Blue Turtle Cruising

Ding Darling anchorage

Sophie and I taking in the view
Sophie and I taking in the view

This past weekend we had yet another opportunity to get off the dock. It would be a short trip, so we decided to stay close to Fort Myers Beach. We left Friday evening at around 5pm and headed for an anchorage off Sanibel Island outside Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. A couple of times, we’ve loaded our kayaks into the back of the truck and driven to Ding Darling to kayak the gorgeous waters. This time, we wanted to anchor out there on Friday and Saturday night and kayak all day Saturday.

When we left on Friday, we had some gloomy and very windy weather. The forecast called for the evening to be very bumpy but the winds calming by Saturday. So Randy, Corey and I had some good practice anchoring in less than ideal conditions. Our anchor held through the night just fine and we woke to a little calmer waters. The anchorage isn’t the best in terms of protection, but we were right near several entrances into the preserve.

On Saturday morning, we loaded up our kayaks with sandwiches and beverages, fishing poles (for the boys), camera dry bag (for me) and one wiener dog—yes, we decided to take Sophie along for the trip since we would be gone much of the day. Fortunately, the waves and wind were going in the direction we needed to enter the park. We had an easy paddle to get there and once inside the mangroves, the water was peaceful and calm. It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day and the views were breathtaking. The boys fished and I took photos. Sophie rode with Randy for a while, then with me. When it was time for lunch, we paddled just outside the park to a sandbar where we anchored our kayaks and had lunch and stretched our legs. After lunch, Corey wanted to go exploring. He found a small inlet and paddled around and under some mangrove obstacles. Randy and I anchored right near where he entered and had a couple of beers. Once Randy and I were rested up (and about of beer), we decided to follow Corey deeper into the mangroves. We explored for about an hour ducking under low branches and paddling through very skinny areas only to come out into larger lake areas. We were hoping to eventually get spit back outside of the park where we could paddle back to the boat, but we were running out of time to keep exploring. We turned and went back out the way we came. Once we were in familiar water, we paddled back to Blue Turtle to get dinner started and watch the sun set.

Sunday morning after coffee, we decided to pull up anchor and head back to the marina. It’s about a 2 hour cruise from the Ding Darling anchorage spot to Snook Bight Marina. As we were headed into Matansas Pass, we spotted our dock neighbors Todd and Sharon with friends aboard Sun Drum. They had returned from Iowa to bring their boat back up north for the summer. Shortly after passing Sun Drum, we spotted Bon Foeyage loaded down with several marina friends heading to Rum Runners in Cape Coral for a late lunch. Sadly, we missed out on that fun cruise, but we had an excellent time kayaking.

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