Every year, right after Christmas we always take some time to get in some cruising. With both of us working full-time and having a teenager with his own busy schedule, we haven't really had the time to get off the dock as much as we would like. Post holidays is always a great time for us to get off the dock with the extra time off and things winding down some with my business.
This year, we ended up cruising around more than usual and anchoring in several different Southwest Florida spots.
Our first destination was Keeywaydin Island. Keeywaydin has been our favorite spot lately, not just for the beautiful views and clear blue waters of the south, but also because Corey gets picked up by his coach to take him wakeboarding. It's a win for all of us.
The past couple of trips to Keeywaydin, we've taken an alternate route rather than heading into Gordon Pass. The Gordon Pass route has us going through a lot of wake areas and when it's busy it can be a nightmare with all the huge boats on plane going by within an arm's reach. There have been countless time that the trip through Gordon Pass to Keeywaydin in the backwaters is much rougher than our passage on the Gulf of Mexico. Lately, we've opted to head into Capri Pass near Marco Island to get to Keeywaydin. Sure, it takes us about an extra half hour but it's calmer and the waterways are a lot less busier which makes for a more peaceful ride.
We spent 2 full days at Keeywaydin and had to head back home earlier than we wanted because of a cold front moving in. It was beautiful as usual there and just as busy as always. Corey got picked up both days on Nick's boat to help him coach and get a little wakeboarding in as well. Corey also ended up getting a quick dive in when he jumped with the hookah rig to untangle some line on the prop of Nick's boat. So, we had a couple of relaxing days and saw a few sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico and it was time to head north.
The trip back from Keewaydin was wonderful, the weather was absolutely perfect and the seas were calm. Since New Years Eve was around the corner, we wanted to stay out on the water so we headed into New Pass and anchored there for a night. Corey was picked up there by his mom since he had plans to wakeboard the next day. So, once Corey was off, Randy and I (+Sophie) headed to the beach in the dinghy to spend a blissful afternoon.
Traditionally, we spend New Years Eve on hook by Matanzas Bridge so we could dinghy in for fireworks. But with the winds increasing and not in a great direction to anchor we headed back to the dock the next day to ring in the New Year.
Matanzas Bridge - Ringing in the New Year
Even though we were on the dock for a day or two, we still took the dinghy to Fort Myers Beach on New Years Eve. We had dinner there and headed back to Salty Sams Marina for a few hours until the boys left again for the fireworks at midnight.
The next day, Randy and I worked out and provisioned at the grocery. We were both already itching to get off the dock and since Corey had left to stay at his mom's again, we dropped the dock lines and headed out near Matanzas Bridge where we anchored. We had plans later that evening to meet my sister and long-time friend from high school at Dixie Fish House. It was a great evening for the dinghy ride there and we had a blast catching up after all the years.
Sanibel Island & Merwin Key
After New Years, we were determined to stay out on hook, despite the forecast of high winds. Thankfully, Randy is pretty good at looking at the forecast and wind predictions and finding us anchorages that are protected. We spent one night anchored near Ding Darling on Sanibel Island. It's not always the best anchorage, but with the wind direction it worked out great.
The next day, we moved again as the worst of the weather was headed our way. We went to Merwin Key which is a small island off of Pine Island and Sanibel Island. We actually didn't anchor in our usual spot by the mangroves. Knowing which way the wind was going to switch, Randy decided to move us further north and tucked us in behind a small mangrove island. We had a day or so to hang out in this spot to make sure it was the place to ride out the wind. We had predictions of 55mph gusts and while it was a bit rolly at times, we weathered the winds just fine. I did wake up at 1am to hear Randy collapsing our aft bimini and I poked my head out and couldn't believe the the howling winds. Still, it was comforting to be tucked away in Blue Turtle's cabin as solid as she is.
Returning to Fort Myers Beach the next day, we saw a shrimp boat that was anchored very close to the pier. At first we thought they might have ran aground but as we got nearer we saw they were floating and anchored. They obviously came in that night to anchor near land for some protection. Our ride back was beautiful and brisk with the cooler temps. It's always bittersweet returning to land. Comforts like grocery stores and safe dockage with all the power and water we want are nice, but at the same time, I already miss that solitude out on the water.