The Ft. Myers area is a crossroads for us to decide whether to go South via the Gulf side of Florida or cross Lake Okeechobee and down the Atlantic side of Florida to Key West. The ICW turns at Pine Island and heads East through Ft. Myers, into Lake Okeechobee and out to the Atlantic Coast of Florida at Jupiter. Then it runs South to the Keys. If you stay on the Gulf side there is no ICW to follow and there are also several notes on the charts saying "Local Knowledge Required" to navigate among the 1000 islands and canals leading to the Everglades. We are all aware that a hurricane Irma came through this area just 8 or 9 weeks ago so all local knowledge just got reset. (that's my guess). I have heard the preferred route is to leave Santibel Island and run offshore to Marco Island. (followed by a disclaimer that navigating Marco can be a little tricky). From Marco Island run offshore to Little Shark River then make the jump to Key West. All you need are good weather windows. If all went well this would take only 3 days, 4 at the most. Also, if a seasoned boater who had a hull speed boat like ours and didn't mind if we tagged along offered to guide us then that would be a consideration. Another factor is the fact that we made reservations in the Keys last year. This had to be done to secure a place to stay during the "high" season. I know this is breaking the Looper Rule #1 which is "Make no reservations or agree to meet someone at a particular time at a particular place". Well, this is an easy call for us. We have about 15 days before we are due at our slip at Stock Island, FL. The ICW is a known, relatively speaking. There are about 360 miles to cruise taking the ICW way through Lake Okeechobee. If we average 25 to 30 miles a day we can easily arrive at our winter destination on time without the added stress of the "unknown". So, unless something better comes along, like to morrow, we will take the ICW route and leave the Everglades for another time. In the meantime we plan on enjoying the great city of Ft. Myers, FL and look forward to a trip across Lake Okeechobee and down the Atlantic side of East Florida to the Keys.
That's the news and here's the views:
We are here
Our passage from Pine Island to Ft. Myers, FL
We arrived at the Legacy Harbour Marina in Ft. Myers on a cool and windy Monday morning. Our anchorage off Pine Island was probably the least comfortable on we have had so far. The wind was out of the East so we weren't really protected as much as we wanted to be. Viridian strained at her anchor rode all night as the 9 mph wind blew without letting up. A boat would come by and give us a good rock during the night reminding us to check to see if we were dragging. Our anchor held firm all night and came up clean the next morning. We cruised into the wind all the way to Ft. Myers and were glad to get tied up to something more solid for a while. The marina was full of boats and we had to parallel park between two boats along the dock. Fortunately, the wind worked in our favor and we used it to blow us into our spot between the two boats along the dock. After getting checked in it was time for lunch so we ate and planned our afternoon around what chores needed doing. These chores included laundry, grocery shopping, Meg's hair appointment and planning the day for tomorrow. Since we will be staying two nights, we want to make sure we see the attractions at Ft. Myers, FL.