Cleaning the boat was the order of the day for Wed, Dec 5th. It’s amazing how fast the windows get covered with salt spray. Using the dinghy, Jim went around the boat, cleaning the bottom scum line. I cleaned the inside and outside of the cabinets and drawers – we’re starting to get prepared for coming home.
We took the dinghy to an access spot across the bay (good work-out again). We checked out the beach, which was so different from the white powder sand we had seen. We got a few needed supplies, then rowed back to our anchorage spot amid a few sprinkles of rain.
In the morning the skies were cloudy, but nonetheless it was warm. We pulled up our anchors, and on the bow anchor a weird shaped sponge was attached. We cruised through Gasparilla Sound, the south end of Charlotte Harbor, and through Pine Island Sound to the Sanibel Marina. The folks there were so accommodating! Newspapers and fresh muffins were delivered to our boat each morning (we haven’t had that treatment since we were in Port St. Joe). We got the use of free bicycles to explore Sanibel Island, which was a real treat. Amy from Grandma Dot’s restaurant at the marina gave us the use of her Jeep so we could go to the grocery store and the ‘package’ store.
The island is about 12 miles long, and the following day we cruised all over. Bike paths take you anywhere you want to go. The beaches are beautiful – with many shells, and I did the ‘Sanibel Stoop’ more than once, when especially pretty ones caught my eye. I finally saw my first alligator here, as part of the island is a nature preserve. The locals surrounded the bike paths with luminaries for Christmas, and decorations were everywhere.
Ace Hardware was a bicycle stop to purchase a thermometer for the boat cabin. They had a nursery out back with a myriad of flowers for sale that I would normally see at a Minnesota nursery in May.
Saturday Dec 8th, after getting a marvelous gift bag and the newspaper, we biked to the Lighthouse Cafe for breakfast, then said our goodbyes to the folks at the Sanibel Harbor Marina. Sanibel Island has been one of my favorite spots on this amazing journey!
We cruised a whopping 9.1 miles to the Snook Bight Marina in Fort Myers Beach. This is our final destination on the first leg of our Great Loop adventure. On Tuesday morning we will have the boat pulled out of the water, and have some maintenance work done. Then it will be stored on a rack in “the barn” while we are home for 2 months.
When we arrived here, we got settled into our slip – it’s very nice that they have floating docks, which we haven’t seen since I don’t know when. It was very hot, and soon dark clouds rolled in. It downpoured, which has been a rarity on this trip. Afterward the sky was filled with a beautiful double rainbow.
We met the live-aboards here, one of whom is from Stillwater, MN, and were invited to have happy hour aboard a trawler from Mobile AL. Dinner was aboard ARiverDerci, and after a quick walk to get the lay of the land and to see the beach we played backgammon, and then to the aft cabin for some needed z-z-z-z-z’s.
Sunday was our last ‘play day’, so we took the trolley to the beach, and toured around town. We went for our first real swim, as it was 85 degrees with 98 percent humidity. My hair is a disaster, continuously curling up and frizzed out. We mulled around, stopping at waterfront bars to have a drink and listen to live music, and browsed in some of the many touristy shops.
This being our final destination on the first leg of our Great Loop trip, I thought I’d leave you with a few more stats, and a few things we’ve learned along the way:
- Total miles driven: 2,305
- Total hours of running time: 171.9
- Total gallons of gas purchased: 1,142
- Average overall gas mileage: 2.02 mpg
- Total number of locks: 50
- “On the hook” means you’re anchored out.
- “On the hard” means your boat is on land, not in the water.
- “Take you on the one” means you will pass someone on their right.
- “Take you on the two” means you will pass someone on their left.
- You don’t call your ropes “ropes”, you call them “lines”.
- A “bight” is a loop in your line, where a knot can be tied without using the ends.
- The “outside” is when you run in the Gulf, not on the Intercoastal.
- Many of the Florida cities have a “beach” city with the same name. They are on the ocean side, while the big city is on the mainland, and borders the Intercoastal Waterway. Some great examples are Clearwater and Clearwater Beach; and Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach.
Tomorrow will be a day of washing bedding, packing, cleaning out the fridge, and arranging for the maintenance work to be done to the boat while we are home. We have booked our airfare and arranged our transport to the airport. We will be flying home on Tues., Dec 11th, and will not be resuming our travels until mid February (probably about the 18th). This is what we have to look forward to upon our arrival back home:
We are anxious to see our family and friends when we get home. Christmas I’m sure will be festive as usual, but I have much preparation to do before the 24th! My wishes are that you all have a blessed and peaceful Christmas, and a New Year full of promise. We are so thankful that our journey has been safe and full of wonder. We have met some truly beautiful souls on our travels and feel blessed by all of the many acts of kindness sent our way. This will be my final blog posting until our return in February. Until then, ARiverDerci and God bless you all!