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.

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