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February 21,2023

Bob blowing the conch at Naples beach.

We are now well into our second week on the road to and thanks to family and friends it is going so much better than I expected. We motored the boat over to Port Charlotte Boat Yard without incident. We were concerned about shallow water in the entrance to the lock, but we left so that we arrived at high tide and with a favorable wind. As a result, we had plenty of water to get into the lock. It was almost like a home coming as we had made this trip many times before when summer storing on the hard at Safe Cove. We arrived at around 5:00 pm, a four-hour trip, and well before dark. We hurried to unload our clothes and other misc. items that we were going to need for the next month in a variety of living situations. We wanted to finish before the bugs started to devour us!

Stop #1 - We left the boat yard and proceeded to the condo that our friends Jocelyn Thompson and Dee Smith own in Punta Gorda Isles. Unfortunately, the condo lost its roof during the hurricane and suffered substantial water damage. With remediation completed, restoration will begin shortly. After water comes in, mold follows, so about one third of the dry wall had to be removed. None the less, it is a beautiful condo in a very desirable development - and for us it made our lives a lot easier and gave us a great night sleep.

Next morning, we went back to the boat yard to watch them take the boat out of the water, and to discuss the repair plan with Joel. Joel came very highly recommended for his fiberglass and painting expertise. There were two recreational tugs at BSM that had the benefit of his craftmanship. The boat was already hanging in a sling when we got to the yard. We followed it over to Joel’s work area and examined the hull. No big surprises! The starboard side of the keel wing had a large ding, and the joint where the keel meets the bilge had a three- foot thin surface crack on both sides of the keel. We spoke to Paul Dennis, former production manager at Freedom Yachts, and he said the crack had to be taken care of but that it was not a question of structural integrity. We met Joel, who immediately put me at ease with his quiet professional demeanor. A few hours later we left the boat in Joel’s care.

Abandoned boats along the shore.

We spent three nights in Punta Gorda. Did some needed shopping at the Port Charlotte mall and spent one afternoon bike riding through Punta Gorda. Visiting a city by bike allows you to slow down and see things that you might not see zipping around in a car. We started at the farmer’s market, went to a fossil auction and rode along the shoreline. There are still signs of the hurricane, with smashed, abandoned boats half floating along the shore.

Jam session along the shore.

We also saw a group of older gentlemen jamming with guitars under one of the picknick pavilions.

Stop #2 - Sunday, February 12th, we left Punta Gorda for Naples to stay with friends Faith and Shelly Schaffer. After a quick stop at Costco, we drove through Ft Myers Beach. I had seen the area on the TV right after the hurricane but I was not prepared for what we saw; mile after mile of devastation five months after the hurricane came through.

Missing first floor

The beach was empty of the usual in-season crowds, the main floor of buildings that were still standing were washed away, and there were many empty lots – where homes and shops once stood. The shrimp fishing fleet was “parked” in a parking lot across the street and many yards from any water access.

Wonderful hosts Shelly and Faith Schaffer

We arrived at Faith and Shelly’s in time for a great super bowl party, complete with pizza, beer and great conversation – glad that cousins Suzanne and Egon were there. The next five days were filled with activities: pickleball, bike riding and hanging at the pool.

The two Bobs

Sheila, Bob, Vickie and Bob Foster

We took the opportunity to meet up at Mel’s Diner with Vickie and Bob Foster, dock neighbors from our Edgewater Yacht Club days. We also visited the Naples Botanical Garden – a real treasure.

Beautiful mosaic at the botanical garden

Take a look at the spikes on this silk tree at the botanical garden.

Display at the botanical garden.

While we were in Naples, Karen celebrated her birthday and as is our tradition, she got me flowers. She also went on her first post- accident hike in the woods – grounds for a real celebration!!!

You go girl!!!

Aunt Lynne had the cousins for brunch to celebrate Karen's birthday. Sorry we couldnt be with you.

Stop #3 – Friday, February 17th, we returned to Punta Gorda to have a look at the progress on the boat repairs. Things had really moved along. The deck and cabin top were shrink wrapped to protect them from potential paint overspray. The topsides (blue hull sides) had been sanded on one side so that the previously navy blue hull was now a baby blue which I almost didn’t recognize.

Port side ready for new fiberglass.

Keel repair in process.

Dent in wing keel.

The portside which had the most damage, having been repeatedly banged up by our neighbor’s toe rail, was cleaned up and now had a rectangle of fiberglass removed and ready to be re-laminated with new coring & fiberglass. The keel damage was prepped for repair and the barnacles that were on the boat bottom (not that many thanks to our diver) were now scrapped clean. There was much more progress than I had expected. We discussed the details of the remaining repairs and then went back to Burnt Store Marina where we stayed with David and Rhonda for the next two nights.

Saturday we got up early enough that I had time for a yoga class at the health club and then met Bob for some pickleball. Sandra was teaching the yoga class and I find her voice and routine very restorative. Lawrie and Sue offered to take us sailing in the afternoon so of course we were happy to go. They have a beautiful 39 ft Beneteau and are serious racers. The sail could not have been more perfect. The wind stayed a steady 10-15 knots and dolphins were plentiful.

Shadd and Tina aboard Symmetry

The tide was low when we first left so that friends Shadd and Tina who had hoped to leave the dock around noon for an overnight, couldn’t get their 6- foot draft boat out of their dock until closer to 3:00 pm. When they did, we had a friendly short race out on Charlotte Harbor. A race is defined as any two sailboats in sight of each other going in the same direction. We won!


Stop #4 – After a slow relaxed morning we kissed David and Rhonda goodbye and went into Punta Gorda to meet Jocelyn and Dee Smith for lunch at the bar between the bridges (TT Tiki Hut). We had been there a few years ago and I’ve wanted to go back there for some time. They had suffered some hurricane damage but it looked like it had all been fixed and a new tiki hut was added. We ended up waiting about an hour for a table and then our food, but everything was delicious and the setting is just so pretty, being on the water. The people and dog watching was also very entertaining. Once we finished a late lunch we headed over to Arkadia to Brett and Teresa Tesson’s home.

Disc Golf Group (nix Teresa) Sheila, Bob, Brenda Brett Nancy, Ron, Maria, Dan, Dale, Chad, Chris and Mike.

Brett and Teresa are sailing friends from our time in Marathon in the Florida Keys. We had visited them last year for a weekend and really enjoyed their group of friends from the RV Park and Resort where they have a manufactured double wide. It is a lovely home with two bedrooms and two baths and the Resort has a pool, pickleball court, shuffleboard and bocce ball. They play disc golf every Monday morning so we arrived Sunday evening in order to join in on Monday.

Turtle on the path where two discs landed.

Disc Golf is played with frisbees in a wooded area and the holes are metal baskets with chains hanging down.

Sample disc golf "hole".

The fairways range from around 200 feet to 350 feet long, some are straight and some force you to curve around the trees. We played on two teams of 5-6 and it is a scramble with only the best throw counting each time. The holes are par threes. Last year we were horrible, and I don’t think any of our throws counted. This year we did much better, especially on the second nine after some (spiked) eggnog. Then we returned to the resort for a pizza lunch and sax by the pool where we enjoyed hearing one of the residents playing the saxophone for about an hour and a half - it was delightful!

Tuesday morning Bob and I played some pickleball and then went into Punta Gorda (a 20 minute drive) to do a bit of shopping. Among other things, we had to get props for movie night which was Rocky Horror Picture Show – which brought back lots of memories- but I will save that for the next blog entry.

More to come………………………



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