Sunday, January 31, 2010

ALLIGATORS, SWAMP BUGGIES AND WILD PIGS

I wrote our last post in Ft Lauderdale on Christmas Day and here it is more than a month later. It's been a busy time.

You can't rely on the winter weather in Florida. Our son Andy and his girlfriend Jill arrived at the marina in a drenching rain, which continued for the next two days. After the rain stopped, it turned chilly and windy.

In spite of the weather, we had a great time during their six-day visit. Jill, a high school and college swimmer who now competes in triathalons, worked out several times at the Swimming Hall of Fame just a couple of blocks from our marina. She and Andy also ran on the beach several times. We dined on seafood, explored Ft. Lauderdale by water taxi and explored the Everglades in a swamp buggy, where we saw alligators and wild pigs up close.

Andy and Jill left right before Christmas on a 10-day cruise with Jill's family destined for Aruba, Dominican Republic and the Panama Canal.

We shared Christmas dinner with new friends on the boat next door to us at the marina. The next day, we headed out to sea for the trip south to Miami. We would have stayed on the Intracoastal Waterway, but there is a fixed bridge just north of Miami that won't accommodate our 57-foot mast.

South of Miami at No Name Harbor, in Bill Baggs State Park at the south end of Key Biscayne, Phil retrieved his fold-up bicycle from the park ranger. It had been stolen the year before and later recovered by folks from the parks department, who kept it for us until we returned. Kudos to Bill Baggs State Park!

Two days' of sailing, with a stopover at Isla Morada, brought us to Boot Key Harbor, in the middle of the Keys. There are nearly 300 boats here, either on mooring balls or anchored. Every morning at 9:00 o'clock sharp, the Cruisers Net is broadcast over the VHF radio. The moderator welcomes new boats to the harbor, bids farewell to those who are leaving, and provides a forum for announcements, questions, comments, requests for help and an on-air flea market. Nearly everyone in the harbor tunes in.

The first couple of weeks in January, we endured record-breaking low temperatures here. We were not equipped for the cold weather, either physically or mentally. The temperature dropping into the upper 30's at night and we piled on blankets and sleeping bags to stay warm. During the day, we thought up things to bake in the over, just to heat up the cabin.

But the cold weather finally passed and it has warmed up again. Many days reach the 80's, and we have stowed the blankets and sleeping bags.

We will stay here another week or so. The marina hosts a Super Bowl party and we'll be sitting on the front row to watch the game. We have discovered a few other Indiana cruisers here, including folks from Kokomo, Southport, Noblesville and Valparaiso. We will all sit together and cheer on our team.

Soon after, weather permitting, we will begin our trek up the Gulf Coast. We plan to meet up with Phil's sister, Betty, and her husband, John, who will be camping near Ft. Myers. That same week, my brother, Allen, his daughter, Melissa and his grandson, Fox, will spend a night on board with us. We are looking forward to seeing them all.

Warm wishes to all of you up North. Spring will be along soon.

2 comments:

Bruce said...

Phip & Margret,
I am in NY with 14 at night & 31 high for the day. Come on up if you have any spare time.....Bruce Morrison

Anonymous said...

Hi Margaret, Glad to "see" you're having a good winter, after the cold. That's been the case everywhere. Texas was cold most of the time we were there, and we're in Florida now and it's just now warming up, but still chilly for Florida. See you at the community center this summer.
Jill