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Fort Myers Beach Cayo Costa, Pelican Bay and Captiva

Key West

Marathon Ft Lauderdale 2009
  Fort Myers Beach

1 December 2008



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Matanzas Harbour mooring fields



Matanzas Harbour mooring fields, looking out over the shrimping fleet



Adam balancing on the arch, sorting a sail batten


Crew in training

After an eventful arrival at Fort Myers Beach and clearing in to the US, time to look at the logistics of getting to Annapolis to collect our stuff from storage.

Fort Myers Beach is definitely a tourist area. A long narrow island with a beautiful white sand beach with resorts, condominiums and some very nice private homes.

The harbour between Fort Myers Beach island and San Carlos Island is well sheltered and there are many local facilities. Unfortunately, the main shops are mostly driving distance away towards Fort Myers and Cape Coral, so we rent a car for a day from time to time to catch up with shopping needs.

With the boat on a secure mooring and not swinging at anchor on a loose silt bottom, we were happy to leave her to make the trip to Annapolis.

We flew up to Baltimore from Ft. Myers on Tuesday morning. Picked up a budget truck in Baltimore and were loading our stuff in Annapolis by 4pm. Finished the store room by 7pm and dived into the closest motel.

8am Wednesday we were at the boat yard where we had kept Dream On to collect our dinghy and hoped to be able to say our final farewells to Dream On. But she had left on Monday to be sailed down the Chesapeake Bay to Herrington Harbor for some bottom repairs.

Met up with our broker Todd Taylor in Annapolis to collect a few items he had retrieved from DO before she left, then headed south. The total journey will be about 1,200 miles. First overnight in Florence in South Carolina, having driven through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, (Carol & Bob - the Charleston route).

Thursday we had a Chinese buffet lunch date in Kingsland on the Florida border with Bobbie & Gordon who are in the process of moving out of their summer RV travelling home and back onto their boat in Brunswick with their 2 large dogs and 2 large parrots.

Thursday night at Melbourne in Florida just north of Vero Beach so we could meet up with John & Mikki Powers Friday morning and collect our mail and other deliveries that they are kindly holding for us, then back to Ft. Myers Beach by Friday night and back on to Dreaming On.

On Saturday morning we brought Dreaming On from her mooring out in the harbour to Salty Sam's Marina to start loading.  Two days and many dock trolley loads down to our slip and finally an empty truck, but a very congested Dreaming On.

It took us over 3 years to make the most of Dream On's storage nooks and crannies and here we are trying to achieve the same on Dreaming On within 2 days!

A real rush to try to have Dreaming On partway shipshape in time for Adam and Simon to visit us for Christmas with Adam arriving only two days after we arrived in Fort Myers Beach with our truck load!


Adam getting ready to go up the mast to install the radar reflector


Up the mast sorting out the courtesy flag lines


Putting up the main


Crew resting


Cayo Costa, Pelican Bay and Captiva


22 December 2008


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Cayo Costa beach


A fin??


Swimming with dolphins


  With Adam and Simon on board, we left Fort Myers Beach, Matanzas Harbor on 22nd December, timing our departure for a rising tide as we knew we would get stuck along the way as we did on our arrival.

Sure enough, we sat for close to 4 hours in one spot waiting for just a few more inches of water or a wave to take us off. Anchored for the night just inside the Big Carlos Pass Bascule Bridge.

Left early on 23rd for an outside run from Big Carlos Pass at the south end of Fort Myers Beach  entering Charlotte Harbor at the northern tip of Cayo Costa and anchoring in the very pleasant Pelican Bay.

By now we have discovered that everything around here is shallow, even for a catamaran.

Had time to explore the Gulf beaches of Cayo Costa which is a nature reserve.

24th December, motor down the Intracoastal Waterway passing Useppa and Cabbage Keys to Captiva. Adam & Simon kayaked ashore and had time for a run down the island. Christmas Eve on board in relatively traditional style.

Christmas Day - Went ashore for lunch on the island of Captiva. Not quite turkey and all the trimmings, but the weather was warm and it's a great little island.

On the dinghy ride back to the boat which was anchored some way off the island in the inner waterway, we came across a large pod of dolphins playing with calves jumping out of the water. Adam and Simon climbed overboard quietly and swam up to them. There was no actual contact, but the dolphins came to within 3 metres, (3 yards for our US readers!). A great experience which we've always hoped for but not had the opportunity so far.

After our Christmas lunch and dolphin encounter, time to move south so we could get Simon to Fort Myers Airport on 26th. Motored down the waterway past Sanibel Island and into the very shallow entry to the Caloosahatchee River to anchor in Glovers Bight.

Simon left us on the morning of the 26th to fly back to New York and immediately connect to London for a short visit. He is actually based in New York, (Manhattan) for a year


Kayaking at Captiva




Xmas fun




Marco Island



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Gulf Intercoastal Waterway



Sanibel Bridge - the new bridge, which we could not fit under!

  Our intention was to head south to Marco Island immediately after Simon left. To do this we would need to get outside the inland waterway and into the Gulf of Mexico again through the opening Span A of the Sanibel Causeway, which according to our book opened every 15 minutes. So we filled up with fuel and water at Tarpon Pointe Marina in Glovers Bight and headed that way only to find they built a new bridge, opened in July 2008, fixed at 65'!!!

We have a 71' foot mast!

So turn around, retrace our route back up the inland waterway to Captiva, sneaking out of the narrow and intricate Redfish Pass exit into the Gulf just at sunset. Anchored on the outside of North Captiva overnight on 26th, then made a 60 mile run on 27th to Naples Beach, anchoring right off the resort beach.

Moved on into Marco Island on 28th, anchoring in Factory Bay. (More scenic than it sounds!). Nice island, good shops within walking distance. Spent a couple of nights there until 30th when Adam left by taxi to return to Fort Myers Airport for his return flight to London via Charlotte, NC.

It was great having the two here for Christmas, taking time out of their hectic lives to spend time with us and to meet Dreaming On.

As we dinghied back to the boat, having seen Adam off, we made the spot decision to leave immediately for Key West so we would be there for New Year.


Pelicans sunning themselves at Marco Island


Pelican preening



Key West


31 December 2008


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Key West - Westin Marina



Key West



Portugese Man of War Jelly fish floating in the current

  Left Marco Island around 15.30 on 30th for the 80 mile trip to Key West. Very pleasant sail to start with and actually had the sails up for the whole journey for the first time. Having started at around 8 knots on Wednesday afternoon and evening, our speed dropped to around 3 knots during the night. So we idled one engine overnight and motor sailed at 4-5 knots in calm seas.

It was a very dark night, so many shooting stars to see. An overnight phosphorescence illuminated dolphin visit. Hundreds of luminous jelly fish. Also during the night, we heard the most eerie bird call. Obviously a sea bird but not yet identified. And in the morning, turtles basking in the morning sunshine.

Arrived in Key West around 11am on Thursday 31st. Time for lunch, a siesta after our overnight then to hit the town.

Key West is a fascinating, lively and eclectic place all year round, but on New Year's Eve it is phenominal. It was just humming.

Our anchorage was so much calmer and the weather so much warmer than on our previous visit for Christmas 2004 on our maiden voyage on Dream On. (Here we are visiting Key West and Marathon and later Fort Lauderdale, on our maiden voyage on Dreaming On, just as we did with Dream On).

We enjoyed three great days in Key West, re-visiting our all time favourite oyster restaurant, the Conch Republic Seafood Company, their Baked Oysters Callaloo are out of this world! Then sipping mojitos as the sun set.

4th January, time to move on. With early morning rain and overcast skies but with an improving forecast, we headed out early morning for the 42 mile run to Marathon, also in the Florida Keys.

Anchored off Boot Key outside Marathon Harbor overnight on 4th as we are too tall to go in the normal entry due to overhead cables.




Sunset at Key West


Marathon, Florida


5th January 2009

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Relaxing on board


Cleaning the bottom of the dinghy


We've been here too long!


Seahorse spotted next to the boat

  Picked up fuel and water at the west entrance of Boot Key Harbor, just before the bridge and cables, then out again, around Boot Key to the south eastern entrance, the winding Sister Creek to pick up a mooring in the harbor for a month to sort out storage on Dreaming On and install a whole list of items.

We spent 6 weeks in Marathon in early 2005, for final installation of watermaker etc on Dream On. Here we are again with a bigger list of jobs for Dreaming On.

Marathon is full of boats of every description. It's a scenic harbour between two keys with plenty of boat traffic to watch during idle moments. Every possible marine service is available here and many "normal" shops have marine stock that their mainland stores would not usually hold.

Our bikes are ashore and as there is only one main road through the Keys, every shop we need is on that road and no more than 10 minutes by bike or dinghy.

There is a wide variety of restaurants and Iza has re-discovered the fishing tackle shop that runs weekly fishing seminars.

Installed a new 3000W inverter, which manages our battery bank and provides 110V when required. This should reduce generator running time.

Began installation of a new 110V modular watermaker. A challenge to find space for all the bits without taking up otherwise useable storage space. This one is 4 times larger than in Dream On so a slightly bigger challenge.

Began installation of new high amp alternators and smart charging system, This and the inverter installation required 110 feet of high grade battery cable one inch thick to make sure the the volts and amps get to where they are needed.

We've seen manatees, small eagle rays, small turtles and our very first ever seahorse. We have searched some of the world's best diving spots and never seen a seahorse. Then in Marathon, Iza went to shake off a piece of weed attached to the dinghy painter and it turned out to be a 6" seahorse!

Had lots of problems with fuel on one engine, most likely caused by old dirty fuel in the tanks and the inevitable condensation from being in the tropics all her life. Having tried every cheap cure over a period of 10 days or so without success, drove to Miami, picked up a new fuel pump, installed it and the engine started first time.

This is the engine that cools the fridge, so our little 200 Dollar ice maker has had a busy couple of weeks providing ice to keep the fridge cool.

So with port engine running and a very short weather window to head to Fort Lauderdale, we left Marathon on 18th February for an overnight run of 125NM.



Kittiwake, with John and Mary, leaving Marathon, heading to Key West


Tranquility with Leigha on top of the mast to hold their antenna down under the overhead cables as they leave Marathon. Leigha is now famous in Marathon.


Tranquility back and leaving again. Cameron, Leigha, Maya and Fynn. Hope we see them again some time.


Fog in Marathon Harbour

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