Do you ever have those moments when perhaps you are a little sleep deprived and you are not sure what your eyes are showing you? That is how this trip felt a lot of the times.
In our first long voyage with our new boat we decided to move from Ft Myers Beach on the west coast of Florida to Marathon Key, crossing under the famed ‘7-mile bridge’. The total trip was about 125 miles which we broke up over a couple days. The first day was a 40-ish mile trip from Ft Myers to Marco Island. It would have been nice to have gone half way, but beyond Marco Island there isn’t much other than the Everglades park – no towns, no marinas, no services, no restaurants, or fuel. And as we discovered travelling in the off season, no other boats either. Once we past Marco Island we didn’t see another boat for a very, very long time.
There was lots to learn on the boat as we were going along, but most of the time it was looking at the horizon in all directions and nothing discernible no matter which way you looked. Occasionally, we would see a few dolphins checking us out (or Mermaid sightings! we were getting a little ‘punchy’ as the hours drew long). At one point we spotted this enormous tower, again, seemingly out in the middle of no where. Such a strange contraption I was convinced it was a device of Elon Musk’s next wild idea, like launching satellites from cannons in the Everglades or something silly like that – did I mention we were punchy? A little research later gave us our answer – these are fog lights – sort of a hybrid between a light house and a navigation beacon that sits out in the water offshore.
Winds were hitting the front of the boat the whole time, so we rarely were able to use the sails, and with 15-20 knots winds we also were burning through the fuel faster than we wanted. To get out of the winds we dropped anchor in a narrow and shallow (yikes) cove just south of Marco Island for the night and planned to get up early and sail through the next day (in daylight) to Marathon…until the storms came. We got stuck in a shallow little cove and had to wait. ….
Plan B. Several hours delayed we will sail (motor) through the day, AND night to get as close to Marathon as possible. The greatest risks were snagging a crab-pot line on our prop, the shallow waters and shoals, and running out of fuel – in the dark!. By nightfall we were creeping along the edge of Everglades National park. At 2:30 AM we were within site of the Keys and decided to drop anchor. With the sunrise came our crossing under the bridge we had been seeking for 20+ hours and finally arriving in the Atlantic Ocean and Marathon Key. We made it!