Magic Eraser rocks. It does! The last few hours we were underway toward Clearwater I busted one of those magical white blocks out and went to town on the cabin of Mitch’s Nonsuch. The interior really was in such great shape. Was it moldy, dirty and grimy? Yes! But did the Magic Eraser fix all of that? Of course!
And maybe I’m a little partial to Mr. Clean because of the resemblance …
A little elbow grease and some magic, though, and the Nonsuch looked like a completely different boat down below. We had spent most of our time during this initial passage inspecting and learning the systems, hoisting the sail for the first time, trying the reefing lines, checking the fluids of the engine, etc., but once we felt all of the primary systems were running fine, it felt nice to finally get in there and do some cosmetic work. While you always want your boat to run and perform well, making her look good is always high on the list as well. I wiped just about every surface with Clorox wipes and came back with the Magic Eraser for the stuck-on stains.
I was making good progress until I made it to the head. The floor there was thoroughly stained ….
but it was no match for the eraser!
I was also excited to find the holding tank was backing up into the bowl. Yippee! It appeared the joker valve on the head was failing and allowing about three inches of holding tank goodness to eek back into the bowl and slosh around for the ride. I dumped a little bleach in and that seemed to help but the crew was greeted with a little pond of bleached sewage every time they lifted the lid. Overall, though, the boat was cleaning up extraordinarily well. Mitch had found a real gem. With still unfavorable wind (light and right on our nose) we were still motoring, though, which made the clean-up job a bit of a sweaty endeavor in the stuffy cabin. I was definitely looking forward to a nice, refreshing shower in Clearwater.
After all of the motoring we had been doing, we definitely needed some fuel so we pointed Mitch in toward the fuel dock at Clearwater. Only his second time docking and, I have to say, he did a pretty good job. The man loves that throttle though. I don’t think he realizes how fast he’s really going because he tends to barrel in. It was clear the team was going to have to work on this. And we tried! When Mitch was making his way from the fuel dock into the transient slip for the night, Phillip kept trying to ease him back: “Slower, buddy. Slower than that.” Mitch was flying into the slip with Phillip and I trying to catch pilings to slow us down. “Mitch!” Phillip shouted back to the cockpit and Mitch hollered back: “I’m not giving her any gas!” [Insert frown here.]
Thankfully, we had a few dock hands come up to help us and they held the bow off the dock but I’ll have to give Mitch a B- on that one. When we got her tied off and secure, Phillip walked back to the cockpit, looked at Mitch, pointed to the shifter and said: “Neutral. Reverse.” It’s easy to forget, though, if you don’t drive a sailboat often. It’s not like a car where you can just step on the brakes, but you do have options. If you’re going too fast, even in idle, you can throw it in neutral to slow her down or reverse and throttle her a little if you need to really need to put the brakes on. After a docking lesson or two and a few gentle reminders from Phillip, Mitch started to do this on his own. It just takes a little time to train your brain. Once we got the boat buttoned up and gave the boat a good rinse down, the crew immediately set their sights on a shower. I was coated in salt, sweat and Magic Eraser filth. It was still a steam bath outside and we were all sweltering walking toward the shower, dreaming of that first icy drench. However, the swelter outside could in no way compare to the sauna inside.
The AC was out in the women’s bathroom and it felt like a muggy 100 degrees in there. I had to kick and flail out of each sticky scrap of clothing I had on. While the water was cool, the minute I stepped out of the stream, I started sweating again. I mean the very minute. The thought of dressing in there seemed absurd. Whatever I did in there─I’m not sure you could call it a shower. Maybe a sauna rinse? A steam spray?─I was nowhere near clean when I came out, my clothes wet and sticking to every part of my body, my face completely beaded up and dripping. Only because I didn’t think a nude streak to the boat would have been appropriate did I dress in there. Mid-June, in the middle of Florida, and it was cooler outside than it was in that blasted shower room. I was at least soothed by the discovery that the men’s bathroom suffered from the same AC dilemma. We all had a good time regaling our individual streak contemplations and sweaty dressing struggles. Funny, each of us decided to brush our teeth and hair (well, those that had hair) and do all of that post-shower potions-and-lotions stuff back on the boat. I swear, the minute you stepped out of the stream, you could not get out of there fast enough. We all bolted back to the boat.
But, you know where we were guaranteed to have AC? On Tanglefoot! Mitch was blessed with such amenities. Although he about froze me out our first night on the boat before we left Ft. Myers, now I wanted to freeze. I welcomed it. I would have savored every shiver. We all huddled up in the cool boat, changed out of the clean-but-now-sweaty clothes we had just put on, got into some fresh dry clothes and cranked the AC up. Mitch even sat in front of the vent by the nav station with a fan directing the blow at each of us intermittently like an oscillating fan. It was only around 5:00 p.m., though, and the crew was absolutely beat.
Two-hour nights shifts always seems exhausting the first night but your body just has to adjust. After the second night of two hours on, two hours off, I usually feel like I’ve acclimated a bit and I’m not near as tired on the third day. But that second day is always a killer. We were trying to stay awake because we knew a “nap” would turn into a near-coma. We wanted to at least stay up long enough to get some dinner and then really get a good night’s rest that evening so we could sail out of Clearwater fresh at first light and make it to either Apalachicola or─if things were going really well─all the way back to Pensacola in one passage. We knew this was the “real jaunt.” The passage from Ft. Myers to Clearwater had been a pretty much parallel to shore. And, once we got to the Apalachicola area, the rest of the trip would also be, pretty much, a hug of the shore. This passage, however─from Clearwater to Apalachicola─would be the true Gulf crossing. This is where we would find ourselves on our longest leg of the trip and the furthest from shore. Let’s just say if Mother Nature sensed any opportune time to jack us around, this would be it. And, this is the exact time, last time─when Phillip, Mitch and I were bringing our boat back from Punta Gorda, FL to Pensacola─that she decided to really see what we were made of. The last time the three of us made this passage we found ourselves in the middle of the night, in the middle of the Gulf, sawing our dinghy off the davits in 4-6 foot seas that had sheared every bolt we had left to hold her. If there was any part of this trip to really be concerned about, this was it.
We checked the weather, for the forty-fourth time that day. The winds promised to be variable and light. Kind of annoying. It might mean more boring motoring. If that prediction held. And the sea-state looked to be calm. It definitely appeared to be a good window. We deemed it safe to go and decided we would leave the next morning as soon as we woke. But, we needed a good night’s rest. Our eyes were drooping we decided to venture out for an “adventure dinner” to wake ourselves up. It was fun seeing the old “big boobs diner” we had eaten at the first time Phillip, Mitch and I stopped in Clearwater when we were bringing our Niagara home back in 2013.
We decided this time to saunter over to Frenchy’s Saltwater Cafe for dinner and even opted for the early bird special, without shame.
I could tell I was tired when the only thing I felt after two stout rum drinks was sleepy. Exhaustion is a total buzzkill. We ambled back to the boat and cuddled up in our frozen palace to get a solid night’s rest before shoving back out into the Gulf the next day.
“Mitch,” I said shaking his shoulder a bit. Phillip and I had snoozed through the alarm twice before finally rolling out of bed and Mitch hadn’t yet moved. After his first night holding solo shifts on an offshore passage, I’m sure that was the most tired he can remember feeling. And, we’ll be nice and say that’s a testament to his state of exhaustion not his memory. “Mitch!” I shouted giving him a solid shove. He finally flinched to with a snort and looked at me in total shock, as if he didn’t know where he was, who I was and why the hell I was shoving him awake. I stood there with a raised eyebrow for a minute and he finally decided to check back into reality and started rustling out of bed. He said he couldn’t even remember laying down the night before. We had all just about felt that way. But after a good ten hours of sleep we were all feeling pretty rested and ready to get underway. We readied the Nonsuch and started talking about a plan to de-dock. Again, we made Mitch make all the decisions and simply tell us what lines to release when. Now, I’ll give him a solid A on the plan but a B on the execution. As soon as he put the boat in reverse and started to throttle her up, instantly the stern started kicking over to port. Sharp too. I was on the port side and pushing with all of my might near the beam but her stern continued to pivot around.
I looked over at Phillip on starboard but he’d already let off the bow line per Mitch’s instruction and didn’t have any way to control the nose of the boat. The further she kept turning, I watched with clenched teeth as the finger dock we had been using to get on and off the boat on the port side began to jut in through the lifelines. I scrambled toward it, braced my back against the cabin top and tried to push it out with my feet.
It was inching out but not fast enough. As the boat continued to move backward, the finger pier made contact with the stanchion post and I was afraid she was going to snap it over like a weed, ripping a hole in the deck in the process. I hate docking. Have I said that before? Well … And de-docking too. It’s always so stressful to watch your precious boat inch closer and closer to sure peril. But! Mitch saved us! With some instruction from Phillip but still─he did the right thing at the right time. Mitch threw her in forward, gassed her up and steered her right back into the slip. I was so glad to see the finger pier ease out from the lifelines and back away from the boat. Lesson to be learned here: check the rudder before you begin backing out. Mitch forgot to make sure it was lined up straight before backing out. Again, an easy mistake to make that could have cost him hundreds in damage. I don’t man the helm often and I can’t say I would remember to do that every time. Sailing. No one said it was easy.
Once we got the boat secure again, Phillip headed back in the cockpit to help Mitch re-group. I was still up on deck tying a line when Phillip so Mitch probably didn’t think I could hear. “Do you think I can handle this boat, Phillip?” Mitch asked and my ears perked up. I did feel for him. After a scary experience like that, you start to doubt yourself. “Of course,” Phillip immediately responded, which you may think sounds like he was placating Mitch but he wouldn’t. It was the truth. He could. Like any new boat owner, Mitch just needed to make the important mistakes while help was around. With the simple fix of lining up the rudder before backing out, Mitch handled the second attempt flawlessly. Seriously, Phillip and I let off the lines and he slipped out without any assistance. Even after that heart-pumping first attempt. I would have congratulated him but he didn’t even relish in the moment. He was all business. The minute he eased her out, Mitch clocked her around, put her in forward and started heading toward the channel. Phillip and I watched him silently for a minute like proud parents. He was doing it all by himself.
But as soon as we were all smiles and cheer for him he had us cracking up again with one of his Mitch’isms. He was watching the GPS trying to steer his way out of the channel and I’m sure he was a little shook up from our docking debacle and the whole adventure in general but he kept weaving back and forth in the narrow channel. We let it slide a time or two but after a few back-and-forths we had to ask. “What’s going on buddy?” I hollered from the deck. Mitch was quiet at first. Then he started muttering a little and finally said, “Oh, now I get it. I’m the long line.” Phillip and I exchanged a raised-eyebrow look. “You’re what?” I asked. “The long line,” Mitch repeated. “I couldn’t tell on the GPS which line was the heading or me. But, I get it now. I’m the long line.”
Mitch. He’s like a gray blonde sometimes, and so cute about it. We still joke about the long line.
But, as tired as we had been the night before, it was (and is always) so invigorating to get back out in blue water. Nothing but a blue horizon in every direction. Water meets sky and that’s it.
It’s stunning, mesmerizing. Some may find it frightening to not see shore, to not─without the assistance of charts, a compass or (nowadays) a GPS─know which way will lead you back home. Some fear this detachment. We love it. Phillip and I sat on the deck all morning just staring at the blue infinity stretched out before us. It felt so good to be back out in the Gulf. It was strange to think it was the same body of water that had rocked and tossed us last time, submerged and swallowed our dinghy because it now looked so calm. Big thunderheads began to build on our stern again in the afternoon but we motored on, ready for whatever adventure she had in store.
Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey. Get inspired. Get on board.
Lightning is beautiful. It really is. When it’s far away and you can just watch it and wonder about the illusive static forces that are causing such shocking white streaks in the sky.
Just wondering how it occurs is fun. Wondering whether it’s going to come right up over your boat, however, is not. When I turned in for my first sleep shift around 10:00 p.m. our first night on passage from Ft. Myers to Clearwater on s/v Tanglefoot, the lightning storm was just that: beautiful and far away. Mid-way through my 2:00 a.m. shift at the helm, it started clocking around our port side and getting closer.
Mitch cracked me up when he finished his 12-2 shift and woke me at 2:00 a.m. I guess having sailed with Phillip for so long there are just some routines, some mutual unspoken courtesies that we fell into that Mitch apparently wasn’t privy to. But I guess that’s our fault. This was his first offshore passage with solo night shifts and we didn’t tell him. When Phillip or I are approaching a shift change, we generally go rouse the man coming on about ten minutes before our shift is over to give him time to wake up, get some water, brush his teeth. Whatever it is he feels he needs to do feel fresh and alert for his shift. Then we usually sit together for a bit, discuss the conditions, give a report of any notable events, sightings or observations and fill out the cruising log together (the time for which usually corresponds with the shift change). In general, we just have a routine of helping ease one another from dead sleep to alert watchman. It’s not anything Phillip and I talked about or planned out, it was just a pattern we flowed into.
But Mitch? He shook me awake on the starboard settee at 2:00 a.m. sharp, said “Annie, it’s your shift,” and started stripping gear off and heading back to the vberth. “Auto’s on. All’s clear right now. Holler if you need me,” he said on his way back. I blinked a couple of times trying to rouse myself quickly.
“Phillip’s on next, though,” Mitch was sure to remind me.
Thanks buddy, because I might have forgotten that part. But man I wish Mitch had the shift after me. I would have loved to have woken him in the same fashion: “Hey, buddy! Snap to. The helm’s unmanned. Get up there.” Now, to be fair, Mitch had not been indoctrinated in our slow-and-smooth method (patent pending) for shift changes and, technically, he had every right. It was my shift. My turn to hold watch. I needed to get up there. But … I was going to educate him next time. I like my ten minutes. I need it to clear my sleep fog. But, it was a minor transgression. Mitch had held his first solo shift─without complaint─and had done a good job of it.
It didn’t take me long, though, to ease into the atmosphere in the cockpit. It was so crisp in the Gulf, the moon lighting every little chop on the water, like the water was prickling with energy. The stars were so clear against the black sky. When you’re out on the water they don’t have to compete with any man-made light. It’s like everything is clicked into high definition. A view that was once hazy is wiped crystal clean and you can see, now, that all of the stars you could see on land actually have fifteen equally bright stars between them and five more little sparkling ones between each of those. It seems impossible to find a patch of pure black. I wish we could have dropped the bimini during the night but we still had the lightning storm on our stern, although it was far off in the distance─just a mesmerizing natural wonder to watch and wonder about. I hated that we were still motoring but the wind was still so light─blowing maybe five knots─right on our nose. The motor on the Nonsuch was chugging right along, though, impressing us all. And Mitch was blessed with a linear-drive AutoHelm 6000 on the Nonsuch. That thing held in twice the weather as the little wheel-pilot AutoHelm 3000 Phillip and I have on our Niagara. We had already been talking about upgrading our auto pilot for the past year but this trip on Mitch’s boat served as a stark awakening that we needed to stop talking and do it already. The autopilot on the Nonsuch was our champion on the trip. With the autopilot and the Westerbeke purring right along, the first hour of my shift was pretty easy.
Around 3:00 a.m., though, the beautiful, bewildering lightning storm that had stayed on our stern all night now started to drift over to my port side. Every once in a while I would see a crack of lightning out of my peripheral on the left, then every once in a while became every few minutes. With only the iron sail pushing us along, we had pretty much free reign over what direction we wanted to go. I picked the one that would take us away from the lightning storm. I clocked us over about thirty degrees east to try and head away from it. I hated to take us off course but if there was a lightning storm on our previous heading, an earlier arrival time was a sacrifice I was more than willing to make to avoid a storm. When I roused Phillip around 3:45 a.m.─yes, with the obligatory ten-minute wake-up routine─I let him know the status and he remained on my east heading as I fell back into the dead zone.
It seemed the Gulf just wanted to toy with us this time, though, because the lightning storm never fell on us. The crew woke to still waters and a stunning sunset off the starboard side.
Mitch seemed to be faring pretty well. Whatever queasiness had come over him the night before seemed to have subsided. We all had fun talking about the evening and the unique experiences we had during our solo night shifts. Mitch told us with the lightning storm threatening us from the stern and only the chugging engine capable of pushing us to safety, he admitted he was a little worried, a little scared. Which is justifiable. If the engine quit for whatever, a hundred totally possible reasons, we wouldn’t have been able to sail away from that storm with the light wind on our nose. The engine was our only ticket to safety and Mitch told us he just sat in the cockpit checking the engine temp and patting the the coaming saying: “Tanglefoot. You got this.”
It was cute. And totally understandable. But, Tanglefoot proved herself steady and true, chugging us right through the night, away from the storm and into a beautiful streaking sunrise. It had been a slightly frightening but also awe-inspiring first night on passage. The only bummer was the motoring but that engine, I’ll tell you, was solid as a rock. Never a hiccup, never an issue (that wasn’t a result of operator error). Thankfully, the breeze freshened up around 9:00 a.m. We hoisted that huge ass Nonsuch sail (again with the same halyard explosion threat but we did finally get her cranked up) and finally were able to sail without the engine.
There’s just something about moving through a vast body of blue water by the sheer power of the wind. It sparks a soothing at-oneness with the world around you. We all kicked back in solace and just appreciated what the boat was doing. I will say the ability to easily drop the bimini on the Nonsuch was nice. It makes you feel so open and connected with the salt air and sky.
Sadly, it didn’t last long. If I said the breeze was fresh around 9:00 a.m., it had grown a little stale and flat before noon. And, without the wind, it was scorching under the hot, overhead sun. We knew we were going to have to re-crank but Phillip wanted to check the fluids before we turned the engine over again. All told, she had been running a little over twenty-four hours straight through the night before we shut her down. Having experienced a rather unfortunate engine failure on our own boat due to lack of fluids after a solid thirty-hour run, Phillip and I were a little sensitive about the fluid situation. Again we made Mitch do most of the heavy lifting in checking all the fluids to be sure he knew how to access each one and identify issues. And, do recall all three─transmission, oil and coolant─are located in three separate areas on the boat. I’m not saying I could check them all in under five minutes but I will say it wouldn’t take me a damn hour! Oh, alright forty-five minutes but still.
Mitch did check them all himself, though, and assured us we were ready to re-crank and carry on. But, first things first. I did mention it was hot! We decided it was time for a quick dip. We dropped the sails and let the boat bob for a minute so we could go for a swim.
My God the water felt good. It was just the refresher we needed. And there must have been some strong current outside of Clearwater because we were still doing 1.8 knots with no sails and no engine. Mitch was struggling a bit to keep up with the boat so we threw him a line and all got a big laugh out of his “Tanglefoot!” re-enactment.
I was using the swim break to rinse our breakfast dishes and that current must have been stronger than I thought because when I looked back to make sure Mitch was still lassoed behind the boat, it seemed the water had sucked his britches clean off. We had a man overboard minus his drawers!
Oh, alright. He didn’t actually lose his britches. It sure looked like it, though, seeing him splash around in drawers the distinct color of bare bottom. And I wouldn’t have put it past him. After a quick, refreshing bathing-suit-clad dip, we piled back in the boat, cranked her up and set our sights on Clearwater. We were just a few hours out and this crew was ready for some shore leave!
Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey. Get inspired. Get on board.
AC on a boat … I’m still not sure that sits right with me. It just de-acclimates you. It took me a good ten minutes to thaw out topside after our first night on Tanglefoot. My toes prickled as I walked the deck, leaving my first dewey footprints on the boat.
Mitch must have slept about as soundly as I did because he wasn’t long behind me. 6:12 a.m. and the man is up, fiddling with things, looking again for his flashlight. I’ve never seen Mitch up so early but I’ve never seen him so excited either. He would ask me a question: “What was that last thing we needed from the store?” I would respond: “Trash bags. I already added it to the list.” And not five minutes later it had already slipped his mind: “Oh, here’s the list. What was that thing we needed?” He was like a kid with a new train set. He couldn’t wait to get the track all laid out and watch her go! But he would always forget the batteries.
Our plan that morning was to get the dinghy off the davits and secure her on the foredeck. We’d learned a hard and expensive lesson, the first time the three of us crossed the Gulf in our Niagara, in not securing our dinghy to the foredeck for offshore passages. There would be no clanging davits this trip, no hacking off of the dinghy mid-Gulf. Not again. While davits are a convenient, easy way to lower and raise a dinghy on a boat that’s cruising around in protected waters, they are not─in our opinion─secure enough to hold a dinghy for an offshore passage, no matter how heavy duty they may claim to be. The dinghy that came with the Nonsuch was an eight foot Walker Bay with a 2.5 hp outboard. Although an eight foot dinghy would generally seem plenty big enough for a 30-foot boat, for some reason, it still didn’t seem big enough for Mitch. But he got in there anyway, ass-up, and cleaned out the rainwater so we could flip her over on the deck.
I have to admit, at this point I was thoroughly impressed with Mitch. It had been an early rise, with some pretty hefty chores to conquer before 7:00 a.m. and Mitch was taking them all on with a smile, some light-hearted jokes and only the occasional “Okay, now hang on a minute.” So far, he was really stepping up … until it was time to check the fluids. I have said many times how glad I am that our Niagara is laid out and designed the way that it is─with the easy pull-back sink compartment that allows impressive access to the engine and all fluid check-points:
But when we began to tinker around the Nonsuch and locate all of her fluid bins, I was reminded yet again.
To check the fluids on Mitch’s boat, we had to access three different tight compartments. You have to remove the companionway stairs to access and check the transmission fluid.
The oil must be checked (not re-filled, though, mind you, just checked), by opening a storage compartment on the starboard side of the companionway stairs and then opening another access door in that compartment that allows you to reach the oil dipstick. But wait, there’s more! Once you’ve buttoned up all that mess, head up to the cockpit and the coolant bin is located down in the starboard lazarette. It can be checked (not filled) by leaning in upside down with a flashlight.
Filling it requires you─or your trained monkey─get all the way down in the lazarette and be sitting upright in order to pour coolant in.
I won’t say it was ridiculously inaccessible, but the fluid check-points were a bit tedious, particularly for a large man like Mitch. While he and Phillip were checking the fluids, I broke down all of our provisions (taking food and products out of their cardboard boxes and packaging) and took a load of trash up to the marina trash can. That whole process took about forty-five minutes and when I came back, Mitch was still checking the fluids. I’m sure he’ll get quicker at it over time. But─like I said─he did impress me by crawling into every tight hole, albeit it with some grunting, moaning and just a few more snaps: “Now, hang on a minute.” But he did it.
Once the fluids were checked, we headed out to make our store runs and grab those “last few items” we had jotted down while inventorying the boat the night before. The plan was ACE hardware for all that kind of trash bag-type stuff (cleaning brushes, sponges, shop towels, dust pan, hand-held broom, etc. along with propane), Publix for our perishable food items and West Marine for some back-up fuel filters. We had planned to grab our store goods and just eat breakfast back on the boat and go. I mean, why else had we hassled Mitch about buying all of that food the week before? But, it started to become comical when every store we pulled up to (ACE, Target, Publix) didn’t open until 8:00 a.m. It was just a few minutes after seven then so we deemed it a sign: Breakfast Break! We drove the main Ft. Myers strip a time or two looking for a Starbucks or Bagelheads or something easily recognizable as a standard commercial breakfast and, surprisingly, came up empty-handed. Our inability to find a Starbucks in a three-mile radius particularly surprised me. What kind of Americans are we? But each time we made a pass we kept eyeing this greasy-spoon diner with a packed-out parking lot and the savory scent of sausage enticing us in. “Marko’s Diner,” Mitch read the sign aloud as we pulled in. Being a traveler and an adventurer like us, Mitch loves to check out the local stuff when he’s in a new place. He wants to eat where the regulars eat, shop where they shop and do what they do. And, it always feels good to support local businesses, so Phillip and I were on board. “Marko’s it is,” we agreed.
I don’t know if she was in fact Mrs. Marko but this plump, vivacious, loud Greek woman clad in a shoulder-padded bedazzeled sweatshirt, her hair sprayed out on either side in sticky, jut-out wings was greeting customers the minute the bell on the door dinged. Most folks she greeted by name: “Hey Jim.” “Morning Claire.” But the newbies you could tell she spotted immediately and really put on a show for them.
“Well aren’t you a tall drink of water,” she said when Mitch walked in. “That’s what they tell me,” Mitch said running a hand through some pretend James Dean hair. That was all she needed to pull the rug out from under him. “Is it now? Well I’m glad you’re here Big-and-Tall. You made it just in time for the early bird senior special!” she said as she laughed, pulled one of many-a-pen from her hair and nudged her way by him with a pot of coffee in hand.
You have to love a woman who can hold her own, particularly a hefty, big-hearted Greek one. Mrs. Marko was great though, making sure us “out-a-towners” got good service, the whole schmorgas board (eggs, tomatoes, biscuits, grits, gravy) and hot piping coffee. It was just what we needed to fuel us up for the day. After our Marko’s feast, the store runs were quick and expertly executed. Three three of us took on ACE then the boys dropped me at Publix while they went to West Marine for the fuel filters. We were back on the boat and packed for passage by 10:00 a.m. With the fluids already checked, all we needed to do was crank and go! This was it. The big moment.
“Be sure to hold it 15-20 seconds,” Phillip said to Mitch as he got ready to warm the glow plugs and crank the engine. I was sitting next to Mitch and had to smile as he pushed the button in and started an actual, audible “one one-thousand, two one-thousand” count. He was so careful it was almost cute. But apparently cute wasn’t going to cut it. The engine tried to turn and sputtered a few times but would not crank. Mitch tried three times to no avail. Phillip was worried if he tried to crank one more time without the engine turning over we would pull too much raw water in and it would back up in the engine, so we took a moment to investigate. I had watched Mitch hold the glow plugs plenty long enough so I knew it wasn’t that. Phillip looked at the fuel filter which didn’t looked clogged or dirty and the fuel gage read three-quarters of a tank. Then he asked about the starting battery. Mitch had thought it was on, but it was clicked only to “house,” not “both.” Aha! Always takes a little time to learn a new boat. Once that adjustment was made and we gave it a bit more gas she fired right up. The crew let out a collective breath. For a moment, it had seemed our big adventure was about to putter out at the dock.
But she was running great now, purring actually. Mitch was a little anxious about backing out of the dock, but we told him to configure a plan (which lines would be released in what order) and we would execute it. We were there to help Mitch get the boat home, for sure, but we also wanted to let him get as much hands-on, solo-sailing experience as possible because he would essentially be handling the boat on his own once he got her back to Pensacola. So, as often as possible, we would have him do everything with us there merely to step in only if he was getting into some real trouble. Think of it like training wheels that don’t touch unless you start to tip over. Right out of the gate, Mitch got a great lesson in steering his boat in a tight marina.
We wanted to fuel up, pump out and fill the water tanks before jumping out into the Gulf so we planned to stop at the fuel docks. Of course, as luck would have it, there was a line and Mitch had to circle around a few times, back up, pull forward, turn around again. It was a great lesson in getting a feel for the boat’s reaction time. There was a good bit of “easy, gentle, wait for it, slow down!” as Mitch leaned a little too hard on the throttle but─with Phillip’s instruction─handled the whole three-time turn around and first fuel docking himself.
I set about filling the water tanks and handling the pumpout while the boys fueled her up. The water was no problem. While she did take on a good bit, we got the tanks filled to the brim and the caps secured back down. The waste, however … was causing some real issues.
“I need a hammer,” I told Phillip as he walked up on the deck to see what I was struggling with. I could not get the cap off. No matter how hard I turned and groaned and grunted. That one little sliver and a boat key was just not going to cut it. I was starting to imagine what this trip would look like if we started out with a mostly-full holding tank and no way to pump out. While I was sure they had checked the macerator during the survey/sea trial, I would rather not be the first one to actually try it out. What if it didn’t work? What would we do then? Things could get shitty. These were the thoughts that were running through my mind as I’m beating on the back end of the screwdriver, the head wedged into that stupid little sliver when the cap finally clicked free. My guess is the previous owner just never went on the boat (I envy the fact that men can easily piss overboard) or never pumped out at the dock because it felt like the waste cap had not moved in a decade. Luckily, though, she finally spun free and were able to pump out. Whew. While I was glad to help Mitch sail his boat back to Pensacola, I was secretly hoping that offer would in no way involve head repair or maintenance.
Finally, with all of our chores done, it was time to get out of the marina and get that boat moving. As we were making our way through the channel, another boat─Miller Time─came along side us and hollered over: “Is that Wade Alexander’s boat?” (The previous owner). “Yeah!” Mitch hollered back. “I just bought her!” he beamed. “Oh, congrats!” Miller Time shouted back. “Have a great trip.” It was clear Mitch was going to get a lot of looks with the cat rig (and that he was totally loving it already).
Once we made it out of the channel Phillip decided it was high time we threw up this big ass sail on the Nonsuch. I stationed myself at the mast, pulling the halyard manually, while Phillip set up on the winch and Mitch held the wheel. While it was difficult to pull by hand at first, it was moving along until we got to the reef points. Unfortunately, the last time the boat had been sailed─on the survey/sea-trial─they had practiced reefing her to make sure all the lines worked properly. Recall Mitch’s eloquent description about the monkey and the football. That meant the sail was still reefed as we were trying to raise her which always makes it tougher. Our first time raising the sail, we got a crash course on the reefing lines, which one was reef one and reef two as well as their particular hang-up and pinch points. Once we got all the reefing lines loosened, though, we still had another three or four feet to go to fully raise the sail. That’s when the real fun began.
I was working the halyard at the mast while Phillip was cranking on the winch back in the cockpit, but I had done all I could do on my end. The rest of the sail just had to be muscled up using the winch and─my God─that thing shrieked and cried with every turn. I watched as the halyard grew tauter and visibly thinner before me. I gave it a light tug a time or two to see if it still had some bend but after five or six cranks on the winch it wouldn’t budge at all. It was as tight as a steel cable and we still had another two or so feet to go at the top of the mast. I hollered to Phillip to keep cranking and the winch continued to wail. I didn’t dare touch the halyard after that, I thought just my light fingers on it and the whole thing might explode. I couldn’t stand the sight or sound of it anymore. I backed away from the mast and just stood near the cockpit, my hands ready to come up and protect my face if there was an all-out halyard explosion. Mitch was watching from the helm, staring at the top of the mast to see when the sail finally made it to the top. “Keep going,” he shouted to Phillip who looked to me topside for confirmation.
“It’s still got some bag in the bottom, but who cares? We’ve got plenty of sail up.” I was not in any way inclined to push the gear any more than necessary. I was literally afraid to go anywhere near the mast with that much tension on the halyard. We had squealed her to her limits. Phillip gave it just one more crank and said, “That’s good.” Mitch looked up through the bimini window and started to say something but I heard Phillip’s voice over whatever he tried to mutter out: “It’s good.”
Thank God, I thought. This may sound silly, but it’s the truth: raising that sail was frightening.
But it was now up and we were finally sailing! Motor sailing but that still counts. We were making 6.2 knots.
We were surprised the boat pointed as well as it did. I guess with the massive surface area of the sail that the wind has to travel around, it’s got more suction into the wind than you would think. I will say, though─just as Mitch had predicted─tacking the boat was astonishingly easy. What do you do? You turn the wheel. That is all. The sail handles the rest. Not that letting the Genny out on one side and cranking her in on the other is super exhausting, but it can be a bit of a chore in heavy winds or when you’re trying to kick back, eat grapes and read a book. On the Nonsuch, though? You just turn the wheel. That’s it. You could tell Mitch was getting a real kick out of that. He tacked far more than he needed to that morning just because he was having such a good time doing it. It was fun to watch him enjoy his new boat. We had a nice day motor sailing. The sea state was nice and smooth. It would have been perfect for sailing had the wind not been right on our nose. For that reason, we kept the iron sail going to make headway but even with the motor running, we were only making 3.8 knots trying to tack into a light headwind.
We were still debating whether to point toward Venice for a sooner stop or just push on through to Clearwater. With the motor running solid and the sail and rigging all fairly tested and proving seaworthy, the crew decided to just keep trucking to Clearwater. Everyone was in good spirits and enjoying the passage so far. We figured we might as well capitalize on our fresh morale and cover a good bit of a ground our first offshore passage. We dropped and secured the sail (a bit of a chore with the cat rig) and throttled her up to 5 knots. That put us on a heading to reach Clearwater the following afternoon so we divied up the night shifts:
Me: 8 p.m. ─ 10 p.m.
Phillip: 10 p.m. ─ 12 a.m
Mitch: 12 a.m. ─ 2 a.m.
Me:2 a.m. ─ 4 a.m.
Phillip:4 a.m. ─ 6 a.m.
Mitch:6 a.m. ─ 8 a.m.
With three of us, it was going to be nice to get at least one solid four-hour stint of sleep. The first and last shifts we called the “gravy shifts” because everyone is usually up with you during those times so you’re not alone at the helm. Phillip wanted to take the short straw this first leg of the trip and get his two-crap-shifts night over with right out of the gate. Looking back on it, it was a smart move─take the worst leg while we were all still fresh and excited on our first passage. But Phillip must have played us well, because Mitch and I happily signed up for one gravy shift and only one solo shift during the night. With that settled and entered into the log book (so there could be no debate later), we decided to put the bimini down and enjoy the sunset from the cockpit. We watched the sun turn into a hot pink ball on the horizon. I love when it does that. Blazes so bright you can hardly look at it but you can’t look away either, as it drops down beneath a denim blue horizon. She put on a stunning show.
Phillip and I cooked up a hot batch of red beans and rice and salad for dinner and dished out some hearty portions for the crew. We watched Mitch curiously, though, as he merely pushed a few beans around, ate a sprig or two of lettuce and then said he was full. We didn’t want to say it (because sometimes just saying it makes it happen) but we suspected Mitch was getting seasick. Recall during our first offshore passage with Mr. Roberts he got monstrously seasick and was put down for twelve hours after taking some allegedly non-drowsy Dramamine. Phillip and I were hoping, for our own sakes so we wouldn’t have to man the helm as much, that wasn’t happening this time. We didn’t want to say it, though. It’s like a jinx. We just asked: “You getting tired, buddy?”
“Yeah, tired.” Mitch said, seemingly thanking us for our courtesy pass and taking it straight to bed. “I’m just going to get some rest for my shift,” he said as he headed down the companionway stairs. Phillip and I were hoping we weren’t going to lose him again to seasickness, but if so I certainly wanted to be fueled up for a more trying, two-person only offshore trip. I grabbed his unfinished bowl of red beans and rice and scarfed it right up.
Phillip sat up with me during my first night shift. You see? Gravy. Phillip and I were breathing and basking in the feeling of being back out on blue waters with an unfettered horizon, crisp night air coming in. God it felt good. But, just as she starts to sense you getting all comfortable and cozy, she likes to remind you whose in charge. Right after the sun dipped we heard an ominous rumble behind us. Phillip and I turned around to look out from the stern and saw big, rolling thunderheads on our horizon.
We watched in silence for a moment more, expecting our suspicions to be confirmed. She rumbled a time or two again, then we saw it: a shocking white crack of lightning that branched out and traveled the sky. There was no denying it now. But there was no point in saying it aloud either. It was clear. We had a massive thunderstorm on our stern, chasing us into the Gulf.
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“Tanglefoot,” she said over the loud speaker. Phillip and I kind of eyed each other curiously. “Tangle-FOOT!” she said again, this time with more emphasis on the “foot.” That’s when we really found out how serendipitous this whole boat-shopping venture had been for Mitch.
It was June 19, 2015 and Mitch, Phillip and I were heading down in a Beverly-Hillbilly style packed-out rental to Ft. Myers to help Mitch sail his recently-acquired 1985 Nonsuch back home to Pensacola.
Didn’t bode too well that I suffered my first “boat bite” (or I guess this would be a “rental car bite”) the very minute I stepped into the car.
Don’t ask me how. There were flip flops and a floor mat involved. That’s all I remember. But it was a bit of a bloody mess we had to deal not our very first mile into the trip. Leave it to me … But the boys got me doctored up and we continued our trek south.
We stopped in for some lunch at Panera in Tallahassee and that’s when we first heard the name: Tanglefoot. The third time the little Panera chick said it over the intercom Phillip and I started to look around to see who was going to respond to that calling. Then we saw him─Mitch─bouncing up to the table with our food trays in hand. “What do you think?” he asked, looking at us as if his question made sense. Phillip and I kind of sat there dumbly: What do we think about what?
“Tanglefoot,” Mitch said again. “That’s the name of the boat.”
You see what I mean? 6’4” Mitch Roberts finds a damn-near perfect boat, in great condition for a great price and it’s named the only single thing in the world I could imagine to be more fitting for his vessel name than “While You’re Down There.”
“Tanglefoot,” Phillip and I repeated him chuckling. It was almost too perfect. Plus, Mitch has no poker face. He holds nothing back. If he’s thinking it, you’re going to hear it. He kind of tumbles over his words sometimes they come out so fast, so Tanglefoot-in-Mouth works just as well. And it wouldn’t be long before we would actually be setting foot on the infamous s/v Tanglefoot ourselves. It was a long haul (approximately nine hours) to make in one day but we got to the docks in Ft. Myers around 10:00 p.m.─just in time for our first Tanglefoot adventure!
Stopped at the Barrel in Ft. Myers for dinner. Annie loves “Country Fresh Flavor.”
The boat was docked in a gated community with water access and slips. Mitch said the owner’s broker was supposed to have called the security gate to let them know he would be coming that day to the boat. Of course that didn’t happen and here it was─10:00 p.m.─and we find ourselves being held hostage by the little gated-booth police because we don’t have clearance for admission. Mitch tried calling the broker several times while the gate guards watched us. Mitch’s impatience was visible. “I can’t believe these knuckleheads are serious,” he told Phillip and I, thankfully behind a rolled-up window so the guards didn’t hear. After three failed attempts to reach the broker, he then tried the owner, which I thought was a long shot because it was so late and─I mean─the man is, according to Mitch, “older than molasses,” which we took for mid-eighties. But, I guess I have to admit I’m ignorant to the night life of eighty-year-olds because the owner picked right up, sounding cheery as a nun on Sunday and was able to get us clearance through the booth. For whatever reason, though─even after the phone call─there was still some very important paperwork shuffling and “processing” to be done in the almighty gate booth. You should have seen these three rent-a-goobers, wheeling around on their whirly chairs, shuffling papers back and forth, writing things down like they were solving the mystery of global warming. Mitch kept trying to roll down the window to say something to them─something Phillip and I were sure would get us banned from the place forever─and Phillip kept rolling his window back up to contain him.
Then─in an apparent effort to entertain us while the all-important “gated booth processing” procedure was completed─one of the uniformed security blokes comes out to chat with us. He pulled his pants up a few times, Barney Fife style, and leaned into the driver side window.
“Evening all,” he said tipping his hat to us.
“Evening,” we all mumbled back kind of awkwardly, keeping our thoughts to ourselves: What in the bloody name of gated booths was taking so long?
“You come here to stay on the boat tonight, huh?”
“Yes, sir,” Mitch said back, trying to be patient. I was proud he’d changed the “knucklehead” to “sir.”
“What slip are you in?” Fife asked. It seemed like he was trying to be cordial.
“I don’t know,” Mitch said, a little embarrassed, but more irritated than anything. Who gives a crap? Let us in!
“Well, what dock?” Fife followed up, now a little suspect.
“I don’t know,” Mitch barked back, now noticeably irritated. “I just know how to get to the boat. I don’t know which dock it is.”
“Well, there are only five docks,” Fife snapped, giving us a stupid, how-can-you-not-know frown.
“I told you … ” Mitch started to fire back and reach for the door handle. I thought he was about to step out of the vehicle and blow our chances of ever getting to the boat that night but, thankfully, he was cut off. Fife No. 2 stuck his head out of the booth, waved some papers in the air and said, “You all have a safe night, now,” as the gate buzzed and the arm finally started to lift, allowing us through. Fife No. 1 hiked his pants up again, because I’m sure there had been some slippage in the “which dock?” exchange and gave us a scowl as we drove by. The three of us were laughing about it─now that we had gotten in─but those rent-a-Fifes were unbelievable. How important is the maintenance of the gate log and documentation of thru traffic in a quiet gated community in Ft. Myers, Florida? I mean really?
Mitch held true to his word too. He had no idea what dock the boat was on but he knew exactly how to guide us to it. Here it was─our first time to see Tanglefoot.
Man, did Mitch get lucky. She was a sound, solid, well-built boat. Dirty as all get out but with just a few swipes of a Clorox wipe I could tell she was going to clean up incredibly well.
And, it was shocking how big the boat felt. At thirty feet, Mitch’s boat is a good five feet shorter than ours but it feels five feet bigger in every direction down below. It looked like you could line up three ballerinas in the saloon and have them each do pirrouettes and they wouldn’t hit each other. It was like a floating condo.
And, the companionway blew my mind. The entry-way is like four feet fall, with two measly steps down to the cabin floor and Mitch could stand tall and straight most everywhere in the cabin below.
No wonder Mitch said he felt comfortable on this boat. It’s like it was built for him. The cockpit is massive too. I think the fact that beam of the boat is carried so far forward and so far aft is what makes it feel so much bigger than ours. The Nonsuch is probably a little squattier in that regard (I like to call those “fat bottom girls”) which can make them a little less comfortable to sail in heavy weather, but it certainly makes them super comfortable to cruise around coastal waters and spend the weekends in. Phillip and I were both really impressed with the layout, look, feel, build and quality of Mitch’s boat. You done good, Buddy. You done good. We started poking around and tidying things up a bit and discovered some interesting eighty-year-old man finds. There was a complete drawer of canned Buds in the vberth. Think like eighteen cans in one drawer and a mounted can crusher by the companionway stairs.
It was gross─all grungy and moldy with years of dirt caked on. That was going to be one of the first things to go. But, modifications and thorough clean-up would come later. For now it was time to settle in─get all of our provisions on-board and stowed away and the boat put in a somewhat functioning condition for sleeping that evening so we could rise early and make sure she was ready to head out tomorrow morning for the passage.
Mitch was so excited showing us around the boat he kept dropping things and losing his flashlight. I can’t tell you how many times he had to ask Phillip to borrow his. We decided we were soon going to have to put a head lamp on him permanently. Or maybe a chest-mounted push light that you could just click on whenever he came near. That would have been helpful.
But, you couldn’t blame him. He was just excited. This was his boat! His very first sailboat! Tanglefoot! And this was his first time to have friends aboard and get to show her off. And (and!)─even better─we would soon be shoving her out of the slip and sailing her out into blue waters. That’s some pretty good stuff. Definitely worth a couple dropped nuts and bolts and forever-missing flashlight. I’ve never seen Mitch so giddy. Since he was all smiles and giggles we decided to give him his little Captain’s gift then─a log book and a waterproof accordion folder for all of his manuals. Pulling from experience, we know how important it is to keep those handy and organized.
After a couple of hours unpacking, cleaning and stowing, though, this crew was beat. It was well after midnight by then and we were planning to make one more provision run in the morning for perishables and then toss the lines around noon and start making our way north, toward either Venice or Clearwater. Venice was going to be a shorter trip, more paralleled to the shore. We were keeping it open as an option in case we suffered some equipment or engine failure or other likely catastrophe on the first leg of the trip. If things were going well, though, we were hoping to make it all the way to Clearwater right out of the gate. Talk didn’t last long, though, as the crew’s lids started to droop. It had been a long day. Phillip and I folded down the table in the saloon to set up the double bed on the starboard side for us, while Mitch prepared the vberth for him. The amount of room in the cabin of the Nonsuch is astounding. Phillip and I felt like we were sprawled out in a five-star suite!
Then Mitch cranked up the AC. Yes, a boat with AC. This would be a new luxury for Phillip and me. Whether it was the chill or the new sleeping digs or just the excitement of spending our first night on Mitch’s boat knowing we were going to sail it out into the Gulf tomorrow, none of us got much sleep that night.
Personally, I blame Mitch and the AC. He has got to cool it─no pun intended─with the AC because that about the coldest I’ve ever been in my damn life. I was tugging and grunting and trying to get every body part covered with Phillip and I’s shared sheet but it still wasn’t enough. I was barely groggy and froze-toed when the alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. the next morning. The first thing I did was step out into the cockpit to the much-welcomed muggy warmth. My feet prickled back to life as I walked the dewy deck with a smile. We were sailing today!
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So, no surprise here I’m sure: Mitch got the boat. At 6’4″, if you’re in the market for a boat and you find one you’re, in his words─”comfortable on”─you get it. Not to mention this boat was well-made, by a dependable builder, in fantastic condition, had passed the survey/sea trial with flying colors needing only minimal repairs and was going for half the asking price. Half?! Pssshhh … There’s really no way Mitch could say no. He let the time lapse on rescinding the offer and on June 14, 2015 Mitch became the proud new owner of a 1985 Nonsuch. All he needed to do was sail it home from Ft. Myers, FL.
All that required was willing crew.
It’s probably no surprise here, either: he asked Phillip and me.
I don’t know, though. Would you trust these two?
Seems Mitch was keen on cashing in the favor chips he had racked up when he helped us sail our Niagara 35 from Punta Gorda, FL to its new home port in Pensacola back in 2013. But, the irony of it was almost comical. Not only were the three of us about to make just about the same trek again on a sailboat, but (BUT!) we were going to do it again on another 1985 model boat and (AND!) another Hinterhoeller. Shut up. I’m serious. The symmetry of it was kind of wild. Can you say: Salt of a Sailor the sequel! We hoped this time, though, we wouldn’t have to hack off any critical parts of the boat, string a puke bucket around one of the crew member’s necks, suffer a man down to (allegedly) non-drowsy Dramamine or endure any other significant equipment failures like last time. (If you haven’t read Salt yet, I hope you’re intrigued now.)
We all hoped for a safe and prosperous delivery of Mitch’s new boat from Ft. Myers to its new home port in Pensacola, FL. But─maybe it was just Phillip and I although something tells me Mitch maybe a little too─we were also hoping for a bit of an adventure. You don’t ever want anything to go wrong during a passage across blue waters, but you know it can always happen. No matter how hard you prepare, plan or tread cautiously, a lot of it’s just luck. Sometimes it’s just your time for shit to go wrong. We didn’t want that to happen to Mitch, but if it was going to, we wanted to be there to help─and experience and learn from it.
Now this time thankfully I was a bit more sail savvy than last time. I didn’t ask at least─with big, blinking doe eyes: “When are they going to deliver your boat, Mitch?” I knew we were going to have to sail her home, and Phillip and I were excited to head out on another blue water passage. We’re always up for a blue water passage─Phillip especially. That man loves nothing more than to stand behind a helm and look out on a blue horizon.
Okay, lay. He likes to lay behind the helm too.
Mitch really didn’t even have to ask. It all seemed a given from the moment he started looking for a boat in south Florida. He had been there for us and he knew we would do the same for him. Hell, we were happy to. We set a date that worked around everyone’s schedule─June 19, 2015─and started planning and provisioning. If everything went well, we were expecting the entire trip to take seven days but we cleared ten just in case. My only concern was the Bahamas. I was set to fly out of Pensacola to Ft. Lauderdale on July 2nd. Honor of a lifetime: I had been asked by a friend’s parents to crew with them on their boat in the Abacos Regatta. After reading Salt, seems they thought I would be helpful to have on board─or entertaining at least. The Bahamas saga will be coming up next on the blog. Be excited!
So, June 19th to July 1st was the time slot. The Mitch trip was going to be a tight fit, but it did fit. And we figured if something happened and we had to leave the Nonsuch somewhere─like, say, I don’t know … Carrabelle─we could leave her and drive the rest of the way home. We hoped that wouldn’t happen (again this time). We wanted to sail her right into the Pensacola Pass our first time out but there was always the possibility the wind, weather and whatever sailing karma is out there would see otherwise. Whatever the case, we were up for it.
What cracked me up, though, was Mitch. He always does. I love that guy. It’s fun to watch a new friend sort of walk up to the boating ledge, look over, kick a little pebble off then just fall, head-over-heels and tumble all the way down. No matter how many times you tell said friend it’s going to cost a lot, things are going to break often, and then it will cost a lot to repair them, it’s like they just can’t hear you. You continually try to warn them: You’re going to have to buy a lot of boat crap. Then you’ll start using all of that crap and discover what other boat crap you really want and then you’ll have to buy all of that too. It’s just a process. But when you finally get your boat dialed in─just the way you like it─it’s totally worth it. And, after having endured that entire process, you’ll really have fun watching friends go through it after you. I have to admit. I was having a hell of a time watching Mitch.
The naan was the least of his worries. After going through the list Mitch made when he was on the boat for the survey/sea trial of equipment already on board, we made another list of items he would need to purchase for the three of us to safely make the passage on the boat. The amount of stuff baffled him.
“Towels? What kind of towels?” Mitch asked, bewildered.
All kinds dude. Dish towels, bath towels, work towels. The three of us are essentially about to move onto your floating home and live there for a week, while we’re sailing and working on it. We might need to─I don’t know─bathe on occasion. Wash our dishes. Wipe our hands. I mean, maybe. If you don’t think so, though, nix the towels. He was funny. And some of the costs really put a thorn in his side, like the EPIRB.
“Do we really need that?” I remember him asking Phillip.
“Only if you want the Coast Guard to come if we’re sinking,” Phillip said.
But, I get it. I mean, those things are like $400. It’s not an easy pill to swallow. I had to laugh, though, when we started talking about a hurricane haul-out plan for his boat. And, again I agree. If $400 for the EPIRB gives you heartburn, you’re really going to take it on the chin with the $1,500 price tag on the haul-out. Mitch was understandably trying to stop the bleed:
“So, it’s $1,500 to haul out, if need be, for a hurricane?” he was trying to get Phillip to confirm.
“Well, it’s $1,500 for the year,” Phillip replied.
“Oh, okay, so if they don’t haul out, then that carries over next time, right?”
“No, it’s $1,500 a year.”
“Even if they don’t haul you out?!”
Sorry buddy. Boats are just expensive. But, like I said, Mitch had got the Nonsuch for an exceptional price so he, thankfully, had a little wiggle room left in his budget. Still doesn’t make it any easier to write those checks. He was a good sport about it, though. Better than I ever expected. Mitch really stepped up. Phillip and I gave him a pretty extensive list of things we would need for the trip─stuff for him to buy, stuff for us to bring and stuff for him to bring. It was good practice for Phillip and I to go back through that thought process of readying a boat for passage, except this time we kind of felt like yacht delivery people, like very amateur Kretschmers. But, some of the tips and tricks Kretschmer had mentioned when we attended his seminar at the Miami Boat Show back in February did seem to trickle through.
The whole idea of sitting down to make a list of items and equipment we would need to bring a boat across blue waters just gave Phillip and I a little tingle. It was exciting to think we would soon be back out there, in the Gulf of Mexico, looking out on a vast body of water with nothing on the horizon but a sun sinking into blue denim.
Thankfully, we had kept a digital copy of the list we had made when we were preparing to bring our Niagara 35 back home across the Gulf. We dusted that off and modified it a bit to suit Mitch’s boat and needs. In case any of you find it helpful in preparing for a passage, or a Kretschmer like yacht-delivery (yeah!), here ‘tis: our Provisions List.
We went through it with Mitch, item by item, making sure he had each one. And he did. He had bought it all, even some extra goodies for the two of us─little treats for us for agreeing to make the passage with him. Like I said, he was big on the snacks.
We were set to leave the following week and the only thing Mitch got stuck on was the naan.
“It’s not a snack. It’s bread, like a soft fluffy pita. We’ll eat it with the tiki masala.”
“Masala. Tiki masala.”
Yeah that. We’ll get that one buddy. See you in a few days.
Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey. Get inspired. Get on board.
Phillip was running Mitch through the paces after the survey/sea trial and he was passing with flying colors until he got to the reefing. Mitch was down in Ft. Myers, reporting back to us after the survey/sea trial of the Nonsuch. The selling broker had been right. Mitch put in an offer for half the asking price on the Nonsuch─albeit contingent on a satisfactory survey/sea trial─but the owner accepted. Phillip and I were shocked. Surely Mitch’s luck would run soon. We didn’t want to think it, but you couldn’t help but imagine Mitch walking up to this too-good-to-be-true Nonsuch and finding it half full of water, the sail only a shredded, tattered remain and actual, you-could-fall-through holes on the deck. He was just getting too damn lucky!
But, apparently that’s not at all what the boat looked like when Mitch made the ten-hour trek─the very next week─all the way from Pensacola down to Ft. Myers to have his first look at it and attend the survey sea/trial. The owner of the boat attended as well and Mitch was cracking us up telling us about him: “The guy’s like eighty years old, hopping up and down all over the boat faster than I can, completely unwinded, and apologizes for being a little late because he had a tennis match that morning. Pssshhhh … ” Yeah, owning and single-handing a sailboat will do that to you. Mitch didn’t find it quite as funny when we told him he was going to be just as fit once he started taking care of the boat himself. But, what had we told him? “It’s a lot of work buddy. A lot of work.”
Mitch said the survey sea/trial went exceptionally well. Phillip encouraged him to make sure the surveyor inspected every inch of the deck and hull. Being a Hinterhoeller, he knew the Nonsuch, like our Niagara 35, has a complete balsa core─a great feature, but also a costly one if there are any leaks or any areas of water intrusion. Phillip also wanted to make sure the engine─the original Westerbeke 33 (ours is a Westerbeke 27)─was in good condition. Apparently, Mitch’s luck was still soaring because the surveyor gave the Nonsuch an exceptionally good bill of health. He told Mitch he was surprised at the boat’s condition, especially for its age (1985).
The only real issue he noted was some rotting of the rub rail on the starboard side and an area where the strut that holds the propeller shaft attaches to the hull that would need some fiberglass repair, but there was no water intrusion. The boat’s integrity was solid. She fired right up for the sea trial and Mitch said the boat sailed very well. Well, that was, until they got to the reefing. I mean, it is a huge sail. It’s going to take some muscle to reef her in. Mitch described their efforts to bring her down as two monkeys trying to you-know-what a football. Don’t ask me where the man gets his colloquial phrases, because that was a new one even for me. But I have to say the visual was certainly effective. I guess it’s because there’s no reason monkeys would do that so you just assume they’ll be awkward at it. After that … incident, the surveyor noted the reefing lines needed to be replaced as well. Otherwise─he deemed her right and true. This was all good news to hear and seemed to mean Mitch was getting closer and closer to that big pie-in-the-sky dream of owning his very own sailboat. Ahhh … such bliss!
While still finding the whole idea wildly radical (Mitch Roberts with his very own sailboat?), we knew there was a pretty good chance everything would go well with the survey/sea trial and Mitch would then have a boat, ready and waiting for him down in Ft. Myers, that would need to be sailed back across the Gulf of Mexico to its home port in Pensacola, FL. For this reason, Phillip and I put together a list for Mitch of certain critical safety equipment, spare parts and other items that would be needed for the boat and crew to safely make the passage so Mitch could check or locate them on the boat and inventory them while he was there for the survey/sea trial. These items included, but (in true lawyer speak) were not limited to, the following:
The house batteries─what’s the situation?
How big of a bank?
Starting battery and house? 2 bank?
Charged by the alternator?
Power cord, battery charger, etc.?
Is there an auto-pilot?
What safety gear does the boat have?
Check expiration dates on all of those
First aid kit
Emergency underwater epoxy kit
Does the boat have a 12 volt (cigarette lighter) charger?
What spares are on board?
What fluids are on board?
Is there a repair kit for the sail?
cotter pins, etc.
Make sure the head functions
Does it have a life raft?
Do all sea cocks function just fine?
How many and where─identify and try all
Dock lines, fenders, etc.?
Make a list of what tools are on board
Make a list of what’s on board dishes-wise─pots, pans, silverware, etc.
What’s the bilge pump situation?
How many bilge pumps?
Are they wired together or separately?
Check for manual bilge pumps─how many?
Check for emergency tiller, make sure it works
Make sure there’s wooden plugs, nerf balls, whatever for plugging holes
How many and expiration date
Smoke alarms, CO2?
How many and where?
Radio and VHF─check them
Reef the sails while you’re out on the sea trial─learn the procedure
I have to say─for Phillip and I─it was really kind of fun to think back through that mental process, that “toss the lines for a true offshore passage” mind-frame. It’s a little frightening, a little exhilarating, certainly a fun prospect for adventure. I remember that thought of it starting to pulse through me after our own survey/sea trial. “We’re about to sail this boat across blue waters baby!”
Mitch was a little nervous, beyond excited and kind of giddy. He prickled with energy every time we talked to him. You could hear it through his voice on the phone. Even before he had set foot on the boat, he was tingling with the idea of getting this boat, sailing her back home and then taking her out and dropping the hook in Pensacola’s pristine anchorages with his family finally on board.
And when we spoke to him after the sea-trial, it was clear he loved the Nonsuch. It was quite the fortuitous find, too, because Mitch is a tall man. He needs space to move around and this was the only boat he said he had ever set foot on where he actually felt comfortable moving about. While that may not seem like a critical factor when you’re thinking about a boat’s integrity, its capabilities, its condition, if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the boat─weekends on the hook─you want a boat that is truly comfortable to you. The fact that 6’4” Mitch Roberts stepped on this boat and felt, in his words─“comfortable”─was huge. Phillip and I kind of saw the writing on the wall. It was no longer “too good to be true,” it was just true: a solid, well-made boat in great shape, for a great price, that seemed just about hand-made for Mitch. All that was left was the seemingly little matter of paperwork: letting the time expire for rescinding his offer and then it was final. Mitch would then be the owner of his very own Nonsuch. All he would need then would be crew to help him sail it across the Gulf of Mexico to Pensacola.
These two seem comfortable on a boat …
Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey. Get inspired. Get on board.
We’ve all had it happen to a friend at one point or another. They see you’ve got a boat. They come and hang out a time or two on said boat. They start asking you questions about maintenance, where you keep it, how much this costs, how much that costs. Then it happens. It’s inevitable. They get bit. They want to a sailboat too.
Then they drive you crazy. It’s all they can think about. All they can talk about. They drive their spouses mad. They spend every free minute, even to the early hours of the morning, poring over listings on craigslist, yachtworld, broker sites, even eBay─trolling their fair share of ”boat porn.” They should have a support group for the addicts. The hunt is consuming.
Now usually these friends don’t actually take the plunge. It’s easy to shop, compare, research, ask hundreds of questions but when it comes time to actually choose a boat and put in an offer, most of these “bitten” friends find the urge is not quite strong enough. They talk a big game, but when it comes time to actually sign up with a broker and put in an offer, well … But, while they are “seriously shopping,” I’m curious─what do YOU like to do? Encourage these poor boating newbies because you want to watch the show? “Of course you should get one, Jim. Sailboats are awesome. They’re fun 100% of the time and they never give you problems,” you say through a slick, devilish smile.
Or, do you really try to help them? Wise them to the realities of boat ownership? “Now, it’s a lot of hard work, Jim. It’s going to be very costly in the beginning and will continue to always cost you more than you expected. It also requires a lot of time and labor. It needs to be your biggest time and money commitment. Are you sure you’re ready for that?” You might do the latter because you’re a good person and you really care about poor Jim and his continued financial and marital stability. Or you might do it because you know if he does get a boat and it does in fact give him problems─shocker!─the first person he’s going to bring those problems to is you. You’ve got your own boat, remember? Your own daily host of boat problems. You don’t need his too. But, sometimes, no matter how hard you try to talk Jim out of it─ease him back from that ledge─he takes the plunge anyway. He’s getting a boat dammit! If that’s the case, you might as well jump on the bandwagon and help him. You know, at the very least, it’s going to be one hell of a show.
That’s where we were. After Phillip, Mitch and I made the initial epic Gulf crossing bringing our Niagara 35 from Punta Gorda, FL where we bought her to her home port in Pensacola, Mitch really did swear he would never get back on the boat with us to cross anything. And he didn’t. Never again for a passage. But, he did get on our boat again a time or two when we invited he and his family out for the occasional weekend to enjoy the brighter side of cruising─life on the hook. Hourly dives off the bow into warm crystal-green waters, grilling burgers in the cockpit, eating dinner under a smattering of stars, falling asleep to the sound of the wind and water lapping at your hull. Then it happened. Then it really was inevitable.
Mitch got bit. He wanted a sailboat too.
Look at him, all kicked back, Havana day-dreaming. He was a goner.
Oh boy. At first, Phillip and I kind of scoffed at the idea and laughed it off. While Mitch is a good sailor, he is still─as I outlined in critical detail in Salt of a Sailor─a screamer, a slapper and certainly a big person to fit on a little boat. We didn’t think it would really come to fruition. But he proved us wrong by going out and buying a boat all on his very own─a very small boat, however, for his not-small stature. It was a Sea Pearl 21─a trailerable open day sailer. A very cute little boat and one that he picked up for a helluva “I’ll-pay-cash-now” deal but it was a tiny little rocky, rolley thing for he and his family.
I even struggled to keep that thing from tipping and Mitch’s lovely lady, Michelle, reportedly wedged herself in a far corner like a wet cat pretty much every time they sailed. In fact, the story we heard was the last time she went out with him on the Pearl, they darn near tipped over and she’d vowed to never set foot on that boat again. With that ultimatum, I guess Mitch really didn’t have any other choice if he was going to bring his lovely lady out with him on the water.
The Pearl was just the wrong boat for them, but Phillip and I were not yet convinced any boat would be.
Mitch, however, was still succumb to the delirium. He sold the cute little rocky-rolley boat and did what those bitten do. He started scouring listings, shopping online at midnight, looking at boats in marinas around town. It was all he could think about. All he could talk about. Phillip and I tried, initially, to talk him back from the ledge. “It’s a lot of work buddy. A LOT of work.” Every time he talked about getting a boat we would warn him again about how much it would cost, how much time it would take to maintain it, how hard it would be, how tough sometimes, how much it would cost (yes, again). But none of it stuck. He waved us off time and again. Our words seemed to strike him like little pebbles and clatter uselessly to the floor. No matter what we said Mitch persisted. Until finally his persistence won us over. It became clear Mitch was going─hell or high water─to get himself a boat. It was kind of inspiring. Even in the face of stern advice, it was like he knew he wanted this. It seemed he needed it. We couldn’t stop him. So we joined him.
“We might as well help him get a good one,” Phillip finally conceded and we were officially enlisted as Mitch’s trusted boat counsel.
Mitch’s number-one concern was a boat he could easily single-hand. While his significant other is a fun, bubbly, attractive lady, a sailor she is not and does not desire to be─which is fine. It’s not for everyone. And, at ten years old, Mitch’s son─while he may someday become a great sailor─doesn’t yet have the knowledge or strength to truly help Mitch handle a boat.
Initially, it would be Mitch manning the entire vessel, so his primary concern was a boat that was large enough to fit them all comfortably, including his sizeable 6’4”, but that he could also handle and sail alone.
He also wanted a boat that was essentially “turn-key”─just toss the lines and she’s ready to go. Mitch did not have the time, knowledge and money to dump into a fixer-upper. Oh, and he had a very tight budget─as we all do. Mitch is a savvy businessman and wisely frugal. In all, it was a bit of a tall order but the man is irritatingly lucky.
One of the first boats Mitch considered was a Nonsuch. It’s a cat rig boat with a very simple set-up. Think one big sail. Seriously, that’s it. Once you hoist the sail, there is nothing more to do than trim it. How do you tack? You turn the wheel. That’s all. The boat handles the rest. It was a great idea for a single-handed sailor. And, it was a Hinterhoeller─the same make as our boat─so of course Phillip and I gave him a thumbs-up there. And, it was Hinterhoeller’s flagship model. Compared to the number of Nonsuches they produced, the Niagaras were a mere fraction. But, it’s not a very common boat. I had never seen one before. And the first sight of it from the pictures Mitch sent made me do a double take. It looks awfully funny─with that big tree-trunk mast at the very, very front of the boat and no stays. Not a one. That huge, hulky mast stands of its own accord, like a pine in the wind.
I’d be curious if many of you have seen a Nonsuch sailing around in your parts. We certainly hadn’t, which made it a bit hard for Mitch to find one close to home to set foot on. Most of the ones he did find that were even worth a look were hundreds of miles away. So, he honed in the hunt to boats closer.
Mitch sought the trusted advice of our Broker-Turned-Boat-Buddy, Kevin with Edwards Yacht Sales, to run a few seemingly potentials by him that Mitch had found himself among the numerous local listings. Because Mitch was working on a tight-belt budget, Kevin offered to help give him a little guidance and insight at no cost. I’ve said it before, but─I don’t care, it’s my blog─Kevin is a fantastic broker. Thankfully, he was able to steer Mitch away from some real dogs─boats that needed a ton of work or had real problems (termites, deck rot, you name it) perhaps not visible to the novice sailor’s eye. Then Mitch stumbled upon a late-eighties Hunter 34 located in Pensacola. Kevin’s colleague actually had the listing so he was able to coordinate a look-see for Mitch. (Real technical term in sailing─you look at the boat and see what you find.) Phillip signed on for the look-see and what he and Mitch found was that Mitch didn’t fit. It was a good boat, in good condition for its age─as Kevin had said it would be─but Mitch literally hung head-and-shoulders off of the vberth bed. While this alone was a tell-tell sign (no sail pun intended), overall the boat just didn’t feel right. You just know when you step on a boat if it “feels right” to you.
For whatever reason, all roads kept leading Mitch back to the Nonsuch. There’s just none such like it. (Don’t worry, that will not be my last Nonsuch joke. Get ready.)
Seeing as how it’s a Hinterhoeller, Phillip and I highly approved. We knew, at the very least, the boat would be good build quality and a dependable boat for our insatiable new sailboat buddy. Once he’d set his sights on it, it was a done deal. I mentioned the savvy part. Mitch searched high and low and finally found one within suitable range. There was a Nonsuch down in Ft. Myers that had been on the market for quite some time. It was a 1985 like ours. (I know, kind of eerie.) And it appeared to be in good condition. The man who owned it sailed it often. Reportedly all systems worked. No big repairs, overhauls or major modifications were needed. The selling broker told Mitch the boat was just as it appeared in the photos which─minus a little elbow grease and Simply Green─it appeared pretty effin fantastic. He also told Mitch the owner was motivated.
“If you put in an offer half the asking price, I think he’ll go for it,” he told Mitch.
Half?! I was annoyed at the thought of it. I mentioned the irritatingly-lucky part. But, it made us all skeptical. To be such a good boat in such great condition for such a great price? It sounded too good to be true. On Phillip’s recommendation, Mitch made the offer contingent on a satisfactory survey/sea trial to be sure, and that way he would find out if the owner was serious. It was a smart move but still a little bit of a crazy one in my opinion. An old Nonsuch sitting down in Ft. Myers, and Mitch While-You’re-Down-There Roberts puts in an offer. Sight unseen.
Friends, I have another adventure-on-the-high-seas tale to tell you. We’ve been busy over here. While I’ve had a lot of fun cranking out the videos for you─sharing our cruising adventures, our struggles, repairs, outings, friends and fun on the water─I still seem to face the same question from many followers: “Where are you sailing to next?” Well, while we’ve got long-term plans percolating, sometimes unforeseen opportunities arise and you find yourself jumping on board for an unexpected sailing trip or three. For those of you who have been reading the blog since the beginning or have read my first sailing book─Salt of a Sailor─you know the tale of our seasick saga in crossing the Gulf the first time to bring our Niagara 35 from Punta Gorda to her home port in Pensacola. You may recall the 4-6 foot seas, the clanging of the davits, the hacking off of the dinghy and the “non-drowsy, my ass” Dramamine. Such tall tales! Well, we’ve yet another.
You may not have thought the three of us─Phillip, myself and Mitch While-You’re-Down-There Roberts─would have ever set foot on a boat again together to traverse the boisterous waters of the Gulf. Mitch himself─when we had to leave our boat sad and busted in Carrabelle─said he would never get on a boat with us again to go … well, anywhere. But I’m here to tell you friends it happened. We got back on a boat. We crossed the Gulf again. And I’m going to take you along for the adventure. You want to know where we’re going? Well, let me tell you a little tale of where we’ve been. You know me … warts and all. I’m going to share every detail─really build it up, keep you guessing, let you savor every harrowing and hilarious moment, right here on the blog. We tend to encounter adventures, big and small, every day. We seize them and savor them and I try─with every bit of my storytelling might─to share them with you. Here’s yet another. You want to get back on a boat with us and set sail? Come aboard!
Thanks to my Patrons who help me share the journey. Get inspired. Get on board.
If we were trying to avoid an aerial bomb strike, you would think coming in under nightfall, might be a good idea. But, I’ve said it several time before and don’t mind repeating it — we do not like to come into a pass at night, and we try to avoid it on every occasion. Unfortunately, with the absolute lack of wind and continued motoring throughout the night, we were slated to make it to the East Pass into Apalachicola Bay a little earlier than we had intended – around 4:00 a.m.
Not yet daylight. So, we bobbed around in the Gulf for about an hour to allow the sun to rise, so we could safely see all of the markers and make it into the Bay.
There she comes! And, see?? With the sun, we can SEE the markers!
We could see land, too! We had left Venice around 10:00 a.m. two days prior and had made it safely once again across the Gulf of Mexico. No small feat.
It was unfortunate that we’d had to motor most of the way. 36 out of the approximate 43 hours were spent with our engine churning away under the cabin. Ironically, that’s about the exact same way we made the Gulf crossing the last time from Clearwater to Carrabelle. An approximate 36-hour engine run, and the heroic hacking-off of the dinghy mid-Gulf. Like I said — crossing the Gulf without issue — no small feat. But, this time we were determined not to the let the 36-hour motor-crossing get the best of our old Westerbeke. If you recall, the year prior, the daunting motor across the Gulf of Mexico had unexpectedly drained our engine of her last drop of transmission fluid and she locked up the next day as we were trying to motor out of the Carrabelle River … the tight, narrow, obstacle-lined river. Fine time to lose engine power. We vowed this time once we got her docked safe and secure in Carrabelle, the first part of that boat that was going to get some good ole TLC was the engine! That is, of course, after the crew got some sleep.
We made it into the river just fine this time during the day. It was nostalgic for me to come back in and see it now, as a somewhat experienced sailor, and remember how I had viewed it then during that first Gulf Crossing and my very first passage on a sailboat, period. I realized how oblivious I had been the year before to everything that was going on. Markers, depth, wind, current. Not that I was sitting around painting my nails or anything, I had spent a good part of that trip taking care of our overtly sea-sick Second Mate, helping Phillip to the best of my ability and cooking and cleaning, but I didn’t really have much involvement in the actual sailing. Well, this time I did. It was Phillip and I. That was it. And, we were coming in to dock once again at the Moorings Marina.
I knew this time, as well, from our first entry into the Carrabelle River, that you have to stay to the right of the river. And, by right, I mean waaaayy over to the right, almost hugging the docks on the starboard side. Last time, we had come in under nightfall and run aground just after the bend in the river. Right … about … here:
I know. The Carrabelle River had not been good to us last time. We were hoping for some better River karma this time around.
And, thankfully, the River welcomed us with open arms.
We made it in around 9:00 a.m. stayed to the RIGHT of the river and clear of the bottom, fueled up, docked up and went immediately to sleep. We’d been two days at sea, on two-hour night shifts two nights in a row, had survived multiple encounters with creepy Gulf alien vesselsand an aerial bomb strike. Needless to say, we were tired!
But, the minute we woke, our first order of business was the engine. That run across the Gulf had certainly burned up a good bit of her precious black gold. Our faithful Westerbeke got a complete oil drain and change that day, which, thanks to the nifty hand-pump canister we picked up from the Back Door Marine Supply Guy in St. Pete, we were able to do easily and cleanly on the boat.
Our previous owner, Jack, also converted the old horizontal oil filter mount to a vertical one to avoid the messy oil dump into the bilge when the filter is removed.
Now ours spins in vertically and sits upright, making the entire process easier and cleaner.
We also checked and topped off all of the other fluids, the transmission fluid – of course! – we check that now before every crank, and the coolant. It felt good to give the Westerbeke some love after she’d carried us all the way to Carrabelle, yet again. We also gave the boat a good scrub-down from bow to stern. While we had motored most of the way across the Gulf, the half-a-day we’d spent trying to get out in the Gulf initially in 4-6 foot, head-on waves had laid a pretty thick coat of salt on the boat. You could see and feel salt everywhere – on the deck, the lifelines, the stanchions. It was like Plaintiff’s Rest, on the rocks. We scrubbed every inch and polished her up, head to toe.
After tending to the boat, we then turned our attention to the crew. It was time for a feeding. We showered up and hit the town. Yes, the hustling, bustling big city of Carrabelle! We knew, from the multiple weekend trips we had made to Carrabelle last year when our boat spent six weeks in the River having a new transmission put in, that the happening spot in Carrabelle was Fathom’s.
Or, we were at least partial to it. Our mechanic, Eric’s, family owned the bar/restaurant and we had stopped there for some incredible fresh oysters and beer before heading out last time to make the trip from Carrabelle home to Pensacola.
Can’t believe I said “I’m not really an oyster person” in that post … The Keys have changed me!
Fathom’s has a great custom-built boat-bar and the perfect outdoor deck seating right on the waterfront.
Last time we were there, we could see our boat right across the way!
Have you ever seen anything so beautiful? No, you haven’t.
And, we had occasionally heard some great live music streaming across the River from Fathom’s when we were there, working on the boat. We knew the next time we made it back to Carrabelle on our boat, we wanted to spend at least one evening eating our fill of fresh oysters and catching the live band at Fathom’s. We figured it would play out very much like a scene at Pirate’s Cove – a lot of local riff raff providing some high quality, free entertainment.
The Riff Raff cast from the Cove – November, 2013.
Since Fathom’s was on the agenda for the evening, we popped into the first restaurant we came across on our Carrabelle outing – The Fisherman’s Wife – for lunch. A fitting name for your typical quaint country restaurant. It reminded me of the little diner my grandma (Big Mom) used to take us to on Sundays – Doris’s Diner. The kind of place that keeps heaping condiment baskets on the table, complete with a sticky syrup dispenser, because they always seem to serve pancakes, and the waitresses can pull pens out of their poofy Peg Bundy hair like magic to take your order on a flip pad. I felt right at home! And, the Fisherman’s Wife did not disappoint. They served us up some incredible onion rings, a heaping salad and sandwich combo for lunch.
We walked lunch off down the main strip and found some pretty interesting highlights along the way. Like this little gem – the Carrabelle Junction!
An old fifties-style ice cream shop chock full of antique toys, trinkets and signage.
I love stuff like that. You’re always bound to see an old toy you used to play with sitting on the shelf and the memories flood you.
This one reminded me of the old Gumby & Pokey figurines I used to play with. You know, back when toys didn’t need any bells or whistles or lithium batteries.
Hours of entertainment …
Which is exactly what we found poking (and gumbing!) our way along the downtown Carrabelle strip. It doesn’t take much for us, though. We seem to find just about the same level of entertainment in tiny little rustic towns like Carrabelle and Apalachicola as we do New York City. It’s all in your level of expectation and your openness to truly explore new places – the quaint or the common. As fate would have it, we found something in Carrabelle that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. The world!? Yes, the world. Without Googling, do any of you faithful followers know what it is?