Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Olde (and "Geezer") Florida--NEW, IMPROVED AND ACTION PACKED!!

We left Marathon a week ago to cruise toward the DeFever Rendezvous near Ft Myers at the end of this month. It’s been a great week!

Spent three days anchored in Little Shark River in Everglades National Park with Bob and Stephanie aboard September Song and Rick and Lynnie aboard Rickshaw. See the chart on the left of SE Florida and the inlet. The one on the right is a closer-up shot of our anchorage. Very remote area – it’s just us, the birds, the mangroves, and the river running about 4 knots. (No kayaking in that current.) Spectacular stars. We anchored upriver a bit away from where other boats typically anchor. It was remote enough to give us a tiny feel of unease. We saw the occasional fishing boat and a herd of teenage Outward Bound canoeists who were on the 14th day of a 20 day journey. Yikes! Bob and Stephanie led us on a dingy expedition. We explored some of the inner-reaches of the rivers and streams in this Everglades paradise. Did not see any alligators, but did see tons of birds.

Norm decided to try his luck fishing. He caught several small catfish with the squid from the freezer. (It’s there for bait – we don’t actually dine on squid.) He was trying to hook mangrove snapper, or river trout, or the little black shark that sister Joyce and Steve used to catch here. Released the catfish. Decided to try a different bait. Tried meatballs and pepperoni, but either the fish are vegetarian or they don’t like Italian food.

Unfortunately, Bob and Stephanie had to leave a day early and had to navigate is dense fog to meet their family rendezvous in Naples. Here's September Song negotiating the currents in heavy fog. We were very pleased to hear that they arrived safe in Naples.

We departed the next day with Richshaw. Here's some pics of the narrow streams to get back to the Gulf. Next stop for three days was Russell Pass outside Everglades City. A wonderful anchorage.

We dinghied four miles into Everglades City . They really shouldn't’t call it a ‘city’. Got bait there (frozen shrimp – hope the catfish don’t like it), but couldn't get a Sunday paper. The reason for the trip to Everglades City was to lunch at the Rod and Gun Club – a very “old Florida” experience. It opened in the late 1800s and was one of the first winter destinations for the well-heeled from up north.

As the name implies, they came to hunt and fish, and enjoy the sunshine. The walls of the place are crowded with the heads, bodies, and skins of their trophies as well as newspaper articles about the place through the years.

It’s been quite the draw with presidents Truman, Roosevelt, and Cleveland visiting there as well as Sally Field and Mick Jagger (now there’s an unlikely collection). We dined on the large veranda and had OK food and delicious Mango Iced Tea. I’d put this on the ‘must see’ list for cruisers. Our chief photographer, Rick, sent us a lot of these photos he took of our dingy ride and lunch at Everglades City.
Now, Everglades City is not just known for the Ron and Gun Club. It is air boat ride capital of the Everglades. So, for $37 per person, one can ride on one of those propeller-driven, water top skimming, turn-on-a-dime, flat-bottomed boats. Really, they told us that they only did the mangroves; and, WE DID MANGROVES!! So, what fun would that be? We decided on a nice lunch amongst the dead carcases instead.

Here's our first video. It's a pan of the anchorage we were in at Russell Pass. If it works, and you like it, we'll do more. Let us know. (This is really a test to see who is reading our blog.)

Got to Marco Island yesterday. We’re anchored in Factory Bay. Dingied into "town" and got some much needed exercise. Stopped by some outside cafe's and all we saw were olde people, hence, "Geezer" Florida. Of course, I'm (Norm) a geezer, so I fit right in. Tomorrow we'll be meeting up with some friends that Norm captained with at the Sea Ray dealership near Annapolis. (They're not geezers.) Should be fun.