The Marshes – Part 1 of 2

This past week, we enjoyed spending some time with the Marshes. Leon and Rhonda, and their son, Andrew, paid us the honor of spending several days of their vacation with us. Leon is a long-time friend with whom I attended church as a teenager in Atlanta, Georgia. We spent the memorable summer of 1977 (or 78?) midnight bowling and early morning milk truck deliveries. My, that ice-cold chocolate milk from the bottle at five o’cock in the morning tasted wonderful. I’ll have to tell you the story of my falling out of the milk truck while it was moving another time. 🙂

Leon and I have kept in touch throughout the years despite many, many miles between us. We were reunited briefly in the early nineties when he and his family moved to Pennsylvania to assist us in the church I pastored in Berwick, Pennsylvania. He has a saintly wife, Rhonda, and a delightfully pleasant and helpful son, Andrew. He also has good tastes in sports teams… We share a passion for the Braves and Bulldogs.

Rhonda, Andrew, and Leon

Rhonda, Andrew, and Leon

We spent the first two of the five days they spent with us out on the water on Beatitude. The third day we played golf and went to Siesta Key. The fourth we went on an inshore fishing charter and caught redfish and trout. The fifth was spent at Busch Gardens.

On day one, we prepared Beatitude and set out around 10 a.m. I knew we would not do much actual sailing since the wind forecast was for less than 7 knots for both days. Nevertheless, we motored out into the bay and dutifully raised our sails. We cut off the engines. Our speed slowly dropped… and dropped… to less than 1 knot. Reluctantly, we fired up the diesels and motor-sailed out into the gulf.

Our neighbors out for the first time on their boat

Our neighbors out for the first time on their boat

Andrew enjoying the ride from the atop the bimini

Andrew enjoying the ride from the atop the bimini

Approximately 4 miles out, we lowered the sails, killed the engines, and ate lunch in rather calm conditions. After lunch, Andrew and I leaped off the top of the bimini into the 35 feet deep green gulf waters for a refreshing swim and snorkel. There were hundreds, if not thousands of small fish beneath our boat. I’m guessing they were in the 5 or 6 inch range. The gulf water is generally not all that clear, so visibility was limited. Cindy, Leon, and Rhonda all watched (Scaredy-cats, scaredy-cats!) as we played in the water.

Swimming in the Gulf

Swimming in the Gulf

We then decided to take them to Egmont Key. We motored around to the bay side of the island and anchored in 8 feet of water. We lowered the dinghy and took her to shore, visiting first the lighthouse, then the Civil War and Spanish-American War graveyard, before making our way across the island to spend some time relaxing on the gulf beach. This time, everyone ventured out for a swim. We swam, snorkeled, and collected seashells for some time before making our way back to Beatitude.

Beauty in Blue

Beauty in Blue

Bird refuge on Egmont Key

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Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise

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From there, we motored the one hour or so from Egmont Key to our reliable De Soto Pointe anchorage. We dropped the anchor in 7-8 feet of water and relaxed for the evening. What a surprise to hear our good friend, Captain Roy Rogers, hail us on the VHF to let us know that he was anchored near us. Captain Roy gave Cindy and I our sailing lessons. Of further coincidence, he was captaining a weekend anniversary charter for a fellow physician from Lakeland! How cool!

Leon with a line over the stern (He would later be attacked on the great toe by a catfish!)

Leon with a line over the stern (He would later be attacked on the great toe by a catfish!)

Catfish on the line

Another beautiful sunset over De Soto Point

Another beautiful sunset over De Soto Point

One thought on “The Marshes – Part 1 of 2

  1. Nice!! Looks like you guys had a great time! I know they will remember this vacation for a LONG LONG time! Glad they got to share time and adventure with you all. Nothing like life long friends 🙂

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