We reached the West Florida ICW today. We started at 8 this morning and traveled 25 more miles to the end of the Caloosahatchee river, which is the west end of the Okeechobee canal.
Landings Marina, in Ft Myers just after the last bridge, had the lowest fuel prices so we stopped by to load up. Active Captain listed the depths in all parts of the marina at 5’. Those measurements are at low tide. Since our draft is an inch or two short of 5’ and it just happened to be a half hour before low tide when we approached the marina we took notice and watched the depth gauge carefully as we went in. It did hit 5’ once or twice, but never lower, so we held our breath and kept going.
We got 300+ gallons of fuel, which made us float just a bit lower, by which time it was right at dead low tide. We held our breath going out, taking a slightly different path after talking to the dockmaster, and made it out without feeling a bump.
A few more miles and we were at the end of the Okeechobee canal, mile marker 150, and at mile marker zero for the Florida west coast ICW, which starts at Ft Myers and proceeds north. Boca Grand was at mm 27. And what a 27 miles it was!
Someone out there decided it was porpoise party time. We had porpoises with us for at least half the time. We could see at least five on each side at the same time once. It’s hard to say how many there really are because they swim under each other and continually change positions, so if you see 5 there may be more.
I have to take back what I said recently about side slappers. Once out of a party of 4 or more we had two doing that at the same time. I was able to put the boat on Nav mode and have Sue just make sure we did not run into anything while trying to take pictures. It’s tough and they don’t think much about helping me out. Swimming at 10 mph is pretty relaxing for them plus they’re using the boat’s wave pressure to help them along, so they don’t have to surface much to breathe. Out of a group of 5 or more it still awhile before any one of them needs to come up for air, and usually only one at a time bothers.
The excitement finally died down as we passed the Charlotte Harbor Inlet which is at the south end of Boca Grande Island. I think the porpoises were using us to help them on their way back out into the gulf.
We pulled into Boca Grande Marina, where we’ve stayed before, about 3:30 and tied up. Sue remembered a restaurant, Sisters, that we liked last time so we got a golf cart and went there for dinner. After that we went to the beach at a state park at the south end island to watch the sunset. We’re finally on a west coast now so we can do that. Since then we’ve had a second day in Boca Grande and visited the beach again, collected shells and such and toured around the island a bit like we did last time.
Tomorrow morning we’ll leave for Marina Jack at Sarasota, our final trip for awhile.