Boatyard Blues

Dorothy and I have been hanging out in Naples, FL for several weeks. SEASONS has been in a slip at Naples Boat Yard, while we have have stayed with friends in the area. We also made a trip back to Milwaukee, so I could present at the Chicago Boat and Sail show.  Presented several Safety at Sea sessions and a 4 hour class. It was a great trip home to see family and friends which we missed during the holidays.

The Naples Boat Yard is located on a back channel area and was only accessible at high tide for Seasons. During the last full moon the Low tide was really low. As you can see from the picture we were on the bottom and healed over. No damage to the bottom because of the soft mud.  Going on the boat was like entering a fun house as a kid.

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We have been completing projects on the boat and having other work done by outside contractors. I am not an electrician, as a matter of fact, I have a very healthy fear of shock and fire from making a mistake. I found an awesome electrician to help us with our systems. As with a lot of projects on boats or around the house, one thing leads to another. At first we thought the port engine alternator was bad, it wasn’t. Now with a new House Battery bank system hooked up, replaced a bad starting battery under warranty, and a newly installed bigger shore power charging unit. The 75 watt Mastervolt Chargemaster Plus, Electron Pusher 3000 (OK I added the last part). A few more boat units spent, than our planned maintenance budget for the month of January, but electrical wise, we should be good to go the rest of the way around the loop. ( I probably just jinxed ourselves by putting that in writing. )

The never ending varnish work continues on the boat. I have a long way to go , but with sunny weather it will be easier. The upper helm cabinets are completely put back together.

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I finished my seat riser project on the upper helm for better visibility while driving. We did some Canvas modifications to the upper deck.

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We have purchased new road bikes for our arrival in the Florida Keys. The blue tires where a hit with a 6 year old boy at the check out. He thought they were cool, so that comment makes me hip (?) with the next generation. And of course Dorothy had to have a “Champagne” color for her bike. The old folding bikes broke down again, so we gave them to another boater with similar bikes for spare parts. He was thrilled and combined the bikes that afternoon.

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Another Naples sunset photo

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Teach a Man to Fish……..

One of the things I have been looking forward to is learning to saltwater fish. Dorothy said she is happy to prepare anything I catch. But she wants nothing to do with catching and cleaning the fish. So a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to go fishing with a good friend Mike who has a center console boat in Marco Island, FL. We headed out onto the gulf on a beautiful flat water day. He targeted several artificial reefs were we drop line fished and trolled for fish.

It was a great learning experience, in no time I was baiting my hooks, taking fish off the hook, and putting them in the box. We ended up with a respectable haul of 11 keepers for the day.  Snapper, Key West grunt and Bob caught a sizable Sheepshead. My trill of the day was hooking a Goliath Grouper. He put up quite a fight for his size.

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Goliath Grouper are endangered and must be tossed back into the Gulf. I must say they are an UGLY fish.

Greg and Garrett’s first saltwater catch.

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After a great day on the water, then came cleaning the fish, it is easier than I thought. I found out a very sharp fillet knife is the key, and try not to get every last morsel of meat and check for bones.  After a fresh water rinse we took them home and they were baked with a lemon butter sauce. DELISH!

My next step, was to go to the local Ace Hardware store (4 isles of fishing stuff including clothes) and stock up on additional gear. I brought some stuff from Wisconsin which will work in saltwater as well. Can’t wait to have an awesome fish dinner on the boat.

Look out Trophy fish, I am angling for you.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

This year Christmas for us was different to say the least.  This year is the first time in our lives we have spent Christmas away from family and a house on land. Then on top of that to be in Ft Myers, Florida with no cold and snow. SEASONS has a little decorated and lighted tree. We gathered shells from our beach walks and I have some extra shinny boat hardware we hung on the tree.  No need to go overboard with decorations for the season because what do you do with all that stuff once Christmas is over? We will save a couple of the ornaments and the rest including the tree will get recycled.

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Our friends Pete and Mary were visiting his parents in Ft Myers for the holidays so it was great to catch up with them and enjoy a pre-Christmas dinner at their house.

We had many phone conversations with Family and Friends on Christmas Day, enjoyed the warm sunshine and took a 5 mile walk around the quite streets of Ft Myers.

Boaters have a tendency to band together wherever they are and we were invited to a Christmas day potluck on the docks at Legacy Marina. We met wonderful people, had fun conversations, and great food. Its a small world in the boating community when we met fellow Chicago to Mackinac racers and shared stories of past races.

Our trip to Naples, FL was a little bumpy on the Gulf and there were some pretty good waves over the bow. SEASONS has stabilizers which help in slowing down the roll of the boat a lot. We were greeted at Gordon Pass (the entrance to the Naples Inter-coastal Waterway) by long time friend Bob and his daughter on board his powercat SOCIABLE.  By the time we arrived at Naples Yacht Club the weather had settled down.

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Both of my son’s Greg and Garrett flew in for the holidays. It was fantastic to spend some time with them. I know they enjoyed a break for the cold weather up north.

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We spent New Years Eve on the beach with our toes in the sand. And of course the last sunset for 2018 did not disappoint. Dorothy and I wish all the best for you in the New Year.

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The Panhandle in Pictures

The Florida “Panhandle in Pictures” is a effort to catch up a little on our blog.

In Pensacola, FL we saw this ship undergoing some renovations. Turns out its going to be used for hauling around the platforms on which the Space X boosters land. The platforms are carried inside the ship until they are on location then slid out the back into the water.

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I did not have the guts to read the ingredients on the back.

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More friends, SOCIABLE crew, came to visit us in Panama City. Bob, Dorothy, Clay and I had a wonderful dinner at The Grand Marlin restaurant.

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Panama City harbor clean up after the Hurricane Michael. I overheard the Tow boat Captain say, “I’m out fishing for sailboats”

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We saw a lot of destruction between Panama City and Mexico Beach. Many peoples lives were put through the washing machine spin cycle. Roofs torn off houses, now are covered with blue tarps. Boats washed up on dry land or barely sticking out of the water. Whole forests of trees snapped off around 30 feet from the ground go on for miles.  It was hard to see the power of Mother Nature’s aftermath. On a positive note many people were working to clean up and rebuild the area, businesses were open and hopefully we helped a little by spending money in the area.

Cruising along the Inter Coastal Waterway heading to Apalachicola

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Apalachcola, FL is a great small town full of history. Once an vibrant Oyster harvesting community until the bay was over harvested. The Hole in the Wall is a nice little local bar and restaurant, after 5 minutes they made us feel like a local. The fresh Oysters from Cedar Key were so good.

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Artsy photos from around town

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If you know my past, I used to be in the Packaged Ice business. So it was kind of fun to see were it all started. The museum was closed, bummer.

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Found this cemetery on our walk about town. Its was very interesting reading the head stones. Some graves dating back to the early 1800’s

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Instead of a sunset picture to close the blog. A fellow Looper the next dock over played his pipes for sunset. Video is rough but the sound is good.

Fort McRee anchorage

Next stop, Fort McRee anchorage near Pensacola, FL. A very well protected deep water anchorage surrounded by sandy beaches. We anchored for 2 nights and just relaxed the whole time.

The brand new steadying sail was hoisted and toasted. It will keep us from swinging at anchor, plus it just looks cool.  Launching the dingy allowed us access to the gulf beach. We explored the ruins of Ft McRee, only some concrete foundations are left of this fort which started construction in 1834 following the War of 1812. After climbing around the fort  we walked a couple of miles down the beach. There are some remains of hurricane Micheal washed up on shore and we picked up trash as we went. A lot of seashells and one really good sand dollar souvenir made its way back to the boat. The Blue Angels put on an airshow just for us several times each day.  Our sun downer entertainment was performed by a pod of dolphins having an evening romp in the bay.

Just a perfect stop to recharge our soles.

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LULU’s and a Belly Rub

 

Next stop, Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, AL. Nice little marina very well protected. LULU’s restaurant was the place to have dinner. A fun place owned by Jimmy Buffett’s sister Lucy Buffett. It has the feel of a Parrot head bar with its own twist.

Appetizer of choice “Lower Alabama Caviar”. This was a tasteful combination of Black-eyed peas in a Balsamic Vinaigrette.

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On my quest for the best Shrimp and Grits, LULU’s will be in the TOP 5 for sure. It was a combination of Gulf Shrimp and Andouille Sausage in a Tasso and Tomato Cream Sauce. Served with Gouda Grits and some other stuff. The Grits were so creamy and the shrimp sausage combo was spiced just right.

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Homeport Sunset.

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We wanted to haul out SEASONS just to do a bottom check after all the rivers and before we headed out for the Gulf crossing. Saunders Yacht Works is one of the most professional places I have every worked with. They treated our trawler like they owned it. The bottom and running gear (props, shafts, and rudders) looked great. Unfortunately we sheared off our primary forward view depth transducer. $$$$

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The sacrificial anodes were deteriorating which is good. They are doing their job so we replaced them. A bottom wash (Belly Rub) and waterline scrub and we were on our way.

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Bring on the Gulf. Headed to Ft McRee.