Finally home from sailing Jupiter from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Seven straight days onboard. Here is Robert at the start of our journey leaving Lauderdale looking fresh and clean. That would be the last time we could say that…. Our stalwart captain Dale Arnold of Stem to Stern Sailing LLC in Panama City is the handsome fellow in the blue, and the big freighter was our outbound buddy through Port Everglades to the Great Blue Sea.
I started out horribly seasick leaving Lauderdale enroute to the Florida Keys, which was weird and awful since I have not been seasick since I was a kid. We anchored in Boot Key off of Marathon so that I could vomit and we could get diesel and water for the next leg. The new marina just inside Boot Key had opened a few days earlier and was fantastic! We were fueled and watered up in no time. We decided to stop for the night at the mouth of the Snake River just around the tip of Florida because my beloved was worried about me being ill and he was hoping a night down would help the ill go away. If there is a Hell on Earth, it’s the mouth of the Shark River off the West tip of Florida.
Horseflies and mosquitos so bad that we spent the night listening to them slam their horrible little bodies against the plate glass door of the boat trying to get in and suck/bite us dry. Seriously, never ever ever go there. If you lose your engine and you start to drift towards that area….abandon ship and take your chances with the sharks. This place was right out of a Stephen King novel (early work….the scary stuff). The next morning at 5am, my beloved put on his foul weather gear in 100 degree heat to hoist the anchor and get us out of that abysmal place of wailing and gnashing of teeth! He and our captain drew straws and Robert lost. I wasn’t drawing any damn straw and pulled my princess card unabashedly. I watched my husband lose 10 lbs of blood (and he’s diabetic) while hauling the anchor and getting us underway. It took us until almost noon to kill all the mosquitos. NOTE: Spray them with 409 in flight and use a flyswatter to flatten their repulsive little bodies as they drown.
So after we left Hell on Earth, we started to notice how incredibly calm the Gulf was. No wind….at all….of any kind. I swear, a fart would have ruffled our sails, it was so calm. Our intention was to make it to Venice FL, but the Good Lord and the weather had other ideas and we pulled in to Rose’s Marina on Marco Island after a motor sail (and I only say “sail” because we had the main up in deluded hope of a breeze) into a bit of a thunder boomer.
Our Captain is an experienced and clever fellow, and while he is willing to take on all the fury of nature, I am not and told him so in no uncertain terms, so in we went. To a wonderful shower!!! And a bar with wine!!! (Ok, I had wine on board, but still…) And a restaurant with food almost as good as mine (sorry, but I provisioned like a boss with lobster mac and cheese, chicken salad in Bibb lettuce leaves, skillet chicken with mushrooms over jasmine rice….etc). My stomach finally got itself back to normal and Oh Lord, did I eat!!!! The Snook Inn on Marco Island is amazing! Conch fritters, smoked fish dip, grouper fingers…..I was in Heaven! The Snook Inn has an awesome hot sauce with habaneros and mango and for those who like it hot, C’est si bon! Mon Dieu! I bought two things of hot sauce because I collect them and was so tickled! We took a cab to Publix and picked up ice and sodas and water for the ship and off we went. Slept like the dead! So nice not to have to wake up in 4 hours for watch! Oy vey! Woke up in brilliant spirits and went to pay our marine bill hoping to pick up some stuff like batteries and paper towels. Nope. No paper towels, but the marina shop gave me batteries, such nice guys! I took off on foot to a gas station down the road in search of paper towels and came across a gold mine! The gold mine was at a Shell gas station just down from the marina. There was a young lady there who had homemade quesadillas filled with chorizo, potato, and cheese. I tell you, if I wasn’t married and uninterested in women, I would propose to that lady. If you go to Marco Island, go to the Shell station by leaving Rose’s marina shop and turning left and taking the sidewalk for about 1/2 mile. Totally worth it. I procured 4 quesadillas, 3 rolls of paper towels, and 2 six packs of Miller Lite and off I went back to the boat! Captain Dale and my beloved snarfed down a quesadilla in record time and complimented me on my hunting skills! I took the obligatory bow and acknowledged their appreciation. Then we cast off towards our original destination of Venice, FL. 100 miles away. At 6 knots motoring. Oy. Here we are bidding Rose’s a fond farewell! If you go to Marco Island, stop by Rose’s and visit the little bar at the end of the marina. Nicest people anywhere and great drink prices. No food there, but the atmosphere is great!
So! To make the best of what was inevitably going to be a loooonnngggg leg, I grabbed our fishing rods and rigged up some trolling gear thinking we could at least fish! At 6 knots, we certainly wouldn’t outrun anything, LOL!!
If the Good Lord denied us wind, perhaps He would grant us fish! Again, the Gulf was amazing. We saw so many dolphin I started calling them Pigeons of the Sea. They were everywhere. This is a long video, so after you see the dolphin leap totally into the air, you can pretty safely stop the video. I just haven’t figured out how to edit video. That’s on my list.
I am desperately trying to think of something interesting that happened on that run, but mostly I just read all the manuals that came with the boat. All 763 of them. I figured out the waste water system, the fresh water system, the chart plotter (sort of), the generator, the solar panels, the radio. I also napped and took lots of pictures. God said no on the fish as well. This is Robert looking pleadingly to the sea for fish and being told “No!”.
We finally made it to Venice ahead of a thunderstorm that turned the whole world orange! Sailing is funny because you can be within 15 miles of a port and still be 2 hours out. I say “funny”, but I mean “Soul shatteringly slow”. The alliteration is hard on the tongue.
See how happy I look? I am so excited at the prospect of a nice dinner and sleeping without interruption for a whole night!
We finally pulled in to the marina at 10pm and were looking forward to some dinner on the dirt. We made it just in time to NOT make the restaurant cut off for orders. The waitress told me the kitchen was closed with a plate of luscious looking conch fritters in her hand on their way to some lucky patron. Robert held me by the pony tails so I didn’t leap at her and run with the fritters for freedom, Hahahhahahaha. It was close. Back to Jupiter we trudged. Captain Dale had stayed behind to get showered and chat with his beloved Laurie, so I think he was a bit bummed we were back so soon, but I gave him the lobster mac and cheese I couldn’t eat 2 days ago when I was sick and he seemed happy with that. I gave Robert some lasagna I had served earlier in the week and again, I couldn’t eat, so we had a serving left over. We were so tired, it just didn’t matter anymore. My bruise count was at 13 and before long I was going to be an appaloosa. We went to bed and slept like the dead for like 6 hours…..oooohh! Luxury!
We left Venice the next morning full of re-invigorated energy….oh who am I kidding??? This was going to be a long haul across the Gulf. No more shore hugging sissies! We were going to be big water sailors for the next 40 hours! (Where’s my wine?). We set our sights on Panama City, girded our loins with righteousness, and double checked my wine supply. Notice I don’t say “our” wine supply. I bought a fabulous watercolor painting from the Venice marina which I will proudly hang in Jupiter. I love it more than I can say. And I got a bottle of Crow’s Nest hot sauce (even though the Crow’s Nest closed and I starved outside their gates like the little match girl looking longingly at their conch fritters). Details! Off we went from Venice on to Panama City! I have never seen more dolphin. They were everywhere. I actually stopped getting up to see them after the 27th encounter. I ran out of phone data space with their videos. It’s kind of hard to make the trip too interesting since it was so calm….so very calm….so soul deadeningly calm….did I mention it was calm? Aaaarrrgggghhhhhh!!!! I am also of the college ruled persuasion, so by this time I am looking a lot like the lobster I used in the mac and cheese recipe I made for the trip! I am 45 years old, so please spare me the sunblock sermon. I know. It just doesn’t seem to matter to put on sunblock when you will then sweat 47 gallons of sweat and wash all that away…I re-apply multiple times and the sun just laughs at me. Nice. I also have enough bruises on me that if I pulled into port and made a complaint, the boys would be hard pressed to explain. Oy! At this point, I am actually losing my sense of humour. I am tired, I am sticky, I am bruised and swollen, everything hurts, and I just want to sleep a sleep that isn’t broken by winds or lights or worries about missing your watch.
By this time, my hubby and I were no longer alarmed by blips on the weather radar, no longer freaked out by every sound the boat made, no longer impressed by the dolphin. This opened up the window for naked showering off the back platform at night and enjoying the cool water on our sunburned, tired, bodies. Lying down and looking at the stars, not worrying about anything for just a second. Really finally understanding why this was something we wanted to do to begin with. All too soon we saw the shores of Panama City, put on our clothes (much to our captain’s relief), and fueled up for the last leg to Gulf Shores. We left Jupiter tucked into her berth, cleaned and full of water and hopefully happy.
We’ll be back on Friday, Jupiter. No worries. Adventures are at hand!
Fair Winds and Following Seas…..and Wine!
Coming next trip: Tilloo meets Jupiter….Close encounters of the canine kind!