So Maya sat in the hot Florida sun this past summer. Up the river in a marina off the Caloosahatchie was her sabbatical home from June to October. We checked on her from time to time though, charging the house batteries and shooing away the occasional spider. All in all, after a thorough cleaning and some polish here and there, Maya was ready to go again.
We spent some of October and all of November and part of December down in Fort Myers. From there we tackled many of the projects we had been putting off. Maya got a new radar, some new furniture and carpet. We also got rid of the old surround sound and video/stereo units. In today's world, if you have the Internet, you have it all. No need for all those old pesky electronic components. If you have a wide screen TV and a wifi connection, you are good to go!
It was also nice being around Dad for all that time. He has been going through a rough patch recently and I think our boating diversion was good for him. He loves being on Maya and we try and take him out whenever we can. He is moving from his present spot to a high rise on the water soon. Here is a shot of a proud owner with his new digs in the background.
We haven't had a lot visitors cruise with us on Maya. I don't know whether its the idea of being on a boat with 'Gilligan' and 'Mrs. Howell' at the controls or just the fact that its hard to carve out the time off necessary to do a trip, but our passenger manifests are pretty sparse. We haven't had a lot of takers on our invites.
So, this past New Years Eve, we had planned to spend the evening with our good friends Tom and Tina. They were down from Cincy for a short break and the idea was that we would drive up to Sarasota where they were staying and meet them for some end of the year fun. Soon after that, the plan was that we would be depart for our trip down to the Florida Keys.
A few days before our New Year's bash, the weather forecasts indicated that a fast moving cold front would impact our ability to make the voyage. It takes three days to get from Fort Myers to the Keys and you have to make sure you will have good weather for the crossing. Cold fronts and north winds make for a very lumpy ride and we just weren't digging the idea of being bounced around for so long.
The two options were to leave early (and miss the end of the year festivities) or delay our departure until the adverse weather conditions had passed. It looked as if it might be up to a week before things settled down out in the ocean, so we decided to leave early.
I didn't like the idea of bailing on our plans with our friends so I gave Tom a call and told him about the situation with the weather. Being a pilot, he understood right away that you can't mess around with Mother Nature. So, trying out this spontineity thing again, I asked him if he and Tina would like to 'move the party offshore' and join us on the crossing. I mean, what could be more fun than trying to outrun a cold front in a small boat on international waters?
He agreed immediately. Tina.... maybe not so immediately....but pretty quickly nonetheless. Kim calls boating, 'camping on the water'. In some ways she is right. The quarters aren't as spacious as they are at home and for a few days, privacy takes a holiday. Lets just say that when someone flushes one of the toilets onboard, everyone else knows about it. They make a lot of noise.
Anyway, Tina is such a good sport about everything. I knew she would embrace the trip once she got over the initial shock. Tina and I are a lot alike....we are cut from the same cloth. So, I knew where she was coming from. Would I rather spend a week in Florida in my oceanfront condo with all the comforts of home or would I rather spend that time like a cork, bobbing up and down the waves hoping that my friend planned this trip so we would be safely ashore before the weather closed in? Ha!
So, the day of our departure, Tom and Tina showed up at the dock with their toothbrushes and a case of wine, ready for the cruise. They climbed aboard Maya and we were off. First stop: Marco Island. Just a short 6 hours away, Marco is a great place to spend the night. Totally protected from the wind and current and a very short dinghy ride away from lots of good restaurants, I thought this anchorage would put everyone at ease. It turned out the seas were like glass the whole way down and the trip couldn't have been better. We dinghied in to shore for dinner at a great restaurant that night. All was good.
The next day we departed at 'oh dark thirty' for our next stop: the Little Shark River. Located at the southern tip of mainland Florida, Little Shark River is about as far from civilization you can get (not counting Clermont County, Ohio). There are no cell towers, internet connections or even other people for miles and miles around. Just you and nature baby! After another day of smooth sailing, we arrived at the anchorage 20 minutes before happy hour. And, happy it was. We may have just set the world record for wine consumption that night.
Later that night when we were outside admiring the multitude of stars in the sky, one of the voyagers remarked how 'pretty the spinning stars were.' I didn't have the heart to tell him/her that the boat and the sky were perfectly still and that perhaps it was his/her head that was spinning. Oh well in my book, its a good night when nobody falls overboard. Kim also made a spectacular dinner, complete with grilled chicken, some potato thing and a vegetable, I think. I can't seem to remember anything other than it was good. hmmmm.
The last day, I had everyone up before dawn. The cold front was bearing down on us and I wanted to be safely tied to the dock in Marathon before the winds kicked up. I am not sure, but I think Tom was still drunk when we hoisted the anchor. He kept going on about those stars again, so I sent him back to bed.
Here's Tom thinking about how he will never be a liver organ donor.
It was a short 40 miles down across the open water to the middle keys where we would be the next three months...about a 5 hour run. The front was scheduled to arrive around 1800 (six p.m. for you landlubbers) and I wanted to be there by noon. As luck would have it, the seas were dead calm for the entire passage. If it weren't for the porpoises that were chasing us, I doubt that there would have been a ripple in the water. It was picture perfect.
We pulled into Marathon right on schedule and got into our slip without any problems. That night we met up with two of Tina's friends, Jody and Ed. They have a house down here in the Keys and they invited us all over for dinner... and it was wonderful. As we sat on their back veranda having a pre-dinner drink, the winds began to howl. 35 knots, at least. Boy was I glad we were on land! I love it when a plan comes together.
The next morning, Tom and Tina had to say their goodbyes and return to the great white north. We had a ball having them aboard for those three days and they have an open invitation to cruise anytime they want.