Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Week 1 continues

Here is where I stood on my first SOFLO beach. This is the Gulf of Mexico, on the island of Longboat Key (LBK). It has beautiful, white sugar like, clean sandy beaches. Water is also nice and clear. This is why I moved here. Shortly after this photo was taken on December 4, 2007, a man entered a post/packaging store on LBK and gut shot the owner for unknown reasons. The guy ran from the scene and was confronted by police on this very beach. He made the genious decision to turn the gun toward the officers and he was promptly gunned down. This is not why I moved here. Fortunately, the locals tell me this sort of thing (almost) never happens around here.

The rest of week 1 consisted of visiting my branch operations in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, (Ft. Myers rescheduled) and Naples. GOD I love this area!

Many, many, months ago I decided the next boat would be bigger, slower and more economical. Before I had an inkling of living anywhere but Phoenix, I found a dreamy boat I just had to see. I was web surfing on and found it; the Hatteras 48 LRC (long range cruiser). They only made 49 of these, between 1976 and 1981. There were only a few available for sale and I knew that two of them lay in Florida waters. Golliwobler was a '77 48LRC in Fort Myers, FL. I contacted the owner and arranged a Saturday showing.

The owners, John and Mary, were the most wonderful people I could have hoped to meet, being a stranger in a strange land. I spent four hours touring Golli on the dock behind their beautiful home. Mary was sweet enough to make lunch for us and they invited me to the yacht club for dinner. I thought better I wait for my bride to join me, so perhaps another time. Golliwobler, named by it's original owners who were sailors before buying this power vessel, was named after the enormous sail. Legend tells, they wanted something to remember their sailing days so they named their powerboat after a sail. It's not my favorite boat name I've ever seen, but you have to respect the history this 30 year old PV carries. John and Mary, her second owners, kept the name intact.

John shared a bit of their history with me. He was an Arkansas attorney, married to his first and they were a part of the high society social scene in Little Rock. (I forgot to ask if he knows the Clintons). He said he was never comfy with the high life and he dreamed of life on the high seas. He and his first made a pact: They would do this life for twenty years, save all they could and after 20 years they would sell all they owned and buy a sail boat and sail away. John wanted to see the world and his then-wife agreed. John did his part. He worked, he saved he did the social scenes and counted the years going by. After 20, he reminded her of their pact. She wasn't ready, she said. Let's wait a few more years. Begrudgingly, he agreed. A few years came and went and still she wasn't ready. John says he finally told her, "This is not something I want to do, it's who I am." She finally admitted it wasn't who she was nor did she want to try.

John bought a sailboat and set out alone. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, he met Mary. She was the captain of her own sail vessel and also live to be aboard. This is where their love lives began. First with the sea, then with one another. After they married, they bought Golliwobler and lived together aboard her. They did the Great Loop, lived in the Bahamas and other exciting ports of call. But they always held a special place for PR. Years later, John was diagnosed with cancer. He needed to be close to doctors and hospitals so three years ago they bought a home on a fresh water canal in North Fort Myers. They built a fabulous dock behind their home this is where Goli moors. Atop this page are pictures of the PV Golliwobler, resting at it's new home port.
The market on these large boats is presently down, as is the housing market. There was a time when 48LRCs, even thirty year old ones, would sell for in excess of $300k. John is asking $249k but he knows he will have to come down further. The last one comparable to Goli sold in September, 2007 for $218k. Because there are so few of these in the world, I know the one he speaks of. It was out of Long Beach, CA and was named Valhalla (ancient warrior). John's right, that boat was beautifully maintained with a refit galley. Goli has the same characteristics and she's presently atop my wish list. John says if I buy her, he will do this: "As long as you'll have me, I'll go out with you. I'll show you how to run her and I'll show you these waters around here. I just can't take her out alone anymore. Mary will show your wife how she cares for the wood and you'll keep her as nice as we have."
Wow. It's hard to put a value on that.
After I left John and Mary, I set out to see in person another place I have dreamed of.
When you look at a map of Florida, most people can find Tampa Bay. It is on the left side of the map, on the Gulf of Mexico coast, about 2/3 of the way up. Below that is another large body of water off the Gulf. This is Charlotte Harbor, fed by the Peace River. Charlotte Harbor measures about 12 miles east-west and about 26 miles north-south. It's slightly larger that my former home port, Lake Pleasant, AZ. If you enter Charlotte Harbor by ship, at the Boca Grande Pass and travel 10 miles due east you will arrive at Burnt Store Marina. I managed to find it by car.
It's not just a marina, it's a community. There are single family homes, condos, restaurants and of course a marina. Much of my online research before coming to Florida was done on Google Earth. If you haven't played with it, you don't know what you're missing. Search and do the free download. This is how I found Burnt Store Marina. I'm 99% sure this will be our new home port. It's fantastic. I took the most incredible sunset photograph of my entire life. I will post it in a later posting. It's so good, it needs it's own entry.
I drove back to my hotel in Venice to spend Saturday night. Sunday afternoon, I made the 3 hour drive to the "other side" and checked into the Marriott in West Palm Beach.

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