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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6 May 2015: Three Night Stay at Key West

May 3, 2015 to May 6, 2015

Start: Key West Florida Mooring Cove
Finish: Key West Florida, Key West Marina

As we prepared to leave our mooring ball the winds are still gusting to the high 20 knot range, it was another gorgeous day, in the mid 80's with a strong sea breeze.  We are glad we made the decisions to spend extra time checking out Key West, as there are so many things to see!

Key West reminds us of Nantucket, lots of actives; snorkeling and diving, fun shops, too many restaurants to count, as well as lots of  interesting history.  We took a 3 hour tour, and, also we bought tickets to stop at the Earnest Hemingway and the summer White House used by Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Bill Clinton.  John Kennedy met the prime minister of Great Britain there just 22 days before the Bay of Pigs. Colin Powell used it to negotiate with foreign governments.  The tours were great and we can't wait to share with our charter clients. 

We spent the next day walking Key West with its many shops.  We also took a walk to the Key West Light House and the Marker noting it is only 90 miles to Cuba.

The weather treated us well the next day so we could go to Ft. Jefferson and the Dry Torgugas!

9 May 2015: Key West to Dry Tortugas

May 6, 2015 to May 9, 2015

Start: Key West Florida, Key West Marina
Finish: Ft. Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park

As we headed out of Key West we had calm winds and a beautiful sky. About 15 miles out was the  Marquesas key, a small group of uninhibited  islands with a perfect cove for anchoring for a day or two. We will stop on our next trip to break up the trip to Ft. Jefferson, for a swim and dinner.  But for this trip we wanted to get out of the national park.

We arrived at Ft. Jefferson around 5 PM and anchored on the south side of the fort.  There were about 5 other boats already anchored, but plenty of space for us.

Ft. Jefferson is everything we hoped it would be, the perfect place to snorkel, scuba, paddle board and kayak.  The water is an azure blue and clear to the bottom!  

We will be coming back many times and look forward to sharing this great national park.  The fee is 5.00 per person for a 7 day pass and we think it's completely worth this nominal fee.  There are two islands you can dingy or take the Grampstr's Pride into.  Each island has it's own separate light house and white uninhabited beaches.

This is definitely one place to make sure you bring your Go Pro camera or under water camera to gey the fantastic pictures of the tropical fish, marine wild life, and Ft. Jefferson.  There is so much  history at the Fort, which was built in 1822 on a sandy island.  Did you knoe over 3 million bricks were used to build the fort, almost all where shipped from New York? You learn something knew every day.

The seas were calm all 3 nights and with no light pollution the sky was an incredible canvas of stars.  There is no cell or Internet service for over 75 miles.  However, the Grampstr's Pride has the latest in world wide communication system if you need to make that call. The Grampstr's has redundant systems with global tracking and EPRB, in case of an emergency.

The state of the art equipment on the Grampstr's Pride ensures clients have a safe and pleasant stay wherever they choose to embark.  Our seasoned captains are eager to help you plan your charter with GEC Charters.  We hope you contact us.

2 May 2015: Marathon Yacht Club to Key West Florida

May 1, 2015

Start: Marathon Yacht Club
Finish: Key West Florida mooring cove

We started the day with mild winds in the 10 to 15 knot range but a beautiful weather in the mid 80's. Just what you like in a southern tropical setting with GEC Charters.

Our cruise over the Key West was smooth with some chop.  The Endeavour Trawler Cats stability always stand out and are know for their comfort!  As we got close to the mooring field the winds picked up to the 25 to 30 knots!  Again the Grampstr's Pride handled the conditions admiralty with little discomfort!  Once moored we settled in for the evening! 

With the winds 25 to 30 knots we knew we could not make the 75 mile trip to the Dry Tortogas  tomorrow, just out of our own comfort.  However, according to weather forecasts we saw the winds were to decrease in 3 days, we decided head to down town Key West and dock at the Key West Marina. 

We have been talking about the weather and wanted to note that the Grampstr's Pride has 3 different sources of marine weather updates.  The US Coast Guard, the SiriusXM Marine Weather, and the best Garmin Open Array Radar with 12 kW of Power with 72 mile range.

Using a consensus of all three we can make the sound safe decisions.  There is no reason to purposely go out in the open seas in bad weather or high seas due to wind!

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!