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Finally.... The Keys

We left the Ding Darling anchorage early in the morning to go to our next stop….Fort Myers beach. We had reserved a slip at the Pink Shell resort at Ft. Myers beach for two nights. We arrived at Pink Shell at 1130 on what was now Wednesday, and had to leave on Friday.

The View Of The Pink Shell Resort From Our Slip At There Marina

As I stated in previous blog posts, marinas on weekends at this time of year are generally fully booked in the Southwest Florida area. Some weekdays are available, but be ready to pay the price. The Pink Shell was $4 a foot ( $168 a night for our 42' boat) , but after staying there, we totally think that it was worth it. They had sandy beaches, with complimentary chairs and umbrellas, spa and Yoga on the beach (which Sandra enjoyed), free black water tank pump-out (Yuk sewage) and all the needed water to wash Namid.

View To The Pool Area And The Beach At Pink Shell Resort And Marina

Fort Myers beach is a great place! Getting around is a piece of cake. They have a free shuttle that runs the whole beach area, and connections to the city bus to go to stores north of the beach. ( These cost a whopping 75 cents a ride. ) We used the free shuttle to go to restaurants and the city bus to go provision. We took advantage of the beach, live music and the complimentary clothes washers and dryers that the resort offered. On Friday, we reluctantly left the marina but decided to stay in Fort Myers beach a little longer while waiting on wind that was forecasted to come soon.

Fort Myers Beach....Heading To Dinner.

We moved to the anchorage adjacent to the entry to Fort Myers beach at San Carlos Bay and found it to be an awesome anchorage , since there was no Southeast wind to rock us. From this anchorage, we were able to easily visit Bunche Beach nearby (by dinghy) and also took advantage of the nearby free dinghy dock under the bridge at Fort Myers Beach.

The Free Dinghy Dock Under The Bridge At Fort Myers Beach

The Christmas spirit was running high, because it really is " The most wonderful time of the year" we put up some lights. Sandra loves to decorate, so of course Santa has to go about the salon door ?

Santa and Snow On The Boat !

We anchored at San Carlos bay for four nights. All in all, we absolutely loved the Fort Myers beach area. It is a perfect place to be if you are on a boat.

The Lighting Of The Lights on Namid at San Carlos Bay.

Finally on Tuesday, Dec 14th we pulled anchor and after 16 days of no wind, we finally had wind. We raised the sails and enjoyed a great short day’s sail of 33 miles to our next destination, Marco Island. We briefly met a very nice Canadian family, Scott and Lea, with their two little boys George and Arti while we were anchored at San Carlos Bay. They sailed to Marco Island the day before us, but we stayed in contact with them. We made plans to meet up at Marco Island for dinner, or what cruisers call "happy hour", which essentially is an early dinner with beverages of choice.

Marco Island Anchorage

The anchorage at Marco Island is small, crowded, hard to maneuver in and has very soft mud on the outer limits that made anchoring a chore. We moved about several times but either had issues with our location, or the anchor would not grab. We finally had to get real close to the marina and houses with piers to get our normally dependable, Mantus anchor to grab. Needless to say, we did not like this anchorage at all ! The only plus was the dinghy dock at the nearby marina was only 2 minutes away, although it costs $10 to use. After we docked the dinghy, we walked about 20 minutes to the grocery store for a few items, and the West Marine store to get me a new pair of flip-flops.

We returned and met our new friends for dinner at an outdoor Tiki Restaurant. It was a great time. We learned that the Canadian family had just bought a catamaran and were in route to the Bahamas. We also met Steve who was also previously anchored near us at San Carlos Bay. He was impressively solo-sailing his 40 foot catamaran to Key West . We found out that he is a fellow Texan and was actually in a neighboring marina to us In Kemah. Talk about a small World. We all were discussing anchorages south when Steve mentioned he was leaving in the morning to go to an anchorage at Shark River, near Everglades National Park, which was an easy day sail. We agreed to buddy-boat ( sailing with another boat to a destination) with him to the anchorage since it an easy day hop and also was in route to where we decided we were heading to (Boot Key Harbor) in Marathon. Our friends from Canada were staying at Marco Island a little longer.

Steve on Sailing Vessel "Drift Away". Our "Buddy Boat" For The Day

Early the next morning we departed, along with Steve in the lead. Early on, we had good winds and were moving at a good clip. However, the winds died and we ended up motoring the last couple of hours. We arrived at the anchorage at Shark River around 1700. This was indeed a great anchorage. It was far enough off the coast to keep the mosquitoes away, and yet was smooth enough for a good night’s sleep. We had a good visit with Steve that evening but turned in early.

It was a great time getting to know Steve

The next morning we all left the anchorage early with Steve heading to Key West to meet up with his girlfriend and daughter, while we were heading to Marathon ( Boot Key Harbor)

The wind was blowing really good, so we reefed the sail as we were leaving. We had a really good sail the entire 6 hours 40 mile trip to the seven mile bridge at Boot Key Harbor. The only negative about this sail was the fact that we had to dodge crab traps the whole way. They were everywhere. We dropped the sails and motored under the seven mile bridge and anchored outside the west entrance to Boot Key Harbor. Finally, we had reached a milestone. We had the Keys as a target since we started cruising. We went the long way around, but we made it ! We felt really good about it. The only negative now was that I discovered a coolant leak on the Starboard engine. Again, the starboard bilge needed a cleaning. More on that later.....


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