The pelicans at Naples City Marina enjoy the roof above the laundry area
We shoved off (literally scraping the pilings on each side of us) the next morning and motored down the OLD ICW for eleven miles where we were consistently waked by power boats the entire time. Dave and Kathy were then treated to Hans and me trying to anchor the boat in Factory Bay. Five times we tried and five times we failed. There were plenty of boats anchored so of course we became that afternoon's entertainment. Luckily, our backup anchorage came through for us and we held on the first try.
In the midst of planning this trip, Dave had mentioned that mutual friends live in the area and it would be nice if they could get together. Dave and Hans had worked for this man and with his son years ago and it was actually Hans' first real job (Hans discovered as many before him have; being in a punk rock band does not pay well). Once we were anchored I figured they'd all go to lunch as there was a restaurant within dinghy distance and I told Hans I'd just stay on the boat with the dog.
But then after some texts and calls it was discovered that there was a channel that would indeed accommodate the Knotty Cat's passage right up to Jerry and Audrey's home. Not only that, they had a dock that we were welcome to tie up to. It just doesn't get much better than that.
I can guarantee you this; the day we spent at their home had to be the most comfortable and pleasant time Dave and Kathy experienced during the nine days they stayed with us.
It was like an unexpected visit to a five star Marina and their brochure could read:
Jerry and JR will graciously motor out to the gulf in order to meet your
filthy boat yacht and escort you through the channel to their dock. While taking your dock lines they will remark how nice it is to see you and will make no mention of the filthy fender marks on the side of your boat, the messy remains of blue paint all over your bow from a mooring pennant, the cockpit edged in dog hair, or what the neighbors may think. They also will not recoil in horror and exclaim, "Oh my god, is that a pit bull?" Nor will they ask when was the last time you showered.
You'll be in for a rare treat when you discover they have an electrical hook up and fresh water for your tanks.
Audrey will warmly welcome you and without batting an eye will invite you to let your dog off the boat and onto their property. You may be terrified of what your boat-bound dog will do to their beautifully manicured lawn but your dog will be giddy with excitement at the chance to mark new territory and perhaps steal a few kisses.
After tidying up your lines and taking a tour of the property you will be amazed to find lunch is waiting to be enjoyed complete with a water front view.
You may then spend your afternoon sitting in lawn chairs; visiting, using up all their fresh bait while *fishing off the sea wall, or crawling under bushes because you just know that
damn dog went potty in the most inaccessible place ever. Do not heed Audrey's advice that if you can't find it it doesn't matter (because it does!).
*(Please note, if your name is Laura you will not catch a fish but you will have fun trying.)
And just like magic, hors devours will appear and then all of a sudden it's time for dinner (BTW, all of this is done without 'help'). Audrey will amaze you once again by offering to let your dog into their home but if the term 'like a bull in a china shop' is a fit description for your pooch, please do everyone a kindness and lock that big stinker in your boat. He or she will survive.
You don't want to sleep on your boat? You'd prefer the comfort of a land shower and a comfortable bed? No problem. Spend the night in their home in total comfort with your own private bed and bath.
A hot breakfast will be served upon your departure.
The Knotty Cat is our home so Hans and I opted to sleep aboard. Kathy was suffering from a miserable northern head-cold and therefore took advantage of a good hot shower, a comfortable bed, and a chance to watch the Oscars. I don't blame her a bit!
A fun afternoon of fishing
The Knotty Cat is stunned to be here but tries very hard to remain humble
Wilbur erupts from his hidey-hole
There's nothing like a kickedy-kick rolly while off the boat
We woke up to this but thankfully it burned off quickly
For me, living on a boat means never knowing what the next day is going to bring and that's not necessarily a good thing for someone like me. I like routine, I don't like surprises.
Yet here I am.
And I have to say, this was one of the best surprises I've ever encountered on the Knotty Cat. I know Hans feels the same way and I don't think he'll ever stop talking about it.
But, stay tuned. We may have departed but our visit wasn't quite over yet.
The most beautiful place we've ever tied up.