Sea Shells and Bombers

Between visiting the farmers markets, we were also kept busy looking for shells at Rookery Bay. Rookery Bay is actually on the Intracoastal Waterway, but just a short dinghy ride away there is a walking path through the mangroves that leads to the Gulf Coast. The path is very short, about fifty yards, and then it ends at the Gulf side. This particular beach is known for its abundance of shells and the bonus of being uncrowded. Our friend Tim was right, there were so many shells that it boggled the mind. At least it boggled mine. Michele was right at home exploring the beach and high tide areas for perfect specimens. She even managed to score a few dollars that were partially hidden in the sand.

Michele on the hunt..

Too many shells to count!

Tim found a very large and beautiful Horse Conch. It was still alive so we put it back after looking it over.

A gathering of Florida Fighting Conch

Another, smaller, Horse Conch in the water

I had never seen a Hermit Crab out of its shell, so this was really interesting to see. It seemed to all of us that the shell was too small and maybe he was leaving it and not trying to enter it. None the less it was very cool to watch it for a while..

When we were anchored in Naples, these two WWII planes kept flying overhead. I used to be able to identify these, but not sure what type they were.

 

Until then…..

Farmers Markets

There’s one great thing about hanging out with fellow cruisers, and that’s finding out about new places to visit. In our time spent with Bud, Jen, Tim and Jill, Tim led us on a couple of excursions while in Naples and Marco Island. The highpoint was the farmers markets. Michelle and I really enjoy walking through the stalls and checking out all that’s offered. We always come back to the boat with beautiful fruits and veggies. Check it out…

This guy was so fun to watch. He really engaged everyone at his booth

A beautiful Paella from a company called “Fire and Rice”..

Making caramel corn. The smell was awesome!

It was incredible how many boxes of strawberries this guy sold in four hours. All those were full!

Jen, Michele, Jill and Tim

Until then….

The Everglades

Ahhh, now that we’re back in the land of 4G service and wifi, I can update what we’ve been up to. We left Key Largo and anchored in Long Key Bight, which is right next to the Five Mile Channel Bridge. Great protection here and a good jumping off point for heading up the Gulf Coast. While anchored there, a large monohull came into the anchorage. I should say, tried to come into the anchorage. Being a catamaran, we only draw four feet of water, so we’re comfy anchoring in five feet of water if necessary. Dependent on tide of course. I watched him come in and head right for us and told Michele, ” he’s gonna run aground”. No sooner did the words come out, he slid to a stop on the bottom. I took the dink over to see if I could help and really the only thing to do was wait for the tide to come in. Thankfully, there was enough tide to float him off and he left after getting unstuck.

The next hop was to Little Shark River which was uneventful, although the water was a milky white the whole way up. The recent storms had stirred up the sandy bottom I think. For the next three days we really had no cell service to speak of. Kinda nice, but kinda inconvenient at the same time. The next day was the run to Panther Key where we caught up with friends Bud, Jen, Tim and Jill onboard their Gemini catamarans. We always have an awesome time with these guys. With all three boats gathered in one spot, we sorta alternate whose boat dinner is going to be on. Great food, great conversation and then afterwards we play dominos, cards or a dice game. It seems the laughter hardly ceases.

From Panther Key, we’ll start making short hops in the 10,000 Islands area of the Everglades. Those posts are coming….

The sailboat that tried to anchor by us. You can see he’s stuck and trying to back off the shoal. Look at his exhaust on the left side, starting to overheat and on the right side the bottom he’s stirring up…

The nice thing about being inside the park boundary is no crab traps to dodge. Unfortunately, some areas are too shallow for us so it’s dodging crab traps…

The amazing color of the water on the way up the coast..

We always seem to capture a trap when we’re in the Gulf…This was wrapped around the prop…

Bud and Jen getting ready to do some fishing..

Michele exploring the back water..

Bud cast netting for bait fish..

The result…

When the tide goes out and the dink is on the beach, you’re thankful for friends to help drag it back in the water!

Local Osprey’s

Yes, even catamarans go aground sometimes. Here we are twenty feet from the gas dock and waiting for the tide to come in so we can top off with diesel.

 

Until then….

Hiding Out in Key Largo

Crossing Biscayne Bay is pretty unique, especially if you’ve never done it before. For one thing, the Bay is huge. It takes us a few hours to cross it in a sailboat. Another thing is that it’s very shallow. You can compare it to the Bahama Banks, only more shallow. For the first timer it’s a little disconcerting to travel for miles and miles with only two or 3 feet of water under the keel. And then there are the areas where it’s really shallow and the depth meter is showing a foot or foot and a half under you. It gets your attention real quick. Fortunately, those areas are small and quick to pass through. After you clear the Bay, the path leads you through mangrove cuts and various Sounds.

The reason we wanted to hole up in in Tarpon Basin is that we knew a wicked front was coming through and here in the Basin you have almost 360 degree protection from the wind, depending on where you drop the hook. When the front moved through last night, it was a little wild to say the least. The lightning was constant and the wind was a steady 35-40 knots. At one point a gust hit us that had to have been every bit of 50 knots and caused us to drag anchor about thirty feet before it reset. We had two anchor alarms set, but still got up every couple of hours or so to check things out. We did see one monohull that dragged his anchor and it didn’t reset. It was pouring rain and lightning and he was looking for another place to drop the hook. Not a fun situation to be in. All in all, we felt pretty safe.

The day before the front came through we were able to finish up the shopping list at Publix down the street. On the way there, we stopped in at a place called Hobo’s for their happy hour. A cruiser can never pass up a good happy hour! The place was awesome with 60 cent shrimp, steamed clams and wings. The wings had to be some of the best we have eaten.

It looks like tomorrow, Tuesday, we’ll start heading down the Keys again in preparation for our turn to go north up the Gulf Coast. We’re looking forward to meeting friends Tim, Jill, Jen and Bud around the Ten Thousand Island area and also looking forward to hooking up with our friends Pat and Doug.

Here’s a short video of the storm last night. About half way through watch for the lightning bolt…

Coming through the mangroves reminds me of the Jungle Boat Cruise at Disney Land..

The anchorage here at Tarpon Basin

 

Until then….