With less than a week to go before Thanksgiving, we were hard at work on the Orion Jr in LaBelle, but had given little thought to any plans for celebrating the holiday. However, that problem was solved within minutes of sending out our website update on the Saturday before the holiday, when Dau, Cathy's distant cousin, responded that they were living in Cape Coral now, only a couple day's trip from LaBelle. Since we were planning on leaving LaBelle on Tuesday, we would arrive just in time. Perfect! Since their boat was on the hard in Port Charlotte, the dock behind the house on Royal Canal in Cape Coral was empty, just waiting for Jr. We made 2 short days travel from LaBelle, stopping at Franklin Lock on Tuesday, and arrived at their home mid-afternoon on Wednesday. It was a beautiful setting, although the trip down the canal was probably one of the narrowest channels we've tried.
Our next stop was the lovely Pelican Bay behind Cayo Costa, a state park that we had discovered in the spring. We spent four days walking the trails and the beach, made all the more enjoyable by the cooler temperatures and low humidity. On one of our trips ashore, we stumbled into Fran and Floyd on Prior Ties, who were headed south for the first time in 18 months, having taken a year off cruising. We joined them later on their boat for conversation and hor d'ouvres before they headed out for points south the next day. Unlike Fran and Floyd, we were headed north, somewhat against the general flow of traffic this time of year, but we were waiting for the daily northeast winds to go east or south so we could use them to travel. So, we used the weather as an excuse to enjoy the island for another day.
While spending time in Cayo Costa, we researched the routes and destinations north of us. We decided to leave the boat in Bradenton for the Christmas holidays. That meant we had 12 opening bridges to get through. Ugh! While planning routes, Dave discovered that the inlet just north of Cayo Costa, Boca Grande Pass, was one we could use to jump out into the gulf. We could then come back into Venice, a manageable day's run for Orion Jr. Unexpectedly Sunday morning (December 2), we got the weather we were looking for. East winds 10-15. This would give us the wind to sail, but being in the lee of the coast, there would be minimal waves. After a quick run to shore, we were pulling up the anchor and getting under way.
Our stay in Venice was brief. The anchorage was full and the dockage expensive. We did walk into town to look around, but on Sunday night many of the stores were closed. In talking with locals, we learned of some other possibilities for anchoring and dockage that weren't obvious on our first trip in. We hope to be able to make an outside run from here going south, so we'll research a place to stay before returning. In the meantime, we headed north to Bradenton, although the remaining miles are going to be inside on the ICW.