I didn't think I'd bring this up, but I feel compelled to do so. Paul and I thought the power boaters in Texas were disrespectful, but quite honestly, Texas M/V's have nothing on Floridian motor vessels. We were just amazed at how most of the power boaters here would not even think of slowing down as they passed us. We were rocking pretty badly at times, to the point you could hear things below knocking around. This is not only disrespectful, but also against boating rules and regs. Too bad there weren't more Coast Guard people out stopping these rude people and ticketing them. So, if you are coming to Florida in a sailboat, just be aware of this ...especially in the ICW.
There, I feel better now!!
When we arrived in Punta Gorda, we found our anchorage outside of Fisherman's Village Marina. We tried to get a slip there, but the man said they were booked until April. The anchorage was tricky to get to, because of depths going back and forth from 3-6 feet. After much winding around, we finally were able to anchor in 6' of water.
We were trying to figure out a way to get to shore, since we didn't have a dinghy. Ray, Florence's husband, said he had a small dinghy he would bring us the next day and we could motor into Fisherman's Village to pick it up. We checked the depths in the channel to the marina, and it said it had 5 feet of water. Our draft is 4'8". Close! Next day we tried it and got stuck. We had to call Tow boat U.S. to come pull us out. Thus, we weren't able to get to shore. Florence and Ray had to hire a guy at the docks to come out and get us and they brought the dinghy, too. It was the only way to get into shore at this point. I was thankful to be going ashore, because my back was hurting badly.
We looked on Craig's list and Ebay for used dinghies and found a few. Florence asked us to stay since I was hurting, which sounded like a God-send to me. Paul had checked the anchor before we left and it was dug in well. The next day we went to look at dinghies, and didn't find anything that we liked. We also went to "Marine Traders" a consignment shop for all things boats. They had a dinghy for sale, but was priced too high for it's condition, I thought. Finally, we found one online. It was $400 for the dinghy and a trailer. Sounded like a good one and we planned to go get it the following day. In the meantime, Paul had gone over to the boat to make sure it was secured well. That Danforth anchor has been great the entire trip. Never had any problems with it coming out.
At Florence's and Ray's cozy home, we were able to relax and eat fine food. Ray and Florence both are wonderful cooks. Ray made a scrumptious chicken casserole the first night. Next night, Florence made pie from scratch. It turned out so pretty, I had to take pics of it. Every night, the table was set as though we were in a high class restaurant. Loved the way they worked together to make everything so lovely and welcoming. We also had freshly baked breads. Holy mackerel!!
|Florence with her beautiful apple pie. Home made|
from scratch, folks. Deeeelishus!!!
|Ray and Florence at the dinner table. It was always set up|
so pretty. I told them they needed to open a B&B, and they
said that they already had the name for it..."Flo-Ray-Duh Inn"
|Cousins!!! Paul and Florence|
|The pie was so beautiful, I had to get a showcase pic of it.|
|Paul and Florence|
The next day, Paul's other cousin, Barbara from Maryland, arrived. Paul hadn't seen his cousins in probably 40 or more years. Hearing the stories from their past and getting to know these wonderful folks was truly a delight for me. They made it so I would feel like a part of the family, and I do.
|Me, Ray, Florence, and Barbara...playing Scrabble and telling|
|Barbara coming up with a high point word!|
|Paul and Barbara|
|Ray, Florence, and Barbara|
|Somebody's got the giggles|
|Ray challenging a word!|
|Our room. This is a murphy bed! When the bed is empty, it goes|
back into the wall and it's her sewing room.
|Barbara and I took a walk and this is how the winds looked|
as we neared the house.
Ray went with us to pick up our new/used dinghy and trailer. We all piled in two cars to take it over to the boat, and as we were crossing the bridge, we were looking down on our anchorage site, and couldn't see our boat! What? Kept looking....no boat!!?? We scurried down to Fisherman's Village and as Paul went into the office, Ray and I were running down the pier to see if we could see the boat. It is amazing how one can identify one's own boat simply by seeing the mast. I knew that mast, and it wasn't where it was supposed to be. It was close to shore and it looked in danger. The winds at that point were in the 40 knot range. The waves were ferocious! When we found our boat, she was being crashed up against the sea wall on her bow. How did she get there? Good question. Our line to the dinghy must have been sawed off by the rocking of the boat and waves crashing into it because there was only the line with it's shredded cut left on the boat. The anchor was probably still holding in the sand under the water somewhere (probably exactly where we dropped it), but the line had been cut off. Ray's dinghy line was also shredded, so he lost his dinghy. It was a traumatic day for us. I called Tow Boat U.S. again, to see if they would come and help us out. Turns out, the same man, Nick, came to help. A super nice guy, and one of those people who go beyond the call of duty to help. He called a marina to see if they would let us dock. We ended up in the "Isles Yacht Club" which is a private marina, but they were kind enough to let us stay until we decided what needed to be done. The next morning, this was on the front page of the Charlotte Sun Newspaper:
After two days in the Isles, we found Charlotte Harbor Ship Yard that we could go on the hard for $20/day and work on our own boat. It's a popular place for sailboats and motor vessels alike. A lot of very nice people here as well.
|Sea Casa on the hard. We are still living on her.|
|The boat lift|
|The boat folks house. Everything you need. Dishes, silver,|
tables, stoves, crockpots, microwaves, pots/pans, laundry,
and bathrooms with showers.
|Washer/dryer on the left, frig, dishes, silverware, tables. The |
room is all screened off with plastic curtains to keep out the
cold weather. And yes, it has been cold here!
Ok, now I have to say, it seems like the first two weeks of our journey were wonderful. No problems, nice weather, easy motoring/sailing. From Gulf Port Mississippi and on, it's been nothing but problems. It is humbling to think what things have happened, and even more humbling to realize we've pretty much been spared our lives. The Denton wave could've very easily been the end for us. Yes, it was that bad. Or the tornado could have taken us. Or the winds in Port Charlotte could've sunk our boat. So, from that perspective, I feel very blessed. So very thankful!! We still wonder if it's a big message telling us to stop our cruising life. We are aware of that notion and keeping it under our hats for the time being. It's possible we're being shown things we need to know in advance for future cruises further away from home. One way or the other, we are learning not only about cruising, but about each other and how we deal with situations. Amazing!! The adventure continues!