Chokoloskee to Punta Rassa

Hmmm? Where did I leave off? I believe it was Chokoloskee. The morning of March 8, also my birthday, I paddled a couple of miles to Everglades City to the Everglades National Park visitors center and got my pass for Tiger Key. Since the tides caused such swift currents in the 10,000 Islands I decided to wait for the outgoing tide before launching. I figured the outgoing tide would suck me out to Tiger key very quickly. I turned out to be correct! In the meantime, I walked the half mile into town to site see and resupply. Everglades city was a sleepy little town and many businesses were closed for good. I walked down to the Island Cafe and treated myself to some gator bites and fried key lime pie. It was delicious! I thought I might squeeze in a little nap for launching but a family arrived on 4 Hobie tandem islands. They were racers in the Everglades Challenge who didn’t make it to the checkpoint in time and were disqualified from continuing. I helped them load the boats onto the trailers and then said our farewells.

Tiger key was only 7 miles away and I paddled there rather quickly. Unfortunately the wind had died and was from blowing from the east. I was camped on the western side of the island and was demolished by mosquitoes and no-see-ums. The next morning the tide was low and the was about 300m of mud between the island and the gulf. Since the mud was fairly solid and the bugs were awful, I dragged my kayak all the way to the water. I paddled about 13 miles to Cape Romano and got a chance to see the dome houses up close and personal. They were otherworldly just sitting there in the water. When they were built there was about 300 feet of beach protecting them from the ocean. Now they about 300 feet in the ocean! The cape was busy during the day but most of the beach goers went home before dark. Two men Joe and Kyle were camped on the cape as well. They were doing a time-lapse photo shoot of the Milky Way. It was a beautiful sight!

The dome houses near Cape Romano

The weather conditions have been great so far. The wind hasn’t been too bad and mostly blowing in my direction of travel. Once I left Cape Romano giant hotels and condominiums started to appear. The beaches were crowded and motorboats zipped all over the place in every direction. They had the water churned up creating 4 foot swells. I still managed to paddle almost 15 miles passing Marco Island and landing at Keewaydin Island. There was probably 100 boats at the island partying that Sunday. I stopped and looked at the ice cream and the beer boat and remembered I didn’t have cash with me so I walked back to my kayak and decided to paddle up a few more miles to the middle section of the island where I had more privacy. Suddenly a yellow helicopter came down low over the beach towards me and briefly landed. A woman hopped out onto the beach and the helicopter flew away landed somewhere nearby. I decided to stop. I thought maybe they were filming a movie or something. Later that evening a couple approached me asking if I had bug spray. It was the couple from the helicopter. They were adventurers like me, but flew all over the world instead of kayaking.

Marco Island. The start of bustling urban areas again.

The next day was going to be a long one. I needed to paddle 20 plus miles past Naples to a campsite. I got up early and launched. I was making pretty good time so I decided to stop for lunch at a restaurant on the beach. Turns out it was a private beach and the restaurant was private too. There was a public one about a half mile back. I said to hell with it and walked back, swimming through a pass, and ate a gyro. After lunch I continued on and several miles down the beach my helicopter friends flew over. I guess they saw me so he swung the bird around and dropped down and waved! I waved back as beach goers were stunned. I have to admit, that was one of the coolest things that I’ve had happen to me! As the sun started to set I found the entrance to Bowtie Island and set up camp. This site was neat. It was in the middle of a mangrove island. Someone had cleared it out and you can now camp there. It was very secluded hiding me from the boaters in the nearby channel.

In the morning I discovered I had a broken tent pole. I can make it work for now but at some point I do need to replace it. My solar charger is also not working correctly. It got pretty wet one day and I guess that was too much for it. It was supposed to be waterproof. I should have known better. Saltwater is very destructive. I’m currently trying to find a place to have my new gear sent. Luckily the boat ramp in Punta Rassa has an electrical outlet so I can recharge all of my devices until I get the new solar charger. For some reason several days of my pictures aren’t accessible so I have nothing to share with you at the moment. I’m also really tired so I apologize if there are grammar and spelling mistakes galore.

The overcrowded Fort Meyers harbor
Bunche Beach Preserve

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