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It Felt Like a Homecoming

We enjoyed a beautiful night on anchor at Shark River with the most stars I think I have ever seen in a night sky. We heard the quiet chattering of the shrimp against the hull – great white noise to fall asleep to. We woke up to a threatening sky, but saw that the rain seemed to be heading north so we started out.

This last day of travel before we got to Boot Key Harbor “BKH” was challenging. We tried to lift anchor around 7:00 which was earlier than prior days because we had a longer way to go. Bob put a retrieval line on the anchor when we anchored the night before – this is only the second time we had used this piece of equipment – and he did it because he read that there were logs and other debris submerged at the anchor site. The retrieval line is a line that goes on the roll bar of the anchor and is connected to a float that sits on the water right above where the anchor rests. When retrieving the anchor, if it is caught on something this second line lets you pull the anchor straight up, allowing the point to drop and hopefully get loose of anything that it may have gotten caught on while dragging during the setting process. Well we had gotten caught on something, probably a rock of some sort. Not sure how we would have gotten it loose, short of Bob getting in the water, if we had we not had the retrieval line on (lots of gaitors in the murky Everglades waters); an unsettling way to start the day. But it did work and after some tugging and maneuvering we were underway.

Because we had light winds and a long way to go, we raised the main sail but kept the motor on so that we could do a steady 5.5 knots. We had now been totally off the grid – no cell coverage – for two days. It is amazing to think about what you can’t do if you are out of cell tower range: no phone, detailed weather reports, banking, or news. On the one hand it is freeing and on the other it is a bit scary. We do have an inReach satellite communication device which lets us text in an emergency, but it isn’t like picking up the iPhone.

About two hours from BKH our speed suddenly was drastically reduced. Even when Bob pushed the engine we could not get above 5 knots and this was in heavy air. We quickly reduced the engine speed to investigate the problem. Bob was convinced we were dragging something through the water. Our only choice was to get in the water and examine the bottom of the boat. The wind had picked up to 15 knots and the sky was threatening again. Needless to say I was not a happy camper. Bob on the other hand got his mask, donned a life jacket and retrieval line and jumped in the water. After numerous dives – not easy when wearing a life jacket he determined that whatever had been hooked on the keel or rudder (possibly a crab trap) was no longer there and he came back up on to the boat.

Thank goodness it didn’t start to rain, the winds started to calm a bit and none of my what-ifs with Bob in the water came true. We arrived at BKH around 3:00 pm and had to spend one night at the Marathon Marina as the last mooring ball had been taken by Aquila.

So here we are a week later. I have been so busy that I have not taken the time to sit and write. So much has happened and we have met so many wonderful people.

Bill and Michael join us at the tiki hut for happy hour

Being on a mooring ball is a secure feeling even when the wind is blowing 30 knots. The harbor is much less crowded than it was last year when we were here. Not sure why but the waiting list is shorter and the anchorage is much less full. Bob and I restarted the Leslie Sansone stepping class at 9:00 am three times a week and so far we have had 7 people exercising together. I am hoping that the group builds with time. While Bob and I did the stepping exercise over the summer in Cleveland, there is nothing like doing it outdoors, overlooking the beautiful Boot Key Harbor. I am again taking an art class at the library with Sylvia, bocce on Wednesday afternoon followed by happy hour, yoga three-four times a week and now there is pickle ball twice a week as well. Living here you can be as active as you choose to be – I choose to be active.

We met up with Lance and Fenghua who we met last year.

Exercising in the am with Leslie Sansone video and new friends

I stopped at the elementary school to let them know I was available to volunteer but have not yet heard back from Mrs. Martinez. We did volunteer at the Conch Music Video Festival last weekend, which got us into the festival for free all three days (and a volunteer T-shirt). The quality of the music was hit and miss but we did enjoy a lot of what we heard.

Mural at the newly rebuilt elementary school

Bob and Sheila volunteering at the festival keeping the traffic in check. How do you like our new shirts?

Dockside, a bar that overlooks the harbor and was severely damaged by hurricane Irma reopened this past month. Sunday night was Jam night and eight of us dinghied there to enjoy some terrific eclectic music, and each other’s company.

Music festival stage at night in the park next to the city marina

Jam night at Dockside

We have been very lucky to meet a few new couples that we immediately clicked with. (more about them another time) There is pretty much always someone to do something with – there is a very strong sense of community here. We are hoping to go to the Dry Tortugas next week if the winds die down and then I will be coming home on January 23 to help Karen move and see the family.

Bob with his new pressure pump rinsing the dishes.

More to come…….

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