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We had a spectacular day yesterday to cross 133 miles from Fort Myers Beach to Marathon, Florida Keys. The waves and wind were both next to nothing and the sun was shining! We buddied up with John and Jackie Flor and followed them across.
We rose at 5 am so we could be underway by first light. I snapped the pic above of BELLA and Eu Floria prepping for our voyage to Marathon with just the glow of each of their electronics.
As we rounded the end of Fort Myers Beach heading out to the gulf we were joined by dolphins. We encountered an entire pod of dolphins while in the middle of the gulf a distance away from the boats.
A beautiful sunrise over Fort Myers Beach as we headed into the gulf.
Falling in behind Jackie and John on Eu Floria. They have crossed to Marathon many times and it was wonderful having them in the lead not only for their boating experience but for avoiding crab pots. A constant watch for them is a must traveling in these waters. We encountered crab pots the ENTIRE trip over! I assumed that we would have to deal with them off the coast of Naples, Marco Island and Marathon, but those little buggers were lined up and bobbing the entire way. Even as the second boat, I stood most of the way to help Tom see and avoid them. Thanks to the Flors keen look out, neither boat hit a pot!
The closer we got to Marathon the flatter the seas.......
Hard to see, but our first glimpse of Marathon and 7 Mile Bridge WAY in the distance!
We made it! Faro Blanco Marina's signature Light House
BELLA all tied up in Marathon and ready for a wash! Love the palm trees on the island near us! We plan to be here until mid-March before we start heading up the East coast of Florida. As has been the case thus far, we pulled in and were greeted by fellow Loopers that are also spending time in the Keys.
Can't wait to dump the dinghy in and investigate the Keys!
More from Marathon later~
Monday afternoon our friend and co-worker for many years at Jimmy's paid us a visit on BELLA while still at Pink Shell Marina, Fort Myers Beach. Ron Leu and his friend Mary drove over from Naples to see us. We had a wonderful time catching up! Ron who lived in Hudson, WI, is retired and calls Florida his home year around.
It was so great to see you Ron and Mary! Here are a few shots from your visit. Hope to see you sometime in the Keys!
Ron and Tom sharing some laughs!
After a relaxing cruise down the Caloosahatchee River for about 20 miles, we arrived at Pink Shell Marina on Fort Myers Beach. On the Caloosahatchee River, it's slow speed from the 41 business bridge to the power plant and that's because of the mass transit of the manatees. After the first real cold front the Caloosahatchee gets a mass transit of the manatees up the river to warm up by the power plant. Manatees need warmer water to survive because they have little body fat (I know, serious....they look like they are all fat) and their metabolic rate is slow compared to other marine mammals. These gentle giants can’t live in water below 68 degrees for a long time. We got skunked though and never saw a manatee all the while we were at Legacy, so all I have is a Manatee Zone sign!
Other sites on our way to Fort Myers Beach.....
We spied this Boat House as we passed Punta Rassa Cove. It was out in the middle of the mangroves in this cove. We weren't sure if it was someones residence or a tourist excursion destination. ;)
We passed the Sanibel Harbour Yacht Club (above) and went under the Sanibel Island Causeway (below). The dolphins were playing all around this area.
We loved our view of the Sanibel Light House as we floated by.
The wind picked up as we entered Mantanzas Pass and hustled by a windsurfer coming right toward us!
Approaching the beach side of Fort Myers Beach and Pink Shell Resort
We pulled into our slip at Pink Shell right next to Tom's dentist, John Flor! John and Jackie Flor from Minnesota did the Loop many years ago and now cruise the Florida coast in the winter time. As we made our way down the dock of this tiny marina we felt right at home after seeing several boats from Minnesota here....Stillwater, New Ulm, White Bear Lake, John & Jackie's boat Eu floria and one from St. Louis named Griffin!
When we were at Legacy, it seemed we were always in the middle of a boat project. The last few days since we've been here, we've done the regular boat maintenance, but taken the time to enjoy the resort pool, beach and spa! We've both steamed and taken LONG showers (even shaved my legs!) at the spa which is a real luxury to a boater!
We've walked the beach every day, but today. It's been raining all day and Tom cleaned the sumps (nasty job!) while I've been blogging. The pic above is of the Fort Myers Beach Pier. The area is very busy and traffic is at a stand still on the main drag this time of year as tourists from Fort Myers and Cape Coral desend on the beach. It's been unseasonably cool and wet this last week, but we've still enjoyed our time at Pink Shell.
Friday we ubered across the bridge and had lunch at Dixie's and then walked to the Trico Fish Company. They sell fresh seafood. We loaded up on Pink Shell Shrimp and tuna.
Friday night we whipped up a fun dinner with our fresh shrimp and pasta and veggies from the Farmers Market. Tom hates postings of food, but I thought this was an exception considering we did it all on board in an electic skillet. ;)
We had originally planned to head out today for Marco Island but Mother Nature had other plans. The rain and wind would have made the trip today miserable, so we are staying put here at Pink Shell until Tuesday when we have a better weather window and we are going to bypass Marco Island and go directly to Marathon. We plan to travel with the Flors to Marathon. They have a 420 Cruisers Express and travel about the same speed we do. It's approximately 133 miles to Marathon and most will be done in open water on the Gulf again, so it will be nice to have a buddy boat to travel with.
Jackie and John have been very welcoming and hosted docktails last evening for us and another boating couple, Jim and Syl Simpson, who completed the loop in 2017. We had a marvelous time! Flors also invited us to church this morning in Fort Myers. The service and music was great!
Tomorrow we are getting a visit from our friend, Ron Leu. We worked with Ron at Jimmy's and he was incharge of sales in Minnesota. He is now retired and lives in Naples. We are very much looking forward to catching up with him!
We cast off our lines this morning and got back on the water again after seven weeks at Legacy Marina in Fort Myers. Legacy was a wonderful marina and we really enjoyed our time there. The staff was awesome and fellow boaters were great. There is an amazing sense of community at Legacy and I look forward to slipping there again some day.
On our last full day at Legacy we got a visit from Brian and Sue Wolfe, friends and fellow boaters from Wabasha. They have been in Fort Myers for a couple of weeks and looked us up. It was great catching up with them. We met the Wolfe's years ago through Father Engels. Tom and I, along with the Severtson's, were taking instruction from Father and during one of our sessions in Wabasha, he invited Brian and Sue to join us. We kept in touch over the years and eventually both the Wolfe's and us, ended up slipping at Parkside.
Thanks Brian and Sue for looking us up! Always great seeing you!
Ironically, it was Father Engels that introduced us to boating almost thirty years ago now. He had sailed on Pepin for many years and took us out on the water several times over the course of our instruction. Once on a pontoon, on a houseboat, a cruiser and a sailboat. After those experiences, Tom and I hoped that one day we could have our own boat. Ten years later we did and shortly after the purchase, we had Father Engels aboard to bless our boat.
Father passed away this Fall after we started the Loop. He would have loved this boating adventure. May you rest in peace and have fair winds and following seas Father.
We had the opportunity to spend time with friends from Parkside Marina, Wabasha, MN! Mike and Roxie, friends from the 100 Boom arrived Saturday. They were vacationing in Florida and stopped in Fort Myers to see us. Over the years at Parkside, Mike has given us boating advice and always had an encouraging word when we were planning for the Loop.
We enjoyed time on the dock and with friends Jerry and Billie Jerome, whom Mike introduced to us a while back when we were planning to do the Loop. The Jeromes completed the Loop a few years ago and Mike was kind enough to set up a lunch date in Wabasha so they could share their Looping knowledge with us. Now a year and half later we have connected with them in Fort Myers. They are slipping at the end of our dock at Legacy now too before heading to the Keys. So the Jeromes coordinated a dinner with all of us and Marv and Carol Market, who live in Fort Myers. Marv use to slip at Parkside years ago and he and Mike have spent time together boating. Below is our group dining together at The Blue Coyote. Thank you Billie and Jerry for your gracious hospitality.
Sunday we took BELLA out for a little cruise up the Caloosahatchee to the Franklin Lock. It was the first time out of the slip since Dec 2! Since we arrived in Fort Myers, we've had a few things repaired, replaced and fixed, so we all were in 'boat listening mode' for the first part of the trip for sounds that weren't quite right! We also were on the watch for dolpins, manatees and alligators!
Before heading to Fords garage for dinner Sunday we took advantage of a photo op with the four of us below.
It was a busy fun weekend with family and friends. It's wonderful to be able to see folks from home and connect with them down here.
Last Friday we were graciously invited to Patrick and Meaghan Simpsons family home in Sanibel for an awesome Mexican dinner with family and friends. Meaghan is our niece from St. Paul and Steve and Liz Holzers daughter. She is an AMAZING cook and treated us to a wonderful evening of food, fun and family. Steve and Liz recently moved to Sarasota and also made the trip to Sanibel, along with an old family friend from Stewartville, Karen Koehler and her daughter Anna, who also live in Florida.
Their Sanibel home is right on a canal and less than a block away from the beach. We have always loved Sanibel and Captiva Islands. For years we vacationed there with the boys and Tom's mom, Ella and have fond memories of collecting loads of shells on the beach. The last time we were on Sanibel was 17 years ago, before Tom's mom passed. We toured around the islands before arriving at Meaghan and Patricks. It was great seeing it all again.
It was Meaghans birthday earlier in the week so Karen made a cake and found a candle for her to blow out :) We missed Katie and Ben at the Florida Fiesta but know you'll have fun in Sarasota when you visit later this winter.
Thank you all for a fun evening !
We arrived back in Fort Myers on Dec 27. We both began shedding our coats and sweaters as we started the long walk down the dock to D17 ;) Did I mention before that our boat is .25 mile from the marina office! It's a hike!
I would say the same number of boaters stayed on the dock over the Christmas holiday as went back to their 'dirt' homes. As you can see many of the boats are still decorated for the holiday. This one is especially festive both in the front and back!
Our boat was in good shape. We were curious to see how she faired. We had some pretty nasty wind while we were away. The folks that stayed reported 30-40 mph winds with 50-70 mph gusts. It was great to see BELLA still safe in her slip considering our 'backyard' is right on the channel with only the concrete floating dock to block the wake.
We were excited to get the dinghy off the swim platform....FINALLY!!! Other than having to remove it to replace the scuppers in Pensacola, the dinghy has not been off the back of the boat. It was time! So Saturday we put the plug back in the dinghy---a very important thing to do ;) and plugged the wench in and got that baby in the water.
Tom took her for a ride around the marina to make sure every thing was working. All was good so we headed out to Marina Town across the channel for a little lunch. It's fun having it back in the water but we are keeping a sharp eye out for the visitor below........
It's crazy seeing an alligator swimming around your boat in a marina! I definitely don't dip my toes in the water.....ever!
Downtown Fort Myers had a fun New Year's Eve. They hung a "ball" on a crane right off the main drag for their midnight ball drop! It was a fun, festive atmosphere with bands and food & beverage vendors on the street. Father Time even made an appearance.....
We've become fans of the Cape Coral Farmers Market. It's been great getting farm fresh produce and Tom's new favorite; sweet, hot pickles! We hit it again yesterday and had lunch at Cape Coral's Boat House.
Since being back our days have been filled with boat maintence, checking out the Fort Myers area by foot, bike & Uber, meeting fellow boaters at Legacy and docktails! The lovely ladies with me above are Jennifer Peterson and her boat neighbor, Sue from the C Dock and everyone's favorite at Legacy!
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.