Today was a long run, about 65 miles, from Marco Island to an anchorage on Little Shark River. We left Marco at 8 AM and got to the anchorage by 3 PM. We had to dodge some crab pots along the way, but they were mostly in organized strings so we could figure out easily how to avoid them. For those who aren’t familiar with crab pots, fishing people put out cages to catch crabs. The cage is left on the ocean floor (so it’s usually in “shallow” waters, by ocean standards) with a rope/string attached to a floating ball that marks the trap’s location. Occasionally the fishing people come back and check the “pots” for booty. And, occasionally, boats run into the lines and get rope/string all wound up around their propellers or shafts...making said boat not run as well as it normally would. We hit a crab pot coming into Clearwater and had to have a diver remove the line that was wrapped around the propeller. Below are pictures of what we see of the crab pots…
The Everglades!! We’re in it!! I spotted a large reptile in the water, but couldn’t get the camera focus quickly enough to get a picture. Birds everywhere. There are 2 other boats in the area right now (6 PM).
By the time we got into the anchorage and made sure the anchor was set well (there’s a pretty stiff current in the river) it was too late to start exploring around in the dinghy. (Besides, we were requiring Lucy to use a “puppy pad” on the back deck tonight. I can just hear her complaints if the two of us took off in the dinghy.) I can see I’ll need a trip back down to the Everglades to round out my experiences.
I noticed on the chart for this area an Everglades National Park Wilderness Waterway:
The recommended Wilderness Waterway route from Flamingo to Everglades City is indicated by a magenta line. Navigation of the route is not advisable for boats over 18 ft. in length, or for boats with high cabins and windshields, because of the narrow channels and overhanging foliage in some areas.…Jeff Dobson, this has your name all over it!!
The entire route can be traversed in a minimum of six hours with outboard motor, or in seven days by canoe. One day round trips are not recommended. Campsites are available along the route.”
A seven day canoe trip in the Everglades…camping out in the backcountry.
I decided this was the perfect venue for the “Where in the World is Smokey?” picture. UT has this thing going on their website to highlight “where” UT people (staff, students, grads) are this year. I had written in and received the T-shirts we are to wear in the photo…and what better background than the Florida Everglades. It took a few tries (dodging the sun) but we got it! And here’s another picture of Wayne loading up the Thermacell unit to ward off the “no-seeums” that had set in as the sun began to set. It didn’t work. We’re inside with the windows shut now. Mosquitoes, no. No-seeums? Yes!
January 31 – We were up and out of Shark River by 7:15 AM. We would have been out sooner, but wanted to let the no-seeums scatter some. The trip down to Marathon was pretty uneventful. We spotted what looked to be a rain storm to our east, but it didn’t come over where we were. We dodged a bunch of crab pots, though!
Coming into the Atlantic Ocean under the Seven Mile Bridge we were greeted with the beautiful turquoise waters of the Keys… And tonight we enjoyed our first Keys sunset (this year!) Beautiful!
February 1 - We are settled onto our mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor until next Tuesday. This place is really set up for “full time cruisers,” as we’re called. The field is managed by the Boot Key Harbor City Marina. For under $20/day we have dinghy docking available and pump outs at the boat. There are 226 mooring balls in the harbor…so there are a lot of boats here. There’s even a water taxi service run by the Smorgasboat (smorgasboat.com) to taxi people by water to areas on the harbor (West Marine, grocery). The Smorgasboat comes around to every new boat in the harbor and presents a welcome packet with information on the area…and a handy cloth bag from West Marine.
Every morning at 9 AM they have a “cruisers net” broadcast on VHF channel 68. The cruisers network offers an opportunity for people to ask questions, swap/giveaway/sell merchandise, make announcements of interest. Pretty neat! We listened in this morning for the first time and introduced ourselves as being new to the harbor. As a result of our announcement we were visited later by William Mayberry from Knoxville who’s staying in the harbor until mid-March with his wife Judy on their sailboat Optimystique. We met William at Blue Springs Marina back in October when we were just diagnosing the fuel tank problem.
We had a very productive day today (not something we're striving for...it just happened. A side note, here: Wayne is such a Type A that for a while he kept thinking, "Now we could complete this loop in much less time if we..." He's come to his senses now and settled into a leisurely pace. Change of latitude, change of attitude. It works!)
Anyhow, we had planned to rent a couple of bikes today for our stay...$10/day per bike. Very reasonable, we thought. William mentioned that there was a little shop down the road that sells used bikes for $25. Well, we just had to check it out. We need a bike here...and in Key West. And, who knows, maybe we'll just keep 'em! We bought two bikes, a lock and cord, and had a basket installed on the front of one bike...for $65. What a deal. Wait 'til you see the bikes! I would have snapped them today but the little camera's battery was gone... I'll show you in the next post. We then happily biked to the Publix supermarket and got a few fresh items. Life is good!