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Life at Burnt Store and Beyond


Sunset at Burnt Store Marina

Wow it has been a month since I sat down to write. Mostly because I went home for a five day extended weekend and have been busy here in Florida with good things; yoga in the am most mornings, swimming in the pm when the weather allows and day sailing also when the weather is right.

Masked up (thanks Karen) and ready to travel.

My trip home was a whirlwind of cooking dinner for family, helping Lynne (sister) with the condo she is getting ready to sell for a friend who has passed away, hiking with Karen and dinner at my brothers. I had great quality time with both of our girls and with my mom – the exact reason I went home. I was concerned about flying and potentially either bringing Covid to the Family or taking it back to the boat, but my fears were unfounded as everyone remains healthy.

Wood fish puzzle I got for Hannuka from the girls that Karen and I put together.

Back in Florida, we had a wonderful day with sailing friends including a visit to Marie Selby Spanish Point in Ospry, which is an hour drive north of Burnt Store. What a gem of a place. We joined the America Horticultural Society to bypass the admission price, and since the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and Holden Arboretum are included in the 300 parks you can access without a fee – we thought it would be well worth it. We met Bill and Michael there and brought Jocelyn with us as a surprise guest. It felt so good for the five of us to be back together again. Dee was supposed to be racing in Ponta Gorda so he didn’t come with us for the day. The Garden has an amazing butterfly house, a sunken garden that was being decorated for a wedding and a beautiful view of Little Sarasota Bay. I told Bob I could see us celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary there. After the Garden, we drove over to the Oscar Scherer State Park, just 5 minutes away. We had a lovely picnic lunch alongside a small pond and just enjoyed each other’s company, laughing about past experiences and at each other.

Bill and I taking a break

Sunken Garden

That evening we left the boys and met up with Dee and enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Isles Yacht Club. Dee and Jocelyn were staying in an absolutely beautiful home in Punta Gorda that a wealthy boat owner maintains for crew racing on his boat. We were told that the CIA had formerly owned the home and I can only imagine the parties that were hosted there for various reasons. We had been told how great the chef was and that people joined the club as social members just to have access to the restaurant. We were not disappointed.

Water tower at Cabbage Key.

Trail map for Cabbage Key

Last week, we enjoyed a three day outing on Her Diamond, which gave us a chance to anchor out, while not venturing too far from Burnt Store. We left the marina around noon as we had to wait for the tide to come up and anchored the first night at Rum Cove, which is about a mile across the ICW from Cabbage Key. We had heard about the Inn at Cabbage key for the past four years but because the marina is very small didn’t want to venture in with Her Diamond. The island is small and has about nine cottages for rent. The Inn attracts hundreds for lunch by boat almost every day and their hamburgers are legendary and the source of Jimmy Buffet’s cheeseburger in paradise.

Sheila at the Inn - note the dollars on the walls and ceiling. We were told there is more than $90,000 on the walls. Each year they take the money that falls off and donate it to charitiy. The annual donation is about $10,000.

Most of you know by now how much Bob loves a good burger, with crispy fires of course. We anchored around 3:00 pm and dinghied into the marina. We spent two hours exploring the nature trails and climbing the water tower, which gave us a beautiful view of the boat on anchor. We went in the bar for a drink and at 6:00 pm when the restaurant opened for dinner we ordered. With us in the bar was the owner of an 80 foot yacht that was anchored next to us, Top Dog.

Top Dog - note the small man on the bow of the boat

Shortly before I went back to Cleveland, we realized the anchor light, which has to remain on throughout the night while on anchor, had failed. While I was away, Bill Palliser kept Bob company and they completed various boat projects. Among them, Bob went up the mast (twice) to check out the anchor light.

Yes that is Bob all the way up there!!

He concluded that it could not be repaired without taking the mast down (which we were not going to do) so he removed the old one and blocked up the holes so that water could not run into the mast. Our dock neighbor Mike gave us a photo cell controlled light that we could string up with a halyard, that met the safety requirement. It is sometimes hard to find the boat in the anchorage when returning by dinghy after dark. When we left the Inn we were not sure if we would be able to see the new light hanging or the flashing Luci light (solar light) we left in the cockpit. We were pretty confident we would be able to pick out Top Dog which looked like a floating city ablaze in light in the night sky. As we left the Inn we aimed for Top Dog – and then saw our light, a dim beacon welcoming us home.

Bill Boat Project Palliser

The next morning we left for Tween Waters which is a thin stretch of water east of Captiva. Our dock neighbor Robert had told us that this was a great place to anchor with dinghy access to a gulf beach. While going up the ICS I saw a trawler going north with dolphins jumping his wake. The people on the trawler were standing on the aft deck taking pictures as the dolphins jumped repeatedly in the foam of the wake.

Just south of red 38 we left the ICW heading toward a channel that we could barely see from the ICW. We were going on faith that it would be deep enough for us as Robert’s boat has a 7 foot draft and said he used this anchorage many times. We were holding our breath as our 5 foot draft drifted at low speed through water that registered 4.3 feet. We were probably picking up vegetation growing on the bottom but there were some very tense moments until we got in the deeper section of the channel. Once we turned south the water was fine and we went east of the channel to anchor in an area Robert had pointed out to us. We were at relatively high tide sitting in about 5 feet of water when we got in the dinghy and went off exploring.

It took us about a half hour to go the two plus miles to the beach. We passed lots of old Florida homes right on the water and lots of people fishing off small skiffs. We went under a low bridge and then on our left saw the sand beach that bordered the gulf waters. We beached the dinghy and walked the beach looking of course for shark teeth and interesting shells. No shark teeth, but enjoyed rubbing my heels in the sand. ON the way back to the boat we saw dolphin in the shallow water and one breached the water so close to the dinghy we could have reached out and touched it. It was thrilling to be so close.

When we got back to the boat we determined that we couldn’t spend the night where we were without being on the bottom at 2:00 AM when the tide would be at its lowest. So we started up the engine and moved a bit north and closer to the ICW channel - closer to where a motor boat was anchored and the water was about a foot deeper. It didn’t seem like the owner of the boat was on board and we wondered what he would think when he came back to his boat and saw us so much closer than we had been previously. Would he wonder if he had drifted?? I wished I could hear his thoughts when he got back to his boat. Bob and I agreed that we would leave early in the am at the highest tide we could get. We were headed back to Rum Cove so that we could explore Cayo Costa and spend more time on the beach.

The motor back to Rum Cove was uneventful since we already were expecting the shallow water at the end of the channel. What we didn’t expect was to motor into a pod of dolphins. We stopped the boat and just sat there as they jumped and dove all around us; big ones and babies. Bob was able to capture some of it on video.

After anchoring back at Rum Cove (Top Dog was still there) we took the dinghy in the southern entrance to Cayo Costa, again through very shallow water and spent the afternoon on the beach. We returned to Her Diamond for lunch and then sailed across Charlotte Harbor arriving at Burnt Store around 6:00 pm.

I wasn’t ready to be back in the marina. It made me look forward to next week when we will be leaving for at least two weeks up the Florida coast to St. Pete and Tampa.

Enough for now. More to come……



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