnie and I took our car and started out to “Boater’s World” to look for some necessities.  And of course after and hour of cruising the isles we decided that maybe we should also drive over to “West Marine” and check out their offerings.  Then of course there was a big Ace Hardware next door that we just couldn’t pass up.   By that time we need sustenance, so we kit “Leaping Lizards” and had burgers and beer.  It was a welcome diversion from our normal day on the boat.

We also have friends who live in Cape Coral, a sister city to Ft. Myers, just across the river.  We met Gary and Maggie when they were living on their boat a few slips down from us at Aqua Harbor in Tennessee.  Their permanent residence is Cape Coral so they were summering in Tennessee and wintering back home.  We went over and had dinner and enjoyed their lovely home, sitting on a neighborhood waterway.  They can berth their boat in their own back yard.  We sat by their pool, overlooking the canal system and enjoyed drinks and a wonderful dinner.

The next night, Gary and Maggie and two of their friends came down to the boat for cocktails and then we walked next door to Joe’s Crab Shack for an early dinner. Afterwards we walked into downtown (several blocks) and did a bunch of people watching.  Ft. Myers was hosting a “bikers” night downtown, drawing hundreds of beautiful chrome platted bikes and trikes along with the bikers and their mates.  Of course the theme color for the night seemed to be black, so in my red shirt and shorts, I kind of stood out. It was a fun night. I got to smoke one of my cigars and enjoy beer on the street and listen to a live band.  After a good tour we returned to our aft-deck and served nightcaps to top off a pleasant evening.  Afterwards Barbara said to me, wouldn’t the “kids” get a kit out of seeing Pappy and Nana at biker’s night.

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Tuesday, Legacy Harbor — Fort Myers, Fl

January 6th, 2009 john

Tuesday, Jan 6, 2009   Legacy Harbor — Fort Myers, Fl

Miles Today:  0   Miles Total:  1212

Just thought I would let everyone know that we are doing fine and into the New Year.

We left Fort Myers the morning after we arrived in December much to our dismay.  The two friends that had joined us on the later part of the trip had to get back to their homes.  So I rented a car and we drove back to Carrabelle and retrieved our own car, then drove over to Apalachicola to enjoy one more great seafood dinner, a town known for their oysters.

From the restaurant we called downtown to the century old Gibson Inn and were able to get some rooms at very reasonable rates.  We had a wonderful night at the Inn and then a great breakfast of Belgian waffles and blueberry pancakes.  Then off we were to return the retail car to the Panama City airport, and home to Memphis in our own car.

We enjoyed Christmas at home, several parties and visits with friends but best of all was the time with our kids and grandkids.  It was a real joy.  On December 26th we drove to Houston for a wedding of one of Barbara’s grand nephews.  We left Houston on Sunday and drove in the rain and fog all the way to Gulfport MS, one miserable ride.  There we visited Joanne, my “older” sister and some of her kids and grandkids.  We left on Monday morning and drove all the way to Ft Myers, arriving at 10:00 pm at the boat.  Remember, in boat time, everyone is sound asleep at that time of night.  So we quietly moved most of our car-full onto the boat, saving some for the morning.  That gave us a whole day to go shopping and get the boat in order for our planned New Years Eve party on the boat.

On New Years Eve we started around 5:00 PM with cocktails on the upper deck.  We had three couples share our New Years along with one of their adult sons.  There were nine of us, all at a common point in our pasts, living in New Hampshire.  The ladies got together and served a great dinner of baked salmon with a great strawberry honey glaze, fried scallops and fettuccini alfredo.  Wine and champagne was served as we watched the fireworks from afar.

By 10:30 we had all headed our separate ways and Barbara and I watched the “Times Square” ball come down for the first time in about 16 years.  (Fl is back in Eastern Time Zone). 

We are adjusting very quickly to Ft Myers.  The marina is only located about three blocks from downtown where they have several bars and restaurants.  On Sunday we walked about 5 blocks to the Catholic Church and then had a great breakfast after church, ending up at the brand new grocery store for a Sunday paper, and a gallon of milk, then three blocks back to the boat.

On Monday we arranged to meet Dave and Charlene, and Bob and Claudia (all of New Hampshire fame) out on the islands of Sanibel and Captiva.  Barbara and I had a late breakfast at Granma Dots restaurant on lower Sanibel located at the Sanibel Marina.  Talk about a beautiful, quaint marina.  And the food was awesome.  Barbara had coconut shrimp and I had a blackened Tilapia fish sandwich with a hot pineapple sauce, served over a bed of homemade potato chips.  Then we went “shelling” along the shore while waiting for our friends to drive out to the island.  When they arrived we drove to the other end which is the West tip of the island (Captiva) and continued “shelling” for a couple of hours then retreated to the Green Flash restaurant for a late afternoon lunch/supper and drinks.

We returned to our boat at 5:00 pm just in time for the evening impromptu cocktail parting on our dock.  By 7:30 it had turned dark and I was ready for bed.  I must say this is a very different life then either Barbara or I was used to before.

Today, I arose at 5:30 am and quietly left the boat.  The Marina bathrooms and showers are real close to the boat and are kept very clean.  After my morning fresh-up I walked across the street to a little place that I had seen while walking.  What a surprise. They roast there own coffee everyday, umm good. And then they bake fresh donuts and pastries everyday right there in front on you.  Morning paper and a couple cups of fresh roasted coffee.  That is a nice way to start the day.  I brought some pastries back for Barbara which put her into an immediate good mood for the day.

After working on my computer for a couple of hours, taking care of business (me and Elvis)  Barbara and I then tackled a task we had been putting of for months.  THE LAZARETTE.  The lazarette is a large storage area accessed by lifting up a panel on the aft cockpit floor.  (We call it the basement.)  It was filled with tubs of  “stuff” when I bought the boat and then we just kept stuffing more and more “stuff” into it.  Ok, everything out, open all tubs, make a list, organize, and then put it all back neatly.   Ouch, what a job.  But what a surprise too.   The previous owner had said that there were an abundance of spare parts back there and boy was he not exaggerating. Just to name a few, two spare propellers, four spare engine oil coolers, three spare transmission oil coolers, three spare alternators, two spare raw water pumps, etc, etc, etc.

Then of course we have extra oil, and lubricants and cleaners, and tools, and much, much more.    There is no doubt that the “Emery El  is not just a condo that floats, but one that has all of its repairs parts in the closet.  Of course now we have a list of what will NOT break.  Another one of Murphy’s laws.

The next few weeks will be dedicated to trying to outline the rest of our trip.  I have been receiving questions about when will we be at different parts of the country?  I am going to try to rough out a schedule, for those of you that might want to join us on a leg, let us know as soon as possible.

Happy New Year to All

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