Wednesday, 13 March 2013

March 10, 2013

We have decided to head to Indiantown, where we will leave the boat for the summer via the west coast of Florida.  People have been telling us how protected the waters are on the west coast, due to the prevailing winds having to cross the land mass.  

We said our good-byes to Jay, Tino, Carla, Dave, Sal and Ina on Wednesday and prepared to leave at high tide.  We made it over the low spot in the channel and out into the Atlantic, heading for Boot Key at the west end of Marathon.  The wind had swung around on us and came directly from the west on the nose, making it a rough and choppy ride.  We arrived late in the afternoon at Boot Key Harbor and got a mooring ball for 2 nights, as the weather was not expected to improve.  

Early Friday morning we left Boot Key Harbor and headed west to the Seven Mile Bridge, then north into the Gulf of Mexico.   We noticed the water was really green, probably due to it being very clear and only about 7 to 12 feet deep.  Our goal for the day was to anchor off the beach in the Florida Everglades National Park.  The trip across, is the first time that we have been out of sight of land on our trip down from Canada.  The wind swung around on us in the afternoon and went from the Northeast to the Northwest, making our beach anchorage impossible.  So we went to plan “B”, both Jay and Sal had told us about the Little Shark River anchorage so we changed course and headed for it.  About half a mile up the river, around the first bend, the wind was gone and the water calm, blocked by thick mangroves along the entire river, making it a very quiet and peaceful anchorage.  

Our goal for Saturday was to sail to Marco Island, a journey of about 55 miles.  Our friend, Jay, had contacted Marilyn, a lady we had met at Coral Lagoon Resort in Marathon, whose condo on Marco Island had a dock that we could use for free.  We arrived there late in the afternoon and after winding our way up the channel, it sure was nice to see Marilyn waving to us from the end of the dock.  

Sunday morning Marilyn took us for a tour of Marco Island, showing us different points of interest.  A large part of Marco Island, is land that has been reclaimed from dredging canals, so that people can have boats in their backyards.  She also showed us a couple of spots that had not been developed, but preserved.  The first, was the remnants of a foundation of a hotel that had sat on the highest point of Marco Island, even though overgrown, it was easy to imagine the view.  The second was called Otter Mound Preserve.  Here someone had built retaining walls from thousands of conch shells.  It wasn’t possible to tell what the purpose of the walls had been, but it was incredible to see the large number of conch shells used in this manner.  We had our lunch on the beach and went for a long walk.  The sand on the beach is really white and powdery and full of shells, unlike the more coarse, granular sand we saw on the east coast.  We finished off the afternoon in the hot tub and pool at Marilyn’s condo complex.  She cooked us a delicious supper and we had a nice evening visiting. 

Heading to the Seven Mile Bridge and the Gulf of Mexico

Sunrise in the Little Shark River anchorage

Mangrove Swamp at the Little Shark River, Everglades National Park

Retaining walls built of conch shells

The beach on Marco Island

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