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Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Okeechobee and Alligators! January, 2011

Hi All…Ben here, 

Still wearing my birthday hat they put on me one night while we were in California for Thanksgiving.
They made a big deal about my birthday while we were at Dimitry and Sandy's house - seems I turned 100 years old.  Maybe they'll cut me a little slack now that I qualify for Willard Scott to show me on the label of a Smuckers jar.  
We had a party and I finally got to invite some canine friends - Bella and Lucy and Maggie - over for an Alpo cake.

  Sharing it was a little messy, but Sandy and D didn't mind, and we cleaned it all up pretty well ...as dogs do!
Here I am with Bella wearing my Nikes.  They were too big for her. 

Well, I'm warming up a little as we move south as fast as this slow boat can go. 

We were glad to reach Thunderbolt, Georgia where we were finally able to take off our scarfs and hats and feel the sun warm our bodies.  It really feels like the South now with the Spanish moss hanging in the trees 
Rocking chairs on the front porches, like these at Tubby’s Restaurant,
and the little children playing in the fountains.
Oddly enough, they were still there at night in this same position when I took my walk with Jeff.  Guess they don’t have to be home by dark like I do.   
The ICW is calmer here and we see lots of views like this one in The Isle of Hope in the mornings when the water is smooth and no one but us is traveling.  Makes me wonder if Jeff knows where he’s going…
Isle of Hope - south of Thunderbolt, GA
The evening anchorages are quiet too, like this one in a marshy spot south of Savannah.  I think I’m going to have to find his charts and check on his route plan.  I hope he’s not lost.
  Marshy anchorage at sunset in Georgia
No bugs yet since it’s still pretty cool at night.  Now I can spend some time on the deck in the evenings watching the sunset.
North River Anchorage , GA
We must have crossed the Florida border- that’s when we start to see the dolphins following us.
and the pelicans.
This one followed us for a long time.  I think he had those beadie eyes on my bone.
Now I’m just waiting for that Florida Line to get tangled in our props like it seems to do every year.
Remember this one from the first year?
and this one from the second year??

St. Augustine, FL is another favorite stopping spot. 
Leaving St. Augustine
We anchored in front of the city - right by the  Bridge of Lyons, and as the sun went down, a full moon came up and the city lights turned on to make us feel like we were in a fairy land.
We splashed the dinghy and rode to shore to walked in the city that evening with all its twinkling lights.
2011-01-19 21.11.49
In the morning we went under the bridge and continued down the ICW.
Lyons Bridge, St. Augustine
Another of our favorite stops is to see Ralph in Satellite Beach, FL. 
If you remember from my posts last year, he has a great yard that he’s not too crazy about my using (abusing),  but Kay and Harold are real nice and they let me go out there while they keep Ralph occupied in the house.
Jeff and Izzy always have a good time there with a lot of laughing, eating, and drinking.  I make an effort to cover up all Ralph’s smells with my own before we leave.
In Stuart, Florida, after a very long day on the ICW, we took an even longer detour out of our way because these two didn’t have their act together on the chart reading!  After 3 hour trip up the St. Lucie River, they realized the marina they were supposed to go to, where we had our mail sent,  was way back at the inlet from the ocean!  They turned around but by that time it was too late to get back to the one with  the reservation and the mail.  So we settled for a very nice new marina, Sunset Bay Marina, that was close by, and I got to finally get off the boat and walk in some real grass and sit in the rockers along the dock.  Well, I actually didn’t sit in the rockers, but Izzy did. 
The next morning the nice marina owner let Jeff and Izzy borrow his car to drive to the other marina to get the mail.  Unfortunately there was nothing in the mail pouch for me.
From here, we decided to cut across the state through a big lake called the Okeechobee so we could see some more of the west coast of the state again.  We really liked that area last winter when we went through and wanted to spend a few warmer days there.  Besides, our good California friends Dave and Sue (aka “Wild Woman”) and their dog Tula, are there in their RV, and Peggy and Larry are going to be there for a visit too. I haven’t seen them in a long time.  I hope Izzy will get me a haircut so I’ll be ready with my summer “do”.
The first day we traveled down the St.Lucie River to the edge of Lake Okeechobee, to the Port Mayaca Lock, where we had to stop for the night since we couldn’t get the whole way across the big shallow lake before dark.  We tied up to some pilings right in the middle of the river because there is nowhere to anchor.
It was pretty tricky.   Jeff had to drive the boat up close to the piling, then Izzy had to lasso the thing from the front of the boat.
  Jeff adjusting lines
Then Jeff backed the boat up and Izzy had to go to the back and do the same thing to the piling there.  She was wishing Larry  was there to help with the cowboy tricks.  
This pelican arrived later to check out our knots, I guess.
Jeff fired up the BBQ and we had pork chops for dinner before the mosquitoes arrived.
Jeff fires up the BBQ
The next day took us through the big shallow boring  lake.  The only sights were the white pelicans sitting on the tiny islands, having a picnic I think.
When we got to the other side of the lake I thought we should be at the ocean, but instead  we went through another long canal full of wild life.  Izzy said it’s the Caloosahatchee Canal.
Lots of birds of all sizes and shapes live here.
Vultures waiting for the gator's leftovers?
This one was drying his wings.
Apparently birds grow on trees here…like this one.
We saw another boat tied up to the pilings like we were in the “Izzy R” the night before.  I think these people slept in too late.  They probably don’t have a dog to get them up early.
Familiar tie up to the dolphins

And there were other boats that looked very odd…with a big fan on the back.  Jeff called them Air Boats.  The make a lot of noise and fly across the swampy grass real fast and never seem to get their props caught in any crab pots.  Jeff ought to think about getting one like that, but I don’t know where my bed would fit.
Pretty soon I spotted something in the water that gave me the creeps…
I took a closer look…yep…it was an alligator swimming right toward us!  I know it was an alligator because I’ve seen them on Animal Planet. 
They were everywhere…lounging on the shore,
and swimming in the water.  Makes me nervous because I think Alligators like dog meat!
alligators in the canal
I wonder if Jeff knows where he’s taking us!
Oh, well this explains it…he’s READING HIS BOOK!!
 Long straight stretches of canal - Jeff, are you watching the road - er water?
Someone’s got to take over this thing, and Izzy’s nowhere to be seen!
Where are we going?
I better have a look at that chart.  I think we’re over here.
MIle marker R25 is coming up, Jeff
I should have gotten more involved in the planning process instead of leaving it up to those two.  
Luckily either I got Jeff’s attention, or he finished the chapter, and he kept the boat moving faster than the gators can swim.  We passed the burned out trees with no leaves…I’m not convinced that he knows where we are.
We finally came to some civilization again at another lock.
I was relieved to see people and houses again.
Even these bees nests didn’t bother me now that we had escaped the gators.
Bees near La Belle - "The Sweetest Town in America"
We finally pulled up to a FREE dock (Jeff’s favorite type) in a little town called LaBelle, and used some more fancy docking techniques with an anchor out in the front of the boat, and a couple of lines tied to the dock from the back of the boat.  Izzy called it “Med style”.
I don’t much care what they call it as long as I can get off the darn boat for a while and take a walk.  My legs are crampin’ up on me these days and I need a good stretching once in a while. 
That was a scary ride today, and after a long walk in LaBelle, I need a nap!
Till next time…Good night y’all.  (that’s Southern!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter on the “Izzy R”– I Guess They’ll Never Learn

Hi All…Ben here freezing my tail off here in Myrtle Beach, SC!
You’d think after last year’s experience with the boat being frozen solid in the marina in Mississippi (see the January , 2010 post), that these two would have figured out that it gets COLD here on the east coast in January.  But Noooooooo!  Here we are again dreaming of Tahiti Beach as we negotiate the icy boat deck and docks.  I think Jeff and Izzy are wearing three pair of socks and all the clothes they brought along in this picture.   Luckily I have a fur coat. 
Cold days on the "Izzy R"
This is what the “Izzy R” looked like after the day of freezing rain.

slippery rails
  Yea, I know you are all thinking how pretty it looks, aren’t ya?  Well I’d like to see you navigate up that icy deck to the “yard”, in the 25 degree weather every time you had to do your business .  Even if I had thumbs and could reach that rail, I don’t think I’d hold on to it.  Good thing for Izzy and Jeff that  I have short term memory loss, or I wouldn’t try this a second time.
 If I wait a while it'll be frozen and easier to pick up!
Yep, that’s snow…somebody’s gonna break a hip! 

Good news - while we were in California, Jeff bought a new motor for the dinghy so Izzy and I can get the thing started with a button, instead of pulling on a rope and getting a charlie horse. 
Bad news – we have to take off the old one, mount the new one on the dinghy and raise it back up onto the top of the boat…. in the freezing rain! 
Here’s Jeff trying to get the frozen puddle of water out of the dinghy while Izzy is up on the top deck scraping off the ice.   Jeff wanted me to help, but I pretended I couldn’t hear him. 
Ice-filled dinghy - and no gloves!
These two sail boaters had to walk up a long slippery hill carrying all their shower stuff to get to the marina showers.  At least Izzy and Jeff have nice warm showers on board.   Personally, I’m waiting till Spring.
cold sailboaters headed for the showers on the icy dock
We took a wild ride to return the icy car to the rental place
Returned the rental car
Then packed headed south down the ICW in the fog and freezing rain to find  warmer weather.  The trees were covered with ice making the waterway look like a fairy tale picture. 
Not much for me to do now, so I’ve been watching the news.  Seems the astrological charts have been adjusted.  Jeff’s sign used to be a Scorpio, and now it’s Virgo.  Izzy used to be an Aquarius, and now she’s a Capricorn.  Not sure what all that means, but as long as they still like dogs, it’ll probably be okay.  
If they’re changing signs, I think they should go with something like this…
This image is property http://www.roadtrafficsigns.com

or this – kinda like Prince, don’t ya think? 
“The Dog Formerly known as Ben”
But Jeff says my sign is Feces…and it didn’t change.

I’ll let Jeff and Izzy do the driving today, while I snuggle up with my pet rabbit. 
Back to my bed and my stuffed rabbit
It’s good to be home, even in the cold.