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Cruise 2003

This year has turned out completely different from years past.  We wanted to go back and try something we did in the past, that is launch further North from Burnt Store Marina and revisit places we hadn't been to in awhile.  Things got off to a rough start when we were informed that long term parking was no longer an option at Burnt Store Marina.  We were referred to Pineland Marina on Pine Island.  I had done some research and knew about them, but they were not my first choice.  

Click on the thumbnail to see the picture full size.

Okbayou at Burnt StoreWe launched from Pineland Marina and went back to Burnt Store for a couple of nights before heading to Cayo Costa. Burnt Store SunriseCaught a great picture of the marina during sunrise one foggy morning.
Cayo Costa anchorageThere were quite a few other boats anchored here for the weekend. dinghy dockThe dinghy dock was kind of confusing since they had signs all over "for service boats only", but the ranger cleared that up and we happily tied up to the floating dinghy dock.
pigletWe explored Cayo Costa and saw a wild boar piglet crossing the trail ahead of us.  We knew its mother wasn't far behind and didn't want to provoke it so we moved on. osprey nestOn the East side, near quarantine point, we spotted an Osprey nest. Usually the only ones we see are out on the markers along the ICW.
Welcome to Cayo CostaThey had erected several signs like this near the dock.  The area was closed while they completed some construction in the area. trail There are trails like this on the island. There is a map showing all the trails.
Cayo CostaWe walked from the dock area to the Gulf side and through the campground to the beach.  another Seaward 25Spotted another Seaward 25 headed North while we were headed South, towards South Seas Plantation
Gasparilla IslandGasparilla Island as viewed from Cayo Costa.  The lighthouse here is different than the conventional lighthouse in that it looks more like a regular house with a light added on top. trailWe gave South Seas Plantation a call on the radio for overnite dockage, but they were full.  We hadn't been out Redfish Pass in awhile so I called TowBoat US and asked for local knowledge about the pass. They confirmed what I suspected, so we headed out the pass into the Gulf.
After rounding the southern tip of Sanibel Island it started getting dark.   We took sails down and motored behind Sanibel island just outside the entrance to Sanibel Marina and dropped anchor for the night.  Everything was fine until about 11 PM when the tide turned and started running against the wind.  We were tossed and turned every which way until about 3 AM when things started to finally settle down.

Fort Meyers BeachFrom Sanibel we headed across San Carlos Bay and headed for Fort Meyers beach.  We waited for the gambling boat to leave before entering the channel.
Moss MarineCalled ahead to Moss Marine for a slip and they gave us directions in and a slip assignment (B-8).  Access between A and B docks is blocked once a week while refueling the gambling boat.
boaters loungeIt doesn't get any better than this.  The lounge has TV, coffee, laundry and several shower rooms. Everyone was very friendly and helpful.
Gordon's PassFrom Fort Meyers we headed south to Naples. This picture is the rock jetty on the right side of the pass.
to Naples harborFrom Gordons Pass we motored up to Naples harbor.  They have a speed limit on weekends and it can get rough when the big boats don't slow down.
We stayed at Naples city dock for a night and then headed back out into the Gulf and headed south to Capri Pass and Marco Island.  Had a good but short sail and motored on the inside down to Goodland.  Wind was on our nose again so we motored sailed to Dismal Key and anchored for the night.
backwaterAlmost every daybeacon in this area has an osprey nest on it.
From Dismal key south, the no-see-ums were a problem unless the wind was strong enough to keep them away.
This is the Eastern tip of Indian key as we left our anchorage in Russel Pass near Everglades City.  We then spent a night anchored behind New Turkey key  before heading to Shark River.
Once in the Shark River we motored  up to Oyster Bay  and spent the night. Anchoring in the river requires two anchors, but once in the bay you only need one anchor. Shark riverOn the way down there weren't any other boats in the river when we went in and only saw a couple of boats on the way out the next day.  On the way back a week later there were several boats like this anchored in the river.
Flamingo MarinaWhen we got to Flamingo Marina there was a large Motor Yacht taking on diesel fuel.  Rather than wait we went and pulled into an empty slip.  Turned out he took on 300 gallons of diesel fuel. @$600+ 
pelicanThere were not very many boats here compared to previous couple of years.  Mosquitoes were not that bad, but it was a lot warmer than normal for this time of year(mid-March).  Record high temperatures in Miami and other cities nearby were broken.
liftThis concrete "dam" is known as the "plug" in Flamingo. On the other side of it is the Buttonwood canal which leads north to Coot bay.  There is a lift which can move boats from the salt water side to the fresh water side and vice versa.  When the canal was first dug tidal waters moved up and down the canal and the environment started to change because of the salt water finding its way up the canal and into Whitewater Bay.

From here we made our way back North and pulled the boat back out of the water a couple of days earlier than planned due to a cold front that was approaching with more rain.  Most of the rain we encountered happened at night.  We stayed at Moss Marine while one front passed.  Severe thunderstorms passed just to the North and a tornado hit near Naples to the South that day.  We decided we may cruise a different area during the next el Nino.  Next year we plan to start where we left off and sail from Flamingo to the middle Keys.

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