Our blog has been “in shelter” these days as we are tied up in a marina and not doing much of anything, like most of you. It is a little hard to be excited about writing about every day life on board when nearly every day is like the other day…..not very news worthy. But, then again, you may be curious if you are not on a boat and may be wondering how life is doing for Gypsies Palace.
We were very lucky to have made arrangements at the Eidson Ford Marina in Ft. Myers for mid March, just as things were going downhill. This marina is where we have spent most of our winter stay and has been so nice to us. We came in initially for a week, then 2 weeks, then a month and then another month. It is a small marina where we are able to sit, get our pump outs at the slip and receive our numerous Amazon orders. We are able to walk to Publix and occasionally get take out from the local restaurants. Additionally, the restaurant at the marina sold us fish. We bought snapper, grouper, mussels and even chicken. That is a nice unexpected perk.
It was very fortunate for us and our Buddy Boat, One Eye Dog that we didn’t have to worry about travel plans because at this point we had none!
Some boaters were not so lucky. Many marinas were no longer taking transients or worse, made them leave. The Florida Keys took the matter seriously and asked many boats to leave if they had not made long term arrangements. Canada completely shut down. The Bahamas took extreme measures due to their limited medical care so boats either had to leave or stay in place and follow strict regulations. Certain states were closed to boating completely. It was hit or miss, but luckily we are a tight community with shared information, particularly from the Waterway Guide and Facebook. We kept saying everyday that we were very lucky with our decisions.
But, let me back up and give you a glimpse of our week before the big Dock Tie Up. It may take your mind back to paradise. On the way to Ft. Myers we were excited about spending a week at anchor at a very beautiful spot by Boca Grande, called Cayo Costa State Park. This anchorage can accommodate a large number of boats and is very protected from winds. It is located by Captiva Island and Cabbage Cay. There is a state park with walking trails and access to the Gulf. It is nine miles of untouched beaches accessible only by boat. It is the perfect place for swimming, kayaking, shelling, bird watching, fishing and long walks along the Gulf.
We were met by our Buddy Boat, One Eye Dog and we rafted together for several days. During this time we took our kayaks and dinghy around to explore Manatee Cove and fun places within the anchorage. By the time we were ready to leave we started hearing about Covid-19 and Social Distancing. We had been rafted together during our stay so the four of us became a “family” to weather out the In Shelter order on our boats.
It was eerie going back to the marina, which formerly was full of activity and people. The boaters that were there remained on their boats and we had very little contact with anyone outside of One Eye Dog. So, there we sat – all Fit to be Tied Up at the dock. Our fuel tanks were full since we bought fuel with the reduced fuel prices, but nowhere to go! What did we do to occupy our time with No Docktails! No Loopers!
The guys got busy with projects. The most frequent complaint from the Captain is that there is never any time to work on things because we are always moving. Well, Steve got his wish and he completed over 21 projects. The BBQ got rebuilt, the engine room got painted – some were more exciting for me than others. We got new upholstery upstairs and down. The biggest project was upgrading of the solar and inverter system on the boat. This also involved adding batteries and controllers for the panels. We look forward to testing this out at our next anchorage. The Galley got TLC with wet sanding and polishing the Corian counter. Plus, lighting was added under the cabinets. Thank goodness West Marine was open and Amazon delivered.
While the guys were slaving away the girls improved our cooking skills. What was fun is that Steve started catching blue crab at the marina and nearly every day we had a feast of crab cakes, crab bisque or crab enchiladas. Steve perfected his skills at catching and cleaning them. Who knew we would be eating daily crab in Ft. Myers!
This In Shelter time was also a great time to start getting fit. Fortunately, I had a willing partner with April from One Eye Dog. She signed up for Weight Watchers to shed some pounds. As a former Jazzerciser, I was delighted to find Jazzercise On Demand and Live Classes that we could use for our exercise program. We added a half an hour of yoga stretches combined with power walking. We have never been so fit! April and I also went kayaking in the river to add to everything else. It has been fun.
Our other activity has been puzzles. I can see on Facebook that there has been quite the puzzle frenzy going on. We were able to borrow puzzles from friends of ours at another marina. Like everyone else cleaning and sleeping in has also become part of the routine.
Our plan has been to depart after Memorial Day and head north towards the Chesapeake with no schedule or real destination – just leave Florida for Hurricane Season. However, as we are reading posts on Facebook we came to the realization that the majority of the boaters have the same plan. They cannot go up into Canada right now so they will be waiting it out along with everyone else trying to go other places.
The best part of living on a boat is your ability to adapt and change plans. We have decided that this would be a great summer to head back up the rivers to Tennessee and Kentucky. When we did the Great Loop we were unable to take the time to explore the lakes and rivers of this area. There are numerous anchorages and interesting places to go. We will head up to Chattanooga and Knoxville and also explore the Little Tennessee River. Our Looper friends have been sending us all kinds of suggestions of things to see and places to go. We think that we can avoid much of the crowds that will be in the Chesapeake and New York areas. We will also go up the Cumberland River to Nashville and beyond.
One more thing is that Steve sold a 48 ft. Endeavour that is just like ours! They never come up for sale – there are only 10 in existence. It just so happened that one original owner decided that it was time to sell. We found the most deserving couple who are going to love their boat. It was listed and sold in 18 days!
Tomorrow we cast our lines and will head up the Gulf Coast with no particular schedule or destination other than “north”. It is a rare even for us that we have that luxury. We have been blessed with beautiful sunsets sitting at the dock – not a bad place to shelter in place.