Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ICW south to Key West

   Randy, Buddy, and I left Manatee Bay on Sunday 3/18/12.  Spinning around in the narrow space was a bit of a challenge but I had about 3' to spare. The ICW is shallow in some places but if you stay within the markers you are golden. There are plenty of anchorages available and we used Skipper Bob's guide and the Waterway guide.
 Our first anchorage was east of marker 84 and in front of Lore Leis restaurant.  We went in but found the food to be pretty bad but the beer was good.We anchored out away from shore as I didn't know what depth we would experience. It made for an interesting dinghy ride back in the dark. 
    The next day, Monday, we anchored at Long Key in a sheltered NE corner of the bay.  There were two other boats there and it was quiet.  We enjoyed some on board cooking and relaxing. .
    Our next stop is Boot Key Harbor. Wes and I anchored there in 2006. They have 226 mooring balls in the basin now and most of them are being used.  There are a few nice places on the bay that serve little umbrellas and have decent music.  We enjoyed karaoke our first night there.

cool dinghy seen at  Boot Key Harbor
Boot Key Harbor has 226 mooring balls plus room to anchor

 The 23rd we anchored in Newfound harbor and there was one other boat there.  It isn't a popular anchorage but worked great.  Another quiet night.  Buddy and I went ashore and walked around. Not a nice beach -- more of a wetlands.  Buddy enjoyed running around and smelling all of the strange smells.
our neighbor came over in his cool dinghy to say hi

We called the marina managing the mooring field in Key West and they have 50 mooring balls available. They rent for $17.50 per day or $300 per month.

    We headed West towards Key West on Hawks channel, in the Atlantic.  Pretty day with some roll to the waves -- probably 2-4 foot.  We came in towards shore at the southern most point and took a picture from the water of the monument.  We circled around the Key and tied up on a ball on the north side of the Key..  I decided to take the mooring ball for a month. We settled in and took the dinghy ashore downtown to go exploring.  The downtown dinghy dock is expensive.  $6 / day or $80 / month... . Will look for alternate means of getting downtown.

southern most point from the water

entering Key West

Key West  neighbors

     It turns out that key West has a bus service and they give military and us old guys discounts.  I have a 7 day pass for $3.75.We have been all over the island on the bus. We found a great hardware store within walking distance of the dinghy dock.  It is Strunk Ace hardware and they have everything.  We ate lunch at Hogs Breath saloon and breakfast at the French croissant Cafe.  I have some repairs to do on the boat so I won't get bored.  Buddy hasn't been on shore yet as it is a long dinghy ride to the dock.  Maby tomorrow.
bunch of navy guys swimming

Our transportation to shore

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Okeechobee to Boot Key Harbor near Marathon

Rick and I left Lake Okeechobee and continued on to the icw and east coast.  A soon as you hit the east coast the traffic increases tremendously. .We made our way south and anchored in Hobe Sound.  The boats and houses along this stretch are some of the finest in this country.
one of many nice boats

We found our spot to anchor in the sound and enjoyed the breeze and the view of the neighbors homes.  On Saturday we got up and went south to Tavenier and filled up with fuel at Palm Beach Marina.  Rick had a friend pick him up and off he went to rent a car and head back to Tampa.  Buddy and I left the dock with a strong wind trying to push us against the surrounding boats.  We headed south trying to find a nice protected anchorage.  We tried a small lake on the west side of the icw and couldn't get the anchor to hold in the soft mud.  At Boca Raton there is an indentation , in the icw, to the east that they call lake Boca Raton.  There were a couple hundred boats anchored there and everyone was partying.  Some spent the night and a lot went home at dark.  In the morning the weather reports promised 50 mph winds and rain storms with winds switching to the north. I pulled anchor and went to the north end of the lake and waited it out with a sailboat and two water cops. 

anchored in Boca Raton
Bill and I walked over to the beach in Boca -- windy and rough -- 7-9 foot waves out there

I stayed in Boca until Wednesday and brother Bill showed up.  He drove down from Pensacola and left his car next to a car rental in Boca and joined Buddy and I.

Yep-- that's brother Bill..He knows how to handle Daddy's Farm

We worked on the brace for the bow pulpit with some aluminum strap that Bill brought.  We  built a good strong brace.  Now I need to reinforce the deck where the windlass attaches.  That will be next.
The storms let up in a couple days and we headed south.. I wanted to just get out of the cities.. Our first anchorage was no name harbor in Key Biscayne.. It was Friday night and once again the anchorage was full of young people rafted together and having fun.  There were some kids on boats easily worth $700,000.  There were others waiting for a decent weather window to head to the Bahamas.  By now I am deciding to just head into the Keys on the icw (west) side and see some areas I missed last trip. Sunday we went south to Key Largo and passed through jewfish creek and anchored off of Gilbert's motel and restaurant.

Looking at Gilbert's from our anchorage.. (Bet they have some of those little umbrellas!)

Our neighbors in the anchorage
On Monday we went to Tavernier Creek and anchored outside the cove in about 7 foot of water.  it is still blustery. We took the dinghy to shore and gave Buddy some shore time.  We went back out to the boat and watched the topless gal paddle around the bay on her paddle board.  We decided to go back in and walked to the Cuban restaurant and got some great pressed cuban sandwiches.

they must have paddled for miles on these things

It is time to find Bill a rental car to drive back to Boca and get his car so he can get back to work.  I needed to reinforce the front deck for the windlass.  So we headed to Manatee Bay Marina to get the plates cut and drilled.  I put in to Manatee Bay marine and they ordered the plates -- 24" x 24" 3/8 thick aluminum plates.  If you are a cruiser and reading this I would suggest that their work is ok and they will gouge you on the Price if they can.  I was there several days and learned that the attitude is that you are transient and they can charge what they want. They more that doubled the price of the aluminum and inflated the hours worked.  I did the removal of the windlass and install of the plates.  They gave me a helper for install to hold the nut on the topside.. Oh well the outcome is great.. I have a very sturdy windlass and bow pulpit now and can anchor with confidence.

Good job -- well done

tight quarters in Manatee Bay Marine

Buddy on the swim platform

interesting 26' boat made in Norway.  Owner -Patrick taking her to Cape Coral

Daddy's Farm with the marine office in background

The office is on a barge -- beautiful inside

I met a nice group of guys at manatee bay.  The first night there Bill, Bill, Bill, Patrick, Al, Buddy and I went to dinner at the Pilot House Restaurant.. Neat place built on a dock and has a glass floor, with small grates that people put fish food through.  The area beneath is lit up and a lot of fish hang out looking for a free meal.  We had to give the Bills nicknames.  The guys help each other out and have become good friends.. It was fun going places with them and working together on our projects.

Bill got a car and left on the 13th.  Randy came on Saturday the 17th and joined up. We are going through the keys and looking for grass roofs indicating the possibility of some little umbrellas. We are in Boot Key Harbor and I will post again later on how we got here......  More to come.

Yep that's Randy aka bono

Randy Keene -- hard at work--

our neighbor anchored off Islamorada
Boot key harbor --hundreds of boats anchored here

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ft Myers Beach to lake Okeechobee

Ft Myers beach to Lake Okeechobee
We picked up a mooring ball in Ft Myers Beach.  Took Buddy to town and he got a chance to plant his feet on terra firma.  He sure loves to ride ashore… he gets pretty excited.  When on board, he falls right into a routine—up on the bridge in the morning and he hangs out with us there until we drop anchor. 
Oh yeah – Rick falls right into routine with Buddy.. “caught nappin”
We ate at the new sports bar at Salty Sams marina. They had been open only three days and Rick was able to give the manager a few tips after we ate. 
Our next day took us up the Caloosahatchee river  to Labelle.  We went through a few small locks that picked us up a foot or two.  We also saw some interesting bridges. Labelle is a very nice small town that is generous to boaters.  The dock is free to tie up and they have electric and water free also.  The city library is next to the dock and they have free wi fi that reaches to the dock.  We went into town and walked Buddy around and bought a hose for the shower discharge.  It has decided to leak.  We ate at a local pub and it was friendly and tasty.  Pot Roast sandwich – their special.
Going through the locks we hold onto two ropes to stay in place

One of the cool swing bridges they opened for us

They open the“high water” door slowly to raise the boat to the new level
Sure hope this bridge stays up –see the counterweights holdin it up?

Very boat friendly town,, Thank you for your hospitality!

At Labelle you back into the dock with our anchor out in front

Go ahead – turn your computer upside down

 Docked at Labelle

We headed for Clewiston next. The waterway is lined with farms and nice homes on large lots and acerage. When we got to Clewiston we found the lock is to enter Clewiston and so all we had to do is turn left and go out on Lake Okeechobee. The lake was super calm and glassy. It is 30 miles across and we headed over to anchor in the discharge canal past the lock. We finally saw some wildlife on this portion of the journey. We saw a lot of birds and alligators around the lake. We woke up to a big gator eyeing Buddy on the swim platform .. Buddy wasn’t impressed .. he lifted his leg and marked the anchorage his…… 

Moore Haven

Hooty whooo

gonna getcha
Albert -- Buddy's Buddy

Lake okeechobee

Denny and Buddy

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tampa to Ft Myers Beach

Hey there!!!
                                                              cayo costa island sunset
                                                              Rick always trying
                                                  In the mooring field at Ft Myers Beach
                                              Oh yeah that's a Hammerhead -- cute huh??
Here we go. I will try to make this blog do its thing. I took 95 pictures on our way to Ft Myers but fear not as I can't get any to upload. I will try to get them on later. Well - ok- not 95 of them. I am on a mooring and trying to use Salty Sam's wi-fi but I am pretty far away. They have installed more moorings here and it is a great place to land. $13 a day and everything is in nice condition. We dinghyed in to Matanzas to register and let Buddy check out land. We then came back to Salty Sam's and ate at their new sports bar. We have cool tropical breezes and the sun deck makes a great "office".
Rick Waltrip, Buddy,and I left Saturday at 4pm and went just under the skyway bridge, turned right and anchored by Oneal's marina about 6pm. The generator wouldn't start and I found the fuel turned off from servicing it. Turned it on and primed it and all is well. This is a nice sheltered anchorage we use often and we had a great gourmet meal thanks to Rick and turned in.
Sunday we ambled down to Venice and stopped to top of fuel and water and pump out. The local water police suggested we could anchor south of Tom Adams bridge so off we went. Turned out to be a great spot. We were in about 8 foot of water and it was quiet and peaceful. I discovered the starboard engine exhaust was leaking a lot of water into the engine room. In the morning a friendly neighbor took me to town in his boat and then his truck to get some new hose clamps for the repair.
I wasn't looking forward to it as the exhaust is behind the engine in the faarrrrr corner. We got the job done and off we go again.
We came down to Cayo Costa Island and anchored behind the island (the entire island is a state park). We had a beautiful view out across the gulf and enjoyed another sunset and quiet breezes. We did some fishing and I caught the first three fish. 9 inch, then a sail cat "ugh" and a really neat 16 inch hammerhead. Of course I was ragging on Rick not catching anything until he caught a 3 foot shark. not sure of its name -- we didn't keep it around long enough to get acquainted.
We had a leisure breakfast this morning as it truly was a nice spot. But time to move south and head east across the state. I called the Okeechobee waterway to check on the status of the locks, and lake, and learned that Clewiston lock is under repair and won't open again until Friday. We decided to amble on down to Ft Myers and so my tale is complete..
By the way Buddy is my dog. and he did the loop with me. I have his Barkalooperette to prove he completed it. He is a great boat dog and today when we put down the dinghy in the water he jumped right on board before we did. He is going to fall out of it one day as he stands up on the edge and balances while barking at all the birds and neighbor dogs. He tries to catch flys and he will throw himself out doing his acrobatics. He learned to do all of his 'business on the back of the boat on the loop. It took him awhile but is back on track.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daddy'sFarm gets back on the water

hi -- I am Denny Rodebush, captn of Daddy'sFarm and my constant on board "electrician": is Buddy my 10 year old boat dog. Our last trip was in 2006 cruising the great loop. See for our pictures and log. It is a trip you shouldn't miss.
After 5 years of short trips on Tampa bay it is time to head for the Bahamas. I have been getting the boat ready for months and I feel confident Daddy'sFarm is up to the task.. She is a 48' Uniflite "Yachtfisher" built in 1980. It is comfortable, safe, and mechanically sound.
The plan is to leave Tampa on Saturday, February 25 and start heading south. We will turn east at Ft. Myers then across Florida via the Okeechobee waterway to Stuart, then south to Ft Lauderdale to change crew members. After waiting for a "weather window" we will go where the breezes blow and little umbrella drinks are a requirement.