Usually, when at anchor, I sleep somewhat restlessly. I usually get up a couple of times in the night to make sure we’re not dragging. Perhaps this malady will be cured by the tincture of time and experience. Nonetheless, last night I slept soundly. It may have been the product of the total of two to three hours of sleep the previous night. It may have been the 5 ft of water and the huge, gorgeous anchorage. Whatever the case, it was a nice nights rest.
We awoke around 8:30, took showers, had some frosted flakes for breakfast, and pulled up anchor at 10:00. We spent the next several hours motoring up the intracoastal waterway under bright sun and surrounded with the splendor of God’s creation. Around 1:30 we took a left turn at marker “74” and turned into another lovely place to anchor. The approach to the anchorage is quite intimidating. One must head directly toward a “No Wake Zone” sign sitting very close to the beach lined with boats and happy people. When about 50-75 feet from the shore, the boat must be turned to port and follow the beach along until it fades away to the right. I was pretty intimidated, but did not need to be as it was really quite straightforward. We had 6 feet of water all the way in.
Pelican Bay, just off of Cayo Costa, is the name of the anchorage. At 7 p.m., there were 14 boats anchored with us, but the bay is so spacious we were not crowded at all. (That may also be due to the fact that I probably chose a portion of the anchorage which is quite shallow. When I dropped my anchor, the depth meter read 4.8 ft. My draft is 4.2 feet. That leaves about 6 inches of room beneath the hulls. We came in with the tide coming in just after low tide. I didn’t think we would touch ground this night, but I probably should have opted for the more populated parts of the bay. There may be a good reason Beatitude is relatively alone.)
Cayo Costa State Park is on a barrier island accessible only by boat (aren’t we in luck). For 4,000 or more years prior to the arrival of Europeans, a succession of Native American fishing cultures lived and worked in these areas. We took the dinghy over to the dinghy docks at the Ranger Station, bought a Klondike Bar from the little store, and took the tram over the one mile trail to the gulf. What a treat to visit this unspoiled beach. There are no permanent inhabitants of the island. No resorts. No houses (except for some primitive camping cabins). While Cindy and Christy relaxed on the beach, I took the opportunity to go for a 3-mile round trip walk up to the north end of the island. How pleasant! As I walked along the beach, the shells crackled beneath my feet as if I were walking on broken glass. The amorphous shapes of driftwood dotted the beach. Sea turtle nests were prevalent all along the way. I picked up a number of shells (including one which definitely bests my personal record in shell size).
After an hour and a half at the beach, we took the tram back to the inland side of the island, grabbed a couple of bags of ice, and made our way back to Beatitude. But, before we settled aboard for the night, we had one more excursion. We went exploring in our dinghy and found this little inlet through the mangroves which opened up into a mangrove-enveloped lake of about 200 yards in diameter. How lovely! Cindy spotted a gator close to the boat as we were making our turn to exit the lake. Let’s just say that she spent the rest of the dinghy ride sitting in the bottom of the center of the boat. If that gator was going to leap up into the dinghy, Christy or I would be the first to go!
The evening was spent watching a beautiful sunset over Cayo Costa. Cindy made us some bacon western omelettes and home fries for dinner. We watched one of my favorite movies, “Midnight in Paris,” and retired for the night.