St. Johns River '10

March 27 to April 2

March 27, 2010 Cape Coral to Marinatown to Glover Bight, FL

The day was bright and sunny, but a cool 62 degrees. It should warm up to 83 later today. Today we would be leaving the comfort of the Heinemann's home and moving on. Bob washed the boat at the dock and filled the water tank, while I packed up our things.

 
 
Barb generously sent us on the our way with some lunch fixings and yummy chocolate cake. Finally everything was ready and we were set to go. We said our goodbyes and pulled away from Bernie and Barb's dock at 10:30.

 
 
The sun was heating things up and it should be warming up in no time. Bernie and Barb talked about stopping to see us at Marinatown later today after my brother arrives. We'll give them a call when we get there. We meandered down the canals to the lock.

 
 
For a Saturday the boat traffic in the canals was light so we pulled right into the lock. This time it went a little smoother, so we were on our way in no time. As we left Cape Coral, we discovered that they were holding a poker run at Tarpon Point Marina. Bob had heard on the boat radio that the "go fast" boats were going out Boca Grande pass, running down Sanibel Island, and coming in Sanibel Pass. Many boats were participating.

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We worked our way back out to the "Miserable Mile" where it was a zoo! Boats of every size and shape were out enjoying the day.

 
 
We headed south to Marinatown. It was crazy on the ICW....like driving on a 4-lane highway with traffic doing everywhere.

 
 
We passed under the Cape Coral Causeway and continued south on the Caloosahatchee River (the beginning of the Okeechobee Waterway). We arrived at the Ft. Myers Yacht Basin around noon to stop for fuel. It took about 30 minutes and while we were fueling, Pam and Don and Diane and Bob stopped by to say "hi". They are live-aboards at the marina. We visited with everyone until we were done fueling, then we threw off the lines, and motored across the river to Marinatown. We dropped our anchor in a bayou of Hancock Creek just around the corner from Marinatown.

 
 
Bob did the necessary engine checks and readied the dinghy to go into Marinatown, while I did a few things on the boat. When we were done, we dinghied in to meet up with Randy and his family. Sue was at the grocery store when we got there, provisioning for our boat trip together. The girls were walking around the area checking things out. Randy was on the boat waiting to get checked out as captain of his chartered boat.

 
 
While we waited, Randy, Bob, and I had a beer at the Sundowner Bar to go over the charts and our plan for the week.

 
 
The guy from Southwest Florida Yachts came by to do the checkout with Randy and everything went smoothly and quickly. We would be able to leave today and get to our first anchorage. We pulled up anchor at 3:15 and lead the way to Glover Bight, about 15 miles from Marinatown.

 
 
The boat traffic was heavy and we passed more race boats....this one that we saw was powered by a jet engine.

 
 
Randy followed us down the ICW to Glover Bight just outside of Tarpon Point Marina, where we picked a nice anchoring spot for both boats. There were 3 other boats in the anchorage already, but more would arrive before nighttime.

 
 
We dropped anchor at 4:45 and were all settled in by 5:00. Randy made 2 attempts to anchor. The first one was in too shallow of water so he had to move into deeper water. He found a good spot right next to us.

Bob dinghied to Tarpon Point Marina to pick up Bernie and Barb who had driven down from Cape Coral to meet Randy and his family.

 
 
The girls sacked out after a long 2 days of travel.

 
 
The adults had drinks and appetizers on Randy's boat, the Tricia Ann, and then decided to go in to the marina to see what what was going on.

 
 
We took 2 dinghies into shore and tied up at the dinghy dock. There was music and lots of "go fast" boats in the marina where they were tied up for the night. One was bigger and faster than the next. All of them had fantastic paint jobs!

 
 
People were sitting at the outside bar and restaurant, eating and enjoying the festivities.

 
 
We hung around for awhile listening to music and enjoying the rest of the daylight. We had great tables by the water with a view.

 
 
As the sun was starting to set, we said our goodbyes to Bernie and Barb and headed back to the boats. The girls, Lauren (15), Rachel (13), and friend, Katie (14), took one dinghy. Randy, Sue, Bob, and I took ours. We dropped Randy and Sue off at their big boat and went back to ours for the night. It was already 8:00 and no one had eaten, so we each went back to our own boats to make dinner. Bob and I showered and grilled steaks for supper. Then we watched some TV before going to sleep. It was a long day and Randy and family had been traveling for a day and a half from Sacramento to get here. They were pretty wiped out! It is good to see everyone and we look forward to a week of fun in the sun!

March 28, 2010 Glover Bight to Captiva Island-

South Seas Marina and Resort, FL

We woke up at 8:00 - a time that's getting to be a more regular occurrence. We had breakfast and did some checking of emails and business online. The Schaefers were sleeping in--something greatly needed after their long flight across the country from California to Florida to get here.

 
 
Randy dinghied over once they woke up to get some sugar and soon everyone was moving about.

 
 
Another boat just like ours came by to see our Freedom Lift on the back of the boat. They were looking at a way to carry their dinghy.

 
 
Around 10:45, we started our engines and pulled anchor. Randy was having some trouble with his windlass. It wasn't being very efficient in pulling the anchor back up. They struggled with it for about 15 minutes and finally got it hauled up. We'll have to help them figure out a way to get the windlass to work better. The day was warm and humid, but the skies were cloudy. Rain is expected late tonight and into Monday morning. Boats began moving early to get where they were going before the weather came in. We pulled out of our anchorage at 11:00 and continued north on the ICW. Randy followed behind us in Tricia Ann. We passed through the "Miserable Mile" and the water cops were in full force in the slow-no wake zone. It was a little choppy on the ICW and when we crossed into San Carlos Bay it was about the same, but there was less boat traffic. We passed a small, purple houseboat selling live and frozen bait.

 
 
We had never seen a boat doing that before. There must have been a good market for it. There were quite a few boats hanging out at Picnic Island--a favorite hangout for boaters on the weekend. We turned off the ICW at Marker #39, heading into the marked channel to South Seas Marina and Resort. We would both take slips here for the night. We entered the marina first and got settled before calling Randy to come in.

 
 
Both Randy and Bob drove with expert precision in the tight marina and straight into our assigned slips. We would share the same pier, back to front.

 
 
After everyone settled in, we took a walk up to the office to check in ($3.50/ft.) To our surprise we found a cheesehead sitting there on the shelf. Of course, the guys had to try it on.

 
 
After getting our bearings, we walked around the grounds to see what the resort had to offer. They had a general store that was brimming with people. We walked over to the pool area where there were 2 cool slides and a pool along the water's edge.

 
 
We were told the trolley would take us down to the south end of the island where the town of Captiva lies. We waited for the trolley and took the short 2 mile ride to town.

 
 
The trolley stop was right near the marina and it came by every 15 minutes. We didn't have to wait long.

 
 
The trolley ride was about 2 miles to the town of Captiva and the end of the line. From there you could rent bikes or golf carts to get you around to the rest of the island. The town was hopping and people were everywhere.

 
 
We took the walk to the beach and even though the day was a little gray and thunder could be heard in the distance, people were still hanging out on the beach.

 
 
We had to have our'picture taken in front of the Mycky Duck, a restaurant well-known for its great food and sunsets.

 
 
We continued on our walk and came across this unusual chair that Sue and I just had to try out.

 
 
One of the coolest places was the Bubble Room, a restaurant that had many rooms on multiple floors filled with all sorts of unusual things. The decor is unike anything you've ever experienced--Christmas meets nostalgia and Hollywood all rolled into one. It was the most colorful place I've ever seen.

 
 
Randy and Bob tried out the Bubble Room Gorilla cage.

 
 
Bob and I tried the Bubble Boat and stopped traffic in the aisles.

 
 
The ladies' room door had a cute painting on it.

 
 
We had a lot of fun looking around in the Bubble Room. We took the trolley ride back and waited at the boat for the girls to return. They were off on their own exploring the island.

 
 
Late in the afternoon it started to rain lightly, so we had cocktails and appetizers on the bridge of Randy's boat.

 
 
Sue took a little snooze while Bob and Randy examined the charts and talked about where we would be going after we leave South Seas Marina.

 
 
Once the girls returned, we decided we would grill chicken for dinner. Bob and Sue did the grilling, while Randy and the kids went to the pool to check out the slides. They returned in time for dinner and we ate in the huge salon of Randy's boat. After dinner, we played a couple of rousing card games of BS and Spoons. There were lots of laughs all around. We saw the lightning flashes and heard the thunder before the rain started to fall. It rained quite hard while we played cards and laughed. Later when the rain stopped, Randy, Bob, and I went back to our boat to watch Blind Side and the girls watched another DVD on their boat. It started to rain again....hard. Unfortunately, I had left the bathroom window open and the rain poured in. After sopping up that mess and watching the rest of the movie, it was time to turn in. Even with the rain, we had a great day at South Seas.

March 29, 2010 Captiva Island-South Seas Marina

We woke to serious rain and windy conditions. Bob and I hung out doing various inside boating chores while Randy and family slept in. We had breakfast and checked the weather. The forecast is for blustery winds, but the rains will subside later this morning. There was even a tornado watch until 11:00 today. We decided to spend another night tied up to the dock. Two manatees and a dolphin hung out nearby for the girls to see.

 
 
After everyone got up, the girls all went to get some breakfast while Bob and I dried off the boat after the rains stopped. Randy and Bob worked on getting his boat hooked up to cable and figuring out how his holding tank empties. We just hung out until the weather improved. Randy, Bob, and I took a dinghy ride around the canals in the marina. The ride took us into a mangrove-lined bay surrounded by many osprey nests. The birds were everywhere...fishing, eating, and feeding their young in their nests. I have never seen so many osprey nests concentrated into one place before. Sue did some reading and the guys worked on boat stuff. The sun finally came out around noon, so after lunch we all hopped on the trolley and headed downtown.

 
 
Once we got into downtown Captiva, we stopped at the Bubble Room so the girls could see what a crazy place it was.The girls tried out the Bubble Room Gorilla Cage.

 
 
Then we headed for the beach to check out the waves. The girls got right in to test out the water. These were some of the biggest waves we've seen onshore in awhile.

 
 
Even though it was very windy and chilly, there was a fair number of people in the water and on the beach. We relaxed on some colorful Adirondac chairs along the beach,

 
 
but decided we needed to go inside the Mucky Duck restaurant for a beer and to get out of the wind.

 
 
The girls tried out the big PARTY chair.

 
 
We walked back to the Trolley Stop and headed back to the marina. The girls and Sue rented a golf cart to tour around the island. Randy and I decided to change into our swimsuits and check out the pool and the slides. Randy, Bob, and I went first to the kiddie pool with the slides. Randy and I tried them both out before we decided to try the other pool that had fewer kids around. We found three lounge chairs around the pool by the bay and hung out in the water there.

 
 
It wasn't very warm, but it was warmer than being out in the wind.

We enjoyed the sun around the pool until it disappeared, and then we went back to the boats. We showered using the marina showers and got ready to head downtown for dinner. The girls went ahead to get us a table after they dropped off the golf cart and we followed on the trolley. We ate at the Cantina Captiva and had a great mexican meal outside under the full moon.

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It was a cool windy night and the moon was shining brightly above us as we walked back to the boats. We all gathered in Randy's boat to watch a DVD after dinner. We turned in early because if the weather improves, we will leave tomorrow and head farther north.

March 30, 2010 Captiva Island-South Seas Marina --Cayo Costa State Park, FL

We woke to clear skies and cooler temps after the cold front moved through yesterday. The men got some gas for the dinghy motors and checked us out at the office. Bob helped Randy take his boat to the pumpout on a pier outside the marina breakwall and came back to untie our lines and leave at 10:00. Bob said that he heard the manatees breathing around our boat last night as we slept. This morning they were all around our boats eating the sea grass. There were at least 6 that I could see, including a female with 2 calves.

 
 
Many people came to observe them as they surfaced for air. When everyone was ready, we met Randy at the entrance to the marina and took off. The ICW and Pine Island Sound were MUCH calmer today. What a change from yesterday! Randy had a little trouble with his chartplotter in the boat, but he followed us on the ICW north

 
 
past the stilthouses out in the water and the islands of Cabbage Key and Useppa. Both marinas there were full, as many boaters probably took refuge there last night with the winds that we had. We took the short 10 mile ride to Cayo Costa State Park for the night. We arrived about 11:00 and anchored in Pelican Bay. It was turning out to be a beautiful day. After everyone settled in, we had lunch on our boats and packed up our dinghies to ride over to the park for the afternoon. We took the mile walk to the beach and the campground.

 
 
We found a spot on the beach and even though the wind was a little chilly, there were quite a few people enjoying the sand.

 
 
We took a walk along the beach and found quite a few shark's teeth, some sponges, and a few anemones. The girls took one dinghy back to the boat early and the adults came later. We unpacked our treasures and met up again at Randy's boat for cocktails. Everyone was a little beat from the sun and fresh air. We relaxed the afternoon away and grilled burgers for dinner. After dinner we sat on the bridge of the boat and enjoyed the sunset.

 
 
Bob and Rachel did some dancing to the tunes the girls were playing.

 
 
We tried to watch a couple of movies, but everyone was really tired from all the sun and wind today. We retired to our boat early to run the generator for a couple of hours and then go to bed. What a day!

March 31, 2010 Cayo Costa State Park to Englewood Beach, FL

We woke to a beautiful sunrise and partly cloudy skies. The temps should be in the 70's with a light breeze. We pulled anchor at 9:00 and made the short run though the anchorage of about 30 boats to the ICW.

 
 
Randy's anchor came up much easier this time once he figured out the system. We crossed Charlotte Harbor on time to make the 9:30 Boca Grande bridge opening. While we were waiting at the bridge, Sue was able to take some pictures of our boat and we got to see dolphins swimming beside us.

 
 
The ferries at Palm Island were working hard taking people to and from the mainland to the island. We turned off the ICW right before the Englewood Beach bridge and entered the channel that would take us to our anchorage at Englewood Beach.

 
 
We chose a nice spot and put the anchor down at 11:00. Randy dropped his anchor not far from us and we let the boats settle in. There were very few boats in the anchorage compared to what we normally see here.

 
 
The skies cleared off and the temps crept up to the mid 70's. We went a total of 20.5 miles today. At noon, we dinghied over to the White Elephant for lunch and to look around.

 
 
We got a great table near the water and enjoyed a nice lunch and the beautiful day.

 
 
After lunch, we dinghied back to our boats, packed up some things for the beach, and headed off in 2 dinghies for Stump Pass State Park. The girls took one dinghy (Rachel's really good at driving it) and the adults took the other one.

 
 
We spent about 2 hours at the beach, sunning and hunting for shark's teeth. We were successful at finding quite a few.

 
 
We then came back to the boats to clean up before dinner. A little while later, Bob and I dinghied over to Randy's boat with some steaks that we would put on the grill. After a nice dinner, we enjoyed some popcorn while watching a DVD. After the movie, Bob and I dinghied back to our boat to run the generator a little while before calling it a day. Tomorrow we would make the 4 hour run back to Ft. Myers, so Randy can turn in his chartered boat at Marinatown and we can take a mooring at Ft. Myers Beach. The last 6 days have gone really fast, but we've enjoyed every minute of it.

April 1, 2010 Englewood Beach to Ft. Myers Beach, FL

The sun woke us up today and greeted us with a clear, blue sky and calm winds. It was a cool 52 degrees, but would warm up to the high 70's today. We had breakfast and got the boat ready for our run to Ft. Myers this morning. We pulled up our anchors around 9:45, motored out to the ICW, and turned south. We barely made the 10:30 Boca Grande Bridge opening. The bridge tender was kind enough to hold the bridge open a few extra minutes to accommodate us. The water police were out in force around Boca Grande with 2 police boats monitoring the area. It was a beautiful day--not a cloud in the sky and sunlight glistening on the water. Crossing Charlotte Harbor, the water was calm and Randy came alongside us in his boat and took some pictures of our boat underway. We don't often get to see pictures of our own boat moving on the water. This was a great opportunity. Traffic started to pick up going north, as we headed south. We passed quite a few ICW markers that had osprey nests built on top of them. In almost all cases, both parents were sitting by the nest feeding their young. It looks like spring is in the air! We also saw 2 pair of bald eagles, one perched on a marker and one set flying overhead.

 
 
It was quite a sight to see! As we neared Ft. Myers, the boat traffic got heavier. We passed a blue paddlewheel boat that was very unique.

 
 
As we approached the "Miracle Mile", we split up at 12:30.

 
 
Randy continued on through the "Miracle Mile" to Ft. Myers Yacht Basin to fuel up and get pumped out. Then he motored the short distance back to Marinatown where he turned in his boat. Bob and I turned off that channel and headed for Ft. Myers Beach to take a mooring there.

 
 
We will meet up later at the Neptune Inn where my parents will arrive to join us all for 2 nights. We passed under the bridge and entered the Gulf of Mexico on our way to Ft. Myers Beach. It was a relatively calm crossing. From a distance I could see 4 different parasailers in the air.

 
 
I'm sure the beach is very active on this Easter weekend with spring break in full swing. We entered Matanzas Pass and motored strategically through the mooring field. We easily picked up mooring ball #33 at the end of the West field.

 
 
I was able to pick up the pennant of the mooring ball on the first try and get the boat secured. There was absolutely no wind in the Matanzas Pass, but the tide was ripping. Bob went out on the bow to adjust our distance to the mooring ball and we got settled in.

 
 
Just ahead of us is Sea Gator, who developed our anchor alarm. Rick would make some adjustments on it for us while we are here. From our mooring about 1/2 mile from the bridge, we could see that the bridge traffic going over to the beach was at a standstill....and it's only Thursday. The Pirate Ship left with a load of "wanna-be" pirates on their daily tour.

 
 
It was 1:20 and we had traveled 51.2 miles today. The catamaran next to us was from Green Bay and he gave us all sorts of tips on the best happy hours in the area. We saw a couple of unusual boats on our dinghy ride to shore to meet everyone.

 
 
 
 
Bob and I parked the dinghy at the dinghy dock under the bridge. We stopped to check in at the office and get some information about the area. ($13/day) Then we walked along Estero Boulevard towards the Neptune Inn where my brother's family and my parents would be staying. We stopped at Mother's Beach Pub where we watched the street traffic from a second story vantage point.

 
 
Traffic was bumper-to-bumper. The sidewalks were lined with girls in bikinis and shirtless guys in swim trunks prowling the streets. It brought back memories of Daytona Beach during spring break in years (many years) past. Ah.....to be young again!

 
 
We walked down to the Tops Grocery Store to see if we could find dinghy access from the water. We will be able to go by dinghy to the grocery store later this week when we need a few things. Around 4:30 we found the Neptune Inn, grabbed two beach chairs, and awaited everyone's arrival.

 
 
Mom and Dad arrived first and we got to visit with them at beachside. Randy and his family pulled in around 5:15 after dropping off their boat and picking up their rental car. We had a beer and a few snacks before taking a walk along Estero Blvd. back towards our dinghy. Everyone was going for pizza just down the way. Bob and I jumped in our dinghy and headed back to the boat before dark. We passed a boat with a cute name.

 
 
It's our first night in this anchorage and Bob was a little concerned about manuevering through an unfamiliar mooring field in the dark. It would also give my mom and dad some quality time with my brother and his family. We plan to spend the day with everyone tomorrow at the beach. Back at the boat, Bob and I made ourselves a drink and watched the sun set. As we were enjoying the view, Rick and Pat from Sea Gator dinghied up. We got to finally meet them after 3 years of reading their blog and following along on their travels. (Rick is also the one who developed our anchor alarm.) We visited for awhile before they headed back to their boat before dark. We made plans to do happy hour with them on Saturday at Doc Ford's Bar. Bob and I came in to make dinner and watched a little TV before going to bed. It was a beautiful clear night. The lights from the city were beautiful in all sorts of neon colors. The moon came up as a bright yellow orb and made for an eerie mood as the tide went slack and boats floated in all different directions. It will be a quiet, peaceful night.

April 2, 2010-Ft. Myers Beach, FL

We woke up as the sun crept above the horizon. The sun lit up the boats in the harbor and the bridge formed a rainbow arch in the background.

 
 
The high speed Key West Express left early this morning with a load of people looking for some fun.

 
 
Booba, on the holding tank pumpout boat, came by to see if we needed a pumpout. It is a free service they provide as part of the mooring fee. They come by every day to see who needs a pumpout.

 
 
We did our boat chores and Bob did his wash.

 
 
Then we got ready to head to the Neptune Inn and a day at the beach with family. Bob and I dinghied to shore and left the boat at the dinghy dock provided by the marina.

 
 
We took the 1/2 mile walk to the Neptune Inn. The family was sitting under the shade canopy by the beach enjoying the day.

 
 
We joined them and enjoyed the best day of weather that we've had since we left 2 weeks ago. It was in the 80's with sunshine and a very light breeze to cool us off.

 
 
After an hour or so, some of us decided to take a walk down to "The Pier". Sue and Bob decided to stay behind, so Randy, Dad, Mom, and I walked along the beach.

 
 
The crowd thickened as we got closer and closer to the pier and the center of the action. Each hotel had their own colored pattern of umbrella along the beach.

 
 
At the Lani Kai hotel, famous for where all the kids hang out, there was a live band blasting music for all to hear.

 
 
The beach and the water were filled with people of all ages. We walked, chatted, and people watched, until we reached the pier where we climbed up a few stairs to the top. Walking out on the pier, you could really get a "bird's eye view" of the beach. It was a pallet of colors!

 
 
On the pier, quite a few people were fishing and some were catching.......mostly sharks. One young man needed a hand lifting his shark up onto the pier, so Randy gave him a hand and we snapped a quick picture of his catch.

 
 
We spied some dolphins in close to shore and they drew quite a crowd of onlookers. Randy and I stopped for a famous Rumrunner, at Top O' Mast, for our walk back along the beach. We checked out the downtown plaza area for a restaurant to have dinner at tonight.

 
 
On the way back, we saw a very creative sand mermaid made with seaweed and coconut shells.

 
 
Mom stopped to have her picture taken next to a sand/water bike. She looked small compared to it.

 
 
Once we got back to the hotel, Ran and Dad took a swim in the ocean and then a dip in the pool.

 
 
Dad got sidetracked and decided some guys needed a lesson in shuffleboard (since he's won a couple of trophies) as he passed by the courts they were playing at. I don't know if his advice helped their game at all.

 
 
Around 4:30 we got cleaned up and took the walk downtown to have dinner at WahooWillies. We had some great grouper sandwiches, mahi-mahi, and fish and chips. We arrived in time for happy hour where the beers were $1.65. Can't beat that!

 
 
After dinner we stopped at Chiggies Bar where we grabbed a second story table to view the sunset.

 
 
There was live music which we could dance to, so we took advantage of that.

 
 
The view of the beach and ocean from up there was amazing! After the sun had set, we walked through the plaza again where people had gathered to watch a juggler and a mime.

 
 
We didn't stay long because we had to get back to the boat before dark. We had no lights for the dinghy. So we said our goobyes to Randy, Sue and the girls since they were taking an early (6AM) flight back to Sacramento tomorrow.

 
 
We would meet Mom and Dad for lunch on Saturday before they went back home to Bradenton.

It was a super week with lots of great memories. Bob and I picked up our dinghy from the dinghy dock and made it back to the boat just as the light was fading.

 
 
Bob watched some TV and I did some reading before we were fast asleep after a wonderful day.

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