Let's see, where did I leave off? Probably nobody reading anyway.....
Oh yes, we are motoring in the pitch darkness and there is a severe storm directly in our path. We are about 5 miles offshore scared sh**tless. (shirtless :-) following the Coast Guard navigational buoys.
Then God simply reaches down and makes the storm dissipate - right before we reach it. Poof! No more storm. Uh, okay. Thanks. Believe it or not, this has happened to me before. (Gene can attest to it about a year ago coming back in at 2:30 a.m. from 50 miles out. All the storms just dissipated as we reached them - weird, but awesome.)
The darkness also dissipates and we see the first glorious rays of sunlight emanating from the East. The sun rises to a beautiful, clear morning. Our path is clear.
We take off the PFDs and I un-clip the ePIRB.
But seriously, thank you Lord. I owe you one. (Perhaps he was just looking out after Nick and I was just along for the ride, but I'm good with that)
Our destination today is Everglades City. It should be an easy 4-5 hour sail, but I'm kinda through making those estimations. It is a very pretty morning for sailing:
Same, same, from the tan one.
Of course I am fishing! Trolling. Still very shallow water though. I'm not catching anything.
Water is beautiful here.
My waypoints are at the opening of channels. In my dining room during preparation, I did not consider the time it takes to traverse "through" channels at 4 NMPH to get to our final destination(s). Here is what it looks like to "enter" Everglades City (Which we have started calling Emerald City, btw):
My lat/long waypoint is the red dot in the lower left-hand-corner.
It is a LONG way puttering through the mangrove islands to actually get to the "city".
Starting from the bottom left corner, this is the maze of islands that you must go through to reach Everglades City.
The pictures above is what it actually looks like. We are passing yet another mangrove island. Birds everywhere. Snakes swimming past. Mermaids. Fortunately, there is a well-marked channel. Thank goodness for that. Without it, anyone would be lost here for days - or forever. Great place to hide, I suppose, if someone were chasing you and you knew what you were doing.
We see some small flats fishing boats leaving the channel, so hey, at least there are people around now! They are the first humans we have seen in a couple of days. We wave. Some even wave back.
Others just stare at us. I am noticing that people tend to simply ignore sailboats.
It takes us 2 hours to motor through the mangrove maze and arrive at "civilization". I must admit, it was beautiful going through all those mangrove islands. Nick, though, isn't admiring the beauty, he is quite nervous because he keeps feeling the gas tank. If you were to spit a few times in the gas tank, that would be about equal to how much fuel we have left. All that motoring early this morning left us dry. There is no wind deep inside this meandering mangrove channel, so sails won't help. Nick is very worried we won't make it. But, of course, we do. We know exactly what we're doing!
We arrive at the "Rod and Gun Club" in Everglades City:
Crazy, drunk, sailboat dude meets us at the dock. Sailboat people have issues....Wait, where does that put me? Don't answer that.
Now, I'm not very proficient dealing with crazy people. I kinda clam up, but Nick is as friendly as he can be. So while he is chatting this guy up (the guy is offering to do everything for us - I'm assuming for a price), I decide to walk up and inquire about a room.
I enter the lobby past the old truck.
What I notice:
- 1st: No air-conditioning. Dang.
- 2nd: No people - anywhere. That's odd. (Except sailboat hippie dude, outside)
- 3rd: This place is beautiful. Odd, but stunningly beautiful.
If I smoked cigars and drank bourbon (I do neither), this would be a good time for that.
Bare necessities for decorations!
The place looks, with all it's stuffed animals and mahogany walls, like some place right out of the history books. In fact, it was built in the 1800's and it doesn't look like it has changed much since then. Apparently, they are working on restoring the main hotel that was adversely affected by the hurricane which is why it currently doesn't have air-conditioning.
Since we can't rouse anyone but tipsy, sailboat guy on the dock, Nick and I (Okay, Nick) gathers enough information from him to learn that there is a gas station within walking distance. He assures us that someone will be back to the hotel soon.
We walk to the gas station in the middle of town carrying the fuel tank. Man, it is ridiculously hot here!! The sweltering heat off the asphalt makes it hard to breathe. Aaaah, air-conditioning in the gas station! I had forgotten! Amazing invention air-conditioning. Needless to say, we take our sweet time shopping at the Marathon gas station in Emerald City.
We return to the Rod and Gun Club and sure enough, an extremely nice guy named Jeff is there to offer us an air-conditioned cabana with two full-size beds right next to where we have parked the sailboat at the dock. Frickin awesome! Inside our room (not out in the rain), Nick and I take our much-deserved showers and discuss visiting a nearby restaurant. But after eating some gargantuan fried chicken wings and drinking a couple of ice-cold Corona's at the Gun Club (food was awesome, btw), we both fall asleep (collapse) in the air-conditioned cabana before we can go anywhere else. It's about 5 p.m. We don't wake up until 7 am the next morning. I guess we were tired. No idea why.
This morning, we have returned to the Marathon station for donuts and coffee. We are told that there is a local grocery store only a few hundred yards away. We visit and re-supply our stocks - including LOTS of ice!!! More beer (of course), NY steaks, fresh fruit, water, beef jerky, etc. Gotta love civilization. On the walk back, we take a few photos:
Nice shirt, Nick. :-)
Beautiful town. Strange place. Nice people.
The buildings I take pictures of are perfectly maintained, yet right next to those perfectly maintained building are abandoned, derelict buildings with mean-looking crows staring at you, ripping apart something dead with their sharp beaks, like in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Just bizarre.
The sign on the top of this abandoned building is very descriptive of this town's strange dichotomy:
We finish packing the sailboat at the dock and we wave goodbye to crazy sailboat guy as we head back out of the channel. Thank goodness there is an outgoing tide because the current, here in the river, is so strong that we would never had made progress from the dock with our little 9.9 HP motor. (Not that we don't love that little motor by this point in time).
My final thought as we exit the dock is that it seems strange that our lives are being completely controlled by tides. That is an odd thing to control your life.
Goodbye Everglades City. Thanks for the supplies and the air-conditioning.
Tomorrow: Sailing - Chapter 6 - Marco Island.