26 February 2014 | Charlotte Bay Harbor
22 February 2014 | Pink Shell Resort & Marina
20 February 2014 | Big Carlos Pass
16 February 2014 | Old Seaport Marina
12 February 2014 | Marco Island
26 January 2014 | Key West
13 January 2014 | Conch Harbor Marina
12 January 2014 | Little Torch Key Anchorage
10 January 2014 | Marathon Key, FL
09 January 2014 | Long Key
06 January 2014 | Pilot House Marina, Largo Lake
29 December 2013 | South of Card Sound, FL
27 December 2013 | The Bight at Biscayne Bay
22 December 2013 | Bahia Mar Yachting Center
17 December 2013 | Manatee Pocket to Lake Boca Raton
16 December 2013 | Harbortown Marina
15 December 2013 | Vero Beach City Marina
14 December 2013 | Melbourne Harbor Marina
Day 119 - Caya Costa
26 February 2014 | Charlotte Bay Harbor
mid 70's and partly sunny
We have about a 37 nautical mile run today so we headed out at 9:35am enroute to Charlotte Bay Harbor, our new homeport! About half an hour into our trip we started to hoist the main (by "we" I mean, of course, 'Bob') and it jammed. I mean really jammed. It took several tries to wrap and unwrap the main (about thirty minutes) and turning in and out of the wind to get the sail free. Ugh!
Winds were on the nose the whole time, despite weather forecasts indicating westerly breezes which would have put us on a beam reach. So we motorsailed the entire trip. It was interesting to enter Charlotte Bay from the Gulf because there is a shoal in the middle of the harbor so you have to stay close to the shore which of course always makes me a little nervous. We entered the inlet and turned right to anchor just off of Cayo Costa island, a national park. We set the hook at 4:10pm and got settled in for the evening. Another sailboat was attempting to anchor just ahead of us but could not get his hook to set. Not sure what the problem was because our set right away. The other boat had two small kids aboard with one of them she couldn't have been more than 7 years old) on the bow helping her daddy with the anchor. Talk about getting an education!
The next day we decided to head over to the island after lunch and go exploring. After arriving by dinghy, we paid our $2.00 per person fee (honor system - you put the money in the box by the dock) and headed to the visitor center for a map of the island. The volunteer suggested we take the middle of three trails (called the "Cemetery" trail) to get to the northernmost point. She said we were in for a pretty view of the water and lots of shells for picking. The map indicated a 1.6 mile hike. That was ok with us. So at about 2:30pm we headed on our way and decided to walk rather than bike.
The trail took us through lots of island palms and brush. We noticed after a while there were no birds around. Kind of strange. After another while we realized the trail kept winding back and forth like a serpentine. Bob commented that the walk was taking longer than we thought and began to suspect that the mileage was measured as the crow flies. It certainly seemed much longer than we expected. On the way to the point Bob spotted a rat snake about 5 feet long sunbathing on the side of the trail. Thankfully I didn't see it before it went into the brush. The point was very beautiful with a flock of white egrets roaming the beach and beautiful shells lining the shores. It was getting late so we decided to take a short cut back....which didn't work out so well. We ran into a blockage that wouldn't allow us to cross over around the point so we had to double back. The trail seemed even longer on the way back and this time I spotted a rat snake and screamed my lungs out. I ran so fast Bob had a hard time catching up to me. And when we slowed our pace we still had quite a ways to walk!
We finally saw the main road and turned left to get back to the visitor's area and finally back to the docks.
On our third day on anchor we took the dinghy to the "lagoon" just off the north point and beached it. We walked along the beach and enjoyed seeing five starfish resting on the sandy bottom as well as a couple of dolphin swimming close to shore. We spent quite a bit of time shelling and found some interesting ones to take back to the boat. After a few hours we headed back in the dinghy and decided to cross the anchorage to the other shoreline. It was a fun day exploring and we finished up with a quiet dinner aboard the boat. Tomorrow we sail to our homeport of Cape Haze and put 4mySanity in her new slip.
Day 116 - Estero Island-Fort Myers Beach
22 February 2014 | Pink Shell Resort & Marina
Low 80's, mild breezes
Only about 6 nautical miles today to get from Estero Bay up to the northern end of the island called Fort Myers Beach. The marina is located on the backside of the Gulf sandwiched between the Resort which is on the Gulf itself and the ICWF. We took our good old time getting here (two hours) because we tried to get some sailtime in. Unfortunately the winds were not cooperating, but hey, that never stopped Capt. Bob before. When we started to actually lose ground Bob agreed to put on the engine and proceed with a slow forward motion.
The weather gods brought us another sunlit, cloudless day and we were grateful. When we tied up in our slip, we decided to check out the pools (there are three - two for the kiddies and one for the big kids) and the beach. This place is part of a Marriott property and caters to the little ones. So anyone reading this who have younsters and teens, you will love this place! Plenty of activities including parasailing, waverunners, volleyball, and nature trails. Times Square is located less than one mile from the resort or you can take a trolley into town for fifty cents per person. We decided to grab a bite to eat in town and walked to the Gulfshore Grill located on the waterfront. By the time we got to the restaurant the sun had set and the temperature was still a balmy 80 degrees. We decided to eat inside to take advantage of the air conditioning. Bob enjoyed Cajun grouper and I ordered the seafood au gratin that was overloaded with scallops and shrimp. I took home half of the entree but Bob finished his with no problem.
This was a Saturday night and the town was hopping. After spending time in Naples and the cultured high end world of these Florida residents, we had to shift gears as we walked through Ft. Myers Beach Times Square. It reminded us alot of the crazy Wildwood boardwalk on a summer weekend. Lots of neon lights, loud, lots of people drifting about, and plenty of places to stop for a quick bite to eat. The parents were out with their kids and toddlers late into the evening. We walked back to the marina and the sounds of Times Square grew more faint as we approached the docks. Even our neighbors were tucked away inside their boats.
The next morning we decided to check out the northern point of the island where there are a few nature trails. As we walked one of the trails, we spotted a land turtle - looked like a box turtle to us - and decided to follow it for awhile. 'Tess' the turtle made it to the Gulf with no problem and just as the water ebbed, Tess dipped her body onto the wet sand for about two seconds then lifted herself back on all legs and began her trek down the beach. She was quite a site and made for many a photo op before heading back up the beach to the point.
After all that excitement, Bob and I grabbed a couple of beach chairs and hung out. The water temp was in the 70's so it was like dipping your toes into bathwater..... just wonderful.
After such a tough day in the sun we headed to Smokin' Oyster Brewery in town. What a difference one night makes. Unlike last night, tonight was much more low key with fewer people and a lot less noise.
We had a great meal enjoying raw oysters and seafood entrees. Afterwards we headed across the street to Cupcakes in Paradise for dessert. Yummy. Good thing we had a mile walk back to the boat.
Day 3 followed day 1 and 2 with more sun, calm breezes, poolside drinks, and dinner in town. This time we caught a light bite at Yucatan Beach Stand Bar and it was delicious. We decided to stroll up the pier nearby the restaurant before heading back to the marina. On the way back we couldn't help but check out the chocolate covered pretzels at Kilwin's.
The next morning we checked out and got underway by 9:35am on our way to Charlotte Bay Harbor. We plan to spend four days on the anchor before heading into our new homeport in Englewood called Cape Haze. Hard to believe our wonderful journey is coming to a close. But it's not over yet!
Day 114 - Estero Bay, FL
20 February 2014 | Big Carlos Pass
80's and sunny
We have another short hop today of about 23 nautical miles to get to an anchorage in Estero Bay through Big Carlos Pass. Not much wind today which meant putting the motor on for most of the trip. We got underway at 9:15am with a little help from a neighbor who offered to toss us the lines as we left the slip.
As we travelled up the Gulf we kept a sharp lookout for sealife but alas we had not luck this trip. No dolphin or seaturtle sitings on this leg. Plenty of pelicans though! At one point we noticed a ParaSail heading toward us. A couple were out flying around while a powerboat pulled them further and further along the coast. Bob has been begging me to go up and parasail with him. I haven't gotten the nerve up but am considering it. Maybe something in our future to look forward to! As we neared the area known as Big Carlos Pass we got into a bit of trouble. Our charts and GPS and notes from Active Captain all advised staying close to shore on the approach. But the depth sounder was telling us something very different. We bumped once and slowed the boat to a couple of knots. We went out further then tried the approach again and bumped a second time. We headed back out to deeper waters and saw a TowBoat U.S. captain heading in our direction. He warned us away from the shore and explained that the shoaling has changed the markings for this area and gave us the heading we needed to follow. He also advised that the moon would cause a 2.5 foot shift in the bay which meant we could not head up the side channel as we planned. So instead, we took his advice and after passing through the Big Carlos Bridge, we continued straight toward the back of Estero Bay area and dropped anchor in 8 feet of water. We were open to boat traffic more than we would have liked but enjoyed the deeper water of the bay.
Bob dropped the dinghy into the bay and we got a chance to buzz around the small inlets in the area. There is so much wildlife here especially in the little cove areas.
Dinner aboard was Key West Mango chicken with asparagus and a salad along with a glass or two of wine. Very relaxing evening and more star gazing from the cockpit. After sundown the anchorage became like glass with all the power boats gone for the night. We enjoyed another beautiful sunset...just never get tired of them!
Estero Bay is a pretty area to drop the hook. The next morning we set out in the dinghy again to explore more of the back areas. The weather was turning cool with white caps forming from the high winds that kicked up. We decided to head back to the boat and hunker down. Good thing we did. Even the power boats headed back early. No sunset tonight just cloud cover.
AFter two nights on the hook, we are heading to a slip at the Pink Shell Resort on Estero Island. It will be our last splurge of our voyage and then we anchor out for four nights in Charlotte Bay before arriving at our new home marina, Cape Haze in Englewood.
Day 110 - Naples FL
16 February 2014 | Old Seaport Marina
Mid-80's and sunny
Today we had less than 20 nautical miles to run so we got a late start at 10:55am. We are heading to Naples where we hear the homes are gorgeous and the shopping extraordinary.
The sail to Naples was just the right mix of sun and wind for a leisurely jaunt up the Gulf coast. At about 2:45P we pulled into our next marina which was newly built. The slips are located alongside of the Florida West coast ICW. It was like being on I95 and pulling over into a rest stop. Anyway, we got settled into our slip pretty quickly and decided to take a walk into town to check out the area.
This town is beyond beautiful. The homes start at $400K if that gives you any idea. The primo spot to visit is 5th Avenue. It is several blocks of high end shopping mixed with tons of restaurants of every cuisine imaginable. Lots of sidewalk cafes and eateries to choose from. Bob and I realized we should have changed out of our tee shirts and shorts because we weren't in Key West anymore! Polos and slacks, yes full on pants, were the norm. Needless to say we longed for KW. We ended up at an Irish pub where the only thing that was Irish was the beer and the waitress. All the food was made out of the kitchen next door that belonged to the Italian restaurant. The food was so-so but the waitress was a lot of fun. She was from the county Cork area and spends her winters in Naples. Not a bad gig.
We walked to the beach via some great neighborhoods with lots of mansions and property a landscaper would covet. The architecture varies within the neighborhoods which makes walking the streets more interesting along with the flora which was gorgeous and colorful.
We met a friendly guy named Al who captains a 76 foot boat named "Glory". Al gave us all kinds of great suggestions for the area as he was born and raised in Fort Myers. After talking a bit Al invited Bob to take a tour of Glory while getting her ready for the owner who was due to arrive the next day. Let's just say that the boat had five televisions all of which were in the process of being upgraded! Bob described the galley which sounded like it was larger than my kitchen at home! The owners went to the Miami Boat Show this week and are in the midst of purchasing a 110 foot vessel to replace the 1994 yacht sitting behind us. Life is grand, isn't it?
We enjoyed our stay at the marina even though we felt completely out of our league. All of the yachts were a minimum of 60 feet and then there we were dwarfed by the sheer height of some of these boats. I don't know how someone could climb the steps to reach the top level of the boats set up for deep sea fishing. Talk about high seas!
Naples is a beautiful place to visit, that's for sure. We are missing the casualness of the keys and hope to find it as we travel further north. Sail on!
Day 106 - Marco Island, FL
12 February 2014 | Marco Island
High 70's and clear
4:13 am. We depart Key West en route to Marco Island.
We got off to a great start this morning, leaving quietly through the Key West bight under a full moon. Bill and I handled the lines and fenders and managed to keep our voices as low as possible to not wake the neighbors on either side of us.
As we left the sound Captain Bob was focused on the red flashing bouys. Later I realized he was counting the seconds between flashes on each buoy to be sure he was tracking the correct one. Each buoy has a different flashing sequence to help boaters navigate the waters. The sound was well marked and we made it out without any problems. The crab and lobster pots were plentiful though and we all kept a close watch out for those.
We enjoyed watching the moon over the water and bright, bright stars in the sky. The moon began to slowly drop down as the sun was beginning to peek out on the east (starboard) side of the boat. What a way to sail. The scenery was breathtaking and we sat quietly in the cockpit enjoying the moment. The afternoon brought us some excitement as a pod of dolphin decided to race up from behind and jump along both sides of our boat. They can really move. (As my brother Tim would say, they moved faster than we were sailing!) I managed to catch some of it on my iPhone and posted it to FB. We also snapped some shots of a hitchhiker on board. At one point Bob caught something out of the corner of his eye and when he looked up he saw the tail end of a bird sitting on top of the bimini. The visitor was southern seagull (because it didn't look like to big gulls I'm used to on the Jersey shores of Cape May and Wildwood) who was very comfortable with its' perch. I took several photos and even a short video but this bird wasn't going anywhere. Eventually we lost interest and at some point Sally the Seagull flew off into the wind.
Bob and I talked quite a bit before making this trek up the west coast of Florida. Since we weren't able to get over to the Bahamas due to weather we opted to head to Key West and stay the month. We had the option of leaving Key West and heading back up the East Coast to our slip in Maryland or heading up the west coast of Florida to Charlotte Bay near our home. We love the Chesapeake and the idea of cruising through it's tributaries was inviting. But it meant travelling back in March and early April. It meant dealing with the cold weather for a couple more months. And we realized we still had to travel back to Florida where all of Bob's work files and hardware were set up in the office in the carriage house. In the end, we decided to keep the boat in Florida and enjoy our cruising here. This is all new to us and we are looking forward to exploring the waters and nearby islands, hopefully with visiting family and friends.
Our twelve hour sail went by rather quickly, believe it or not. For quite a while you're not seeing anything on the horizon and you trust in your compass and radar. We were traveling almost 90 miles today from Key West to Marco Island which is the first point of land contact that our sailboat can actually touch due to the shallow waters of the Florida west coastline. So it is Marco Island that we chose to use as our staging area to make our way up the Gulf Coast . As we approached Marco Island we followed the charts through several canals (with each home more beautiful than the next). On the approach to the Esplanade Marina, the markers were completely different from the GPS and the charts. Bob matched the land outline to the charts and found our way to the marina with no problem.
The Esplanade is made up of condominiums, shops, restaurants, a salon, and of course, the marina. Everything you may want is within walking distance, including the Publix which was just across the street. We wondered about the snorkeling in the area and soon learned there was none. Oh well. We decided to eat dinner out our first night since we got into our slip in the late afternoon. Before dinner, our friend Mike checked in on us, concerned about the bad weather they were experiencing on the east coast and thinking about our long voyage. Turns out the bad weather (torrential rain) finally hit us in the early evening, but had the decency to hold off until after we finished dinner and returned to our boat.
We all slept soundly and woke to a beautiful morning on Marco Island. Nancy drove over to pick up Bill and we enjoyed lunch at a nearby restaurant.
Bob and I decided to walk to the beach which was about 1.5 miles away through beautiful neighborhoods. I made it as far as the park and the lagoon only to learn that you have to wade through the lagoon to get to the other side where the beach is located. I passed on it. Bob started his trek across (supposedly where the water only goes up to your calf) and before long he was hiking the camera up to his neck to keep it dry. Reminded me of those war movies where the soldiers wade through the water and hold their guns up over their heads to keep them dry. Glad I stayed put because at 5'3" I would have been soaked and it was a bit of a walk to get back to the marina. At least Bob was wearing his sailing shorts and the fabric dries quickly.
We stayed on Marco Island for three nights and managed to catch a couple of movies on dvd through Red Box while we were here. We also reprovisioned the boat for the next two weeks.
Our next stop will be Naples.
Key West - Week 4
12 February 2014
80's and gorgeous!
This is our last week in Key West. Hard to believe a whole month has gone by and we are leaving this gorgeous island. But we will be back!
For starters, Bob had a serious decision to make. Should he keep growing his hair or get it cut? He made a trip to CVS to buy ponytail bands (because rubber bands pull and hurt like hell!). Now for the big test -- he combed his hair back and I secured the band on his hair. It turned out to be a tiny stump [no jokes from the peanut gallery -- and I mean you Ginny and Jan!] with lots of loose ends hanging from the sides. Growing his hair long was fun all this time but it began bugging him because it kept flopping into his eyes. Hats helped most of the time. Alas, he decided to get it cut so I made an appointment for him to see Courtney at Isle Style (she did my hair a couple of weeks ago.) No point in my just hanging out so I schedule myself for a pedicure. What a treat. First one since leaving on our voyage in October and it felt wonderful. This salon has a great atmosphere and really friendly people. Each salon service area is arranged to open onto an outside courtyard. The courtyard has infinity water walls, tropical foliage, and big soft cushy chairs. I could have stayed there all day. Bob looked like a new man when he was done. But I know deep down he wishes he kept it long. So we may see a reprise in the future.
We enjoyed dinner at Mangia, Mangia after our salon visit. This is a favorite italian restaurant and we opted for the courtyard seating and started off with a nice bottle of red wine. They make all their own pastas which makes for a truly delicious meal. We have never been disappointed and this night was no exception. Walking back to the waterfront, we decided to check out Finnegan's Wake for a nightcap. Bob was anxious to try their Murphy's on tap but was disappointed when they told him the keg was dry. He was looking forward to reminiscing about our 2011 trip to Ireland where Murphy's Ale was flowing at a particular pub one memorable evening. Instead, he went with a Guinness and I enjoyed an Irish Coffee.
The next day our friends Bill and Nancy came over on the ferry from Fort Myers. It's a 3 1/2 hour ride and they were in Key West by Noon. As soon as they arrived, we headed over to Duval Street and ended up at Fat Tuesday where we enjoyed 16 ounce daquiries on this very warm afternoon. Can you say BRAINFREEZE? But we didn't care. We each tried a different flavor and they were yummy. After grabbing a bite to eat, we headed to Mallory Square for the sunset and 'circus'.
The next day we took the Fast Cat to the Dry Tortugas for a day of swimming and snorkeling. Fort Jefferson is built on this island and is maintained by the Federal Government. Construction started in the mid-1800's but was never completed due to the continuous rebuilding that was necessary after each hurricane blew through the area. The most famous prisoner kept on the island was Dr. Samuel Mudd -- who conspired to kill Lincoln and was caught aiding JW Booth who broke his leg during his assination of the president. It's an interesting walk through the fort to see how people lived back in the day with no fresh running water and no ability to farm or raise livestock. All was dependent on goods coming over from Key West. Nancy and I separated from the tour to take a walk around the moat that surrounds the fort. We were surprised by how much sealife we could see feeding off of the moat wall.
AFter arriving back in Key West at 4:30p, we changed and headed out to dinner at the Cuban Restaurant we discovered the week before. What a cool place. Again, the food was fantastic. On our way back to the boat, we stopped in at The Galleon Tiki Bar. We stayed at the Galleon a few times before and wanted to check it out on this visit. AFter enjoying a nightcap, we headed onto the "boardwalk" that connects the wharf establishments. I realized I left my purse back at the bar so Bill and Nancy to the boat and Bob ran back to get my purse. While I waited on the boardwalk, three men emerged from the AB Marina alongside the walkway. People seated at an outdoor restaurant began yelling out to one of the men but he didn't acknowledge them. Instead he started walking down the boardwalk in my direction. When we made eye contact I smiled, said 'Hi' and he nodded and kept on going. Emeril was in Key West, Bam! It was 11pm and he was heading out for a bite to eat, according to his companions who were busy apologizing to the seated crowd who apparently wanted his autograph.
The next morning we hung out at the pool and enjoyed a late lunch at the poolside a la Dante's Grille. This is all part of the marina complex where we are keeping 4mySanity. Nancy was scheduled to take the 5:30 pm ferry back to Fort Myers and Bill was staying on another night to join us for our sail to Marco Island. We were departing at 4am! So once Nancy waived goodbye to our boat, we started preparing 4mySanity for the 12 hour passage soon to be underway.
We plan to return to Key West often....perhaps by ferry or on our own sailboat. Either way, it's sure to be a blast. Farewell for now to the Conch Republic. We will be back!