Friday, January 2, 2009

It's Good to be Back!

After a wonderful and power-packed three weeks at home, we returned to the boat on Sunday, December 28th. We had spent the three weeks at home seeing as many people as we could, having doctors’ appointments, and doing as many fun things as possible. We had put over 4,000 miles on our rental Chevy Impala by the time we got back to the boat—that didn’t even include all the miles I put on my car, nor the ones Louis put on his! We were up and down, back and forth many roads during that short time period and it was truly special for us; we appreciated it even more after having been gone for over 7 months. Our children were able to come to the lake from Monday through Friday of Christmas week—what great fun we all had—how our grandchildren have grown and matured this year! H.T. is taller than I am, Clay is really beginning to sprout up too, Katie is beginning to read (she’ll enter kindergarten next August!), and Taylor is no longer “the baby”. We put out only the basic necessities of decorations for Christmas and had our grandchildren merrily decorate our tree with over 200 tiny red velvet bows—which had been quickly purchased by me, thanks for the idea, Lisa!—it turned out to be just beautiful too! So when the last child had left us on Friday, we had a fairly easy time of getting everything back in place and still had enough time to get ready to close up the house and leave before lunch the next day. I did not want to see any Christmas in that house when we returned, hopefully, in May!

We spent the night of December 27th with our friends from Southport—Kay and Robert Creech—so that we could get an early start for the drive to Panama City, where we had left our boats side-by-side for the month. We left the Creech’s house at 4am and got to our boats just at dusk Central Time—time enough to get the car unloaded and all that we brought back from home safely tucked on our boats before it got too dark. In the 3 ½ weeks since we left Panama City, we had seen and done and driven and eaten and celebrated all that we could—it was time to return to the boat—we were truly exhausted. But like I’ve said before, this is no cruise boat—there’s little time for rest!

We woke up Monday morning with projects (always!) to do on the boat—Louis needed to change the oil in the generator and change fuel filters. We had the salon AC that wasn’t working upon our return and the port engine wouldn’t start the next morning. Louis quickly fixed both of those problems, but it was still worrisome for him—and not in the plan for the day! That morning, I had to get us unpacked and take stock of what was needed food-wise in order to make a grocery run—plus I needed to find a good hair salon—I did not have time during Christmas to get a much needed haircut. We wanted to get Florida fishing licenses that afternoon and have some of the near-by “famous” Apalachicola oysters too! (Our rental car needed to be turned in on Tuesday afternoon, so we were making the best time-use of it while we had it.) We had saved Tuesday lunchtime to go to Destin Beach, Florida (an hour’s drive) and check that place out—we had heard so much about the white sandy beaches and pretty spots to have lunch.

Destin Beach really is beautiful—we can understand why so many people talk about it. All along there are the whitest sandy beaches we’ve ever seen—the shoreline almost looks like sugar has been trucked in. We had lunch at The Wharf—outside on a beautiful, sunny day overlooking the inlet and large sport fishing boats. Someone had just come in from fishing and was cleaning a whole batch of flounders and the pelicans were at his feet, all clamoring for any tiny morsel to gulp down. There must have been 30 or so pelicans just right there, from the solid brown juveniles to the young-adult yellow topped ones to the old, white headed ones. We just don’t get to see that many pelicans up our way getting that close to humans.

Wednesday, we tossed our lines off the boat and said good-by to Bay Point Marina—we can’t say enough good things about that place. If we were ever looking for a great place to stay for a month or two, Bay Point would be it—from the management to the spa facilities to our morning paper delivered to our boat, Steve and his staff really know how to make you feel welcomed. Both Robert and Louis had left our spare keys with him while we were away and neither had remembered to get them back upon our return, but at 10pm Tuesday night, Steve returned to the marina to give them back to Robert—plus handed him a stack of tee shirts! How lucky we were that #1 Robert remembered (even at 9:45pm), that #2 Steve came back, and that #3 we didn’t have to wait for the marina's office to open at 8am the next morning! We needed to be underway by 6:30am Wednesday morning—we were traveling 60+ miles to Apalachicola.

There have been numerous WOW moments on this trip of ours and each of them, I hope, have been documented here. But another one happened Wednesday morning as we were crossing the wide part of East Bay—and thanks to the call from my cousin Carol, I was facing backwards “up top”. (We seldom face that way—we only look behind the boat to make sure no one is coming up on us unexpectedly!) But there was a lot of talk on the radio at that time—plus Louis was on a call himself—so I turned around to try and hear Carol better. I looked back, and lo and behold a large pod of bottlenose dolphins were jumping in the first wake right behind our boat! They continued on with us for about a mile—jumping and rolling and looking me right in the eye! I was no more than six feet from them—they were having a ball and so was I. There must have been about 8-12 of them, but one in particular kept pace with us—turning over to let me see his white underside and giving me a wink as he did so! This is a “true story”! What a thrill for me—I will forever be appreciative of that particular call, Carol—you heard me!—I do so wish you could have been with us!!

After all that excitement, the rest of the way to Apalachicola was uneventful—except for seeing another big beautiful bald eagle sitting atop his high nest waiting for an unlucky fish to break the water. We’ll never, ever get tired of seeing eagles! The afternoon was becoming increasingly chilly and grey and the wind was picking up—we were glad to be going to a marina for the night. And it was New Year’s Eve.

We arrived at our marina around 3:30pm—another great and safe day on the water. We tied up right beside a seafood restaurant and had an early, but simply delicious, dinner of oh-so-fresh oysters cooked 15 different ways—after all, we were in the area that has over 6,000 acres of oyster beds—the famous part of Florida’s panhandle called Apalachicola. It was December 31st—Happy Birthday Louis and Bud—what a way to end the year! Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest will have to bring down the ball without us this year—we still haven’t caught back up on lost sleep—we were all down for the count by 10pm! Happy New Year everyone!!


Jan said...

Happy New Year, you crazy loopers! Diane, it was great to see you over the holidays - sorry I missed you, Louis. Have a wonderful rest of your trip!


fishinoptishin said...

Good to finally have you back....somewhere along the line I became totally addicted to your Bella Luna blog. I needed this fix.

I wish you both a very "Happy New Year".

Have a safe journey and catch some of those Florida fish for me! If you can't, do what we do....lie about it :)

PROWESS said...

Mar. 5/09, 1:37pm EST; 6C,overcast.
We did not recognize your boat's name, but that she is a Cape Dory struck a note somewhere deep in my frozen conciousness here in the Great White North. We have seen but one Cape Dory; that was in Ottawa July 5 to 9 of 2008. A quick read of my daily journal and our boat log for that period indicated the boat we saw there must be the boat we see here! We left Ottawa southbound for home at 8:56 am July 9, stopping for the night at Black's Rapids at 10:40 am. We arrived in our home marina on Georgian Bay at 1:00 pm August 26.
At Toronto's boat show in January, we purchased the charts for navigation between Port Severn and The Bustards, and PROWESS has had her first windlass installed [the bill for her yard work arrived yesterday]. So, it seems we are prepping for our first excursion into the beauty of The Bay this summer. The Trent-Severn Waterway is our ['til now] preferred cruising area, though we envy those who keep their boat on the Rideau.
We wish you still waters and calm anchorages on BELLA LUNA's future passages.
Alice and Barry R Jones
PROWESS ['87, 9m Prowler aft cabin]

PROWESS said...

Should mention, home port is Bay Moorings Marina, Penetanguishene, slip C10.