Sailing South for the Winter Part III

As we left Fort Lauderdale, it was down to three of us,  Michael, Linda and myself.  It felt like a new start.  We didn’t realize the tension we were under  and were relieved that we were back on the ICW. Next stop was a place to eat dinner.  We weren’t under way for long when I decided to get a quick shower to clean up.  Thinking that it would be awhile before we stopped, I stepped into the shower.  I could here people talking and laughing, lots of people.  I was very disoriented and looked out the port to find that we had docked the boat right up against a restaurant dock where people were sitting outside having dinner. We had arrived at Le Tub, near Hollywood Beach.  As I worked my way up on deck I could see the lights that lit up the water which were a clear lime green.  And in the water were these huge Catfish.  They looked to be 3-4′ long.  The people sitting on the dock were throwing pieces of bread into the water and the fish were as if “in a frenzy”.  I would not have liked to have fallen in the water at that time.  The restaurant was open to the outside . It wasn’t fancy.  Just the kind of place where you wouldn’t mind spending some time.  The music was great, as well as the food.  There were pool tables, dart boards and if I remember correctly, sofas and soft chairs arranged in a living room order.  We had dinner,while enjoying the warm breezes blowing across the place. Drank beer, played pool and darts until it got late.  Afterwards we got back onto the boat, untied the lines, motored across the lake, dropped anchor and made plans for the following day.

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The sun was up early, and so was Michael.  Linda and I had heavy heads and were moving slow. After we all had our coffees, we got underway.  We still had a few hours  before we got south of Miami.  It was a Saturday morning and the ICW was rocking.  I had never seen so many Cigarette boats with so many tanned bodies all in one place.  When we headed out the inlet at Miami,  a submarine had surfaced and was tooling along above the water.  It was a British Sub and  was lined with Sailors standing side by side along the entire deck(manning the rail).  They were wearing white shorts that went to their knees, with white knee socks  and hats that went flat across the top of their heads. They all looked like Gopher on the Love Boat.  And they were waving to everyone.  Linda and I couldn’t wave enough at these guys.  They were a sight to see, so was their boat!  Boats were zooming past us, coming from every direction.  How anyone kept from hitting each other I’ll never know.  It was early for a Saturday and the Marine Patrol was running people down and giving them tickets.  As we continued south, the traffice died down.  At the north end of Biscayne Bay you could see a tiny island with houses built on stilts.  The island had no roads or electricity.  It was too small.  It looked like a great place to “getaway” to.  I learned years later that the houses were distroyed in hurricane Andrew.

The water was a crystal blue, green color.  It was so pretty.  There was no way to gauge just how deep the water was.  Looking over the side of the boat, you could see fish and coral.  Linda and Michael put me in a Bosuns Chair and with help of the wench, ran me up the 60′ mast.  The view was great!  From up there I could see large turtles. I couldn’t stay up there for long.  The rocking back and forth motion of the boat going over the small waves, was very abusive up top.  I had to wrap my leg around the mast and each time the boat hit a wave, my body was slammed into the mast.  Can only do that so many times.  I remember Linda got tired winding the wench, running me up to the top and Michael had to run me up the rest of the way.  Coming down was a sinch.  It was just like repelling.

As we sailed passed Matecumbe in the Keys, we turned starboard which was a short cut through Florida Bay.  This way we didn’t have to go around to Key West.  We had put in a full day and dropped anchor on the west side of the Keys, near Duck Key.  We stopped early enough to fix a great dinner, have a cold beer and watch the sunset.  I knew then that I was going to love spending time on the water here.  I felt like I should  pinch myself to see if I was awake.  Michael had set up the hammock earlier. Then pulled out his guitar and played us a few tunes.  We were only one day away from our destination, Marco Island, Florida.  The next day was spent in open water most of the time and the highlight of the day was watching the flying fish.  They would pop out of the water, at a good clip, sail thru the air and land a few yards away.  Sometimes the fish would even land in the boat.  We arrived at Marco Island right before sunset.  Michael docked the boat at a restaurant called O’Sheay’s.  He was known here and many people were excited to see him.  It was a shock to be around so many people after spending two weeks on the water.  Linda had a time table she had to stick to.  We all had dinner and a farewell party.  The next day she was headed back to North Carolina.  Thru out the day Michael had friends coming and going from the boat.  My head was still on the water sailing.  While Michael and his friends spent time catching up, I would sneek off down below in the boat, and take a nap.  The year was 1990 and cell phones were not as popular as they are today.  The only way of communication amoung the boaters was to use the VHF radio.  Each person had their own call sign.  Since I was new to boating, I had yet to have a name.  I was deemed “The Sleeper”.

After spending several days at the docks at O’Sheay’s, we decided to take the boat out into the Marco River and drop the anchor.  Life out on the anchor was much more like a vacation than life at the docks.  I had almost forgotten that we were there to do charter work. But that was fine. I would enjoy it anyway.


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5 Responses to “Sailing South for the Winter Part III”

  1. Lynn Says:

    i read this great post to rip. we laughed about the british sailors wearing white shorts and white knee socks!! it’s hilarious you say they looked liked gopher on the Love Boat. i learned about a Bosuns chair and damn that must’ve been fun! rip is a big repeller, his old stomping ground is the garden of the gods in colorado springs. so it looks like you crossed over just south of naples which is two hour drive south of my house.

    i can’t imagine the feeling one gets reaclimating to people after spending two weeks on the water. live the life you’ve imagined~ indeed!

    one more thing, is there anything michael doesn’t do? [the guitar, yeah right… ] anything to get the girl eh?

    • wenchhandle Says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. This was a trip we took whew…..19 years ago and just about every detail is still clear. The west coast of Florida is beautiful, it is hard not to take it for granted. Have you been to Marco or Everglades City? Everglades City has the Rod and Gun Club which is a classic place in itself. I’m working on a slide show. Hope to have up and running in a couple of days. Good to see you:) Shannon

    • wenchhandle Says:

      I got to thinking later about your comment “is there anything Michael doesn’t do?” and I must say this guy is very resourceful. He saves us money in car repair mechanics, HVAC, Plumbing, and is just a walking encyclopedia of the most useful and non useful information you may want or not want. On the other hand he doesn’t do dishes, cook (my choice), clean bathrooms, or wash the dogs. Other than that, he makes up for it in other areas. 🙂

      Rip must miss rock climbing, living in Florida there aren’t many rocks to climb or repel from. Guess there are some tall buildings tho. Ha! Years ago I had a boyfriend that was an advid rock climber, and ice climber. We did a lot of backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in the dead of winter, just so he could climb some frozen waterfalls. Repelling was my favorite tho.

  2. Terri Says:

    Boy this sounds wonderful I can just imagin how beautiful it was out to sea you described it very well thanks for the pic in my mind of the beautiful sun set.

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