Last night after dropping the hook in Glover’s Bight between the Sanibel Causeway Bridge and Ft Myers, we enjoyed a magnificent lightning show while relaxing in the cockpit. Winterlude enjoyed a nice fresh water rinse to get rid of all the open ocean salt water. This morning, we awoke to gray. Radar (what a nice luxury unlike when we’re out of cell range) shows big blobs all around us, but luckily, unlike last night, this morning they’re all green indicating nothing but rain, so the anchor comes up and away we go.
This is the fourth day in a row of long travel days. Both of us are tired, but hopefully later today we’ll be tied to the dock and home for tonight’s round of more thunderstorms. Today’s sail is in protected waters: along the west coast ICW – from the Caloosahatchee River mouth near Ft Myers, past Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Cayo Costa Island and Cabbage Key with some great cheeseburgers! A day on the ICW…
The tide coming in provides a knot of current against us and Winterlude’s little 30 horsepower diesel struggles to maintain 3.5 knots — ugh! But, as usual, every negative has a positive and almost immediately the slow slow pace allows us to spot not one but TWO bald eagles just hanging out along the ICW. I am always amazed at the variety of wildlife here on the southwest Florida coast, bald eagles, manatees, dolphins, ospreys, all sorts of water wading birds, flying fish, more than enough to keep us entertained every time we sail.
Marker 101 signifies the start of the “Miserable Mile” — a section of the ICW known for it’s strong sideways currents. This section requires looking behind as well as ahead to make sure you stay in the channel. Unsuspecting boats are often swept out of the channel and into the one to two foot water on either side of the narrow channel. SeaTow and Towboat US anchored and waiting should give a clue how easy it is to run aground in this area. We know personally how easy it is because the very first time we chartered a “big boat” it was out of Ft Myers and we literally spent the entire first night laying sideways waiting for high tide to free us, but alas, had to make use of SeaTow’s services. It’s amazing we ever sailed a big boat again after that experience!
Wouldn’t you know, our less than trusty depthsounders both crapped out right as we started the Miserable Mile making it trickier than usual. Luckily we’ve been through here so many times now and it is well marked, so we encountered no repeats of our first chartered evening on this dreary morning.
One of the little islands bordering the Miserable Mile has a giant yellow Caterpiller scoop and backhoe destroying all the native vegetation – probably to build some rich person’s house … or maybe a private resort. They should take a lesson from Marco Island down the coast a bit … There used to be a beautiful little island named Coconut Island which protected a great overnight anchorage for boats headed south. Then some environmentalists decided all the “invasive” trees had to go in order to return to all natural native vegetation. When they cut down all the “invasive” foreign pine trees the island literally disappeared. Now just a few years later the only evidence of an island or an anchorage is a sandbar that’s too shoaled in to anchor behind. It’s still on most charts though, so if you’re thinking of stopping on your way to the Keys behind Coconut Island, it’s not there.
The rest of the trip up the ICW was entirely predictable … dolphins playing alongside, white pelicans sunning themselves on sandbars adjacent to the waterway, boats going both ways … did I ever mention that there are way too many clueless people driving boats on the ICW? We were waked several times by thoughtless boaters and almost had a head on collision because some idiot coming under the 80′ power lines wasn’t even on the bridge — had the boat on autopilot and wasn’t paying a bit of attention. The channel is narrow there & getting under the power line poles doesn’t leave much room for maneuvering. Idiot.
By the time we enjoy lunch and pass marker #74, we can barely see Burnt Store Marina 10 miles away through the haze -We’re reminded of the night two years earlier when after 4 straight days of sailing across the Gulf from Mexico (Isla Mujeres), we came in the Boca Grande Channel at sunset and sailed across Charlotte Harbor in the twilight glad to be back in Florida after six years cruising out of the country.
But it’s time to quit reminiscing, find the docklines and fenders and get ready to be home!