Big day today as we hopefully will get to the Keys. We again will be staying at Plantation Yacht Harbor in Islamorada. We will be there until around March 1, 2014 before we start north on the Atlantic side of Florida.
We had a good time at Calusa Island Yacht Club. We stayed a couple of extra days because of the winds on Florida Bay. Most of the time they were blowing out of the southeast at about 20 knots and southeast is the direction we were headed in. today they are forecast for southeast but 11 to 16 mph. We really need to move today because the weather forecast (winds) are not good for the next week if we don’t make the Keys today.
The sky was clear and the temps were low 70’s at 7:00. The wind seemed a little strong but not enough to slow us down. Once we departed we headed out the Big Marco River to Florida Bay. We went on plane about 2 miles out into the bay once the water depths got to about 8′. It is still hard to get used to the shallower water down here. I think Florida Bay averages probably 10′ to 14′ in a lot of areas and we were near the 10,000 Islands on the north portion near Everglades National Park.
The water chop was not too bad and it did get better as we got closer to the west shore of the Florida peninsula. We followed the Everglades National Park markers down to East Cape where we took the Yacht Channel down to the ICW at the Keys. We entered the ICW about 20 miles south of Islamorada.
We had lots of crab pot markers today and the worst part was in the early part of the drive because we were almost headed into the sun and it is extremely difficult to see the markers that way. After we started along the Everglade Park Markers it was a little later and the sun was higher and we were headed a little more south. The markers in the ICW were plentiful but they seemed more manageable this year. Maybe because we had less boat traffic to deal with also.
The wind was up near the Keys but the water was not bad and we made good time. We were on the water about 6 hours today for the 112 miles we travelled so we did really good. It was good to see the familiar faces at Plantation Yacht Harbor. There a quite a few of the same boats here that were last winter. We met some other people on a boat here from St. Clair Shores.
With our down time now I will do a few posts but probably not quite as regular as when we are travelling.
Lenore and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Great morning for travelling today. A little chilly to start the day but the sky was cloudless and the breeze was light.
We started out about 9:00 which was about an hour after low tide. We cruised down the river and started into the inside route to Marco Island. We weren’t 100′ in when we started turning up bottom. I immediately turned to port and we turned around. Once we were headed back to the channel we were in deeper water but I was in the marked channel so the low tide took out a lot of water. The moon has been mostly full so the tides are bigger. We headed out Gordon Pass and turned south on the Gulf of Mexico toward Marco Island.
Last year we went the inside route on the Big Marco River to get to Florida Bay. The water was pretty skinny in the river so based on our turning mud earlier today we stayed outside past Marco Island. Ramono Reef is south of Marco Island and we went about 7 miles south to get thru the shallows and even then I saw 4.5′ of water under the boat while we were crossing the reef area.
The winds were stronger down in this area and there was a good 2′ to 3′ chop on the water but once we got thru the reef area we turned north toward Calusa Island and the southeast winds were providing a little push. The water in Florida Bay is shallow and after we crossed the reef I do not think we saw more than 14′ under the boat and most of it was 5′ to 7′.
Calusa Island is our alternate to Everglade City where we stayed last year. We were rocked by the fisherman leaving at 4:00 in the morning in Everglade City so we tried something else this year. Calusa Island Yacht Club has some very good ratings on Active Captain and so far I agree with all the favorable ratings.
Calusa Island Yacht Club is located adjacent to Goodland Florida and only a few miles east of Marco Island. The Big Marco River goes by and empties into Florida Bay from here. Lots of boats here and this is somewhat a suburb of Marco Island. I talked to the dock master today and there are 24 liveaboards at the marina and most of the slips are full. There is not a lot of water depth around here as you can see from the sailboat picture. The docks are nice concrete floating docks with pump out available at all the slips.
We ate on board last night but tonight we will go into Goodland for dinner. It is a small town but has several restaurants. We will get a ride in from the Marina Manager when he leaves for the day. We will walk back to the boat if we cannot find a ride, the distance is not too far. Candy and I walked in this afternoon to check it out.
The winds are up today and tomorrows prediction is the same. We may have a break Sunday or Monday. I will need to check the forecasts in the morning.
Little cool in the morning but the temps warmed nicely with the sun out in a cloudless sky. There was a light breeze from the northeast.
We departed Port Sanibel Marina about 9:00 and it was hard to leave but we have friends, Jane & Joe in the Naples area that we will see. Not a lot of boat traffic on the water. We did see the Florida Fish & Wildlife Officers stop a commercial fishing boat and then the fishing boat moved further south.
As we crossed under the Sanibel Island Causeway the winds seem to increase some and the waves were a little higher. We stayed between 1 and 2 miles offshore and after we passed Estero Bay (Fort Myers Beach area) we were able to move to about 1 mile offshore. We had to keep an eye out for the crab trap markers as we were right on the outside edge where the fishermen put them.
The ride was pretty uneventful but there were a few boats near Gordon Pass which is the entrance to Naples Bay and the City of Naples. It is almost 4 miles from Gordon Pass to Downtown Naples and most of the way there is no speed limit in the channel and every boater feels he needs to go fast in the channel and all the other boats rock in their wake.
There is a lot of nice houses along both sides of the channel and over the last year there has been more construction activity in new homes and remodeling exiting homes all along the shore.
We are staying at the Naples Boat Club that is about 6 blocks from the downtown business district. Candy and I have walked there on several mornings already.
Our 2nd night at the Naples Boat Club there was a “lighted Boat Parade” on Naples Bay. The parade started about 3 miles south of us came right by the marina, went up to the highway bridge and turned around and went back. There were about 30 boats in the parade and everybody comes down to the marinas to party during the parade. The actual judging was at the marina across from us as the boats went by and there were cash awards for the best boats so there were lot and lots of lights.
We had our friends Jane and Joe down to the marina for the Boat Parade and cocktails and went to the marina restaurant for dinner after. Very enjoyable evening for all.
We are staying here until Thursday and we have 2 travel days to get to Islamorada but the winds may make the time stretch out some. We will have to wait and see what actually develops.
It was a quite morning at the marina. Temps were mid 60’s and the sky was clear and there was no wind. Last night was a lot quieter at the marina. Although the lighted boat show was still on there were no crowds on the docks or Santa serving alcohol. The lighted boats are leaving the marina today.
I wanted to time the departure with the bridge opening of the Boca Grande Swing Bridge about 4 miles south. The bridge opens on the hour and half hour and has a height clearance of 9’.
We were about a mile north of the bridge when I called the bridge tender and he said that they currently had 14’ of clearance. The Champ III needs about 12.5’ of clearance. The bridge tender said to stay to the outside where the clearance is the most. We went real slow with Lenore watching the clearance and there was about 1’ of clearance as we went under the bridge.
It was a nice day on the water on Gasparilla Sound and Charlotte Harbor. The wind came up some and there was a light chop on the water. There was a lot of boat traffic
with mostly runabouts that were rental boats. Everybody was enjoying a nice day on the water.
The traffic in the last portion of the ICW near Fort Myers was particularly busy with lots of boats in the channel. There is no place to go outside the channel and there is no speed limit in this area. There are really some dangerous people out there considering they were in a maybe a 250’ wide channel, the boats were 4 wide and they were going along at about 25 mph. I was glad when we were out of that area.
We arrived at Port Sanibel Marina in early afternoon. It was good to see Ken and Peggy Watton again. They are a delightful couple from the Leamington Ontario Area. We first met them in the Georgian Bay at a Looper Rendezvous in July 2006 when they were just starting their Loop. They are a delightful couple from the Leamington Ontario Area.
Last year we spent a month at Port Sanibel Marina and got to know some of the marina personnel and it was good to see them again. Not much has changed at the marina and we are looking forward to a week at the marina before moving on.
Great Weather this morning with a cloudless sky and temps in the mid 60’s that will warm to the 80’s. The weather forecast is calling for a chance of rain this afternoon and evening but it sure does not look like it now.
Gave the boat a good hosing down today with fresh water. I wanted to wash all the salt off the boat surface. I have been trying to do this after each day we travel. At least with the last couple of days there has not been a lot of wind and spray so the salt on the boat is minimal.
I did a reasonably long walk to the local CVS today to get our refills on prescriptions. I tried to get a cab on the way back but never saw a cab. I also stopped by a Whole Foods Store on the way back to the boat as it was in the downtown Sarasota area. The
location was pretty strange for a grocery store because they are not normally located in the city centers.
We had a nice dinner at the open air restaurant/bar at the Marina last night. They had live music with a soloist singing 60’s music. It was really good and a nice way to relax.
The trip today was really a breeze with no major problems. The traffic on the water was
moderate but most of the boats were small boats so the wakes were not bad. We did have another Looper follow us, Sun-Drum. We had travelled with them on the Tennessee River to Chattanooga but we have not seen them since Fairhope Yacht Club on Mobile Bay. Sun-Drum was a little taller than us and got caught at some of the bridges but was only about a mile behind us when we turned into Palm Island.
Palm Island has a group of boaters in the marina this week that have decorated their boats with lights for the holidays. There will be a lot of people on the docks tonight with people going from boat to boat. Fortunately we are not on the dock with the decorated boats so we do not have all the people going by the boat. It will be easier to get to bed early.
We had a nice time at the Club at Treasure Island but today was the day to move. Weather reports called for fog this morning but there really was none, just gray skies. Temps were in the high 60’s and got to the low 70’s during the day.
There was an area of the sky in the south that looked clear and I thought we might catch the sun before the day was over in Sarasota but that never happened.
We had a pretty low tide this morning and the mooring lines on the boat were somewhat tight. They had loosened up some by the time we were ready to leave because of the rising tide. The difference between last night’s high tide and this mornings low tide was over 3′ which is quite large for the Gulf side of Florida.
The wind was just a hint of a breeze and that was great because we had the open waters of Tampa Bay to cross. One of the areas we crossed near the Sunshine Parkway Bridge was about 6 miles of open water.
Many commercial fishermen were out today and it looked like they were tending to the crab traps along the sides of the ICW. We must have seen a dozen fishermen boats along the way and we did not have a long distance to go today. There was a lot of boat traffic with cruisers of all sizes moving in both directions on the ICW. Some of them were large enough that they needed to wait with the sailboats for the bascule bridges to open. We were short enough that we were able to fit under all the bridges today.
We arrived in Sarasota and are staying at Marina Jack in Downtown Sarasota. Nice marina with floating concrete docks and all the amenities. Just as we were getting tied up I noticed that we were about 4 slips away from the trawler Carol Anne. They had travelled with Humbug but we had never met them. Well they were just coming back to the boat and they came over and we chatted for a time about the crossing and the trip since then. They were leaving Carrabelle for the overnight crossing just as we were coming in to C Quarters Marina.
Off Leash, the catamaran we traveled with in the Trent Severn and Lake Michigan had been here last night but left this morning. We have been chasing them since we got back to the boat in September. I sent Off Leash an email to see what their schedule will be. Maybe we can meet up along the way.
We will be here for 2 nights before moving further south.
The day started out sunny and not quite as cool as the previous day. We are headed to The Club at Treasure Island today and the winds are also down today. The wind has been pretty strong for the time we have been in Tarpon Springs.
We had a good time in Tarpon Springs and had docktails with the couple on the boat next to us last evening. The boat is a trawler named Osprey that they bought in Bradenton Florida. They are within about 80 miles of crossing their wake and completing the Loop. Patti and Geoff live in Ashland Oregon and are a delightful couple. We traded good stories about our adventures on the Loop and had a good docktails time.
Osprey pulled out before us but they travel slower than we do so we ended up passing them on the Anclote River on our way to the ICW. This is a pretty long distance to get from tarpon Springs to the ICW, Probably 4+ miles and a good portion at no wake speed.
The wind that there was out of the Northeast and put up a small chop on the ICW. The first 15 miles of this section of the ICW is really a large bay with several outer islands that do provide some protection from the Gulf.
Being Saturday there were a lot of boaters on the water and none of them go slow unless they are in a no wake zone and even then it is questionable what constitutes no wake.
the sun was nice and was with us most of the way. We went thru Dunedin and the Clearwater area. Plenty of development and high rises in the Clearwater Beach area. As we got further South the ICW narrows down to more of a wide river than the large bay. All the bridges we passed we were able to go under without having to request an opening. They were pretty busy today anyway with lots of sailboats and large cruisers around.
We did see the MetLife Blimp today. It was heading south so I thought maybe it was going to Tampa Bay for a football game tomorrow. I guess we will need to watch TV tomorrow to find out.
We did see a pirate ship on the ICW. It was on the south side of Clearwater and some spent a lot of time and effort to make it look like a real pirate ship although I don’t think they painted them, at least not with red trim.
We only needed to travel a little less than 40 miles today so it was an easy day, We are tied up at the Club at Treasure Island at the same dock as last year. We had a nice dinner in the Clubhouse last night and we will be here for another day before heading south.