Jan 132017
 

Off to an early start. Or so we thought so. We were crammed in between 2 large boats. The winds were coming into us and pushing us into the dock. With no bow thruster fixed yet it would be a tough spot to get out of. We asked for help from the attendant. I think if we had waited for him we would still be there. He was too busy talking with fish buddies at the dock and then folks in the parking lot. After waiting about 30 minutes I noticed a couple other boaters were up so I asked them to help out. No problem. We were off by 8 AM.

Again the weather was good on The Gulf so instead of the slow long haul of the ICW we chose to head out to the open water. Dodging crab or shrimp pots until Ft. Myers. These shrimp pots are difficult to see. They are a soccer ball sized ball with a rope through them and tied to a pot on the ocean floor. All we see are dodging white, orange or whatever choice of colour the ball is. Yesterday was much easier with the smooth glass of the calm sea. Today there was a chop so these things bobbed up and down with the waves. We both were on lookout for hours.
The beauty of the Great Loop is its adventure. Today we saw a whale. It’s big puff of air blowing high in the sky. We have no idea what type or how big but saw the curve of its body and the blowhole mist. Dolphins joined us too. They usually swim toward the boat rather than away. Today we had mom and her baby. They crossed directly in front of us. Slowing down he were able to see the two of them working closely together. Momma is side by side and no more than a fin away.

We came into the Caloosahatchee River in Cape Coral. The meandering river is very shallow with channels dug. The depth is between 6-11 feet in the channel. There were several boaters, both big and small, out enjoying the 82 degree weather. We had the back off all day while traveling. The river seems undisturbed in some areas and built up in others with the multi million dollar homes on the OCWW. The Okeechobee Waterway eventually leaves the city setting of Cape Coral and Ft Myers into a calm river. Channels are quite wide after leaving the open bay areas in the cities. Again multi million dollar homes can be seen. Several marinas with 100 plus ft boats are here along with gas and diesel. The interesting part is that the speed limit through here is 25 mph, watch your wake. We would slow for passing boats and docks. That seems to be the opposite of what everyone does.

We decided to lock through the first lock. Franklin Lock is only 3 feet to go up and about 15 minutes. We contact the lockmaster and it is set for us when we arrive. We lock through with 4 other boats. They throw you a line and you just cleat it down to hold her since we are going up. Scott is at the stern and I’m on the bow. There is a breeze which isn’t too bad since it’s a shallow lock. On the other side we find an anchor spot at a tip of an island at oxbow just past WP Franklin Campground on the north side. We are on the south side. There is a ski course there and we watch the locals. Not before guy who owns the house on the shore freaks out over us being there. He doesn’t like us near his ski course. He drove his golf cart to the water and then started shouting at us. We had already talked to the fellas in the boat skiing to ask where a good spot out of the way is. He just keeps yelling at me on the bow telling me to go someplace else. He doesn’t realize that we are avid wakeboarders from the past. After trying to settle him down we move out a bit. The boys in the boat that were skiing were fine with us. They called him the mayor. Oh boy!

Tonight we will watch the sun set, enjoy the serenity of being on the hook and enjoy that fish that we bought in Carrabelle.

 Posted by at 11:44 PM
Jan 132017
 

This morning was the first morning where we could actually see that we are in Florida as most people know it. Folks were out running, walking, biking or getting ready to go on their fishing charter. The Clearwater Beach marina is a great marina near the beach. High rise condos are everywhere and just about any tourist would be happy here.

We decided to head to the beach before heading out. I put the coffee on so that we would have it ready when we got back. The beach was about 5 minutes from our slip. People were out and about by 7 AM. The Gulf was smooth with SE winds.

As we headed back to the boat we talked about the day. We decided to head out to The Gulf to make up time. Deciding to not do the ICW was a wise choice for us mainly due to our time constraints. We took a quick cruise through the ICW for about 10 minutes just to see the sites then headed to The Gulf. From there we thought maybe to make a short day and stay at Sarasota. The water was smooth with less than 1 foot waves. We were able to travel at 28 mph and made Sarasota in a couple hours. We thought we should push on and “make up a day” and stay in Venice. It was an easy channel to get into with Crow’s Nest being right at the mouth of the channel. It is also an easy diesel top up and slip with a large dock. We had 3 other larger boats than us on it by nightfall.

Crow’s Nest Marina is a nice marina for the simple items needed. The grocery store is about 2 miles away but you can take the courtesy bicycle there. Which we did. It took a little over an hour there and back and picked up groceries to put in the baskets on the bike. FYI the wifi is terrible. It is shared with a busy restaurant and even in the “boater’s lounge” directly below the restaurant it is flaky. There is not much available here if you need provisions but the sunset is a must see.

We planned our route to Ft Myers tomorrow, did laundry, checked engines, cleaned up the boat, biked to get those groceries, went for a long walk on Venice Beach and watched the pelicans and the osprey nest directly next to our boat. Mom and 2 babies learning to soar. Amazing. Tonight we turned on the underwater lights which attracted large 2+ foot fish. We have no idea what they are but they are big.

 Posted by at 2:57 AM