Log #31c Land Cruising to Florida

March 9, 2004 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 31 Nine Months Ashore, The Logs

Toronto

March 9, 2004

Hi Folks, This is my first log in a long time. Most of you received a fall letter from Toronto and a Christmas update (the equivalent of Logs #31a and 31b). There are several people new to my log list who have attended presentations Judy and I have made in the Toronto area. Welcome! I appreciate feedback about what you like and find interesting in my logs. However as we will be returning to Veleda next week, be advised that when E-mailing us do not send attachments, jokes, chain letters, or pictures as the conditions in various countries make downloading such items complicated, expensive or impossible.

Our plans are to leave Toronto March 15 to spend 10 days in England visiting friends there and then fly on to Istanbul to board Veleda and get her in the water within a few days. We then will spend some time around the Sea of Marmara and Istanbul waiting for the weather to settle down in mid April when we will head back into the Black Sea.

We plan to sail north coasting along Bulgaria for a few weeks, then Romania until the end of May when we will go into the Ukraine for a month or so, going up the Danube delta, around Odessa, then down the Crimean Peninsula to Sevastopol before heading back directly (a 300 mile passage) to Istanbul the end of July. Incidentally, there is a KAYRA Black Sea Rally this summer, but we are not going to wait around for it to depart Istanbul in July, as we will go back down the Dardanelles and along the Turkish Aegean coast to Kusadasi where we want to visit Ephesus, a Biblical city (remember Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament?), as well as an ancient Greek and Roman settlement. From there we will enter the Greek Aegean at Samos and work our way down to Crete where we will spend a couple of weeks exploring the island by land and sea. From there in September we will make another long (500 miles) passage to Sicily, going through the Straits of Messina to the Lipari Islands and up the west coast of Italy to winter in a marina just outside of Rome.

We are looking forward to getting back on Veleda. We have been back for over 9 months; too long!

I will send out another log or two on our experiences back here in Canada and our travels through the States in the nest few weeks and then will start Logs #32 series on our trip around the Black Sea.

All the best,

Aubrey


Log #31c Land Cruising to Florida

March 8, 2004

After returning from the delivery of the Jeanneau from Halifax to Norfolk, and attending my nephew’s wedding up in North Bay in early October, we embarked upon another odyssey, this time by camper van. Some friends were kind enough to lend us their old (1983?) Volkswagen camper van, as we wanted to spend a month or so going down to a Seven Seas Cruising Association conference in Melbourne, Florida in mid-November, as well as visiting friends in Naples and family in Panama City. After life aboard a 32 foot (9.75m) sailboat, the compact conditions of the van were no difficulty. It was a pop up van with pressurized water, a two-burner propane stove, and three-way fridge (electricity, battery and propane powered). The rear settee folded down into a comfortable double berth. A swinging table allowed meals to be served conveniently. When the top was up, there was stand up headroom. It had more than adequate storage space for our clothes, cooking utensils and other gear. We brought along a small portapotti toilet, as we did not desire to have to wander around state campsites at night looking for the washrooms. It was a most suitable vehicle, although a few friends considered us as latter day hippies with such a rig.

We took it for a check out trip for a few days in mid October, for a 1000 km round trip back up to North Bay and Sudbury. Our first night out, we found that all the campsites in Ontario were closed at this time of year, and spent that first night in a Canadian Tire parking lot in Barrie without electricity or any other facilities. Not quite like anchoring in a secluded cove!

However when we visited my sister in North Bay and my foster son in Sudbury (500 km north of Toronto), we stayed in the van, but with the warmth that a small ceramic heater could provide with electricity. The trip went well and we felt comfortable with the van for our trip to Florida.

Back in Toronto we completed our provisioning of the van and took off November 9th, heading down to visit Russ and Lynne Fraser, friends we have met in Bermuda while crossing the Atlantic and in various ports since, in the UK and the Mediterranean, who are now living on their 44 foot boat, Blue Highway, in Naples on the south west tip of Florida. They have a comfortable boat slip in front of a condominium, the Cove Inn, in downtown Naples, with parking, electricity, water and use of the condominium facilities. They have two vehicles, but it is in easy walking distance for Lynne’s job at a local museum / historical house. Russ is busy with odd jobs for area boaters doing mechanical, woodworking, and other interior and exterior finishing projects for paying customers. We had a few enjoyable days with them. Thanks Russ and Lynne!

A trip one day with Russ took us down the ICW from Naples to the northern islands of the Everglades. We wended our way south for several miles, following the well marked channels to come out between Little Marcos Island and the tip of Keewaydin Island. There is a well sheltered stretch just inside the narrow opening out into the bay. It is sheltered by a low barrier island, and looks an idyllic spot to anchor for a few days to explore the sandy islands and to dinghy around the mangrove inlets that indent this part of the upper Everglades, above Marco. We wandered along the spit, over strands of elongated tendrils of ground hugging plants, their octopus-like vines clinging to the sand, sucking moisture from the dry warm dunes to allow them to survive. This barrier spit was denuded of the Australian pines which covered the islands on the opposite side of the quiet channel, as some well-meaning conservationists wanted only indigenous trees on the shoreline. A pity, as the “indigenous” trees did not survive, and only scrub brush and sand dunes are left along this stretch. However I made a mental note to come up here a few years from now when we are back in the Caribbean with Veleda to enjoy this tranquil sheltered anchorage. The narrow deeper channel would permit eyeball navigation for us to enter through the sand bars from seaward, or we could come down from Naples as we did on this occasion. It would be nice to gunkhole along this coast again, and through the Everglades just to the south. We came by this way in December of 1998 on our way down to the Florida Keyes after coming down the Mississippi from the Great Lakes, and across the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway.

We then went over to the Capri Pass past Marco and on up the Big Marco River to the end of Goodland Key. There were a few sailboats taking advantage of the good holding on the sandy bottom, anchored long term in the widening before Goodland Key. We luxuriated with cold beer and an enjoyable seafood meal of bay scallops, whitefish in a wine sauce, and conch fritters in a local shoreside restaurant overlooking several boats (including our own bimini-topped runabout) on a small island the far side of Marco. A small sailing trimaran with collapsible outriggers, which we had seen earlier tacking doggedly up the channel, was also on one of the finger docks, its side pontoons neatly folded alongside the main hull. We complimented the crew on their determination to sail up the channel, tacking back and forth into the light breeze as we motored past them an hour earlier. Paunchy gulleted pelicans bedecked the old wooden docks and ancient pilings for the fishing boats which shared this small bay with a couple of restaurants, a few private homes, and a lazy dusty sun dried boat yard. The trip back was fast and uneventful, other than exploring the shoreline of Marco and Naples to drool over the million-dollar giant homes with manicured lawns and gardens. However, I bet none of those owners have a yacht in Istanbul ready to explore the Black Sea!

We enjoyed the sandy beaches of Naples and the long fishing pier which afforded a great opportunity for people watching (sunbathers and bikinis) as well as an interesting aerial view of the water teeming with schools of small silver fish darting to and fro in unison, in glittering carpets. Periodically the schools would break the surface with a noisy rustling sound as they frantically fled the larger fish pursuing them. The occasional dolphin would break the surface, feeding on the fish, competing with the dive bombing pelicans that plopped inelegantly into the waters to emerge with gullets full of fish.

On our way back to Blue Highway we visited the old museum house where Lynne is working as the CEO and curator. It was a bit of a mess as the 19th century Christmas decorations were sitting around in quiet refined disarray, waiting to be organized into a traditional old style décor around the large fireplace in the main family room. On our way back, we were entertained by a white egret nonchalantly walking along the sidewalk. As I tried to get closer to take a picture it darted between two cars and across the road, disdaining to fly, as if trying to lure me into the middle of the road, and contemptuously indicating it could walk faster than me.

On leaving Naples we motored up the middle of Florida to check out marinas on Lake Okeechobee in case we might want to leave Veleda there some year when we are back in the Caribbean. Russ told us of one on the Okeechobee waterway west of the lake near La Belle. A few miles east of La Belle we saw a faded sign for Glades Boat Storage. Following a winding washboard rutted dusty dirt road north for a couple of miles, we came to this boat storage yard in a large farmer’s field, cattle guarding the outer perimeters of the large expanse of stored boats. We found it a friendly place where the owners explained the operation and invited us to look around. It is a few miles west of the lake on the waterway, accessible from either side, mast up access, and at least 30 miles from either coast (making it a well sheltered location from any hurricane forces). The waterway at this point is only about 100 feet (30 metres) wide, with about 100 feet of temporary dock space just west of a travel-lift well and launch ramp. We were favourably impressed with the setup, and the prices seemed good with a cost of $811.00 US for a 3 month contract including all expenses (haul out, blocking, pressure wash, dry standing, and launching). There were several Canadian boats in the yard, “snowbirds” who come down in the winter to sail their boats from November to April or May, then put them in storage to return to lovely summer and fall weather in Canada. This option is cheaper and safer than putting the boats in marinas in the Caribbean for the same periods of time. However, when we return to the Caribbean, we will want to sail 12 months a year; but this is an option.

On the east side of Lake Okeechobee we visited Indian Town Marina, a full service marina with a camp site as well as boat storage in or out of the water. We found it far more impersonal and over $350.00 more expensive than Glades Boat Storage, as a similar 3 month contract would have cost $1169.00 US for our 32 foot boat. From there we went up to Melbourne where we had reservations at the local town park for the next several days as we attended the SSCA conference. More about this enjoyable, informative rendezvous in my next log.