Friday, May 14, 2010


Home in Port Charlotte
70* at wakeup

After getting home from my "graveyard shift" at the Baltimore airport I stayed awake for the rest of the day and got my weekly reports done.  Kathy called me outside when she found a black racer snake sitting near my work shed.  Although these snakes aren't poisonous, we have seen then much too close to the lanai and we don't want one in the house.  I hate snakes and besides, last year one tried to eat our baby cardinals.  When I approached this one I could see it was in the process of eating a gecko.  When I nailed it with my flat head shovel, its mouth opened wide and to my delight the gecko jumped out alive and took off!  I finished off the snake and scooped it up to make fish chum of this chum.

When I walked down to toss it into the canal I spotted two manatees right across from my dock.  Now here's a rare treat!  I quickly ran to Kathy, told her to get the camera, and I ran to our next neighbors, Bob and Eleanor, to alert them.  They are in their eighties and still love the wild encounters our area can bring.  The four of us returned to our dock and enjoyed watching what was likely a male and female manatees grazing on ferns growing on the edge of the canal.  After a few pictures the couple paddled their giant tales up the canal, hopefully to return soon.

Florida manatees number around 3,000.  They love warm water and feed strictly on vegetation.  Adults grow 10-12 feet long and weigh 1,500 to 1,800 pounds.  Known by the nickname, "sea cows", these gentle giants would never harm humans.  Unfortunately humans are the biggest threat to manatees in the form of boat and propeller strikes.  According to, their closest genetic relative is the elephant. 

Here is a file photo from the internet:

Earlier on Thursday we spotted a giant sea turtle in the canal.  Last year I saw dolphins, although not in my backyard it was the first time I'd seen them up in the canal system, as opposed to seeing them regularly in the Harbor.  Eleanor and Bob, who have lived next door over 20 years told us that many years ago a baby whale was found wandering around our canal.  We also have daily visits by squirrels, regular night time sightings of racoons and Bobcats, a male and female cardinal call our yard home, as well as dozens of other bird species.

The hydraulic shop says our steering arm cannot be fixed and must be replaced.  Remember, my local Volvo dealer wanted $800 for the part?  My online Volvo discounter wanted $628.  I found a brand new one on Ebay for $425.  Since the seller was in Fort Myers I ran out and picked it up.  I think I will be able to put it on myself and save the labor dollars.  It will have to wait though, as tonight we fly to Arizona for a week long break with friends and family.  I have a daughter, Stephanie, graduating high school and my youngest, Billy, is graduating 8th grade.  The first chance I will have to work on the boat will be Memorial weekend.  I'll certainly have it up and running by June, as I planned.

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