We have traveled a mere 60 miles since our arrival back in Florida, and are currently holed up in Goodland, a quaint old fishing village on the southeastern tip of Marco Island. It is located at the beginning of the Everglades and the area known as the “10,000 Islands”. From here we will have to make another run through the Gulf, but the weather has turned, so we are lying low. The wind is literally howling and it is damp and chilly. Jeans and sweatshirts and jackets are our current apparel. The sheepskin slippers have even come out of the hold.
On Tuesday the 26th we took the dinghy for a ride up the Gordon River. The skies were cloudy, and there were white caps in Naples Bay. We toured around, then stopped at Tin City, an eclectic collection of waterfront shops and restaurants where we ate at Pincher’s Crab Shack. We dinghied back to the boat amid sprinkles.
Wednesday we spent the day on foot, walking around old Naples. We went out to the beach and to the pier, taking shelter under trees along the way to stay out of the intermittent rain showers. Upscale shops and dining establishments were everywhere – a little too ritzy for us hobos. But we did purchase a new rug for the galley. That evening we grilled dinner aboard and listened to tunes, played backgammon and planned our route to Marco Island.
Fortunately we were able to stay ‘inside’ for the short trip to Marco, as the blustering winds continued. There were many shallow spots because of shoaling, even in the marked channel. We got a slip at the Marco Island Yacht & Sailing Club, a beautiful marina with a pool and heavenly showers. We walked to a shopping district where we purchased a new ‘ditch’ bag, jugs of water, and replenished our liquor supply. We have nicknamed Marco Island ‘Mark-Up Island’ because everything is crazy expensive. Our ditch bag houses supplies needed in case we ever have to ‘ditch’ the big boat due to some peril. Lugging our goods made the walk back long and slow. I got a blister between two toes, so most of the way I went barefoot.
Friday morning we got a surprise visit from Rick Kurth, the owner of Broadway Bar and Pizza in Elk River. He is on a road trip alone, and seems to be enjoying himself immensely. He hung out on the boat with us for a while, then was off on his way to The Keys. We pulled out shortly after he left, and headed for Goodland, our current location.
The trip was beautiful with a shallow channel winding between many small islands. We passed by Sanctuary Sound, where osprey have built nests on most of the markers. The majority of the way was via the Big Marco River, its shores lined with mangrove swamps. We got a slip at the Calusa Island Marina, which was highly recommended.
It’s a short walk to town from here, which consists mainly of a post office, a fish market, and several restaurants and bars. We lunched outside at the Old Marco Lodge, established in 1869, then walked to Stan’s Idle Hour, where I imbibed heavily on their infamous rum punch. They host a mullet festival every Feb, and are known for their rockin’ Sunday parties. We met some great folks from Aurora, Ohio, Connecticut, New York, and an old gent currently residing in Colorado. It was a very fun evening, with live music, dancing, and swapping of many stories.
Today was a day of recuperation for me after last evening’s festivities. We did make a run to Publix to stock up on groceries, thanks to Don a live-aboard here at Calusa Island Marina. Jim spent the day visiting with the neighbors, and thinks he figured out a way to make the dinghy motor mount work. He is currently grilling burgers on the back deck, and I think after dinner I’ll pull out another blanket – it’s supposed to get down into the 40’s tonight.
Our plan is to stay here until Monday, when the weather and winds will be more favorable for a crossing. We may anchor out in the Shark River in the Everglades, or head to Everglades City before cruising to the Keys. Everyone says we’ll love it there, so I’m looking forward to it – that and picking up the pace!