#28 Bender's Cruising Chronicles Fort Myers - Captive - Sanibel - Marco - Marathon

Man alive!!! End of January ALREADY and time to post a blog I've not even begun to write! Where's the time going? If our days of gainful employment had flown this fast, working wouldn't have been so bad!

Ragged Ass Salon
Bill, Laura, and Bob (from SC)
We had a beautiful cruise from Fort Myers to Marathon with several stops along the way. Those clear waters draw me like a magnet so dropping the anchor was a must and tossing the kayak overboard was inevitable to explore little remote islands that harbor a wealth of shells that have never been pilfered.

No Name Pub in the FL Keys
(note bills decor)

Folks had said that Marathon should be called "Bore-a-thon" because there's nothing to do and a great place for us to do some long overdue boat projects. Wish I could remember who admonished us because they were dead wrong!!! This is a happenin' jumpin' place! There are things to do every single night---music and dancing galore, little theatre, lectures, great dining....

The days can be occupied by many "daytime" kinds of things. We're loving the cycling and have tucked into a group that rides several times a week. I'm the only woman which makes me kinda grin. We're led by a guy who's an absolute animal and challenges me to hang tough. One of the men is my senior by a number of years and I stayed on his tail. Bill asked why I never ride that fast with him. I said, "BECAUSE!!! Can you imagine the humiliation of being dropped by a 78 year old man!!! I had no choice!!"

Keys Fisheries overlooking Florida Bay in the Keys
There's also a pool here that is a high point for me! There are no black lines with the T's at the end for turning so I found a great use for ashtrays! I sink one near the  each end so that I don't collide with the wall.

The other cruisers here (Boaters Sombrero Resort and Marina) are top-notch in the sociability catagory! We're surrounded by fantastic new friends and are loving every minute so hope to extend our stay. Being the warmest area of the US might also impact our decision!

First fishing lesson at 7 Mile Bridge
Southern tip of Marathon

This month is short on reportings without being redundant so I'm including excerpts from and article I wrote for a Grand Banks Owners organization.  If you've ever wondered how this Sea Urchin seed ever became implanted in us, these snippits may satisfy your curiosity.

                                        A Grand Banks Life

Short of saying, “all our lives”, it would be equally factual to say that for years each of us dreamed of living aboard “a boat”. Neither Bill nor I had any specifics regarding kind, size, or other requirements as part of our dream but one thing of which we were certain, we wanted to someday abandon terra firma, the conventions of cultured society, the majority of our “stuff”, and become sea urchins living aboard a vessel of some sort---although not a sailboat.

Although Bill hails from upstate NY; and I, FL; we called upstate SC home for many decades. In the fall of 2005, a friend asked if we’d fly with him to Annapolis to help bring his Hatteras LRC home to Charleston. We jumped at the opportunity and traveled for two weeks on his trawler where we became certain that this was the life for us! So the chase ensued for our future home; still without the foggiest idea of the object of our quest. The proverbial “everybody” related tales of misadventures of their explorations warning us of over-rated ragged-out boats peddled by obnoxious and over-bearing brokers.

In the Spring of 2006, we set up 16 appointments to see boats down the west coast of FL and up the east coast culminating at TrawlerFest in Stuart, consuming a week of vacation and all the energy we could muster. Each broker was well-versed and professionally exceptional. We zeroed in on 2 requirements—a centerline queen bed and sufficient headroom for my 6’2” Bill. Subsequently, after checking off yet another boat…after boat, when we returned home the end of that exhausting week, it was evident to both of us that a Grand Banks 42 Classic would be the perfect boat for our needs.

A very short month later, we found a boat in Satellite Beach, FL. After conversing with the owner, his responses to questions were what we were hoping. Days later, we drove south to see the Grand Banks, made an offer, which was accepted, contingent on surveys. Owners wanted to be boat-free by May 1, 2006, so we arrived in Satellite Beach, had hull and engine surveys, closed on our new boat, and brought her home to Charleston, SC., all in one fell swoop.

Haul for the surverys

October 2006, was cause for celebration as we christened our trawler, Kindred Spirit III.  We had a grand party for many friends as we went through the water, earth, and wine rituals to appease the gods of the seas, removed the existing name and mounted our new sign boards declaring her new name.

My days of gainful employment closed as I retired from the Cancer Centers of the Carolinas as an oncology RN for an ambulatory chemotherapy infusion center. We sold our house to the first person who saw it June 2008 and had 30 days to move out. Our front door was open to charities and years of accumulations were hauled away save for a meager pile that would be transferred to our boat. With no place to lay our heads, I moved 3 hours away to the boat in Charleston and Bill commuted 3 hours until his retirement from Michelin North America where he was employed for 30 years and 4 days until September 2008!

December 2008, we cast off our dock lines as we headed south and began our lives as full-time cruisers.

                             So long Charleston and hello to full-time cruising

We just celebrated 2 years of being houseless (but hot homeless) and it’s far greater than we ever fathomed!!! The places we’ve visited, the experiences we’ve had, and the extraordinary people we’ve met have so enriched our lives. We continue to be thankful each day for the gift of this lifestyle.

We learned early on that we can’t have plans, only intentions. Being married to an engineer you can be sure we have an itinerary in spreadsheet form, but it is cast in Jello. It’s indisputable that we can’t predict a destination linked to a date. Mother Nature and Weather seem to get first dibs on that so we’ve learned to be patient and just hang out till it’s safe to continue our journey. That’s very stressless and guarantees that our knickers will not get knotted over what others refer to as plans.

A little manatee family hanging out off our swim platform in the Keys
January finds us in Marathon, FL, where we’ll remain for a couple of months before wending our way north to Stuart for the MTOA Rendezvous in mid-April, after which there will be a fleet of trawlers heading to the Bahamas for 2 months. Our northernmost port this year will probably be Charleston, SC, area in July till there’s a chill in the air when we’ll head south.

We wish each of you warmth until daffodils and tulips blom in the spring.

Bill and Laura Bender
Sombrero Resort and Marina
Marathon, FL


JR said…
Love the blog... Reminds me of the great times back in Florida. I remember the bar with the dollar bills! Wow that was an old memory!

We're following you at trawlerblogs.com! Keep up the great posts.

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