Marco and Naples

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SW Florida

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 stop.

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.