Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pine Island Sound Cruise

Passage departed Legacy Harbour Marina on Wednesday, February 25th for a brief cruise on Pine Island Sound. We sailed most of the Caloosahatchee River, then motored across the Miserable Mile, past St. James City and then turned north into Pine Island Sound. A favorable wind shift enabled us to turn off the Westerbreak engine and sail up the sound. We dropped the main off Punta Blanca and motored into Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa.

 We dropped the anchor, then celebrated todays sail with a shower, followed by tea time while we watched the evening news. The night sky was littered with stars, and we slept well.

Thursday we hopped into the dingy and motored over to Cabbage Key.

We savored our burgers while seated at the inn which inspired Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise." The dollar bills on the walls and ceiling were even thicker than during our last visit.

After lunch we dingied over to Useppa Island to check out the private island of the rich and famous. This view of Useppa Island is from the Inn on Cabbage Key.

Then we explored some hidden coves in the area, including one in the hook at the bottom of Punta Blanca, which hid three large sailing vessels. Deep water to enter this cove was right up against the beach, but once in there the shelter was excellent. While exploring a hidden pond on Cayo Costa, we encountered Rod and Nancy Jensen off the Gemini Catamaran "Nancy T". Rod was busy catching dinner, so we only visited briefly.

We decided to shorten our cruise after learning of a strong cold front due to arrive on Saturday night, so on Friday morning we weighed anchor and motored into the southerly breezes and continual powerboat wakes. After nineteen miles, we anchored in a large cove on Sanibel Island southwest of Pine Island's St. James City.

This area is part of the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We hopped in the dingy and motored to the entrance of Tarpon Bay. We were greeted by a school of frolicing dolphins. Although the bay was larger than expected, we decided to check it out. Half way across we passed some small islands inhabited by hundreds of pelicans. The smell on the leeward side was powerful and interesting. We eventually found a lodge where one could rent Kayaks, and, of course, a souvenir shop. One of the nature guides then told us we could use a "cut" in the peninsula and save a couple of miles going back to the boat. Even though he warned that we might have to walk the dingy over the sand bar, we went for it. The cut is visible behind "Passage".

We didn't need to walk the sand bar, but we did raise the outboard and paddle over it in about 12 inches of water.

After a very peaceful night, Sue weighed anchor and hoisted the main sail. We had a lovely sail across the bottom of Pine Island and through the "miserable mile", which must be longer than the name implies. It was Saturday the 28th, and the power vessels were out in force. Even so, we enjoyed our sail up to the first Cape Coral bridge on the Caloosahatchee, where the wind failed us; and we were forced to motor the six miles or so to Fort Myers and our dock at Legacy Harbor.

Friday, February 20, 2009


On January 9th we left Ft. Myers and motored down the Caloosahatchee to Bimini Basin in Cape Coral. We spent two nights at anchor in this lovely, well protected basin. We dingied to the park and walked to the Cape Coral Arts and Crafts show. A large section of the street was closed, and the art show took up several blocks. Impressive! We had a nice time, and Sue learned all about Webkins. Lucy didn't seem to enjoy the anchorage because of the missing dock. No escape!

We awoke on Monday the 12th to a wind shift to the north and FOG! Raising the anchor took some work because of the excellent holding, but once it broke free we were off. A very strong cold front was due in a few days, and we wanted to be in the keys. We motored because of our light downwind course, and the fog finally lifted at 11:30. Passage swung at anchor in Rookery Channel just off the ICW south of Naples by 3:30. As usual, we were the only boat in this pristine anchorage surrounded by mangroves. Tuesday Passage motored two hours down the ICW through Marco Island to Goodland. After running aground once (not easy in a catamaran), we took a dock at the Caloosa Yacht Club and Marina. This gave us the opportunity to explore Goodland and feast on fish at The Little Bar. Yummy!

On Wednesday Passage enjoyed a beautiful broad reach sail in two to three foot seas, reaching a high speed of 9.88 knots. We anchored in the Everglades National Park in the Little Shark River along with four other boats. Thursday's light north winds forced us to motor all the way to Marathon, where the bridge keeper greated us with a warm "welcome to paradise."

Passage was assigned mooring O-4, where we stayed for about three weeks. Paradise was colder than advertised, although it was 10 to 15 degrees warmer than Ft. Myers. Sue's Honda EU2000 generator got a good workout keeping us warm on the mooring. The City Marina has a beautiful new shower and laundry facility. Unfortunately, a lack of sewer permits meant that it was closed. Instead of 14 showers for 226 moored boats, there were three. Demand was high, and hot water was elusive. We actually did get a warm shower once! Nothing is so bracing as a cold shower in 60 degree weather. Showering on the boat was sometimes more comfortable, even if it was out of a sun shower. Lets not even talk about the laundry situation.

We took two round trip bus rides. The first was to the Pine Island Flea Market, which is always interesting. The second was to Key West, which was more eventful than usual. The bus line raised their rates 50 percent, so we were forced to pay $1.50 each for the 50 mile bus ride. We arrived in plenty of time to shop for T-shirts before grabbing a front row table at the famous Sloppy Joes bar. We enjoyed a fine lunch while Sue drooled over her favorite entertainer, Brian Roberts.

We had a great time. Sue, never a shrinking violet, chatted with Brian during his first break. I insisted on taking their picture. Look at her glow!

Sloppy Joe's was such a big hit that Sue decided to forego visiting Mallory Square at sunset and seeing The Cat Man! Thus we took a bus back to Marathon before dark.

We enjoyed Lunch with Jim and Sharon Angel at The Keys Fishery, located across the street from the marina. We ate several times at our favorite eatery, Dockside, even though we had to find our way back to the boat in the dark. John and Brenda from Some Dream shared dinner with us twice, including our 15th wedding anniversary dinner. The live entertainment at the Dockside is always excellent. We also met Jim and Laurie O'Shea at dockside. They sail an Island Packet named Kismet. We enjoyed visiting with them so much that a visit for happy hour aboard Passage followed, and then we even ran into at Key West Bight. Talk about fun!

Then the weather window opened for our sail north, so we left paradise on Monday, February 9th. We enjoyed a great sail to the Little Shark River, sailing at over 6 knots 30 degrees off the wind. The only excitement was the jibs refusal to roll up at the end of the day. After considerable coaxing, she complied; and we anchored at the mouth of the river, where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

A second great day of sailing carried us to Goodland, and two more hours of motoring brought us to Rookery Channel, where we anchored an hour before dark. Wednesday the wind died after less than two hours of sailing, so we fired up the iron genny and rode the current up the river to Legacy Harbour Marina and the end of our cruise to the Florida Keys.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

December 2008

We arrived in Florida on November 25th and inspected Passage at the Glades Boat Storage. She was in great shape inside, but sported the usual black, green and pink exterior. Five days of hard work handicapped by the chest coughs that we brought south with us rewarded us with a successful launch on December 1st.

We launched at 10:30 and motored 27 nautical miles to the Franklin Lock Marina, where we spent two nights recovering from our hard work, and sterilizing water tanks. There were five catamarans at the eight slip marina, including three Geminis.

We motored to Legacy Harbour Marina on December 3rd. and began rigging the boat by installing halyards, bending on sails, etc. We hired Eric to rub out the smooth gelcoat from the rubrail up and then we applied two coats of wax. Passage now looks as good as new. We also had an aluminum post welded to a base at the correct angle to mount to our transom. We then mounted our Track It TV device and Direct TV dish. The installation came out great!

During the rest of December we daysailed on the Caloosahatchee River, and visited with friends.

John Spencer and Brenda Carter on Some Dream, another Gemini, were docked near us during this time. We enjoyed many "happy hours" with them, as well as entertaining walks in the neighborhoods nearby.

We celebrated Christmas with our dear friends Craig and Helen Wilson and several of their invited guests on Christmas eve.
We continued to prep the boat, replacing the lenses on two of our hatches, changing the oil in the engine, etc., until we were ready to start cruising. In this way December passed into history.