After lunch, we made the run to Venice and tied up to
the town dock at Higel Park. There is a very nice ramp with space to stow
your rig – limit 18 hours for the rig and for use of the dock.
Early the next morning we ran up to Tampa Bay arriving
by 11:00. Once we saw the traffic and planes towing banners, we decided –
not for us. We turned around and headed south and were in Longbeach next to
Longboat Pass for lunch. A police boat came over while we were having lunch
and asked if we knew the fellow up the street who had a boat like ours. He
told us where to find the boat. After lunch, we decided to look the owner
up. The boat did not have a name but it was registered in NC and had the
name Dooley on the trailer.
It was a warm windless afternoon. We decided to run
south to Venice outside. The autopilot steered us to a point just off the
Venice inlet. The day was Monday, February 18th –
Presidents Day. Inside the inlet was a zoo. If I hadn’t needed
both hands to play dodgem, I would have a picture to show you. We made
for a quiet anchorage surrounded by homes in shallow Donna Bay.
Next morning we continued south inside. We poked out
Stump Pass before anchoring between Manasota Key and Peterson Island for
lunch. Water skiers spoiled this beautiful spot.
We ended the night in Pelican Bay. If we visit
this area again from Marathon, we probably won’t go north of Boca Grande.
Even though the weather promised to be ideal for three or four days, we decided to
lay a fast course for home. Children and grandchildren are coming to
visit. We stopped again at the Naples Sailing and Yacht Club and enjoyed dinner
with the folks we mentioned in the Naples section.
From Naples, we went inside to Marco took on fuel and made
for the Little Shark River. Along the way, we had delightful stops in
the Ten Thousand Islands. Picnic Key stands out for its white beach.
The wind was still calm when we anchored up the Little Shark River. Our final morning
was windless at dawn.
The instant the sun rose above the tree line no-seeums
attacked. Before I could park the useless screen and close the window,
we were inundated. Up comes the anchor, forward went the throttle as Penny opened
the windows and door and we blew the pests out with a 20 know wind. The
mouth of the river had a slight breeze. We anchored for a quick breakfast and
headed for Middle Cape. We spent several hours shelling and reading just off
the beach before laying a course for Vaca Cut and Marathon.