February found us still at anchor in Key West. Most days we went ashore and explored more of the town. Both of us love the old architecture and the tropical gardens around the houses. But we were starting to tire of it all so finally on February 8 we left Key West for Bradenton.
This was our most adventurous overnight trip a total of 208 miles, most well offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. First seven hours were great sailing but by 1400 we had the engine on again, and it ran then the whole of the remainder of the trip. Two highlights of the first day were catching a 37 inch Wahoo and hitting a pot marker with the propeller and completely disintegrating the marker. Stopped the boat and dived on the propeller to make sure there was no damage. That night we saw several fishing vessels at a distance and one yacht traveling south. Dawn found us still out of sight of land and it wasn’t until after lunch that we finally started to see buildings and the coast again. Landfall was Egmont Pass which opens into Tampa Bay. Crossed the bay and entered the Manatee River for the final run to Bradenton. The sun was setting as we came into the river and by the time we got to the most critical part we were in darkness. There was supposed to be a quick flashing green marker but it was not lit so Judy had to stand on deck with the spot light to find the markers. Finally tied up at 1930, exactly 36 hours from Key West. The next morning we reported the unlit light to the Coast Guard and they had the problem fixed within 48 hours.
Twin Dolphin Marina is managed by Charlie Price who we knew from when he managed Winthrop Harbor. The plan was to leave Forty Two here while we went to British Columbia for Michael’s wedding. Our old friends Jack and Nancy also live nearby and keep their yacht in Twin Dolphin so we had no worries about leaving what has become our home there. We also took the time to catch up with Bill and Patty off Renaissance who are founder members of the Erie Canal Yacht Club and who we had last seen in Annapolis. Bill and Patty are living aboard the other side of the Manatee River in Palmetto while they work and rebuild their cruising kitty.
Jack kindly loaned us a car so we were mobile and took the opportunity to drop our genoa off at a sailmaker for a new UV cover and clew ring, and the inflatable dingy off for a new rub strip on the bottom to cover the few pinholes we had already worn through. Bradenton is a very nice community with a downtown area just a couple of blocks from the Marian. Saturday mornings they close off Main Street for a market with very good vegetables and other items.
Monday the 14th we left Max and Lil at Chateau du Chein (kennel) & spent the night at Jack and Nancy’s in a bed that was not narrow on the bottom and in a room that did not rock. Quite a change! We had a very early fight out of Tampa for the first leg of our trip west to Des Moines via Chicago. From Des Moines we drove up to Judy’s parents and picked up our suitcase of good clothes and visited with Judy’s daughter and grandmother. Unfortunately as we left the next morning we heard that Judy’s brother-in-law Craig had finally lost his brief battle with cancer. We had not been able to see him this time because of his condition and perhaps it is better to remember him as he was when we last saw him nearly a year ago.
Out next leg took us from Des Moines to Dallas and on to Seattle. One of the difficulties of booking cheap flights are you don’t always get the most direct routes! In Seattle we picked up Patty’s car and drove up to Whistler, British Columbia for Michael and Patty’s wedding. They had planned a five day stay so the guests could get to ski and socialize more than the average wedding. We went dog sledding and snowmobiling on Cougar Mountain where the snow was much deeper. Unfortunately for the skiers the snow did not cooperate and was mostly man made, but everything else went off with almost no glitches. Perhaps the funniest was when Patty walked down the aisle on her father’s arm, stopped and faced Michael and both realized that the JP had not arrived to perform the marriage. So Patty retreated and came back a few minutes later after the JP finally arrived.
Judy and I stayed at a small bed and breakfast Chalet Beau Sejour. Sue Stangel was a wonderful hostess who provided great food and made sure that the guests got to know each other. For us the highlight was meeting a French couple who have been cruising since 1992 across the Atlantic, up and down the East Coast, through the Panama Canal and up the west coast to winter in Vancouver. They plan to go to Alaska this summer then across the Pacific to New Caledonia.
February 22 found us back in Seattle and then on a red eye to Chicago and on to Raleigh. We had scheduled dentist and doctors appointments and took a couple of days to check on our New Bern properties. Finally on February 25 we were back on board Forty Two and returned to maintenance mode. We took the opportunity while in the marina to lay the copper ground plane for the SSB radio and a trip up the mast to fasten a new cheek block for the halyard to hoist the antenna up.
So the end of February found us still tied in a marina albeit taking advantage of the best deal which was a one month rate. But we still go by T. S. Elliot’s quote from “Little Gidding” We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the places for the first time. Once again we have added new photos here.
Fair winds and following seas,
Brian & Judy