|We rang in the new year with our friends Jon
and Peggy at their new home in Estero. The next day, we went sailing on Passage,
Jack and Sue's a Gemini catamaran in the Caloosahatchee River, a
boat that was on our radar screen several years ago. The cruise attests to
our confirmation that sailing is not for us. Call us lazy, but we think it
is too much work! Sure, we like the peace and quiet (that's why we anchor
out so much), but we also like destinations and we like to relax on our
On Jan 3, we left Helen and Craig's dock and anchored out at Bimini
Basin in Cape Coral. It was such a convenient location that we stayed for
almost ten days. As did Kirin, Ming, Shang and
several other boats.
A couple of Canadian boats were waiting for
a good weather window to the keys en route to Cuba (yes, we are jealous).
We discovered that we had several friends living around here, so we had
the convenience of their cars when we needed it. We took the boat to Shell
Point (near the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico) so the captain can take a
dive to check the propeller. When we left our friends' dock, we
felt some vibration when we gunned the throttle. Sure
enough, a line was wrapped around the left prop.
Three weeks into the new year, we moved up to Ding Darling (a National Wildlife
Refuge) on the southeast side of Sanibel Island. Our bird-watching excitement included
spotting all the usual suspects - dolphins, brown and white pelicans,
herons and various other shore birds. And something new - roseate spoonbills! Next
day found us at the southern tip of Cayo Costa Island. Shelling is still
supreme here despite Hurricane Charley's wrath last summer wiping out
trees and eroding the beach.
Next stop: Sarasota. We were anchored in the open harbor where we rocked
and rolled badly from the ICW wakes, but the charm,
culture, and conveniences (excellent library and bus system, great
restaurants and art galleries, to name several) of this lovely city more than compensate all that unpleasantness.
Relatives came in from St Pete one day and we visited the Ringling Museum
and toured St Armands Circle. A short jaunt across the bay took us to Otter Key,
where we spent a night at anchor after picking up our friends Sienna and Rob and their 6 months old baby
Pierce. We were
lucky to catch the art festival here one weekend. It has got to be the
finest one we've seen, and we've gone to some fabulous shows in Key West
and Coconut Grove. The farmer's market on Saturdays was another highlight,
as was the Whole Food Market, which we first discovered in Baltimore this
past August. We would have loved to live in Sarasota, but the prices were
just too pricey for poor boaters like us.
It was time to leave
(after 2 weeks here) when birds are eating their catch on your deck and
bimini top! Ughhh. Did we mention that there are quite a few liveaboards
here? It is reminiscent of Boot Key in Marathon before it was cleaned up.
We took off for Longboat Key before venturing into the Manatee River to
Bradenton, where we rendezvous with several boaters - Honga, Moby
Duck, Nirvana, Minden and Island Way - at Twin