Friday, February 20, 2015

From Paradise to a Completely Different Place..

Paradise in Cabbage Key

.....except, hmmmm, I thought hell was hot.

And believe me, it's anything but hot here in sunny Florida; it's bitter cold.

Earlier this week I composed a light hearted post about our interesting experience in Cabbage Key where we enjoyed a Hamburger in Paradise. And then something bad happened. My post disappeared. Just like that.

Well, crap!

I can't bring myself to try and duplicate it so I'll just summarize it here:

We anchored outside Cabbage Key the night before we entered the marina.

You can't get into Cabbage Key Marina as a transient, sooner than 3PM in order for them to accommodate the ferry and lunchtime dinghy traffic. Once you get there, you'll learn you can't fill your water tanks (they rely on a small water tower), there is no garbage disposal, the shower facilities require a $10.00 key fee (I opted to shower on the boat), and dogs are not permitted, although Wilbur got a huge reprieve when the ladies in the gift shop informed us he could let off some steam as long as he was leashed. We never let Wilbur off his leash anyway so that wasn't a problem. They have one washer and dryer so I was able to get a load of laundry done.

And for dinner we finally taped a dollar bill with our boat's name on the wall and ate that damn cheeseburger in paradise.

It was a fun time but if I were to do it again I'd just dinghy in for lunch and save the whole overnight dockage fee. Don't get me wrong, we had a wonderful time there and I'm glad Wilbur got to have his rollies, but the fees just didn't justify the means.

Hans places our Knotty Cat dollar bill on the wall.

We left the marina, spent a night at JN Ding Darling Refuge anchorage and then ended up in Fort Myers Mooring Field for this year's version of the Polar Vortex.

We approached the mooring field with some trepidation (no pendants! can't read the numbers! rude staff! Active Captain reviewers exclaimed), but luckily we picked up our mooring lickety split. And that was pretty much the best thing that happened to us for the next three days. BTW, we approach from the stern where Hans can see the ball and after hooking it I run a line through it (the other end is already cleated to the bow) and then run like hell for the front before my arms get yanked from their sockets. This was one of the longest pendants (or pennant whichever term you prefer) I've ever seen, something like 10 feet. We secured another line to it and now the ball was centered in front of the boat.

The mooring ball.


After getting the dinghy in the water we took Wilbur and all of our garbage ashore. Of course Wilbur stomped all over the garbage bags with his big pitty feet and then nearly fell in the water at the dock. We had a nice dinner at Bonita Bill's where we heard people talking about how it was gonna blow like hell the next day.

I was sound asleep when a huge bang woke me up. Bang! I heard it again and it was right near my head. I woke Hans up and he told me it was the waves slapping the boat. Umm, I don't think so, and then Bang! There it went again. Hans got up, I got up, and Wilbur got up which is very unusual because the little man prefers to stay in bed until noon. We all poured out into the cockpit and while Wilbur and I shivered in the freezing wind and rain, Hans went up front where he found that our mooring ball was deep underneath the Knotty Cat and pounding the hull near our berth.

The wind and current were having a huge fight and neither was willing to give up and soon the mooring ball was stretched way out in front of us so we went back to bed. Bang! Bang! It was back again and I was sure it was going to end up in bed with us. The lines on the cleats were groaning in agony, and then we heard an odd squeaking noise. The ball was now wedged under the boat. We both went up to the bow this time and we couldn't budge the lines as the ball had no intention of leaving its new home. I refused to go back to bed since the amplified noise of the groans and squeaks were scaring me to death so I stayed in the salon. Wilbur abandoned me and joined Hans down below.

We were due for a mobile pump out in the morning so we thought we'd ask the dock master if he could see where the ball was actually wedged. It was possible that it had passed under our center pod and if so that would be a huge problem. But it was too windy for a pump out so we were on our own. By leaning way out over the stern Hans was able to see that the ball was stuck up front between the starboard hull and the center pod, so we finally fired up the engines and reversed off it. Just like that the ball popped out. The wind took over and the ball was way in front of us and try as we might we couldn't pull it in so we could tie it off closer to the boat. We finally gave up on that project and went back down below. It was afternoon by now and I was tired and grumpy.

Bang! Bang!

Sonofabitch! It was back.

I raced up front and once again the lines were under the boat. And then we drifted back a bit and the ball was right there beside us on the port side. I asked Hans if we couldn't just grab its line now and tie it off to the cleat.

So he did.

The ball was now bouncing next to us and I just knew it would probably start smacking the hull. "Looks okay to me," Hans said. "Tap,tap,tap," the mooring ball replied. "You bastard!" I yelled. If I could have, I'd've smashed that mooring ball to pieces. I told Hans surely we could work that line over to the center cleat therefore centering it under the bow and rendering it incapable of touching the boat.

So he did.

Let me tell you we had that sucker cinched so tight it could have sang with the Bee Gees.

Down below we went and while the wind roared and the currents ripped we were pretty much at peace.

I was in desperate need of a shower and not knowing how much water we had left (in addition to the fact that it was icy cold) we decided to dinghy into the marina to use their facilities. This time we kept the dog and the garbage far away from each other but the problem this time was the waves. We weren't a foot away from the boat when a wave crashed over the front of the dinghy and my newly washed jeans and I got soaked. It didn't help that our mooring field was the furthest from the office so imagine what we looked like by the time we got there.

Back on the boat we continued our communication with our friends from up north who are flying down to join us today. Trying to plan something like this when you're on the move is not easy. Scheduling flights, weather, and our actual location have made this very interesting. "Bring sweatsuits and warm clothes," is probably not what our guests wanted to hear.

Last night the wind was blowing so hard it actually ripped two out of four of our solar panel connections apart. These connections are (or were) so strong we have a tool to disconnect them when we want to roll them up and put them away. We brought them in for the night and before we left this morning (yes, we actually left!!) I tested one of them and it appears to still work.

These are our solar panel connectors.

So, this morning we got up early, put the dinghy on the deck (impossible to do until today), ditched that damn mooring ball, and headed out into the gulf. Forty degrees is cold to be out here but the sun is shining.

Next stop, Naples.



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