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After taking Karen and Brian to the airport, we drove to Florida’s east coast to see Karen and Hugh who had just returned from the Bahamas. The two hour trip through mid-land Florida included lots of cattle, flat land and beautiful sunshine. Karen and Hugh looked great although they were tired from all the work that comes with taking a boat out of the water and making it ready for the hot summer months. They were off to Kitchener, Ontario the next day so the timing could not have been more perfect. We enjoyed sharing stories about the few months that had passed since we said goodbye at Warderick Wells.

The crazy four back together again! :)

Back at Burnt Store we joined David and Rhonda for wings and Bingo at Cass Cay Restaurant – Both David and Rhonda won!!!

Bingo at Cass Cay

One week later, Bob went back to Ohio to help our younger daughter, Shaina, move. While he was away, my sister Lynne came to keep me company. Lynne, who gets seasick and had not been sailing with us for years, stayed on the boat and slept (comfortably) in the aft cabin. We went to the Ft. Myers winter homes of Ford and Edison and had a delicious lunch at Pinchers, right on the water. We went to Fisherman’s Village at Punta Gorda and the beach and shops at Ft Myers. It was wonderful spending one-on-one time with Lynne.

Sisters at Ford Edison

Edison in front of the Banyan tree.

In the Ford garage we learned the origins of the "glove box" and "trunk"

Lynne and the little sailor guy. Fishman's village

Then Friday when Lynne left, Bob returned with Shaina who spent the next few days with us. We went hiking at the preserve near Burnt Store and went to the Beach in Ft Myers.

Shaina and traveling companion Walden

Bird nest at the preserve.

Almost daily, Bob and I go to A-dock to visit with the manatees that seem to have established Burnt Store as their permanent residence. I never tire of seeing the big gentle animals reach up for a breath – opening their nostrils as they clear the water and then closing them as they dip back underwater. When Shaina and I got to our favorite viewing spot, there was a large manatee in the water with his back right under the dock. We got on our stomachs and reached down to try and pet the manatee. Shaina, with her long arms, was able to reach the smooth cool back of the manatee and he just stayed there and let her do it. I couldn’t reach until I leaned much farther out with Shaina laying on my back to keep me from falling into the water. It was a special moment for me, being able to touch the manatee and Shaina taking care to protect me.

When Shaina left we drove to Delrey Beach on the east coast to see Michael and Bill, who we had spent quite a bit of time with traveling the East Coast and the Bahamas. They had just returned from Bimini and were on their way to Ft Pierce. Another wonderful reunion with stories to share!

Bill, Michael and the Allenicks at Burgerfi

Our last trip prior to pull hauling Her Diamond out for hurricane season was the few days we spent in Sarasota. Based on advice from the dock master at Marina Jacks in Sarasota, we motor sailed on the Gulf of Mexico from Boca Grande cut to Venice, came in the Venice inlet and motored about 18 miles up the ICW to Sarasota. Apparently the inlet at Sarasota is confusing with very shallow areas and you need local knowledge in order to navigate. The ICW from Venice to Sarasota was beautiful and I am glad we got to see it. The passage was very well marked, the channel bordered by beautiful homes and we saw numerous dolphins.

Home along the ICW

Osprey on a ICW marker.

The accommodations at Marina Jacks were better than most, with floating docks, pump outs at the individual slips, free newspaper each day and lovely showers and restaurants with live music. We had to put up with the other tiny boats docked near by (see picture), but we managed.

There goes the neighborhood! (112 foot Determination)

It was so much fun being with the Palliser family and watching three boys between the ages of three and four. Bill was a wonderful host and it was a treat having a delicious steak dinner and then walking on the Siesta Key beach. Bob and Bill’s conch duet at sunset was memorable. Unfortunately, the Love Bugs descended on us and Sarasota will forever be remembered by me as the Love Bug city.

The Palliser gang

Brothers by other mothers - Siesta Key Beach

Some of the gang on the boat.

Our original plan was to go to St. Petersburg and Tampa after Sarasota. But, after looking at the weather forecast for the coming week which showed more than a 50% chance of rain every day, we decided it was more conservative to head back to Burnt Store. Burnt Store is only a five hour sail to Port Charlotte and Safe Cove Marina where we will be pulling the boat next Wednesday. We didn’t want to take a chance of having to make the trip from Tampa to Port Charlotte in bad weather. We have been successful so far in not having to travel in bad weather, and want to keep it that way. It is pouring as I write this – so I think we made a good choice.

It was strange coming back to Burnt Store with David and Rhonda already back in Cleveland. But it was also nice getting a warm welcome from dock mates Keyan and Amy.

Keyan and Amy

Our stay at Burnt Store was marked by time spent with family and trips home to visit family and friends. We look forward to the next week to organize ourselves, read, rest, prepare for haul out and cheer the Cavaliers!!!!

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