Friday, March 21, 2014

Ft. Myers Beach

Our sail to Ft. Myers Beach on the Gulf of Mexico was just gorgeous.  We could only have asked for a bit more steady breeze, in the right direction, but we did get to sail for the first portion of the passage.  After that, it was just wall-to-wall pretty water and white sand beaches.  

We made it through the shoals at the entrance to the Ft. Myers Beach mooring field, where I swear, every motor boater in town was trying to pass simultaneously.  After passing beneath the 65 ft. bridge, it is advised that you turn to Port and follow the marked channel to enter the mooring field.  It looks like you should go to the right and there will be many boats using this route, but evidently it is shallow and only folks with local knowledge should use this route.  

Matanzas Inn snuggled beneath the bridge
We followed the channel around and started looking for our assigned ball in the East Mooring Field.  Our 45 ft. length was limiting in that the currents in this waterway often oppose the winds, causing the boats to swing in different directions.  We would need all the swinging room we could get.  It was really an eye-opener for us seeing how swiftly the current could move.  We circled our mooring ball many many times during our stay.  Using a bridle might have been a problem as we saw some boats with theirs twisted around.  Using the pennant only as advised by management was the thing to do.

We spent nearly two weeks in Ft. Myers Beach.  The price was so reasonable that we decided to take care of some business which extended our planned one week stay.  The ladies who manage the mooring field at the Matanzas Inn were so sweet and accommodating, we felt very much at home and at ease here.  In fact, we almost felt like “Locals” as we eyed the obvious vacationers here during Spring Break.

Yes, we were here during Spring Break.  And yes, the traffic was backed up almost the length of Estero Blvd. the main drag here on the island.  Our main mode of transportation being of the “Public” variety had us sitting on the bus for long periods of time whenever we needed to go to the Publix or the West Marine.

So… What does one do for two weeks in Ft. Myers Beach?

Somehow we always seem to have two big bags...
Household Upkeep:  The laundry machines here, though on the pricey side at $1.75 wash, $1.75 dry, at least WORKED!  And there was wi-fi in the laundry room.  Another big plus!  We had wifi on the boat but it was not reliable enough to count on as far back in the mooring field as we were.  Perhaps it was better closer in. 

Bus Stop Entertainment.

Shopping:  We took advantage of the public transportation here and found some things at the West Marine that we needed… and we bought a new carpet for the saloon at Home Depot.

As we sat on the bus with our huge roll of carpet… I thought to myself…  If you had told me that THIS is what I would be doing someday… I would have said NEVER!  But here I am.  Just me and my carpet… riding the bus… 

Cutting it freehand...
Carpet Installation:  The carpet got just a little bit dunked in the saltwater on the dinghy ride home… but it as rinsed and none the worse for wear.  I had to trim it some to get it to fit where we wanted it.  This was another fun project that turned out better than expected.

Perfect fit!
I was able to cut the carpet to custom fit our saloon and it looks great.  Ahhh that new carpet smell.  The best part is that it was only $20 so when it gets dirty, we’ll ditch it and buy another new one!

Outboard Repair:  We had our outboard for the dinghy worked on before we left home, and it has never run right.  So, with the increasing distances and dependence upon the dink as our transportation… we bit the bullet and took it in to Salty Sam’s.

Our fears that this would follow the other repairman experiences we’ve had along the way, were not warranted.  They motor works nicely now, which takes some of the bite out of the big repair bill.  This place is the most expensive per hour rate on any Coast we’ve visited, including the Upper East Coast, AND they wanted $5 for 10 gallons of water.  (needless to say we didn't get any there)  But we’re focusing on the fact that it WORKS now!

Getting them to the boat took us half a day!
Shopping Online:  Since we are starting to reach some of the more remote cruising areas, we wanted to finalize our solar energy choices and get the components ordered before leaving Ft. Myers Beach.  The high wind and lack of outboard motor for the day, provided us with the excuse to stay aboard and scour the internet for information.  We consulted Cruiser friends and ultimately made our decision.  

Ahhh... a thing of beauty!
We ordered a set of solar panel mounts for our panels from Kato Marine to go on top of our Kato Dinghy Davits.  Bruce had pretty much made this decision long ago, but we wanted to get our panel choices made so that we could make sure they were compatible.  In the end, we chose two 140 Watt Kyocera Panels and a Blue Sky Controller.  We ordered those and all of the installation paraphernalia from  We had several great conversations with Cory there and he really helped us to commit.  Customer service goes a long way towards making it easier to let go of those boat bucks…  I would highly recommend Cory and eMarine in Ft. Lauderdale.

Beaching the kayak at the Topps market
Provisioning:  Getting groceries without the normal mode of transportation is always an adventure.

They say that when cruising, you shouldn't try to do more than one thing in a day... and going to the grocery store is that one thing.  We made several trips to the local Topps and one to the Publix a little further away.  Topps is close enough to take the dinghy or the kayak.  Yes, we transported groceries by kayak...

65 lbs.  How long will it last?
The big trip to Publix was for cat litter.  It would be tragic to run out and we were getting low...  We lugged three big boxes on the bus with lots of stares and questions... How many cats do you HAVE?!!! The things we do for our little darlings.

But it wasn't all work and no play.  We had dinner with friends... Ate a huge platter of nachos at LaOla.  Very good food and drinks.

Times Square was lovely all lit up in the evening.  We strolled along for some top notch people watching.  The Spring Break crowds were really not too bad.

We visited the local beach just past Times Square, where we were treated to ice-cream from a local vendor.  They don't have that at home!

Lots of color on the beaches here.  

We took a ride on the Trolley to the next Key over and visited the Lover's Key State Park.  That was an adventure!

This beach was a lot less crowded
After the trolley ride, we still had to walk quite a bit to reach the main park area.  From there, we took a tram to the beach, but we could have walked...

Sun is going down on our visit to Lover's Key
We got here very late in the day so we didn't stay long.  We were once again appreciative of how nice it must be to raise a family in Florida.  They have so many wonderful State Park choices... and all within driving distance.

We had our own pirate ship right next to the dinghy dock...

And for a while, she was pushed aside to make room for the Lynx.  We saw the Lynx preparing to take a day sail as we schlepped our laundry to the machines...  What a beautiful ship!

luscious and colorful goodies at the Farmer's Market
Our final hours here waiting for that last delivery were spent visiting with friends from home, Mark and Julie (S/V Second Star) are doing a sailboat delivery and arrived here on the mooring ball directly behind us.

Us with Julie, Mark and Ziggy
We had them over for dinner and we all visited the Farmer's Market on the morning we left.  It was so nice getting to talk to people from home and catch up on all the local news.

We truly enjoyed our stay here in Ft. Myers Beach.  It was a friendly place with lots going on and lots to do.  Before leaving, we stopped to top off our fuel at Diversified Yacht Services.  THEY were nice enough to give us water for FREE with the diesel, so stop by on your way in or out.  They're right before the bridge coming in.

Now... on to the KEYS!

1 comment:

  1. My father-in-law spends a lot of time in Ft. Myers (not on a boat) and we've heard a lot of great things about that area ... I can see why!

    I keep thinking of how not too long ago ya'll were passing through Mandeville and just getting started ... ya'll have done so much since then!