Welcome to the blog of Fred and Julaine as we chronicle our adventures traveling the "Great Loop" on Boreas, our Carver 405.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 209 – at Sombrero Dockside Marina - January 31, 2012

We spent today getting ready to depart from Sombrero Dockside Marina.  We made a trip to the grocery store, did some laundry, topped off the water tank, loaded the bikes back on the boat, secured the dinghy and checked the engines.

We are also experiencing something we have never experienced before as boaters.  We must leave Sombrero Dockside Marina tomorrow because someone else has this slip reserved for the month of February.  The problem is that the weather here is not very good for departing – the wind had been blowing VERY hard (over 20 knots with gusts to 30 knots) for the last two days and it is not forecast to be much better tomorrow.  However that doesn’t matter.  We have no choice.  We must leave our slip tomorrow.  As Great Lakes boaters, this is a very unusual circumstance.  Since most Michigan harbors are harbors of refuge, boaters don’t get kicked out of their slip.  Also if the weather is poor, people don’t move their boats, so no one would be coming in to take a slip when the travel conditions are not good.

There are other travel circumstances that make this a very different situation.  There are two ways to travel around the Florida Keys.  You can travel “inside” in Florida Bay or “outside” in the Hawk Channel, which is technically the Atlantic Ocean.  The Hawk Channel is inside the reef that lies just off the Keys which generally makes the waves and conditions in the channel milder.  We hear from many cruisers that you can travel inside any time and that the conditions are never bad – we find that very hard to believe.  The other problem with traveling inside is that our next stop in Key Largo can only be accessed from the outside.  There are very few locations where you can cross from the inside to the outside which makes traveling inside and then going outside difficult.

You can probably tell I am a bit frustrated about this situation.  I’m sure everything will work itself out – and how bad can it actually be – we’re in the Florida Keys!

             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Days 207 & 208 – at Sombrero Dockside Marina - January 29-30, 2012

We’ve spent the last couple of days relaxing on the boat with Fred III.  It has been great having him here – not just because we enjoy spending time with him, but because boat chores get done when he is here (hee hee hee).  In fact, Fred and Fred changed all of the fuel filters today.   We hope to see Fred III again (maybe with Mark and Taylor) as we move further north along the east coast this spring.

While we still had a car available we also did some grocery shopping, picking up things that are difficult to carry on a bike. 

             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Day 206 – at Sombrero Dockside Marina - January 28, 2012

We have been waiting anxiously for a good day to take Boreas out to Sombrero Key Lighthouse to go snorkeling.  The wind has switched directions today, so this seems like our best chance.  We invited John and Rita to go along – John accepted, but Rita elected to say on Brandy IV and work on her watercolors.

The ride out to the lighthouse was quite easy.  We went all the way out Boot Key Harbor and then turned south to the lighthouse.  The waves were a bit bigger than we expected, but not too bad.  We learned at one of the dive shops we visited that there are mooring balls at the lighthouse, so we were watching carefully through the binoculars.  The mooring balls were easy to spot and we picked one up with no problem.

Fred III decided he just wanted a quick swim and didn’t want to actually snorkel, so Fred, John and I donned our new wetsuits and got the rest of our gear organized while Fred III took his quick swim.  Then off we went.  Both Fred and I were immediately thrilled with our new wetsuits – they are comfortable to wear (although not that easy to put on) and they keep you nice and warm.  The snorkeling was amazing!  There were millions of fish and beautiful fan coral.  The ocean was quite active from the waves and the movement of the fan coral was fascinating to watch.  The terrain at Sombrero Key Lighthouse is fingers of coral reaching out from the reef south of Hawk Channel with sandy spots in between the coral.  This made for a large variety of depths – from 20+ feet in the sandy areas to five or six feet over the coral.

When everyone was done snorkeling, we headed back to Sombrero Dockside Marina via Sister Creek.  We have traveled this creek in the dinghy and John has done some soundings with his handheld depth sounder, but this was our first time through in a big boat.  It was a bit shallow right at the entrance, but not a problem for us and it got much deeper as we got into the creek.  If we can use Sister Creek when we depart Marathon for Key Largo, we can cut over an hour off our travel time.
            Miles: 12.5      Bridges: 0        Locks: 0
the beautiful blue water as we approach the
Sombrero Key Lighthouse - the changes in color show
sand (lighter color) and coral (darker color)

Sombrero Key Lighthouse

Fred III treated us to dinner at Lazy Days South here
in Marathon where we got to watch a beautiful sunset
just the smallest sliver of sun is still showing

Day 205 – day trip to Key West, FL - January 27, 2012

We took a car trip to Key West today – “we” included Fred, Julaine, Fred III, John and Rita.  We arrived around 10:30am and got the car parked near Duval Street for the day.  Duval Street is one of the “main drags” in Key West that is lined with shops, bars and restaurants.  We then called Frank and Carrie from Once Around who are moored here in Key West for a few weeks.  Frank and Carrie met us at the end of Duval Street and off we went.  We slowly shopped our way down the street, stopping for lunch at the first Margaritaville restaurant ever opened by Jimmy Buffett.  We all enjoyed a tropical drink and there were a number of “cheeseburgers in paradise” devoured.

We picked up a few shirts, a pair of sandals, some all natural lotions and Twister, a new frog from the artist known as Frogman.  We have three other frogs and one gecko from the Frogman that we purchased while in Hawaii.

In the late afternoon we stopped at a bar to rest our feet and relax with a cold drink.  Although the day had been mostly sunny, we were now experiencing full cloud cover, so we stayed for another round instead of heading for Mallory Square for the sunset celebration which we figured would be a bit of a letdown.  After a visit to Once Around (and a quick tour for Fred III) we had dinner at a great seafood restaurant near the marina.  It was a great day and we all enjoyed spending time in Key West.  Fred says if we make it back down here again in our boat, we’ll definitely plan to spend a couple of days in one of the Key West marinas. 

            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Fred and Julaine at the buoy marking the southernmost
point in the continental U.S.

a close-up of the southernmost point buoy

this is the view past the southernmost point buoy

Margaritaville - a great place to eat and drink in Key West

Days 203 & 204 – at Sombrero Dockside Marina - January 25-26, 2012

Fred III arrived this evening for a short vacation from the cold Michigan weather.  He flew into Miami and rented a car, so we will have access to a vehicle for the next few days.  Fred and Fred spent time doing a bit of boat cleaning and they discussed other boat projects they wanted to accomplish over the next few days.  We also made plans for fun things to do including a car trip to Key West and a boat ride (and snorkel trip) to the Sombrero Key Lighthouse.
            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 202 – at Sombrero Marina, Marathon - January 24, 2012

After getting some laundry done this morning, we headed off on for an afternoon dinghy ride.  We loaded up our snorkel gear and headed out Sister Creek with a plan to check out the tiny island and see if it might be a good day for snorkeling.  There were just enough waves from just the wrong direction that visibility was poor, so we headed back in.

On the way in we realized that we were quite low on fuel.  All our trips in and out of Sister Creek were taking more fuel than we thought.  There aren’t many places to get fuel here in Boot Key Harbor (those that are here are quite far away from our dock), so when we got back to the boat, we hopped on the bikes to search for a small gas can and a gas station.  We found both at a nearby Tom Thumb and with the help of a few bungee cords managed to strap the full gas can to the rack on the back of my bike.  This will be a much easier and less expensive way to fuel the dinghy here in Marathon (and hopefully in other places as well).  Gas from a station on land is much cheaper than gas from a station on the water.  

             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Day 201 – at Sombrero Marina, Marathon - January 23, 2012

Today we went shopping for a new bike seat and a shorty wetsuit for Fred.  John had picked up a great bike seat for Rita at a bike and kayak store just a few blocks away, so that was our first stop.  We found a seat and Fred installed it immediately.  Then we headed off to find a dive shop.  The first one was a great shop and the people there were friendly and knowledgeable give us some great tips on where to snorkel.  Unfortunately they didn’t have a very big variety of sizes of wetsuits and we didn’t find anything to fit Fred.  I got brave and tried on a shortly wetsuit, but as with Fred, they didn’t have a size that really fit.

We exited the dive shop and met John in the parking lot.  John was also looking for a few items to enhance his snorkel experience and had heard from two different people that he should try the Discount Dive shop further up the road.  A quick check of the map program on Fred’s iPhone gave us the route and off we went.  The Discount Dive shop was great and we found a shorty wetsuit for both Fred and me along with a bag to hold all our gear.  John was also successful and found all the things he was looking for.

We spent quite a bit of time on our bikes today and Fred was very happy that he had a new bike seat.

We took a dinghy ride in the afternoon and ended up stopping by Tropical Breeze out on their mooring ball.  Barb and Doug have been installing solar panels and Fred wanted to check it out.  This might be something we decided to do on Boreas sometime down the line.  They have also recently installed some vinyl flooring that looks like regular wood flooring and we wanted to check that out as well.  The flooring is beautiful and Barb gave us an extra installation manual so we can find this product again.  Again, Fred has some ideas on where we could use this type of flooring on Boreas.

            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

the mooring field in Boot Key Harbor

the mooring field in Boot Key Harbor

Day 200 – at Sombrero Marina, Marathon - January 22, 2012

Day 200!  That’s a pretty significant milestone, so it is probably time to give you more trip statistics.  In 200 days we have traveled 3464 miles using 1360 gallons of fuel.  We have traveled under 277 bridges and through 37 locks.  And we have enjoyed every minute of the journey!
 John invited Fred and I to go snorkeling today.  Fred said yes and I went along to watch (but not snorkel).  John had seen a dive boat at a tiny island just off the mouth of Sister Creek and wanted to see if the snorkeling there was any good.  The answer was a resounding yes.  The guys reported that was like swimming in an aquarium and that the fish, coral and sponges were amazing.  The water is just a bit cool, so Fred borrowed a spare “shorty” wetsuit (a wetsuit with short sleeve arms and legs that end just above the knee) from John and found that to be perfect.  We are going shopping tomorrow to see if we can find Fred his own shorty wetsuit.

            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Day 199 – at Sombrero Marina, Marathon - January 21, 2012

We are enjoying using our bikes to explore the area.  Today’s trip was to West Marine.  We didn’t have anything we desperately needed, but Fred found the zincs we use and now has a full replacement set.

We are also using the dinghy to explore the area by water.  About a half mile from our dock is Sister Creek.  Sister Creek cuts through Vaca Key leading directly out to the ocean, ending up right next to the beach we found yesterday.

We had a small Looper get together at the bar here this evening.  The main reason was that those of us who just arrived (Boreas, Brandy IV and Once Around) have not seen our friends Barb and Doug from Tropical Breeze in a long time and they are here in Marathon on a mooring ball.  We last saw Tropical Breeze on the Tennessee River at Green Turtle Bay; for Once Around it was even longer ago than that.  Barb and Doug completed their Loop in Cape Coral, FL in late October and have been here in Marathon since early November.  It was great getting together and telling stories and catching up.   

             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 198 – at Sombrero Marina, Marathon - January 20, 2012

Today is our first full day in Marathon.  The weather is fabulous with a start in the mid 60’s and a high in the upper 70’s.  Fred decided that he would work on the speedo today.  To clean the paddlewheel, he has to pull the entire transducer unit out of the bottom of the boat and replace it with the blank “bung”.  So he crawled into the engine room with his sponge, bucket and toothbrush (for cleaning the gunk off the paddlewheel).  When he pulled the transducer you could see right down to the sand underneath the boat.  About a quart of water got in before he was able to re-plug the hole with the blank bung.  The paddlewheel was indeed dirty, but a bit of scrubbing and scraping has it looking good again.  Since we will not be moving the boat for a few days, we left the blank bung in.  We will put the transducer back in next time we take the boat out.

We got the bikes off the boat and took a bike ride in the afternoon.  We wanted to check out the beach here on the island.  The beach is not overly large, but it is nice.  There are bathrooms, showers for getting sand off as well as beautiful landscaping.  The best part was the bike path we got to ride on the entire way there.  I am very happy with my new bike.  The seat and handlebars are comfortable and I can keep up with Fred in spite of the fact that he has 21 gears and I have one.  That may change when we are in hillier areas, but it is not a big deal now.

              Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 197 – Little Shark River to Sombrero Marina, Marathon, Vaca Key - January 19, 2012

We pulled up the anchor just before 8:00am and were on our way toward Marathon.  The anchor windlass failed with five feet of chain still out, so Fred had to pull that in by hand and repair the windlass after we arrived in Marathon.  Again the weather conditions are wonderful and the Gulf is relatively calm.  The crab pots are still numerous, but as long as we pay careful attention, we are fine.  We had fun laughing at the expense of some of the people who manage the crab pots (would they be called crabbermen instead of fishermen?).  Some are very careful with how they deploy their pots and have perfectly straight lines of pots all equidistance apart with perfectly painted floats (our favorites in this group were the pink floats).  Others however seem to be spread in a rather random way with floats that look like they have been in use for a long while without any maintenance or cleaning.  I guess it’s a little scary what we think and talk about where there is not much to see but crab pot floats and water.

We arrive at Sombrero Marina just after 2:00pm.  This feels like a huge accomplishment as this is almost the furthest south we will go on our Loop.  We will travel further south through Hawks Channel as we head from here to Key Largo at the end of the month, but this will be the furthest south were the boat will be tied up and we will sleep.  We are not ready to head back north! Fred’s checking to see if Boreas has the range to make it to the Cayman Islands.

             Miles: 46.6      Bridges: 1        Locks: 0

departing Little Shark River

Seven Mile Bridge - the shorter bridge with the break in it is the old railroad
bridge which was converted to the first road connecting the Keys
(if you look closely, you can see some crab pot floats)

another view of the Seven Mile Bridge

looking back at the Seven Mile Bridge

the mooring field in Boot Key Harbor

sunset from the front deck of Boreas in our slip
at Sombrero Marina

Day 196 – Esplanade Marina to Little Shark River anchorage - January 18, 2012

Now is where the weather watching really kicks in.  We have two passages to make in the Gulf – one to an anchorage in Little Shark River and the second from Little Shark to Marathon.  Our weather expert (Fred) says today and tomorrow are perfect travel days so we get an early start and head to Little Shark River.  Fred is exactly right.  The conditions are perfect and we have an uneventful ride to our anchorage.  In fact, I didn’t think the ocean could actually get calm, but we certainly saw that today.  The only mar on the day was the number of crab pots we had to avoid.  Everyone talks about how bad the crab pots are in this area, but you have to see it to believe it.

We have talked to many people who spent the night in Little Shark River as the only boat at anchor.  That was not our experience.  There were fourteen boats anchored there for the night.  There is plenty of room in the river, so lots of boats is no problem at all.  This was our first experience anchoring where there is a tide, so Fred set the alarm so he could wake up a couple of times in the night to check the anchor to make sure it made the switch from an incoming tide to and outgoing one.  Everything was fine and other than the sleep interruptions, it was a great night.  Little Shark River is far away from any towns (with their ambient light) so we got to see the best display of stars we have seen in a long time. 

             Miles: 60.0      Bridges: 0        Locks: 0
looking back at the Esplanade Shops, Residences and Marina

another view of the Esplanade Shops and marina as we depart

as we left Smokehouse Bay, I was able to capture pictures of
some of the osprey sitting on their nests

the nests and the birds are both amazing

there are many different nest materials used
by the osprey - some are a bit difficult to identify

the incredibly calm Gulf

our anchorage at Little Shark River

the root structure of mangrove trees

sunset from our anchorage at Little Shark River

Day 195 – Naples City Dock to Esplanade Marina, Smokehouse Bay, Marco Island - January 17, 2012

We had hoped to take the “inside route” from Naples to Marco Island today, but a call to the local Boat U.S. representative caused us to change our minds.  He reported that with the low winter tides that are going on right now, we would be very lucky not to go aground in Boreas and that Once Around and Brandy IV who draw more than we do would surely run into trouble.  So, we decided not to take the chance and took the outside route instead.

It was an easy ride and we were tied up at Esplanade Marina by 1:00pm.  Having checked out Esplanade Marina in early January when we drove through here on our way to our Everglades airboat tour, I knew that there was a salon/spa right next door to the marina. As soon as we were tied up, I ran over to see if they had any open appointments for a pedicure.  I was in luck and a 3:30pm appointment was scheduled.  We then had a nice lunch with Larry and Pat from Midland who spend their winter here on Marco Island (in fact it was Larry who told us about Smokehouse Bay and the Esplanade Marina – thanks Larry, this was a great stop!).  Fred and I both use to work for Larry before he retired from Dow Chemical.

I then hurried off to my appointment at Rick’s Island Salon and Day Spa while Fred continued catching up with Larry and Pat.  My toes and feet are now VERY happy.  Rick’s did pretty well pulling in Loopers today – there were lots of toes and a few fingers painted and two haircuts were done (including Fred’s).

Esplanade Marina was an excellent stop and I would recommend it to anyone passing this way. Anchoring in Smokehouse Bay would be excellent also.

             Miles: 14.2      Bridges: 0        Locks: 0
We saw so many beautiful homes on the way to Naples City Dock that we thought we'd take pictures of a few more.

Day 194 – at Naples City Dock - January 16, 2012

We stayed a second night in Naples and spent time walking around town and exploring the shops.  Naples is not a town full of “tourist trap” shops; in fact they are just about the opposite.  The stores here are very high end – great for shopping and drooling!

We have been in contact (via cell phone) with Frank and Carrie from Once Around for the last few days as they are headed for the Keys on the same schedule we are.  Frank is hoping Fred’s weather watching skills can get us to Marathon and Key West as successfully as they got us across the Gulf from Carrabelle to Clearwater.  We finally met up in person in Naples and had dinner together while we planned the next few days.

             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Day 193 – Snook Bight Marina to Naples City Dock - January 15, 2012

Moving again!  At 10:00am we threw off the dock lines and left Snook Bight (our home for the past month) to head further south down the coast of Florida.  We are excited to be moving again, exploring new ports and seeing new sights.  We are easing back into traveling and have just over 30 miles to travel today.  Both the boat and the humans seem to be fine after the long period of inactivity.  We did discover that the speedo (speedometer) isn’t working quite properly and suspect that its paddlewheel got “gunky” while we sat without moving for so long.  Checking it out has been added to Fred’s “to do” list.

The trip up Naples Bay to the city dock was amazing.  The homes along this bay are absolutely beautiful and the boats cruising up and down the channel are beautiful as well.  We fueled up when we arrived and then decided we would grab a mooring ball instead of pulling into a slip.  We have not yet stayed the night on a mooring ball during this trip and the mooring field here is very well protected so we thought we’d give it a try.  With a bit of coordination using Boreas’ dinghy we were able to get both Brandy IV and Boreas secured. 

             Miles: 32.2      Bridges: 1        Locks: 0
the tide was quite low as we headed out from Snook Bight Marina

this is the ocean side view of Snook Bight - they are to the right
of the two tall buildings, behind the orangish building - you can
just see the top of their grey roof

this beautiful sailboat was leaving from Naples as we
approached the harbor entrance

beautiful home along the channel up Naples Bay

this one kind of reminded us of Hawaii

another beautiful home

Boreas and Brandy IV on their mooring balls

Boreas on a mooring ball at Naples City Marina

Rita, Mac and John heading to shore

Days 191 & 192 – at Snook Bight Marina - January 13-14, 2012

We spent our last few days at Snook Bight doing chores.  Laundry got done and the pantry and freezer got stocked.  Fred has been paying close attention to weather as we will be going out in the Gulf for most of the rest of the trip from here to Marathon.  The Gulf Intercoastal Waterway (GIWW) basically ends here at Fort Myers.  There is a small section of the GIWW from Naples to Marco Island that we plan to use but it is unofficially called “the old GIWW” and does not appear to be maintained to GIWW depth anymore.  Therefore, Fred is looking for a weather window a few days long that we can use to get from here to Naples and Marco Island and then another to get from Marco Island to Little Shark River and Marathon.  It is great to be planning our next jumps south!
            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Days 188 to 190 – at Snook Bight Marina - January 10-12, 2012

Dad arrived this morning and will be staying with us on the boat for a few days.  Since we had the car available to us, we took Dad to a great pizza place we found in Naples for dinner the first night.  We did lots of catching up on what has been going on with him and with us.  We also took advantage of having a car available and ran some errands (one to our favorite citrus store so we could stock up on more Star grapefruit).

Another errand was a trip to Camping World so I could buy a new folding bike.  We had purchased folding bikes online before we started the trip and they seemed fine as we rode them around the storage barn where Boreas stayed this past winter, but we really didn’t give them a full test run – that was a mistake.  My bike has lots of problems.  It seems to be out of alignment – as in the back wheel doesn’t follow the front wheel in a straight line.  There is also a problem with the rear brakes (which rub so hard it is impossible to coast), my arms are not thrilled with the handlebars (they fall asleep) and the seat is not at all comfortable.  We decided instead of spending money getting the alignment fixed and buying a new seat and handlebars, that we would just get an inexpensive folding bike we saw a few weeks ago when we bought the LED lights.  Then some time in the future we would work on getting the original bike in better shape.  So, the new bike is on board and Dad took the old one back to Winter Haven with him and will take it back to Michigan in the spring.

Our second dinner with Dad was a cook-out on the pool deck at Snook Bight.  Rita and John joined us along with Dick and Inga who are new owners of a Mainship 400 they are keeping at Snook Bight in the dock right across from ours.  It turns out Dick and Inga share a mutual friend with Dad – what an amazing small world it is.

It was a great visit and we hope to do it again somewhere along the east coast of Florida before Dad heads back to Michigan.

             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0
Dad and I standing on the dock behind Boreas

Mac hanging out with us on the dock

Day 187 – at Snook Bight Marina - January 9, 2012

Fred and John wanted to go to the hardware store today.  Instead of taking their bikes, they decided to see if they could get there in the dinghy.  They were successful in finding the hardware store and they also found a good looking spot for lunch, so they returned to the boats and picked up Rita and me.  All four of us got in John and Rita’s dinghy and headed for lunch.  I now have a bit of dinghy envy.  Although our hard bottom dinghy is great, we don’t have quite a big enough motor on it to really get up and go if we want to – John and Rita’s dinghy could get up on plane even with all four of us on board.  I will put a motor with a bit more horsepower on my wish list, but I won’t hold my breath (the wish list is loooooooooong).
             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0
pelicans hanging out in a mangrove tree

another pelican

check out the wing span on this pelican - my bird book says
their wing span can be up to 79" (yes, that's 6 foot, 7 inches!)

these pelicans are patiently waiting while the captain clean his fish...

...and now they are fighting for the morsels he has thrown into the water

Day 186 – at Snook Bight Marina - January 8, 2012

Today was just another day hanging out at Snook Bight Marina.  I’m sure I have said it many times, but we are very happy with our accommodations here.  For anyone interested in a location where they can easily walk to the beach and a grocery store – this is the spot.  Probably the only thing missing is slightly easier access to restaurants.

Dad was originally scheduled to arrive today for a few days with us here at the boat, but had to reschedule and will now arrive on Tuesday.  Since we had planned to have pizza with Dad tonight, we decided to walk to one of the pizza places we found here in Fort Myers Beach.  I must say that walking to dinner (and back) is a great way to work off an extra slice of pizza.

            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 185 – boat ride up the Caloosahatchee River - January 7, 2012

Although we had planned to take the boat out of the slip a couple of times a week and explore the Fort Myers/Coral Gables area, today was the first day we actually managed to do it.  We departed after lunch and headed toward the Caloosahatchee River.  The Caloosahatchee River cuts across Florida, connects with Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie Canal and the St. Lucie River to take you to the Atlantic Ocean.  Many Loopers who choose not to go to the Florida Keys take this route across the state.

The boat traffic today was significant.  Although things are pretty quiet on the water during the week, it appears that everyone uses their boat on the weekend.  We had a great time today and will hopefully get another chance to explore a bit further up the Caloosahatchee before we head south toward the Keys.

             Miles: 25.6      Bridges: 4        Locks: 0

boat traffic on the Caloosahatchee River

an osprey in its nest

more boat traffic on the river

Day 184 – at Snook Bight Marina - January 6, 2012

We spent today relaxing on the boat – two days of excursions wore us out!   John and Rita did some touring around Fort Myers and Coral Gables, looking at real estate and we got to dog-sit for Mac again.  I think Mac had fun hanging out with us for another day (we certainly enjoyed having him on board).  The weather tomorrow is looking beautiful and we are planning on leaving our slip and taking a tour of the area – perhaps up the Caloosahatchee River toward Fort Myers.
             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Day 183 – airboat ride in Everglades National Park - January 5, 2012

Today we took a driving tour south.  We stopped in Naples and checked out the city dock facilities where we will be staying once we leave Fort Myers Beach.  We then headed to Marco Island – again we wanted to check out the various facilities that are available as we will be spending a couple of days there as well.

We then headed east on US- 41 so that we could take in an airboat ride in Everglades National Park.  The airboat ride was lots of fun, mostly through mangrove trees.  It is amazing how little water an airboat needs.  There were times that we were skimming across water that was only inches deep.  We also got to see a couple of alligators up close and personal.

            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

our airboat - those red things hanging over the
seatbacks are hearing protection ear muffs -
airboats are VERY loud 

the airboat cruising through the mangroves

more mangroves

an alligator enjoying the sun

another alligator enjoying the sun and the mangroves

bored with us, the alligator walks away