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The Great Loop

No Name Pub on No Name Key    Chart
(Lat: 24º 41.53'N Lon: 81º 21.4'W )

This is our last full day in the Keys before heading back to Sarasota. One of our favorite places to visit and have lunch is No Name Pub on No Name Key near Big Pine Key. They specialize in pizza and sandwiches but are located out on No Name Key which is a pretty out of the way place. It is also the region of the Keys that have a large and protected population of small Key Deer.
The food is great and watching the deer walk around and up close is always fun. I have featured this place before in our 2010 time blogs in Marathon and have pictures to show with that entry. It was a very nice way to spend our last day on the Keys with our friends.
Tomorrow we get up early and drive the rental car and our friends to drop them off at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport to catch a plane to AZ and then we drive back to Sarasota.
Key West/Sunset Grill On Tank Island    Chart
(Lat: 24º 33.49'N Lon: 81º 48.51'W )

We spent yesterday getting the boat cleaned, laundry done, some shopping, picking up a rental car and just hanging out on the dock. We know a number of other boaters in the marina and also have friends who live in Marathon.
Then we made a day trip to Key West. We like visiting Key West and seeing it's beauty and unique culture. In addition to that we wanted to have lunch at the Sunset Grill on Tank Island just off Key West. It is a private island with a great resort managed by Westin. You make a reservation by phone and then take a small ferry boat from the Wharf where the cruise ships dock. It is about a 20 minute ride and the beauty of the waters, the city and many ships makes it a very intersting ride. When you arrive you walk to the Sunset Grill and get seated out on a deck along the beach and have an excellent meal. It is really first class but also very affordable. We enjoyed the lunch watching the boats and parasailors go by and then walked around the resort. We next caught the ferry back to Key West and explored the streets and shops. It was a lovely sunny day and as always, we enjoyed sharing the experience with our friends Phil and Alice. Jackie took a few pictures of the day.
Little Shark River to Marathon    Chart
(Lat: 24º 42.515'N Lon: 81º 5.017'W )

Today we woke up to a beautiful morning and prepared to get underway. Everything was going great until we couldn't get the anchor loose from whatever it was stuck to in the river. We tried every trick we knew using the boats power, a bridel, etc. We worked for over an hour trying every angle but the anchor was hooked into something and was not going to let go. Little Shark River is pretty isolated and so we had great difficulty reaching Boat US on the VHF. While we were on the Gulf Coast, the only station we could reach was Ft. Lauderdale. After a while the Coast Guard out of Key West radioed us and said that they would relay our communications to Boat US in Tavernier in the Keys. They said that Phil's membership covered them coming to us and helping us free the anchor but it would be 2.5 hours before they got there as they were that far away. So we relaxed and read our books, had a bite to eat and waited.
They finally arrived and we worked with them to free the anchor but even they had to try several different ways to free it and use all the power of their boats twin 150's. But free we were but we still had the journey to Marathon ahead and we knew it would be close to get there before night fall.
We got under way and initially the FL Bay was a little choppy but not uncomfortable. The real challenge again was all the crab pots that are everywhere in the Bay. We navigated the pots and the water became more calm the closer we got to Marathon. We arrived safe and sound just as the sun was being to set. This was the last leg of our boat trip and we looked forward to a few days exploring the Keys by car before heading back to Sarasota.
Little Shark River Anchorage    Chart
(Lat: 25º 19.641'N Lon: 81º 8.604'W )

After a nice stay in Marco Island we headed out into the Gulf and headed to the Little Shark River to anchor for the night before our last leg to Marathon. We had a nice journey, although we did have to dodge quite a few crab pots, and anchored in the turn of Little Shark River. It was a beautiful evening and we enjoyed the quiet and the wonderful sunset.
Marco Island Yacht Club    Chart
(Lat: 25º 57.658'N Lon: 81º 42.788'W )

We left Moss Marina in a strong outflowing current which made a real challenge to get Wonderland out of the marina. It was an "all hands on deck" experience as the current/wind and close quarters made us scramble but we got her out with Phil at the helm and the rest of us fending off pilings and anchors.
We headed out the pass and down toward Naples/Marco Island. You must go outside to get from Ft. Meyers Beach to Naples but then depending on the tide can go inside from Naples to Marco Island. We had pretty comfortable sea conditions outside and no issues to Naples inlet. Once we made the turn to in Naples to head to Marco, we immediately came to a halt is shallow water. The tides were pretty low but in addition to that we found out the wind was driving the water out of the GICW. So we called Boat US and they freed us from the shallow area, right in the middle of the GICW and advised us to go back outside to get to Marco Island. The Boat US captain said that there was another shallow area that we couldn't get through and another boat was stuck. So we went outside and had no issues.
We docked in the Marco Island Yacht Club and it is an excellent facility. Great floating docks, swimming pool, facilities and a very nice clubhouse with an excellent restaurant. We had a wonderful dinner and evening there. Didn't take any pictures of this part of the journey. I guess Jackie was enjoying riding out on the bow in a cushion seat and the rest of us didn't think to take any pictures.
Osprey Harbor Marina To Ft. Meyers Beach    Chart
(Lat: 27º 10.87'N Lon: 82º 29.481'W )

We set off around 7:30am and headed to Ft. Meyers Beach. Since we were in the marina just north of the Blackburn Point Swing Bridge, we called the bridge tender as we were leaving our slip to request and opening. He responded by asking if we were calling the right bridge because he didn't see us looking north or south. We told him we were in the marina just north and coming out to his view in a few minutes. He opened the brigde and wished us a good day and day 2 began. We had a nice day of cruising with no issues and arrived at Moss Marina late afternoon. It was windy when we docked so it was a little challenge getting into the slip but we did fine. We secured the boat and then walked a short distance to the downtown area where we had a nice dinner and did a little store browsing.
Madera Beach, FL    Chart
(Lat: 27º 47.316'N Lon: 82º 47.139'W )

We had the opportunity to help our friends, Phil and Alcie, move their 49 Gulfstar from the Clearwater area to Marathon. Because the wind and sea conditions forecast was a little iffy for Tampa Bay and Alice doesn't like to cross open waters, I drove up to the Madera Beach Marina and joined Phil for the trip. Alice took our car down to spend the afternoon with Jackie and await our arrival at Osprey Harbor Marina that evening.
The Bay was more calm than forecast and we had no issues on the first leg of our trip and even saw a lot of dolphins. Seeing the Bay Bridge from the water is also impressive so I took a phote with the iPhone.