Start: Pink Shell Resort and Marina, Fort Myers, FL, 0726
End: Marco Island, Marina at Factory bay, 1346
Total Distance: 35.0 nm
Time: 6:20
Average Speed: 5.5 kts

Our time at the Pink Shell resort ended at 0726 when we pulled away from the dock. It was a quick trip with the tide into the Gulf of Mexico and another 35 miles south Marco Island. Jan was at the wheel when started into the channel that led to Marco Island and I took the wheel so she could arrange the lines. When I looked down at the speed, we were flying at almost eight knots and we were crowding a power boat in front of us…the current was fast with a full moon!

We had a reservation at the Marina at Factory Bay. We were in need of some fuel and the dock master told us to stop at the Pelican dock just prior to his marina. I called the place and a very nice lady told me to bring our boat around the dock and they would fuel us up. I had no idea what ‘around the dock’ meant, but when we pulled up it became obvious. Her dock was laid out with three slips for fuel for small boats on the north side, the face dock was for fishing boats and on the south side was about 45 feet into which we were to fit our 36 foot boat. Jan and AJ were posted on the deck with lines and two ladies of indeterminate age were on the dock. Jan got hers on cleat, no problem, AJ threw the stern line to lady #2 and she pulled us onto the dock. “Nice job” we told her. She cackled a 2-pack a day laugh and told us it wasn’t her first rodeo. And then she went to sit down with twenty of her retiree friends to watch the pelicans slam their faces into the water. 40 gallons of fuel at over $4/gallon and we were off to our marina.

The Marina at Factory bay is nice. Small, but nice. Floating docks that look to be new. Free laundry. Nice showers. And zero people. Like we saw five people the entire four days we were there, and two of those were the dock masters. It was our own private marina! And it was under $2/foot so not crazy expensive. It was about a 1/2 mile walk to anything, but all of us need the exercise. And did we mention that the laundry was free?

And it is our home from Thursday afternoon to Monday morning. Friday night a big cold front moves through and remains in place through Sunday afternoon and we aren’t going anywhere until that is done. The marina has a five day limit per stay, so we have to be out Tuesday. We watch the weather like a hawk for the weekend.

Highlights:

  1. Services/Boat work. While not a highlight, it is a ‘must do.’ Engines are pulled and oil changed on upper and lower unit.1 Batteries topped off. Boat cleaned.
  2. Naples trip. We took a car up to Naples, Florida to spend the day. We started with brunch at Jane’s, which was good. But expensive. As apparently everything is in Naples. The city is nice. Like really nice. Not ‘super high rise condos and Lamborghinis’ like Sarasota. Instead it is boutique stores of high end items; lots of huge homes, manicured lawns; Saks Fifth Avenuel; and lots and lots of people and cars. Everywhere. We walked to the town pier and the beach and watched people surfing. The temperature outside was in the 60s and wind was whipping, but that didn’t stop the surfers from hitting the waves. Older people tended to be wearing wet suits, younger in swimsuits. Then off to explore, hit a bookstore and basically be tourists for a day.
  3. School work. We have been negligent in shipping off AJ’s school work off to Calvert (the school that provided us the material) to be graded. Like we haven’t done it at all. So we decided we needed to get it done before we lost control. Which, it turns out, we already had. Early on we had tried to maintain control of AJ’s school work, but then turned the responsibility over to AJ to do that job. Putting AJ in charge of his school work is like putting me in charge of your beer. Don’t be surprised when you go to drink your beer and find half of it is gone. And half of AJ’s homework, tests and papers were gone. So we spent most of Friday getting all the stuff together. There was MUCH wailing and gnashing of teeth. But by Friday we had it all done and by Sunday it was in an envelope and on its way to Baltimore.
  4. Food. Found our favorite happy hour place to date. Sand Bar in Marco Island. Local place at which we (crews of the Serenity and Skinny Dipper) had eight drinks (two each) plus two appetizers for less than $30. And at each table were a jar each of pickles and peppers for snacking. Food good, drinks cold, color me happy! We also ate at Snooks, a well-known seafood place; mixed reviews from everyone, but they DID have a bucket of pickles at the salad bar. Which leads me to wonder why there are so many pickles in this place?!?!
  5. Marco Island. It, like Naples, seems to be a place where some well heeled people come to spend their winter. The two enormous condo buildings behind us, as well as the ginormous houses on the water were a testament to that. Our time there was impacted by the fact that there was cold and rainy weather for the majority of time we were there. But what we did see was nice. There was a boat parade on Saturday night and we were front row once again. It included Santa riding high on a trawler.
  6. Weather. We have been jerks lately about the weather. Sending out text messages and pictures to people in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Maryland showing us sitting on a beach in shorts and t-shirts while they have snow falling around them. The replies have not. been. kind. But when the wind blows from the North and hits Florida it brings that cold down. And rain. And starting Friday night there was a lot of wind, rain and cold weather. Which stayed Saturday. And Sunday. And even pushed us out on Monday. Back to the sweatshirts and coats. At least for a couple of days.

1Our marina didn’t have oil disposal on site, but there was a recycling center 20 minutes (by foot away). Lucky and I walked there and got a good laugh. The place is set up for people arriving in cars, not on foot. We walk in the entrance and there is a little hose across the driveway that will set off a ding to alert the dude inside that a car is up front. We, of course, don’t set off the ding. But there is a intercom box with a big sign that says ‘push button.’ So we push the button. And wait. Standing in the driveway. Waiting. Waiting.

Patience level reached, I step around the corner of the entrance and there is a window and I see a dude standing there. He looks up and sees a long haired, unshaven individual wearing dirty, stained clothing; carrying an old backpack with a garbage bag sticking out the back; and with a dog. I can tell he thinks trouble. He walks out, we have a short conversation and he takes the oil, but didn’t want to turn his back on me or Lucky.