Saturday 8/16/14 – Pelican Bay to Fort Myers Beach
Good-bye, Pelican Bay! Beatitude is off to places previously unvisited. There is always a mixture of excitement and anxiety when we go places that we’ve not gone before. Are the charts right? Will I follow the charts accurately? Will I run aground? But on the other hand… What new experiences lay before us? What new people will we meet? What good food will we find to eat? And most importantly, Will we find wifi?!
Shortly after 7 a.m., we weighed anchor and pulled out into the ICW. We then headed south for what turned out to be a 28.55 nautical mile, just shy of 5 hour trip. This part of the ICW is truly lovely. We made our way thru Pine Island Sound in the relative silence of the morning. Seeing it was Saturday, I was quite surprised at the paucity of boaters out on the waterways. Nevertheless, that was good for us as we had less traffic to dodge and fewer wakes from passing power boats to shake Beatitude to and fro.
Before long, we passed our old anchorage at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and entered into San Carlos Bay. There is a section of the ICW through this area which is quite narrow. This challenge is further compounded by a strong cross current from the river running out into the bay. Having passed this way twice before (from south to north, rather than from north to south), I was aware of this difficulty and made it through without incident. Soon, we passed beneath the San Carlos Bay Bridge (70’ of vertical clearance) and entered out into the gulf side of the bay.
From here, it was just a short distance to enter into Matanzas Pass. The channel was deep and wide, which was a good thing since we passed a pirate boat exiting the pass. These touristy pirates are the only kind we ever wish to encounter. We then passed beneath the 65’ vertical clearance Fort Myers Beach Bridge (always a heart stopper) and entered the Fort Myers Beach mooring field.
We’ve gotten pretty good as a team when it comes to picking up a mooring ball. Not perfect, but pretty good. But, this was frustration city! The first section of the mooring field is nearer the marina which runs the field. Of course, we were initially given a ball in the distant section of the field. We didn’t really mind, but after about 30 minutes of futility and multiple phone calls to the marina, we weren’t happy. The more distant section of the mooring field is poorly maintained. Most of the balls (we were assigned several in succession) did not even have loops to pick up to attach your lines. After approaching ball after ball in vain attempts to pick up the line, exasperated, I called the marina and asked whether or not balls might be available in the nearer portion of the field. Of course, several were, and as soon as we approached our first open ball, we picked it up without difficulty.
From there we cleared into the marina had a quick lunch at the marina restaurant. Having difficulty picking up wifi (a problem we have now rectified), we decided to take the trolley off Estero Island to the nearest McDonald’s. There we sat in the air-conditioned restaurant, drank soda, surfed the net, and put up our first blog post in a while. We then caught the last trolley back to the beach, returned to our boat, and watched the fifth episode of John Adams before bed.