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Archive for the ‘US Gulf Coast’ Category

It’s been an eventful month with the dominating theme being the weather. With a maybe/maybe not repaired engine, we finally got out of Onset Bay, MA a day after Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach NC. We spent three days on the move while following the news of the devastation unfold. Our beloved Oriental NC got whacked hard again with a storm surge even higher than for Hurricane Irene in 2011. The effects were felt well north. We opted for a lay day in Northport Bay on the north shore of Long Island as the remnants of Florence passed through. A day later we moved on, picking up a mooring in Port Washington where we staged for a run through the East River and hooked up with cruising friends Dawn and Paul for a low-key birthday celebration for Captain Mike at a local pizza place.

From Port Washington we caught a favorable tide and had a nice but overcast run through the East River/NYC on our way to Atlantic Highlands/Sandy Hook NJ where we spent another couple of days with Dawn and Paul waiting out yet another bit of weather. Finally, on Saturday morning, we opted to haul anchor on the tail end of a small craft advisory and started what would be about a 27 hour offshore run down the Jersey coast. Alas, our cruising friends made a last minute decision that they wouldn’t make the run south afterall, opting to leave their boat north for another winter season. Oh, to have such options. We pressed on.

Sailing was challenging, but we persisted until the daylight on Sunday when it looked like we were at risk for a night time arrival in Cape May. Sails down, engine on, we motored the rest of the morning and into the afternoon to an anchorage off the Coast Guard Station in Cape May. We had plenty of company as we waited out… you guessed it, more weather.

Come Wednesday morning, we made a break for it again. An early early morning departure found us motoring through the Cape May Canal, after which we caught a favorable tide for a run up the sometimes ugly Delaware Bay. In fact our tide was so favorable that we carried it all the way north to the C & D Canal where we caught another favorable tide through the canal. We were anchor down in the Bohemia River after a 71.5 nm run, which might in fact be a one day record for us. At this point we’d accomplished our ever shifting goal, to be past the outside runs and at least into the Chesapeake Bay before having to tuck our Cheshire in while we make our 5th annual “Driving Miss Rita” road trip. We took one more lay day to make some final arrangements, booking a marina slip, a rental car, etc. before moving to a marina situated a comfortably safe distance up the Sassafras River on the Eastern Shore.

Chapter Next…

After a few days of getting Cheshire tucked in, we were off on our road trip. For five years now, each October, I (sometimes we), travel from wherever we are to collect my Mom from what’s been her home in Indiana to shuttle her and her car to the panhandle of Florida where she winters. This year though would be our final trip as Mom’s sold her place in Indiana. Early Monday evening, we pulled into her driveway just as the auctioneers she hired to clear out her place we cramming the last of her stuff into the back of their truck… except for small truck load they ended up returning for the following day, and the couple of car loads we donated to the local Christian Center of things the auctioneer couldn’t/wouldn’t take. Suffice it to say that despite Mom’s efforts over recent years and in particular these past summer months, it was a big project. I had flashbacks to our own pre-Cheshire purge back in 2011.

Early on Tuesday, October 2nd, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) began monitoring an area of low pressure that had developed over the southwestern Caribbean. Meanwhile, in Anderson, we spent a couple of days wrapping up the details, visiting family in the area, and swapping our rental SUV for a 10′ U-Haul to ferry the last of Mom’s belongings, final packing. Two driving days later, Sunday afternoon, we arrived in Panama City Beach for what we thought was the end of this season’s Driving Miss Rita trip and the beginning of some family time. This was to be the first time in nearly 6 years that my siblings (4 of us) and I were all in the same place at the same time. Mother Nature however, would have a different plan.

On Friday, October 5 th, while we finished day 2 of our drive, the NHC declared this storm a tropical depression, and soon after, upgraded it to Tropical Storm Michael. We spent the weekend unloading boxes, cleaned up and moved patio furniture out to the balcony, stocked the pantry and fridge in anticipation of our family gathering. My sister and brother-in-law  were already in PCB ahead of Mom; one brother and his 2 kids arrived Sunday afternoon.  I managed to grab a couple of photos before things got crazy… and obviously need to work on my selfie technique.

Mike and I began our Monday morning as we do every morning… with coffee and weather checks. The coffee was good; the weather forecast not so much. Michael was now a full blown hurricane and he was coming to visit PCB in a hurry. I shifted into storm-prep mode, started planning for bringing patio furniture back inside, thinking about our water supply, eating without power to cook with, etc., while some of my family suggested I might be over-reacting. A few hours later a mandatory evacuation was issued and most of us were packing.

Early Tuesday morning, most of my family evacuated to Montgomery AL. One brother opted to stay behind.  My youngest brother and his crew of 4 were to be flying into PCB; plan B was skip their Atlanta to PCB leg, rent a car and meet us in Montgomery. We spent the next 4 days, one day at a time with a hotel change somewhere in there, obsessively watching the Weather Channel, scouring social media for updates and generally trying to amuse ourselves in suburban Montgomery. Mid-day Wednesday, Hurricane Michael raged ashore at Mexico Beach, about 25 miles east of where my Mom and sister stay, as the third most intense Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall in the US. It was horrific and the damage extensive. PCB has been a special place for my family since we started vacationing there when my siblings and I were very small. My parents bought their first rental property on the beach while I was in high school and my parents, now my mother, have wintered there since Dad’s retirement in 1995… ironically the year that Hurricane Opal made a visit and wreaked some havoc in the area.  My family’s condos came through this storm with only minimal damage; many others were not so fortunate.

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Mike and I did check out some of the local tourist sights while we were in Montgomery, found some interesting eats, a hiking trail… details to follow in a later post. Long story a bit shorter, when the storm passed and we got some indication that power would be restored to Mom’s area within a day or two, Mike and I grabbed a return rental and started our way back to Maryland. Mom was in good hands with family and the FL Panhandle didn’t need any more people than necessary trying to reenter. We would have loved to have returned to PCB and volunteered with the recovery efforts, but having our Cheshire so far north, we were not in a position to delay any longer. We arrived home on Sunday night after two weeks away; about a day and a half later, the remnants of Michael made landfall in Portugal.

Fast-forward a few days, our Cheshire is now put back together. She’s had a bubble bath and a bottom-cleaning. We’ve topped off provisions, propane, and water. We’ve dug into our deeper storage to retrieve our warmer clothes. We even did some repair work on our weather-worn cockpit enclosure in hopes of better keeping out some of the cold we’re sure to encounter in the weeks to come.  Tomorrow we cast off the dock lines with a goal to get south as quickly as we can, weather permitting. Even before we get off the dock though, we’re already having to allow for some upcoming weather days/small craft advisories. Mother Nature Always Wins. We can’t complain though when we remember so many who have lost so much in these recent storms. Maybe we’ll get some good fall color out of the deal though.

 

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Having decided to head back to the Florida East Coast, we were once again in familiar waters. We opted for a pause in Bimini Basin/Cape Coral for a few days before ducking back into the Okeechobee Waterway. Fortunate timing let us catch the Cape Coral Farmers Market again; we also hit Publix and a nice little new-to-us Italian grocery, Paesano’s, for some re-provisioning, along with less fun but necessary chores… a trip to the laundromat and an oil change for the Red Queen. Of course we also had to visit a just opened craft brewery we discovered just down from the laundromat.  Big Storm Brewing Co., which was quite good, is apparently also run by folks with a sense of humor… always appreciated.

Our final day in the area was for play; Ohio friends David and Joyce who were spending a month in Naples came up to visit. We had lunch, followed by dessert… my second visit to Ice Screamin  , which is dangerously close to our anchorage.  This little ice cream spot is  another Working Cow distributor… a family-owned company in St Petersburg, FL that make the most amazing handmade ice cream.  I “discovered” them earlier this winter at a little place on the north end of Boca Grande.  Good stuff, but you can only get it in Florida.

 

Saying farewell to Florida’s West Coast, we ducked back into the Okeechobee Canal to once again make our way across the peninsula.  It was a leisurely trip, including a pretty but buggy night on the hook near Moore Haven where the little critters were apparently quite taken by our solar Luci light (photo below); ordinarily over night we only show our top-of-the-mast anchor light, but in creeks frequented by smaller faster boats who aren’t always looking high, we’ll sometimes show an additional low light, in this case our Lucie light.  We also took a layover day at Port St Lucie Lock Marina where we were fortunate to catch the occasional Saturday tour of the lock system.  It’s one of five locks operated by the Army Corps of Engineers along the Okeechobee Waterway.  One more day on the water found us back near Fort Pierce where we were reminded what color water is supposed to be.  The difference between the lake and the cleaner water near Ft Pierce inlet was striking.  I’ve blogged a bit before about the politics of Florida’s water, so I’ll not climb on that soapbox again, though the issue is very much ongoing.

Back on the East Coast, we again took a mooring at Vero Beach, pausing for almost exactly a month this time.  We did a few small boat projects… replaced the carbon monoxide detector, repaired our (secondary) Engel fridge that had gotten a wild hair and decided to stay in freezer mode all of the time, and replace yet another fan that had died.  The primary goal for this stop was to get Mike’s re-injured foot sorted out.  We was able to get an appointment with very good podiatrist who, after an X-ray and exam, declared it to be a “poorly healed fracture”.  Apparently a corrective surgery would have been potentially more damaging than helpful, so she referred him to a pedorthist (there you go, your new word for today) who fit him with a custom orthopedic that fits in a real pair of shoes.  They are a perfectly normal-looking pair of New Balance tennis shoes, but… shoes… not flip-flops or Keens; Mike has taken to referring to them as his Frankenstein shoes.

To take the edge off of all of the above, we also made a visit to another new-to-us craft brewery, Walking Tree Brewery.  It’s off the beaten path in Vero, but not so far from where we were pedaling for these appointments.  Their beers were quite good, but I was particularly captivated by their logo.  Florida mangroves are nicknamed “walking trees”, thriving at waters edge, one foot on land, one foot in the water.  I was also quite taken by a piece of original artwork at the brewery, depicting a terrestrial and watery yin/yang.

LS_20180426_074949 Fort MatanzasHaving resolved Mike’s foot issue to the extent that it can be resolved, we pushed on to St Augustine. It’s been our habit to pause here for a bit on both our southbound and our northbound runs, but it’s always especially a treat to spend the week of my birthday in this beautiful old city. This year was no different. Actually I share my birthday week with several of our St Augustine friends, so it was a bit of a rolling celebration.  Before arriving in St Augustine though, we paused for a night at one of our favorite nearby anchorages, complete with a view of Fort Matanzas.

It was a jam-packed week, catching up with cruising friends locally, crossing paths with friends from elsewhere who just happened to be passing through while we were here, and meeting some new folks who we hope to cross paths with again later this summer. We revisited all four local craft breweries and are happy to report that all are going strong; in fact one has recently added a rotation of food trucks. There were several visits to the Hyppo for gourmet popsicles, including my free birthday pop; Blood Orange Cheesecake has officially made my list of favorites. A new find this stop was a recently opened bakery, Bakersville Bread Company. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but worth seeking out. Here’s hoping they make a go of it.

One of the best parts of being in town for my birthday week is the opportunity to attend the annual Gamble Rogers Music Festival, now it its 23rd year. The festival runs all weekend and features a wide array of regional and local performers. As usual, we caught a few of our favorites and were introduced to some new stuff.

DG 2018 05 Gamble Rogers Festival

crew of BuBu3, LaLuna and Cheshire, Gamble Rogers Festival, 2018

As much as we love St Augustine, we have our sights set on getting a bit further north this coming season. It’s been about 18 months since Cheshire and her crew have been north of the Florida/Georgia line, so we’re looking forward to getting into some higher latitudes. We’ll head north, hope for some cooperative weather for an outside run or two. Next pause: Oriental, NC. Destinations beyond that tbd.

JB 2018 0507 Cheshire departing St Augustine

Cheshire departing St Augustine, photo credit: Jennifer Barringer

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Road-trip 2017, Days 27 – 30

In the home stretch of our month long road trip, we headed into familiar-to-us territory in the Florida panhandle, but not before checking out a new-to-both-of-us area, Pensacola, Florida.  Pensacola is the westernmost city in the Florida panhandle, nearly 832 miles by road from Key West, or 524 miles by water.  Pensacola’s big claim to fame is Naval Air Station Pensacola, the first naval air station commissioned by the US government back in 1914 and home of the Blue Angels.  We spent the entire day exploring the area, including the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, the National Naval Aviation Museum and Fort Barracas, all on base at NAS Pensacola.

The Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum was quite interesting.  My favorite source for all things lighthouse, LighthouseFriends.com, has some history.  It is one of few that was actually occupied by both the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War.  The tower and the Keeper’s Cottage nearly became casualties again in the early 70’s when there was talk of it being an obstacle for the nearby jet traffic on the naval base.  Preservation-minded folks prevailed, and today the lighthouse complex as well as the nearby forts are protected as part of the Gulf Shores National Seashore.  A most pleasant surprise during our visit was the “Women Who Kept the Light” exhibit, showcasing not just the women keepers at Pensacola but across the country.  It was an exceptionally well done exhibit and in my humble opinion, too much of a well kept secret, even on the lighthouse’s own website.

 

P1050771 Jeremiah Pelican Lighthouse Keeper

Jeremiah Pelican Lighthouse Keeper

Outside I was captivated by yet another creatures-as-public-art-project, this one entitled Pelicans in Paradise.  This was one of a flock of 41 5 ft tall 70 lb birds, hatched in 2004-2005 and scattered about Pensacola as a fundraiser for the local newspaper’s Newspapers in Education literacy program.  I’m not certain how many of them remain (though I was tempted to seek a few more out), but Jeremiah seemed to be in fine shape, obviously a well tended to bird.

The nearby National Naval Aviation Museum was at the same time impressive and a bit overwhelming.  With 350,000 square feet of exhibit space on a 37-acre campus, they obviously covered some history.  The chock-full space and the shear volume of exhibits made photography more than a bit challenging, at least for yours truly, but I couldn’t resist a shot of a few Blue Angels.  I loved that so many of the aircraft were shown suspended.

P1050777 Blue Angels, Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola FL

Blue Angels, Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola

Having spent way more time at the museum than we’d anticipated, we had only a short time to explored Fort Barrancas and none at all for nearby Fort Pickens.   Still, I was able to grab a few photos and Mike was recruited to help the onsite park ranger take the flag down at days end.

 

LS_20170424_140846 Hamaknockers BBQ, Crawfordville FL (so of Tallahassee)

Hamaknockers BBQ, Crawfordsville FL

Leaving Pensacola, we opted for the scenic route which took us through the Florida portion of Gulf Shores National Seashore. We spent a couple of nights at (Lori’s) Mom’s place in Panama City Beach, catching our breath, doing some laundry, generally slowing down a bit.  Mike’s nose found some good eats at Hamaknockers BBQ one afternoon on our way to Gainesville where we visited with friends for a bit.

 

On our last stretch from Gainesville to our Cheshire in St Augustine, we decided to stop and check out our new hometown so to speak.  We’d recently signed up for a mail handling service, officially known as St Brendan’s Isle, who handle mail for literally thousands of cruisers, RVers and others who travel.  They grew so much over the years that they outgrew their storefront (see Mike in photo below), but the post office (wisely) didn’t want to change their street address.  The little vertical bit between the windowed storefronts below is technically where we live.  We stopped by their new facility just outside of town to pick up our mail, along with that of a number of our friends, which saved us all some forwarding charges.  While we were in town, we also picked up library cards for our new city of residence.  Truth be told though, I’m not excited about Clay County Library’s e-book collection… it’s just not that big a population, but thankfully we’re also able to keep our cards for the Gainesville/Alachua Co Library which is awesome.

And thus ends another successful road trip.

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Road-trip 2017, Days 25 – 26

Many moons ago, Mike and I used to be regular visitors to New Orleans, LA.  Our general travel philosophy didn’t allow much for repeat visits to any one place, what with so many new-to-us options, but NOLA was different.  We’d return every 2-3 years for stretch.  Then Hurricane Katrina whacked this fine city in the fall of 2005.  We’d not been back since.

For all of our visits though, we’d never ventured out to Avery Island, home of the famous Tabasco Hot Sauce.  This trip, we decided it was worth a bit of a detour.  Beyond the spacious country store where one can purchase all things pepper sauced, we took the self-guided tour of the factory.  Despite signs warning of bears, we saw no wildlife in the vicinity of the factory.

Adjacent to the world famous Tabasco facility is the lesser known Jungle Gardens of Avery Island where Edward McIlhenny helped to save the snowy egret from extinction.  In the late 1800’s when the snowy egret was being hunted to near extinction for its plumage, he built an aviary on the island.  He would capture and raise these wild egrets, and after they raised their hatchlings, he’d release them in time for migration.  They apparently returned the following spring and every year thereafter, bringing some of their friends along as well.  The garden also features lots of gorgeous live oak trees, a sunken garden, several stands of bamboo and even a Buddha.  And of course there are alligators.  It’s a bit kitchy, but was worth wandering though.

 

From Avery Island we headed to Houma, LA which is nowhere really, but put us striking distance from NOLA.  Pizza at Redfish Pizza was quite good. The following morning we drove into the city.  Breakfast at Cafe DuMonde was of course obligatory.  After meandering the historic district for a while, we encountered long lines/waits at a couple of our favorite spots, settled on a new-to-us place that ended up being nasty.  Who knew you could get bad food in NOLA?

At the end of the day, we decided that as much as we love this city, it’s not at all the same on a day trip.  Or maybe it was the shock of city after several days in the back country.  Either way, next time we’ll plan better.  But for now, we needed to be making tracks.  We drove on to an uneventful night just outside of Mobile, AL with a plan to explore the Pensacola area of the FL panhandle the following day.

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Road-trip 2017, Days 22 – 24

For our eastbound trip through Texas we were on a bit more of a fast track than we’d been on our way west.  We did pause for an evening in Houston though where we caught up with some of Mike’s family, his sister, two nieces, a niece’s husband whom we’d not yet met and a couple of wee ones.  It was fun to catch up and I’m kicking myself that no one though to take any photos.

Leaving greater Houston, we’d slow way down again.  We took to the backroads through Port Arthur and into the bayous of southwest Louisiana to pick up the Louisiana Outback Creole Nature Trail.  I had a number of National Wildlife Refuges in my sights.

We hit one of the Visitors Centers in the area to pick up some maps, grabbed a late lunch at the Anchor Up Grill in Cameron and spent the late afternoon into early evening exploring the Pintail Wildlife Drive and adjacent boardwalk at Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge.  Birds and other wildlife were abundant.  I’ve managed to id most of them, but input and/or corrections are welcome.

 

A number of alligators were also out and about, perhaps scouting their evening meals.

 

Out of daylight, we headed for the Lake Charles area where we’d grab a bite to eat, spend the night and get a jump on another day of bayou exploring.

The following morning’s exploration of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge gave us another opportunity to stretch our legs a bit.  We saw some different birds than we’d seen the previous day, along with some other creatures, and while there were several signs for gators, none were visible this morning, likely waiting for afternoon to sun themselves.

Mid-day we headed back into Cameron for a bite of lunch at T Boys, followed by a spur off of the Creole Nature Trail in search of the Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge. Eventually located, it proved to be more for fishing access than it was birder-friendly.  No worries though; after a pass though, the late afternoon light fast approaching, we headed to our last stop of the day, the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge.  A couple of creeping slow loops around the Wildlife Drive here proved to be a beautiful way to wind down our day.

From the swamps of southwest Louisiana, we’d head to the Big Easy.

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After our stretch in the Everglades, we paused in Cape Coral for another short bit to regroup. Basic things actually… refilled propane tanks, made a hardware store run, did some laundry, and reprovisioned. Sadly, a nice independent grocery that we found last month, Sweetbay, now had signs up that it had been bought by Winn-Dixie. Sad, another independent bites the dust. Luckily the local Publix was another nearby option during the closed-for-transition stretch. We also bicycled to an ABC Liquor and Wine Country location that we’d not visited before, so our bilge/wine cellar is now restocked. Last but not least, we had to check on the burrowing owls that I was so captivated by last month. At our previous visit, the nesting season had just begun. This time around, we wandered some of the residential back streets and found some new-to-us nests. Several were occupied, though the owls were much more vocal, much more protective than last month. We figure there are now babies to protect/defend or something, though none above ground yet. According to what I’ve read, that may be another month or so. Alas, we won’t stick around that long.

So, where to next? We’d considered the possibility of heading over to the Sanibel/Captiva/Pine Island area to do some more exploring, maybe get the kayak in the water again. After a check of the upcoming forecast, we nixed that idea. Rain, wind… not fun for kayaking. Instead, we decided to move on. We’d do the Okeechobee Canal back across the peninsula to the east coast. We spent one day motoring to LaBelle, FL where we tucked in at the free dock where we’d stayed on our west-bound trip as well, deciding it was a fine place to wait out the weather, which turned out to be a bit of wind and one day of light rain.  Not so bad.

Live Oak in LaBelle, FL

Live Oak in LaBelle, FL

Our second visit to LaBelle did not disappoint. This time we were able to check out the LaBelle Heritage Museum (small fee) which we’d missed last time due to their limited hours, where we were entertained by a lovely older couple who apparently run the place. You’d have thought she was my mother she was so excited for our visit, and he was a walking encyclopedia of the history of the area and its characters. They also have big plans for expanding the museum, which involves relocating a couple of historic buildings to the property, they’ve begun referring to as a “campus”. Really, in LaBelle. Fun stuff though. We enjoyed our morning walks around town beneath the canopies of live oaks, covered in recently resurrected resurrection ferns after the recent rains, met a few other cruising couples on the free dock and scored some more books from the free shelf at the local library. We also make it a point when taking advantage of free docks along the way, to do our part to contribute to the local economy. Having just come from Cape Coral though, our needs were few, so we were forced to spend our dollars at the local restaurants. Oh, the hardship. Forrey Grill was a fine place for the Captain to get his chicken wing and draft beer fix. Two Peas Cafe was a bit of a walk, but a nice breakfast stop. On our final day/night in LaBelle, we met another couple who came in to the slip next to us, mentioned they’d heard about a BBQ place, and in less than 5 minutes of meeting, we had a plan to dine together at Log Cabin BBQ, a yummy place we’d enjoyed our first time through. It did not disappoint.

Leaving LaBelle, the winds were still not looking nice for crossing the open and fairly shallow lake (translate: choppy waters and mostly on our nose), we opted to take the so-called Rim Route around the south shore of the lake. It’s a bit longer, a lot more protected, and is said to be more scenic. In fact, it proved to be an incredible birding stretch. We spent a day getting to a little pocket of an anchorage near South Bay and liked it so much we decided to stay for a few nights. That’s the beauty of this cruising life; most often, we have no schedule, so if we find a place we like, we can hang out a bit. In a place we don’t care for, we can move on. Anyway, because this end of the lake is so shallow, it attracts a lot of wading birds. My binoculars got a lot of use, the camera a bit more challenging as most of the action was out of reasonable zoom distance, but I gave it my best shot. We saw a lot of alligators on the shoreline while underway, but only one in the anchorage… sliding past the galley window in mirror-still waters one evening.

So, we birded some, read some, got some boat chores done, including cleaning and polishing several sections of the plastic/isenglass cockpit enclosure while listening to the radio broadcast of the first race of the IRL season. (Side note: Very excited to have Juan Pablo Montoya back in the IRL this season!) It was a relaxing stop, and amazing that with the exception of the first night when there were a couple of trawlers anchored around a bend out of sight, we had the place to ourselves.

Back on the East Coat again, and heading north. Stay tuned.

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From Little Shark River Bay, we had a nice brisk but manageable wind to sail.  We made it not quite to Coon Key Pass just south of the Marco Island area,  when decided to stop for the night at WhiteHorse Key.  It proved to be a nice spot, still amidst the mangroves, but with fewer bugs!  The next morning had us motoring in to Coon Key Pass (inside to avoid a huge run outside around the Cape Romano Shoals, translate: huge shallow area), through the Marco area… oops, forgot it’s Saturday, so all of the week-enders are out!  We did see some wildlife around the Marco area though, including a couple of Swallow-tailed Kites; we had a great view with binoculars, but alas, a bit too far and in light too bright for good photos.

We ducked back out at our first opportunity to get a bit more breathing room for a nice outside run, a slow sail in light winds from Marco to Naples.  It was here, off Keewaydin Island that we were greeted by a huge pod of dolphin!  I love watching these creatures, and have been trying to capture a decent photo since the beginning of our cruising days, but usually end up with only dorsal fin shots.    Today would be my lucky day.  Photo below.

We made a short day of it, decided we’d stop to pick up a mooring ball in Naples for the night… grab a hot shower, launder some sheets, top off fuel and water.  Alas, no propane readily available here.  I thought I would lose my mind on the run back inside and up Naples Bay.  Besides being Saturday, we’ve decided Naples is just too full of guys with more money than manners on humongous sport fishing boats.  Madness.  Truly, it was a bit like trying to to make your way by boat through a freaking washing machine.  Enough said.  Just about undid my Everglades-induced zen state, but not completely.

Anticipating more weekend craziness, we were up and out at first light to retrace our steps, make our way back out to the gulf.  Thankfully we encountered only one boat full of jerks on our way out, still, one too many.  It was a beautiful morning, but the forecast promised increasing wind and waves in the afternoon, so we decided to motor sail a bit (using the engine and in this case, the jib as well).  Indeed, it was getting a bit rolly as we approached Big Carlos Pass north of Ft Myers.  A nice tailwind pushed us in, and became a crosswind as we turned up east the Caloosahatchee River.  Before long though we had the anchor down in a familiar spot, Bimini Basin in Cape Coral where we spent a few weeks last month.  We rewarded ourselves with dinner ashore, pizza and draft beers at Nice Guys Pints and Pies.  We’ll hang out here for a week or so, regrouping if you will.  Today’s agenda, while waiting out some weather, was to take advantage of our first solid internet/WiFi connection in weeks to catch up on the blog.  In the coming days, visits to the propane refill station, the grocery, liquor store, laundromat, hardware store, etc are all in order, in addition to a few boat chores.  Exciting stuff.  We might also have to take a peek and see if there are any burrowing owlets have entered the world since our last visit here.  And the Captain wants some chicken wings.

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