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We ordered our 36' Catalina, Windy City, brand new. We watched her rigging go up and got to know her intimately. But after 8 years, my husband's arthritic back is giving him too much pain to heel over. A catamaran is our future.

So, the girls decided to have one last hurrah weekend. Friday, at 1 pm., Dina and Lydia came aboard and met for the first time. Both snowbirds from the Midwest, and they hit it off !

They generously paid for food, drink, and slips. Even though the weather forecast was cold and cloudy, who could resist? Winds were SE 18-22 K, so I decided to sail UP the Caloosahatchee River. With only 1/3 of the jib unfurled, we cruised peacefully at 5-5.5K. We exited from Tarpon Point and the engine went off. Fabulous! Much laugher and "boy talk" reminded me of a 7th grade sleepover – only better! About 4 pm., while docking, the sky opened up and heavy rains blew us sideways. My crew didn't know to lasso the piling as we entered! Oooops! Hence, our starboard tie quickly became a port tie, as we slid sideways into the next slip. After getting everything "ship shape," we explored downtown.

Fort Myers is looking good! Everything is clean, freshly painted, and ready for visitors. We loved the ostrich at H2O, the rocking young singer at the sports bar, and hummus at Bachus. Coincidentally, the Art Festival was going on. After a wonderful night's sleep with our heater running, I awoke Saturday morn to an empty boat! The girls were "on the prowl" already. Not being a big shopper, I opted to walk along the waterfront and downtown. I found myself relaxing into my mini-vacation and smiling for no reason.

It was noon on Saturday, and we all had new stories to tell. I instructed the gals about backing out and keeping the lines onboard. We departed like pros! Dina and Lydia commented on what a beautiful day it was and "Why is no one else out?" Total Midwesterns, right? We did the same routine: 1/3 jib in the 20-24 K winds. At the Cape Coral Yacht Club, we had to furl the jib. But, after 101, we unfurled her again and sailed to Fort Myers Beach. Moss Marine assigned me a slip on the south side. What the dockmaster did not tell me was, there was a 45' sailboat sticking out. Maneuvering between their stern and the pilings was tricky! I gunned the engine and we cleared the stern by 2'. Three dock hands were there to greet us, and we steamed in smoothly and tied up. What I did not see was our dock neighbors who came out to watch "the drama" unfold. Several told us, "Good job." Then, a gal yelled to her husband, "There are only women on board!!" So, we impressed some of the guys, but my heartfelt hope is that I inspire some woman to get out with friends and be the skipper of her own boat.

Lydia had never walked across the big bridge to Fort Myers Beach. Why not? We all put on our "foulies" and admired the phenomenal view atop. Shrimp boats to one side and high rise condos to the other. Everyone loved it! Next stop: Bonita Bill's happy hour. Aboard again, my crew prepared spaghetti with meatballs, salad, garlic bread and wine. I added Captain Ron on DVD, and the night was complete!

Sunshine Sunday! Temps were still in the 50's, but the glorious sun filled our spirits for more adventure. We walked to the Pink Shell and toured the unique pool area. Next, we walked the beach to feast on fat omelets at Pete's Time Out. The wind kept building and I was getting anxious. The gauge read 18K. When I backed out, we had 50' before I hit the seawall. The girls were ready. God helped me by calming the wind to just 5K while I backed out! Perfect! We cleared the entrance and watched the wind guage jump to 18. We unfurled 1/2 the jib and sailed out to Sanibel Shoals, then gybed into Lani Kai to check out the action. Just 1 more tack to #4 and we furled her in to motor home. Music, singing and dancing brought us home safely. My husband, Ray, had homemade chili simmering. I'll admit, even with all my clothes on, I was cold. It felt amazing to jump into our 102 degree spa.

As of this writing, Windy City is freshly waxed and ready for her new owners. She has been a safe, steady, reliable friend and I will truly miss her.

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Catalina Yachts • 21200 Victory Boulevard • Woodland Hills, California 91367 • Phone 818 884-7700
Catalina Yachts Florida • 7200 Bryan Dairy Rd • Largo, FL 33777 • Phone 727-544-6681


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