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"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders

Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret,arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret do cuments the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them intouch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning areover…fornow.“Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began withthe Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat,sometimes not.Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.

January 19, 2015
Position: 27 12-60N 80 16-04W On anchor east of the U.S.1 bridge, Stuart, Florida

Hello mis amigos, the little lady is under way once again. Within a few hours run she will be in water she has never seen, the west coast of Florida.

There were 4 obstacles to clear before she hit open water. The first was simply getting out of the marina. The east wind of the past couple days and little tide had Florida Bay water super shallow. The marina only advertises a controlled depth of 5’ and Egret draws around 5’ 6” or so with less than half fuel and coastal cruising provisions. The tide was supposed to be high at the head pin to Snake Creek at 1347. At 1200 it was nearly dead low in the marina. Bummer. So at 1230 we gently left the dock but there was some wind so we couldn’t turn tight and we had to back out of the marina. Fortunately her keel is a fair amount below the rudder and the end of the keel is turned up like a gentle ramp encased in a bronze shoe. So we backed ever so slowly, bumping in and out of gear and made it out of the marina and a bit farther before we felt the first little bump. At that point we shifted into outta here and gave the throttle a little thump and she spun nicely and off she went, very slowly at first then we picked up speed when we got a consistent 1’ under her keel.

The next obstacle was a high spot off the Bay exit of Snake Creek. We puffed mud but didn’t touch then the water deepened in the Creek itself. The next obstacle was opening the Snake Creek Bridge at 1330. It was super tight time wise but as soon as we cleared the houses and had a view of the bridge tenders tower we called on VHF 9 and asked to make the 1330 opening. He saw us and went for it and we made it. Next was clearing the head pin at Snake Creek. We grounded for a few minutes entering the Creek 2 months before but this time we had the line and leaving wasn’t an issue.

Draft is the problem with the Florida Keys. To carry much more draft into PYH would mean having the patience and foresight to work moon tides entering and leaving and not having a schedule. Plantation Yacht Harbor is, in my opinion the best marina in the Keys because it is close to everything important to us and doesn’t have the tourist busyness of Key West. The few other marinas are OK, not much more. Of course, that’s just our opinion. To be fair, folks coming to Key West marinas or the other Keys marinas for the first time may be smitten.

We ran down Hawk Channel – the relatively deep water between the offshore reefs and the Keys – until near dark then pulled over close to shore and dropped TK in 9.4’ at high tide. The tide rise and fall was less than 2’. Mary fired out 75’ of chain at beer thirty. We watched the sunset from the flybridge. I was hoping to photograph a green flash but it was a no-go that evening. Not bad for a first day out in super calm water and gentle following seas. Of course nothing is that easy. We hand steered to dodge lobster floats most of the way, particularly between bridge openings with water flow. There it was lobster float city.

Today (Tuesday) was grey and overcast with a little misting rain at daybreak. As soon as it was light enough to see the trap floats, off we went. By 0915 she cleared Moser Channel under the 7 Mile Bridge and was in Florida Bay for the first time.

The bayside course is easy with perhaps 5 turns before a straight 35nm autopilot run up the west coast. Here again, once we cleared the Park boundaries, it was lobster float city and has been all day. Just now at 1430 have they begun to thin out as we move up the west coast of the Florida peninsula. I managed to pick up a float on the port stabilizer fin. I could feel it begin to drag and the speed dropped .2 knots. Hoping the float would come apart, it didn’t, we turned hard to port to see if we could see the trap line. I got just a glimpse of it. So we kept turning hard to port then turned hard to stbd hoping to cut the line with the wheel. In any case the float popped free and that was it. There is no way to run at night here unless it was an unstabilized boat with shaft cutters. Paravanes wouldn’t work at all because of floats and the shallow depth.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>The plan now is to run 4-5nm off the coast and anchor near sunset wherever we happen to be (4-5nm offshore). Its calm and again, we don’t need a designated anchorage. Just use your imagination a bit and drop the hook. Of course it needs to be shallow enough to anchor. Right now it’s 10.9’, no problem.

OK, so much for the plan to anchor 4-5nm offshore. During the late afternoon we kept changing course more toward the northwest (from roughly north) for a better angle on rounding some offshore shoals tomorrow morning. Egret is anchored 7.24nm offshore in 17’ of water. Mary fired out 125’ of chain and snubber, we backed TK in and with the drag alarms set and the anchor light on, we be in for the night. There is just enough wind to hold the bow into the waves and the seas have laid down to less than 2’ since sunset. Perfect.

Before dinner, Mary and I worked on our Tralwerfest presentation. We picked over a hundred snaps and looked at them twice. OK, we’re ready. Our presentations are spontaneous and unrehearsed. To this day we ooh and aah over photographs that take us back to the day. Here’s an example you’ll see if you come to Trawlerfest and our FREE presentation.

The photograph is of Mary sitting in a chair waiting on lunch in a beach shack restaurante’. We are on the south coast of Ponza, Italy. Ponza is an island around 60nm south of Rome and opposite Naples. The restaurante is a walled-up cave front with covered outside seating. Inside is a simple propane cooker and a fridge. That’s about it. The electric cable is laid hundreds of yards thru a tunnel dug by Roman slaves to a sand bathing beach surrounded by sheer cliffs. Other than by boat, the only beach access is thru the tunnel which is barely lit. We arrived by dinghy and landed on the beach. A short time later a guy rowed in from a small sailboat anchored offshore. Then an American girl showed up whose mother has a home on the island. So the group ate what the restaurante’ owner had, a pasta dish. The 5 of us shared a bottle of red (5 including the owner and only person working in the restaurante’ who ate with us). When that bottle ran out he got another, then another. The long afternoon conversation was super interesting. There were no other diners. We promised to bring Egret back another day. We did.

I would take a novel to write the entire story we can tell in a few minutes. You just need to come to Trawlerfest. I’ll give you one hint. The guy in the sailboat wasn’t just a guy in a sailboat. There is more.

This morning was a little foggy. We couldn’t get under way until 0715 because of the trap floats. Now that we are farther up the west coast of Florida, we are in stone crab trap territory. The fishermen from Everglades City and Chokoloskee work the offshore traps.

The plan today is to run up the coast and anchor this evening off the entrance channel leading to Ft Meyers and beyond into the Okeechobee Waterway. We don’t have a guide to the waterway so hopefully we can find some information on the internet. Once in the waterway itself there are only a few places to dock. I don’t believe there is any anchoring so we’ll have to figure it out. If nothing else we can ask the first lockmaster where the next dock is. We have plenty of time to make the crossing so there is no hurry.

The wind has swung to the NE at 15 knots. Until we make the turn along the coast we have 2 ½ beam seas. What’s funny is we had the Naiad’s centered leaving the anchorage and we didn’t think to turn them until Mary brought morning cereal. Guess we are used to it. Once along the coast there will be little fetch so we’ll probably go back to centered. More to follow.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>OK, once we made the turn the motion stopped and we chugged along around 6.8-.9 knots sipping fuel with just a few %$#^& trap floats. TK went down a half hour before dark. We are anchored 1/2nm off Ft Myers Beach near the entrance to downtown Ft Myers and farther along, the entrance to the waterway. The wind is 11-12 knots and the waves are less than a foot. It is a little cooler so it will be a pleasant night. A little weather is coming tomorrow but by then we will be inside in total protection.

The next morning TK was up and Egret was under way at 0715. The channel thru Ft Myers is straight forward but you have to pay attention. I didn’t and saw 6.6’ on the depth finder a couple times. I guess when you are keel cooled and have a bulletproof keel you get lazy. Once we cleared the condo excess of Ft Myers and got a ways east of town the real South Florida came to life. Birds lined the shores, fish were popping and the homes turned to farms and undeveloped land.

We had internet access off Ft Myers Beach so we were able to get the bridge and lock information for the waterway. Most of the bridges are tall and fixed but still we opened 4 during the day. The first lock was Franklin Lock farther east of town. Bridges in Florida are on VHF 09 but locks are on VHF 13. We called the lock when we saw it and the lockmaster said he would begin the opening. The locks have lines hanging down to tie to your cleats. The lift at Franklin Lock is just 2’.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>The locks and bridges are on demand so far so it has been super easy. The next lock and where we spent the night was Ortona Lock. Ortona Lock has a lift of 8’. We passed thru the lock then tied fore and aft between large pilings to hold barges. Mary looped a stern line over a cleat on the aft piling then tied a second line to that. I pulled forward then she ran a bow line over another cleat and back to the boat. In the photo you can see one end of the dockline looped around the bollard and the tag end around the stbd cleat. This makes it easier to deal with the line when leaving. Leaving would be easy by pulling the bow line thru then backing up and flipping the loop off the cleat. Boat traffic is minimal and there is no tide. The wind was less than 3 knots so we didn’t move at all.

We left Ortona this morning and made the 15.7nm run to Moore Haven and docked at the municipal dock around 0930. Mary went to the town hall across the street and paid the dockage. Dockage is $1 U.S.P. per foot which includes water and electric.

Now for a little Flanders history. My granddad was the first registered engineer in the state of Florida. He and two engineer buddies and their families moved from the copper mines in New Mexico to South Florida to make their fortune. My grandfather and one other became peanut farmers. The third went into cattle and did make a fortune. The second year the crops got flooded and both farming couples lost everything. My grandfather then went to work for the State and was in charge <em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>of building the first low levy around Lake Okeechobee. The levy breached during the 1926 hurricane which killed a lot of people and generally made a mess out of the farming areas at the time. The U.S. Corps of Engineers then took over and built the high levy around the Lake you see today. My grandfather built the bottom third along with 3 of 5 locks on the Waterway. After completion he was the lockmaster in Moore Haven and in charge of the other two locks until he retired.

My granddad’s first home when he worked for the state was located on the waterfront about 75’ from where Egret is docked in Moore Haven next to the cypress tree in the photograph. INERT PHOTOS 8410 AND 8392 HERE. The white building in the background is the boarding house where my mother stayed when she arrived in Moore Haven to teach school. Later when the lock was finished the Corps built him nicer home near the lock that is as I remember it as a kid. I was born in Moore Haven and left here as a baby when my dad returned from WWII and went back to school at the University of Florida. There is a bit more history obviously but this is the basics.

I spoke to the local historian today about the town. It’s pretty sad and typical of so many small towns. Moore Haven is smaller today than years ago and it only has 1,600 residents. The grocery store went out of business so the residents have to travel to another town for groceries and even farther for department stores and the like. Bottom line: there is no work of consequence other than government and low paying jobs.

The plan is to leave early in the morning and make the 50nm run along the rim canal to Port Mayaca Lock. We’ll spend the night nearby and make the final run into Stuart the next day. There is no hurry because we don’t have to be at the Trawlerfest docks until Wed, Jan 21st.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>OK, so we ran the rim canal after clearing Moore Haven lock. For a long time we hadn’t seen a single gator until Mary spotted a giant lying on the bank. It was the only gator we saw. There were birds everywhere. Most of the rim canal had cattails and willows as far into the distance as you could see toward the Lake. These were full of birds.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>This area is known for being a bass fishing hot spot and bass boats were running up and down the canal in a ball of spray. What was so funny was some of the la di da bass boats would pull over near the side of the canal and fish the lily pads and small open areas of water with a canal rifle. A canal rifle is the simplest form of fishing rod there is. It is simply a cane pole with a line attached to the tip, a hook and a bobber. There is no reel. That’s sorta like owning an ocean capable boat and never leaving sight of land.

Port Mayaca Lock was much the same as the other three. We called about 5 minutes out and the lockmaster said he would prepare the lock for an eastbound transit. When we arrived the gate was open and the entrance traffic light was green. Locking was a simple affair with a minimal amount of rise or fall. There was so little difference in height, I’m not sure if we went up or down. After clearing the lock we pulled over and anchored in mud for the night in 9.7’ with a very short scope of 30’ plus 20’ of snubber and chain. There was no wind, no current and no boat traffic. No problem.

It took Mary a while to rinse the mud off the chain in the morning. Then it was coffee time in the flybridge while under way. Incidentally, we spent the entire trip in the flybridge once we entered the more narrow part of the west coast section and no real navigation was required.

It wasn’t long before we had an incident. An IB – Idiot Boy – complete with gold chains and a strap-on chest hair wig came blasting from the other direction at probably 25+ knots in a 50’ Sea Ray. He called on VHF16 and asked if I wanted him to slow down. What an IDIOT! Anyhow, I said he didn’t have to and made his sorry day because at that point we would have been waked anyway. The wake was over 3’ and perhaps even 4’. So we pushed The Button and there wasn’t any rocking but swamp water made it to the rail. A little while later IB called someone else and I snapped. I called him and said “ why don’t you just do the right thing and slow down”? He immediately got all huffy and thought it was the other boat he was getting ready to rock and roll and I said Nooo, it was the slow boat you rocked a few minutes back. Then he whined a bit and I told him he has Sea Ray DNA and a few other things for his wife to hear and hopefully take to heart but she has probably been down this road her whole life since she married IB and particularly since he became so Important but there is hope and with any luck she’ll rain on his testosterone parade and make his sorry life miserable for the rest of the day and grind him into a whiney little nub and hopefully nubby gets it for days and perhaps a little light will go on but I doubt it. Eh?

(My only regret is not getting the boat name so I could post it here.)

There was one interesting bridge on the waterway that was a bit different. We called Torry Island Bridge on the VHF and asked for an opening. The reply was OK, in a few minutes. Next a guy in a <em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>white pickup from Slims Fish Camp drove to one end of the bridge and lowered the gate by hand. Then drove to the gate at the opposite end and lower it by hand leaving his truck in the road. Next he pulled a giant aluminum pole from the bed of his truck and walked to the center of the bridge. He stuck it into a turntable receiver and began walking in circles cranking the bridge open. Before the bridge cleared the road a friend hopped on the bridge and helped push. Pretty cool.

Next up was the St Lucie Lock which was the last lock in the waterway heading east. We locked thru with a Canadian powerboat. Nice folks who spend most of their winter in Green Turtle Cay, Abacos (Bahamas). The drop was 14’. Fourteen feet. That’s a lot. Like the other locks there were lines already attached but instead of sitting in the water, the lockmaster handed us the lines that were clean and dry, not slimers like before. I left the flybridge and helped Mary. In this case we each took a turn on a cleat and let the line slip thru our hands as the water fell.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>Leaving the lock we came across something we had never seen before. A great blue heron had speared a mullet behind the head. I took a series of photos and it looked in this one the bird was banging the mullet on the log. In a few other snaps it was shaking the fish back and forth. I had heard they sometimes spear fish but this was the first time we had seen it in person.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>Of all the homes along the waterway, this was our favorite. It is a simple old Florida home in a beautiful setting. Pretty cool.

To summarize the trip; the lobster trap float fest was a pain but not that big a deal. The early part of the trip thru Ft Myers was simply getting to the entrance to the waterway proper. However, once we entered the waterway the scenery was beautiful. Part of the waterway cut off old river oxbows that could be explored if there were time. Dinghy exploring and fishing in that area would be fun. The locks are an experience and Moore Haven was a nostalgia trip for me. The rim canal was full of wildlife until we reached Port Mayaca Lock. From there it was a man-made canal to Stuart except for the last bit. Still, it was interesting. In one field we even got to see a local polo match.

If the NW wind continues it will put the near-shore ocean in a wind shadow and we can run outside to West Palm Beach Inlet instead of running the bridges to WPB. We’ll see in the morning.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>Egret anchored later this afternoon in east Stuart before the U.S.1 bridge. Tomorrow (Monday), we’ll move south of West Palm Beach inlet and anchor near where Egret was commissioned at Rybovich/Spencer Boatyard. We’ll do a little dinghy exploring and on Wednesday morning we’ll move into the Trawlerfest docks. Perhaps we’ll see you there.

Last snap. How many cormorants are in the photo? It’s a mystery.


January 12, 2015
Position: Under way.

Hello mis amigos, let’s get caught up then let you know Egret’s cruising plans and what’s coming soon.

Mary and I took the flats skiff for one last run to Flamingo at the bottom of the state to shoot a few birds. It was another shirt sleeve day in Florida Bay but the tide wasn’t cooperating so we didn’t stay long. However, Mary once again came up with some really great photographs and I snagged a small heron dancing here and there scaring up fish for dinner. Bird shooting from a moving boat isn’t easy. <em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>First of all, birds don’t pose in the air. They are flying away for a reason and it’s difficult to catch them in the air, much less have a clear photo with good composition. For every 100 shots, one may be ok. Usually there may be a couple a day that are to our standards. Then to have one really stand out is rare. Mary nailed this skittish great white heron as it blasted off from the mangroves. It is pretty in color but turned into a black and white it becomes a classic.

As the tide rose most of the wading birds left the flats except this little heron feeding as the sun dropped. It would hop in an erratic dance back and forth, then it would fly a few <em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>feet and <em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>repeat the dance. The first photo is when it was lifting off to fly a few feet. The second photo was taken when the heron flew past the drifting skiff and was lit up by the sun. Here you can see where it left the water in its dance, and fleeing small fish leaving swirls in front of the bird. This is what is so fun about photography. The camera sees what the human eye cannot see and process in the 1/800th of a second this shot took, plus it was taken at 450mm (quite a ways away) and heavily cropped to make the bird appear larger in the frame. Anyhow, it was a fun day and our last day on the water in Florida Bay for the foreseeable future.

The next few days we worked on maintenance free fiberglass and detailed each Racor filter, cleaning them to perfection. Here’s that deal. First you must shut off the fuel to the Racor, remove the element and drain the fuel to just above the turbo hub, the upside down funnel looking deal near the top of the clear bowl. Then we take an artist’s brush and clean the webs inside the filter and then the cone. Once that is spotless we drain the rest of the fuel. When the fuel gets to within about an 1 ½” from the bottom, I begin hitting the side of the bowl with my palm to shake loose any debris and hopefully it will pass out the drain valve. Once the fuel is completely drained, remove the valve and clean that in the fuel bucket. There will still be some sediment in the bowl so I made a little J hook out of a plastic coat hanger to use with a paper towel. Not any paper towel will do. It must be a Viva Paper Towel or a blue paper towel you can buy at an auto parts store. Both hold up to diesel and won’t come apart. Bounty paper towels and the rest are girl towels and don’t work. Anyhow, fold the towel until it is about 5’” long and compact, dip it into diesel and stick it up into the filter bowl. Use the J hook to swipe it around until the inside of the bowl is spotless. We use a small pair of curved needle nose pliers to remove the paper towel. When that is done, pour a couple pints of diesel (removed from the filter) thru the filter to flush out any remaining debris. Replace the valve and use the circ pump to refill the filter. Repeat on all the filters. It takes a while but it is easy work with immediate satisfaction.

We changed the main filter element we ran from Iceland to Islamorada. It was clean enough to put back in but we didn’t. Same with the generator filter. Incidentally, we always run on the dual filter side that is the easiest to replace. The second filter is kept in new reserve. Only a couple times did we have to change a filter at sea while underway. This was in the eastern South Pacific when we were still running with dirty Argentine fuel. The fuel was clean from debris, it just clogged filters. Once we got a heavy mix of Chilean fuel from the mainland and later in Easter Island, the problem went away and we have never changed filters at sea since. Argentina now has both the high sulphur fuel as well as first world fuel so it isn’t a problem these days.

Next we changed the generator raw water pump impeller. Typically this gets changed between 300 and 400 hours just to be safe or once a year if the generator has fewer hours. This is not an area to skimp on service. Nothing is worse than having a hot generator and it needs a new impeller. Actually it needs more than a new impeller. Here’s the deal. When you smoke an impeller because you were lazy and didn’t change it when you should, you now have two jobs. Yes, this happened to me once like most everyone else so this is the procedure. If you can it is really best to let the gen cool before you get busy. If you are smart enough to have a Northern Lights gen, most of the units are the same procedure. Here’s the step by step process.

Close the seacox for the gen.
Remove the bottom hose from the raw water pump.
Loosen the top clamp, turn the hose so it rotates but don’t remove the top hose.
It takes a combination of a 14mm socket and a 14mm wrench to remove the 4 bolts holding the pump.
The pump has a gear at the end of the shaft so just wiggle the pump a bit and it will pull straight out. You won’t spill any oil.
The faceplate is held on with 8mm bolts. Usually a ½ turn with a wrench or socket and you can remove the bolts by hand. Be sure and not drop the washers with the bolt.
<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>Using a IMPELLER REMOVER TOOL – NOT TWO SCREWDRIVERS – remove the impeller. *The impeller tool is made by Jabsco. You need the smaller of the two removers for a generator impeller or a small main engine raw water pump impeller. The Jabsco number for the generator impeller puller is: 50070-0040. The larger puller for large main raw water pumps is: 50070-0200.
If you have been naughty and lost blades from the impeller, begin by removing the blade bits that are stuck in the cam opening. Don’t hope there aren’t any pieces there because there will be and they are hard to see.
The proper impeller number for a Northern Lights generator up to 20kw is Jabsco 1210-0001 (NOT 1210-0003 – there is a difference in material even though it will fit.) Most marine stores carry this impeller or order the impeller from Northern Lights if it is convenient. We find Northern Lights/Lugger parts to be priced fairly.
The impeller kit will include a gasket and 2 O-rings. Throw away the gasket and the larger O-ring.
Use the grease supplied in the kit to grease the impeller running surface plus the splined shaft.
Replace the impeller by lining up the splines then pushing the impeller with a twisting motion with your palm. It should slide easily to the bottom of the pump housing.
Be sure and replace the rubber plug on top of the impeller that covers the shaft.
Also use a little grease to hold the new O-ring in place in it’s grove. (Grease first in the grove then the O-ring)
Replace the face plate and make SURE the area of the face plate matches the cam. (The cam is a plastic or bronze removable semi circle that folds the impeller blades.)
Replace the pump by rotating it a little until the gears mesh then bolt it in place.
Replace the bottom hose.
Tighten the top hose.

If there are blades missing and you can’t find EVERY piece in the pump housing, you have a new task. If you follow the top hose from the pump it will lead to rubber bellows attached to the heat exchanger. It is held in place by two large hose clamps.
Before you do anything, put a heavy tin foil shield over the alternator and cover that with a towel to keep any sea water from dripping into the alternator, otherwise you will have another task and you are guaranteed to bleed before that job is done. In fact, you may already be bleeding if you didn’t remove the top to the sound shield to make things MUCH easier.

Now that the alternator is protected, loosen the two hose clamps holding the bellows and slide it off. What you see inside is a large tube with a number of small capillary tubes inside. The bronze strainer before the tubes will have your impeller bits trapped before they are distributed nicely into an impossible place. Remove the bits, slide the bellows back on, tighten the clamps and you be laughin’.

Remember, open the seacox before you start the gen or you won’t be laughin’.

Now you have read this there are three choices: you can clean the Racor filters and change the gen impeller yourself over a long day, or you can putter like I did and take 4-5 days of part time between full time play. OR I suppose, you could pay someone to take the time but it will be another BU lost in space and you haven’t learned anything but more check writing experience. It’s a different type of bleeding.

So between short work breaks and full time play there were social obligations as well. We were invited to dinner on a boat farther up the dock. It was a great evening with nice people. They said they are about a year from selling this boat and downsizing to perhaps a small catamaran. Her back isn’t doing well and she needs the stability a catamaran provides for the Intracoastal or perhaps a re-visit to the Bahamas.

Another evening was spent across the dock on another boat full of visiting friends. Mary and I showed a few snaps and they heated platter after platter of goodies. It was another good evening.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>We are planning to have boating friends visit from out west who are also avid photographers so we went on a exploratory trip by car to the west coast of Florida. Basically we drove to Flamingo hoping to find birds early in the morning but there was nothing unusual. Our favorite photograph was an artsy shot of a double spider web lit by rays of sunlight poking thru the trees. After, we drove north to the southernmost road across the bottom of the state, the Tamiami Trail or U.S. 41.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>Along that road is a portion of Everglades National Park with a walking path into the Everglades. So in we went and did we hit the mother load of beautiful birds or what? Plus they were close and have no fear of people. These are wild birds, not being fed but just hang out because there is so much natural food in the small ditch along the path. Mary shot this anhinga from perhaps 15’ away. Just guessing it is an old male. It sat there preening for a half an hour drying its feathers in the sun. I’ve never seen so much silver in their wings as this one. There were dozens of anhinga’s along the path along with great blue herons, great white herons, blue herons and snowy egrets.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>The next shot is something you may have not seen before. Wading birds including anhinga’s and cormorant’s pant like a dog. They pant by vibrating their throats and blow air over their tongues. Mary caught this one from a few feet away.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>Here again is something the camera captured we hadn’t seen before. This great blue heron was across the canal gazing intently on its next meal. See how the head feathers are lifted? This is what is unusual from what we have seen in the past. I wonder if it is to change it’s profile? Also, the twig looking thing below it’s neck is its right foot.

We aren’t birders in the sense like many people. We don’t know the name of many of the birds we photograph and don’t have the interest to look them up. However, we do appreciate nature and the bird’s beauty. Capturing them in their natural setting is the best of the best.

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>Leaving the park, we continued west on a jog road that turned into a dirt road looping back to Tamiami Trail. We quickly learned to stop at every small street level bridge and check left and right. Some creeks led into a cypress swamp and it was old Florida at its best. This is a typical swamp scene with stunted cypress trees surrounded by shallow water. The swampy areas are <em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>loaded with birds, alligators, fish, Florida whitetail deer, raccoons, and the rest. The deer and raccoons keep their distance from the road but there are gators and birds everywhere. This photograph of two birds, a snowy egret and a blue heron was my favorite of the road portion. Each bird had it’s own stalactite of Spanish moss over it’s head.

What’s funny is most of the cars were doing just what we were doing, start – stop – start – stop along the way. Fortunately there were few cars.

So it went to Everglades City and Chokoloskee at the end of the causeway. As a young peddler in the early 70’s working this area, it was like the wild west. These days there are traditional fisherman’s shacks along with mega houses. I couldn’t find some of my old account locations even though I was there every Wednesday afternoon for 6 years. It has changed that much. Or perhaps I can’t remember. What was I talking about? Hummmm.

Today we delivered the flats skiff back to it’s garage in Pig Pine Key, Florida Keys. Tomorrow we shuttle the Jeep to Ft Lauderdale and return by rental car. Egret leaves Monday noon on the tide heading south.

By agreeing to give a presentation at Trawlerfest, we altered our original plans to cruise the Keys for a month after leaving the marina in Islamorada. We don’t hurry so we looked at something different. Mary and I have never been thru the Okeechobee Waterway. Monday we head to Marathon to cross under the 7 Mile Bridge and skirt Florida Bay to the west then head north to Ft Meyers and turn east into the Waterway. We’ll take our time and time our arrival at the Trawlerfest docks on Jan 21st.

So again, if you haven’t attended a Trawlerfest, now is a good time while the frozen wastelands of the U.S., Canada and Europe are frozen. It will be warm and you can attend the seminars and visit dozens of boats on display. I’m sure there will be other Nords there beside Egret. Would that be fun or what? Check out Trawlerfest in Riviera Beach on the internet.

There is another happening for the Egret crew. We were asked by a good friend to man a ‘powerboat’ booth for Seven Seas Cruising Association at the upcoming Miami Boat Show in mid February. Mary and I will be at the SSCA booth all day on Thursday, opening day of the show. I’m told the booth will be near the Coast Guard booth in the Convention Center. We will have a continuous loop of around the world photographs running in the background.

SSCA is definitely worth your while. The information in the Commodore’s Bulletin is worth the $51 of admission. Years of articles by cruisers are also available on a CD. These may be searched geographically to gather information for any cruise, anywhere in the world you may be considering. The information is priceless. Plus you get a swell pennant when you join and in time you qualify for being a Commodore and get an even cooler pennant. Flying the SSCA pennant in an anchorage helps break the ice with your sailing first cousins. SSCA also has Port Captains in many harbors around the world willing to help with information or any issues you may have. Anyhow, give SSCA a buzz or stop by the booth anytime during the show. Folks there can help.

Here’s a little food for thought. A friend sent us a newsletter from a Vintage Car Racing Association we belonged to years ago. Exotic car values have been screaming upward like during the late 80’s, except at crazy numbers. Our high water mark was two Porsche 906’s* before we moved into the weekend Key’s house years and sold the cars. Mary’s 906 was dark blue and mine was red, white and two blues in a free form art motif. At an upcoming auction there two 906’s going on the block for “a little north of 2m” each. That’s 2 Large. 2 plus 6 zeros. We didn’t get quite that much when ours left the garage. So the point is, would we trade the past 13 years for 4+m U.S.P.? If we did, what would we do, buy a Nordhavn, spend a couple years figuring out how to cruise then head out? 13+ years later? Nope, nope and nope. Its just money. You can’t buy our experiences with 4 large or 40 large. Its something we did by ourselves. Priceless.

*A Porsche 906 is a tube frame prototype that weighs approximately 1400 lbs. They were used in road racing endurance series in Europe and the U.S. 53 were built during 1966. A more advanced car was built by the Porsche factory each succeeding year.

To lighten the money vs freedom and adventure load whence you ponder, we’ll tell a funny racing story. Mary and I were doing an event at Sebring, Florida. Sebring is an international venue for sports racing cars. Each March, sports cars from around the world gather for the 12 Hours of Sebring. The vintage racing association was a support race before the 12 Hour. Mary qualified mid-pack and I had a mechanical problem in qualifying and qualified not far in front of her even though I had a killer engine built by a good friend.

OK, so at the green flag the lead cars moved right into the pit exit lane to set up for turn 1, a high speed left hand sweeper. This is a normal racing line except at the start the speeds are down and you don’t need the extra road to make the left. So I kept going up the middle and gained quite a few positions and moved into 4th overall. As we began the sweeper the %$@@%^& car (big block GT40 Ford) in front of me kept pinching me* until ultimately I ran out of tire and spun in front of the remaining 50 or so cars. A friend in a Porsche 908 Prototype T-boned me and off we carried into the grass at the outside of the turn. I jumped out and ran over to Henry to see if he was OK. (He was) I knocked the nose off his car among other things. We had a mushed right rear bodywork and a wrecked suspension. I put my helmet on top of the car and began checking out the damage. On the next lap, Mary saw my helmet on top of the car and thought to herself, I hope his head isn’t in it. Did she stop to make sure I was OK? Nope. She just kept hauling butt and finished 3d in class. Racing great Stirling Moss hung a bronze medallion around her neck during the awards ceremony. Was that cool or what? (Not the wreck of course.)

<em><em><em>Egret</em></em></em>*A GT40 Ford is right hand drive (turning left) and he couldn’t see me in his mirrors. Dirtbag.

Enough techno, and racing flashbacks. Monday we get back to cruising. Perhaps we’ll have a cruising tale to tell in the next posting.

We’ll leave you with this sunset shot of the Everglades taken along the Tamiami Trail on Florida’s west coast.

Egret is listed for sale on the PAE website. Her details are shown along with photos and the price. Take a look if you are interested in a VERY GOOD boat at a great price.

Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.

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