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.
Shacks along the ICW
Scenes from Cayo Costa State Park
Osprey and the catch of the day
They have Ice Cream on Cayo Costa