Florida – West Coast to East Coast

I can’t believe I am still trying to write the blogs from our 3-week trip to Mexico and Florida! We have been home for almost one month. These next few blogs actually have boats and water in them.

When we left Mexico we had a long day of travel ahead of us, beginning with the ride to the Mexico City airport in a van. The van picked us up at Casa Garza at 6:30 am for our noon flight.

Even in the dark of early morning, you can see what a tight squeeze Garza Callejon is. The driver backed the van down he street right to the front door. That’s service! And some pretty darn impressive maneuvering.

Instead of flying straight home to Connecticut, we had extended the trip to include Florida so that we could visit family and friends. Florida is on the way home from Mexico, isn’t it?

Two weeks, 5 stops, 1200 miles of roads. 1= Tampa   2= Spring Hill    3= Stuart  4= Big Pine Key   5= St. Petersburg

After a long layover in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, we landed in Tampa at 10:30 pm and drove north to visit Al’s mother, Dot. Dot and Bill live in The Residence at Timber Pines, a senior living community in Spring Hill. Our visit overlapped with Cheri’s visit, Al’s sister, so we had some nice family time together.

Enjoying “the pub” together at Timber Pines.                                                                                    Clockwise from top left – Cheri and Dave; Bill and Dot, Al and me;                                                         Al and Dave are sitting with Bill’s uncle, also Bill, who is almost 102 years old;                                Bill’s daughter, Sharon  and her husband, Jack.

The Residence has a beautiful outdoor pool that I took full advantage of while we were visiting. I had to the pool all to myself except for this one moment when I decided to take a photo.

After a nice visit in Spring Hill, we hopped back into our rental car and drove four hours across the state to Stuart to visit Al’s brother, Bill and his wife, Barbara. The middle of Florida is flat and mostly country. Shooting photos from the window of a moving car is no easy task. I amused myself by trying anyway.

Spanish moss hanging from trees and horses out to pasture.

Orange groves line the highways along one stretch.

Neatly rolled bales of hay.

Views of the miles of pipeline along alternating sides of the highway.

In Stuart we saw the beautiful Christmas Palm. I remember how festive the berry bunches look. We first saw these palms in Hope Town in 2013.

As things sometimes happen in life, the timing of our visit in Stuart coincidentally overlapped with Colin’s. Colin? Colin who? We met Colin in Lake Tashmoo back in September when we were cruising around the New England islands  (Off to the Islands – Lake Tashmoo & Vineyard Haven, MV). Colin had seen us anchor in Lake Tashmoo and was interested in a Europa (“sedan-style”) trawler like ours. He asked to look at our Kindred Spirit and “talk trawlers.”  Al put him in touch with his brother Bill who found a trawler for Colin in Florida. Fast forward to January – Colin was spending two weeks on his new boat with his friend, Lynn. It was late afternoon when we reached Stuart and we eagerly accepted Colin and Lynn’s  invitation to tour Tortuga.

Tortuga, a 1984 Oceania 38 Europa design trawler, at Stuart Yacht Harbor.

Tortuga means “turtle” in Spanish, an apt name for a trawler since they move slowly (for a power boat.) That’s why former sailors like us are drawn to them.  It was truly amazing how similar Tortuga’s layout is to Kindred Spirit’s layout.

Colin suggested a happy hour dinghy cruise in the narrow winding South Fork of the St. Lucie River, where his Tortuga was docked at Stuart Yacht Harbor.

We met Bill and Barbara for breakfast on Sunday morning. Our conversation included the weather which had been on the windy side for the past couple weeks, and especially so on that day. Bill suggested that although it was still windy, perhaps Colin would like to get Tortuga away from the dock for some trawler tutoring. One phone call and our day was all set – we were all going out on Tortuga!! Extra wind …… extra Watson. Two for one deal. 😉

The Watson brothers discuss methods for pulling away from the dock in windy conditions.

Chartplotter lessons at the interior helm.

More discussions on the aft deck.

Colin and Lynn take the helm and Tortuga leaves the dock.

The test ride went from the lower blue dot in the South Fork of the St. Lucie River to the green dot at the entrance of the North Fork of the St. Lucie Rive, near the bridge. Although we always stopped in Stuart on our ICW-Bahamas trips, we stayed in Manatee Pocket, Port Salerno (yellow dot.)

A few of the sites along the way. Felt good to be out on a boat!!

The mooring field in Stuart. It’s a little choppy out here.

Bill and Lynn have anchoring lessons on the bow.

AL and Colin have simultaneous anchoring lessons on the flybridge.

Lynn and Colin, looking very at home on Tortuga. 🙂

Boating has brought family and friends together. Nice day!!

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