Day 3: Ding Darling

What a difference a day makes! The weather this day was superb – lighter breezes, bright sunshine, a cloudless sky, and 70 degrees. Break out the shorts and T-shirts!

The last time we anchored here, we unsuccessfully tried to get onto Sanibel island. This time we were determined. We were ready for a little escape to dry land after 48 hours on the water. I called the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to ask about dinghy access around 9 am and got a recorded message that the receptionist was in a meeting. (They returned my call later in the afternoon explaining that there was no boat access from the Bay side.) I called Sanibel Marina and asked if they might have a place we could dock our dinghy for a few hours of island exploration. The employee graciously said it would be no problem.

Leaving for the 6-mile dinghy ride to Sanibel Marina

Leaving for the 6-mile dinghy ride to Sanibel Marina

A chilly ride on Pine Island Sound.

A chilly ride on Pine Island Sound.

An Osprey and his meal.

An Osprey and his meal.

So, we all climbed into our 12.5’ RIB dinghy with our 15 hp Yamaha outboard. We then proceeded to dinghy the 5-6 miles to Sanibel marina where the super-friendly staff gave us directions on where to tie up. A quick call to Sanibel Taxi Company produced a waiting taxi in 5 minutes which transported us the five miles to Ding Darling NWR. After looking over the ways to explore the refuge (Tour tram, walk, bike) we decided to bike. The only problem was that the bike rental was 2 miles away at Tarpon Bay. Shockingly, the Ding Darling employee behind the desk volunteered her sister-in-law, who was visiting from Chicago, to take us the bike rental place in her own car. This sweet seventy year-old lady loaded the four of us into her car and took us to Pelican Bay. How nice people can be!

Entrance to  Ding Darling NWR

Entrance to
Ding Darling NWR

The Mama and the Papa

The Mama and the Papa

The Gang at the Wildlife Reserve

The Gang at the Wildlife Reserve

We secured our bikes and pedaled the two miles back to Ding Darling and into the wildlife refuge. Cindy was a little leery about this undertaking, but, as usual, she thoroughly enjoyed it. We biked a total of four miles through the refuge taking pictures of all manner of waterfowl. The scenery matched the absolutely perfect weather. Two more miles of pedaling brought us back to bike rental facility, where we called the prompt and courteous taxi service to transport us back to the marina. With eight miles of biking, we compensated for not-a-lot of exercise for the last 48 hours.

Blue Heron

Blue Heron

A Squadron of White Pelicans

A Squadron of White Pelicans

An Anhinga (Snake Bird) Airing Out

An Anhinga (Snake Bird) Airing Out

Mr. Brown Pelican waddles along

Mr. Brown Pelican waddles along

Another Blue Heron Out on a Limb

Another Blue Heron Out on a Limb

Before heading back to Beatitude, we had some great seafood at Gramma Dot’s Restaurant located at the marina. We enjoyed our clam chowder, grouper, and fried oysters. After restocking with some ice (and bread and water) we all got back into the dinghy and made the four nautical mile trek back to Beatitude (I took a short cut on the way back).

Gramma Dots at Sanibel Marina

Gramma Dots at Sanibel Marina

Sanibel Marina disappearing in the background

Sanibel Marina disappearing in the background

What a contrast between this evening at anchor and last evening. It could not be calmer. The boat does not move in the slightest. Sitting in the salon, we could be convinced that we were on land. We watched the sun set over Sanibel island and enjoyed the absolutely serene anchorage. Last night we had the entire anchorage to ourself. Tonight, we share it with one other sailboat.

The day comes to a close

The day comes to a close

We settled in for our evening competition of game-playing. Barry once again took Bananagrams. Cindy and Barry defeated Julie and Tracy at Cranium. Tracy overtook Julie in the last round to win at Golf. The crew had a fun and busy day and gratefully retired to our cabins for a relaxing night sleep.

Enchantment of the Evening Glow

Enchantment of the Evening Glow

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