Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!!

Sunset 12/27/2020 final night in Pelican Bay

We have been docked in Fort Myers Yacht Basin since Monday 12/28/2020 and in true marina life fashion, my time management skills slid sideways!  So back to the high points:

Headed to Ft. Myers! A little windy on 12/28/2020


After 6 days at anchor and 4 consecutive days weathered on the boat we pulled anchor at 7:56am and departed Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa State Park.  It felt great to be moving again and we were really excited to get on solid ground for a little while!

As we neared closer to our destination we detoured to Fort Myers Beach and dropped off the props for repair and tuning.  Easy in & out, they will call when the job is done. YAY!!

So by 2:37pm we were safely tied to the dock at Fort Myers Yacht Basin.  AND greeted by Scott & Karen formerly of Last Call and currently cruising on DunRunnin!!  So fabulous to see familiar faces and spend a little time with Loop #1 family!!  Always a good time with great folks!  And surprise…dinner onboard their boat!!  They have the gift of hospitality and we’re tickled to be part of their “isolation circle”!!

Full Moon Rising over Ft Myers 12/29/2020


I know it’s a surprise to think what I did on Tuesday…laundry!! And lots of it! And it was so much fun…I saw other Loop #1 loopers – and Tango Papa has changed boats too!  But they’re still the same great folks!  Then I walked past another familiar boat – Magic!!  Loop #1 family has migrated to Fort Myers!!  Everyone maintains their distance – we miss our hugs – but the conversation picks up right where it left off!  So good to see other faces!!!

Fast forward to the afternoon…Ben & Chantale from At Ease reached out from another marina!!  Yes, a little time with Loop #2 family…yippee!!  We spent the afternoon/evening walking the downtown streets of Ft. Myers.  The crowds were minimal – all outdoor seating available – and in true looper fashion…we picked up right where we left off!!!  I’ve missed them too…fun people who like to laugh!!


So happy for a long walk!


A fun day on land, hair appt (long overdue), boat chores, walk to Publix; the typical glamorous life of a boater.  Crowds seem to be increasing for the holiday weekend so we will stay in the marina & take our walks earlier in the day.  That’s ok…did I mention it’s breezy, sunny and highs in the upper 70’s to mid 80’s??  So I have ZERO to complain about…

It's still Christmas in Ft. Myers

Final Sunrise of 2020 as seen from the aft deck on The Lower Place


New Year’s Eve and the welcome mat was rolled out in Ft. Myers!!  I walked downtown early (8:00am) and the vehicle traffic was already heavy.  When I decided to turn around and find the Farmer Market (a far different route) the foot traffic was really picking up. But I found the Farmer’s Market and Karen (DunRunnin) joined me for some outdoor shopping.  It was small but we found everything we were looking for – and a few things we didn’t know we “needed”!!  So our big New Year's Eve celebration will consist of staying in the marina but sharing dinner with Scott & Karen then playing domino’s or cards until it gets dark.  Ha HA!!  We will leave 2020 in hindsight (pun intended) and greet 2021 at a respectable hour after sunrise!!

If nothing else has been learned this year, I think we can all agree that kindness is key, patience pays off and love always wins.  Let’s take our 2020 lessons, learn from them and resolve to make 2021 better-to best of our own individual abilities.  And don’t forget to pull out that new calendar you got for Christmas!!  Paper calendars are still available…and I use one!!

Stay Healthy and God Bless

Crazy picture of the day:

It's a thing!!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas Evening!

Sunrise 12/25/2020 Choppy water & now facing North!

What a meaningful day for us and hopefully for you and your family as well.  We are still anchored at Cayo Costa State Park and (hard to believe) STILL onboard The Lower Place!  High winds and choppy seas – better known as a small craft advisory – has kept us onboard since Wednesday afternoon, crazy, huh??!!

Partly cloudy afternoon - but look - no waves!

After a restless night, winds committed from a northerly direction – after shifting from the south.  We have enjoyed a telephone-filled day of phone calls, face times, texts, emails, etc. all the modern forms of acceptable communication; and now we have settled down once again for a calm evening.

So there’s nothing to report from The Lower Place today except we are always thankful for our family and friends, we look forward to visiting in any way possible. And our hearts are eternally grateful for the special birth we celebrate today – our precious Jesus!


Sunset 12/25/2020 - slick water at Pelican Bay, Cayo Costa State Park

Stay healthy and God Bless

Thursday, December 24, 2020

At Anchor for Christmas!!


Daybreak 12/23/2020 Blackburn Bay, FL

Too much fun yesterday to update the blog so here’s a brief rundown…


After a great night’s sleep we pulled anchor at 7:31am and departed Blackburn Bay.  It was a beautiful travel day and we knew it wasn’t far to Cayo Costa State Park – our destination for Christmas!


Venice FL - one day we'll stop here

We passed through Venice FL – our 5th time to traverse this great looking town – and we still haven’t stop!!  With the sun in our eyes all morning we were very diligent at the helm, paying attention and making good use of 2 sets of eyes and the binoculars.  A lot of this area is Manatee Zones or No Wake Zones and just for good measure we were blessed to have TWO Law Enforcement Boats in front of us.  Good way to keep a check on our speed…


The Lower Place anchored Cayo Costa State Park 12/23/2020

By 12:24pm we were comfortably anchored at Cayo Costa State Park.  We fell in love with this place on our first loop in 2016 and stop every time we’re in the area.  You can too – if you have a boat or hop on the ferry.  It’s only accessible by water!!

 A quick bite of lunch and we launched the dinghy!!  Off to the island for some much needed walking, stretching and exploring.

One mile across the's the Gulf of Mexico!!

The perfect image of "old Florida"

Could there be a better named trail??

Back on the dinghy we cruised around the Pelican Bay side of the island looking for the Manatee pool.  The water temp is in the low 60’s so that’s a little cool for them but we enjoyed the exploration just the same.  We did see an alligator on the bank but it was difficult to discern in a photo…so you’ll have to take my word for it.


Headed to the Manatee Pool - or Manatee-free Pool in our case

12/23/2020 Sunset from the bow of The Lower Place at Cayo Costa



Christmas Tree on The Lower Place

Merry Christmas Eve!!  A beautiful start to the day and it’s time to put up (or unbag) the Christmas tree!!  So for the FIRST time on The Lower Place we have a Christmas tree!!  A fantastic idea from brother-in-law Wes and a special find from a special lady – I’m sure she’s shaking her head in heaven!!

And check out these treasures…typical 2020 Christmas gifts – gloves, masks, handheld VHF radio, seamanship books (Chapman’s a must-have), cocktail napkins, that dark box on the left is Alexa…she’s resting until tomorrow!!  And how about the fancy ornaments??  An aluminum foil star, key chain from Lulu’s, anchor-topped bottle stopper and a special ribbon!!  With the fiber optic lights, it really doesn’t need much more.  I’m sure it will be beautiful tonight when the sun goes down.

It's hard to tell - but the wind is stirring the water - a little

Speaking of sun…it’s 74°, super sunny and super windy as I write this.  We are under a small craft advisory until 7AM Saturday.  And that means we will stay onboard and anchored until things calm down.  I won’t bore you with all the wind directions & speeds or the threat of thunderstorms or the predicted wave heights 20 miles off shore…just know we have 150’ of chain deployed with a 66 pound anchor in 6 – 8.5’ of water depending on the tide.  While we will be extremely attentive to the weather changes throughout the night, we are confident in our ground tackle and our Lord.  We will be fine – just a little sleep deprived.


Looking to the west some brave boaters are flying kites - beautiful!!

So stop hiding in a room, reading this post.  Your family is wondering where you are and someone probably needs your help in the kitchen.  And while you’re at it take advantage of this unusual version of “togetherness” and call or text someone you haven’t talked to in a couple months!!  You will be glad you did!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Stay healthy and God Bless

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Underway on Tuesday

Sunrise over the Manatee River 12/22/2020

Monday 12/21/2020 brought a ray of hope and sunshine to The Lower Place!  Diver Craig came to see us as promised and he was fabulous!!  AND it just so happens The Lower Place has a spare set of props on board – apparently fabricated when the boat was new!!  So blessed!!


Old props removed! Note the "ding" on one blade!

Shortly after Diver Craig arrived he was in the water!!  He removed both props, checked a few things then placed the spare (identical) props on the shafts.  A quick test and verification of a few things and he was done!!  Took about 3 hours because we had several questions and Craig was very detailed with his work—we were more than pleased!

That helped our feelings and gave us the green light for Tuesday travel.  Our dock hosts extraordinaire Jim & Jackie have the gift of hospitality and the hearts of Mother Teresa!!!  Another load of laundry and a quick Wal-mart run done…all we had to do was enjoy their company, have a little dinner, see the Christmas Star and wait for Tuesday morning.


Christmas Star-taken with Droid phone camera-12/21/2020

The weather forecast was showing cooler temps with a northerly wind but otherwise bright sunny skies.  So while we absolutely LOVED our (extended) visit, we were eager to get moving and continue seeking warmer weather.  And we have this idea of being anchored for Christmas – a wish list item for me!


Tuesday 12/22/2020

We have become acutely aware of the tide table and how very important it is to our travel…after all this time, seems tide monitoring would be second nature to us – apparently not!  Regardless, high tide from our departure point was 6:15am which means we were up early!!!  But not before we were sent off with fresh baked blueberry muffins and smiling faces…there is no end to Jim & Jackie’s kindness!!


"The Channel" to the River-EASY-at high tide

By 7:18am we were pulling away, waving, smiling and promising to see them again soon…perhaps on our return trip later in the spring!  We quietly maneuvered our way out to the channel and then held our breath as we crossed into the river…easy, peasy – it was high tide!

 As we continued across Tampa Bay, we knew the beam sea would be short-lived and soon found our way back in the ICW – south bound!  It was cool and breezy so we found the increase of recreational boat traffic unusual for a Tuesday…then we remembered it was Christmas week!!

Our front yard 12/22/2020-until tide change-LOL!!

As the anxiety and adrenaline from the past few days slowly melted away we both felt more relaxed.  I thought a short cruising day and night at anchor would be ideal.  So by 12:23pm we were safely anchored in Blackburn Bay (north of Venice FL).  The sun is playing peek-a-boo with us, the recreational boaters are sending a few wakes in our direction but we are happy to have the good memories and lessons of last week.  We are also looking forward to celebrating the holy season of Christmas in the most socially distanced manner possible!!  Thankful for internet connectivity in the isolated coves!

Stay healthy and God Bless

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Florida’s West Coast makes me L A Z Y…apparently!


Underway from Tarpon Springs FL

It’s been well over a week since my last post and I have no excuse except…we’ve been busy enjoying Florida’s west coast and the company of great friends!  So in the interest of catching up…here’s the run down:



We departed the city dock at 8:22am in Tarpon Springs…at low tide.  Hearken pulled out first & “held position”. We thought he was waiting for us to take the lead.  As we turned a little wide we abruptly “held position”.  Yep, both vessels “soft aground”…sigh…  However, everyone was fine and with the experienced captains and a little teamwork – Hearken pulled off then staying in the channel, Charlie tossed a line to Hearken. Once the boats were secured bow to bow, Hearken finessed & maneuvered The Lower Place to deeper water…and we continued on.  Geesh!!!


Our goal was to top off with fuel in Gulfport FL then anchor in the Boca Ciega basin and that’s exactly what we did!!  Hearken followed to the fuel stop then they grabbed a slip in the marina.  Motors off at 2:47pm – yay, nobody cried!!


Sunset 12/13/2020 Boca Ciega Bay, FL


Lots of wind and waves correctly forecast for the day – so we stayed at anchor!  Yes, I could have updated the blog but I kept busy with boat chores and completing my application for 2021 health insurance – the fun never ends!


Charlie needed a haircut - the barber's chair is open


Low wind and no waves (as predicted) made for the perfect departure at 8:12am.  And this was a special day…we were headed to a private dock at Jim & Jackie’s house (sorry, that’s all the identification you get)!!  Loopers love loopers and yes, we become family fast!  They reached out to us early in our trip, extended the invitation and we were looking forward to seeing them for a few days!  By 12:18pm we were tied up, giving AIR hugs and high fives and just so happy to see them!!


Good times with great friends


As is my typical routine when access to land is in reach…post office, walmart, laundry (but not in a Laundromat) was knocked off the list quickly.  Then lots of visiting, cooking, eating…


Thursday the 17th Charlie replaced our boat batteries!!  Why? Because he could and Jim had a truck to get them to the boat and Jim had a friend Steve to help!!  Because TWO batteries had to be removed from the boat first…the batteries weighed 160 pounds EACH and of course they are held in the “belly” of the boat.  And then TWO batteries of the same design and weight had to take their position!  Core strength and boat yoga are necessary requirements when travelling by boat – especially for DIY projects.


Everything went well, no one cried or got hurt although a few band-aids were necessary.  Thankful for Jim and Steve!


The magic room below the floor...


It was time to move on - our time visiting friends is always a highlight.  Jim & Jackie might head to the Keys by car later this winter so we are hoping to see them again soon!  We waved good-bye and backed out of the slip at 9:28am.  As we entered the channel outside the marina basin…at low tide... things looked a little different.  In short order, we slipped outside the channel, bumped bottom, turned around and headed back to Jim & Jackie’s dock at 10:00!!  Sigh…what is wrong with us???  16,000+ miles under the boat and we are acting like rookies?!!?  Geesh!!


Charlie dove the boat in 61° water and it looks like we have a dinged prop – not surprised.  But we do have spare props for each engine!!  Several phone calls later, we have a diver coming on Monday to help remove the damaged prop and replace it with the spare.  We can get the damaged one repaired in Ft. Myers after everything opens following the Christmas/New Year’s closures.


So, if all goes well on Monday we will attempt to leave on Tuesday…at HIGH tide…and continue south!!


Perfect sign...with palm tress swaying...

Stay tuned for the “rocky” adventures of The Lower Place!!!  We are still smiling…with an occasional eye roll. HA HA HA!!!


Stay healthy and God Bless!


Saturday, December 12, 2020

Tarpon Springs FL—Hip, Hip Hooray!!!

Merry Christmas from Tarpon Springs

Without a doubt Tarpon Springs is our FAVORITE landing spot on the west coast of Florida!  Maybe it’s the authentic Greek food, Greek atmosphere, mild weather, manatees, warm water OR the fact that it takes us 20 hours to get here and we’re just so stinkin’ happy to get tied up to a dock and kill the engines!  Hmmm….maybe that last reason is our first reason.  Regardless, here we are and we are happy!!


Gulf of Mexico - next stop Tarpon Springs FL

The crossing from Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs was uneventful even if the weather was a “little more” than forecast.  Instead of “glass like” water it was more like “shattered or broken glass” water.  The wind never really died down and the waves maintained 1’ – 2’ height but it was all on the bow so for our tolerance level* it was successful.

 *Our tolerance level:

1.            Bedside lamps don’t turn over

2.            Furniture in salon stays in place

3.            Robin doesn’t puke

Hearken following close behind

We departed Carrabelle at 2:43 pm on 12/10/2020 with Hearken, Blondie, Serenity and Ladyhawke.  We all met at Carrabelle and being of like boat design and speed decided crossing as a small group was perfect!  The other factor was The Lower Place is a “veteran crosser” and for some reason the rookies found comfort in that – bless ‘em!!  LOL!!!

Sunset 12/10/2020 offshore in the Gulf

Early Saturday morning we reached R4 (the magical arrival point) Ladyhawke peeled off and continued south to anchor at Honeymoon Island – adding a few more hours to their journey.  Blondie and Serenity turned toward Turtle Cove Marina off the Anclote River.  Hearken and The Lower Place continued upstream to the Tarpon Springs City Marina.  This is our first experience at the city docks – we are steps away from the action of the sponge docks but I actually prefer Turtle Cove for a variety of reasons.  However, we are only here until Sunday morning so for a short “recovery” stay in Tarpon…the city dock is acceptable.


The Lower Place tied up at the City Dock, Tarpon Springs FL

By 11:18 am on 12/11/2020 we were tied up to a very small floating dock and the engines were turned off!!!  Ahhhh, we arrived, we survived and we felt great (taking 2 hour shifts away from the helm really paid off)!!!  But all things being equal, we still ate a small snack, showered and napped until mid afternoon…refreshing!!!


So empty...

Because this stay is brief we had one “must do” item on the list…dinner at Costas!!! Walking through town was so strange…normally this place is bustling with people it was Friday afternoon at 4:00 and it felt like a ghost town.  Again, it’s a different world.


Beautiful decorations 

Saturday morning I took a solo walk to Walgreen’s and nearly melting before I returned!  It’s warm and time for shorts!  Finally!!!!  After a few boat chores and an easy lunch (leftovers from Costa’s) Charlie & I ventured out on foot to see town.  We walked and walked and walked…much needed after the marathon journey across the panhandle and all the anchoring stops.  And what’s better than walking through town, looking at Christmas decorations, wearing shorts??


Don't forget to write your letter!!

Sunday morning we will depart our beloved Tarpon Springs, cruise down the Anclote River back to the ICW and head south toward Clearwater or points beyond…who knows….it’s not Sunday morning yet!!


Stay healthy and God Bless

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Another day in Carrabelle

Sunset 12/9/2020 C Quarters Marina, Carrabelle FL

We are preparing to cross the Gulf of Mexico from Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs, FL. This journey will begin Thursday 12/10/2020 around 3:00pm and commence sometime around noon-ish on Friday 12/11/2020. Yes, this is an overnight journey and yes, we will be underway the entire time and yes, we will take turns at the helm and resting. This will be my 5th crossing and Charlie’s 6th. The weather looks promising (read low wind, almost no waves and no rain) and we are blessed to have at least 3 other boats (first time loopers) travelling with us. With the gorgeous forecast I will not be surprised to see many more boaters along the way. 

So today was spent checking & double checking “stuff” – dinghy secured, life jackets stowed in dinghy and more available on the fly bridge, cleaned the fly bridge, aft deck and inside the boat, topped off fresh water tanks. Laundry, I know that was yesterday’s chore too – it never ends, even on a boat! Charlie already completed all of his maintenance checks but will check everything one more time before the engines are started…he’s the best captain…always doing all he can to keep us safely moving. I am so blessed!! 

Tomorrow morning I will make a quick trip to Carrabelle’s IGA for some sandwich fixings and easy snack things. Then prepare as much as I can to make dinner and 2:00am lunch easy to grab. At noon I’ll grab a quick nap then we will slip off the lines and head out!!! YAY!!!

As always, we appreciate your prayers!! I will update the blog again when we are on the west coast of Florida on Friday 12/11/2020.

Stay healthy and God Bless

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Hello Carrabelle!

Sunrise 12/7/2020 from White City FL

Monday 12/7/2020 we departed our White City Free Dock at 7:24am EASTERN…so it still felt like o’dark:30 to me. The clouds seemed to be moving out but the weather forecast indicated a Small Craft Advisory for the area, of course.  We have been so blessed with exceptional weather, cool/mild temps and FLAT water that I have absolutely no reason to complain about a simple Small Craft Advisory – except that THIS is the day we need to approach a fuel dock AND then move into a slip at C-Quarters Marina in Carrabelle!!  Oh well…

Apalachicola Bay 
Small Craft Advisory - hmmmm

The day was uneventful but I was getting antsy with the long travel days and no break in getting off the boat.  As we all know, it’s a strange, weird world right now and we are doing everything in our power to stay healthy…that’s means LOTS of time together and minimal person-to-person socializing.  So 
yes, it still beats a day at the office…

Apalachicola, FL 

As we ventured across Apalachicola Bay the Small Craft Advisory became a reality but the worst of the weather was “out front” (aka Gulf of Mexico) and we were protected by St. George Island for the most part.

When we crossed the inlet and turned north on our approach to Carrabelle River we lost that land protection and rocked a little while.  Side note: 5 years ago I would have described this experience as “being hammered” or something similar.  Today’s words “rocked a little while” indicate personal growth, I think! HA HA

Carrabelle River, FL

We were heading into the wind and outgoing tide as we approach the fuel dock at C-Quarters Marina and that was perfect conditions for a starboard tie to top off the fuel tanks (first fill up since Demopolis)!  The Lower Place was thirsty…after traveling 496 miles we took on 238.3 gallons – our largest fill-up yet!

The Lower Place in the "slip".
Note the finger pier-our off/on point!

Once we were safely tied in our slip at 12:40 pm, I was off the boat!!!  Carrabelle is a great “old Florida” town.  It’s been battered and bruised over the years with hurricanes and storms but I can still get everything I need on foot!  I headed to the post office, then turned around and made my way to the Carrabelle IGA grocery store.  Back to the boat to see other boaters coming in and discussing the great looking weather window for our Gulf crossing on Thursday!  It was so good to see and talk to other people from a safe distance…we’re all in this together!

I slept like a baby Monday night – just knowing that Tuesday would be land based was comforting!

Tuesday 12/8/2020

I walked all over this little town!  And I was tickled to have walking companions Mandy & Darlene!!  The wind was still brisk and long sleeves were appreciated but our feet were moving on solid ground – yay!  And of course, a visit to the Laundromat…’cause that’s my comfort level!

World's Smallest Police Station

Some things will never change and this was good to see!

Sunset 12/8/2020 Carrabelle River FL

And the sunsets NEVER get old – this shot was taken from our aft deck overlooking the Carrabelle River at marker G15.

Stay healthy and God Bless

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sunday was Bay Day


Sunrise Choctawhatchee Bay 12/6/2020

After a calm, restful night in Choctawhatchee Bay, the anchor was pulled and we were underway by 7:20am along with Hearken.  A little later start than usual but it was nice to see the sunrise while not underway – ha, ha…

Sailboat ashore but secured

This particular stretch of the Florida Panhandle has been hammered with hurricanes and unnamed storms for several years.  The progress of rebuilding and recovery is evident.  We have such great memories of our various stops over the years but this year is different.  The travel goal was to reach the White City Florida public boat dock today – before dark, of course. So with 71 miles ahead of us and the expected tidal current against us for at least part of the day and the time zone change…there was no time to stop and smell the roses.

It's Sunday but this crew continues to deliver materials

ICW connects Choctawhatchee to West Bay (Grand Lagoon)

West Bay (Grand Lagoon) feeds into St. Andrews Bay

St. Andrews Bay peels into East Bay

East Bay brings back the ICW

It was nearing dark, starting to rain a little & we had to be a little creative with tying the boat no pics of a sunset (or the boat).   But as you can see the water was like glass even when the clouds rolled in.  We have been so bless with beautiful cruising weather.  As tomorrow dawns we will slip off the lines from the free dock and hopefully reach C Quarters Marina in Carrabelle FL.

Stay healthy and God Bless