We departed from Cabbage key late at about Noon and we had to get some expensive fuel in Sanibel Florida on the way out into open water. We plan to visit Cabbage Key again together with Big Pine Island and Boca Grande but it was time to bid the area farewell. We cruised down the ICW to Sanibel and we saw huge Yachts and lots of other boats in the area. It was beautiful but very congested. The channel was wider than we found so far and well-marked.
We entered open water before Ft. Myers and we could see the huge buildings and throngs of people on the shores. We were glad that we wouldn’t be stopping for a neon t-shirt and continued South, offshore 3-9 miles. One large city combined with another and so one until we got to Marco Island. I heard that it was once a quint little place but that is no longer the case. Naples comes before and you can’t really discern one from the next. The water is pretty but not as pretty as many of the places we visited. The boat traffic is significant, for cruising anyway.
The entrance to Marco Island Channel is horrible and if you aren’t a local it is hard to navigate. Two channels converge at the entrance to the gulf and their is a shoal or two in the middle. We needed to be on the starboard channel which required us to take a few directional changes to navigate it correctly. The no wake zone takes you a long time to traverse and we stayed at the Rose Marina, which was good for one night only. The marina was a concrete jungle and the only tuft of grass was wild and grew in a 3×3 foot patch close to the full dock. Onyx graced it with her paws and I have feeling that she killed a good amount of it with her female dog pee. They gave us a nice BoatUS discount on the slip and we hooked up to the power so we could blast the AC and go below deck for a cool off. There was nothing to see topside and the entire area was unremarkable in my opinion.
We recharged our batteries and took refuge from the sun. Anticipation was building for us because we knew that we only had one more travel day, God willing. Continue reading
Guess which state I’m from Y’all!
We checked the weather and it had improved since the night before so we left after breakfast at about 10A. We departed through the bay and back towards the ICW. Seas were choppy and about 1-2 feet in the beginning. They rose in swells and there were times when they rose to 4-5 feet for a few minutes. The problem was that I was running sideways for the most part, against the waves. The bay is shallow out of the ICW course so I just had to take it like a man. Aubrey and the kids went below. I later learned that they all decided to take a nap for fear of sea sickness.
The boat rose and fell and I was really happy that she has a deep V and is a class A rated ship. I was happy to have her big engines and I trotted along at an unhappy 15 knots with the bow high. It was too rough to gain more speed and it doesn’t plane out until about 22 knots. The waves became more manageable after about an hour and we finally got inland on the ICW, which was like cutting though butter at 25 knots.
Aubrey came up and we enjoyed the inland ICW in Alabama at Orange Beach and subsequent towns. The pines rose from the water and there was such green in the underlying brush and grass. We really love this area of the country and I am in awe of its beauty. We even saw a bald eagle up close. That was an amazing experience and Aubrey snapped off lots of shots as I doubled the boat back for a photo opportunity with the majestic bird. She checked the pictures a bit later and found out that the lens fogged up when she brought it from the air-conditioned below deck to topside. It was unfortunate but it was still a great thing to see up close.
We crossed into Florida at about 1P and the water immediately turned blue-green and it was really something to see against the white sands in the shallows. Pensacola bay is beautiful. We spied a Navy vessel at port and we went closer to take a look. It was a cruise missile ship and it had a very interesting hull. It was into port and being guarded by a Navy patrol boat. They told us that there is a 500 yard no go zone around it as we got a bit too close. Nice guys. I apologized to force protection and they laughed and said, “don’t let the Coast Guard catch you” as they sped away. It is really something seeing a ship of that size from a boat. I’ve never done anything like it in my life.
We motored along in smooth waters through the ICW to Fort Walton Beach, where we sit now. We docked at the Yacht basin and it isn’t a particularly nice dock but the gas was cheap (for Florida $3.75) and we didn’t hardly leave the boat because we were so tired. We BBQ’s some steaks, baked potatoes and some squash-like substance that we bought at a roadside stand in Louisiana. It was all very delicious. I was happy to get into the AC tonight as it was the first time I felt it since early this morning. My tan is really kicking at this point and my normally white (1000 spf) wife is getting coco brown. The kids are doing great and they are sleeping now after a movie and full bellies. I surely would wish I had their life if I were a kid again!
Tomorrow’s weather looks reasonably good with scattered thunderstorms and wind of 3-5 knots. We will continue on to Apalachicola, FL in the morning (hopefully early)!
I was interviewed by Wikianswers and Answers.com about our choice to live aboard our boat and cruise the Caribbean for years in search of a new home. It was a great interview and I decided to publish it to my Caribbean Travel Blog to allow our readers to better understand why we made our choice and what it is like to live aboard our boat. Enjoy!
Robb, you live on your boat, the Miss Lone Star, with your wife and two children. Can you tell us what life is like living on a boat?
Living on a boat with the whole family is interesting each day! The live-aboard lifestyle is fun, relaxing, hectic and chaotic all at the same time. Living in a small space with a dog and two kids can be challenging but we make the most of it. We don’t have to remind ourselves that we are living the dream everyday but our pesky kids try to give us the business, when they get the chance. We are always busy until there is nothing to do. We take the time to share some of life’s greatest moments with each other and we have grown much closer as a family aboard our boat.
What influenced your decision to live on a boat?
I had the dream of living in the Caribbean since I was a kid. I dreamed of sailing the open sea and diving for pirate gold at the bottom of the ocean. I would catch lobsters with my bare hands someday! It was a kid dream that never died, in reality. We ultimately came to the radical decision of living on our boat because of a number of factors. School violence in the US is prevalent and early childhood education is spotty in schools. We thought we could do better but why do it from a home in a suburban neighborhood? We felt guilty for having a big house, multiple cars and too much stuff that we didn’t use. It made a lot of sense to keep only what we used daily or wanted forever. We actually save a ton of money living on a boat in the Caribbean compared to our everyday life in Austin, Texas. We are creating memories that are unreachable for many people and we felt the positives outweighed the unknown. Continue reading
On Tuesday afternoon, we took Miss Lone Star out for a much over due scrub down. In my humble opinion this is the best after school day EVER! Although as we gave the gal a little TLC there were many fix ups that I added to my mental check list, little things such as new cup holders, replacing a faulty wiper blades just to name a few. Among the things that where in need of repairs was our Magma BBQ grill, but as far as the kids and I were concerned this was a great excuse for Dad to build a small fire pit on a deserted little caye.
Mini BBQ pit
Robb and Blake collected drift wood and a few rocks to create the perfect spot to grill our chicken. We took the grills off of the Magma on the back of the boat and propped them in place with a few strategically placed stones, the side vegetables were wrapped in foil with olive oil and spices and placed directly on the fire.
Then we enjoyed the sunset together as a family as we sat around the smoldering beach bon fire, cuddled up on our towels and devoured our delicious dinner after a long afternoon of play.
Life is good
We really can’t wait for summer to be in full swing!
The First Mate of Miss Lone Star
It was never a question whether or not to take our two young children, three and five years old to the Texas State Museum (until after we went). It was a visit that must be checked off of the bucket list before leaving Texas. We packed up our brood after church and made the 30-minute drive to the Texas State Museum. When we arrived the building was humming with people, which was a huge surprise since it was a glacial 34 degrees in Austin. As we made our way through the crowd to the ticket counter we realized, this wasn’t just any Sunday afternoon at the Texas State Museum, this was Texas Independence Day.
On March 1st the admission to the museum was free and there were a half-dozen tables set up for children to decorate flags and adorn their shirts with Texas stars. After a short time enjoying the festivities we made our way through the museum. There were hundreds of amazing artifacts from the confederate “Taylor” battle flag to Texan Edgar Michell’s A7-L space suit. Although a great majority of the artifacts were poorly displayed if taking into consideration the attention of young people.
New and exciting on display was the French La Belle ship discovered in 1997 on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Currently on loan from the Musée National de la Marine and being reconstructed to show a glimpse of its former glory. This exhibit although not finished was our favorite. It was mind-blowing that the 54-foot La Belle with just a 14-foot beam made the journey from France to Texas with so many voyagers. One of Theaters located in the Bullock Texas State Museum showed a very interesting short film about the voyage fr m the perspective of a ten-year old boy.
The film was the highlight of the trip. I would say that the museum is more geared toward a crowd that already has a vast knowledge of Texas State History and is coming to put an artifact with an already known story. Our children had a hard time staying interested and frankly so did I. I wouldn’t recommend this for children under twelve. But Here are a few things you can do to keep your child engaged if you do decide to take a less than exiting trip, to a must see museum.
3 great things to do before taking your children to a Museum
- Look up a few of the exhibits on display before hand, and start reading or telling stories before bedtime to prime their imaginations for what they are about to discover. Having prior knowledge makes us all feel a little more invested in our adventure.
- Create your own scavenger hunt. My children cannot quite read yet but they are great at matching. Print a few images off of the museums website and let your children hunt down the artifact.
- Take a journal and write your own story. Find something that interest your child such as the NASA space suit for my children and have them make up their own story. I carry a journal to jot down what they say. This makes a great keepsake and helps them take a closer look at what they see.
Some of the best travel advice I can give is to treat your hometown like you are a visiting tourist. You may be surprised at all the neat places you didn’t know existed right under your nose.