The Amazing Grace

Let Your Dreams Set Sail

Mobile to Ft. Myers Florida

Who would of thought that when we first pulled into Mobile on Dec. 5 that we would stay there for 28 days!  We can’t say that it was a wonderful month but it was a month that we got things done that had to be done.  The weather stayed cold and rainy the whole time.  We were lucky if one day a week was nice and we could be outside with long sleeves.  The biggest shocker was being flooded in on Christmas Eve.  First flooding on the Mississippi for Halloween and now Christmas, Crazy!  We were able to go out and watch Avatar for our Christmas movie.   Finally, all there stars were aligned, there was the second full moon of the month, and we were able to ride the tide and a Northwest wind out Mobile Bay on Jan. 3 into the Gulf of Mexico. 

         What a glorious moment when we were able to set the sails set and turn off the engine four hours later.  We were able to sail for the next 3 days.  It was absolutely wonderful.  This is what we have missed most, the peace on the water.  On the second night we did see some 40 mph gusts, thanks our new anemometer.  We were able to get back into our offshore routine.  Scott would take the first watch from 6-12 pm, while Cindy got some sleep.  Cindy would get up and take the 12 – 6 am watch while Scott would sleep.  Then we take turns napping during the day.  There was no rain, but it was in the 30-40s during the night due to the N to NW wind blowing us SE.  Our goal was to get as far east as possible so that when the wind changed to the prevailing SE we would be able to continue sailing to Dry Tortugas. 

                  We kept a close eye on the weather and decided to head in at Boca Grande, FL.  The forecast were for a day of gale force winds from the SE.  The teal, calm water at anchor watching the dolphins play, made us glad that we had decided to come in and not fight our way south.  We had made 418 miles in 3.5 days and used less than 10 gallons of diesel getting in and out of the ports.  We so like not being on a schedule and being able go with the weather.  At anchor near Cabbage Key. 

Once we got here, we rode our dinghy in to shore and ventured forth in search of battery chargers.  We got to the trolley stop and were told by a passing local that the trolley had just passed by 10 minutes early by the schedule.  Come to find out, it was really the earlier trolley that was running 45 minutes late.  We sat for a bit with a group of locals, white hairs that had been over celebrating happy hour on the island and were heading back to the RV park on the mainland, who, decided the next trolley would be there within an hour and who tried calling local taxi companies who found out none were available for at least an hour and if only it was next Wed. we wouldn’t have this problem since they put another trolley on the schedule.  Since it was almost 5, raining and cold and knowing the West Marine closed at 6, Cindy flagged down a passing car and got a ride.  He was the nicest man who felt bad that he couldn’t give us a ride back since he was off to pick up his mother.  Battery chargers and a few other supplies in hand, just short of a thousand clams, we were back outside, still in the cold and rain waiting for the trolley.  An hour later, the seven o’clock trolley (they just skipped the 6 o’clock route) was right on time. Tired, cold, and wet we headed to McDonalds for some comfort food.  Five hours later we were back on the boat with our new wind generator, (that had been delivered to the office) and battery chargers, a new back up charger too. 

Saturday it was cold and rainy in the mid 40s, so it was a sit in the boat day.  We saw on the local news about a couple here from Pennsylvania for their dream wedding on the beach and everything the local farmers are doing to save their crops.  Scott was busy installing our new purchases.  The new wind generator, of course, wouldn’t fit on the old pole.  Being it is from Germany they like using a different sized diameter.  So Monday, Scott will be off to find a 2 3/8 inch diameter five foot aluminium pole. Sunday morning as we were enjoying our lay in bed and watch Sunday Morning on TV, the generator died, Ugh!  right before the coldest predicted nights, Sunday and Monday.  Scott could get it running again but it wouldn’t come up to speed again.  The sun was out so we bundled up and went in for seafood lunch at one of the local establishments on the white sand beach.  It was amazing that hardly anyone else was out.  We then did laundry and enjoyed a bath, yes they have a bathtub in the facilities for people on mooring balls.

We woke up to frost and 42 degrees in the boat.  We used every blanket we have on board to stay warm with only our propane canister heater. On the news they talked about delays at Fort Myers Airport due to the fact that they don’t have any de-icers.  They just roll the planes out and wait for them to melt.  It took a while on this cold, cloudy day. Scott found a place that could get him the pole.  The guy would bring one back the next time he comes to the island.   He also got some tips on what to look for on the generator. No luck, still can’t get it running.  So we had to get all 250 pounds of it out of the front locker.  It reminded us of what all it took back in 2006 to get it in the locker. We decided to take the big boat to get it to shore instead of using the dinghy.  Wednesday morning we headed in and due to low tide we couldn’t get into the marina he had been talking to.  Luckily, the neighboring marina let us tie up to get the generator off loaded.  In talking with that marina we found out that there is another shop that specializes in Westerbeke products just across the road.  After lunch they came and picked up the generator.  Instead of heading straight back to the mooring ball, and since it was sunny and in the mid 60s, we went out for a motor around the island.  It was nice and relaxing.  Now it is Thursday and it is 70 outside.  We are waiting to hear from both the pole guy and the generator guy.  We wonder if they are on island time… lol… and will we hear from them before next week.  As we were waiting we heard a new meaning for “BOAT”…Broken Or About To.  It really seems to apply to us right now. 

We have decided that this is a vacation destination and that we have to just go with the flow and enjoy these blessed days that we have been given and try not to think…..what will break…next and it is better to have it happen now where we can get it fixed then later when we are in the islands. 

The weather did finally turn warm.  It is in the 70s and even into the 80s.  Yesterday the boat was 72 degrees inside and only got down to 66 during the night.  Alleluia no more layers of clothes and blankets.  Scott has decided he likes the warm weather better than the cold and no more talk of wintering over in Antarctica. 

One day we went into shore for a get together with about 15 boats in the mooring field.  We had oysters and shrimps on the barbie.  It is always nice to hear everyone else’s story.  We are finding out that some people trailer down their boats and then stay here for the winter, a new way to be a snowbird.   We met another couple from Sturgeon Bay, WI on trimaran named Kimosabe, who had been married on their 29’ Bayfield.  Boy have they changed boat designs.  What memories came rushing back of our first boat.  We also saw “Knot Tied Down” and “Red Boat Bill and Me”,  after seeing their router as one of our internet options, that we have been travelling the whole loop on and off with from the east coast, Chicago, Mobile, to here.  . 

We did hear back on the generator.  It is dead.  The crankshaft broke. No one around here has ever heard of that happening.   So we could pay $4,800 in parts and labor or $5,200 for a new one.  Scott is busy researching what will be the new one.  Then he will have to install it.   It looks like at least another two weeks here in Fort Myers Beach.  Scott got the new wind generator mounted and working and since he had time got the new inverter installed too, that one has been on the “to do list” since we left Texas.   Now we have enough power from the inverter for a few luxuries like watch TV or a DVD, microwave, and even the vacuum, for a very short time.  With all this work to the electrical system he has also set up for a couple more batteries.  Now we should have 200 amp hours available instead of 100. 

We have sporadic internet.   So on Monday, Jan. 25, I noticed that the John Sutton Band was going to be in Florida.  I babysat or he was my New Years Date for John and his brother Jim when he was 11 days old.  We have kept up with him in hopes of finally catching up to hear his band that he has had for over 10 years.  He was in Florida right before we stated the trip, he was in Marshall, MI when we had the transmission problems, he was in MI again when we were enduring the Gales of Oct. at Mackinac Island, and in Paducah long after we travelled down the Tim Tom Waterway, ah…to be so close, so many times.  Meanwhile I would listen to his music on my IPOD during the night watches.  Luckily, I checked to see where he was playing and believe it or not it was just north of us in Sarasota.  So I got on the phone and rented a car.  Wednesday, were off on an adventure.  We made it to Gecko’s and it was a delight to watch John making music. 

 

As Captain Ron says something like, “If its gonna happen, It’s gonna happen out there.”  Well, it is true for our new used wind generator.  It turns out that the hub had been repaired badly in the past.  During the crossing we were very aware that is was out of balance.  Probably, the 40mph gusts didn’t help either. Even though we were just 25 miles from the Four Winds company, they didn’t have the parts available to fix it. So we ordered a new one, now we will have a Super Wind from Germany.   

The first time we turned on the generator at anchor, the ship’s three year old battery charger blew up, puff of smoke and all. We got on the phone, thinking we would head to the closest West Marine in Punta Gorda or Port Charlotte.  We quickly learned that there was no easy way to get there from here.  Luckily, a nice West Marine Worker in Punta Gorda, recommended travelling on to Fort Myers, where he found a charger.  He also said that there was a $.50 trolley that would get us to the store.  Yeah, we wouldn’t have to pay for an expensive taxi rides or having to rent a car.

We were surprised, but not really, since it has been the weather we have had since Oct. 1 in Michigan, that the weather was calling for freezes in Florida.  Is it just because we are here???  It makes us continue to ask, How far south do we have to go to get to warm weather???  We moved on down to Fort Myers Beach and rented a mooring ball for $13 a day for freeze week-end.  This mooring field has 70 balls.  The balls are anchored to the bottom, usually with big concrete blocks.  We when tie up to the ball and we don’t have to anchor.  As we were pulling in we saw Freddy, Freddy.  The last we saw them was back in the Erie Canal waiting for them to raise a barge.   For the $13 we get the ball, a dock to tie to when we go ashore (that happens to be .7 of a mile from the ball), bathroom and laundry facilities, and internet (if we were closer). We are way to the back to the left of the white trawler, Coral Bay that talked to North of Mobile, Dog River, and here.  

By miles and by route we have crossed our own wake and completed the loop, so now we can fly a gold American Great Loopers Cruising Association (AGLCA) gold burgee.    If you look at the map it looks more like a lasso coming from Texas, pretty perfect for us. The actual circle will be met at Dry Tortugas. 

 

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