Close your eyes and see this. You sit in the cockpit while sipping your Sundowner-Of-Choice. The breezes blowing across the boat, ruffling your hair and ending in the soft snap snap of the US Flag flying off the stern. The water is flat in the Little Shark River. The current makes odd eddies but you’re anchored off to the North side, expecting the winds to turn light and northerly overnight. You’re a little bit concerned about the changing tidal current as they don’t have much of that where you come from.
The sounds of civilization are absent. The wind breathes a sigh, undulating the tops of the 50 ft. high mangroves that line the river. Some unseen bird makes the occasional jungle call and a fish makes a soft plop as it lands back in the water. The dolphin breathe and dive. The turtles poking their heads out of the water make no sound… until they get close. And then it’s a loud Phoo-Haaa-Sooop as they exhale and then take another big breath. They are huge with heads as big as a man’s fist. It’s been a long day… time to make dinner. Maybe a shower since you haven’t had one in two days…
|Smokehouse Bay, Marco Island|
You think about how odd this all is and you laugh. How incredible is it that you just walked away from your job and got on this boat… and broke free? Who DOES that??? You think how out-of-your-comfort-zone this all is. Each morning you get up and have no idea how your day will end. You can plan and prepare, but it’s all unknown. You may sleep with million dollar homes lining the shores tonight, and tomorrow night, you find yourself here… in another world.
|Moon over the Gulf of Mexico|
You think back over your day and remember the chills that rose on your arms when you heard Coast Guard Key West on your radio. You say to yourself... “Really!?? This is Bruce and Tammy from Corpus! On our own boat, with Key West on the radio!” How did this happen? You remember laughing out loud for no reason as your boat raced over the incredibly blue-green waters and you know that this is what you came here for.
OK, you can open them. That is what it’s like to be me right now.
|Jetsam at her post. Goodbye Ft. Myers Beach|
We left Ft. Myers Beach, Fl. and sailed most of the day to an anchorage at Marco Island called Smokehouse Bay. It was a last minute decision, I hadn’t seen it until a friend suggested it.
|Sailing at last|
We braved bright sunlight, soft winds, and favorable currents to arrive there in time for Sundowners.
|Strangely, a large sight seeing boat came in, circled us and left...|
We sat in the fishbowl surrounded by those aforementioned homes and congratulated ourselves on another day survived out here.
Early this morning, we motored back out into the Gulf of Mexico for another spin of the wheel. The winds cooperated and we were able to sail all day, making over 7 knots at times, which would carry us on to the Little Shark River. The morning seas were nearly flat but later built to maybe two feet, nothing uncomfortable. The cat didn’t even toss her cookies!
The water’s soft emerald green is my new favorite color.. It almost glowed, as if lit up internally as we rounded the Cape Romano Shoals. We sailed out of the sight of land and never saw more depth than 25 ft. We saw dolphin and turtles and birds. We were sailing! If we had to come up with a complaint, it would be the crab pots. Just when you think “it’s been a while since I saw any, maybe they’re done.”, here they go again. We dodged them most of the day. It had me wondering what would happen if we just ran over them, but don’t even go there…
|Approach to Little Shark River|
Just after 4:30, we dropped the sails and motored towards the channel marker signifying the entrance to Little Shark River. We had seen the huge trees lining the shore from six miles out. We didn’t expect trees. We entered the river rolling with the following sea until well inside. There were two sailboats and a trawler already anchored. The trawler had the first anchorage, the two sailboats had the second. We tried anchoring between them but weren’t satisfied with our position. We asked ourselves if we would be irritated if someone came in and anchored on top of us… and the answer was, we moved.
|The Perfect Spot|
Our next choice turned out to be such a better spot. We found a wide cove on the North side of the River where the current was not as strong. Plus, we wouldn’t swing towards shore if the predicted North winds materialized. We set the hook and relaxed to talk about our day and to appreciate the fact that we are here. Go. Cruising. NOW!!!