Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Heading North....(sigh)

That's right, we are heading home. Well, actually we've always been "home", but I guess we are cruising back to our home town. I guess that's the nice thing about living aboard, no matter where we are, we're home. The last month (OK, 6 weeks) since my last post, have been a lot of fun. Even though we were technically starting our way back, we had never crossed the Okeechobee Waterway before, so it was still new and exciting. Before our crossing, we were able to meet up with old friends Noble and Paula, that we met in the Dismal Swamp, for a quick visit in Cape Coral. We also met up with Lou & Annie, that we met in Marathon. They were staying at a marina in Cape Coral and invited us to their tiki hut for a BBQ with the other boaters. Everyone has been so kind and welcoming. I think that has been our favorite thing about this trip, the great people we have met along the way.

After leaving Ft. Myers we were officially on our way through the Okeechobee Waterway. We are still travelling with our buddy boat, Links, and having made this trip 2 other times before, they know just where to go.
We made a few stops including LaBelle, where they had a free town dock with electric! We stayed there 3 days, but left a few days before the swamp cabbage festival. Apparently that is a big deal in that little town!
 Have I mentioned this is gator water? We saw quite a few, which is fine when we are on SeaQuest, but not too comfortable while in our dinghy! Our next stop before crossing the lake was Clewiston. Interesting place to tie up, but it worked.
The next day we crossed the lake.
So, 3 locks and one 49' train bridge later (our mast and antenna are 47'), we were on the other side and headed to Stuart.
We stayed on a mooring ball in Stuart for 5 days. What a great town and marina. Some towns really cater to cruisers, and Stuart is one of them. They had free dinner and a movie on Sunday night at the marina, and when there weren't enough loaner bikes available, Sam the dock master drove us where we wanted to go in town! There also happened to be a huge art festival going on while we were there, and to top things off we had a visit from our friend Tom from Jersey! 
In another two days we were at the mooring field in Vero Beach. Another great spot, and super cruiser-friendly. There was a free bus that took us to just about any store we could possibly need. We also had more visitors! Maureen, Jimmy & Casey drove down from Melbourne Beach, and we went out to a nice dinner before Casey had to fly home the next day. We also met up with another boat that we've been seeing along the way since Marathon, Vince and Marianne on Boney Boy.
This is some crew! Every time we all get together it's a great time. We also had a fun impromptu happy hour with the crews of El Camino and Tekla Bramble. We were rafted with Links on the same mooring ball, so if one cat is good for a get-together, two is even better!
Links had some friends coming to visit, and some weather was coming in, so we left and headed to Melbourne Beach to Maureen and Jimmy's. We stayed there four nights and had a blast. We even caught fish! I love seeing all of the wildlife there, dolphins, birds, manatees!

From Melbourne Beach we went up to Cocoa, Daytona and then to St. Augustine. We stayed on a mooring ball at the municipal marina, which was great for laundry, provisioning and hot showers! After a few days we had one more stop at Pine Island, and then onto Jacksonville. Our last stop in Florida. This is where reality set in...we're heading back to NJ.
Our first stop in Georgia was St. Simon's Island. The weather was good enough on our first day there to get our bikes ashore and get a few things we needed. Yesterday, wasn't so great. Rainy and buggy all day. A good time to clean out my closet and put my summer clothes away. I know, that sounds weird, but it's getting cold. Maybe not by NJ standards, but when you are outside all day in the weather and the wind, 55 degrees is cold. I'm not complaining though, it's totally worth it.
So here we are anchored in New Teakettle Creek, GA.
Hopefully tomorrow we will head to Blackbeard Island. We heard about this cool little place to find great shells and sand dollars from a guy we met in Belhaven, NC. Captain Keith was traveling alone. He was 45 and had cruised for years. He was a neat guy, traveling north to spend the holidays with his family before heading back down to the Caribbean. Sadly I found out a few weeks ago that he passed away. Accidental drowning in the very waters he loved. For me, I could never understand wanting to cruise alone. I guess for some people the lure of the sea is so strong that they just have to do it. Keith was like that. Even though we only spent about a half hour with him, it was obvious that he was happy and passionate about his lifestyle. I think that's an important thing. Being passionate about your lifestyle no matter what it is. Once again reminded that life is short. That's why we're here.
PS - My camera battery died and I can't unload the pics from the last month, so most of the photos were taken by Jill of Links. Thanks Jill!