The wind was forecast to build from the southwest ahead
of an approaching strong cold front. From our anchorage off Panther Key, we
had less than 6 miles to go to reach Coon Key Pass. This pass allows boats
drawing less than 5 feet to avoid rounding Romano Shoals which jut into
Florida Bay to the south of Marco. I believe the eye of hurricane Wilma
came ashore over the shoals. All of the boats cast into the mangroves
during the storm had not been recovered when we passed.
Mindful of the forecast, we were anxious to get gas and
ice and to get the hook down in a tight anchorage before the wind arrived.
Kant Miss had suggested Smokehouse Bay. We anchored in about 20
knots, protected all around. Kant Miss was anchored nearby. Late in the
afternoon, the wind went NW and it got colder.
Now that we were in cell phone territory, we called
Mike and Judy Taylor. Mike had responded to our C-Brats posting telling of
our SW Florida cruising plans by inviting us to stop by their home. We made
plans to visit the next day.
The next morning we had frost on the deck. There is a
protected inside passage between Marco and Naples. Under mostly cloudy
skies and in strong winds, we left for Naples. You have to cross the main
channel into Marco before reaching protection. The channel was nasty. No
one was going out. Wanderer made a quick dash across and into
protected waters. We passed no other boats until we reached Naples. A half
hour later we were tied up at the Taylor’s dock. They were gracious and
helpful. We spent the coldest night of the trip in their home. A great
The next morning, Monday February 13th, we
eased out of Halderman’s Creek at mid tide. We went up Naples Harbor and
put in at the Naples Sailing and Yacht Club – a first rate club. Mike and
Judy picked us up and we went out for dinner.
To jump ahead a week or so – we again stayed at the
club and Mike and Judy picked us up again and we joined Jim and Loree
Widmann for dinner. Jim had also responded to our cruise plans with an
invitation. Good people, good dinner and great boat talk.