ANDROS GOLD aka Dwight’s West Side Story (Part 1 of 9)

Written by Hans Wilson

Andros – April 6th to 16th. Dealing with the loss of my father and (two) one week vacations in one short month was a new one for me. My Dad was a sailor and outdoorsman and I have tried to follow in those footsteps as well. But I seldom take that much time off from work since I am the top billing guy in a marine engineering consulting firm.  With some trepidation I accepted the invite from Rocky the Flying Squirrel to go explore the west side of Andros Island with Diamond Dave and the lovely Miss Em.  I would be returning home and, in less than a week, would be leaving again for Costa Rica. But I couldn’t NOT go, citing the old adage “No one was ever in their death bed saying they wished they spent more time in the office”.  My Dad had died in the end of March and his passing was additional impetus for me to live my life to the fullest extent possible.  He would accompany me on this trip, in both ashes, and spirit.

It is a good team, with The Flying Squirrel a wiggy, lovable one.  Em is a lady capable of holding her own with the guys. Diamond Dave is the consummate Bahama’s boater.  Dave and The Squirrel are partners in the boat with two others.  Fortunately that means the boat get’s used a lot, always better than one that sits around. A Bahama’s trip with this group is always good company, full of adventure, work, and wonder.  But it is always a challenge in escaping the commitments of the work world.

This trip would be unusual in that we were going to be exploring the west side of Andros Island.  This area is very remote and mostly viewed by the Squirrel from a couple of thousand feet in altitude while making his way from Florida to the islands and back.  All those little dark patches in the water were something!  With the wonder of Google maps, GPS, and a little luck we would find a sunken treasure ship or maybe at least a fish or two.

Three days before leaving, Robin my business partner, and I blasted down to Key West to check on the progress of one of our construction projects, Tarpon Pier replacement.  She did the driving and I worked on the laptop, writing reports, and basically doing as much as I could to get caught up before I left. It also gave me time to think about my responsibilities for two meals on the trip.  I knew I could whip up a decent spaghetti sauce, hey, who can’t, but the second meal was a challenge.  Shell, my sweet wife, offered some solutions, the best one being sausage with onions and peppers.  But I was concerned about bringing produce into the country, not wanting to start out the vacation in a Bahamian brig.

I worked my lists and resolved myself to cook spaghetti sauce on Thursday night, coming back from the Keys run.  Travelling such a distance is tiring, even if I am not doing the driving. Robin and I got back into town about 6:00, time enough to get to Publix and secure the proper supplies.  Sometimes it is easier to make a decision about something when you just relax and let the ideas flow.  I bought into Shell’s idea of the sausages, and bought a big pack of Bratwurst.  I already had Mom teed up to prepare her world famous potato salad, so I figure between the spaghetti sauce and bratwust/potato salad I would be covered for the trip.

Cooked, delicious, and cooling on the stove was my best pot of spaghetti, probably because I hadn’t made it in so long so I thought it was pretty good.  Shell baked the brats on Friday and Mom delivered on the potato salad Friday night.  Things were working out.

I was forsaking my Board meeting Friday night for an evening out with Shell.  That was okay since she gave me the Bahama’s pass for a week.  I know we had a Costa Rica vacation following the Bahama’s adventure so my husband credits were good, but never the less we had a lovely evening out. She was happy with dinner and the week ahead was looking good.

 

Saturday – The lists worked well, crossing off items, rethinking others, and adding those last minute items I seem to always forget.  I was packing the truck for the run to Naples, grabbing last minute items like batteries out of the shop as I got ready.  I made Rocky’s office at 8:00, on time, and sat in Em’s cubicle marveling at her cartoon collections as she wrapped up her business.  She has a marvelously dry sense of humor and I can always count on her for an occasional  email worthy of archiving.  The boys had yet to arrive.

We made it to the airport and began the process of loading all the “stuff” we had.  Wow, so much gear and they already had preloaded the boat over the past month. I stepped in and exercised my “stowing prowess”, getting it all packed into the back of the plane.  With no room to spare we were wheels up for New Providence.

 

Helicopter ride 1

Jammed to the roof of the plane with our load of gear.

 

It was an effortless flight, The Flying Squirrel doing his usual stellar job of piloting with Dave by his side, and shortly we were unpacking, then packing again into a taxi at Odyseey, the private terminal in Nassau.  Customs asked a question about our packages but we were innocuous enough that they didn’t check anything.  I could have brought the produce, hell, Dave had a bag full but it was easier bringing a cooler with the spaghetti, brats, and potato salad chilled.  Plus we had a bunch of Coors Light, Dave’s flavor of choice.

We got it all into the taxi and headed off to the marina at Old Fort Bay on Lyford Cay, stopping at the new Whole Foods store for some last minute foodstuffs and a case of Gold Kalik, my favorite beer.  In spite of it now being available at Publix, it was once Coorslike unobtainium, with the occasional case provided for as a Christmas present or on a return trip from the Bahamas.  So many great memories with this formerly high horsepower beer, I still drink it as my Bahamian favorite. The Squirrel scarfed up some cigars and the next thing I knew we were loading the boat direct from the taxi.  Everyone hustles, it is a great team, and since we all know what to do things got stowed quickly.

We waited a while for a local friend to pick up some maps and charts that the Squirrel is currently developing. With the meeting over Dave fired up the starboard engine and then the port, but something was wrong, making a bit of noise so he shut her down.  We scanned the handbooks and Dave made some calls, resulting in a delay as we pulled the valve cover off the port engine and checked the injectors.  I really didn’t care if we didn’t leave right away and I enjoyed the opportunity to study the engines and help Dave with the wrenching.  We checked the electrical leads to the injectors, per telephone direction from the local mechanic, and sure enough that was the problem.  Disconnect and reconnect and once fired the port engine purred like a sleeping Tiger.  We were into the Tongue of the Ocean headed to the Middle Bight of Andros Island.

 

The Flyer Squirrel day 1

 

 

The Flying Squirrel passed out on the back deck, letting the worries of work and flying reside elsewhere, dreaming of G4’s.

 

 

We fished a little along the way, drank cold beers (some slept) and we finally anchored a ways up the Middle Bight. The Squirrel grilled steaks and Em  made a delicious salad. Everyone was finally chilling out and I finished a rather long day with my favorite scotch in a ceramic coffee cup and watched the stars.  I saw two satellites and a shooting star, making a wish on my daughter’s behalf, then retired to my bunk.  The wind came dashing through the forward hatch, and I slept like a baby… (to be continued)

Sailing with twins.

On a clear breezy day, we had the opportunity to race and sail with twins.  Not twin sailors, but twin sailboats.  A friend of ours bought his first large sailboat which was a Bristol 29.9, an upgrade from his 26 foot Catalina.  David’s brother, Jon also had a Bristol 29.9 and all three sailors agreed to meet at Bunch Beach.

Here are the players:

There was Captain David Bickel, an old salt in his 28 Phillips Rhodes; Anhinga.  He raced for years in Tampa Bay.  They called him the Kat! With the rushing clang of the halyards against the running gear, the grinding spin in the lines of the winches, and with the sound of the luffing of the jib he knew the moves.   He was an expert from stealing the wind in a tacking war to counting the puffs to propel any boat further and faster.

And there was Jon Bickel, a seasoned single handed sea dog, brother of the competitive Bickel clan. He was sailing in his Bristol; High Voltage2.  This seaman would take off for weeks finding solitude of the Marquesas just to hear the quietness of nothing.  Comfortable on the water Jon would spend days in search of solitude anchoring in secluded mangroves, or the peaceful beauty of a silent island.

Lastly we have Mystery Mike in his Bristol; Black tip.  He was a low keyed seafarer with a passion for wooden boats, who still was unsure of his abilities in a larger sailboat; more used to taking picnic sails with his wife on the eastern coast; where the sailboats soar on mystical winds and the sound of seagulls is heard flapping off the bow through the mist of clammy dawn.

The agreement was to race from the Sanibel marker to the bridge and back.  The sailboats were all close-hauled heading into a breeze of 13 knots.  Straight away, David tacked Anhinga taking away High Voltage2’s wind and swung in front of Jon.  Mike was in last place.  Suddenly there was a velocity shift; Mike took a 90 degree turn swinging The Black Tip into first place.  The move took us all by surprise with a lot of woohooing coming from Mike’s boat.

Afterwards we anchored back at Bunch Beach, grilled burgers, and  watching the sun set over the light house on Sanibel Island.  What fun day around the bay of Fort Myers beach.

 

Anhinga’s song

Every Mariner knows that a ship wants to be in the water.  This keeps a boat healthy.  It’s not just the maintenance one does before a trip, the stroke of sandpaper along her teak, the replacement of worn moving parts, or the re-stitching of a weak clue in the jib.  A happy boat needs to keep moving.

Likewise, every Seaman has heard the call of the sea, when the wind tumbles with untamed waves sending a breeze of a whisper saying, “Come out with me, and immerse yourself with me.”  It’s not just a call, but a drawing of one’s soul back to the primal source of life.

We almost lost our boat in the Bahamas.  David and I were finishing up a 3 week sail in our 28 foot Phillip Rhoades sailboat, Anhinga.  We anchored on the leeward side of a rocky island as a weak Northern front was coming through.  By 3 o’clock in the blackness of night our anchor alarm went off.  We were about to slip towards the mass of jagged rocks off the stern.  I was on a pitching bow holding onto two anchor lines like a bull rider; below David was trying to start our Yanmar diesel engine with failing starter wires.

David got the engine roaring and we gingerly maneuvered around the rocks to be sheltered from the wind.  That morning we woke up to what could be called a white squall.  It’s all I could see, it was glorious.  I could not keep the rain from pouncing through the bin boards of the companionway.  When the storm passed we were amazed to see a large water spout spinning alongside the leeward part of the island right where we had anchored that night.  Anhinga became our sanctuary.

The sun came out and the winds turned southwesterly, so we set off our way back to Bimini, at a running pace of 7 knots.  Quite fast for Anhinga!  We were having the ride of our life!  The 4 minute clip below is what I put together from the sail after the storm I call, “Anhinga’s song.”

We had watched a film about a young man named Charlie Cloud, who raced sailboats in high school.  He was showing his little brother the ropes; they stood together in the dawn watching the sailboats set off from an unnamed shore.  His little brother said to him, “Charlie where do you think they are going?”  Charlie whimsically looks across the bay and says, “Everywhere.”

Go and Enjoy!  Sharon Bickel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIHmb4r4ccw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

www.theshipwrightshop.com

Ready for Fun in the Sun?

Sun Sports Cycle & Watercraft invites you to dust off your Seadoo, Wave Runner, Jet Ski, Tigershark or whatever you have that floats and join them for a group watercraft ride. The ride will start at the mouth of Picnic Island and will work up to Pine Island Sound—making a few interesting stop along the way. All vessels are welcome to join! The ride starts at 11:00 am on Sunday, September 23rd. Please register in advance by email to Steve at promotions@sunsportcycle.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cruising the Caloosahatchee River

By Legacy Harbour Marina

If you are planning on making a trip to downtown Fort Myers, Legacy Harbour Marina is a great place to stop and dock your boat. To make your experience more enjoyable, here are a few tips on boating to Legacy Harbour Marina.  Make reservations by telephone or email in advance, so that we may place you in a slip best suited to your boat!  Legacy Harbour Marina is located on the Caloosahatchee River in the Downtown Fort Myers area.  The river has a number of Manatee Protection and Boater Safety Zones.  Always be aware of these zones and slow or idle as mandated. The marina lies within the quarter mile rim of the river which is a slow speed zone.

We monitor the marine radio on Channel #16.  After hailing the marina we will ask you to change to our working Channel #12.  The entrance to the marina is on our eastern side between Channel Marker #49 and the Caloosahatchee Bridge.  We are happy to give you directions to your slip and help you with your dock lines.

It is a beautiful marina with all floating docks.  Since the marina docks float up and down with the tide, it allows for easy access on and off your boat.  Boats can be tied snug to the dock without worry of tidal changes.  When arriving at the marina have fenders and dock lines ready: bow, stern and spring lines.

After you arrive you can relax and enjoy gatherings under the Chickee Hut, use the Heated Swimming Pool, our Captains Lounge or exercise in our Fitness Room. We provide two sets of Restrooms, Showers, Laundry, Free Wi-Fi and TV.  Walk to Groceries, Shopping, Restaurants, Park, and Downtown Events.

 

 

$50,000 Pirate Poker Run Event

Mark your calendars for an event that you won’t want to miss! The $50,000 Pirate Poker Run kicks off with a Captain’s Party on Friday, August 17th at 7 pm at the Lock N’ Key. The fun continues poker run style on Saturday at 9 am with your choice of transportation – boat, motorcycle, kayak, car, SUP or pirate ship. Stops include Gasparilla Marina/Waterside Grill, Flounders Restaurant and Tiki Bar, Stump Pass Marina and Grill, Johnny Leverock’s and Cape Haze Marina. For more information on the event, check out www.piratepokerrun.org or call 941-474-5511. Arrgghh, can’t wait to see you there matey!

 

Living for the Present: Pleasures of the Avid Boater

By Chris Forman WXCW, Channel 6 & Vice President of SWFMIA

Twenty-six years ago, my wife and I took residence in Cape Coral, on the water to become year round boaters. Snow shovels, ice scrappers and winter coats became a thing of the past. What we discovered very quickly was the boating paradise that lay in our backyard.  In over two decades and  having owned several different styles and sizes of boats, one thing has never changed, when you leave the dock the fun begins.

Heading north up the Caloosahatchee River, there are several nice restaurant choices at Marina Town in North Ft Myers and the Downtown River District in Ft Myers.  A day comprised of a little lazy fishing (we’re not that good…doesn’t matter), cruising and a late lunch stop or early dinner seems to erase the stress of the work week.  We often joke that the cost of boating is way less than the couch doctor, yet they have the same affect.

Heading down the river there is JK’s Riverstop at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. It’s bathing suit casual and full of boating friends you just haven’t met yet.  Fun for kids and families, the picnic table laid back patio is a fabulous vista for a sunset and an ice cold drink and burger.  Also down river are the The Joint Restaurant and Rumrunners at Cape Harbor, where casual outdoor or inside fine dinning await in a relaxing waterfront atmosphere.

Just a 30 minute boat ride south from home is Sanibel Island, a routine stop on Sundays for a swim with our floaty-toys, some Jimmy Buffet on the stereo and a picnic lunch on the back of our boat.  Anchoring in waist deep water makes life easy and the view of the Gulf and lighthouse never gets old.  It’s a great rendezvous spots for other boating friends.  There is a no wake anchoring area, clearly marked by white buoys, that runs the length of the white sugar sand beach.  My wife loves shelling and this area of Southwest Florida is heaven.

Estero Island, or Ft Myers Beach, as it’s commonly known, is also an excellent destination for lunch or dinner by boat with numerous boater friendly stops for the simplest of fare to full elegant meals.  Several boating facilities and fuel stops are convenient as well.

Heading north up Pine Island Sound lies the barrier islands of Sanibel, Captiva, North Captiva and Cayo Costa with beautiful beaches that seem to go on forever on the Gulf of Mexico side.  Inside the sounds lies some of the best fishing grounds in the country.  The channel is well marked and easy even for the novice boater.  The fishing for snook, trout, snapper, redfish and dozens of others is plentiful.  It’s a haven for the serious sportsman or a fun day for easy fishing for mom, dad and the kids.

The Gulf side of North Captiva and Cayo Costa has thousands of my footprints in the sand.  It never grows old for me, the hazel colored water and soft sand beach is where my toes belong.  These islands are only accessible by boat, are home to waterfowl, a light tackle paradise and perfect for an afternoon snooze in the sand.

Summarizing for those of you who have yet to venture out by boat or don’t get out too often … even decades later it’s still fun, therapeutic and the stuff family memories and stories are made of.  It’s the wind in what’s left of my hair, the sound of the water, the sheer pleasure of just driving my boat and my wife getting to read her book. So maybe we’ll see each other on the water next Saturday?  I know I’ll be there. — Chris Forman.

 

Fireworks on the Water

We keep telling you that Southwest Florida is just about the best place for boating in the U.S.  To help prove that point, why not get out on the water and enjoy your 4th of July Fireworks from the water.  The view is always the best from the water side.  You get the fireworks themselves and usually some great reflections off the water as well.  You don’t have to fight traffic and parking issues.  And you don’t have to lug coolers and chairs all over the place. There are plenty of options for a great evening on the water.  Here’s a list of waterfront fireworks we came up with.

  • PUNTA GORDA –  Punta Gorda will hold its annual 4th of July celebration at Laishley Park, 100 Nesbit Street on July 4, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m  Fireworks begin at 9:00pm
  • CAPE CORAL – Red, White & Boom is held at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge on Cape Coral Parkway.  Fireworks are scheduled to start around 9:30.
  • FORT MYERS –  Fort Myers Freedom Fest –  Downtown at the River District.  Block party starts at 6PM with fireworks at 9:30  off the Pavilion next to the boat ramp.  Free dockage (space available) will be provided at the City Yacht Basin.
  • FORT MYERS BEACH –  The Fireworks will commence from the Pier at about dusk.
  • SANIBEL – Fireworks will be at the end of Bailey Road near the Causeway Bridge.  Fireworks will begin at dusk.
  • NAPLES – The 4th of July Fireworks display will be at the City Pier beginning at 9:00PM
  • MARCO ISLAND –  City of Marco Island 4th Fireworks display at Residents Beach – 130 South Collier Blvd.  Fireworks begin at 9:00PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explore the River District

By Pat Roush, Paradigm Yacht Sales

Southwest Florida has just about the finest boating waters you will find anywhere.   We have beautiful, protected waters.  Great places for cruising, sightseeing, fishing, swimming, anchoring or whatever you enjoy.  And there are plenty of restaurants, bars and overnight dockage spots within a short cruise from wherever you are.  As a long-time resident and avid boater, I’m looking forward to sharing with you my favorite places to go and things to do on the water.

I’m sure that some who read these articles will be familiar with the destinations but may have forgotten just how nice they can be. And for newcomers to our coast, maybe this will help you enjoy your boating experience even more.

I thought we would start up the Caloosahatchee River a bit to the Ft Myers River District in the historic downtown area.  By the way, in case you don’t know, the Caloosahatchee River is part of the Okeechobee Waterway System that connects the east and west coasts of Florida.  That’s a really great trip if you feel a little more adventurous (I’ll cover that in another article).

Anyway, the River District, an easy boat ride east (about 15 miles up the river from the Gulf of Mexico) brings you to the City of Ft Myers Yacht Basin.   Dockmaster Leif Lustig and his friendly staff allow complimentary daytime dockage, if available, with an easy walk to downtown.  Or they can accommodate an overnight stay, at reasonable rates, if you prefer.  Call the Yacht Basin at 239-321-7080.

Downtown Ft Myers has undergone a major facelift and revitalization over the past few years (with more on the way) and is proving to be a great boating destination.  Once downtown, you can take advantage of a wide variety of restaurants (my favorite thing to do) historic structures and many on main and off main shops.

There is even an interactive butterfly house (sounds dorky but is actually pretty neat with a café on site) , The Southwest Florida Museum of History and even the Art of the Olympians building.  And of course the Edison Ford Estate is just a few blocks away.  If you’ve never done that tour, it is well worth your time.

The District has many planned events ranging from car and bike cruise-ins, to art and music walks, to outdoor concerts and is home to the Fort Myers Boat Show each November.

You are guaranteed not to go away hungry, thirsty or in need of entertainment.  And, if you need a place for the night, the Hotel Indigo is right in the heart of downtown.  There are also both slip and hotel accommodations a short walk away at the Legacy Harbour Marina (239-461-0775).

You can check on line at www.myriverdistrict.com for more details and event calendars.

Get that boat out and go have fun!