The day finally came when it was time to leave from Salty Sam’s Marina and Fort Myers Beach to start cruising. After a few last minute errands and details to take care of, we had our neighbor, Jeff, helps us off the dock. Our first stop was to top off the fuel tanks with diesel at Diversified Marina. Once we fueled up, we headed our Mantanzas Pass. Since it was already late in the day, we decided to head south to the other end of Fort Myers Beach and drop the anchor at Big Carlos Pass. Our weather forecast for the next couple days was light wind and calm seas so we knew we wouldn’t be doing much sailing.
Big Carlos Pass to Indian Key Pass
We left Big Carlos Pass the next day around 6:45am. With light winds and flat calm seas, we had a very uneventful and relaxing passage most of the way. Late afternoon, on the radar, we had noticed that there were several storms onshore heading southwest around Marco Island. Marco Island has been notorious for afternoon thunderstorms popping up on trips to or from the Keys. Once we got past Marco, I thought we were in the clear. We dropped our anchor around 4:30pm outside of Indian Key Pass on the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly after anchoring, Randy thought that maybe we were dragging and then decided we weren’t. After a long day we were ready for quick showers and happy hour!
By the time we showered and grabbed our first beverage, we noticed the oncoming storm. The large system over land was slowly making it out to the Gulf and toward us. Right about that time, Randy realized we were dragging since we suddenly saw crab pots that we knew we were clear of. Quickly, Randy ran up front to pull up the anchor while I tried to keep us clear of the crab pots. Around the same time, the storm hit us with gusty winds and rain. Randy was able to get the anchor up and we steered into the waves with zero visibility until the storm calmed. Once the storm moved out away from us we dropped anchor again and continued our happy hour. I guess Marco wasn’t going to let us pass by without hitting us again with storms.
Indian Key Pass to East Bahia Honda Key
Our next leg of the trip was from Indian Key Pass to Marathon. We left early again (6:30am) and headed south. Conditions were windier at 16mph but the wind was coming directly at us. The seas were a bit lumpier as well but not too bad. It was another long day and pretty uneventful. While we motored, I read and Randy brought the staysail out and practiced trimming it. We actually gained .8 knots with it. We finally started passing a few boats (since there were so few the prior day) and Randy hailed one of the boats we saw on AIS and asked if he could see us on the AIS. The captain of the other boat responded with a “yes” and we were happy to know that with the new AIS install, other boaters were receiving our signal. Around 5:15pm , we arrived at our anchorage near East Bahia Honda Key. We dropped the anchor, had dinner, watched the sunset and called it an early night. Cruising is exhausting!
East Bahia Honda Key to Marathon
Our plan the next day was to head toward Marathon and anchor outside of Faro Blanco Marina. We have friends from Salty Sam’s Marina that are staying there on their sailboat. The plan was to anchor there and ding into shore to visit them and then move the boat to a better anchorage for the night. The winds and tide were not cooperating that day, so what we thought would be a “short” day turned out to be a little longer. We ended up cruising under the Seven Mile Bridge and anchoring in the South Boot Key Harbour anchorage. Since it was a holiday and Boot Key was closed, we dinghied to their dinghy dock. From there, we walked 1 mile (with Randy carrying Sophie) to Faro Blanco to visit with Ed and Kim.
We know Ed and Kim from Salty Sam’s Marina and had a send off party for them last year. They cruised up the northeast all the way to Philidelphia before returning to Marathon. It was great to catch up with them about their trip since we will be doing something similar. It was also great to see Faro Blanco rebuilt since it had been wiped out by Hurricane Charlie. I have many fond memories there cruising there with my parents on their boat Island Time many years ago. When we heard Charlie took it out we were devastated. It’s now a state-of-the-art resort, marina and restaurant with amenities like a pool that make it very niiiice.
After visiting Ed and Kim, Ed drove us back to the dinghy dock and we headed back to Blue Turtle. With the weather forecasting super high winds later this week, we’ve opted to stay put, grab a mooring ball at Boot Key and wait for a window to head north. More soon!
Check out our video below of our trip from Fort Myers Beach to Marathon.