Where did I leave off... ah yes... we arrived on the West coast of Florida.
The Okeechobee waterway ends in Ft. Myers. Since the cross state transit was not part of the original itinerary we arrived without cruising guides or plans. We anchored off of Ft. Myers municipal marina, which provides dinghy dock, laundry and showers for $5 a day, with a friendly smile. Their store didn't have the cruising guides we were looking for so we placed an order with Armchair Sailor for the West coast version of the two cruising guide/ chartbooks which were most helpful on the ICW: Skipper Bob's Cruising the Gulf coast, and Intracoastal waterway: Miami to Mobile. After some reading we decided to head up Pine Island Sound and spend a couple of days at Cayo Costa State Park.
View Ft. Myers to Port of the Islands in a larger map
After Cayo Costa we headed South and spent two nights on a Ft. Myers beach mooring. Ft. Myers beach is a great kitchy throwback beach - a little bit rough and dirty but accessible, not yet gentrified by the surrounding area. Best of all a large portion of the beach allows dogs on leash and provides trash cans and bags at regular intervals. The Ft. Myers beach mooring field is between the barrier island of Estero, which the beach is on, and San Carlos island, where the fishing boats tie up. We had a great cocktail hour at Bonita Bill's, where dogs are welcome, the beer comes in a pitcher with a bag of ice to keep it cold and the shrimp are right off the boat.
Thus ended our "vacation". We left Ft. Myers beach and had the best sail of the trip 15 knots of wind on the beam with all sails raised. But the sail ended too soon. We headed back inshore At Gordon Pass and followed the old ICW behind Keewaydin Island and Marco Island exiting at Coon Key pass. On the way we spent a wonderful night behind Keewaydin in Rookery Bay. In the morning we took the dinghy to Keewaydin and followed a path across the island, and enjoyed our coffee alone on the barrier beach.
Finally after exiting Coon Key pass we motored across the shallows to Panther Key and the beginning of the Faka Union Canal, which would take us to our new Winter home at Port of the Islands Marina.