Our new dinghy has been both a blessing and a curse. The motor and dinghy themselves work marvelously; the davit system is adequate, the nav lights are incredible, but the motor swivel we ordered we are unable to use. If traveling, we now have to take the motor off the dinghy and carry it aboard, otherwise it’s bouncing around sideways and oil gets into the spark plug, causing it to run poorly. We will be working on it again (and again) until we get it right.
The initial test drive was a failure: the motor quit and we had to paddle back to Snook Bight Marina. Lots of measuring, discussions and futzing around ensued. That evening on the 20th, we were invited to ride aboard the paddle wheeler ‘Indian Princess’ for a sunset cruise. The captain, Kevin, is a live-aboard at the marina and is from Stillwater, MN. It was a very enjoyable time, with a wonderful sunset.
Feb 21st we had to leave Snook Bight because all the slips were reserved for a group from a Boating Club. We were able to get a mooring ball (our 1st) at the Matanzas East Mooring Field. It’s better than anchoring out (less worry) and very inexpensive; and includes pump out. They have a dinghy dock about 1/2 mile north with easy access to the shops, restaurants, pier and beach. We took in the sights, and cannot believe how much more crowded it is then it was in Dec.
Friday the 22nd was a swimsuit day and our pace encouraged lounging aboard. The weather has been hot, in the low to mid 80’s. There has been a ‘red tide’ warning here. This is the result of the algae Karenia Brevis which can produce respiratory problems, and allergic-like reactions for many. This red algae has been washing ashore in the area. Luckily we were not affected. Later that evening we took the dinghy to nearby ‘Salty Sam’s’ Marina to enjoy outdoor live music, cocktails and dancing.
On Saturday we had the pleasure of meeting up with some other Minnesota natives, down here for a long break from the winter. We enjoyed lunch at the ‘Upper Deck’ and sampled alligator tails as an appetizer. Mmmmm. Surprisingly good! We walked around town, then back to the dinghy and ‘home’ to the boat. The humidity was high, and the fog settled in thick as darkness approached.
Back to Snook Bight for one last evening on Sunday. We enjoyed jambalaya, fresh oysters, and key lime pie on the dock with the live-aboards. Then we showered up, did a couple of loads of laundry, and took advantage of the Publix grocery store again. We prepped for our jaunt into the gulf to get to Naples. The best window for leaving and making the crossing was for an early start, as the winds were to pick up in the afternoon.
The Intercoastal Waterway leads straight across Florida from this point, through Lake Okeechobee, but we are heading to the Keys, so decided for the shorter and more direct route through the Gulf.
Back-tracking, we made our cut out to the gulf through Matanzas Pass, as the tide was low and the other channel very shallow and difficult to manuever. All went smooth with only a few crab pots encountered and an easy 2-foot chop. It was a 36 mile crossing and we arrived in Gordon Pass, our access to Naples, at noon. A dolphin jumped entirely out of the water next to our boat, but I wasn’t able to get a good photo. The loud splash sure caught our attention though!
We were fortunate to get another mooring ball at the Naples City Docks. They have only six available. They predicted near record highs today, and it was a warm one! We paddled to the dinghy dock and walked to town. Nathan (our dinghy guy) came out to meet us after work to take some measurements so we can get a different motor swivel.
This evening the full moon rose large over the horizon at dusk. We cooked aboard and read over our new ‘Fishes of Florida 101’ pamphlet. The portholes are all open with fans running, and my hair is curlier than usual because of the high humidity. We are sweaty and sticky, but can’t complain knowing what the weather’s like in MN. We will stay in Naples 2 more days to get the dinghy system 100% operational, then we’ll be off to Marco Island, taking the ‘inside’ route instead of venturing out into the Gulf.
Recently an article about our Great Loop trip was published in the Elk River Star News. If you are interested please check it out on-line at the following web address:
Next blog coming from Marco!