Spent Sat morning kicking back and exploring Everglades City some more. They have a pretty good little museum. I didn’t realize that Everglades City was the county seat for Collier County until about 1960. Hurricane ? came through and wiped the place out. It was then they decided to move to Naples. The settlement began after the Civil War when Union sympathizers that had farmed Cape Sable to supply Key West moved up the west coast of the peninsula. George Storter got a post office their in 1895. He also entertained northern tourists who came to fish and hunt. His house became the Rod and Gun Club. It has been visited by the likes of Presidents and movie stars. There have been several movies filmed there. The one I remember is “Gone Fishing”.
During the 1970 and 1980 the area was the center for marijuana smuggling. Airplanes would land on the only road to town to pick up loads.
I picked up a load of ice and few things from the grocery and got underway late afternoon and made my way toward the Gulf of Mexico. I found a nice little area just off the main channel that was protected on all sides. I had 3.3 feet of water. I set the hook and enjoyed a nice home cooked meal. The tide table said the tide should be coming in. Not the case. By 2100 I was high and dry in the mud in about 10 inches of water. Not to worry I got in here. When the tide does come in I can get out the same way I got in. The wind had calmed to nothing. The only reason I knew that I was aground was something kept smacking the side of the boat. Thud, thud, thud. I stepped in the cockpit and put my spot light on the water. Then all hell broke loose. There were fish everywhere. They were good size. Maybe a pound 14 to 16 inches. The water was so shallow they had the mud all stirred up and they were so quick I couldn’t really get a good look at them. The may have been mullet but didn’t look broad enough. I guess they were attracted by my anchor light. Anyway I turned the like out and they went away.
I was floating again. I got underway and worked my way back to the entrance by following the bread crumb trail on my gps. I got about 100 feet from the channel and I could see that I was blocked by a sand bar. I was in just about the middle of the opening and the water was so muddy you couldn’t see any difference between deep water and shallow water. Then here comes a fast moving, wake making fishing boat down the channel. Usually I have bad words for these guys but this was perfect. His waves broke on the sand bar revealing which way it went and where it stopped. All I had to do was go about 50 feet to the right and I had plenty of water. I was back on track and by 0735 I was back in the Gulf of Mexico.
The wind and sea started calm but within a hour picked up to 15-20 from the south. It wasn’t bad but was a little bumpy. By 1230 I had made my way to the Little Shark River. It was bumpy enough that I had had enough for the day and entered the river. This has always been a place the boaters duck into to get out of weather. It actually winds around and you can get to Flamingo. I decided what the heck, I’ll just take the inside passage and go that way. It is a real jungle tour through the mangroves. It’s about a 25 mile jaunt down the back road but Flamingo is a place that I have never been but wanted to.
It is also a beautiful cruse. However, there is one big problem when you get to the end. You run into a STONE wall. Concrete actually. There is a fixed bridge blocking the way. Vertical clearance 0 ft. Soild concrete.. Now the chart I have, to me is not clear. It the paper chart shows a line but is marked “lift” The new $200 navionics chip I have doesn’t even show the line. It just says “hoist”. Now what the heck I’ve got to back track 25 miles. By the way the marina at Flamingo is very nice. There is a boat ramp and dockage and fuel on both this of the bridge. I’m about to leave when I see this guy in a 28 foot CC, on the other side, getting fuel. Jeff . Jeff is the man of the day. Just to make sure I was seeing what I thought I saw I ask Jeff. “ I guess there is no way to get from this side to that side. He said, “no” there used to be a hoist here and they would lift your boat from one side to the other but not any more. Jeff says “you need me to use my trailer and move you” All I could say was before or after I kiss your feet, wash your boat and truck and give you a few dollars. He said see that boat over there. He did the same thing and I moved him this morning. After the deed was done he wouldn’t take a dime.
I may be sticking around here tomorrow. In talking to a fellow boater I found out that an elderly man staying in the campground with his family has wandered off and has been gone 24 hrs now. They have called off the search for tonight but will start again tomorrow. Having been involved in search and rescue in Pensacola for 40 years I maybe able to be of some assistance.