Ft. Myers Beach- the good and not so…

Again, we are grateful that sunset here is later than we see it is in CT. Picked up a mooring, dropped it on purpose then picked up the only other one available…. with no pennant. We managed quite nicely and 15 mins later the sun set. Time 6pm. Fort Myers Beach turned out to be a better, and as a result, a longer stop than we’d planned.  Everything we needed could easily be obtained or walked to. The ride in was long, but never a rough one as the area is Slow Speed. A casual beach-y area full of shops, bars, eateries, public trolley transportation, great beaches and parks to enjoy.

FMB SOB

Enjoyed drinks here one evening

We did it all; including haircuts, buying shrimp off a shrimp boat and several Red Box $1 rentals from the nearby 7-11. What a cool machine- it does it all and after 2 rentals we got a free one.

shrimp guy

Fresh shrimp off the Ms Cher

Heard from Sanuk that a concert with Third World was happening Feb 4 in Key West. We could take the bus down from Marathon and spend the night on a neighbor’s boat… if only we’d be there.  With nothing pressing and a desire to sail rather than consume diesel, we planned to leave FMB on Thursday based on a reasonably favorable forecast. No way we’d hit Marathon in time. Oh well, we’re sure they will be able to have a good time for us.
Our arrival in Marathon required more planning than usual; the saildrive work that never happened in Vero Beach was being scheduled with Marathon Boat Yard so we wanted to commit to a date ; preferably the day we arrived. Boot Key Harbor City Marina was filled up the point of “waiting list” and to get on the list, you have to make the request in person.  Therefore, if we could be at MBY for the engine work, we could walk to Boot Key Harbor marina and put our name on the wait list…. All is falling into place and MBY is expecting us Sunday at their docks.
Tues and Wed, our final days at FM Beach were interesting … in a near disaster-themed sort of way. Tues was an adventure; we rode the trolley-buses to Bonita Beach (Ace Hardware, etc), stopping at Lovers’ Key State Park on the way. Back to the dinghy dock by 5pm and that’s where the trouble began. The details are too painful, but suffice to say that the razor sharp shells attached to the cement bridge pilings should be avoided at all costs. The dinghy ride back to Ortolan was horrifically long as Russ sat crouched by the outboard with one hand on the tiller and one over the slit I had made. Another first that never had to happen.  Dinghy has been patched, but because the hole is an inch above the rub rail we couldn’t make the patch big enough and air leaks out slowly.  A re-do is needed.
Wed, Ground Hog Day and even if he didn’t see that silly shadow, funky stuff happened in Ft Myers Beach. After lunch the Coast Guard went by (our mooring is on the edge of the channel) and we saw it slow down by a house boat in the anchorage just past the mooring field, then stop for a while at a tri-maran before heading back.
Around 3pm we heard a VHF call from a boat who saw three people in a dinghy that appeared to be upside down and was heading toward the mangroves (those hungry trees!). Sure enough, we looked and there they were, just as she said and after a few seconds we couldn’t see them but one had a line and we guessed they planned to tie on to the mangroves. The Lee County Sheriff boat came out (right past us) and after quite some time and discussion with Base that we listened to, the three guys were taken aboard the Sheriff boat, headed for the Coast Guard Station. A boating accident- yep drinking likely and one guy refused to sit down in the Sheriff boat- as they passed by us could see a lively discussion taking place.

Bad boy!, Now sit down like I told you!

Couple hours later, I notice someone rowing in a dinghy. A few mins later the Sheriff boat comes by and I hear a woman’s voice calling out. Yikes, she’s headed into the mangroves and asking the boat for a tow out to her boat- gesturing toward the anchorage. The Sheriff boat, loaded with 5 official looking guys, told her they’d have to come back. Lucky lady; the boat in front of us went to her rescue and towed her to her boat anchored in the same general area as the visited tri-maran.
Most of the boats anchored may at one time have resided on a mooring until the city raised the fees and moved to clean things up to encourage more transient use- more visitors spending money. In less than pristine condition, these boats contain full time and part time live-aboards.
At 6pm the Sheriff boat does indeed return, but heads past her boat toward the house boat and then stops at the tri-maran. We see a man’s head pop up, the uniformed men step on to the boat and they spend the next 20 mins at the tri. Do we have a great viewing spot or what? Then around 8:30 a man announces on the VHF that a boat had left Bonita Bills (a bar by the bridge), operator drunk and had hit several other boats on the way out, heading north toward Matanzas Pass. When you’re in an unfamiliar place (which we are nearly all the time) landmarks and such are foreign, so when we heard this call we scrambled to figure out if the bad boat was headed our way. Luckily no. Enough already. Time to get out of Dodge.

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