Jan. 11 - Tuesday
We woke up to fog – very thick. We couldn’t see the banks that were just off the boat nor the sailboat about 70 yards away. We waited till 9:00 – the fog lifted enough that we could see one-half mile. We ran in the fog for most of the day. It was rather eerie. Dave had trouble seeing crabpots because he couldn’t determine the horizon – I was able to see them in time. The Gulf was smooth as glass – no wind and no waves. We used the radar to see other boats and day markers and Dave didn’t panic while traveling in 8-10 foot depths. When the sun broke through we could see the bottom and even see the crab cages as we passed them. We had dolphins along side later in the afternoon but no pictures of them. The one problem is that the engine is again not fixed. We continue to get air in the fuel line for the starboard engine. Dave is getting discussed. We passed under the 7 mile bridge (a destination) about 2:30 and are now in the Keys. We arrived and were docked by 3:15. We were greeted by two boats both from MI (see picture they are on either side of us). It is a small world. Our friends Pam and Stephen also came by in their dinghy – came aboard and talked for a little while. The day was hot – 78°. We are so excited to be in the Keys and at our home for the next couple of months. Another leg of the trip is complete – we celebrated this destination. We can’t believe we are here:)
Jan. 10 - Monday
Little Shark River
Today is Dave’s birthday. We were up and off the dock early as the trip to the Little Shark River would be 60 miles. The day was very quiet so the waters were calm. We had a lot of crap pots so we kept eyes open for the whole trip. The Little Shark River is a well protected anchorage within the Everglade National Anchorage. It is a beautiful location but the tidal current is strong. There were two sailboats in the river when we arrived. We had cocktails on the aft deck as the weather was warm but moved inside at sunset as the mosquitoes and noseeums came out. We turned in early.
Jan. 9 - Sunday
Marco Island Marina
We are up and leaving the dock at 7:30 – it is good to be back on the trip but we are relearning and rethinking some of our routines. The winds are stronger during the morning, but die down in the afternoon. The trip was uneventful and there was no problem with the starboard engine today. We did see Dragonfly (a Looper we met at the rendezvous) as we were heading out into the Gulf. They were heading towards Fort Myers. We reached Marco Island and were docked at the Marco Island Marina by 3:00. This marina is lovely and has lots of amenities. We walked towards town but didn’t get all the way in as it was over a mile. The picture is of the marina. We were well protected from the Gulf.
Jan. 8 - Saturday
We are still in North Fort Myers and waiting for the winds to quiet. The gulf is very ruff today with small craft warnings – so we are not moving again today. We did our grocery shopping by using backpacks and bikes to get to Publix. I did a pretty good job of estimating how much would fit into two backpacks. The weather says tomorrow will be good so we are stowing away bikes and preparing the boat to travel.
Jan. 7 - Friday
There are small craft warnings on the gulf today so we once again are staying at the dock. I did laundry in hopes that we might be able to move tomorrow. We also washed the aft deck screening and put it away. The salt air really makes the screens dirty quickly. We will run without them up for the trip to Marathon. Dave took a bike ride in the afternoon – it was good to get some exercise.
Jan. 6 - Thursday
Ok, this is getting ridiculous! We aren’t moving today – yet another front slid in so the winds are again up and the seas are not friendly. It rained most of this a.m. I was able to wash fenders in the afternoon and Dave got in a short bike ride, but otherwise we are staying dry and warm inside.
Jan. 5 - Wednesday
Took the opportunity to wash the boat today – winds are strong and there was some rain yesterday. So now Hallelujah has the salt washed off – at least for a couple of hours. I continue to try and bring our daily logs up to date – it is a huge chore but I now have the binders I need to do it properly. Dave continues to watch the weather stations about 5 times a day.
Jan. 4 - Tuesday
Since we couldn’t leave today – a cold front moved in faster than reports predicted. We took the time to go shopping – one of my favorite activities. We used the public transportation and went to Edison Mall and then rode our bikes to a Target (about 7 miles away from the boat). It was another productive day – I seem to remember things I need when we have no car. But walking and riding are good exercise. We know we are not leaving tomorrow.
Jan. 3 - Monday
Ok, the rental car was turned in this a.m. We are now with out fast transportation but have enjoyed having the car for 2 weeks. Don, the diesel mechanic is back this morning. We had hoped to leave after he helped us out with the stuffing boxes, but it was noon before he left so we lost today of travel. But the engine room is all tidy and clean. We changed the oil this past week and now I have little to do in the engine room. We did have guests aboard this afternoon. A former Looper couple we met in 2006 and traveled with drove down from Burnt Store. Mini and George took us to Olive Garden for lunch. We had a great time talking about the Loop. We hope that they will take our invitation and join us when we go to the Bahamas. We had a quiet evening but weather reports changed during the afternoon. So we are not leaving tomorrow.
Jan. 2 - Sunday
This is the last day with a rental car so we do the big grocery shopping trip! Everything is stowed away so that we have food for at least a week. We review our charts and also the weather. Then we settle in for a quiet evening.
Jan. 1 - Saturday
Happy New Year! Spent the day with family and storing away all Christmas decorations. Very quiet day. I’m trying to finish a book from the marina library that I’m reading. I have so much enjoyed all the books in the small library (about 200 books) that has donations from boats who have traveled through here. I added a couple to their stock. I think I’ve read about 30 books this month. Of course I’m not getting a ton of sleep as I do most of my reading at night. We returned to Hallelujah after dinner and spent a relatively warm night aboard.
Dec. 31 - Friday
We started to do a test run with the new racors this a.m. only to find that the stuffing boxes were not put back together correctly. The engines did run great for the 2 hours we had them running. Then we packed a small suitcase and went to spend New Years with Aunt Eloise. No big celebration plans, just a small cheer and ringing in of the New Year.
Dec. 30 - Thursday
We hope to be leaving early next week so we took time this am to run errands and pick up last minute items that we may need along the way or while in Marathon, FL. We won’t have a car while in the keys (at least that is the current plan). We went out to dinner at a favorite restaurant that is a 30 minute drive from the boat – it was good!
Dec. 29 - Wednesday
Our favorite diesel mechanic is aboard today. We think we have found the problem with the starboard engine – a leak in one of the racors on the port engine. Don ordered new racors and installed them today. He has spent many hours with us trying to diagnose the air leak. Over the past two weeks he has eliminated all hoses (did have to replace the hose from the manifold to the racor on the starboard side) but everything else was running fine. He found it wasn’t an engine problem by diverting the racor on the last sea trial and running directly to the engine and she purred! Today will be the final fix we hope. Don also showed Dave how to get the stuffing boxes open. It took all of 2 minutes – so much for trying to use a cheap mechanic. Stuffing boxes were completed by Tom in the afternoon. We are trying to stay warm.
Dec. 28 - Tuesday
Tom is back aboard to work on the stuffing boxes but no luck in getting them apart. We didn’t do much today except stay warm. I worked on the log book of our journey. Such an exciting life. We like this marina and are learning our way around by using bikes and public transportation. It is always nice to have a car though. Page Page, a colleague from GVSU drove down for Sarasota to see us in the afternoon. She was surprised by the size of the boat. We had a great chat about events in MI. It is always fun to see old friends.
Dec. 27 - Monday
Way to cold! We moved to Aunt’s house because temperature will be at 32° tonight. We have had a mechanic aboard to work on the stuffing boxes (the holes that go through the hull that the engine shafts fit through. These holes have been leeking – well a steady leak – and needed to be repacked with a special wax. Tom has been aboard for 2 days and can’t get the boxes loose. This is getting frustrating. So much for boat work. It seems that anything that needs to be completed is a big project (repacking should take a total of 1 hour!).
Dec. 26 - Sunday
Nothing exciting to tell about – went to Church, did last of grocery shopping and settled in for another cold blast from the north. We are really glad to have the extra space heater in the main cabin. It really heats the boat and our silk comforter does the trick during the night. We had a quiet evening aboard and a light dinner after all the food we ate over the holidays. We need to get more exercise but the weather continues to be cold and wet today.
Dec. 20 / 25 - Monday / Saturday
We have a car for the next week – so we are trying to get a ton of errands done and get some things ready for the next trip – the keys. We have about two weeks but time slips by. I found a GFS store in Ft. Myers so we make a trip for cookie dough (pull out of the freezer and have great cookies without having all the supplies for making them). We are spending a lot of time this week at Eloise’s – Dave’s Aunt. We even stayed over on Christmas Eve night – she enjoyed that we didn’t come back to the boat. We (both Dave and I) got a TV fix – watching old movies. We again spent Tuesday and Wednesday on the water testing different ideas that Don has. He has been very patient with this engine problem. But the last trial on Wednesday did the trick – we hope! It seems that the racor fuel filter has a leak in the valves – all hoses to the engine are now fixed and that was the last item that could be a cause of the problem. The boat ran great on Wednesday’s sea trial (Don bypassed the racor filter altogether). Our only problem was coming in – the winds kicked up and as Dave backed into the dock he hit the back corner of the boat on a piling – so now we have fiberglass work to have done! So much for fixing boat problems – new ones happen all the time. New racor units were ordered for both engines and will be installed next week. We had a good Christmas with a complete turkey dinner (Dave and I really enjoyed that). I did all the cooking but it was worth it – leftovers are great! We came back to the boat on the 25th as weather was worsening – good thing as lines needed to be tightened so boat didn’t hit pilings. When the wind blows it really blows - we were rocked to sleep Sunday night.
Dec. 17 / 19 - Friday / Sunday
No car this weekend – no weekend special so we stay aboard Hallelujah. We continue to have Don aboard to trace engine problems – it is a process of elimination. He hooks a hose from the tank to the engine and we look for air. We had to run the boat up and down the river a couple of times this weekend but it still stopped. Don will be back this coming week to try some other experiments. I wasn’t feeling well over the weekend so it was good that we didn’t have any good plans. Sunday was not a good day – so I just stayed in bed. I must have caught some sort of flu bug but can’t imagine how as we are not really around people a lot. We have now been to two of the four restaurants – both about the same in quality of food, but it is a chance to get out for a change. Can’t believe we have been here almost three weeks. The picture is of where the marina is – can’t see it from the river. We are parked in front of the tall condo units and behind the shorter ones – we can’t see the river from here but we are better protected that way from most of the stronger winds. The tall condo units protect us from most of the northerly winds.
Dec. 13 / 16 - Monday / Thursday
Pelican on river
We had Don (diesel mechanic) aboard early in the day. We told him the history of the starboard engine, but the engine decide to be a good girl and started right up and didn’t burp the whole time he was aboard. Go figure! So Don will be back on Thursday and we’ll take a spin up and down the river. I took the pelican picture while we were on the river. Didn’t do much else on Monday or Tuesday as the weather has hit record lows here is Florida – low 30° at night and high in 40’s during the day. We take short walks – the marina is about 3 blocks long and we walk from one end to the other – some boats have Christmas decorations up so they are nice to see after dark. We do laundry, and found a 7-11 about 2 blocks away that has some staples. But we are enjoying a quiet daily routine. We watch news on TV at 5:00 with cocktails but there isn’t much else on the 3 – 4 stations we can pick up with our small antenna.
Dec. 10 / 12 - Friday / Sunday
We now have a weekend routine. We get a car early a.m., take Eloise grocery shopping, run other errands, do cooking (this weekend it was Christmas cookies) and visit with her. We had Eloise aboard on Friday for dinner – I’ve been cooking at her house so I thought it would be nice to have her over here. She did very well with steps on the boat (she doesn’t see well and doesn’t drive anymore). Saturday night we were invited to a Christmas tree trimming party with dinner. I made scallop potatoes that were a hit with the group. Sunday I take Eloise to church. We had a quiet afternoon – I made more cookies and dinner at her house.
Dec. 6 / 9 - Monday / Thursday
Ok, we quickly finished our shopping list early this am and turn the car in. We will spend the week aboard without a car. The weather isn’t that great – cold with some rain – but we are becoming retired persons (don’t get up early but do go to bed early). We did get out Wednesday afternoon and rode our bikes to the Publix which is about 2 miles away. I had an egg plant and found a stuffed egg plant recipe that sounded good – but I needed some of the ingredients. Dave explored more of the area on his bike afterwards. We found we can’t cross the bridge and ride into Fort Myers from here, but there is a bus system that will get us to malls and even with two transfers could get within a mile of Eloise’s. I may try this sometime soon.
Dec. 3 / 5 - Friday / Sunday
We have rented a car for the weekend – the Enterprise $39.00 deal. We shop and spend most of Friday and Saturday with Eloise (I find I can cook faster by using her kitchen). I made eggplant parmesan and zucchini bread this weekend. We found a water maker repair person who has a DeFever boat and he came aboard on Sunday (thanks to Shell Rieley’s daughter who lives in Cape Coral). The water maker had been pickled for over 5 years but when Steve started it up it worked fine. We can now make our own fresh water J Late Sunday afternoon we drove up to Placida to visit with Penny and Shell Rieley and see their beautiful home. We had a great evening.
Dec. 2 - Thursday
The big event was moving Hallelujah from slip 14 to slip 11. Not very exiting as Dave did this when the winds were down. The weather isn’t very warm but we were not outside very long. We did get the bikes down – but too cold to ride. We are finding our days pass quickly and we have a routine. I am revamping the website and getting it updated while Dave works on boat stuff, reads the internet news, and takes naps. We are trying to stay warm in the cold spells and enjoy the sun when we can.
Dec. 1 - Wednesday
Ok, winds are up and we are not willing to try and move to a different slip – the marina has given us a slip with a longer finger pier – so when we move we will be able to have the boat further off the main dock (so it isn’t aground) and still be able to use the side entrances. We relaxed most of today – did some website work but nothing else. Talked with Aunt Eloise (she lives about 20 minutes from this marina in Cape Coral). The marina is very nice. All docks are relatively new and there are some very friendly people here – a few live aboard. One gentleman two boats over is from Detroit. He offered a car but said he was returning to Detroit for holidays so that wasn’t going to help much. We spent today settling in to quiet life in one place. Dave worked on finding repair people for some engine room work. Barb did some small projects. This marina is in what is called a hurricane hole – protected by tall condos on one side and a peninsula with condos on the other. The channel coming in was very shallow (6.5 feet under us at some points) in low tide but once the corner is turned the water deepens to 8 – 10 feet (low tide). We have a nice laundry facility, swimming pool, 4 restaurants and a marine repair company right in the marina. I was hoping there was cable, but we can do without so much TV for a month.
Nov. 30 - Tuesday
Dolphin in Caloosahatchee River
We were up and off the dock at 7:00 this a.m. – even before the sun was really up. We have 70+ miles to go as we are going to run all the way into North Fort Myers Marinatown Yacht Harbor. There is another front coming in and we don’t want to be caught in an anchorage for 2 or three nights with north winds. A lot of today is at slow speed as there are manatee zones, lots of housing and we will have tidal currents against us. Unfortunately we also had headwinds most of the way. Again in 2006 we ran off shore to the Boca Grande Pass, but this year we did the ICW. We were held up at the Boca Grande Swing Bridge for 25 minutes (had to wait as it only opens on half hour and we missed the opening by 5 minutes). We had to turn the boat around in very narrow channels which isn’t easy to do. We also found out later that we passed the Rieley house where Friendship is located (Looper friends we met way back in Charlevoix, MI in July and have traveled with periodically down the rivers). We were in Charlotte harbor by 10:30 – now Dave is in territory that he knows. Time to relax a little! No, the starboard engine is really acting up – dropping rpm frequently. We just pray that we don’t loose the engine totally before reaching our destination. Unfortunately, this is the part of the day that was really long as 50 miles are at very slow speed with no wake – so we were running about 5 mph. We had many dolphins today – sometimes they were on both sides of the boat in pairs or threes. I took a zillion pictures trying for jumps – and finally got one that isn’t too badJ We made the marina by 4:30 and Dave did a great job of backing into the slip – the only problem was that the finger peer was so short that we couldn’t get off the boat. We put it aground trying to get the stern closer to the dock. We were so tired we sat aground (in low tide) and will figure this out tomorrow. We went out to dinner at one of the 4 restaurants right here in the marina. Will have to try the others later.
Nov. 29 - Monday
Turned in the car early and left the dock at 8:05. We have about 50 miles to travel today in the ICW which will be slow. The water is skinny so we have to be very careful to stay within the channel. In 2006 we did today’s run off shore so the ICW is new for Barb – of course Dave hasn’t done this section of the Loop at all so all is new for him. He is getting a little more used to being in 10 foot water and doesn’t get to excited until it drops to 8 feet under him. So today wasn’t quite as stressful as last week. The first picture shows how skinny the channel is – just outside the channel you could walk without getting your knees wet. We had some bridges today but only one was a swing bridges – the second picture is interesting as the bridge tender has to leave his watch station and walk to the middle of the Blackburn Swing Bridge to turn it. If you look closely you will see the gentleman standing on the bridge. We were able to get under all other bridges today – some bridge tenders called us as they didn’t believe we could make it but none were even close – we had a good 2 + feet on all bridges. We always worry about height so I stand on the top of the aft deck roof next to the dingy and check as we get close and go under. It is always good to see that 21 feet is doable! We had more dolphins today but we were so busy watching for manatee and channel markers that no pictures were taken (or attempts made). The winds came up about noon so as we arrived in Venice we had to figure out how we would dock the boat.
We ended up putting the bow in and just climbing over the railing for the night. I didn’t remember anything of Venice even though that was the first night stop in 2006 – everything looked very different. This was a tiring day – no Loopers in this harbor so we relaxed and retired early as tomorrow will be a very look day.
Nov. 26 - 28 - Friday - Sunday
We rented a car and drove to Cape Coral to surprise Dave’s Aunt – she was really surprised! I was going to make her a turkey dinner on Saturday – but that didn’t happen. So we still haven’t had turkey. We did spend three days with her and relaxed – it is different not being on the boat. We didn’t think about all the work we needed to do. We did bring our laundry with us so Dave did that while I took Aunt Eloise shopping for food (I did make a pumpkin pie, lasagna, and prime rib roast). We had a great visit and returned to Hallelujah Sunday evening rested. Enterprise had a great weekend deal of three day weekend for $39. Sorry, no pictures from our three day land trip.
Nov. 25 - Thursday
Happy Thanksgiving! We aren’t having turkey! We are travelling. We said good-by to Tide’s In this morning early as they are trying to make the Keys by Dec. 1 and will be moving quickly down the coast. We are going to move to Bradenton, FL which is on the south side of Tampa Bay about 43 miles. We drag our selves out of bed and are moving by 8:15 a.m. (way too early after the 24 hour trip across the gulf). The winds are up a little but we will be running in the ICW except to cross Tampa Bay (we hope to be there by 12:00 so that we cross before the winds really pick up). This area is not new territory for us – as we have traveled by car along this section of the ICW many times (we are within a couple of miles of our St. Pete condo). But it is a new experience to be in shallow water and know that if you get out of the channel, you will definitely go aground. That bird is not that far from the boat! It is also an exciting day for Hallelujah – she crossed her wake at 10:34 this morning. I fondly remember leaving the dock behind GFH’s house May 1, 2006 with captain Don and first mate Barb aboard. The picture of the Madeira Beach bridge is very close to where wake was crossed. This is the bridge that we have driven over hundreds of times by car to get to the beach. We had many slow manatee zones so the day’s trip was slow. We did make the Sunshine Bridge by noon – this is the bridge that crossed the outer harbor of Tampa Bay. As you can tell the water is very calm.
The trip up the Manatee River was nerve racking as it was low tide and water levels were 8 feet in some places – we need 5 feet for the boat so we where in very shallow water. We docked the boat and took naps! We are both exhausted. No Thanksgiving Dinner – we had some of the chili we didn’t eat on Tuesday night.