Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Random Photos from Freedom

We hadn't fueled up since last summer -- so the tanks were getting empty. When I snapped this shot the port side tank was just about full -- good thing because Freedom was heeling over a bit too much for my taste.

We watched this helicopter fly film a speed boat in the waters surrounding Cabbage Key for several hours. Police Action? Major Motion Picture? Commercial? Actually, a TV Show for the Discovery Channel, set to be aired May 4th.

Dinner before Karaoke night at Burnt Store Marina, FL with friends A2 and Amy.
No, we did not sing

River otters checking out a kayaker/Kayakist? at Cabbage Key dock.
They were swimming about and climbing aboard any boat with easy access.

The Cap'n, Christine and Andy under the banyans on Boca Grande, FL

Sinking Boat at the St. Petersburg Pier. It attracted quite a crowd, before the owners returned, including the police who hooked up this bilge pump. Later we watched as it was towed to the ramp and sat draining for about two hours!

The Dancing Ladies of the St. Petersburg Saturday Market. The one in the patchwork dress is there every week, swaying to the tunes, whether she has a partner or not.

View from inside a lock along the Okeechobee Waterway

Bananas by the pool at the Edison-Ford Estates, Ft. Myers, FL
Check out the beautiful flower hanging from the fruit.

Jim handling the lock lines.

Psychedelic sunset over St. Pete Beach, FL

Monday, April 29, 2013

Unexpected Guests

Our schedule continued to change after my last post -- never did make it to Sarasota, opting instead to press  on to St. Pete Beach where we rode out the bad weather for 3 nights. Then it was on to St. Petersburg, sans friend Jim, but in anticipation of spending a week with Andy and Christine.

It was great to be back in St. Pete. The weather was ideal for walking along the pier, riding bikes, taking a dinghy ride through the harbor and having dinner at the end of Albert Whitted Airport runway. From there we headed south again, and back to Cabbage Key where we took the dink  ashore to check out the Cabbage Key Inn and their famed cheeseburgers. The story goes that their take on the all American classic sandwich inspired Jimmy Buffet to write "Cheeseburger in Paradise." We intended to try it last year, but we arrived for dinner, and burgers are only served at lunch!   It was worth the wait. More on that soon over at the food blog, MarthasGalley.blogspot.com.

A day or to later, enroute to Sanibel Island on a gorgeous day with a classic 'blue sky breeze'  we had some surprise visitors. Christine and I were chatting in the salon, when I overheard the Cap'n responding to a call on the radio

Radio Voice: "How many passengers do you have on your vessel Cap'n?" (that's a weird question, I thought)
Cap'n: "Three, plus myself."
R.V." Please ask your crew to gather in the cockpit, then slow your boat and maintain that speed. We are going to board you" 
Me: "Huh? Who? What's going on?" I called out as I jumped up to look out the window

There on our port side was a large black inflatable boat, with three Lee County Sheriff's Dept. agents dressed in full camo gear complete with  flak jackets. Guns at their hips.
By now, Andy was in the cockpit, readying a line, but the officers simply jumped aboard once our speeds were in sync -- I think they had done it before.

While one officer engaged Christine and I in conversation in the cockpit, the second joined the Cap'n and Andy in the pilot house. First order of business, I suppose, was to hear us speak, and then to assess our demeanor. Before long, the Cap'n asked me to locate our boat documentation. The officer's eyes followed me as I descended the steps to retrieve the paperwork.

Next we were asked to show our safety equipment: radio, flares, ditch bags (supplies in case we have to abandon ship). When, at the Cap'ns direction Andy pulled out the Gumby Suits ( to be worn in case we have to abandon ship in cold waters) the officer realized we were set for most anything and stopped asking questions. After reviewing our ID's, they motioned to their mothership and in a flash, they were gone.

"What was that all about?" I wondered out loud. The officer in the cockpit had revealed he is typically on Gangs and Drugs duty. Our dinghy can outrun Freedom, so I hardly think they thought we were running something. But you never know, I suppose.
"Pretty Girl stop," was the Cap'ns theory -- the officers just wanted to see if Freedom is as good lookin' on the inside as she is on the outside. Who could blame them?

No matter what the reason, it added more than just a bit of excitement to our week.

Lee County Sheriff's Dept. motoring away from Freedom after a boarding

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Unpredictability of Cruising

Remember my last post?  Plans for Sanibel?  Scratch that. Boca Grande? Nah. Useppa/ Cabbage Key? Anchored there now -- but just a port in the oncoming storm. A front is heading in, precipitating a change in plans.

Holding tank issues kept us in Ft. Myers for two nights -- allowing for some long walks and a visit to the Edison-Ford Estates -- and a better smell down below!!

Tomorrow morning we head to Sarasota where we will ride out the front at Marina Jack for 2-3 nights until we head north to St. Petersburg. Crewmate Jim has taken the disappointment of not stopping at Boca Grande well.  Our traveling companions, Jeff, Ellen, and Bunker aboard Trinity are providing companionship, technical assistance and a great view (they are our sister ship -- and we can't get over how good looking they are!)

Don't feel bad for us -- the weather is ideal: bright blue skies, clear sunlight, dolphins jumping alongside.  We just need to be as flexible as the  sea life as we move up the coast to greet Andy and Christine.