There is such a weight off of our shoulders now that we have left Stuart. After 4+ months of commissioning and awaiting our boatshow obligations, we just now feel that we have our life back and we can again enjoy cruising and exploring new destinations. And we are!
After a two day trip across Florida via Lake Okeechobee, we arrived in Fort Myers on Monday 3/21, staying at Legacy Harbour Marina right in the historic downtown area. Many restaurants and shops are within walking distance, as well as a grocery store. We had our car available during our stay. Afterwards, our good friends Scott and Jean Hickey, who have a new home in Naples are letting us keep the car in their garage while we are cruising this year. We enjoyed our time in Ft. Myers visiting them, along with our other local friends Kirby and Susan Shoaf and Alan May and Linda Thompson. It was also fun catching up with other friends at the marina, who we met during our stay there during the winter of ’15/’16. They had us on a different dock than we had last year, but that just meant new faces at the nightly “cocktail” gatherings.
We had the most bizarre thing happen while there. Mark went up to the flybridge to get something and immediately came down and said I just had to see something. I got up there and saw a swarm of bees suspended from a railing! Thousands of them! This sudden appearance of a swarm is apparently fairly common at this time of the year. The marina had seen this happen on another boat the previous week. When a hive get too crowded, the queen bee leaves her hive and brings with her about half of her workers, scouts and drones. When she gets tired, she lands and so do her subjects. She unfortunately picked our boat to land on. The remaining half of her original hive “elects” a new queen and starts replacing their departed brethren. The dock master gave us the name of a beekeeper to call in case they didn’t leave in a day or two. Of course this occurred on Easter Sunday. The local beekeepers charge $200 to remove the bees even though they’ll keep them to form a new hive for the honey. So we decided to wait a couple days before handing over any cash and sure enough two days later the queen bee took off along with her subjects. Pauline happened to see them leaving. It was really quite interesting to see all these bees swirling through the air like a mini tornado and moving across the river. Hope they found a nice new home! There was a group of about 50 or so who were still there the next morning. These apparently are scouts who were out looking for a new home and when they came back the queen was gone, but they could still smell her scent so they stayed. We again waited for two days and they weren’t leaving. They were probably going to die anyway, so we decided it was time for them to go. We sprayed them with soapy water and that was that. No more bees!
Mark celebrated his 73rd birthday in Fort Myers! Our friends Kirby and Susan from Naples joined us for dinner out. We came back to the boat to enjoy a cake that Kirby made – carrot cake, Mark’s favorite. Our friends Chris and Gail Wilkinson, fellow Krogen owners, on Tortuga, joined us. Pauline surprised Mark with the gift of a ukulele! It has been on his bucket list for a long time and he really wants to learn how to play. Hopefully he’ll be strumming some tunes in no time! Learning new things keeps the brain active, right?
On April 4th we left Legacy Harbour Marina in Fort Myers for Fort Myers Beach. No, they are not the same place. Fort Myers Beach is about 14 miles further downriver at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee. We spent one night there. The next morning we departed Fort Myers Beach to begin run to Marathon Key. We tried to get into our marina there a few days ahead of our reservation date, but were not able to do so. The weather as been very usual this year, with consistent strong north winds, instead of the more gentle SE winds. As a results, the “snowbird” boats were slow in departing for their annual run up the east coast to home waters. So we were forced to anchored in Little Shark River for three nights. This was our first time anchoring Next Dance for an evening. We travelled approximately 10 hours from Fort Myers Beach to Little Shark River on the Gulf of Mexico. We had a great trip coming down. Some occasional four foot waves from behind us, but otherwise two to three footers. No problem for a KK, Next Dance operated flawlessly.
Dolphins on the bow!
Little Shark River is major drainage river of the Everglades, with no human habitation for 25+ miles. But plenty of alligators, no swimming there! Also, when the sun goes down, we were mobbed by man-eating mosquitos and VERY annoying biting no-seeums. Pauline was covered with welts from bites. Mark was left pretty much untouched. She attributes this to being very sweet (not!). This would have been a great place to explore by dinghy, but we decided not to try to launch it. The current is quite strong here and reverses 4 times a day. Besides we probably would have gotten eaten alive. On Tuesday night we had the anchorage completely to ourselves. It’s too bad that we couldn’t enjoy sitting outside because of the darned bugs. After our peaceful, pristine anchorage we headed due south over the Florida Bay for 43 miles to Marathon, which lies about halfway down the chain. Pleasant trip, but very shallow water. Most of the way we had only 3 to 5 feet under our keel.
Special note: we have activated a new device on board that provides us with continuous satellite communications anywhere on the globe. One of the features of this device is a track of our route while we are underway. It records our location every 10 minutes and send that position via satellite to the monitoring company. That live track is available on line for anyone to see. To view it go to https://share.delorme.com/NextDance. The arrowhead icon is our current position. On the left it shows the date and time of our last position it recorded. Try it out. All we have to do here is to remember to turn it on when we get underway.
We have been hearing from other Krogen’s, who had planned to go to the Bahamas, and had to change their plans due to weather – very windy and very rough seas. So many of them are heading north a little earlier than planned. We are still hopeful that the weather patterns will settle down over the next two weeks and give us a window to cross. Mark’s son Scott and his significant other, Emily, are scheduled to join us in the Abacos in the Bahamas for a 8 day cruise. It’s a five day cruise from current location to Marsh Harbour, where they land on the 30th. We have given ourselves a 8 day window to make the journey. We would be quite sad not to be able to get there. This would really change plans for Scott and Emily to join us. Worst case, we’d have them get off the plane in Fort Lauderdale, rent a car and join us here in the Keys. Not so bad.
It’s now April 20 and we will be leaving Marathon Key on Saturday. Right now the weather forecasts look promising! We have enjoyed our time here. Two other Kadey Orogens, a Gratitude, a 48′ like ours with Maria and Roberto Rosa, and a 58′, Tapestry, with Lisa and Mark Caruthers, are also here. We’ve enjoyed getting to know them better. We’ve gone exploring the area in our dinghy and have had our fair share of the world class french fries at Burdine’s, a local tiki bar. Some Colorado friends, Zoe Ann and Stuart Smith, happened to be visiting friends in Marathon, so we were able to spend a day with them. Stuart is ready to start living the lifestyle we are, but Zoe Ann is definitely not there yet. It was great catching up with them.
Marathon has long been a winter gathering place for Krogenite’s – those who still have boats and those that do not. One of the couples we’ve met here had high ranking State Department appointments during the Clinton administration. It has been interesting to hear their thoughts on the current state of affairs with the upcoming election. They have a home in Annapolis, MD, but have been coming down here for 10+ years and are now buying a condo. John is a accomplished musician and plays his banjo with a local blues group every Friday night! Quite a lifestyle change from his years in Washington. On Wednesday mornings, the local Kadey Krogen group gathers at a local restaurant for breakfast. Most of this group no longer own a boat, but they loved Marathon so much, that when boating was no longer possible, they settled here or winter here.
One afternoon we took a dinghy ride with Maria and Roberto of Gratitude. They showed us one of the areas they discovered. It is an island that is no longer accessible by car. There are people who still live there and some sunken boats too.
We have explored the area and even took the local bus down to Key West for a day. Well, actually two days. A week ago we spent a day there being total tourists. Then late last week Pauline asked about clearing customs when we return from the Bahamas. We totally forgot to obtain the necessary documentation to re-enter the US on a pleasure vessel. So this entailed us another trip to Key West yesterday to be interviewed by a representative from Customs and Border Patrol. So we hopped on the bus again, along with all of our necessary documentation for our interview. We were in and out in 15 minutes! So we did more sightseeing.
The bus ride takes about 1-1/2 hours to get there and about 2 hours to come back. 140 miles round trip with a number of stops. The ride is beautiful and only costs $1.50 each way (senior fare). What a bargain! Not worth renting a car and trying to park down there. We saw a lot of unusual characters on the bus. The lifestyle is very laid back down here to say the least. We had visited Key West back in 2002 when we had put our sailboat on the market in Tampa Bay and Mark’s son joined us for a long weekend there. It’s a fun place, but not someplace you want to spend a lot of time in. The historic downtown area has many beautiful “Key West” style houses that now sell in the millions. It was probably a wise decision to purchase something there years ago and renovate it. There is a lot of interesting history there, along with the flora and fauna.
On Saturday, we will leave Marathon and will anchor off of Rodriguez Key for the night. Then head up to Key Biscayne and anchor there for the next night. On Monday morning we plan to cross from Key Biscayne to West End in the Bahamas. We will be in the Gulf Stream for most of this crossing. This great river of the Atlantic flows north at 2.5 mph and when added to our 8.5 mph normal cruising speed, it will enable us to cross in about 10 hours. Right now the weather looks good and the seas should be relatively calm. Just the way you want to do it! Pauline is looking forward to getting her fishing rod set up in hopes of catching some fish along the way!
Hopefully the next update of this blog will be filled with all of our adventures in the Bahamas. But when boating, all plans are written in sand. We are so looking forward to those beautiful turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches, conch fritters, fresh fish and lobster! We also plan on getting good use out of the water maker we just had installed. Fresh water is very hard and expensive to obtain there. No wells and little rainfall, so all drinking water is made by reverse osmosis (which is how our water maker works) and costs about 25 to 50 cents/gallon. We have a 400 gallon water tank on board, but we use about 50 gallons a day per person, drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry, toilet flushing and spraying the salt off the boat, so it adds up fast. It will be interesting for us to see how the area in the Abacos has changed since we were there many years ago cruising on a chartered sailboat. We can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Here’s a picture of all the Kadey Krogen’s currently enjoying the Bahamas! This is an app called Krogen Finder, otherwise known as “Krogen Stalker”. To see who they are, you just have to click on the pin and the boat name pops up. Pretty cool! We are sure to run into some of them while we are there.
Until then, fair winds and calm seas . . .
Greetings furriends! After months of peace and quiet on the boat, the engine has begun to roar again. We have to admit we are not particularly fond of this development. When the engine roars, it means that the boat will move. We haven’t moved in some time, so it’s going to take some getting used to again. When we are underway, we assume our positions under the chairs in the salon. This is where we feel safe. Mom has decided to give us some medication which makes us very sleepy. This also ensures that we don’t throw up! After about four hours it wears off and by then we are used to the motion and start walking around. It’s been pretty calm so far, so it’s not too bad.
The good thing about this moving of the boat is that we are getting to see some new sights! That’s always interesting. When we got to Fort Myers there were a lot of people who wanted to see us again. Last year we would sit on the anchor pulpit and look down on people walking by. This year we backed into the slip, so we could only watch people walking on the dock from our cat tree on the back pouch. The people all say nice things to us as they walk by.
It’s been really purrty quiet for us lately. No big excitement. We’ve been just hanging out, sleeping, playing and being pampered. We’ve both been behaving too. I don’t think we’ve gotten into any trouble at all since our last writing. We’ve occasionally hidden ourselves purrty well so that mom and dad can’t find us. The engine room has a lot of great hiding places, but can be very noisy at times! Pema did take the opportunity to jump onto the dock, but she got caught right away and jumped back on the boat quickly. Meow.
Here in Marathon we’ve really enjoy sitting on our cat tree and watching pelicans diving in the water. We also have seen these big, fat, slow moving creatures in the water around the boat. We don’t think they are fish. I think I heard mom calling them manatees, or something like that. I also think that she posted a photograph of one in this blog somewhere. (By the way, she takes way too many pictures of us.) We’ve become pretty accomplished at catching big dragon flies too! The weather has been so nice here and we’ve been spending a lot of time outside.
There has been a lot of talk again about moving. Meow. This time they’ve been talking about someplace called the “Bahamas”. Mom keeps telling us how blue the water is there, just like our eyes. She also has told us we will then be in another country! Well, that’s purity exciting. We can now say we are international traveling cats.
Well that’s it for now. Next time we’ll tell you all about our adventures in the Bahamas.
Ming & Pema, boat cats