The return trip is underway. We have moved back to the east coast of Florida and will be continuing north.
In the last post I mentioned we were in Cayo Casta waiting out winds. That evening as the winds howled I heard an unusual noise, a bump. Not familiar with that sound I went investigating. It seemed that when we anchored we were in adequate water depth but as we swung with the wind we were now in a shallow spot and as the swell moved through the anchorage we were bumping the bottom. We had several options, none of them good. We were almost at full low tide and we could stay put and wait for the tide to come up or move. We didn't want to move at night in strong winds and since it was a sand bottom we chose to wait it out. The bumping continued for several hours until the tide rose enough to no longer bump. In the morning we pulled the anchor and moved to a spot that was a bit deeper. After that we set off in the dinghy to go check out the shelling on the beach. Since it was at high tide it was a bit disappointing.
The next day, Sunday the 4th, we decided to pull anchor and move on. The winds had died and things were calm again. We headed off to anchor next to Cabbage Key. We swapped outboards and with the 15 horse we went off exploring. The guidebook mentioned a spot called "Tunnel of Love" and we went looking for it. We found it in a little bay, it is a small shallow river winding through overhanging mangroves leading to a small lake with a short trail over to the beach. We walked this beach for a while finding it better for shells then the previous day. The next morning we took the dinghy through Captiva Pass and pulled up on the beach for more shelling. There were several boats there already and many more as the morning progressed. The shelling was disappointing again, the tide was too high and there were so many other people collecting shells. We called it quits and went to Cabbage Key for lunch. There is a resort there that is reported to be the inspiration for Jimmy Buffets "Cheeseburger in Paradise". Of course we had to order the cheeseburger.
The next morning we moved down to the north end of Sanibel Island hoping to go ashore for more shelling. After letting the boat settle on it's anchor we headed out in the dinghy again. On the way in the engine quit. We have had this problem before, the fuel line disconnects at the fuel tank and it runs out of gas. After reconnecting it we tried to continue but it would stall again. If we pumped gas using the squeeze bulb it would run. We turned back to the boat and pulled the outboard off. We had fuel problems with a previous outboard and it turned out to be the fuel pump. I am suspecting the fuel pump is not working properly. Will find out later. In the morning we put the 3.3 outboard on and slowly worked our way around to the beach. We walked the beach for a while but again were disappointed. Again, there were so many people and we were near high tide, low tide was at about 1:00 am. We decided to move on planning to go to Fort Myers Beach to stage for our next move south. On the way Cori's friend Rhonda sent a message inviting us for a few days again. It also turned out that she was in Spearfish SD getting ready to travel back. Cori arranged for her dad to meet up with her and give her our dinghy registration papers we were missing. We changed course and headed back up the river to Fort Myers. It turned out that she was delayed several days so we hung out in Fort Myers for a week.
Last time in Fort Myers we were inundated with the midge flies and assumed that they were now gone. As usual we were wrong. They were still evident but not as bad as last time. Once again our boat was getting covered in green bug poop. We spent several days helping Morgan and Jennifer with some projects on their boat Unplugged. While Cori was helping them with some sewing on their sailcover I stayed on the boat and took care of some engine maintenance. They loaned me their car one day and I made a run for some supplies and provisions while Cori worked on a sewing project. We also spent some time checking out the various watering holes for beer and lunches. With all of this running around using the 3.3 horse outboard it started to act up again. I made a trip to find an in-line fuel filter and after cleaning the carburetor again I installed a filter. That should take care of the dirty carburetor problem. Once again, thank you to Jerald on Persephone for walking me through carburetor cleaning class. The end of the week we got together with Rhonda's family and friends for a prime rib dinner, one of my favorites. To avoid dinghying back at night we spent the night with them. This is the first night we have been off the boat since we got aboard in Trinidad back in November of 2019.
It was time to move on, we hadn't planned on staying for a week but it was fun. Mid-day Saturday, the 17th, we pulled anchor and said good-bye to the bugs and our friends. We once again motored down the river with the weekend boat traffic. We moved out of the river and started into the harbor debating where to spend the night. We were planning on fort Myers Beach but it would be easier if we stopped in the lee of Sanibel Island and it made for an easier departure in the morning. In the morning as I pulled the anchor we found a seahorse attached to the chain, a first for us. Of course we neglected getting a picture before setting him/her free. We motored out of the harbor and started our way to Marco Island, directly into the wind. We were greeted by dolphins when we arrived and anchored. There was a weather front moving through so we planned to stay for a couple of days to wait out the rain and winds. We didn't get as much rain as forecast, it seemed to go either north or south of us but we did have a couple of days of strong winds. We were in a protected anchorage so we were able to ride it out comfortably and made several trips to shore. Wednesday morning we pulled anchor and moved to the marina to take on fuel and water then going back out to anchor. Later we went ashore to hit the grocery store.
In the morning we pulled anchor and headed out, bashing into the incoming tide. Once out of the channel we turned, set the sails and we were off. We were able to sail about half of the day until the winds died and we had to motor. We stopped just past Little Shark River in the Everglades National Park and anchored for the night. In the morning we took the dinghy to shore to check the beach for shells. We collected a variety as the tide came up then went back to the boat to continue on. Once again we were able to sail about halfway until we had to change course and had the wind on the nose. We anchored for the night in the lee of Fiesta Key with several other boats. In the morning we passed under the Channel 5 bridge and moved out into the Atlantic again. We motored for several hours until we could get an angle to sail up Hawks Channel making way to Rodrigues Key. We arrived about mid-day and decided to continue on to No Name Harbor outside of Miami. As the day progressed the winds shifted around behind us and dropped off. Once again we were motoring. We arrived at No Name just as the sun was setting, we anchored and mixed cold rum drinks to celebrate. One of the boats at anchor was Flying Loon who we met several years ago in Martinique. The cruising world is actually rather small. In the morning they headed out but we are staying for a couple of days.
We will be checking the weather forecasts for an opportunity to move north. The ideal would be to leave Miami and continue nonstop to North Carolina but it is unlikely we will find that good of a window. We will take whatever we get, stopping along the way when it is necessary. There are a lot of ports along the coast that we can duck into if there is foul weather coming.