3 Feb 2015: Meeting Friends- Heading to Miami

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Cruising along the ICW  (intracoastal  waterway) from Venice to Fort Myers at a faster clip makes one realize that this portion of the journey is best enjoyed at a slow pace. The mid Gulf Coast has so much to offer that two weeks just bobbing along is a much more gentle way to stop and poke and enjoy all the quaint gulf towns  and yacht clubs and get the full benefit of soaking up all the positive energy along this coast. Having a individualized custom charter experience allows one to set the pace.

Doing a transition charter, however,  requires staying on course and sticking to a schedule. A transition experience is for learning new skills such as navigating the locks and getting the pace and timing of bridges. Often the captain must make decisions of going open water or protected waterways. There are many factors to consider in making these choices. Yesterday we were able to cruise the ICW in respect of the winds and currents of the time. We almost had no choice to go only open waters due to the closing of the Boca Grande bridge due to construction. That would have meant dealing with rough open seas which requires its own special considerations. The bridge changed closure dates caused by their own setbacks which gave us the desired option of running the ICW.

Our port of call for the evening was the St Charles Yacht Club in Fort Myers. We were heartily welcomed there and enjoyed a scrumptious dinner with some snowbird friends from Pennsylvania/Cape Coral.

 
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24 April 2015 - Pelican Bay Anchorage to Naples Yacht Club

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April 24, 2015 and April 25, 2015

Start: Pelican Bay Anchorage
Finish:  Naples Yacht Club

We awoke to a beautiful sunrise and a tranquil setting, as we begin our trip to Naples Yacht Club.  The club was established in 1964. As we cruise along at our 8 mph pace, the weather was perfect so we could take the outside route in the Gulf of Mexico.  Our fuel is burn per hour is running just below 5 gallons an hour or about 18.00 per hour!  The perfect speed for the easy cruising style of the Trawler life!  No rush no worries!   Needless to say the day on the Grampstr's Pride was an amazing one.

We arrived just about 5 PM.  After docking and checking in with the Dock Master we decided to try the cuisine at the club and made reservations for 6:30.  The food was very good we all had the veal shank special. 

Most of the clubs we visit are in the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs, they strive to have excellent chefs and are reasonably priced, as they are non profit and there for the members.  You must belong to a member of a Yacht Council Club to stay at a participating club. 

What is really nice about the clubs as they go out of there way to assist if there is a need. 

The club is built in southern Florida architecture with a large front porch for causal dining and an upstairs for formal dining and tonight for a large birthday party!  Easy docking and a lovely pool and gardens? 

After dinner we checked the weather and a cold front was moving in with heavy North East winds and was going to stay for several days.  This made us review our plans and we decided to stay another night at Naples and provision the boat I case the weather changed and we could go over the next couple days. 

We had an Uber experience!  Yes there was an Uber in Naples!  He was great!  Took us several places including a West Marine and the Dive shop!  If the weather changes we are ready to go the Ft. Jefferson and the Dry Turguga's!  

The plan is still head for Everglades City and then if the weather breaks plan to Cruise the 100 miles of open water to the Fort!  We are one day behind in our plan, hopefully it will be worth the delay!

 

1 May 2015: John Pennekamp State Park to Marathon Yacht Club

April 30, 2015 thru May 2, 2015

Start: John Pennekamp State Park
Finish: Marathon Yacht Club

It was a beautiful sun filled morning, temperatures in the high 80's but a stiff wind coming out of the North, as we left our lovely cove at the John Pennekamp State Park and head for Marathon Yacht Club. 

The Marathon Yacht Club is small with only 30 slips, but they had a perfect place to dock our 48 Endeavour Trawler Cat.  The club was established in 1948.  What is fascinating about each club is they usually have a picture of the Commodore of the club for each year.  The Commodore is like the president of an organization with a one year term.  There is a lot of pride in the club with several activities going on each weekend. Our arrival was after a fishing tournament, where they serve the fish that are caught!  Unfortunately not enough was caught but the chief had gone out a purchased Hog Fish, local fish caught in the keys and Gulf of Mexico.  It was outstanding!

That night the winds were still very strong and we decided to lay over another day and provision as it appeared we still had a shot to get to our ultimate stop the Dry Tortugas. We took a 5 minute cab ride to town for groceries

On Friday evening May 1, we got to witness the "Lowering of the colors ceremony".  The first Friday of each month the officers of the club lower the American Flag at sun set as they play the National Anthem and Kate Smith's version of God Bless America.  At the end they fire a canon...  It was really cool!  This will be the last time for the service until the renovations are completed and a new Swimming Pool is constructed.  

On another note we learned at each of our Yacht Club stops, the club is making major infrastructure investments, either in new docks, swimming pools or other club facilities!  That says boating is alive and well and there is no better time to be on the water cruising! We are hoping you will join us for a charter with GEC Charters.

26 April 2015: Naples Yacht Club to Everglades City

April 26, 2015

Start: Naples Yacht Club
Finish: Everglades City

This morning we leave our beautiful yacht club to cruise back thru time and we ended our day in Everglades City.  Where you can hope a ride on a swamp buggy, Air boat, or kayak!  We stayed at marina and famous Rod and Gun club built in 1864! Many of the presidents, movie stars and other famous people have stayed there over the years.  It is quint old Florida cuisine we had the  great alligator nuggets as an appetizer!  A lot of house pride in the town and it brings you back to the 60's! 

The bad news is the weather is not in our favor and a trip to the Dry Tortogua's as of now is doubtful!  But we will see!  As with all plans you have to listen to the weather, so we decided to do the Keys first and then the try to go to Ft. Jefferson.

Tomorrow morning we head for Key Largo!