Days 207-214; January 20-26, 2016
Total Miles Traveled: 2476
Fort Meyers Beach to Marco Island FL to Little Shark River and on to Marathon Island!!!
In the last post I mentioned the strong current at the marina in Fort Meyers Beach. Well, we had clearly become much too confident of our docking skills. While leaving our slip the current grabbed our bow off the dock spinning us into a large post and literally snapping our starboard (green) running light from its home on the bow sprint (crunch). We call these sacrificial lights as this is the third one we have managed to leave in various places at $35.00 and considerable installation frustration each. Otherwise it was a perfect departure and trip to Marco Island. The inland waterway here is shallow with low bridges so we didn’t risk it and took the outside (Gulf) passage. It was a gorgeous bright and sunny day with enough wind that we sailed about two miles offshore past Naples into the Rose Marina on Marco.
Since bad weather was forecast, we decided to quickly rent a car with Vicki and Ron and go to the Everglades National Park. A treat beyond words! First we had lunch at the Rod and Gun Club in Everglade City (Est 1864) with the best Key Lime pie in Florida. Second, we selected the slow/quiet boat out of the National Park taking us for an hour and a half tour of the mangroves. We learned much about this one of a kind ecosystem and the environmental issues, solutions and protections in place by the dedicated park service. If you aren’t a member of the US National Parks, you might consider joining. If you are over 65 a lifetime pass to all parks costs $10! No better bargain anywhere. No, we never spotted an alligator but were assured they were there waiting. Maxine, our server at the Inn and Teddy, our captain/brilliant lecturer were both highlights! Our friends on “Lydia” with a shallow boat draft continued on to Everglade City where they are waiting out this storm.
Now some tales about the southern tip of storm Jonas at the southern tip of Florida. On Friday (22nd) it started to rain at daybreak and came down in torrential buckets most all day long. Our ill-conceived trip to the local coin laundry to wash rugs and sleeping bags left us tired and soggy. Just as the rain ended and the sun came out the wind picked up and we braced ourselves for sustained 25-35 mph winds and higher gusts for a long 24 hours. Luckily the wind kept us off the dock but the Namaste’s undulating and shimmering prevented good sleep and our sense of balance became marginal all day. As a solution Jim and I went for a six-mile windy walk. Our destination was to be a stop the Tigertail Beach where we couldn’t enter even the deserted parking lot area because we had Sammy on a leash. Everything is gated and definitely not dog friendly! I don’t think we saw another dog the entire six mile route!
Other highlights of the weekend included a visit from. Bob and Debi from Washington State, friends of Vicki and Ron plus gold loopers. We shared story after story and ended with a wonderful Italian dinner at Alturo’s on Marco – an exceptional time of new friends for us great food and laughter all around.
On Monday morning Jan. 25th we departed Marco Island at daybreak heading to Marathon. Since this is a 100+ mile trip we divided it into a 60 mile day (9 hours) to an anchorage in Little Shark River (deep within the Everglades and literally no place for Sammy to potty on land) followed by a 40+ mile day (6 hours) to Marathon Island – there are no marinas between Marco and Marathon. It was a bumpy/rolling start that eventually flattened out into a beautiful turquoise sea as far as the eye could see (please note the exceptional and intended pun on the “Sea to See”, Vicki and Ron’s boat name!).
The anchorage at Little Shark Island was as perfect as they get – see sunset and sunrise pictures below. We managed a trapped anchor and then were treated to a Pelican hitchhiking on the dinghy as we headed back out into the gulf. Success!! Sammy, for the first time ever, went potty on the deck to the great relief of us all! This was after 27 hours and only when Jim and I were both down below with Sammy and the auto-helm in charge. She promptly settled down and went to sleep for the rest of the trip to Marathon.
We are now in the Banana Bay Marina with lots of friendly loopers. The place fits it’s name perfectly. We will be here for three nights and then move on to the posh Faro Blanco Resort Marina for a few days. This is one arena in which Jim and I have never resolved our travel differences. I would like to have reservations all along the way and he prefers to simply “wing it”. So far so good, I say as I take a deep breath!
Boat Name of the Day: “Minimum Balance”
Bad Boat Name of the Day: “Ship of Fools”
Quote of the Day: “Every year more people attempt to climb Mount Everest than attempt to complete the Loop.” – Bob & Debi Smith (gold loopers)
Happiest of Birthdays to our Curtis James – January 29 and also, Roger DeRose on the 28th!
Chart hour on the dock at Marco Island. Sammy’s favorite time of day. Far right are Dwain and Jackie onboard “Lydia”
Not great photography but a very fun evening with Debi and Bob.
The Rod and Gun Club in Everglade City – if ever you are there it is highly recommended!
Maxine, our waitress who that day had returned from a year of sick leave following heart attackS. She was so happy to be back and offered the best service ever!!
Mangrove passage teeming with life. Saw no alligators but I bet they saw us!
Another part of the mangroves at sunset.
Teddy our Everglade captain, tour guide and eye candy all in one.
A cool but fascinating day in the Everglades. Marine biology as a next career?
Sunrise as we left Little Shark River heading the last leg to Marathon. This was deep into the mangroves so no going ashore for anyone.
Mr. Pelican hitching a ride back to the Gulf.
How about these tropical blues? On our way from Little Shark River into Marathon a wonderful trip across under sail.
The Banana Bay Marina welcoming committee. Nicer people we haven’t met anywhere, with the exception of you! It is finally Florida warm too!