Sunday, December 21, 2008


Keith shows it's a working vacation at Mimi's landing in our backyard before heading for Cabbage Key.

The 100 acre island has no roads and no cars but great food and fabulous views.

Keith paruses the menu at Cabbage Key, with our boat Messing About docked in the distance
Doni relaxes on the patio of Cabbage Key

Kathy stakes her claim on a seat for today's cruise

Views along the Gulf Inter Coastal Waterway

The cabin cam catches the captain catching a cold one
The lighthouse at Boca Grande

Captain and crew; Bill and Keith

Who wouldn't admire the rear Admirals?

This single frame is all we have until we get the video from Doni
(click to enlarge to full screen)

Kathy watches the sun set on the Gulf of Mexico in Lee County, FL

The 80 degree high quickly cooled after the sun went down

Twilight led us back to the Port Charlotte canal system
Home in Port Charlotte
Sunday morning 8 AM
61 degrees, going to a high of 78

Doni and Keith came to visit us yesterday. I had launched the boat at 10 AM in order to beat the outgoing tide. I boated over to Fishermens Village and tied off at the courtesy dock, where Kathy picked me up in her car. We went home just in time to meet our friends. We hung out at our house for a while, showing them our home and home port.

We drove back to Fishville and walked the shops in the village mall. We launched the boat about 1:30 PM. The weather was a perfect 80 degrees and the winds were light, about 10 knots. We crossed Charlotte Harbor and headed south on the Gulf Inter Coastal Waterway. At mile marker 61 we hailed the harbormaster at Cabbage Key and received a slip assignment. A dock hand was there to greet us and help us get tied up.

We visited the gift shop first, since it was going to close at 4PM. The shop clerk (and all the staff) was very friendly. She told us that everyone who works on the island comes and goes to work via boat. Keith treated everyone to some Cabbage Key shirts. Mine says, "I'd rather be on my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with my boat on the rocks." Kathy's says, "Fish Naked, show off the old rod."

Lunch was fresh caught Gulf Stone Crab claws. Wow, this was some fabulous sea food. It was our first time having them. Everyone else enjoyed clam chowder soup, but I refrained. Even though it is one of the tastiest soups to me, I have an allergy to something in it. Several times in my life I have suffered anaphylaxis after eating it.

After lunch we took a very slow cruise along the ICW, enjoying the million dollar views of Ussepa Island. It's an exclusive, owners only island with a private club and restaurant, accessible by boat only. We motored out to the mouth of the Gulf at Boca Grande. Doni joked that she didn't believe our story about the area being populated by bottle nose dolphin. I told her if we didn't see any, it would be the first time out that I failed to see any. When we shut the motor down to drift in the pass, the wind had stopped completely, and the water was as smooth as glass.

Finally, Kathy noticed a few bottle nose dolphin breaching the surface a few hundred yards away. There were very few boats on the water, in spite of the perfect weather. There was a fishing boat with four guys aboard, drifting about 100 yards away from us. We noticed one lone dolphin that was hanging out with them. All four guys were interacting with this wild sea mammal, who seemed to be playing with them. We thought they might be feeding him but couldn't see for sure. We decided to try to entice him to our boat, even though we didn't have any bait fish aboard.

Keith had Kathy knock on the side of our boat while he made splashing sounds in the water with his hand. I started making squeaky kissing sounds, like a Tampa friend had told me to do. We're not sure which of these methods worked but we clearly saw the dolphin make a beeline for our boat, across the surface of the water.

He came right up to the port side of our boat. He was HUGE! He had to be 300-400 pounds or maybe even more. He rolled over to show us his belly, as if he wanted us to rub it. He danced all around the water within an arms reach of us. Doni videotaped the whole thing as our new friend made us oooooohhh and ahhhhhhhh and oooooooo. When he came head first out of the water and opened his mouth for us, we must have returned the favor because I'm sure our mouths were wide open in amazement. It was like a Sea World show in God's own amusement park. After a few minutes our friend had to go. He came out one last time to show his teeth, nod his head and then swim off to the Gulf. I bet you could spend twenty years on these waters and never have something like this happen. The best thing about this experience was Doni being there. She is the biggest animal fan we know. Kathy worked with Doni in Phoenix and recalls a day when Doni found a cricket in their 4th floor office. Rather than let it die, Doni carried it down the elevator and released it outside. We think Doni's love of creatures played a hand in this special day.

After that Dolphin experience, the 5:39 sunset seemed to come in a distant second place. Once big red dropped beneath the horizon it was time to high tail it home. The water was still glass so I went wide open throttle the entire 22 miles home. With four of us on board, our single engine Volva 5.7 liter engine did 35.7 knots or 41 MPH. The tac was pegged at 6k RPM. Leaving twilight in our wake was a beautiful sight. We arrived at the canal system at about 6:15 PM. It's 2.6 miles of wakeless speed to get to our dock so we passed the time by enjoying the Christmas lights and trees in the homes of the Port Charlotte canals.

Doni didn't have her USB cable to upload the video on here but she will send us a CD as soon as they get back to AZ. In the meantime, enjoy the above photos of our latest adventure in Messing About in South Florida.

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