Total Miles Traveled 2420
On our last day at Punta Blanca Island (one of our favorite anchorages in all of North America), we decided to try to find the Tunnel of Love. We heard about it during our loop when passing through here in 2015, but didn’t have the time to look for it. It is located about 2 miles or so from our anchorage, and it’s not easy to find, camouflaged with overhanging mangroves at the entrance, you’re not sure if you are entering a dead end or entering the tunnel.
Cayo Costa is a barrier island that forms the northern portion of Pine Island Sound; Cabbage Key is tucked into its eastern shore near the middle of the island. An indention called Murdock Bayou cuts into the island. In past times the Bayou was open to the Gulf of Mexico and provided passage from the sound. This wildlife preserve has always been a special place…the Calusa Indians, European explorers, fishing schooners from Cuba, local fishing families; even smugglers have found this spot useful.
Each passing storm moves the sand of the beaches as it sees fit. A strip of beach closes the cut now. All that remains is a narrow tidal creek where the water floods and ebbs with the moon. A canopy of mangroves bathes the creek with cool air. Soft light filters down through the leaves and branches. At the western end the sky opens up and the creek widens briefly before ending at the spectacular Cayo Costa beach. This is a magical place…the Tunnel of Love.
We had an awesome dinner when we returned to the boat.
Moni painted a great mural on our door mat, I really like the signal flags in the lower corner MJ.
On April 2nd, we took a side trip to Punta Gorda, we have passed it up several times and decided to check it out on our way north. Kevin and Jill from “Chasing 80” drove up from Ft Myers and gave us the grand tour, thanks guys, we had a great time!
Since we had mild winds, we continued our way north on April 3rd. Charlotte Harbor is a huge body of water several miles long and wide, not fun if the wind is greater than 10 mph. After leaving the harbor and reentering the GICW, we anchored near Cape Haze Florida and took the dinghy to Don Pedro Island, accessible only by private boat or ferry. The island is home to several endangered species such as West Indian Manatees, gopher tortoises, bald eagles and American Oystercatchers.
On the Gulf side of the barrier island is a 1 mile stretch of white sandy beach.
This piece of driftwood has turned into a work of art by passing beachgoers.
On April 5th we anchored at Sarasota then anchored again at Redington Shores to wait out a passing cold front and rain. We moved to the Gulfport Florida marina on April 8th as another front with rain and winds were forecast the next few days. This gave us an opportunity to rent a car and stock up on groceries, get haircuts, and take care of our laundry.
On our way to Redington Shores, not use to seeing horses along the waterway.
Our next stop on April 11th was Dunedin Florida where we planned to reunite with our friends Charlie and Robin on the “The Lower Place”. We met them last Spring near Stuart Florida and crossed to the Bahamas with them, then met them again at Green Turtle Bay when they were finishing their loop, and again last Fall at Columbus Mississippi on our way to the Keys. They are also heading back home so we’ll be traveling together for a while.
Leaving Dunedin at daybreak, thanks for the picture Ivy and Jacqui!
There is a sad story behind the tournament though; we had heard that fishing tournament was in memory of the original founder, which used the proceeds to fund an animal shelter organization. We happened to be sitting next to the founders sister and she told Moni and Robin that her sister and husband were flying back home for Christmas in 2016. They were driving to the airport to meet them and were texting each other as both were going to arrive at the airport about same time. Her sister texted that her GPS indicated they would be at the airport in 8 minutes, and she texted back and said to slow down, her GPS says we won’t be there for 9 minutes. That’s that last communication they had as the plane crashed killing both her sister and husband in dense fog on their approach.
We’ll be at Steinhatchee a few days waiting out another band of storms heading across the south. The front is only a few miles away as I write this blog. This is why we like to be tied up at a marina when we have approaching storms.