When our family embarked on this year long adventure, we began the journey in Tampa, Florida.
We shoved off from the Harbourage Marina dock on Saturday, January 25, 2014. We headed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, watching dolphins swimming at the bow of a freighter ship and anchored in Sarasota Bay that evening, for our first night on the hook.
Little did we know, that just around the corner was the home of our future friends, Phil and Candy Shields from the M/V Elizabeth Pearl. We probably could have seen their house from our anchorage and we certainly could have dinghied over!
Well, we met this lovely couple in Georgetown, Exumas at Sand Dollar Beach. Our friends from Oh My, the other DeFever 44, had just left and then the DeFever Elizabeth Pearl arrived. We spent a rainy, windy week hanging out on their boat, playing battleship and watching movies. Phil went fishing right off the back of Viatori with the boys. He was so patient and encouraging of them, a true teaching fisherman. Candy loved the boys and played and interacted with them and they enjoyed being on the Pearl. We had a delicious fish fry on their boat with S/V Spunky and another fabulous meal together on their last night at Sand Dollar beach. It was difficult to say good bye to such special friends, but we finally reconnected with them!
As part of our whirlwind tour of Florida, after we hooked up with Celebration in Everglades City, we drove to the Sarasota area and reunited with Phil and Candy again.
They have a beautiful property on Long Boat Key, which is partly on the beach with views of the Gulf of Mexico on one side and then across the road along a canal where they can have the Pearl parked. We actually got to stay on the Pearl as they use it as the guest quarters!
We went out and checked Phil’s stone crab pots and had stone crab claws for an appetizer that night. We did golf cart rides, went out on the little power boat to fish, the boys played with the dogs, we had a fire and made smores, we smoked mullet with Phil and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! We should have stayed longer because there was so much to do and not enough time to do it all! It was absolutely relaxing and peaceful to be there!
Thank you for another wonderful visit, Phil and Candy. We have truly come full circle; returning to the same spot where we began our adventure, almost one year ago! We even had dolphins swimming in our wake of the little power boat after fishing on our last afternoon there. How cool is that!