There she was, face-to-face with a 10 foot-long American salt water crocodile – or “croc” as we adventurers call them. Yes, it was in the wild, not in some zoo or other kind of park; yes, the croc could have attacked and eaten her at any time; yes, this specific crocodile looked particularly vicious. (We know that because, well, it makes the story better.) And this was only ONE of our many adventures!!! Okay, if the truth be known Ann was about 100 yards from the croc. And there was a fence between her and the monster. And the croc was facing another direction. But hey, it was a croc in the wild! AND there is so much more to tell, so let me start at the beginning.
If you will recall, at the end of our last blog entry, Traveling Soul was docked at the marina
on the Naval Air Station near Key West, on Boca Chica, Florida. If you will
further recall, I was, to the best of my ability, rubbing in the fact that it
was between 80 and 85 degrees every single day -- and that we had to use our
air conditioning so we didn’t get too hot. Well, for the last several days we
were there, nothing changed – the weather stayed beautiful. Oh, it may have
become a little colder up north, but I am not sure about that.
|If you look closely, just up from ..........................................................here, you can see the croc.|
Anyway, while at Boca Chica we needed to start provisioning for the trip home. We had to go to West Marine for some boat supplies, visit the Commissary for basic foodstuffs and make a trip to Publix (a major Florida grocery chain) for the higher end gourmet food to which I am becoming increasingly accustomed. Well, to get all those places, we really needed to rent a car. And since we had a car we thought we might as well make one more trip to the infamous Duval Street. We had lunch at a quaint little street-side restaurant called Caroline’s. It might not have been an adventure like the crocodile spotting, but it was still fun.
Ann continued her morning walks with Marty (of Marty and Jay aboard Cruz-In) and I continued to ride my bicycle. In fact, while riding I discovered a marina and restaurant at Geiger Key that turned out to be the location of a great dinner we had with Marty, Jay and some of their friends. The restaurant had the duet “Island Times” singing a cross of sixty tunes and Jimmy Buffet fare. They were very, very good. It was a fun evening.
Just before we left I decided to take the dinghy out for one more spin. Since it had failed us a few weeks earlier, I had been taking it for a ride every other day or so just so we could make sure it would run when we needed it. I cranked it up and headed into the Boca Chica channel. I noticed that when I fed it more gas, the engine seemed to slow down. Hmmm, that shouldn’t be happening. I did it again. This time the dinghy motor stopped. That meant I was going to have to get the oarlocks out and row back to the boat. Well, as I was in the process of getting everything ready I noticed that there was quite a current in the channel. In fact, it was so strong that I was not going to be able to row against it and get back to the marina, let alone the boat. Hmmm, this could be a problem. On the far side of the channel, however, about 100 yards away, there was a shallow area less than a foot deep. Since there did not appear to be any current in there, I was about ready to start rowing across the channel, wait there and then figure out what to do. Then, thank heaven, I spotted another dinghy with four young people in it. They offered to tow me back to the marina and I gladly accepted. Being stuck in the shallow It might have been a bit of a problem if they had not picked me up when they did.
I know a few of you want to know what happened to the dinghy to cause it to conk out like that. Well, as soon as I lifted the engine cover I noticed that the fuel filter was practically falling out of it position in the engine. It seems that the mechanic we had hired to repair it did not screw the filter in adequately. As soon as I did that, everything was working fine once again.
Eventually, it came time to leave Boca Chica. Although we were sad to leave the land of cheap slip rates and our friends Marty and jay, we weren’t going to miss the jet noise.
|Spot sitting in the bar waiting patiently for|
The first leg of our trip back was in Hawk’s Channel, which, while inside the reef, can nevertheless get a bit bumpy – maybe three feet waves on the day we headed back. And this, of course, was Spot’s first cruise. Actually, she did extremely well. Yes, she was a little anxious for the first ten or fifteen minutes (and who wouldn’t be the first time you learned that the “house” in which you are living can jump up and down!), but after that, she sat between Ann and I on the helm bench.
The fist night we anchored at Channel Key. There wasn’t anything there except some peace and quiet – and after having spent most of the day in three foot seas, that was exactly what we needed! (Actually three foot seas aren’t particularly bad for us, but they are certainly less comfortable that one-foot seas!) For our next stop we took one of three mooring balls at Lignumvitae Key. The island is called a “botanical state park,” because, in addition to a house and some outbuildings that were built around 1919, the island is known for its virgin tropical forest. The trees on the island were once common on most of Florida's Upper Keys, but have been lost to development on other islands. Since there wasn’t much to see and do other than go to shore to see the flora, we downloaded the dinghy and headed to shore. On our way we headed right into the choppy seas and got very wet the whole way. We eventually got to shore and paid our $2.50 each. Unfortunately, the day we were there, there was no ranger tour, so we looked at everything there was to see, but without a guide it was kind of boring.
We decided to stay for at least part of another day so we could take the tour, but we determined that this time we would go around the southern end of the island to avoid heading directly into the chop. Well, if you haven’t already guessed, the water to the south of the island was VERY shallow – too shallow for our dinghy. We spent about 45 minutes trying to find a way around the island before we eventually turned around, getting as wet as we would have if we would have gone north like we did the day before – AND we were too late for the tour. AARRGGHH!
On our way to the Tarpon Basin anchorage the following day, the water was very shallow, in some places we had less than a foot under the keel. That was fine until we heard a bump and a grind. I immediately put the engines in neutral, but as we picked up speed it was clear that something had happened. It could have been one of two things: (1) we had tangled some rope from a crab pot around the propeller, or (2) we could have bent the blades of the propeller – either of those would have caused the type of vibration we were feeling.
That night we kind of held our breath and hoped the
vibration would go away. No such luck. We then called the municipal marina at
Fort Lauderdale – our next stop – and asked if they could give us the name and number for a diver so
he could check out the prop. He dove the props, then told us he had good news and bad news. The good news was that we had a rope around our props and he could cut it off. The bad news was that we had also dinged our props pretty well and he couldn't help us with that. He cut off the rope and we hoped that would smooth
out the ride. Of course, it didn’t, so we had to find a propeller shop in Palm
Beach. Also while we were in Fort Lauderdale the air handling unit on our air
conditioner went south; that would be yet another expense when we got to Palm
Beach. AARRGGHH AGAIN!!!
|If you look closely at the prop on the right,|
you will see that it is pretty banged up.
Fort Lauderdale, though, wasn’t a complete loss. We stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Municipal Marina, which was about a block away from Fort Lauderdale’s famous beach. The price wasn’t that bad and we learned about some other marinas a few miles away from the beach with very reasonable rates. From our marina, we managed to take a couple of trips to the beach, we took a water tour of Lauderdale, and we had a pretty darn good meal at Coconuts, a waterfront restaurant near our marina. Apparently there isn’t much history around the area as the tour focused primarily on the houses and yachts of the rich and famous. We saw a house where Sonny and Cher had lived, several houses where Bert Reynolds had lived, and we saw Steven Spielberg’s 282 foot yacht Seven Seas. Lauderdalians seem very impressed with yacht size, house location and the square footage of individual homes.
It was on the way from Lauderdale to Palm Beach that we learned that the rope that had been wrapped around our propeller did not cause the vibration; it was the bent prop blades. Darn!!! We called a prop shop in Palm Beach and arranged for them to fix the propellers. First, if course, they had to get the props off the boat. That can either be done by hauling the boat out of the water, or by hiring a diver. We hired a diver. In fact, he was there about the time we arrived at the North Palm Beach Marina. Man that was fast. Repairing a propeller consists of making very precise measurements of the pitch and the diameter of each individual blade, comparing it to what it is supposed to be, then pounding the hell out of each blade to get it back to the pitch and diameter it are supposed to be. The shop said it would be about a week and it was, well, about a week.
|Juno Beach on an overcast day. This is the beach|
to which I rode my bike (almost) every day
And that, my friends, pretty much catches us up. Oh! I almost forgot. You can be sure that if I would have seen the enormous crocodile I would have wrestled it to the ground and then served crocodile stew. But alas, I didn’t accompany Ann and Marty on their morning walks and thus missed him. Maybe next time!
Ann’s Notes: My part of the blog is going to be short and sweet, I have put off writing for a few days and Michael has asked me several times to do my part so he can sent it out. I know my grace period is up so I better get it done now.
Our time in Boca Chica NAS was fun. It was better for me since I made a new friend when I met Marty. I really did enjoy our walks in the morning. Some days it was very pleasant with a nice breeze, and other mornings it was just plain old hot at 8:30 in the morning. And always the sound of freedom flying very loudly over head. Marty and I went to a Framers Market in town and had a good time exploring all the goodies they had to offer. The four of us went out to dinner a few times and sampled some of the local cuisine.
I will have to admit most of my time has been spent training Spot. For a little kitten she has a very large personality and a mind of her own. We had her spayed, microchipped and all her shots done. She is good until next year. Spot is growing out of her kittenhood quickly, I know she is only four months old but the time is going by fast. It took her a few days of acting crazy when we put a collar and bell on her, she was not a happy kitty to have that thing around her neck. I have taken her off the boat on a leash, that is an act in progress, getting better each time we go out. Spot is turning out to be a real people cat which is good. Our last cat Chardonnay was not a people cat, so this is a nice change.
We are getting ready to leave North Palm Beach Marina tomorrow. Again I will be saying goodbye to yet another good cruising friends Kathy and Martin. They are heading back to the Bahamas and we are heading back to the Chesapeake.
All of the planned boat repairs have been done so I guess it is time to start cruising once more.
Time to make some future intentions for the summer…
1 crazy but cute kitten
Wednesday 11 March 2015
- 1 Salt water Croc seen every day on my walk with Marty
- Many types of lizards...all shapes, colors and sizes
- 1 dolphin in the mooring field almost every morning
Thursday 12 March 2015
- 1 pod of 2 dolphins
- 1 pod of 4 dolphins
- Osprey nest on an old water windmill with 2 nesting osprey
Friday 13 March 2015
- Flying Fish
|A Fort Lauderdale iguana|
Sunday 15 March 2015
- 1 dolphin checking out all the boats in our anchorage first thing in the morning
- 1 pod of 4 dolphins in the Atlantic
Thanks for reading and stay tuned…