Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bye, Bye Fort Myers Beach

Tuesday, March 3-

Our month here in Fort Myers Beach has flown by!  We got a lot done, both on and off the boat.

On the boat, we painted the upstairs deck; installed a new, larger anchor; installed a holding tank monitor (Wayne was wiring that booger for days!); cleaned the engine room; installed three new LED lights, one above the galley sink, one near the floor in the salon for night maneuvers, and one above the bed overhang; installed new red and green navigation lights and white all-around anchor light; had a Coast Guard Auxillary safety inspection (adhered the "we passed" sticker to side of boat); and made some further improvements to the shower.

Many of these project involved multiple trips to the hardware here at Santini Plaza...and some involved rather lengthy bus trips to Fort Myers for other resources.  The trolleys and bus system here are very handy...though, in the busy months (like February) the traffic on the island can really slow down the trips.

We rented a car twice this month.  First, Wayne and our dock neighbors, Marleen and Kevin on TIKA, went to the Miami Boat Show on February 13.  I had planned to go, too, but Lucy wasn't feeling well so stayed home with her.  They went over and back in one day and seemed to enjoy the venture.  Wayne allowed it was a very busy affair, however (parking was hard to come by), even more sign of the upswing in boating activity we've seen on this trip.

On Monday the 16th we drove to St. Petersburg, FL, for the Picasso/Dali exhibit at the Dali Museum.  We had purchased tickets online and got there around 11:30 AM.  The place was packed, of course, but we managed to see everything and learned a lot through our audio-guided tour.  Very interesting artists!  I didn't know they were contemporaries and that Picasso influenced some of Dali's work.  I've always liked Picasso's work.  There was one painting in the exhibit I really liked, so I noted the title: Woman in the Chair.  Little did I know, Picasso painted a zillion such paintings and I still haven't found an image of the ONE I saw.

The Dali Museum, new since we'd been last in the 1980's, is a beautiful building in a breathtaking setting.

We really liked St. Pete.  It's been years since we visited the city, and we want to go back for a longer visit, having seen it again.  Our friends the Benders stayed for a month at the municipal marina in St. Pete (seen in the background of above photo) and were most impressed with the town.  Bill almost had to drag Laura away from the place.  ;-)

We visited with various friends while here.  Our friends Pam and Tom Flaherty live here year-round and had us over twice for gourmet cooking...one meal with Pam at the helm and one from Chef Tom. Pam and Tom have completely renovated the home they purchased a couple of years ago when they moved to Ft. Myers Beach.  The most recent project, the kitchen, is a dream...and is put to good use by the talented couple.  We were lucky to be on the receiving end of those talents. We attempted to reciprocate with a meal cooked in our galley on Journey...

Pam and I met through the Ft. Myers Beach Art Association and "bonded" immediately.  We continue to discover common interests...and traits.

We had a wonderful lunch and reunion with Tom and Sue Jones.  We met Tom and Sue on the first Loop trip and really got to know each other while we were stranded for two weeks when the Illinois River flooded.  They lived in Chicago before their retirement and traveled the Great Lakes extensively.  They gave us some great insight on cruising Lake Superior...and followed that up with a trunk load of guidebooks for that area and others on which we will be traveling.  Tom and Sue spent years doing the Loop, taking their time to enjoy the areas they really liked.  Now they have sold their boat and purchased an RV so they can do the same kind of exploring on land.  

When we came down to Ft. Myers Beach in 2010, I discovered the Fort Myers Beach Art Association (FMBAA).  I joined that year, and have been a member ever since.  Every winter they have a couple of nationally known artists come to present workshops.  I've been fortunate to have attended at least one workshop a year there since 2010.  In addition to the workshops, an Experimental Group meets on Tuesdays from 9-12 (lunching 12-1, until the afternoon Portrait Group convenes with a live model).  There's also a Wednesday painting group and plein air groups.  I've met some amazing artists and have been inspired by the projects going on there.  This year was no exception.

Our nationally known artist this year was Sue Pink, NWS, SW, FWS.  Sue is a member of the art association...one of ours who's done great!  The workshop was geared to abstract painting with acrylic paint and was well attended.  It was informative, varied in activities...and fun!  One day Sue requested we come wearing a "unique" outfit.  It was a great way to start the day!

The class at work...

Later that week Wayne and I had an "open boat" for friends at FMBAA...

Lynne (seen below) is wearing an even bigger smile today because she won 1st place in the show which just opened! Check out the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fmbaa.

On the Friday before we left Ft. Myers Beach, our friends Laura and Bill of Kindred Spirit III stopped by to meet us for breakfast in Santini Plaza.  They were staying in Punta Gorda and were taking a road trip to Marathon, FL, for a get together.  We talked non-stop...and Laura even managed to get in some shopping at the Fish Tale Ship Store!  Here we are in Skye's Restaurant that morning...

In between all the activity, Wayne and I enjoyed lots of meals out...and trolley rides.  It's fun for the young and the old.  ;-)

Now for a few more memory shots from the month.  First, one of the fish hauls we saw while there.  Talk about some excited anglers!

A view of the mooring field in Estero Bay from the bridge going over to Ft. Myers Beach.

I love finding clever boat names, like this one.

One Saturday morning while we were there one of the forklifts went up to the edge of the dock...and the piece that was meant to stop the forklift gave way.  The forklift was left dangling over the edge, with a transmission fluid leaking from the bottom.  The whole marina crew flew into action.  The white pieces you see in the water are absorbent pads to soak up the leaking fluid.

Later in the afternoon, a huge crane (um, mechanical crane, that is, not the bird kind) was brought
in to pull the forklift up onto the dock.  All that's missing is the popcorn!

And, yes, I've become fascinated with the panorama shots from my phone.

A view of Estero Bay from the bridge at the lower end of the island.

One of the many beach access walks....

So, we left Ft. Myers Beach with TIKA (headed home to Jacksonville, FL) on Sunday morning.  We went out the lower end of the bay at Big Carlos Pass and ran outside to the river going into Ft. Myers.  It was only about a 30 mile trip and we were there in time to have lunch downtown with Kevin and Marleen.  We spent the night at the City of Ft. Myers Yacht Basin (sounds fancy, but those who have been there will tell you it's comfortable...but not fancy.;-)

Yesterday morning we left Ft. Myers in the morning after the fog cleared and did the first leg of our trip on the Okeechobee Waterway.  We got to Moore Haven City Dock at around 4 PM.  We had some wind and current against us on the way, but all in all it was a very pleasant, if long, day of travel.

Moore Haven is a neat little place.  Not much here, but we're right across from the City Hall and the public library.  Today we are looking at the weather for crossing Lake Okeechobee.   

"Lake Okeechobee means "big water" in the Seminole Indian language, an appropriate name for a water body whose opposite shore can't be seen from the water's edge. With a surface area of 730 square miles, it is the largest lake in the southeastern United States. Despite its impressive size, the lake is shallow, with an average depth of only 9 feet." South Florida Water Management District 

The fact that the lake is shallow and long allows for some fierce wave action depending on the direction and speed of the wind.  It's 6:15 AM on Tuesday morning as I finish this and I'm guessing we'll be doing the rim route today.  More on this later....

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