Wednesday, March 09, 2016

February 15-22, 2016 ::: Naples to Key West, Marathon, and Islamorda

We left Naples and traveled to Shark River where we anchored overnight.  The next day we departed for Key West, one of our favorite places to visit. The weather forecast was not favorable, nonetheless we took off and encountered a storm which contained some strong winds.  By the end of the day this turned out to be a good cruise. We were glad we made the decision  to go as the winds became stronger over the next few days and crossing over would have been very difficult. 
A great view of the cruise ship and sail boats as we enter the harbor of Key West

Passing Mallory Square where we will be going for a sunset view
The view from the back of SONATA in her slip.
"Fill'er up" ... Wouldn't want to pay that fuel bill! 
Time to go sight seeing ... we board the Conch Train with our friends Dave and Sue from MANANA,  and  are off to see the sights of Key West 


The houses are so unique along the streets..We have heard of gingerbread decorations but these truly are gingerbread men and they denoted that a baker lived in this house.
This is classic old Key West design with sloping roof and window up high to help with ventilation 

Roosters Rule!!


Harry Truman's Little White House

Lunch at a favorite Thai restaurant

Back on SONATA, Charlie gets his "HOOKA" out and checks out SONATA'S props and bottom. Looks like we picked up some crab lines along the way, on both shafts, and they had to be removed from the props.

Sunset at Mallory Square ... it wasn't the best night for a sunset but the clouds were beautiful and we finally got a little peek of the sun just before it set.  Each evening at Mallory Square brings new adventures, and reminders of old ones. 

We met Bill four years ago on our last loop and were very impressed with the ministry he has on Mallory Square where he is surrounded by Buskers entertaining the crowds with their acts ... Bill is unique as he presents the Gospel so vividly using boats and local surroundings.  Most people just walk by but he is faithful to tell his magnificent story to all who will stop and hear ... he is such a blessing and we respect so much his tireless enthusiasm! 
Time to leave Key West.  Such a fun place! We leave port with weather conditions predicted winds at 5-10 kts and 0-1 ft seas ... reality was found at, 20-25 kt winds and 6-8 ft seas, not a fun day on the Gulf and the Atlantic! 



Our destination is Marathon ... we approach the Seven Mile Bridge 

Our port for the night, a recommendation by Charlie Boucherle, Faro Blaco Resort and Yacht Club

After we dock, we are visited by a manatee who has been named "George" ..  He is very friendly and enjoys nibbling on SONATA and Charlie playing with him with the hose ... he just lays on his back and says, More!
SONATA resting in her slip in Faro  Blanco
We leave Faro Blanco and head for Plantation Key ...  SONATA is giving way to a sailboat under sail when another power boat recklessly tries to pass both of us, and things get a little hairy, as he does not execute the pass very well!  Cuts off the sail boat causing them to make a hard starboard turn and SONATA was required to come to a stop ...  would love to carry a "cannon" on the bow!


The Florida Lobster...notice no big claws!

We can't seem to get away from the winds ... they have continued to blow 15-20 kts!


We arrive in Plantation Yacht Harbor in Islamorada.  This is one of the best facilities we have visited as it is part of a wonderful city park that has baseball, tennis, pickle ball, Olympic size pool. The only marina in the Keys to have a beach. amphitheater, and much more ... we enjoyed 14 days here and Bonnie was able to play lots of tennis and pickle ball!  


February 5-February l4, 2016 ::: Pine Island,Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples



SONATA came around the tip of Pine Island and turned into a very small canal.  The purpose was to visit with one of Charlie's nephews that he has not seen in some 22-25 years; Charlie Boucherele.  When we were on the loop in 2012, south of Pine Island on the way to Naples, Charlie called Charlie and found he had already passed his nephew.  Promises were made to made the stop the next time.


When Charlie called this time we received exact instructions on where to find Charlie Boucherle; we were to time up at Charlie's hotel dock behind his boat.  We came up the narrow channel, secured SONATA, and met some of the finest people ever.  We were invited over to Charlie and Jenny's home for dinner and there met their lovely daughter Leslie.  We enjoyed a delightful evening of stories, drinks, food, and more stories before we returned to SONATA for the evening.


The next day Charlie took us on a tour of Pine Island to include his two hotels; a view of where Charlie and Jenny married, and then in the evening another fine dinner at a local resort.   We were treated like royalty and the guests at Charlie's hotel where SONATA was tied were thoughtful and inquisitive.

Following two days and three nights it was time to move on down the waterway.  Charlie and Jenny were so terrific and thoughtful.  We had been hopeful that Paul Boucherele would be able to get away from work and join us in Florida for the several day's visits, but alas, work prevailed.  Possibly on the next loop around.

More stories about all the wonderful people we meet on this trip, and this is a great example of such people ... Dave & Sue aboard MANANA, met Rudy and Bev Willert who are Canadian this past summer in Little Current on the North Channel and they invited Dave and Sue to dock at  their winter home in Cape Coral ...We have been traveling with MANANA and were invited to dock there also ... It just so happened that it was SUPER BOWL weekend  and they were hosting a party ... well, it ended up we, SONATA, were the only Americans watching the super bowl, everyone else (17) were Canadians ... what a hoot!!!  We had such a great time and Rudy and Bev were fabulous hosts and everyone we met were great fun!

Rudy and Bev

Rick and Mary

                                                            Mary, Hilda and Bev

Dave and Sue

Traveling from Cape Coral to Fort Myers, we pass one of the old beauties of the sea! 

We dock at the Edison Ford Estate Marina in Fort Myers. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had their winter homes here side by side and were best friends.  A view of SONATA from the estate
The Estate has a historical museum and 21 acre botanical garden
The Model T Henry Ford gave Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison's home

Henry Ford's home

The two homes with the row of Royal Palms

Leaving Fort Myers we passed a shanty where you can pull up and order lunch!
Our approach to Naples begins with a fabulous estate on the Gulf

                        This majestic guy welcomes boaters as they enter the inlet into Naples

                          It's watch out for the fast boaters as they don't like to cruise slow like us!

 Naples is just a beautiful town with lots of canals and gorgeous homes ...
we had a great two days there.