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.