The Trent Severn Waterway
The Trent–Severn Waterway is a 386 kilometres (240 mi)-long canal route connecting Lake Ontario atTrenton to Georgian Bay at Port Severn. Its major natural waterways include the Trent River, Otonabee River, the Kawartha lakes, Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching and the Severn River. Its scenic, meandering route has been called "one of the finest interconnected systems of navigation in the world".
We had to tie up on the wall before the Lock and wait for the next Lock-through. Yes, this is what our 25 foot Ranger Tug looks like next to the other cruising boats doing the Great Loop. We are used to it by now but we always attract attention when people see our AGLCA burgee (America's Great Loop Cruising Association flag) and want to know how we manage to live on the boat for a year. And if we still like each other after 10 months on the trip.
Yes, we do. And we have for 41 years.
Nellie May to the rescue!
We were boating down the Trent Canal and saw this boat just bobbing in the water. Our experience on this trip told us they were probably fishing or sun tanning or just floating around. But ...the guy moved to the front of the boat and he was holding a rope in his hand.
He did not yell or wave his hands to ask for help. Noooooo.
But I have seen that look before so I asked if he needed some help. His girlfriend just rolled her eyes. I don't think this was their first rodeo.
Turns out the boat had quit less than 1/4 mile from their cottage. So I hooked them up and Tim went into tugboat mode. The young mans' neighbors were laughing as we pulled them back to their dock. Guess it has happened before...
We are always glad to do a "good turn".
The Peterborough Lift Lock
Opened July 9, 1904, this lift lock is the highest of its type in the world, transferring boats between two water levels in a single 19.8 m (65 ft.) lift. Designed in place of conventional locks, which would have lengthened the time considerably to transverse a gradual drop, this lift lock was a unique solution made feasible. It operates on a balance principle. Each boat chamber is supported by a ram, 2.28 m (7.5 ft.) In diameter. These move up and down inside water-filled cylinders connected by a pipe. A valve, located in its center, controls the flow of water between the two cylinders.In operation, the upper boat chamber is filled with an extra 30 cm (1 ft.) of water which weighs 130.6 t (144 tons). When the valve is opened, this added weight causes the upper chamber to descend and the lower to rise.
(Information from this Link)
We took a boat tour of the Lift Lock with 100 other people so we could enjoy the experience before we took Nellie May through the Lift Lock the next day. There are loads of videos showing how this works so if you are interested in seeing what we experienced try this link with a time lapse video.
A small detour...
This map of Lake Simcoe shows where we entered the lake from the east and headed for Orillia. We had a mechanic scheduled to do a little maintenance on the engine. We thought he was meeting us at Orillia. I called him to confirm the time and tell him we were almost there.
He said,"You are headed for Orillia?" We said, "Yes, almost there." He said, "Turn left!"
Turns our there was a miscommunication in the service department and they wanted us at their marina.
We saw alot of Lake Simcoe. Thank goodness the weather stayed calm for the trip down and the trip back the next day.
The Big Chute
The Big Chute Railway Lock is absolutely awesome! I had been looking forward to this experience since we started the Loop last September and it didn't disappoint. Since we don't have a photo of our boat on the Chute I am showing you our Looping friend's boat---Island Girl. See how she is hanging off the back? That is because her propellers hang below the keel.
Nellie May doesn't have that issue so they put us as far forward on the sled as possible. Did I say it was awesome?
I encourage you to click on this link and watch a short video produced by Parks Canada showing how the Big Chute works.
Click here to watch the video. And then imagine little Nellie May as the only boat on her trip on the Chute.
A change of plans
This map shows our path down Monument Channel on Georgian Bay. Looks a little strange, right?
The plan was to travel the Monument Channel and then rejoin the small boat channel on Georgian Bay.
The map shows our progress as we dealt with mysterious engine issues that resulted in the boat quitting. 5 times. She restarted each time but after the 5th try we puttered into a cove shallow enough so we could drop the anchor and phone for help.
The path you see had us is DEEP water edged with shallow rocks. Not the sort of situation any boater wants to encounter.
We got an escort back to a marina with a certified Volvo engine dealer who worked with our great Ranger Tug dealer to try to diagnose the problem. Parts were ordered, we stayed at a marina down Honey Harbor while the parts arrived. We rejoiced when they came and the mechanic installed them the next day.
Back on the trip in record time!
A very, very hard decision
Tim has always said that sometimes the right decision is not the easy decision.
The next leg of our Loop would take us out into big water with a narrow channel with rocks right under the surface of the water a few feet away from the channel. And no cell phone coverage.
Until we put more hours on the engine we wouldn't be certain the proposed "fix" was the correct "fix". The smart/safe move is to put the boat on the trailer and take her back to our home waters where we can put hours on the engine in shallow South Dakota lakes.
We rented a car, drove back to South Dakota, picked up the truck and trailer and headed back to Canada. We plan to continue this stage of the trip on the highways of Michigan. We will play tourist while we see how we like "boaterhoming" (using our boat on the trailer as a camper).
Stay tuned, the August newsletter should be very interesting.
You meet the nicest people on the Loop
We landed in Shady Harbor Marina the first few days of June. As soon as we pulled up to the gas dock we were greeted by other Loopers who were at the Marina. Greetings turned into a potluck dinner that night. We may run into our new friends again on the Loop or not, so we have learned to enjoy the moment while it's happening.
Entering the Erie Canal
We had been anticipating entering the Erie Canal since we left New York City. The Erie Canal is 100 years old and has 34 locks. This is Lock #2 in Waterford, considered by some to be the first lock on the Canal. You can tell by the water line on the side of the lock that we are going to be going UP. This lock got pretty turbulent as the water filled it from the center underneath. I was glad there were only 2 boats in the lock as we hung onto the ropes hanging from the walls and fought to keep our boats next to the wall.
The old Erie Canal
Lock #2 was rebuilt in the early 1900’s. The channel of the original Erie Canal can be seen in many places, with one of the best examples adjacent to Lock #2. There were three locks in this section and the original stonework is still in remarkably good condition.
"Tim in a box"
Holding the boat to the wall in a lock is a team effort. I am in the back hanging onto a rope attached to the top of the lock wall while Tim stands on the cabin seat and pops out the hatch to grab a second rope. This photo was taken by a friend on the lock wall. Our locking process was called "Tim in a Box" because he popped through the hatch and surprised our friend.
After lock 23 on the Erie Canal we discovered a delightful marina called Pirates Cove. It was hot and they had a pool. We liked it there and that's a good thing because we ended up staying for 10 days while we waited for a mechanic who finally came and told us we needed 4 new batteries. They ordered them, installed them and we enjoyed the quiet while they worked.
Since we had some time waiting on the mechanic we rented a car and headed to Niagara Falls, only 3 hours away. I had never been there so I was pretty excited to experience the Maid of the Mist and all the other tourist adventures. We stayed at a hotel on the Canadian side of the Falls for one night. Big beds! TV! A shower! We were asleep by 9 pm but heard that the laser light show at the Falls was spectacular.
Boldt Castle in the 1,000 Islands
Another milestone in our Loop is exploring an area called 1,000 Islands by Clayton, New York. While we were there we took a tour boat through the islands to Boldt Castle. This rich fella from the City wanted to build s summer house for his wife, and being VERY rich, built a castle. Trouble is, she died during construction. He stopped the construction and never went to the place again. It fell into disrepair and was eventually taken over by the state parks. It is being restored/completed and is an amazing place…a real example of the over-the-top wealth of the Gilded Age.
Welcome to Canada
We entered Canada at Kingston, Ontario. The process is fairly simple. We entered the marina and tied up first. Then Tim took a walk to a special phone booth located at the marina gate where he called a Canadian Customs agent. They asked questions, he gave answers and they gave us our Canadian pass number to post on our boat. We put our American money in a ziplock and went to an ATM to get Canadian money. Canada uses $1 coins called Loonies (because they have a Loon on them), $2 coins called Toonies (because they equal 2 Loonies) and they don't have pennies. Interesting. The US could learn some things from Canada about currency. Not having pennies and dollar bills is real nice.
The Trent Severn Waterway
We finished the Erie Canal and started on the Trent Severn Waterway on June 29. The Trent Severn has a total of 44 locks. These locks are smaller and service smaller boats, not commercial barges. The next newsletter will have more information on the how it goes with the Canadian locks.
10 months on the water
We are experts at locks now! That doesn't mean every lock goes according to plan but you won't see photos of those because we are both too busy handling lines to grab a camera.
I love this shower...
By now you know that I judge the quality of a marina by the showers. At Trenton Marina they have the best showers I have seen so far on the Loop. And they have 8 of these gems, each one a different color. And they have a pile of clean fluffy bath mats!
I took photos and measurements. I think our master bath at home needs an upgrade...
On the move...
We left Norfolk, Virginia, May 5 and have been on the move ever since. Our first day out we entered Chesapeake Bay and had to cross a shipping channel. See the little tug in front of the ship? That tug is twice as big as Nellie May which means the barge is HUGE.
Chesapeake Bay is about 150 miles long and is big water. We planned our trip for 4 hops. Norfolk to Deltaville, Deltaville to Solomans, Solomans to Annapolis and Annapolis to Delaware City.
The Maryland State House is located in Annapolis, Maryland and is the oldest U.S. state capital in continuous legislative use, dating to 1772. This fellow is George Washington. This is the exact room where he resigned his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army. The State House was a museum worth visiting.
We stayed in Atlantic City 2 nights. We walked from the marina to the Boardwalk and spent the whole day there. We played some slot machines, ate a bunch of fun food and walked miles. We googled photos of the locations we were at on the boardwalk to see what it looked like there after the storm. We were impressed with the rebuilding of the waterfront businesses and attractions.
This photo shows how foggy it was the morning we left. Atlantic City was one of those places on the Loop that really didn’t impress us. The lady in the marina office warned us to never walk around the area at night...probably a good idea to just stay on the boat after dark. And lock the door.
We stayed one day. Enough said.
The Jersey ICW route is only possible for boats with shallow drafts. We draw about 2.5 feet so we qualify but the Jersey ICW is so shallow that we still went aground once. We had 2 days of mile after mile of watching the depth gauge to make sure we had enough water under our keel. It was exhausting but the alternative is to dash out into the Atlantic and make 2 fifty mile runs with no chance to get back into safety if the weather changed. We were happy to be able to take the inside route as far as we could but we still had to go outside into the Atlantic for the last 30 miles to Great Kills Yacht Club near New York City.
I can say that Captain Tim picked a good weather window to travel on the big ocean and our trip was uneventful, which is always a good thing. We jumped to “light speed” to get back into the safety of protected waters.
And we saw a whale. That was pretty cool.
A huge part of the doing the “Loop” is the opportunity to get together with other Loopers. We don’t actually travel together but when we land in a marina and find out there are other Loopers around someone will organize Docktails (cocktails on the dock). Docktails are usually scheduled for 5 pm on the dock. In Cape May we were lucky enough to have a gazebo. Everyone brings their own beverage and something to share. Talking to other people who are on the same adventure is pretty special.
New York, New York
We stayed at Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island for 5 days. This was our chance to visit New York City. We rode a train and the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan...all before 10 am! We spent the rest of the day walking, walking, walking. We saw the South Street Seaport Museum, the 9/11 Memorial, Times Square and then landed in an Irish Pub with other Loopers to celebrate surviving the big City. We walked to the New York City Library to catch the X-1 bus back to Staten Island. We jumped off the bus about 5 blocks from our marina. We were “peopled out” by the time we got back to the boat. Now I can say I’ve been to New York.
Don’t ever need to go back...
Nellie May and the Statue of Liberty
We had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a shot of our boat in front of Lady Liberty and thanks to Leon and Karen on Scotfree (Ranger 29 tugboat) we have this awesome photo to remember our time in New York Harbor.
Tim was busy driving the boat, dodging fast moving ferry boats and slow moving barges so he didn’t get to do much sight-seeing.
We took photos of each other’s boats and then headed out of the harbor north on the Hudson River as fast as possible. We were glad when we put New York Harbor behind us and had a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Hudson River.
4,000 miles down, 2,000 to go
We have passed the 4,000 mile mark. It’s hard to believe we have been on the water since last September. We agreed we have finally gotten into the rhythm of days on the water. Every day is different. Our schedule is determined by the wind and the tide. That means we make Plan A but usually end up with Plan D, E, or F. If we like someplace we stay an extra day. If we pull into a marina and discover friends are there that we haven’t seen awhile we stay an extra day. If the harbormaster tells us about someplace we just can’t miss while we are there we stay an extra day or two.
Big Water...little boat
In the course of our journey, we have had to cross some big water...where you cannot see your destination over the horizon and there is not much but water most everywhere you look. We always pick good weather days because our boat is so small and the water is so big. Some are notorious...The Albemarle Sound, for instance, which is very shallow, windswept and with strong tidal currents. It can be very challenging even to large vessels. On a nice day a piece of cake, but other times quite dangerous. Planning and a good weather eye is necessary. We waited for good weather and then went for it. These crossings are kinda the spice that makes the trip exciting.
We don't anchor out often. Marinas offer chances to get off the boat and explore a new place. But this anchorage was beautiful. Quiet and protected from the wind. We dropped the anchor and watched the birds swimming close to shore. Before we knew it they were standing...in the same place. That's what happens when the tide goes out. Ha. The sunrise the next morning was breathtaking.
Did you notice the Scout sock? We put the sock over the burgee (flag) at night or the sound of it flapping in the wind drives us crazy. It's small boat, we don't need crazy.
Windmill Yacht Club, Hilton Head
The entrance to this yacht club is a small lock. After our experience with big locks this one was just plain fun. And the marina was full of expensive boats. Big, expensive boats. We weren't intimidated at all...cuz Nellie May is so cute. We had lots of people walk by and tell us so.
We went to dinner at the Clubhouse. Since we weren't dressed up (?) they put us in the bar area. Still pretty fancy, and the buffet dinner was fantastic.
Beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina
We loved this place. The marina is right downtown with good showers and laundry facilities, and there were many restaurants within walking distance. The city has a wonderful waterside park with porch swings that whisper "sit...swing...stay awhile and just watch the boats go by," so we did!
The best part was the carriage ride/tour around the historic district to see all the antebellum homes.
Charleston, South Carolina
We spent a week in Charleston at the Charleston Harbor Marina. It is the fancy marina with 2 pools and a hot tub. The sun was out for 2 days and then it rained and cooled off. So instead of sunbathing we played tourist in Charleston. We took the water taxi across the bay to downtown Charleston. We started our "tourist" afternoon with a horse-drawn tour. Then we walked back to the museums we wanted to explore. There was so much to see!
Even though we are a small boat there are times when we have to have a bridge open for us as we travel on the ICW. This is what it looks like when a railroad swing bridge opens to let us through.
It never gets old to see this happen.
Southport, North Carolina
We love Southport. This is where the movie Safe Haven (Nicolas Sparks novel) was filmed. We watched the movie and then took a golf cart tour of the filming locations. It sounds hokey but our guide was a fountain of information about the filming because he was one of the local "extras".
The Maritime Museum was great, including the submarine periscope.
Beaufort, North Carolina
Remember "Beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina"? Beaufort, North Carolina is pronounce Bow-fert. The locals will correct you if you get it wrong...
I am all about the showers at marinas. This time I saw something I have never seen before. This is what it looks like when you take your dog into the shower with you. Not quite sure what to think about that...
Lamb's Marina in Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Think Mayberry...that is the feel in Lamb's Marina. We had just crossed the Albemarle Sound and were looking for a place to rest and wait out the huge wind storm that was predicted. This little marina was off the river and very quiet, and everyone we met there was a true character. We were the only transient boat. And we got lots of comments ---"how the heck did you get here from South Dakota?"
Mr. Bill, the habormaster, drove us the 10 miles into Elizabeth City to Lowes for some parts. Then he shopped with us. A truly nice guy.
Meeting local people is one of the hightlights of this trip for us.
The Great Dismal Swamp
The Great Dismal Swamp sounds creepy, right? It was gorgeous. It's hard to describe the quiet on this stretch of water. The reflections were almost hypnotizing.
It is a State Park with a free dock. We tied up and went to the visitor center for information and map of the area. Then we took a hike through the swamp on the elevated dock walkway. It has been cold enough there that the bugs aren't out yet. When it warms up I think they could carry you away. I'm serious.
AGLCA Spring Rendezvous
Twice a year the America's Great Loop Cruising Association hosts a conference for people who are either planning to do the Loop, on the Loop right now or have finished the Loop. This conference hosted over 300 people for 4 days of classes, meals and fun activities. The above picture shows the nearly empty marina before all the Loopers showed up.
Your name tag told people if you were in the Planning stage, In Progress, or Completed the Loop. As you can imagine, the Planners out numbered the rest of us. And they were full of questions! We gave tours of Nellie May two afternoons. So many people were interested in how we live on our 25 foot Ranger Tug. It was fun to show her off and share the excitement.
Tim and I started this adventure 8 months ago. We have over 3,800 miles under our keel. It was fun to share what we have learned with the Planners, and it was really fun to reconnect with other In Progress Loopers that we met along our trip but haven't seen for months.
Old friends, new friends and time off the boat. It was good.
We spent 11 days at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, March 8 thru the 18.
Can you see our little Nellie May?
The big red boat in this photo is our neighbor, a 31 foot Ranger Tug. If you look closely we are on the other side of it. Our 25 foot boat looked like a little sister next to the bigger boat. It was fun to meet Amy and Steve and get a tour of their boat. Then we gave them a tour of our boat. It didn't take very long...
St. Augustine Marina has floating docks which is great because the tide changes are about 4-5 feet. The marina had great showers!
Castillo de San Marcos (fort)
One of the highlights of the St. Augustine area is the fort, Castillo De San Marcos. It was completed in 1695 and served continuously for 205 years under the flags of five different countries. It was the focus of many combat actions, mostly between the Spanish and English, including a siege by Sir Francis Drake, who burned the town. The fort is constructed of cocquina stone, which is comprised of lithified sand and shells. The stone is rather soft and instead of breaking apart when hit by cannon balls, would absorb the impact with little damage.
The tour of the fort included a demonstration where the cannon was fired (no cannon ball) out over the bay.
It is the oldest fort in the US and is a real blast from the past.
St. Patrick Parade ( a week early...)
Saturday, March 10, there was a St. Paddy's Day parade downtown St. Augustine. We enjoyed watching a marching band, a bagpipe band, many pirates, horses and a few motorcycles. And lots of green! ARG, matey.
A fun day at the Celtic Festival
We spent Sunday afternoon at the Celtic Festival. The sun finally came out which made the afternoon delightful. We had a ringside seat for a multitude of Celtic games. Local folk competed in the cabor toss (throwing a phone pole) to launching a burlap bag of straw over a bar to throwing rocks like a shot-put. Interesting bunch of guys in skirts (kilts??). Food booths offered everything from haggis (yuk) to "meat-on-a-stick" to funnel cakes. And beverages of every kind. If you get my drift...
Tim went sailing!
Tim is a sailor at heart. He was one happy guy during his 2 hour sailboat tour on the Freedom moored at the marina. No, he didn't get to drive the boat. Yes, he really wanted the wind to blow harder. A bonus of the tour was they went under the bridge so it had to open for them, twice.
I was on the dock to greet him when the tour was over.
I think I did some laundry and read a book while he was gone. We were both happy.
The lighthouse on St. Augustine
When we are in a marina that is right in the middle of the action we do lots of walking. We walk to restaurants, grocery stores and museums. This time we walked to the Lighthouse. It was a looooong walk. We debated on calling an Uber to get back to the marina. Instead we decided to NOT climb all the way to the top of the lighthouse and save our legs for the walk back.
This lighthouse had 2 different museums on the grounds with loads of history and photos of the lighthouse over the years. Since we are from the midwest all the history of the coastal area is new to us and very interesting. I love the photos of the women in their big dresses and hats taken on the very same porch where I was standing that day.
Kind of gives me goosebumps.
Marilyn Monroe’s dress
It's my fault.
I heard the original Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum was located downtown St. Augustine. I was intrigued. I put it on the schedule. We went.
Oh my goodness. I have never seen so many weird things in my life. And most of it was creepy. And then we saw Marilyn Monroe's dress.
The museum had just purchased the dress she wore when she sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy. It was in a glass case and had a full time docent/guard at the exhibit. The guard said they purchased the dress for 5 million dollars. That explained the security.
Tim thought it was pretty cool.
Flagler College was beautiful
This is a photo of the ceiling of the entryway to the main hall at Flagler College. The building was the former Ponce Hotel. It was gorgeous.
We spent February back home in South Dakota. No we aren’t crazy. Tim had some work to do the business ($$$ yeah!) and I got the taxes done. The month went really fast visiting family and friends when the weather cooperated. Well, truthfully, I got to visit people...Tim only came out of this office in the basement for nourishment.
I took this photo as we left Sioux Falls. I love to see the farmsteads with their shelter belts covered in snow. I guess you need to grow up in the Midwest to appreciate the winter landscape.
Back to Florida
We returned to Melbourne, Florida, stocked the refrigerator and headed north. We tucked into Manatee Cove Marina for one night with Pam and Ray Monfore before heading back on the Great Loop.
We stayed a few nights at Titusville and were fortunate to see another launch. This is why they call this section of Florida the Space Coast.
VIP treatment at the movies
Going to the movies is a real treat for us. Titusville had a cool, old multiplex showing 6 different films. We took an Uber ride to the theater and got in line for tickets. The young man behind the counter asked if we wanted the VIP treatment. Of course Tim said yes. Then we asked what that meant! The young man said, “A smaller theater with bigger seats.” Sounds good.
Goodness! We were the only people in the theater and we had real, honest-to-goodness recliners. It was heaven. And we could talk during the whole movie.
Sometimes it is the little things that make a place special.
New Smyrna Beach
We stayed a few nights at New Smyrna Beach City Marina. A nice marina with floating docks. Floating docks are great because we don't have to deal with tides. We could walk 2 blocks and be in the historic part of downtown New Smyrna.. The street had delightful coffee shops and a few bars. And one bar had a quirky sense of humor.
Bob Ross wasn't home
If you don't know who Bob Ross is I suggest you google him. He had a painting show on PBS on Saturday afternoons. When the kids were little we knew we could count on them falling asleep on the couch if they watched Bob Ross. He had a smooth, soothing voice that would make anyone start to doze.
When we found out he was from New Smyrna Beach and they had a museum with his art we knew we had to go there.
They were closed! No mention of it on their website. Dang.
Next door was a Beauty Parlor so I got a haircut so the trip wasn't a total waste.
Nellie May at New Smyrna Beach
Just in case you forgot what the boat looks like...
Pancakes are messy on a boat
Cooking on the boat doesn’t happen very often because there are so many enticing restaurants close to the marinas. But we found ourselves at Marineland Marina and there wasn't a restaurant within walking distance. So pancakes were on the menu. Pancakes from a mix. It just seems wrong...
Where have we been?
This is the map shows our travels to date.
We arrived in St. Augustine last week. The next newsletter will be all about our adventures in St. Augustine. It will include the Celtic parade and Celtic Festival. Woot, woot!
We spent one night at Telemar Bay Marina. We tied up, hooked up the electric cord and got out computers to do book work and such. Pretty boring stuff.
Then we got 2 surprises. First there was lots of splashing right next to the boat. That's usually not a good thing, but this time it was dolphins frolicking in the slip next to us. Our own private Sea World entertainment. Computer work can wait!
Then sculling boats came out of the marina one after the other. We learned this a favorite sport in the area and teams will go out to practice on the ICW every day. Some teams are local but a team from Canada was in the area that week so we could hear the coxswain shouting instructions in French. You don't see that every day!
Manatee Cove Marina at Patrick Air Force Base
We stayed at the Manatee Cove Marina at Patrick Air Force Base for the last 2 weeks of January. Our friends from Yankton, SD (Ray and Pam Monfore) sponsored us. This marina is for veterans. It was awesome. Pam and Ray have a new 27 ft Ranger Tug so it was fun to be in the slip right next to them. The photo shows Tim and Ray doing their "Vanna White" impression.
Since the marina is inside the gates of the Air Force Base we passed through security each time we went shopping or touristing. I felt very safe with our service men and women guarding the gates.
On January 19 we had the great fortune to see a rocket launch while sitting on our dock. The rocket went up from the NASA launch facility at the Kennedy Space Center. We could see the actual launch and then see when the second stage boosters fall away from the main rocket.
Manatees are so cool..
Pam took us to the local spot where manatees gather to stay warm when the temperatures drop. The air temperature was about 40 degrees the day we saw these big guys. They are huge. And they have "cow" noses.
The ones in this photo are about 8 foot long and hundreds of pounds. They move slow. I caught a shot of this guy rolling over. See all the log-like things in the background? More manatees.
Staying warm together
Baby and mama manatee
Traveling back to SD for Feb.
We flew home to South Dakota for February. Crazy, right? The boat is out of the water, in storage at Anchorage Yacht Basin in Melbourne Florida while we are gone.
Tim has spreadsheet work to do for the business and I am in charge of getting taxes done. But, best of all, it is great to see friends and family. We have met some wonderful characters on this trip (you know who you are...) but it feels good to return to our little town and have the checker at the grocery store exclaim, "What are you doing here? I thought you were on a boat trip!" Friendly harassment? Old friends can do that.
Tim's brother, Dan, picked us up at the Sioux Falls airport with winter coats, hats and mittens for us. It's been 2 weeks and we are starting to get used to below zero temperatures again. Scraping my vehicle windshield? I still don't like that part of winter.
Where have we been?
This is the map shows our January travels.
You never know what you will see on the Inter-coastal Waterway (ICW) in Florida. Tourists on a pirate ship bundled in coats and blankets. I bet they didn't expect this cold weather in Florida!
Evidence of the power of hurricanes.
We were continually amazed at the number of wrecked and abandoned boats. Some were washed up on shore, some were sunk with only the mast above water and some were run aground on sandbars. A true testament to the power of the ocean.
Hello 'Tween-waters Resort!
We took a side trip to a resort called 'Tween Waters on Captiva Island. I could have stayed there until spring. The sun finally came out so lounging by the pool felt wonderful. The Gulf was a short walk across the road so we spent time walking the beach. It was glorious. The resort had a pool and 2 hot tubs. Did I mention the sun finally came out?
Traffic jam on the water by Fort Meyers, Florida
We could not believe the boat traffic coming out of Fort Meyers, Florida. We learned a lesson...get off the water before the weekend or deal with all the local boaters who are in a hurry to get started on weekend fun.
Getting ready to cross Lake O
Lake Okeechobee is the 2nd largest lake in the continental United States. We planned to cross it on Jan 11 but high winds forced us to duck into Roland Martin Marina and hope for better weather. The next day was perfect. We usually cruise at 7mph but that day Tim put the hammer down and we crossed the 25 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes. I was very, very glad to have that stretch of open water behind us.
Fort Pierce City Marina
We arrived in Fort Pierce City Marina ready to get off the boat and explore the city. The marina is downtown which makes it fun to walk to coffee shops, restaurants and shopping. The bench wasn't very comfortable but it was pretty.
Two layers of coats and a hat. In Florida, in January. But it's still warmer than South Dakota!
Carrabelle is a nice little town right on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. We planned to stay there 2 nights and then make the “jump” across the big water to continue our trip down the west coast of Florida.
We left the The Moorings Marina, headed out into the Gulf and ran into seas 3 times bigger than predicted. Captain Tim made the sane choice to return to the marina and wait for better weather.
2 weeks later...
We crossed the Gulf...our way.
We contacted a boat dealer who used to sell Ranger Tugs. He had a trailer made for Ranger Tugs and a driver who delivered boats up and down the coast. Done and done!
Hello Tarpon Springs!
Our boat delivery guy, Arthur, dropped us in the water at Anclote River City Park and we headed for the Greek fishing town of Tarpon Springs a few short miles away. We got a slip at the Tarpon City Marina for 3 days. The Marina is right downtown so we had the chance to walk the boardwalk, eat Greek food and pastries.
It felt really good to be on the move again.
Traveling with a buddy is a good idea.
We traveled with our Buddy Boat friends, Tim and Ramie, to Tarpon Springs. They have a Ranger 29 and trailered it the day before we trailered our boat.
We were together for the 2 weeks we spent in Carabelle which made the time go by a little faster for everyone. We did puzzles, played pool and learned how to play Mexican Train during those 2 weeks. And ate a lot of meals together in the Captains Lounge.
We celebrated Christmas with a potluck dinner at a neighboring marina. They host this dinner every year for anyone stuck in Carabelle due to weather, people who live on their boat and anyone who would like to be included. We brought pies from the grocery store which made us very popular. Good people, good food, and a Christmas Day we will remember.
We all rejoiced when we got to Tarpon Springs. First thing we did is go downtown for Greek food. ..and adult beverages may have been consumed...
Up close and personal with manatees
The day after we arrived at Tarpon Springs the weather finally turned "Florida". It was warm and sunny. It felt great to shed coats and hats. Florida is supposed to be warm, not 40 degrees. the locals kept telling us this cold snap was really unusual...lucky us.
Our friends invited us to join them on their dinghy to cruise down the river to the local park and see if we could see the manatees that live there.
We did see manatees but I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to get a photo. They are big. They have noses like cows. The only thing that you can see at first is their nose when they come up for air. Then they do a slow dive and flip their tail. It was a hoot. If you want to see what they actually look like I suggest you Google "manatees".
I'm so glad we enjoyed the day doing something fun because that was our last sunny day...back to winter coats and hats.
The next day...
You can't see it but I have 4 layers of clothes on under that coat. And a hat. And a scarf.
This is at Clearwater Beach. White sand. No people.
But it's still warmer than South Dakota, right?????
Port St. Joe, Florida
We arrived in Port St Joe, Florida, on Dec 4 and stayed until Dec 14. We intended to stay 2 nights. We were forced to wait for a good weather window to get to Apalachicola , 3 hours away. Tim had to practice patience...hourly.
And it rained. Almost every day. And cold. The locals kept telling us this was unusually cold for this time of year. But the cute, downtown district was a short walk from the marina so we had our choice of restaurants and a Piggly Wiggly grocery store.
And they had great shower facilities.
Saturday night the city of 4,000 put on a Christmas parade with floats, little Shriner cars and the high school marching band. We collected all the candy that landed by us and gave it to the little kids on either side. Although Tim did keep all the Dots.
Only in Florida would you see a boat covered in lights in the parade. It was delightful.
Tides are awesome. Tim has perfected the art of tying the boat to a fixed dock to compensate for tides.
Because the docks are fixed (not floating) the boat goes up and down with the tide.
That means sometimes I can step off the boat onto the dock and sometimes I have to crawl up on the dock or get a boost. It is still weird to wake up to the dock at eye level. In this photo you can see the boat is about 3 feet below the dock.
This is the cutest little town!
We stayed one night in the marina there and walked downtown for shopping and dinner.
We are now traveling (buddy boat) with Miss Norma, a Ranger 29 tugboat. The owners are delightful. And it’s fun to travel with another Ranger Tug.
I am writing this post from Carrabelle, Florida. The sun final came out and we traded our jackets for shorts.
We might be here awhile.
The next leg of the journey takes us out into the Gulf of Mexico. Yikes. Tim is watching 5 different weather forecasts and consulting with other Loopers on a weather window that would give us 7-10 hours of acceptable wind/wave conditions in the ocean.
We are at the Moorings Marina with our buddy boat, Miss Norma. We are having fun exploring the little town of Carrabelle. The marina has free breakfast every morning, good showers, and a captain's lounge with a big TV, tables and chairs and couches.
If we have to wait somewhere this is an OK place to be.
Tim and I started our Great Loop Adventure on 9-11-2017 in Ottowa, Illinois. We put the boat on a trailer and drove 9 hours from our home in South Dakota to Heritage Harbor Marina in Ottowa to put her in the water. Tim's brother, Dan, drove the truck and trailer back to our house. Thanks Dan!