We left Naples! It was a bit of tough decision to leave today. The winds are forecast to be pretty strong all weekend, but they're coming from the east, which is good, so we decided to go for it. I wasn't the happiest camper when we were about an hour out. I don't have a lot of experience and I was scared when the winds kicked up and the boat would rock side to side even while going 25 mph on plane. Sailboats keel, power boats aren't supposed to! I'm not used to being "afraid" (I'm more the anxiety type) and didn't enjoy it very much. Yeah, all this for freakin' 15 mph winds and 3 foot seas. I'm just hiking up that learning curve...
We made it to Little Shark River around 11:30am. It's a very pretty, sheltered area - where the the river empties out. There was no one here so we looked around and tried to figure out where the best place to anchor would be. We still had the engines on and were almost done anchoring when the dolphins came! Okay, it was midday and they were feeding but I'd rather the more romantic take that they were welcoming us to the anchorage :) This must be the home to a pod of dolphins, they are everywhere, including one tiny baby. There are also a ton of pelicans and obviously plenty of fish because birds and dolphin were snacking all afternoon.
A few fishing boats passed by and 2 stopped in the bay to fish in the afternoon so it wasn't as isolated as we first thought. By dusk, we had 3 neighbors - 2 sail boats and a small trawler/lobster boat that anchored out as well. It's really beautiful. I doubt the pics will capture it as it is. It's so quiet and calm and bright - it's almost a full moon tonight. It's very protected (3/4 surrounded by trees) and the wind mellowed out around 6ish and now, it's 9pm, and very calm. We felt some rocking and looked and we have turned 180 on the anchor with the incoming tide.
So how did we spend the day... In good British fashion, after making sure we were securely anchored we had tea, and lunch. Martin took the tender down and went for a ride to make sure the engine was still working, and it is (he was having a time of it when we first got it). Then we sat back and watched the pelicans dive and listened to the "p-phew" of the dolphins breathing as they popped up around the bay. We made a stir fry on the barbeque and ate outside while the sun set. It's a bit warmer today, we were able to sit outside in sweaters. Martin says that this is what he has had in mind when he thought about the trip. It's pretty damn nice, I have to say.
It's a different way of being on the boat too. In the marina, it's just like living in a small apartment in/near town. You have all your normal activities on hand, whether it's visiting, going out for a bike ride or to dinner. "On the hook" it's different, more like cabin camping in a remote place. We don't want to use a lot of electricity in the evening because we don't want to run the generator and make noise when it's so peaceful and quite (we can do that tomorrow afternoon). We haven't figured out yet just how much we can use on the batteries so for today, it means we aren't using the heat at night, nor a ton of lights, and we opted for gas cooking. We did, however, keep the hot water heater on tonight because it's cool and a hot shower in the morning is a nice luxury!
We plan on staying here until Monday morning when we'll head to Key West. Our plan for tomorrow is to wake up and hopefully watch the dolphins over morning coffee/tea, and then take the tender up river to explore the everglades.