Cruise to Naples & Marco Island, FL
This is a cruise to Cayo Costa, Sanibel Island, Marco Island, and Naples with our dear friends Capt. Ron and Linda Hall. Ron and I started the first grade of school together. Linda was in high school with us. That tells a lot about age. I have known Ron for 60 years and Linda for 50.
Southwest Florida is one of the best cruising grounds in the eastern US. Just be careful to stay in the channels. As the downeasters in NC say, “you can find the ground there”. The water is prettier than the Chesapeake, there are also short hops between harbors, and the wind doesn’t blow as much in winter as the FL Keys. However, if the Chesapeake had year around cruising, it would probably be my choice. We love them both.
We left our home port, Gasparilla Marina, for the short run (about a half hour) to Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa Island. Anchoring for the evening (one of our favorite things to do) we grilled some steaks and enjoyed the beautiful sunset. Capt. Ron brought his guitar. Music ensued late into the evening. Ron and I have composed such illustrious songs as “Captain Ron is Losing His Ass” and “I Need You Tonight”. I’m sure that you have heard those many times. He has composed many others such as “Fantasea” and “Tulips Growing Under My Nose”. You definitely have heard them if you have been on MOONSTRUCK.
Cayo Costa is one of the best (and most popular) anchorages on the Florida west coast. It is large enough to accomodate a great number of boats without getting in each other’s way. It is a great place for group cruises to raft up, and it is a good place for kids to play and swim.
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This is easy cruising. After a liesurely breakfast, we hauled up the anchor and headed south. Running the inside channel from Cayo Costa to San Carlos Bay is a piece of Cake. We passed many of our favorite stops–Cabbage Key, South Seas Resort, and Tween Waters. We made a noon time stop at Sanibel Harbor Marina to have lunch at Grandma Dot’s Restaurant. That was a real treat!! It is a great restaurant. The channel getting in there has shoaled from the south, so you have to go in very close to the seawall on the starboard side. Then it was out to San Carlos Bay and past Point Yebel for the offshore run to Marco Island. We had a beautiful day for the cruise.
Arrived at Marco Island Yacht Club. Very nice place. Lou seemed to like the dock master. Later it was learned that he had told her “just stand there, look pretty, and hand me the line when I ask for it”. I’m not sure just who was really handing the line!!! We opted to take a cab to dinner at a waterfront restaurant. It was a nice evening, so we decided to walk back to the boat. It was a loooong walk.
If we had more time in Marco Island it would have been nice to call my old friends Jack and Tessie Ralston. Catching up with the Ralstons is always fun. It is just not possible to have a short visit with Jack.
The next morning the wind had picked up, and Linda was having an allergy problem. We decided to take the tight, twisty inside route up to Naples. The channel is a little tight to say the least. Other than the captain being nervous in the tight channels between the mangroves, it was a beautiful run.
We tied up the first night at the Naples Sailing and Yacht Club. This is one of my favorite stops on the Florida West Coast. Marilyn, the dock master, is one of the best; and their new building is gorgeous. We had a delicious meal there while over looking the harbor.
The next morning Linda went into town to see a doctor to get medication for her allergy condition. Then just for a change we moved the boat across the harbor to the Naples Yacht Club (there are two yacht clubs in Naples) for the night. We had wonderful meal by the pool at their club. The weather was about perfect. Dining under the palm trees with the moon shining through made a delightful evening.
Of course, on both days we went into the Naples shopping district to see the toney shops, expensive automobiles, and high maintenance women. We really enjoyed the lunch in a sidewalk cafe. Ron and I both decided that we are pretty lucky guys. We thought it best to keep a safe distance from the high maintenance women, or we might break out in hives.
We then headed back to Gasparilla the next morning. We had an offshore run to Boca Grande Pass. Then we went into the GICW to the Gasparilla Marina. It was dinner at Fisherman’s that night with the “Florida Crew” (Sue & Gene, Cheryl & Terry, and Karen and Jerry). It is always fun to see that gang. Great folks. Everyone agreed that Linda looked and acted enough like Sue and Lou that she could be their sister!
You can probably tell by the photos that we had wonderful weather for the cruise. What a great time we had! It was just too short! Ron and Linda had to depart for home the next day.