Spending a day on the water is like a day in the park. You can sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery as it casually passes by. We started our five hour adventure by navigating through the maze of canals that intertwine throughout the neighborhoods. We made our way to the bridge and after sounding the ‘all-clear horn’, we proceeded down the channel. The captain set his course towards Matlacha Pass and into Pine Island Sound, and then eventually to open waters.
The canals that lead you away from the residential areas offer more of a wilderness terrain. On occasions you will spot a small piece of ground that someone has claimed as a favorite fishing hole or a nature watch spot (pictured below-right). As we get closer to the pass, the channel banks again turn into concrete seawalls that help support and protect the waterside homes.
On this part of our adventure we are moving along at about 10 knots per hour. Most all the canals and waterways that lead to open waters are “No Wake Zones”. As we idle along, we pass a few local bar & grills. One of the more favorite establishments to stop at is Miceli’s. You can either arrive by car or boat to enjoy your favorite food and beverage. When floating by you can sometimes catch a few beats of the music from musicians who frequently entertain the patrons. It is customary to wave at passing boaters, and visa versa . However, it is a little to early in the morning for people to be up and about. I am sure there will be people enjoying themselves on the trip back. When on the water, people seem to be friendlier and more relaxed.
We had plenty of time to admire the beautiful homes that hug the waterway’s shore. The views from their patio retreats are to die for. Watching the dolphins play, the manatees gingerly float by and the magnificent sunsets are just a few of the elements they enjoy from their vantage points. Florida’s Ospreys, also known as the ‘Fishing Eagle’, prey on the water’s bounty as its food of choice. They have protected nesting rights no matter were they choose it to be, and its usually for a good length of time.
As we approach Matlacha Pass, we spot a fishing trawler that looks to be ready for its next voyage. The Gulf waters supply many fisherman with their livelihoods. The Gulf’s pink gold, a. k. a. shrimp is a major part of SW Florida’s industry.
We arrived at Matlacha Pass and just on the east side of Little Pine Island. There is a drawbridge that connects little and main Pine islands to the mainland. We headed north towards Turtle Island and Charlotte Harbor.
The canals have now opened up to the Intracoastal Waterway. Florida has many of these liquid highways that lead captains and their vessels to the open waters. The bright green squares and red triangle markers will navigate us to our destinations. They also second as a resting post for birds looking for their next meal.
Captain Ron set his GPS for North Captiva Island and we were on our way. The sun was filtering through the partly clouded sky. The wind was out of the southwest around 5 knots and the water’s chop was less than a foot. What a great day for boating!
We arrived at Safety Harbor on the eastside of North Captiva Island. The water was a beautiful turquoise green and the palm trees were swaying to a light tropical breeze. It was just a little past noon and we were getting hungry and needing to quench our thirst. Someone in our group had recommended Barnacles as a great place to enjoy lunch. It is an unspoken tradition to treat your captain to a lunch and beverage of choice. They will appreciate it immensely.
We docked the boat and found a picnic table that was partially shaded by an oversized umbrella. Barnacles atmosphere fits its rustic tradition of an island bar & grill, but with all the necessary amenities to make it comfortable. We enjoyed a couple of fish sandwiches and cold beverages. Barnacles is a great out of the way place to meet friends, chat awhile and relax in its comfortable setting. The island can only be reached by water or a small airplane. There are some homes, a few cafes, a small grocery store, a mini resort and various boat clubs on this isolated piece of land.
After lunch, we set out to make a full circle back to Matlacha Pass. We headed south and navigated around the tip of Pine Island. We caught a far-off glimpse of the Sanibel Causeway . Once we maneuvered around Pine Island’s southern tip, we made our way back to Matlacha and our homeport.
Spending a day on the water can be so much fun. It gives you a chance to see things that are not always visible from the front or back seat of a car. Gliding along the water seems so surreal. If you get a chance to explore the waters around you, definitely take full advantage of the opportunity. After your seafaring adventure is over and you arrive back at port, it is always a good idea to help the captain clean the boat and make sure that everything is battened down.
Author: Anthony Scopel
Photography: Anthony Scopel
Associate Editor: Maureen Scopel
Technical Mastering & Support: Matt Kemper
A special thanks to our skipper – Captain Ron Kohl.