Venice to Pelican Bay to Captiva to Ft Meyers to Naples, FL

Leaving Sarasota area we did a short trip of ~25 miles to Venice where we stayed the night on a free dock. We shared the dock with Mike & Kelly (INNTW – If Not Now Then When). They are a family of 5 (3 kids on board) and are wonderful proof that you can travel The Great Loop as a family.

Penny dog took us on a long walk into downtown Venice to stretch our legs, we watched the sunset and then grabbed a quick bite to eat. It was a short stay but by walking into town we were able to see some of the neighborhood and the downtown area.

Venice Beach sunset.

The next day we traveled ~35 miles to Pelican Bay just of off Cayo Costa State Park.

Venice to Pelican Bay

This place was a real treat as it was a large anchorage and quite a bit to explore nearby. We anchored here for 2 nights. The only downside was the skinny entrance/exit – it just does not feel good to see 1′ under your keel.

Cayo Costa walking trail.

Some trails are less traveled than others.

Cayo Costa beach – near what was the quarantine site where in the 1800s boats were required to stop before entering the country.

One of the days we dinghied 30 minutes over to Cabbage Key for lunch, eating at a restaurant that supposedly is where Jimmy Buffett wrote the song “Cheeseburger In Paradise”. Interestingly we ordered the stone crab for lunch (because everyone has told us to try them when in Florida and we have yet to do so). We then came back to the boat, grabbed Penny and our beach chairs and sat on one of the nearby small beaches with books in hands. We had the small beach all to ourselves which was simply wonderful.

Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant – over $70,000 $1 bills adorn the ceiling and walls.

Turtles at Cabbage Key.

At Pelican Bay we hooked up with Jay & Barb (The Blessing) whom we had met at the America’s Great Loop Cruising Association (AGLCA) Rendezvous back in October. They hosted a Looper happy hour one evening where saw several other Loopers we have crossed paths with in the past few months. The following evening we had Jay & Barb over for dinner and we all watched a live seminar on cruising in the Bahamas. We have not been swimming since early September and we were all drooling over the pictures of clear waters. We still have some areas to explore before we make it the Bahamas but that clear water is calling us.

From Pelican Bay we headed ~15 miles to ‘Tween Waters anchorage at Captiva Island to get better protection from the predicted 25+ mph winds. With the wind howling we stayed on board all day and were forced to catch up on things that are easily put off (paying bills online, small boat projects – the unexciting but necessary tasks).  By 5pm the wind had dropped a bit and we jumped in the dingy heading for ‘Tween Water’s Resort and happy hour with Jay & Barb. To our delight when we left happy hour the resort was lit up like a winter wonderland.
Snowing in Florida?

Bald Eagle sighting while underway.

Because there are not a lot of options to land and leave a dingy (read – no public dock) to explore the town further we left ‘Tween Waters the next day and traveled ~20 miles to Ft Meyers where we picked up a mooring ball for the night. Jay & Barb also came into Ft Meyers and we spent the evening pub crawling together. In fact, they kept us up way past our “cruisers bedtime”. It was past midnight when the DJ had to shut down the music, the dancing ceased and we went back to our boats. It was a fun evening out for sure.  

Christmas ship along our pub crawl in Ft Meyers.

Exploring downtown Ft. Meyers – this is what Penny dog has to put up with.

As much fun as Ft Meyers was, we needed to get ourselves to Naples. For a couple of reasons –
  • We had an outboard motor to pick up that had been ordered a month ago.
  • We needed to pick up our mail. We use a mail service that scans our mail and will forward what we want. In this case we had prescriptions and new credit cards that we needed to be sent to us while in Naples.
  • We had a special handmade package waiting for us.
  • We needed to provision for some key items in anticipation for the Bahamas. Naples is a good size city and therefore had all the standard places for us  – Trader Joes, Publix (a large grocery chain), West Marine, Ace Hardware to name a few.

Stocking up for the Bahamas where beer and wine is super expensive.

Glenn’s handiwork! Before he left the boat in November he took measurements and this sink cover/cutting board was waiting for us in Naples. Why the hole? A wine bottle will fit perfectly and no spill/break while underway.

We spent 2 nights at the Naples Sailing & Yacht Club (once again, leveraging the Portland Yacht Club membership) and rented a car to take care of our errands and to see a bit of the town.

Naples Sailing & Yacht Club.

Entering Naples – no shortage of beautiful expensive homes in this town.

While the time spent here was dedicated mostly to errands we did connect with Mike & Mary (Forever Friday) and enjoyed a great homemade pizza on their boat one night. This has become a favorite dinner when we cross paths. Despite ovens on boats being small and unpredictable in temperature a 13” pizza pan will fit and provide a pizza just about as delicious as the ones we used to cook at home.

We hugged goodbye (for now) as Mike & Mary will spend time inland with family and we will head south to Marathon.

Naples beach.

Mary & Heather at the Naples pier.

Dinner out in Naples – one of the funnier coasters we have seen.