March 19 John dropped me off so I could go to the market and then our air conditioning man came out to the boat and installed the needed parts. Later in the afternoon, at the high tide, we pulled up the anchor, went under the west Venetian Causeway bridge and headed down Biscayne Bay to anchor off Key Biscayne. This got us a jump on the next day’s trip down to Long Key. It was a beautiful, calm evening with a different view of Miami all lit up.
March 20 Another sunny calm day which made it perfect for a 70nm day down to Long Key. As we went out the Key Biscayne channel, we passed the stilt houses that have been there for years. We were planning to meet up with Joe and Kathy Ogden who were camping there in their RV. (We had them on the boat in Dec.) Once we had anchored out in the harbor and launched the tender, now we had to find a way to get ashore. There were no marinas on the island except on the far side which was where the wind was coming from the next day and not a good possibility. We saw a man coming in to the bay in a small fishing boat so I said “follow that boat”. He went through a channel into the mangroves and kept going and going and I had to “drop bread crumbs” as we wound our way through the canals and houses to where he finally stopped. We asked if he knew somewhere for us to tie up our tender the next day and he said his neighbor was away but would probably let us use his dock. He called him for us and the man said yes. yeah! now we were set. Back out to the boat picking up the bread crumbs.
March 21 We used our new dock spot and were picked up by Joe and Kathy and some friends that were visiting them for a few days from Michigan. Joe drove us all up a few islands in the chain to a fun restaurant that had some docks where the tarpon hung out to be fed by the tourists. After lunch, we went out on the dock to watch this fun. Then we went to the campground to see their RV and hang out some more together. Finally, it was time to leave and we said our good byes, took the tender out to the boat, raised it, and decided to leave the harbor while the tide was high and go a few miles down the way. We ended up anchoring off the camp ground! (but very far out as the water was shallow). Joe flashed his lights so we could see where he was sitting in the line up ashore.
March 22 We were both eager to get going so we left around 6:30am on our passage to Sanibel. First, we had to go down to Marathon Key and go under a big bridge there and then we were able to head north. What was not expected was crab pots everywhere! we had to dodge them for most of the day all the way north till almost Marco Island! As it grew dark, they stopped, thank heaven. The conditions were wonderful and we made good time.
March 23 Around 3am, we anchored off the bridge to Sanibel island in a spot we hoped would be out of the way. After some sleep, we had breakfast and called a friend (Anne Kimball) of ours from Mystic who now lived down there in a retirement place called Shell Point near Ft. Meyers. She answered and we arranged to meet her in the nearby marina after lunch. The tender was launched and we went in and were happy to learn we could leave the tender there. As we were eating our lunch, the dock master came in and said the Coast Guard was calling Windermere on the radio. He knew that was our boat and found us. We hopped in the tender and went out to ask them where they needed us to move. They told us and we did so and went back to the marina and met Anne. She gave us a wonderful driving tour of Sanibel, Captiva, and the Ding Darling nature preserve. She then took us to her house for drinks so that we could see her husband, Dick. Then back to the boat for the evening.
March24 Anne and Dick picked us up at the Sanibel marina and took us to lunch at a place in Ft. Meyers but near their house. We all had a delicious lunch and good conversation. She took Dick home for a nap and then drove us to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford museum in Ft. Meyers. The museum consists of both their houses and gardens and Edison’s botanical lab. We enjoyed the whole thing. She then took us back to the boat and we said our good byes.
March 25 The wind was blowing but we decided to move up the coast from Sanibel to Boca Grande anyway. Well, the seas over here on the Gulf are different from what we are used to on the eastern side of Florida. It is shallow so the seas are choppy, no big swells. With the wind basically on the nose, we “hobby horsed” our way up the chain of barrier islands. Not comfortable and we had to rev up the engine to get the power to push through the chop. To make things more “interesting”, there were more crab pots almost the whole way. The channel leading into Charlotte harbor is wide and deep but on the north/left going in side of the channel is a shoal. There were breaking waves on it just to our left and the wind was also coming now from our left so we rocked and rolled for the 20 mins it took to get in to more protected waters. We were very glad to have that experience over! We anchored off the inside of Boca Grande island where there wasn’t any channel to stay out of-yeah.
March 26 We just sat on the boat and vegetated.