Does it ever feel like time is just floating by us ever more swiftly??
It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a month since we moved aboard Y-Not.
We usually take a couple months a year in one spot to rest up, recharge and attend to life. Constantly planning, moving and acclimating to a new location does get exhausting at times.
Periods of still time resets a nomad’s thirst for adventure.
It had been close to 16 months since we had anything more than a 2-week stay in a single location. We have been long overdue.
We were beyond anxious to get onboard Y-Not once closing was set and just be STILL for a bit in our new condo on water.
Well, as still as you can be in a house that is constantly gently bobbing back and forth (which is oh so relaxing!)
Our seller’s broker was able to find us marina space nearby Punta Gorda to tie up at while the busy season was still in full swing.
Here’s a quick 12-minute video re-cap of our month if you prefer (filmed during our first overnight at anchor) – or the text version is below. Oh, what the heck, enjoy them both if you like (it’s a two-for-one special!)
Our First Marina – Burnt Store Marina, Florida
When this location was suggested, the words ‘Burnt Store’ conjured up images of a dilapidated old country store on the water with a rickety dock to tie up to.
Turns out, Burnt Store Marina is a gi-huge-ant fancy sprawling gated residential community with several gated communities within. Everything from condos to million dollar homes.
And at the heart of it, a 525 slip marina reported to be one of the largest on the west coast of Florida. With our Great Loop Association discount, we’re paying just over $700/month to stay here. That’s substantially cheaper than most RV parks in the area, and less than we’d been paying to park hop around the state this winter. And we have a luscious waterfront view??
And while there’s no run down store, the docks are in disrepair (but actively being replaced.)
The Burnt Store name comes from some old legends in the area of a trading store that was burnt to the ground back in the 1800s. The area sits along Charlotte Harbor almost exactly in-between Punta Gorda and Cape Coral.
And there is not much out here – just an onsite grill with nightly entertainment, a deli, a yacht broker, a weekly farmer’s market and a Dollar General outside the main gates.
To stock up on groceries or do much of anything, it’s a 10-mile drive in either direction to the nearest sign of civilization. Thank goodness we still have the Mini Cooper, this would not be the ideal spot to also go car-free.
We of course picked a slip with the best sunset view – which also happened to be the furthest from the parking lot.
Awesome daily sunsets off our bow… or easy access & in earshot of cover bands nightly?
It’s a no brainer choice for us, even if it meant lots of long dock cart rolls to move aboard.
It’s been good to be still. We’ve been able to attend to daily life stuff while we start to get to know Y-Not.
One reason we selected the Great Loop is because it sticks to areas RVers go too – which means we’d have good odds of keeping in touch with our RVing community as waterways and roadways cross.
We’ve been blessed to have many of our friends stop in for a visit this past month (thanks Ordinary Elephants, Jeneric Ramblings and of course our dear buddies Nina & Paul) and we’ve been doing our best to keep up with many social invitations to meet readers & viewers in the area while balancing our work life.
We even hosted our parents onboard overnight for a few days for our marriage license signing & boat warming (we actually moved back aboard Zephyr – trusting our parents to not take Y-Not out for a midnight spin).
And there’s been projects after projects after projects.
Moving into any new home usually involves non-stop projects after all, and a boat amplifies that. We’ve been cleaning sea strainers & sumps, replacing water pumps, and doing general maintenance aboard. We’ve been learning just what all the parts are the seller left behind, ordering in stuff, nesting and making lists of modifications for the future.
We’re doing our best to take it in bite sizes and not get overwhelmed with it all. Thankfully there’s not much left remaining from our survey that requires immediate attention.
Mostly, boat life has been a gentle transition for us, and one we’re loving. (We’re sure there will be plenty of challenging days ahead too that test us!)
Burnt Store Marina has been a great base camp (err.. can we still use the word ‘camp’?) for us.
But an amenity we didn’t think to inquire about was pump-out service, which our slip doesn’t offer. This turned out to be a blessing.. and a curse.
For a little RV translation here – boats also have holding tanks for fresh and black water (ie. toilet contents). But, ones of our style anyway, don’t have grey water holding (shower & sink water). The boat systems just pump the grey water overboard – which really keeps one aware of just what you’re putting down the drain.
But for black water, boat tanks get pumped out instead of dumped. Our Great Loop route won’t be taking us many places where we can legally dump all our waste overboard. Marinas are similar to RV Parks, some offer ‘full hook-ups’ with pump-out equipment that can reach your slip and some have pump out stations you have to motor over to.
Our black tank holds 48 gallons – but we didn’t know how long our first tank would last as vacuum flush toilets are a totally new thing to us (2-weeks, by the way). We knew we’d need to learn to drive this thing, approach a fuel dock and get back into our slip pretty quickly.
A cool thing about boating life is there are people who specialize in helping boat-newbies out called Training Captains. And there’s usually several around where there are marinas.
Captain Jon was recommended by our seller’s broker, and spent a day with us long before we overfilled our tanks.
Not only did he help us establish a pre-departure checklist, get us both comfortably moving in and out of our slip, approaching the fuel dock, line handling, pumping out and fueling up – we also went out into the harbor and practiced anchoring and steering by twin engines.
At the end of the day, our skill level was way beyond where we thought we’d be in such short order. Best $200 we’ve spent in a long time.
Are we skilled captains now? Heck no – we have much left to learn. But we have freedom to pump out our tanks.. woohoo!!
Our First Overnight Anchorage (aka “Boondocking”)
Since our insurance didn’t place any restrictions on us needing a captain’s sign off, there’s nothing technically holding us back from continuing to venture out on our own but our comfort level.
Combined with our 4 classroom days with Captain Chris Yacht Services before buying our boat, extensive time with the previous owner going over systems and our onboard training day – we’ve felt comfortable enough to practice more on our own.
We’ve successfully made it to the pump out station and back to our slip multiple times and we’ve navigated to nearby charted anchorages for lunches on the hook (“on the hook” = dropping the anchor).
We take frequent opportunities to practice maneuvering in varying wind & tidal conditions and moving in and out of vacant slips in the marina to challenge ourselves with different approaches.
Last weekend, we felt ready to try navigating to our first overnight anchorage and longest solo trip yet..
… and ended up spending three glorious nights 14 nautical miles away at the popular Pelican Bay anchorage off Cayo Costa State Park. The approach has a narrow deep water entry close to a shoreline that required careful planning and navigation, and we learned a bunch about living on our boat away from shore power.
Yup, this is the RV equivalent to boondocking, and we loved every moment of it.
Practice, practice, practice!
The Plan Ahead
We honestly didn’t imagine we’d be this comfortable so soon and the suburban isolation at Burnt Store Marina is starting to drain us.
So within the next week we’ll keep a close eye on the weather, and likely be throwing off the lines and officially starting our Great Loop by moving on to our next marina … a whole 12 land miles away.
Fort Myers by water is actually 44 nautical miles, and we’ll take it slowly over several days enjoying some more time at anchor. Unlike boondocking spots in Florida, free anchorages are numerous.
We have a monthly slip awaiting us when we arrive to the BIG city within walking distance to STUFF. Actual, STUFF!!
We do still intend to share more details about our boat buying process, decision making and some thoughts on the differences & similarities between RVs and boats. In time.. in time.
For now, we leave you with another sunset. We hope you don’t get tired of them.