How odd it feels to know you're a few mere miles from friends because actually hooking up with them becomes quite a logistical feat.
A couple we knew from our marina bought a home shortly before we departed and we promised to look them up as we slowly worked our way south. As we neared the area of their residence we poured over our charts and realized the waterways and the roadways weren't cooperating in a very friendly manner. They lived over 'there' and we were anchored over 'here'. We had dropped the hook in a tiny anchorage in Cape Haze and realized this was as close as we were going to get. However, Skipper Bob's guide mentioned that dinghy dockage was 'difficult' and Active Captain said it didn't exist at all. Cautions such as this make me nervous because I'm married to a man who doesn't understand the concept of 'NO'. To Hans; 'No Trespassing', 'No Admittance', or 'Danger High Voltage!' is an express invite to do just that, and I'm the kind of person who's still afraid someone's going to tell my mother on me. So we loaded a screaming Wilbur into the dinghy and zipped up the canal (our newly repaired motor failed a couple of times but thank God it finally got down to business) and then we passed under a small bridge that was purported to be very close to a Publix. We noted that there was nothing to tie up to but Hans spotted a cement water pipe sticking out of a wall and had an 'Aha' moment.
We then proceeded across the GIWW, passed through a path in the mangroves (believe it or not at one point we managed to run aground in the dinghy) and docked at Don Pedro State Park where Wilbur frantically marked many plants and bushes along the very desolate trail (I wouldn't have been surprised if tumbling tumbleweeds had skittered past us). We finally happened upon the gulf side but of course Wilbur was forbidden entry and so Hans ventured out upon his own in search of the millions of sharks teeth that supposedly wash up on the shore. He didn't find any.
Wilbur can't believe what he's reading.
The next morning we decided to try the water pipe thing at the bridge, sans Wilbur. And it worked. Actually it was pretty easy as the pipe (which I nervously peered into first to make sure no creepy crawlies were lurking within) works as a step and just like that (except for Hans who scraped his legs) we were on land and we tied the dinghy up to a pipe on the bridge. We were both lugging bags of garbage along with a back pack, my tote bag, and our luggage cart (for bringing back cases of beer) and I'm pretty sure we looked like homeless people. There are no sidewalks here but there's an access road behind the Publix which really helps. You can use it to get across the highway and after that you're home free.
Loading up (not getting loaded!) at our little bridge on the canal
Boo-boos, I mean really is there room for another band-aid?
Now that we knew this we got ahold of our friends and arranged to meet them at Lil' Tony's (excellent pizza!) right beside Publix the very next day. Not only did Dave and Lynn meet us, they bought our lunch (again a huge thanks here from us!) and did us a big favor. They let us load their vehicle full of provisions and drove it the whole 3/10 of a mile to our dinghy, which I was very relieved to find was still there.
Now on to our next anchorage at Cabbage Key and more friends to try to connect with. These are northern friends who come to Florida for the winter and this year they are near Fort Myers. We are going to spend the night in Cabbage Key Marina where in addition to getting real laundry done (not just undies in a bucket with a plunger), dumping garbage, getting showers and washing my hair, we hope to have a Cheeseburger in Paradise (Overpriced! Mediocre! warn my friends at Active Captain). This would be a great place to meet we decided and before checking out the logistics we made our plans. Needless to say those plans ended quickly when we found out that the water taxi costs $42.00 per person round trip to reach the island. Even if they're the best cheeseburgers in the world I wouldn't pay $82.00 to sample them. So we called that visit off. In a few days we hope to be at the Fort Myers Mooring Field and we can dinghy ashore and meet them there, although I think it's about an hours drive for them. We'll see.
Last of all, we have northern friends coming to spend a week with us on the Knotty Cat and that has certainly taken some planning. After a lot of back and forth with dates and places etc... I think it's finally been nailed down. We hope to travel with them down the coast from the Marco area and end up in either Marathon or the Keys (both locations will work as they will then rent a car to the airport). The Keys would be nice but as anyone who's sailed knows, it's all about the weather and how cooperative the Knotty Cat cares to be.
A parting shot here. I was on the bow cleaning up our dock lines and when I got back to the stern I saw this. A clever (sneaky) little mister hopped into the dinghy when Hans had his back turned. He knows he's supposed to be wearing his life jacket and right after I took this he hustled his smug butt back on board.
Pweeze to hurry, I has a date with a cheezeburger and it's in a place called Paradise.