Monday, January 15, 2018

Dec.18, 2017- Jan.15, 2018 The Christmas and New Years holidays are celebrated with gusto!

Wally and I had stashed our life-long collection of Christmas tree ornaments on “Summertime” several years ago. We have a Scandinavian-style wooden tree that folds flat when not in use, so it’s been just perfect for our traveling life for many years. Once our salon was festooned with Christmas memories, we proceeded to string LED lights along the upper-deck handrail and boom attached to the radar mast. A lighted faux evergreen tree sat on the back porch table while icicle lights wrapped around the aft-deck ceiling. Other boats in the marina had festive touches, too.
The celebrated Edison and Ford Winter Homes offered a lighted Holiday Tour as well as the well-preserved Burroughs Home in historic downtown Ft. Myers. The fees collected for each tour serve to keep up with property restoration. Even though we were far from ice and snow, we still felt we were in a winter wonderland.  

We planned an extended holiday celebration with two couples that we met here in the City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin two seasons ago. Tricia and Rob cruise on “Linda Jean”. She’s a 36’ Sabre with a Spruce Head, Maine hailing port.
Patty and Jack cruise on “Nearly Perfect” (with the “f” facing backward). She’s a 43’ Hatteras with a Kemah, Texas hailing port. Our 36‘ Kadey Krogen Manatee “Summertime” with a Lakeville, Maine hailing port hosted the Christmas Dinner. Once Rob took on the job of preparing the roast pork, the rest of us agreed to bring the sides and sweets that would make the special meal authentic for each of us. What a spread! Our 22 year-old boat neighbor T.J. joined our family of friends and the seven of us ate and visited for most of Christmas afternoon. Sweet! 

I am a great fan of knowing the weather: the inside and outside temperatures, the local wind speed with its peaks and average speeds and direction and predictions for the near future. Wally gifted me with a Weather Station that reports all of that and more.

The anemometer twirls around on the top of the pilot house and makes our boat look very professional. The read-out is a well-lit screen situated on my galley counter. Wally is a fan of fine food; lucky for me, he is the cook in the family. He is always looking for tasty alternatives to our typically vegetarian fare. Keeping that in mind, I gifted Wally with his own herbal collection of fresh seasonings; basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary and peppermint.
Resting on the upper deck within easy reach of the watering can and scissors for clipping, this garden-in-a-planter brings smiles to our faces and those of the folks passing by on the dock.

The Campbell Christmas Letter eluded me for days. At daybreak on the last day of 2017, I finally got it together... 

The Campbell Christmas Letter  2017

This morning finds us on anchor, rafting with two other cruisers awaiting the arrival of 2018. Most of the country is in a deep-freeze, breaking records in snow fall and negative temperatures. We are grateful to be in Southwest Florida where “chilly” is 60-70 degrees!

Our 6,000 mile Great Loop experience was completed nearly a year ago as we crossed our wake in Clearwater/St. Pete, Florida. Our Looper friends continue to keep in touch and over time we get together. Those people and those places have left an indelible mark upon us.

What’s next?  Our connection to Maine is strong. We anticipate that many delightful summers await us at our cabin by the lake, surrounded by family and friends. In 2017 we caught up on a long “to do” list; hopefully 2018 will allow us a little more time to just appreciate where we are and the many blessings that surround us.

Our trawler “Summertime” provides us with a great home. She’s happy in a marina slip, on anchor, attached to a mooring ball or on the move down the waterway. As long as she is happy, we’re happy.

We send you our best wishes for a bountiful 2018. May our paths cross soon... whether by land or by sea.         Much love, Darcy and Wally
                                      828 231-5025

“Nearly Perfect” was the anchor boat of the three-some, arriving in Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa State Park a few days before the rest of us.  “Linda Jean” and “Summertime” made the six-hour trip there together four days before New Year’s Eve. Patty and Jack had the lines and fenders ready for our arrival and the rafting went off without a hitch.

We shared meals and memories from our previous lives; what a great way to bid adieu to 2017 and usher in 2018. We dinghied around to Cabbage Key where we enjoyed “Cheese Burgers from Paradise” Jimmy Buffet style.

Then on to “The Tunnel of Love”. Due to skinny water, we girls bailed over the side and each pulled our own dinghy through the mangroves while the men stayed high and dry... now that’s got to be true love!

  We visited the manatees keeping warm in the manatee pool and became beachcombers on the Gulf-side of Cayo Costa Island. The fireworks from Useppa Island  were “Fifteen-minutes of Fabulous”. I happened to wake up at 11:55, grabbed a sweatshirt and went up in the pilot house to watch them. We six friends had toasted the New Year in at 10 pm with some splendid champagne and retired for the night... certain that the new year had arrived somewhere! 

The weather forecast for Jan.1 was full of wind and dropping temperatures. True to our nature, “Summertime” was on the move at daybreak. “Nearly Perfect” departed as soon as the crew on “Linda Jean” passed off her lines and headed for a more protected anchorage. Rob and Tricia had plans to travel further up the ICW when the weather improved. We were passed by lots of faster boats headed for Cape Coral and Fort Myers. None of them bothered to look behind them to see what their wakes were doing to our tubby boat going our top speed of 8 mph. We were having to make ninety degree swings into their on-coming wakes to keep from being dangerously rolled! No polite slow passes that day. We hunkered down for the next week to keep warm in the 30- 40 degree temps. That would have been a heat wave for the rest of the country, but for we folks in the sub-tropics of SW Florida, it was bone-chilling. Rob and Tricia “came home” to Fort Myers, instead of venturing north, as soon as the winds allowed. It was good to have them back in our midst. 

We have enjoyed visits from family and friends.
We like to take company for a stroll through the nearby streets of Historic Fort Myers and dine out with burgers at Ford’s Garage, Capones Coal-fired Pizzas, Cabos Cantinas, Izzies Fish and Oyster or The Lodge for Sports, Brew and Barbeques. Bike Night is always a popular event for the Harley crowd.

The chill left the air for a week. Wally finally got the perfect weather for the three days he needed to repaint the blue cove stripe on the stern of our boat. When the new 7 1/2 inch “SUMMERTIME” letters arrive, we can mount them to a very nice surface!   

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Nov. 6- Dec. 18 Our Kadey Krogen Manatee trawler passes the muster and we grab a flight to Maine

Our annual Thanksgiving visit with Erin and her family was upon us. Before we left “Summertime” still high and dry in the Safe Cove Boat Yard, her survey had been completed... with a score of above average! We then found an insurance company that offered us a good coverage at a reasonable cost. Whew! Allegiant Air flew us from St. Pete/ Clearwater, FL to Bangor, ME in 3 hours non-stop. Erin met us with the winter coats that we had stashed at the Ellis’ house before we left Maine in October. The ground was bare but the temps were in the 30’s. Br-r-r-r!  We noticed the cold more than the younger set. They reveled in it. 
Emily's famous and delicious made-from-scratch carrot cake

Orono, with its U Maine campus, is a bustling town. There are always lots of social moments to choose from. As a result, the Ellis family has a busy life... school, church with choir and bell-ringers and a variety of after-school activities. Erin is on the Orono School Board and works in the Engineering Dept. office at UMO. Brett has several big projects in the works as well as his daily teaching commitments at UMO. Emily and Bailey are making great gains with piano lessons.
I was impressed with how well we could play Christmas carols as piano duets together. Wally and I are looking forward to having the girls join us here on the boat in Florida during their February school vacation.

With Wally’s bother moving from Millinocket to the Sugarloaf Mountain of Western Maine, 98-year old Mother June said good-by to her loving Sweet Seniors Guest Home and moved closer to son Jason. She seems to be adjusting well to her new environment.

Back in Florida, our friends in the Port Charlotte area gave us a “Splash Over” party the day our trawler went back in the water. The boatyard staff was surprised with the interest generated by their Travellift expertise. They were also impressed that our royal send-off went on for 3 hours. Thank you Paula and Dale, Pam and Bob and Pat and Alan!
Pam, Dale and Paula

Pam, Alan, Dale, Paula

Wally, Pat, and Bob with Darcy taking the pictures

We made our way down the 8-mile freshwater canal, locked through to salty Charlotte Harbor and crossed to Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa State Park.
Cayo Costa is our favorite anchorage

Sunsets are always beautiful

It was fabulous to be back on the water, anchored and then strolling down the Gulf shore side of the island. After two overnights, we made our way 35 miles south on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to the Caloosahatchee River. Our slip in the City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin awaited us 9 miles to the east. 
Our slip for the next couple of months

Our view of the ever-so beautiful sunset

Pat and Alan from my hometown in Maine took us back to the boat yard (a 1-hour drive, but 2-day cruise!) to get our car. They are spending 3 months in a lovely neighborhood near the boatyard and had just visited friends in Fort Myers Beach, so retrieving our car with them was the perfect answer. We stayed overnight with them and enjoyed sharing stories and swimming in their pool.

We joined the Appalachian Strings at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County. For 2 hours on Tuesday mornings we play our mountain dulcimers with about 30 other enthusiasts. Ukulele players gather once a month just before the dulcimers. It’s the perfect world for us!
Dulcimer Jam

My sister Val and her husband Rick moved their “Whit’s End II” from Myrtle Beach, SC to Fort Pierce, FL recently. We drove across the South Florida peninsula to the Atlantic side to welcome them to our world. The Ft. Pierce City Marina has expanded its docks and it very up-to-date and welcoming. Friends Rob and Trish arrived on “Linda Jean”  and we all enjoyed a night of camaraderie.  
Rick, Darcy, Tricia, Wally, Rob
on Whit's End II

Val, Darcy, Tricia, Wally, Rob

Val and Darcy

We are enjoying being reunited with friends here in Florida. One of the most unexpected reunions happened after 40 years.
Darcy, Wally and Alayne

Elayne last saw us before we left Pittsfield, MA for Saudi Arabia. A Facebook Friend, she contacted us when she was in South Florida and we welcomed her to pay us a visit on the boat. What a lot of catching up we did in a few hours! We drove to Naples this week to visit with Dan and Natalie...friends from our Mexican travel days around 2000. It was great to see each other after all these years.

As we begin our 5th season of cruising, we are always delighted to renew friendships with folks we’ve met along the way. Dave and Barb from “Miss my Money” brought the “Cat Daddy” folks by and we reminisced about our Great Loop time together. Every day another boat or two arrives here in the Yacht Basin for a prolonged stay. How great is that!?!
Dave from "Miss My Money"

Dave, Darcy, Annette and Rafe from "Cat Daddy"

Wally started a new eating plan 242 days ago. On that day he weighed in at 242 lbs. Today he weighed 198.2 lbs! It’s been 30 years since he last broke the 200 mark. It’s been a serious effort on our part to eat healthy meal after meal. Wally is beaming as he slips into new clothes that really show off his trim figure. I dropped 15 lbs in the process so I’m liking my trim figure, too. At 70 and 71, we feel that we are giving ourselves a longer future for a fun and active life. 


Monday, November 06, 2017

Season #5 Port Charlotte, Florida Nov. 5, 2017

It’s been a month since we bid farewell to Maine. We had lived in our cabin on Bottle Lake since May 10, 2017... our boat tucked high and dry in a covered bay in a boat yard on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It had been a summer of visits with Erin, Brett, Emily, Bailey and Cupcake... both at Lakeville and Orono.

Great fun every time. Dad’s camp got its stately new underpinnings last fall; now it looks even more more spiffy with its new steel roof and restored southern pine floors. The front porch has skylights worked into the steel roof and a great one-piece floor covering that looks like natural stone.

Snazzy! The neglected woodshed was re-purposed into a sturdy storage building for winter storage of the grill, the bicycle built-for-two, lawn mowers and garden tools. 

Eighteen family members and close friends gathered each evening over the supper meals during the week that Val, Rick and Venessa and friend Fred, 98 and 92 years young, paid us their yearly visit.

Since we left, Kevin, Kyle, Joe and Tylar have replaced the old hemlock logs in the dock cribbing with fresh timbers. Looks amazing! Dad would be tickled with all the improvements. Cheryl did a great job capturing the rebuild on camera so the whole family could revel in the moment.

Joe, Tylar, Kyle and Kevin
Wally’s mother turned 98 in September. She continues to be well-cared for by the loving staff of the Sweet Seniors Guest Home in East Millinocket.
Cruiser friends with a family retreat on the coast invited us to join them... two times! Our long-time friend Carole, whose interest in our blog has become legendary, brought her dull knife collection to our cabin.
After a leisurely tour of the improvements of the O’Brien/Campbell compound, she returned home with a dozen sharp knives. How great is that? Gardening fell to Wally this summer. His daily crop care paid off with great fresh produce.
Somehow Wally and I managed to fit in a 10-day motorcycle trip, touring clock-wise around Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula in August. Breath-taking scenery... mountainsides to the right, expanses of the St. Lawrence Seaway to the left with tiny hamlets nestled in the scalloped coastline. French was the language of choice of the Quebecois. We managed to find food, restrooms and fuel, despite our inability to even begin to master their language. Luckily we had booked our overnights English!

Emily and Bailey may have started a new end-of-summer tradition... a “S’Mores and More Party” at Dad’s camp for the Windy Shores Road camp owners. The “More” was campfire pies... m-m-m. The response from the girls’ hand-delivered invitations was heart-warming. It was a social moment that was long over-due.
Wayne,Chick,Ellen Monika,Betty,Lynn,Lois

We had a flurry of visits as we moved south... every one of them a treat. Family in MA, Cruisers in VA, two weeks with our Black Mountain Home for Children family, two couples from our Saudi days in NC, family in Myrtle Beach, SC, RVers from our Benson, AZ Co-op days and Bottle Lake neighbors here in FL. We even shocked ourselves by springing for tickets to a sold-out Eagles concert at the 18,000-seat Greensboro, NC Coliseum.

The recently departed Glenn Frey would have been blown away by the stellar performances of his remaining band members along with guest singer Vince Gill and Glenn’s own 22 year-old son Deacon.  The NC State Fair the next day in nearby Raleigh was incredible as well.

We’ve been living aboard Summertime “on the hard”... perched up on dry land... in Port Charlotte, FL since October 21st. Hurricane Irma passed over this area on Sept. 10th roaring along at 125 mph. Not a boat here at Safe Cove Boat Yard with its covered bays suffered damage!  Thank you Lord!

I’d love to say that we take delight in making the entrances and exits to and from Summertime from a wobbly 6-foot step ladder... but I can’t. It’s a pain in the neck and it doesn’t get better over time. We are also expected to capture all our dishwater and bodily fluids and deposit them at the bathroom halfway across the boat yard. Yuck! Despite these difficulties, Wally has managed to sand and paint the expansive bottom of our trawler. I did my best to “keep his courage up” while dealing with a Polymyalgia Rheumatica symptoms break-through. The muscle misery came back with a vengeance when I inadvertently missed taking one 1 mg tablet one night and it took 7 days to recover...Ahhhhh!  Now we are back in business working together on cleaning, buffing and waxing the hull and the stainless rail. Summertime verily glistens. With our boat insurance due for renewal, we have a required out-of-water boat survey scheduled for next week. We are working to have our Kadey-Krogen Manatee ship-shape from engine room to pilot house, aft deck to master stateroom, by that time. Whew!  

In our spare time, Wally and I have been assessing what our future endeavors might be. We have been looking at late model RVs that would, #1, let us travel comfortably and,#2, be equally comfortable for Erin’s family to travel in on our “off-season”. The recently created 31-foot bunkhouse models with a queen-size walk-around bed is very appealing to us. 

It’s now November 5th, 2017. We continue to follow our eating plan. I am holding at a 15 lb. loss and Wally just reached his goal of 40 lb. loss after 195 days. Everything we eat is written down and calories tallied... it keeps us honest and on the downward swing. We feel great!