We made sure to leave Sanibel Island super early to take advantage of the predicted weather which forecasted the best winds earlier in the day. We barely burned any diesel and since we weren’t able to find any in Ft Meyers I was proud of that fact. We had full sails up, and in no time we were zipping along at 6.5knots! We decided to drop the main, which dropped us down to 5.5knots. That speed is a little more comfortable. We made it to Marco Island in record time!
As usual I had searched out spots to anchor using our SeaIQ and Active Captain apps, and I read about a neat spot tucked way up in the canals. There was a winn dixie that had a free dinghy dock, so of course I was super excited to check it out. The entrance to the canal was very narrow and could be a little dangerous with tidal currents, but luckily it was slack when we made our entrance. We meandered in the narrow canal for a long distance, with only a couple inches beneath the keel in some spots. There was lots of traffic, but fortunately it was a no wake zone so everyone was going nice and slow (it would have been horrific if they were all throwing wake). We saw one anchorage that was fairly wide open, but had a few boats there, so we went just a little farther. We got our own private anchorage in a U shaped “dead end” of the canal. There was just enough room for one boat to fit in there and so we dropped anchor. I happy as clam in this spot, because there were predicted high winds and I knew we were sheltered and tucked way inland so it would be insignificant. We eagerly checked out the free dinghy dock and loaded up on groceries and treated ourselves to some steaks for dinner!
The next day Erik was stuck on the boat working on his taxes, but I took full advantage of the dinghy dock and strolled around Marco Island. I really enjoyed it! There were lots of shops (but it was a Sunday so most were closed on my walk) and I headed over to a local ice cream store for a treat! The next day we were unsure of what our next step would be with the predicted stormy weather. At this point we knew we needed to fill up on diesel since the rest of the trip south would be through the everglades (and no civilization). We probably would have been fine with the amount we had in the tank, but I would rather be safe than sorry. We planned at stopping at the local marina which had everything we needed (according to their website). But by now we have always learned to call ahead, which was a good thing we did because they were out of diesel! By the way this was the only marina in Marco Island that sold diesel. Their pump broke and were unsure of when they were getting it fixed. So instead of waiting around Erik and I took our jerry cans to the closest gas station, which was about a mile and a half away. We filled each jerry can as full as we could manage, and got about 13 gallons. We took frequent stops on the way back, but we got enough diesel to feel confident for the next leg of the trip.
That evening a pretty gnarly storm rolled through. It wasn’t an issue since we were tucked in at our cozy anchorage. In the morning there was a small craft advisory in affect. We got the diesel, and now we needed the water and pumpout. So our plan was to go the marina and see how the conditions were. After traveling out of the canal, we headed more inland to the marina. We got our water and pumpout, and of course it appeared the diesel pump had been fixed meaning our strenuous exercise the day before was for naught. I felt uneasy going out in a small craft advisory but Erik talked me into giving it a go. Erik assured me that when the wind shifted from coming off land as predicted the waves would die down and it would continue to get calmer through the day.
The closer and closer we got the inlet the more uneasy I was feeling. We passed by the canal entrance we had left earlier, and the current seemed super strong and crazy! Definitely wouldn’t have been able to make it in those conditions. I could see whitecaps and the murky gray waters from being churned up. As we got closer we started navigating the narrow inlet. There was another sailboat about 100 yards back so I tried telling myself we weren’t the only ones going out in this yucky weather (they were a large well equipped vessel). The waves started forming, and they were big (for us) at around 6-8ft. All of a sudden I had these crazy visions where one small thing went wrong… this small thing that we can usually handle without issue suddenly becomes a huge thing that could potentially leave us in a very dangerous situation! Something as small as engine issues (overheating, fuel issues, etc), steering issues, or running aground are things we have a plan for, but if something happened then and there we would have been swept on the beach before we could execute our plan. So I finally stood up and said turn this boat around! It was a tense moment as Erik wanted to keep going, but we are not on a schedule and there is no reason for us to be out in conditions like that. So far thats been the most extreme weather we have been out in (usually anchored for the bad stuff). We chose a different anchorage closer to the marina since the inlet was too treacherous to navigate. It was still well protected and we sat for a few days while the weather cleared up.
It is nice not being in a rush and being able to wait out bad weather. We stayed in Marco Island for about three days waiting on the perfect conditions to continue south and I am glad we did because the rest of our sail was idyllic.