Everglade City

The wind finally subsided and we started traveling out into the gulf toward Everglade City and the 10,000 islands.  As we were leaving Marco Island, we passed Witte’s condo and Henk saw us out in the gulf with binoculars.  The ride to Everglade City was lumpy due to left over waves from the strong wind over the week end, but thankfully we made it in safely.  The Admiral appeared a bit green behind the gills—she was mighty happy for her feet to touch the ground. Our trip was a long winding route through the mangrove islands into Everglade City.  We docked the first night at the Rod and Gun Club—an old building built in the 1800’s.  Basic amenities: electric only. There is a spacious dining area on the deck and a dining room inside.  The food was very good. It is a must see if you are in the area and enjoy old architecture.   This area is known as the Stone Crab capital.   Lots of crabbing/fishing boats going by creating wave action at the dock even in the early morning hours.  We were the only boat at their dock. Staying in this area is like going back in time.  No big box stores, no traffic congestion, but lots of air boat attractions to tour the Everglades. Several eateries and available and places to purchase fresh seafood. Another redeeming value: Ice Cream shop!

After one night, we moved a ½ mile further inland to Everglade Isle RV Luxury Retreat.  The RV resort also has a marina. This is a whole new dimension to “camping.”   They only allow class A motor coaches, and all of the ones we saw were very high end.   Each camp site is exquisitely manicured and landscaped. There were many docks to choose from since there were only two other boats docked when we arrived. Bill, the manager, took us around the grounds on a golf cart.

Since this is air boat tour land, we decided to sign up for a ride going deep into the mangrove swamps through tunnels of mangrove trees.   After a while, the landscape opened up to a Saw Grass swamp. It would be easy to get lost out there since one mangrove swamp looks similar to the adjoining one.

We purchased stone crab claws at one of the local markets, and prepared dinner back at the boat.  Stone Crab Claws, fries, salad and Key Lime pie on the boat … can’t get much better than that!

Tomorrow we plan to head to an anchorage in the Shark River, and then on to Marathon in the Keys weather permitting. As interesting as Everglade City is, the Keys call out our name.




While we were out in the gulf two terns landed on the top of the canvas top making an interesting shadow.


One of the terns that were on Sanctuary’s canvas top



Mangrove Islands on the way into Everglade City



Mangrove Islands on the way into Everglade City



White Pelicans



White Pelicans


Scenes from Everglade City



Palm tree branches in Black and White

Rod and Gun Club in Everglades City


Everglades Air Boat Ride


RV Park



Sanctuary at Everglade City RV Resort




Marco Island—Alligators and Wind

Just a few miles south of Naples, you will find beautiful Marco Island—our next destination.   We docked in Naples for a few nights, so we planned to anchor in one of the bays on Marco Island.   After winding through the canals and passageways, we arrived at Smokehouse Bay.

Active Captain informed us of a dock here at the Winn Dixie grocery store, so this time we picked up supplies in the dinghy instead of walking or bicycling to the store.   We also visited a few shops in the area. Teresa found a dolphin pendant she fell in love with.  It was custom made by a resident local jeweler, and will commemorate our exciting first dolphin sightings aboard Sanctuary.

We made plans to visit with Henk and Thressa (from our local marina in Muskegon, Michigan) who are staying on Marco Island.   Henk, our resident Tour Guide, wanted to take us to see alligators. The four of us traveled by car to an area near the Everglades Big Cypress Swamp.  As if on cue, we spotted gators sunning themselves.  We stopped by Everglade City and saw the marina we plan to travel to next (Rod & Gun Club), and visited Goodland’s fish market.   Purchasing peel and eat shrimp and homemade Key Lime pie from the fish market, we knew we’d have a delightful dinner.  We’re getting accustomed to reasonably priced seafood and the like—it’s gonna be tough to return to northern food. Both of us seem to be automatically attracted to down south cooking. Henk made a brief stop at the condo they are staying in where we enjoyed the magnificent view of the gulf right from their balcony.   When Sanctuary heads south, we plan to wave at them as we travel past their condo.

We listened to Calvary Church Internet and Pastor Jim Samra tell a story about Ruby Bridges, the first black child to desegregate the all-white elementary school in Louisiana. Quite the moving sermon. You can listen to the whole story at: calvarygr.org.

After listening to Pastor Jim, we hopped in the dinghy and motored over to the Winn Dixie dinghy dock. Walked around Winn Dixie, across the bridge, and over to a local church on the canal by where we are anchored. So we went by dinghy to church Sunday morning!   Pastor Kevin and the congregation welcomed us with open arms. Most were surprised to learn we traveled to Marco Island by boat. What a beautiful building and right on the water too. Inside the walls and ceiling have a light-colored wood, lots of windows with a view out of palm trees blowing. At the beginning of the service, Pastor Kevin asked that all visitors raise their hands. Then he asked us to stand and give our names and where we are from. Lots of visitors present—several from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and all over. We were the only ones from Michigan who came there on a boat. In fact, we received quite the joyous recognition! Pastor Kevin Koenig is a very alive and lively character—a bundle of energy.


NOTE: The Ship of the Church symbol. We found this to be very interesting:

For Christians, since the days of the apostles, THE SHIP has been a symbol for the Christian Church. The mast and yardarm form a simple CROSS (in wood) which stands for Jesus who saved us by giving Himself on a cross that we might be forgiven.

The CHI RHO (in metal) is a combination of the first two Greek letters of the name Christ, meaning “The Anointed One” or “The Messiah.” The WAVES symbolize the troubles and difficulties of life on earth. The SAILS are filled with wind, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, which empowers the Church. Thus, the Christian Church, under the Cross of Christ carries the faithful safely across the troubled seas of life to heaven.


After the Trumpet Voluntary Medley postlude, folks gathered around welcoming us. We shook Pastor Kevin’s hand, met his wife, and presented him with one of Teresa’s books—Life is: Good, Fragile, Precious—Loving yourself so you can love others.

Later in the day, the wind began to build as was predicted.  Forecast: rain and heavy winds. We saw LOTS of wind, but little rain.   White caps and wind gusts over 35 mph displayed themselves in the small bay.   Sanctuary rode out the wind with no problem. We are thankful for the large Mantus anchor that held us secure and for our prayer warriors carrying us through the night into the next day.




Dinghy Dock at Winn Dixie grocery store



Scenes from Marco Island



Selfie with Witte’s at condo



Teresa’s new dolphin pendant



Fort Myers Beach, and Naples

We have anchored many times, but never used a mooring ball before arriving at Fort Myers Beach.  We pulled up and Teresa grabbed the loop of the mooring ball first try. We then tied off and were secure for the night.   Lots easier than docking or anchoring.    Mark and Karen from Captains Choice were in the area and met us on shore.  We first met them in Chicago and have crossed paths off and on ever since.  Before we crossed the gulf, we last saw them in Panama City. We walked our Fort Myers Beach and visited the sea shore area that is called “Times Square” which has many shops and eateries.  As we walked the long fishing pier, we marveled at the sunset along with many other onlookers.

Before leaving the area, we motored over to Ballard Oil, a place where commercial vessels use due to their cheaper diesel prices. Going there proved to be quite the experience—a good one, but an experience just meeting their staff. Tommy has worked for Ballard for 23 years, before that he was a shrimper for 28 years. Teresa knew she’d enjoyed talking with him when his reply to her question of how he was doing was,

“Can’t complain. Beats looking up at the sunshine through the grass!”

In addition to pumping fuel, shrimping, Tommy has done welding, roofing, carpentry. He even owned a houseboat at one time.

From there, we traveled a short distance out in the gulf to Naples.  We are no longer traveling in the ICW.   Each trip now is out in the gulf to the next inlet or harbor.    We met up with Henk and Thressa from Lakeshore Yacht Harbour in Naples.   They are staying on Marco Island with another couple (Stan and Maija) also from Lakeshore Yacht Harbour. The six of us enjoyed a very nice dinner in Naples at the Boathouse. It was great to connect with familiar faces and catch up on life.

Having our tandem bicycle along has proven to be beneficial. We also use our single bikes depending on if we are docked or anchored out. Today we rode our tandem out to Naples beach which is not a long trip. Naples has quite a few public access places which is nice for those of us who do not own property right on the water. Even though this is not a weekend, the beach was full. Every day is Saturday around here, or so it seems.

After our bike ride, we received word that Bob and Nancy and Greg and Pam planned to visit us after their tour of Key West. The six of us enjoyed pizza at a nearby restaurant. Felt like old times back at Lakeshore Yacht Harbour! It’s great to mix in a few familiar faces with new ones we meet all along the journey.

The Naples City Dock is going to undergo complete reconstruction later this year.  I am sure the docks will be nicer but it will lose the quaint nostalgic look that it has today.



Mooring ball hooked up at Ft Myers Beach.



Mark and Karen from Captains Choice visit us in Ft Myers Beach



Sunset at the pier at Ft Myers Beach



Sunset at the pier at Ft Myers Beach



Tall ship next to bridge at Ft Myers Beach


Shrimp Boats at Ft Myers Beach 



Ballard Oil Ft Myers Beach – lowest prices for fuel…..



Sanibel Lighthouse as we left Ft Myers Beach




Dolphin visits again…….



Osprey nest on marker



Scenes from Naples



LYH crew at Dinner in Naples



LYH crew in Naples




LYH crew in Naples




Naples Pier at the beach



Naples Pier from below



Naples Beach




Scene from Naples City Dock

Sanctuary at Naples City Dock



Venice, Manasota Key and Cayo Costa State Park

From Sarasota, the ICW took us to Venice where we tried to anchor but found the anchorage was too shallow.  The reviews on Active Captain and local information predicted that might be the issue, so we had a plan B which was to go to Crow’s Nest Marina.   The Crow’s Nest Marina is right on the Venice Inlet from the gulf just east of the jetties, so we could look out into the gulf and see the sunset from our dock.  There are many boats going by, but it is a “no wake” zone, so most are not noticeable.  They have an onsite great restaurant.  The beach is nearby and there are many nice places to ride a bikes.

Bob and Nancy, who also keep their boat at our home marina, stay in Venice for the winter.   Soon after arriving at the dock they met us, and took us to town for supplies.   We had a nice dinner with them and Scott and Karen from Last Call at the Crow’s Nest.    It was like a Lakeshore Yacht Harbor Marina reunion–where we all were last summer.


After Venice, we stopped at an anchorage near Manasota Key called Englewood #2.   It was a nice anchorage with plenty for room for boats, but very restricted dinghy access.   It is a no wake zone, because of the Manatees, so it is a long slow dinghy ride.   The one place that looked good to tie up the dinghy was also a good restaurant with live music, called Flounders.   It is an open air beach type restaurant with a sand “floor,” the shrimp tacos were excellent.   After eating, we walked over to the beach–an area known to be good to collect sharks teeth, but didn’t take time for that.  It is a low key laid back area, not full of T-shirt shops like many beach communities, just a few restaurants, a small convenience store, and a Beach Togs Store.


The next stop was Cayo Costa State Park, which is one of the favorite places so far.  As we were entering the anchorage, I saw a boat named Glorious Dei on the AIS screen.  After getting anchored, and confirming by texting, it was the same Glorious Dei with Thad and Cindy that we met at Hoppies, on the rivers many miles ago.  We visited with them for a short time before they left to go back to their dock in the Gasparilla area.  They are now Gold Loopers, which means they completed the loop. Congratuations Thad & Cindy!

This is a large protected anchorage with room for many boats.   The park has a few docks for day visitors and a ferry brings over visitors and campers.  The setting reminded us of South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan, but much warmer.   There is a nice dock to tie up your dinghy.  The island only has a few buildings near the docks for the park service. One of the buildings is a snack shack and they sell Ice Cream!!   There was once a small community on the island that supplied fish to Cuba and a doctor’s office for visitors to be checked out to allow entry to the USA.  The roads/pathways here are just dirt, not brick and pavement like the ones that remain on Egmont Key.   There is a lot to explore on the Island, it is very overgrown and jungle like once off the main road.   There is a golf cart that will take you to the other side of the island to visit the beach which is near the camp ground.   We rode the cart in the morning for a nice beach day.   There are miles of beach to walk, shell, and explore.  We captured some pictures of an Osprey (bird of prey) and his catch of the day–a Sheepshead Fish.

The sunsets and sunrises in the bay made for a very picturesque setting. We wanted to stay longer but the waterway ahead beckons………..Next stops will be: Fort Myers and Naples, hopefully soon to be caught up on the blog posting.



Last Call following Sanctuary through the open bridge



Venice Jetty



Market at Venice

Shacks along the ICW





Sunset at Manasota Key – Englewood Anchorage



Manasota Key



Manasota Key



Ferry crossing the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway)



Looper friends: Thad and Cindy from Glorious Dei at Cayo Costa




One of our favorite places so far……

Scenes from Cayo Costa State Park


Osprey and the catch of the day


They have Ice Cream on Cayo Costa


Any place with Klondike Bars can’t be all bad




Sanctuary at Cayo Costa



We even attended our local church while anchored at Cayo Costa, via the Internet…..



Sunset at Cayo Costa



Another sunset at Cayo Costa




After a couple of remote anchorages, we landed in Sarasota at Marina Jacks which is right in the heart of the city.   From remote beaches to 4-lane highways and traffic jams, the contrast was quite dramatic.   There are so many restaurants and places to shop in Sarasota.  St. Armand’s Circle is well-known for their high-end historic district.   Just looking at the cars in the area, we knew we had switched from affordable to we’ll just look type of shopping…. Lexus, Jaguar, Alpha Romeo, Maserati, and many more that you do not normally see.

Another highlight of Sarasota is the Ringling Circus Museum and Art Museum. We learned just how much we did not know about the Ringling Brothers circus and circuses in general. What an education! Together with Last Call, we spent the better part of a day exploring the museums and grounds. John and Mabel Ringling owned an extensive and expensive art collection. He also built an amazing mansion (called CA’ D’ZAN or House of John) for his dear wife overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. She was only able to spend three winter seasons there since Mabel died at an early age of 54. Sad to say, but John never fully recovered from this loss. Having no children, their fortune could not be left for descendants. John died with $311 in cash to his name, but possessed tremendous real estate and art wealth. They were wise enough to have much of their Sarasota estate covered in their will. Everything would be gifted to the state of Florida. Hence, generation after generation can view and enjoy. It was more important to them to love others and gift to others from their wealth.

The museum has extensive art from around the world.   There are 66 acres of gardens and open areas with great views of Sarasota Bay.   The Tibals Learning center has a miniature scale full circus.   It has every detail of the circus taking years to create.

From Sarasota, we traveled to Venice and Cayo Costa State Park.   We will update the blog with those details soon.     Today we plan to travel to the Fort Meyers Beach area.


Train Car from the Ringling

This was John and Mabel’s personal car built in Wisconsin



Just a few samples of the many many art pieces available to view



Miniature Circus


Circus Collection


House of John       Ca’D’Zan





Full size dolphin sculpture on water front




Extra large sculpture on water front



Entry to Marina Jacks



Sanctuary in Sarasota at Marina Jacks

Anna Marie Island and Jewfish Key

From Egmont Key, we traveled a short distance to Bradenton Beach on Anna Marie Island—a feel of old Florida. Building height restrictions only allow less than 40 feet high. I believe that’s what we like about the place—no huge high-rise condos looming overhead. Years ago, we rented a motel-like condo right on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico on the Island. It was almost like coming home again. We wanted to step our feet ashore and re-visit Anna Marie Island. Anchoring in the bay near the Cortez Bridge to the island, we took the dinghy to shore and ate a great seafood lunch on the beach.  Teresa also found a couple shops to satisfy her retail therapy urge.

Jewfish Key was next and just a short trip for our next anchorage.   Arriving at low tide, this gave us plenty of time for exploration of the flats.   Since it was low tide, a large area above water allowed us to walk around on.  Many kayaks and boats pull up to the shore to walk around the flats.   Numerous hermit crabs scurry around in the shallow water and water birds abound.




Bradenton Beach Pier



Bradenton Beach Pier



Bradenton Beach Pier



The Beach goes on for miles……



Beach Bar Scene



Dinghy Dock



Some of the boats need work….


Shells and hermit crabs from the flats on Egmont Key




Sunset at Bradenton Beach Anchorage

Egmont Key

Heading south to Egmont Key, we crossed Tampa Bay going by the Sunshine Bridge.  Although the bridge is a very different construction, it reminded us of the Mackinaw Bridge back home with its twin towers.  The coast guard warned of fog in the area, which is exactly what we encountered the last mile of the trip to the island.  Using radar, GPS, horn signals, and keeping a close watch made for an uneventful trip even in the fog.

Egmont Key is a state park only accessible by boat with an area to anchor for visiting pleasure craft.   The anchorage is not well protected, but usable when the weather conditions are right. The first night was a little rolly, but worth it to be able to explore the island.  In times past, a thriving community operated on the island with over 70 buildings built from 1898 to 1916.   All the buildings, except for the concrete bunkers and gun batteries of Fort Dade from the Spanish American, war are gone.   The red brick and concrete streets and walkways, are still there.   You can see where all the houses, school, fire station, and stables were located.  The bunkers are on the Gulf side and look out over the ocean.  We explored the bunkers and learned about some of the construction.  One of the bunkers even had a canon that would drop down out of site for reloading.

The light house on the south end of the island is still active. Its light sweeps the anchorage every 15 seconds.

We saw many Gopher Tortoises on the National Wildlife Refuge Island.  They dig large tunnels in the ground for their homes. A ferry makes day trips to the island for “non-boaters” to explore the area.

While anchored at Egmont Key, Scott from Last Call dove and cleaned the bottom of our boat.  We were so thankful he could do that for us.



Sunshine Bridge







Note: Osprey guarding the wildlife sign



Behind bars on Egmont Key

Gopher Turtles on Egmont Key


Flowers on Egmont Key


Fort Dade Bunkers 


Wild Life



Anchored on Egmont Key



Brick Roads still in good shape on Egmont Key


Brick Roads still in good shape on Egmont Key



Scott and Karen from Last Call Skipping down the yellow brick road on Egmont Key



There was a fire on Egmont Key State Park caused by a lightning strike that burned through 79 acres. The fire was in July 2016.



Working light house on Egmont Key, notice the strings of Christmas Lights



Scott from Last Call dove and cleaned the bottom of our boat. We were so thankful he could do that for us.




Sun Rise, Sun Set,…… on Egmont Key


Moving Again, Headed South from Dunedin, Florida

After a great, and unique for us, Christmas in Dunedin we are moving again. This is a first for us. We’ve enjoyed Christmas in Michigan or Minnesota, but never Florida. It hardly seems possible the month of December flew by so fast.  We chartered Captain Jared’s fishing charter as a gift for a half day of fishing. He came highly recommended and we understand why—he’s young, energetic, and knew his craft and the local area. Steve, Andrew, and Amanda headed out in search of big fish. They were not disappointed returning with their quota of 11 speckled trout and 1 huge redfish. Our children and grandchildren are now safely back home. For some odd reason, the boat seems larger and quieter. We feel blessed to share Christmas with all of them in this warm climate.

Beginning January 1, 2017, we traveled to a protected anchorage right in front of the Loews Don Cesar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, Florida.   The building is pink and looks like an old castle/palace and it is just a short distance from the boat and serves ice cream.  The motel was originally opened in 1928 and served the rich and famous for many years. When the owner died, the building eventually was purchased by the US army and served as a hospital in the 1940s.  In the 1970s, it was restored and returned to use as a hotel. It has been featured in many movies and is called the Pink Palace.

We took our bikes to shore via a dinghy and explored the area. We found a casual lunch place, Brass Monkey, overlooking St. Petersburg beach. Life is good.

We plan to head out to an Island called Egmont Key for our next destination.



Captain Jared fishing tour while we were in Dunedin




Fish caught while on Captain Jared fishing tour while we were in Dunedin




Sanctuary at Marker 1




Sanctuary at Marker 1



View from Brass Monkey at St Pete Beach



Brass Monkey in St Pete Beach, good place for food and drinks



Loews Don Cesar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, Florida