12/14/04 We are sitting in the airport in Orlando heading home for the holidays and it will be strange to be off
the boat for 3 weeks. We have been onboard for 160 days now and will look forward to getting back here in January and heading
south again. We had originally planned to be in the Keys by now but we had so much fun with my Aunt Carol and Uncle Mike Gent
we delayed our southward progress. Mike was one of the ones who got me interested in boats at an early age. We always looked
forward to summer visits with them and the chance to do some water skiing, fishing and generally having a good time. I still
look forward to visiting them and having been in their area for the last few weeks we have had a terrific time again. We will
spend a night or two with them on the way back but for now it's home to the mountains and then a trip to Pittsburgh and Wilmington,
NC to see the kids. Leaving the warm weather here for the cold, and I do mean cold, of Pittsburgh doesn't sound like a fair
trade but getting to see our kids makes it all worth while. I'll update the web site when we return and find something to
write about again. Until then have a Happy Holiday and good New Year.
1/4/05 We are sitting in the airport waiting for our flight back to Orlando and then it's over to the coast and
the boat. Air travel is always interesting even when it goes smoothly which was not the case this time. I had mistakenly booked
our return flight to Orlando for a 10:20 pm departure instead of the expected 10:20 am departure. The idea of spending 12
hours in the airport not to mention the mess it would create on the other end with our pickup in Orlando was not one I looked
forward to so the good people at US Air told us about a $25 standby fee and we could leave on the 10:50 AM flight which had
seats available. I always consider money paid for education well spent and in this case the tuition for learning about online
booking is $50 or equivelent to one night in a marina. Debbie keeps our budget so I hope I find a good anchorage to make up
for the unexpected "learning" expense.
1/5/05 We are back at the boat after spending our first night back in Florida with Mike and Carol and eating like
pampered quests. When things go really great at a particular stop it makes leaving really tough and this will be the toughest
departure yet. Thanks to them for all they have done for us!! We'll be back!!
1/8/05 We spent the last 2 nights back at the Sabastian Inlet Marina and had a good time. I went fishing with Bobby
and Joe on the Thrillseeker, Bobby's commercial fishing boat and the idea was to fish for more king mackeral. We didn't get
any king's this time but Bobby is also a diver and if the boat doesn't make money then he puts on his dive gear and goes spearfishing.
Joe and I stayed on top and watched his bubbles to keep tabs on his location and we got to do some bottom fishing while Bobby
was down. We caught a lot of sea bass and Bobby was busy on the bottom. The catch bag that Bobby handed us when he came up
had 4 huge grouper and one 45 pound cobia. Bobby looked exhausted from fighting these fish by hand while underwater and took
a break for a few hours. We fished some more and Bobby took another dive and got more grouper. We headed in as the sun
went down and got to see a wonderful sunset from out on the ocean. When you see that grouper in the case at the supermarket
be assured that someone worked hard to bring it from the sea to your market.
1/9/05 We left the marina and headed to Stuart. We stayed the night in Manatee Pocket, a local anchorage, and left
the next morning westward on the St. Lucie canal.
1/10/05 Spent the night tied to the town dock at Belle Glade next to Slim's Fish Camp. The hurricanes destroyed
Slim's and there doesn't appear to be much effort to rebuild any time soon. The town docks were as high as our roof so we
stayed on the boat and left early the next morning. Lake Ockeechobee is one big lake. The second largest freshwater lake in
the US. We decided the rim route would give good protection and more to see than heading straight across the lake. The guides
failed to mention that the first 8 miles or open to the lake and can be quite rough if the weather is not good. We had fair
weather and some bumps but made it to the protected part after and hour or so and enjoyed the scenery. Debbie got to see her
first alligator on the shore. We saw a big marina that had very large cruising boats that got blown ashore during the hurricanes
and I don't have a clue how they intend to get them back in the water.
1/11/05 Left Belle Glade for the trip past Clewiston, Moore Haven and then into the Okeechobee Waterway to LaBelle for
the night. Free dock here but they required a Med style mooring which means you put the anchor out in front of the boat and
back up to the dock and tie at the stern. Not much fun getting off the boat that way but it's free and they let you stay for
3 days with electic and water. Nice big yacht next to us. I hope the anchors hold!! We will do laundry tomorrow and ride the
bikes to the supermarket for supplies. Had a good dinner at Don's Steakhouse about a mile walk away from the boat. I sure
hope the traffic on the bridge next to the boat dies down tonight. It's noisy now. I need to mention that we stopped at Roland
Martin's resort in Clewiston to get gas and it looked like a very nice place. Roland Martin is famous for his fishing TV series
and if we come this way again we will make sure to stop there for the night. Nice docks, nice dockhands and good resturant.
1/15/05 We are staying in Centenial Harbour Marina in Ft. Myers for a week. We like the marina and there is a boat here
we have cruised with before when we were up at St. Simons Island. We are figuring out the city bus schedule and I think the
bus drivers here are the nicest yet. We have seen two movies since we arrived and are starting to get the "lay of the land".
The fishing here is great. I was casting off the outer sea wall of the marina last night and managed to hook dinner and then
some. 2 huge Jack Cravels, one legal trout and one lady fish. They also have top sail catfish here that tasted better than
the freshwater cats I'm use to getting. I was hoping they would have wireless here but it's a pay service and I'll wait to
post more as we get a good connection. I'm in the Captain's lounge here at the marina using their connection and it's a lot
better that the one I get with my cell phone. I still have a terrible time getting my mail when messages have big attachments.
1/22/05 We are parked in Ft. Myers Beach Marina after being on a mooring in the harbor for the last 3 days. Finally
found a high speed connection so I'll put up some photos for a change. We are having a problem with the birds here. I'll explain.
Debbie and I were walking out on the pier at the beach yesterday and Debbie had stopped to get an ice cream cone before we
walked out to the end of the pier. I don't usually worry about the sea gulls, they are annoying everywhere, but these guys
are smart here. As we walked shoulder to shoulder Debbie had her ice cream cone in her hand between us when all of a sudden
we felt the wings of a gull between the two of us and the gull had swooped down over our shoulders and taken a slice of ice
cream right out of the center of her cone without even slowing down. Alfred Hitchcock(the Birds) could not have done
it better. Debbie was stunned by the birds boldness and protected her cone with her other hand from then on. Our second
bird problem was this morning while we were still in bed. We heard birds on the roof which is not that uncommon except today
they were dropping small blue crabs on the cabin top to kill them and then they were jumping around trying to eat their stunned
prey. I'm not sure were they got the crabs from but I used them for bait later after chasing the gulls away. Other than
the birds we really like it here at Ft. Myers Beach. Lots of things going on and all within walking distance from the boat.
Mark (our designer) really liked the way our boat turned out. This is the first time he has seen it and I think he has told
every one in the harbor about us. We met his mom, Ruth, a wonderful lady who is very much of the boating tradition. She and
her Husband built several boats and cruised with 5 kids aboard. She is living here on the boat that Mark designed and was
built by her late husband.