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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!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

West Coast Florida With Friends

Hi All…Ben here,
Whew!  This has been a busy few weeks traveling on the west coast of Florida.    After we escaped the alligators in that Lake Okeefinokey, or whatever they call it, we were back in the ocean again going to some beautiful places on the west coast of Florida, and meeting up with a bunch of friends.  Jeff and Izzy will have to do some major drying out after all the partying they’ve been doing with their old friends.  Seems the older Jeff and Izzy get, the more their northern friends  have migrated to Florida for the winter.  Hmmm…I guess that proves you CAN teach old people new tricks. 
We had some favorite spots we wanted to revisit, and this is one of them.
It’s the island named Captiva and there are long sandy beaches with lots of little seashells that Izzy and Randi collected the last time we were here.  They rode bikes and went to the Mucky Duck for sunset drinks. 
Not many tourists here yet, so we had the beach and the chairs all to ourselves. 
I took this one of Jeff and Izzy.
Another favorite is Boca Grande with its long bike path that goes through town and continues the length of the island, along an old railroad path.
It leads to the famous lighthouse at the end of the island.  I didn’t go on the bike ride…never learned how to ride a bike, too old now.
On our way to Venice, we passed some of those big white pelicans that we saw in the Okeefinokey (?)
and lots of dolphins swim alongside our boat every day here in Florida.
Dolphin following our wake in western FL
I really like to hang out on the fly bridge and watch them jump.  I think they put on a special show if they know I’m watching.  I can see them turn on their sides and look at me sometimes, then roll over so I can see their bellies.   Dogs do that too.
Izzy keeps the leash on me, because she’s afraid I’ll fall overboard or want to chase them.
In Venice we had a special surprise.  Izzy’s high school friend Mary C and her husband, Dick, came to meet us for dinner at the Marker 4 Restaurant, right by our boat slip.  They had a great time.  I bet those two crazy gals had fun in high school!
Mary C remembered that it was Izzy’s birthday and brought a cake for dessert!
Izzy couldn’t get the candles to blow out for some reason…guess she’s getting old too.
Not to be outdone, Jeff got in contact with his friends Dick Dennis and his wife Janet that he new from his youth in Maine.  Jeff introduced them back then, and they have been together since. 
Our travels took us to Cabbage Cay where we anchored out in a quiet spot and Jeff and Izzy went to shore for dinner at the Cabbage Cay Inn.  Here they are at the bar with the owner of the whole island, Rob Wells.  They listened to his stories about the early days at Cabbage Cay.
It seems that a tradition started long ago by a sailor who wanted to be sure there would be  a beer there for him upon his return, so he paid in advance with a dollar bill with his name written on it.  The bartender posted it on the wall.  Others started doing the same, so by now the place is covered with dollar bills from all the visitors. 
Here’s Jeff with the dollar he left with “Izzy R” written on it.  Guess Izzy wants to return for another beer.  Wish he’d put my name on one.
The highlight, and main purpose of this leg of our trip was meeting up in St.Petersburg with Dave and Sue Knight – our good friends from California.  They hadn’t seen our boat yet, but have been doing their own touring in their RV for the past year, along with their dog, Tula.   We’ve missed seeing them and wanted to swap stories about our travels.
We barbecued on the boat and caught up with their adventures.
They all laughed and had a good time and took silly  pictures like this one.  I’m not sure why…
It’s probably for their dog, Tula, since she didn’t come over to the boat.
The next day we went to a Farmer’s Market a short walk from the Municipal Marina in St. Petersburg.  Our boating friend Maurice, who lives close by, met us to hang out for the day, too.
Sue got some instruction on how to do some stick tricks (?), and we tasted some of the local foods before heading back to the boat.   
The next day, another surprise!  Peggy and Larry arrived from Squim, Washington, to join all of us for more fun.
They all put on their “Izzy R “ crew shirts and got ready for a cruise around St. Petersburg.

Unfortunately, it was too windy to get out of the harbor,  and just as well , because Peggy was getting a little green even with the boat still tied to the dock!
So we went to the Municipal Pier and had a wonderful lunch at the Columbia Restaurant overlooking the water.  Peggy got the seat with her back to the water so she wouldn’t get seasick!
A toast to good friends coming from all over the country to meet up for fun!
Come again soon for a ride when there aren’t any wind and waves!
The next section of the trip back down the coast of Florida took us into some fog around Naples. Couldn’t see beyond my Poop Deck.
Izzy was a little nervous, but Jeff kept her busy watching the radar for boats in front of us. He told me she’ll be less apt to have her hair catch on fire if she’s occupied.   
By the time we got into the harbor in Naples, the fog cleared a little and we watched some fishermen bring in their catch and clean them at the dock.
We weren’t the only ones watching the fish cleaning!
I’m pretty sure these guys wanted a free dinner!
Jeff tried his hand at crabbing the next day in the anchorage at Little Shark River.   He managed to frighten a turtle, but that’s about all.
I’m not sure he’ll ever get the hang of the fishing thing.  It’s good that he’s better at driving the boat!
The next day I saw the chart of where we’re going tomorrow…and it’s blank… there isn’t any land on it!  That’ll be a loooooong day.  I wonder what‘s next for these two… and where they’re taking me.
I  hope it’s Chicago…
I got lots of good leftovers there!
I’ll let you know next time.
Till then…love,