Swing Set

Sep 26, 201204:36 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

The Ho Hum Boating Life

We're on our fifth day here in Crystal River and are just living the boating life, nothing special, but living aboard isn't going to be exciting everyday. It's just a different way of going through life.

At times, I feel like a blog is a bit narcissistic, and I wonder if I should write about the normal stuff we do, but then I think that some of the things we do to get through a normal day would be of interest to those who are considering attempting this lifestyle some day. Let's see if anything we've done in the last couple of days will blow your skirt up.

On Monday morning, I checked a couple of apps on the iPad to look for a laundromat and a grocery store. I found one of each, both located right smack on a small bridge that I could see from the boat. I didn't see a laundromat or a grocery store anywhere in sight. There were two possible locations for a laundromat, and Rosie wanted to find them before loading up the laundry bag in the dinghy, but I know that if I set out to find a laundromat, then I'm going to sure as heck find one. We loaded up a very full bag of laundry, plus we brought along Holly, and set out to the first and possibly easiest location.

MapQuest advertised a Duds and Suds 1/10 of a mile from The Port Hotel and Marina, just a short distance from our anchorage, so we headed there first. My method of inquiry was to find someone walking around some docks or the bank, and we found a girl walking her dog near the hotel. No, she didn't know where a laundromat was because she wasn't from around there. This is quite understandable. There was both a restaurant and a boat rental place on sight, so we parked the dinghy and I walked up to the boat rental place and two fellas came out of the office, one was a very young guy and the other one was about my age. The older one said his wife used to work at the Duds and Suds and he did know where it was at, but it was "about a mile away." I got directions and went to gather up Rosie and Holly, and we set off, me carrying the laundry and Rosie carrying the detergent and Holly.

I carried the bag first on one shoulder, then the other shoulder, then in both arms like a baby, then I was about to just drag it behind me, and we had only gone a block or two. The road where we were supposed to make our turn at the halfway point was so far away I could barely make out the cars traveling along it. Rosie was about in the same predicament, at first she had Holly marching alongside her, and then one time I looked back and Holly was cuddled in Rosie's arms, scrunched up beside the bottle of All detergent.

About that time, a young woman had pulled over in her pickup truck towing a trailer with lawn mowers on it. At first, I thought she was taking pity on us and was going to give us a ride when I then could see she was just arriving at her lawn mowing job. I asked her anyway about the Duds and Suds, and she asks me right back, "Isn't that on Kings Bay Drive?" I said with the best smile I could muster at the time, "It could be on the friggin' moon for all I know, that's why I'm asking you where it is."

Her final explanation as to where it was convinced me that we were never going to walk the whole distance, so we turned around and walked back to the boat rental place. The two fellas I had first spoke to came out again as we walked up. The guy about my age says, "It was too far of a walk, wasn't it?" I think he already knew the answer. He got on his phone to ask his wife if another laundromat that was easier to get to in the dinghy was still open, when the younger fella says, "I think I have a better solution, I'll be right back."

The one guy was still on the phone with his wife, I heard him say, "They don't have a car. They're here by boat" when the younger guy says we could use the coin-operated washer and dryer right there on the premises. Normally, I would have said something like, "Are you kidding me?" It's not like there was a long line of people wanting to use the laundry facilities in a near empty hotel, or we weren't going to be paying....

I gathered my senses and asked if the restaurant had seating outside where we could have lunch while the laundry was going, and we were told that they did and taking Holly along would be no problem. While Rosie was doing the first load of washing, I went over to inquire about lunch. There was to be absolutely no pets on the patio for lunch, according to the server I asked. This is totally understandable to me, but someone needed to tell the several squirrels running rampant over the empty table tops, looking for salt for their nuts, apparently. Remember that the next time you are dining outside and you grab that french fry to pop in your mouth that just fell off the edge of your plate.

Undaunted, I asked for a "to go" menu and, after taking it over for Rosie to make a selection, I went back and ordered a couple of sandwiches to go to the tune of $21. They were very good sandwiches.

We sat on a nice bench and watched boaters come and go and figured it was better than sitting in a hot and sweaty laundromat. At one point, two couples motored in and looked ready to go home. One fella got out of the boat and went to get his truck and backed the trailer in while the other guy drove the boat over and ran it up onto the trailer. The outfit was just a small aluminum boat and outboard, but the big cheese owner didn't see it necessary to use the winch or cable to tie the boat to the trailer and proceeded to get in the truck and start pulling out the rig. I said, "He didn't tie the boat on" just as the boat started sliding off the trailer and the two women started screaming at the driver. He pulls back down the ramp, preventing the boat from eating concrete and then gets out and acts like the other guy did something wrong, when it was obvious the other guy was a guest and didn't know squat. BIg Cheese says he "never ties the boat down," and proceeded to do just that, and then they all drove away. It reminded me of when we used to go down to the local boat ramp on the Meramec River and just watch folks at the public ramp. Talk about a hoot!

Just about the time all of the laundry was done, I talked to the two guys at the boat rental place some more and they both said we were "living the dream." The younger one said he hopes he can do the same some day, and the older one wishes he had done it earlier.

 

With our laundry done at least for a month or so, we headed back to the boat and chilled out some. We took the dinghy back out later in the afternoon because I wanted to find the grocery store in order to stock up before we leave Crystal River. I made the mistake of going at low tide, and while we were admiring the crystal clear water in the canal we were traversing, I hit a rock. A big rock. I shut the motor down and got out in the very shallow water to survey the damage. There were some scrapes on one ear of the prop, and some paint wore off, but I decided then and there that we needed a spare prop for the Mercury just in case the damage was worse the next time.

The next day, I called one of the local marinas and was told they could order a prop and have it in a couple of days. I made a couple of calls to find out the going price on a 9- by 8-inch three-bladed prop for our Mercury before I called the marina back and ordered it. I know we don't need it, but I'd rather have it and not need it. You know the drill.

Most of the day yesterday was blustery and threatening rain, so we did some cleaning on the boat, and I cleaned out our sea strainers and fixed one of the small 12-volt fans in our stateroom that had been rattling. The sun came out in the afternoon, so we took the dingy over to the Three Sisters Spring for just the ride and a look see. We had been there on Sunday, but we didn't get out of the boat.

This is the entrance to the springs. All motorboats are prohibited, and the poles blocking the entrance ensure that only kayaks and canoes will be in the lagoon where the springs are. I left Rosie and Holly in the dinghy to swim in and see if it was worth coming back with our snorkel gear, and I found that it was. You can see how clear the water is in this picture, and it's not saltwater, but freshwater, and one gets the impression you could just gulp a big mouthful of the stuff.

Today, we waited until we were almost at high tide and set out on the dinghy again in search of a landing where we could leave the dinghy and be close to the Save-a-Lot grocery store. We left Holly to guard Swing Set and took along our snorkeling gear. There was lots of water heading down the canal we were in, and then we saw our first manatee of this trip. They are pretty innocuous looking creatures, and I can see why people get upset about the harm that comes to them, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to see another one.

We found a good place to tie up the dinghy for the trip to the store, which we will probably do tomorrow. It's going to be a very short walk for us. With that behind us, we motored back over to the Three Sisters Spring for some snorkeling.

I'm not sure if Rosie has snorkeled in the last 30 years, but she has brand-new equipment, and after some remedial instruction, she did fine, and we thoroughly explored the Three Sisters Springs. They aren't as deep as we found them to be advertised, and we only saw some very small fish and no manatees, but the water was a cool 72 degrees and crystal clear. It turned out to be a fun experience for us.

Once we got done with our swim, we went back to the boat and collected Holly and did some more exploring in the dinghy. I don't know how anyone can travel in a larger-type boat and not have a dinghy or kayak to explore the shallower waters. We really enjoy the dinghy and are glad we have it. Sometimes, just the ride is fun because we go faster in the dinghy than we do the big boat.

We are really enjoying our anchorage here in Crystal River but are getting anxious to head on down the coast. The next 70 to 80 miles will be open water until we hit the Intracoastal Waterway again just south of Tarpon Springs. The gulf is supposed to be flat come the weekend, according to my sources, those being the websites I am learning to use. Many people rely on the advice of others before venturing out, but I've decided to make these decisions myself, using multiple tools that are available to us. No one has our best interest in mind better than ourselves.

Thanks for all the kind comments coming our way, as always. We'll try to live up to the dream.

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