Gotta Smile!

Gotta Smile!

Monday, July 18, 2016

A New View

May 3 - July 17, 2016

Another fun month was spent in Stuart.  By the time we left on June 1st, there was only one other Krogen at Sunset Bay Marina, Ann Louise.  Everyone else had taken off for exciting adventures along the northeast coast or the Bahamas.  It was quite a contrast to when we arrived the beginning of April, with more than 22 Krogens scattered throughout the marina.  

It took 5 years but we finally got the
boat polished by the best, Dana.
A boat on our dock caught on fire. Three
fire departments showed up along with the
police.  These firemen were amazing!  In
90+ degree weather they ran up and down
the dock in full uniforms carrying equipment.
No injuries -- boat destroyed. 
A terrible outbreak of toxic algae occurred on the St Lucie River and spread along the coast.  It traveled north into Georgia and even out into the Atlantic for the first time.  Stuart was hit hard.  People were warned not to touch the water and, of course, wildlife was impacted with hundreds of fish, manatees and birds killed.  The outbreak was caused by sewage, manure and fertilizer from big polluters.  We were very thankful that we got out of Stuart before the algae came into full bloom. It was just luck that we had decided to leave Sunset Bay and head to the Gulf the end of May.  A small but critical affect for boaters is that we have to have our hulls scraped regularly to remove the barnacles and algae.  If allowed to grow for more than a couple of months, it produces a noticeable drag on the boat.  Once every month or two (depending on conditions) a diver is hired to go under the boat and scrape it clean.  During this algae outbreak divers were unable to get into the water, which could cause boats to remain in place longer than planned.  

Our trip across the Okeechobee was one of the most relaxing we have made.  For once we had no one else onboard and no schedule.  It was five days of just enjoying the ride and the views.  And, there was plenty to see!  
One of the five locks we went through.

Cows cooling off.

We have made nine trips through the Okeechobee
always looking for alligators.  We saw some on our
first trip but none on others until this trip.  They were
EVERYWHERE! We stopped counting when we got to
50. It is hard to see the gator in this picture.  He is the
ripple near the grasses.  Did you know they can stay
submerged for two hours! Just because you don't
see them - don't think they aren't there!!!

Beautiful scenery!

Friends from Casey Key, Bob and Sara,
met us at Blackburn Point Bridge.  Only
a wave and photo op today.  Lunch will
have to wait until next week.

Our plan was to go back to Longboat Key Marina. However, a lunch with former Krogen owners, Sue and Will, introduced Gotta Smile to a new home. Riviera Dunes Marina is about six miles up the Manatee River in Palmetto.  It is a well protected quiet marina that gives very good hurricane protection.

On May 11, 2011 we moved onto Gotta Smile while we finished emptying and selling our house.  We lived onboard at the Bayport Marina in Minnesota for the next four and a half months.  Finally, on September 27, 2011 we began our travels.  For the next five years we have lived onboard full time while we traveled to many amazing places, making great friends and, at times, pushing our abilities to their limits.  This has been the most incredible five years! We have been blessed to share our travels with family and friends in many different locations. Thank, God, we did it when we did!  Now, it is time for us to move back on land and enjoy new adventures.  On July 1st we closed on our new home in Venice, Florida.  This is an exciting (and definitely exhausting) time for Brian and me. We hope that this next phase will be as stimulating and successful as our years on Gotta Smile.             
Yep, we're in Florida!
No molesting alligators--good advise!

It's not BIG water, but it's a nice view from the pool
to the pond.

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Consolidating Our 'Stuff'

April 20 - May 2, 2016
Getting the feel of a big rig.
On April 20th we flew to Minnesota to collect the  'goodies' we had put in storage five years ago.  Moving out of a 4600 square foot house and into a  loosely packed 10 X 15 foot storage unit  felt like we were down to bare bones.  Brian rented a 26 foot truck to transport everything to Florida. The first day we were laughing at how crazy we were to get such a big truck.  

Of course, time was available for fun
with Addison and Niko.

Waiting in line to score some bargains.

Saturday and Sunday gave us a chance to go to Room and Board's Outlet store.  The outlet is only open on week-ends.  Saturday morning we were in line 45 minutes before they opened.  We were eighth in line.  20 minutes after we arrived there were several hundred people behind us.  When the doors open, everyone streams in to find their area of interest.  Once you find something that you want to purchase, you sit on it until an employee can be flagged to write it up.  We got a love seat and a media cabinet.  Sunday we drove the truck over to pick up the new purchases and to see if there was anything new on the floor.  Well, there was.  I found another media cabinet that I liked much more.  Since all sales are final, I was nervous about asking if I could make a switch.  They were very kind: we hadn't removed the item from the store so they let us make a switch.  All was loaded and the truck still seemed large.  

Monday morning we began our 1825 mile drive to Sarasota.  Brian drove the truck and I had the 'miserable' job of driving the Panamera.  The front tires on the truck were so bad that Brian's first stop was the Penske garage where they replaced both of them.  I took off hoping he would catch up with me before dinner.  He was pretty sure I'd make a wrong turn and wind up in Pittsburg!  Finding me at the St Louis hotel with dinner arranged was a bit of a surprise.

When we sold our house, Jennifer was moving into a larger home in St Louis.  We LOANED her some furniture with the stipulation that we would take it back when we moved on land.  In the meantime, she moved to San Diego so we put that furniture in a storage unit in St Louis.  It was a surprise to open the door and see how much was there.  All of a sudden that truck did not look so big.  We were truly afraid that it wouldn't fit.  It did, but there was no room to spare.

Since the truck only got 9 mpg, there
were lots of stops.  I think the bumpy
ride necessitated pit stops for Brian's
bladder also.

On Wednesday we began a two day trip south.  It was uneventful other than arriving in major cities just in time for rush hour traffic both days.    

Now it was time to unload.  The temperatures for all three days was in the mid 90's.  Before we even started we knew that we'd need a second storage unit.  Furniture, art, rugs and wine went in the climate controlled unit.  Everything else went in the outdoor unit.  The second day I noticed my Fitbit recorded almost 8000 steps carrying boxes from the front of the truck to the back!  I had hired two guys through Penske to help us the last day with a dozen items that were heavy and awkward.  Unfortunately, they did not show up.  I can't explain how hot, tired, disappointed and frustrated we were at that point.  Just as we were getting ready to move the slab of granite down the ramp; Bill and Scott (who had been unloading their truck) walked over and asked if we needed some help.  I almost cried as they insisted on not only moving the granite, but everything else that was still on the truck.  God sent them to us.  We were exhausted and these two guys spent an hour of their Sunday afternoon selflessly helping us.  They wouldn't accept money -- they were just good guys!  We immediately returned the truck and promised ourselves we would hire movers when it's time to move the furniture into the house.

Our guardian angels, Bill and Scott.

Monday we drove across the state, picked the BMW up at the airport and crawled onto the boat.  Now everything we own (except for one car) is in Florida.  Of course, once the boat sells we still have to unload it.  And, I'm sure there is so much more on board than we can even imagine!        

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!        

Monday, April 18, 2016

Friendly Places & Happy Times -- Stuart & San Diego

March 5 - April 18, 2016

Stuart, Florida was named the friendliest coastal city in the USA by Coastal Living magazine for 2016.  Oddly enough, our new home, Venice, Florida was the second friendliest in 2015.  We would have to agree with whoever is making those decisions.  We're thinking that once the SMILLIES permanently move to Venice it may jump up to first place in 2017!  

Arriving at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart always guarantees a friendly welcome.  When we arrived, there were 11 Krogens on our dock and at least that many scattered on other docks throughout the marina.  We have met most of the owners and are good friends with quite a few.  Besides lots of chit chat on the docks, there are occasional dinners and every Tuesday morning most of us walk into town for breakfast.  I don't know about other boat brands, but Krogen owners are always available to help each other and welcome new arrivals when they dock at a marina.  If two pass in travel there will be friendly conversations over VHF radios about destinations and plans.  Even if you have never met, you will receive a warm Krogonite greeting.  This is a feature we discuss with potential buyers that look at Gotta Smile.  When someone buys a Krogen, they get a lot more than a great boat.  They get a support system, a circle of friendly owners and lots of fun events. 
Gotta Smile decked out with flags from all of the
islands we visited.

Once in Stuart, we immediately began to prepare the boat for Krogen's Open House.  Invitations had been sent to 100's of people that had shown interest in the brand.  The show was a big success with an excellent turn out.  We had about 30 people look at Gotta Smile.  There were lots of favorable comments, but no written offers....  

While we wait for a buyer to fall in love with Gotta Smile, we are keeping busy.  

The boat continues to look better and better.  We had some fiberglass repairs completed and the entire boat was professionally polished.  Soon it will look like it just came out of the mold!
Dinner on Sanibel at Doc Ford's.
Randy Wayne White is the author of Doc Ford books
that we all read.  

John and Gail had rented a house in Sanibel for the month of March.  Once the Krogen Open was over we packed a bag and drove across the state for an overnight.  

Once all 10 of us were together the first
stop was the beach.

Later that week we were on a plane to San Diego.  All of our family got together for Spring Break at Jennifer and Ian's new house.  A week of nonstop activities left us happy but exhausted.  Our grandkids are 10, 8, 8 and 7.  They love time together and we hope to keep that relationship strong.  A bond that may last long after we are gone.    
Easter morning -- the kids cracked Cascarones on
each other's heads.  Cascarones are real egg shells that
are filled with confetti.  I predict that there will be
confetti in the front yard until August!

JAC's 7th birthday was on Easter Sunday this year.

Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute.

The sea horse display is a favorite
and this dragon sea horse was

Docile looking sea lions, but don't get too close!

The San Diego area has one of the
largest number of breweries in the
country.  Steve came with a list of ones
he wanted to sample.  Every day we had
a delicious lunch at a different brewery. 

Everyone was happy with good food
and unique brews. 

Lego Land is only 15 minutes from
Jennifer's house.  The amazing statues
are, of course, all made of legos. Besides
walking for miles we rode on most of the
rides.  We are all daredevils -- I'll do it if

you do it!    

Hiking the steep and rough terrain of Torrey Pines State Park.
The kids ran up and down the trails like billy goats.  Let's just 
say -- I completed the hike.  It wasn't pretty, but I finished with
no calls for assistance.  

Enjoying time with my boy!

When we decided to go to San Diego's Safari Park, I thought we were going to ride around the park on
a tram.  Oh, NO, it was all walking!  Great day, but we could hardly make it back to the cars.
Circling to land in West Palm.  A long day when you
consider the distance from San Diego to West Palm

with a two hour layover in Philadelphia and crossing
through four time zones!

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

We have watched Barrett Jackson car auctions on TV for years.
In fact, when Brian was going through radiation we watched it 
nonstop for three days and evenings.  Going to Costco on
Saturday morning we heard an ad for the auction being held in 
West Palm.    No debate -- we knew we had to attend!
However, NO bidding paddle for Mr Smillie!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

It's Never Dull On Gotta Smile

January 10 - March 4, 2016

When I read my last post, I couldn't believe how much had happened in the last nine weeks.  It seems nothing ever goes according to plan!  Wait -- isn't that one of the first rules of boating? 

First of all -- Gotta Smile is not sold.  We have two interested parties and it is on the market.  Krogen is having a show in Stuart March 18 and 19.  We decided that if we REALLY want to get it sold we need to be in Stuart for the Spring market.  That meant we had to cancel our trip to Eleuthera.  The decision to cancel was very difficult  especially since friends and family had already purchased tickets to join us. I was also sad.  Sad to disappoint guests and sad because I really wanted to spend a couple of months there. It looks like one of those perfect underdeveloped islands with pristine beaches and water. Who said retirement is uncomplicated?  

The last three weeks in January were devoted to making decisions about the house.  Meetings with the pool designer and design center.  Researching appliances, paint colors, tile, carpet.....  Will and Sue, former Krogen owners, just completed building their home and were very helpful sharing what they learned during their process.  It was great to see them and know that we will be able to get together once we are settled.  

February was out of fact, chaotic!  We had guests staying onboard 25 of the 29 nights of the month plus January 30th and March 1st!!!  Then there were five boat showings scattered throughout the month.  It went much smoother than I could have imagined and we enjoyed all of it.  Good friends and family are always welcome.    

Sid and Marion flew in from London on January 30th.  We have visited them and they us several times.  Brian first met Sid in Dusseldorf when they were both covering the aerospace market for the adhesives division of 3M -- just a few years ago (37).    

The Ringling Home in Sarasota.

A quick lunch between the museum and home tour.

Two rookie clowns trying to blend in with the pros.

Sitting on the curb in St Armand's Circle after exploring the art show.
Looking for the perfect shell on Boca Grande Beach.

Dinner at one of our favorite Sarasota
 restaurants, Owen's Fish Camp.

A stop in Ybor City on the way to the 
Tampa Airport found lots of people 
preparing for the Gasparilla Pirate 
Parade:  pirates, wenches and royal 
soldiers.  Marion and I didn't expose 
 enough cleavage to qualify as 

My brother, Mark, and his wife, Sue, were the next guests to arrive.  They are renting a house in The Villages for two months.  Before heading to their rental they visited friends around the state for a couple of weeks.  

Sue lost her glasses the first day they were
with us. She looked like a Vegas dealer
as we played pinochle.
Brian and Mark waiting for lunch.

Joan and Larry were guests for the first trip on our 39 foot Krogen, Finally.  We had been planning on them joining us for months.  Then, when we cancelled the Eleuthera trip, they wound up being our last guests on Gotta Smile's last voyage.  It just seemed perfect to end with these good friends of almost 40 years.  We had three days in Longboat Key before we crossed the Okeechobee for three additional days in Stuart.  
Leaving Longboat Key for the last time----

Larry is ready to secure us as we enter one of
the five locks.  

Instead of using valves and chutes to
lower the water in the lock, the gates are
opened.  Hopefully, the lock master only
opens the gate a small amount so the
water goes down slowly.

The guys comparing information on their phones.

Dinner at Crawdaddy's.   
The four days that we didn't have guests in February gave us a chance to catch up with friends that live in the Sarasota area.  We're looking forward to seeing a lot more of them when we get settled and, of course, having lots of guests come and stay with us.  We will improve our scheduling system!

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

St John, USVI -- This Time By Air

January 2 - 9, 2016

Our good friends, Didi and Peter, rented a house for two weeks on St John a US Virgin Island.  The first week their son and his family were there.  The second week we were invited to join them!!!  You may have read other posts about St John being one of my favorite islands.  Well, it still is!  Didi sent an email the end of January 2015 inviting us and it took about 3 seconds for me to respond "YES, we will be there!"

We flew to St Thomas from Miami, took a taxi to Red Hook and a ferry to St John where we were picked up by our hosts and whisked away to Lime In De Coconut Resort Villa. I loved the name because I torture Brian and my grandkids by singing Lime in de Coconut over and over again.  

The house was huge and beautiful on a hillside
overlooking Chocolate Hole.  My favorite part was
the infinity pool.  We all found a place we loved: 
three in the shade and one in the sun!

A slowly healing toe forced me to keep my
foot out of the pool and ocean.  Of course,
I found a way to enjoy the water!

The bay view.

A private beach.

Our visit overlapped with the family's visit by two
days.  We loved being with Geoff, Jaimee and
 especially Andrew!  

The "kids" spent their second week on
their catamaran.  That's it in the
background as the crew came to shore
for a little beach time.   

Taking a quick stroll on the beach.

Dinner at Caneel Bay Resort.

Wild donkeys roam the island, but they seem to
prefer the landscaping at the plush Caneel Bay

Driving the perimeter of St John is a challenge!
The narrow roads constantly twist and turn
while traversing up and down the steep hills.
60% of the island is a National Park.
 No freeways.  No airports.  No marinas.
Lots of gorgeous views, beautiful beaches and
clear blue water.  

We couldn't drive by one of our favorite restaurants.
A stop at Skinny Legs is mandatory in our minds.
A little shopping and a cool beverage. 

Lets have a picnic on the beach at Hanson Bay!  

Look at that BEAUTIFUL beach!  We anchored off
shore for several weeks. Pristine-----  
Our last night was highlighted by dinner on the deck
followed by a wild game of Farkel!
We are such party animals!
On the ferry back to St Thomas.  Hoping that I'll
be back again.  Some things are just too beautiful
to say good-bye to forever!

Standing on the back of our lot.
News flash ---
We are preparing to sell Gotta Smile and move back on land!  The decision was actually made several months ago, but we are quickly acting on it now.  We arrived back in Florida on the 26th of December from Minnesota.  On the 28th and 29th we looked at houses with an agent and on the 30th we wrote a contract to build a home in the Venice area.  At the same time we began putting out feelers to sell Gotta Smile.
Of course, we are sad to end this segment of our life, but very excited about what is ahead of us!  If Gotta Smile doesn't sell by the beginning of March, we'll have one last adventure as we travel to Eleuthera for three months.  

Gotta smile -- we're lovin the ride!