Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Don't Stop the Rendezvous"

Some of us had so much fun at the DeFever Rendezvous in Useppa Island that we didn't want it to stop - so we went to Pelican Bay with about 10 other DeFevers and stayed and played for several more days!

Tammy here...

All good things have to come to an end Thursday morning bright and early, we waved goodbye from our bow to a convoy of DeFevers - first Wild Goose and Lucky Stars who left at the crack of dawn (I'm pretty sure that not all of the Gypsies were even up to see them leave) and then Aurora leading the way with Sea Pearl, Tide Hiker and Rickshaw close behind.

Aurora Leads the Way!

Getting in and out of Pelican Bay can be tricky given the skinny water but everyone maneuvered it safely and went on their respective ways to either head back home or keep following that wanderlust that grips us all and makes us want to explore new ports of call. And then there were only three DeFevers left....

After making plans for "one last cocktail party" (you'll see that this really wasn't the last one though) on Gypsies that night with Last Laugh and September Song, Colleen, Doug and I dinghied in to Cayo Costa State Park again for a "beach day!" We brought a picnic lunch (complete with a few coldies) in our backpacks and set off to explore the island. We headed over to the beach but detoured onto Cemetery Road and found a really cute little cemetery with palm trees, conch shells outlining the plots and several headstones dating back to the 1920's.

Then we hit the beach and walked for miles to the end of the beach where it joins a beautiful lagoon - the weather was sunny but windy so it really wasn't a "sit on the beach and read day" so we looked for shells and interesting wildlife along the way - we were not disappointed!! The beach was beautiful with its white sand made of crushed shells and the water was that turquoise shade of blue that appears in all island vacation commercials. The shelling was pretty cool too- we've started a "treasure collection!"

At the end of the beach as far as we could get from the rest of humanity, we set up our picnic lunch and had a view of the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the lagoon with its sand dunes on the other....what a great way to have lunch and a cold beer! Too soon it seemed we had to head back to Gypsies to get ready for the party - we had a great night with Bob and Stephanie from September Song (a member of the Marathon Gang of 12 that have become great friends) and Hank and Nancy from Last Laugh (that we just met at the Rendezvous). Cocktails, great food and stories flowed as usual and no one wanted to call it a night. We even got talked into staying an extra day to head over to Boca Grande on Gasparillo Island with Hank and Nancy (OK it didn't take too much convincing)...did I say, don't stop the rendezvous??

The next morning found us on our bow waving goodbye to September Song as they pulled anchor to head north for a little while - hopefully we'll meet back up with them in Marathon in a couple weeks to do a final reprovision before heading over to the Bahamas! Yahoo - Bahamas here we come! After our "Bahamas tutorial" with Steve and Di of Aurora, we can't wait to head over there!! But there was still more fun to be had in the States first, so shortly after September Song headed out, we hopped in the dinghy to go to Boca Grande with Nancy and Hank. They have a really big dinghy named Chuckles - a 14 1/2 foot Boston Whaler with a 50 hp motor (Doug has major dinghy/motor envy) - and were nice enough to offer to take one of the Gypsies with them. That meant Doug and I could get our dinghy (named Hobos) on plane for the 5 mile trip over to Boca Grande - what a fun ride!!! There was some chop in the inlet due to opposing tides and currents but we just flew across the water doing some serious wave hopping - Hank kept looking back to make sure we were OK and all he saw were sh_t-eating grins on our faces!! With 4 people in our dinghy usually, it is rare that Hobos ever can get up on plane and go that fast - she loved kicking up her heels!

It was also a beautiful day so the scenery along the way was awesome - there were beautiful deserted beaches and plenty of wildlife! We explored a few of the channels around Boca Grande and saw some gorgeous homes and boats, along with an old wooden fish pier/market.

We finally tied up to a little dock opposite the golf course and proceeded to explore the town. Nancy and Hank have been traveling to Boca Grande for many years so were wonderful tour guides!! We first walked through the Gasparilla Inn, an old, very quaint hotel with white/pink/green chintz furnishings in a grande old style and shells found on the local beaches everywhere.

In the Inn, we stumbled upon an exhibit regarding the large phosphate plant that had operated on the island until about 1979 but was very active as one of the deepest water ports on the west coast of FL during World War II - several of the large carrier ships that had visited the port were sunk by German U-Boats in 1942. That's one of the things I love about this trip - we are constantly learning, whether it be the history of the places we visit or just names/characteristics of plants, birds or animals that cross our path - we live in an ever evolving classroom (without the wicked teacher)!

The town of Boca Grande is in some ways a throw back to older, more gentile times - where the railroad used to run, there is a bike/pedestrian/golf cart path lined with local indigenous trees. The white shell/sand beach stretches for miles and is populated by families that have been coming to the island for generations. The downtown is a funky mix of art galleries, jewelry shops and cute little restaurants and outdoor cafes - I didn't see one tacky tee-shirt shop (thank you!!!) We ate lunch at the old railroad depot and had wonderful fresh grouper sandwiches sitting outside in a little garden pavilion. While the boys chatted on the tree lined sidewalks, the girls did a little window shopping - OK Colleen and I bought a few inexpensive pieces of jewelry but all Nancy got was a sticky bun at the local bakery for Hank!!

Too soon it was time to dinghy back to Gypsies and Last Laugh. Again we had a great ride - it had calmed down a little and we just flew back to Pelican Bay. Our boats had seemed to multiply while we were gone - the anchorage was significantly more full upon our return (although many of the newcomers were snailbotters so we knew it couldn't have been Gypsies and Last Laugh who had been naughty)!!

Our final night in Pelican Bay was really, yes really, the last cocktail party (at least for a little while) - this time aboard Last Laugh, which is a beautiful 1988 52 foot DeFever that has been lovingly restored and maintained. We got a tour of the boat and there were many things to ohh and ahh over! But we especially loved the company - we had a great evening complete with a beautiful sunset which was a very fitting way to end a fabulous day - Hank even blew the conch shell signifying the start of cocktail hour (we had gotten a bit of an early start though). Thanks so much Nancy and Hank!!!

Yesterday morning we headed out of Pelican Bay, sad to leave because we had so much fun there, but ready for new adventures. The first adventure was to get out of Pelican Bay without running aground - piece of cake - we always had at least 4 inches below our keel (we never had much more than that, but who needs more??) We had a great steam on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway along with all the other go-fasts that were out on a sunny Saturday morning. We even had four dolphins play with us in our bow wake for a long time - Colleen got a video of them as they dove and flipped around and jumped out of the water really seeming to play with us!!! I love the dolphins - they truly are the cutest animals ever (short of our boat kitties that is!)

We anchored off of Sanibel Island and had a quiet afternoon on Gypsies soaking up the sun and enjoying the beautiful scenery that is Sanibel. This morning we rocked out early heading to Naples where we will be docked for two nights at the City Marina. We can't wait to explore Naples which we have heard so much about - we also need to clean the boat, fill up with water, do laundry, etc after being on the hook for 10 days (and you thought all we did was have fun....) Well we do seem to have a lot of that!!!

Click here to see a Google map of our location off Sanibel Island.

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