We haven’t updated our postings in quite a while. Today is Sunday, 1/27. Last we left you was in Tarpon Springs. A lot of water has gone under the keel since then. We left Tarpon Springs on 12/16 and arrived in Fort Myers on Christmas Eve. The first two nights we anchored in pleasant coves just off the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). Next we stayed for four nights in Bradenton, Florida due to high winds day-after-day. While in Bradenton we met up with Tom and Jody Goldman whom we befriended along the way. They took us to the Star Fish Company for lunch. Star Fish is more a local fish market that serves simple fish dinners on a deck overlooking the docks where the local fisherman bring in their catches of the day. We had fish and chips made from fresh grouper. It was the best we had on this trip. Don’t hesitate to try grouper if you have the chance. It’s a nice, light-tasting whitefish.
The next two nights found us in anchorages again, one of which was Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa Island. This anchorage came well-recommended. There were about eight other boats with us. In the morning we left early. The Captain was anxious to get to Fort Myers being that it was Christmas Eve. The Captain wondered to himself why the other big boats were not leaving. Well, it was a very low, low tide. The First Mate recommended waiting, but, no, the Captain elected to keep going and promptly went aground, the first time in over 4,000 miles of cruising. The Captain attempted to back off the sandbar, a common maneuver and generally not unsafe. It wasn’t unsafe but the high throttle over-torqued the rubber coupler on one of the shafts and it ripped apart leaving the boat with only one engine to move the boat.
And, to boot, we were still aground. We called TowBoat US, the Triple A of the water for assistance. By the time the towboat arrived, the tide had already come in and we had floated free. That left us to sail forty miles to Fort Myers on one engine. It took a long time. But, we arrived safely and tied up in a very nice marina.
We eventually determined that we needed to have the boat repaired professionally. We again had to run on one engine to the repair yard in Fort Myers Beach but it was only a twenty mile trip. The repairs, though extensive should have been done before we left on the Loop. The short story is the propeller shafts were binding in their rubber bearings and were nearly impossible to rotate by hand. It was determined that the shafts were bent at both ends all of which explained the vibrations that could be felt in the stern. We never knew any different because the condition has existed since we bought the boat five years ago. It is now a very happy boat. Smooth and quiet, no vibrations.
On Thursday (1/24), as part of the Great Loop Association’s LooperPalooza event, we opened our boat to inspection. We hosted a number of couples who are exploring boats to suit their needs for a Looper boat.
Fort Myers is a terrific city. Our marina is a five-minute walk from a VERY vibrant downtown filled with shops, ice cream parlors, and good eateries, including a pizza joint (Capones’s) that is the first one we have found in 4,000 miles of travel that meets the NewYork/New Haven standard of good pizza. We have eaten there twice and are going there again on Monday before leaving the following morning (1/29). We are meeting friends at Capone’s
from Connecticut (Fran and Vicki Patrick).
From Fort Myers we move east, continuing up the Caloosahatchee River, through a canal to Lake Okeechobee, across the lake to another canal and then on to the east coast at Stuart, Florida. From there we begin our northward trek up the ICW back to Maryland where we expect to arrive sometime in mid-May. We are skipping The Keys and the Bahamas this trip. That will come next winter.