Fort Myers Beach to Chokoloskee (Florida) / December 28, 2014 - January 6, 2015
December 28, 2014
We spent a lovely day watching marine life around the campground. There are a lot of dolphins that come to feed here. Jasmine was excited this morning when she saw the dolphins jumping, splashing and throwing fish into the air. We also saw more egrets. Our neighbour, Steve, lent us his bicycle so Pierre could go to buy Nafta for our burner. Later in the afternoon, we talked with Steve and his wife Vickie, they generously gave us a bottle of wine. What kindness! They are a very charming couple. In the afternoon, I went to do grocery shopping with Francine. She even drove to a pet store where I could find Jasmine’s food. A huge thank you Francine for everything!!! Late afternoon, we went with Michael to see the sunset and take pictures. During that time, Jasmine was babysat by Francine. I believe that Francine had more fun than Jasmine. ;) In the evening we again ate with our friends, spending another very pleasant evening.
December 29, 2014
We left the campground in the middle of the morning. Before we left, we said goodbye to Francine and Michael, as well as Steve and Vickie. Michael also offered to take some pictures with our camera before our official departure from Fort Myers Beach.
We were not going very far today. We paddled mainly in the canal toward Bowtie Island where we met Marcus and Jeff. The canal was packed with people. On our way, we saw frigates and dolphins. Then we saw the famous beach intended only for dogs. It was great to see the dogs running around in the water and on the beach. Francine and Michael had told us about that place before we left.
We had a little trouble finding a nice place to stop on Bowtie Island. The place where we set up the tent was dark and rather grey. We saw all kinds of strange spiders, one of which had on its back four red peaks. At dusk, we saw fishermen near the island casting their nets and collecting a lot of fish. We did not spend much time outside of the tent because there were a lot of mosquitoes and "no-see-ems" or "Chickee", a little brown fly that looks like a black fly, but smaller.
December 30, 2014
We left at 8:00 am "the island of strange spiders". We had planned to paddle 50 km today and wanted to enjoy the morning tide to leave the channel and paddle into the Gulf of Mexico. The coast is inhabited almost its entire length, except for a park near Naples. There is a long, continuous white sandy beach. There were a lot of swimmers and Jasmine was the talk of the day. We met a Canadian who came swimming out to meet us. Then we saw something we had never seen before. There was a school of fish jumping around about 30 feet from shore, for almost 2 km! We learned later that they were mullet.We made very good progress today so we stopped on Keewaydin Island at 14:30. When we arrived, we met Greg. He advised us to sleep here rather than go 10 km south where we thought we would stop for the night. He told us that there were already about 300 boats out there and many campers. So we decided to set up our camp here. Before Greg left with his wife and friends aboard their boat, Pierre thought to ask him where we could get water. Greg offered to take Pierre to his home to fill our bags. Pierre returned shortly after with the precious cargo and nice memories of the inland passage. With all this water, we could stay here a few days and enjoy this beautiful beach.
December 31, 2014
We had a very good night. As usual, the dew was heavy, but dried quickly with the heat and the sun. The beach here is beautiful! There is a lot of back and forth during the day. The Gulf is beautiful! It is green. We thought we would be alone on the beach to spend the New Year. But late in the day, two groups arrived, including Randy and Lacie’s party. Randy quickly invited us to spend the evening with his wife, Lacie, and her family. Lacie's brother had built in the sand a beautiful location for the fire with seats around it. Lacie caught a Blacktip shark. This is the first one we saw so closely. We talked and laughed with the whole family. Randy and Lacie spend their summers in Alaska, where they fish. Randy continues to fish here during the winter. They taught us a lot about fish and fishing techniques. Just before midnight, Randy's friends came to set off fireworks. We spent the New Year in excellent company. Thank you all for your hospitality, kindness and generosity. We are confident that we will meet somewhere on the water again. :)
January 1, 2015
Happy New Year!!! Thank you to all those who helped us, supported us and followed us in 2014. We are confident that 2015 will be an exceptional year and that we will continue to have great encounters. We wish you all a year filled with love, joy, adventure and unforgettable experiences. We thought of our families and our friends... we missed them all.
We said goodbye to our new friends during the day. In the evening, we watched the beautiful sunset and the stars light up the sky. We were just happy to be here and even more for that day we made the big decision to leave everything behind, to live our adventure.
January 2, 2015
Another great day on this island that lives with the winds and tides. We saw some familiar faces during the day. Already after a few days here, we begin to know the habits of people who spend part of the day here. We had the pleasure of meeting another group with whom we spent a big part of the evening. We went to bed very late, or rather, early in the morning! There were three families: Butch and Lori (and their children Jacob, Emma & Asher), Lazaro and Eileen (and their children Sebastian, Reuben & Brandon) and Adam and Christina (and their children Braden, Casey & Taylor). We were very fortunate to meet such good and generous people. Everyone was very welcoming. We spent a wonderful evening with the whole group. In the evening, Randy also come to visit. He wanted Pierre to go fishing with him. It was really nice for him to have thought of it and especially to have taken the time to come visit us on the island. We saw him later on aboard his boat and lit up our tent as a greeting.
January 3, 2015
We had planned to leave this morning to go to White Horse Key (Ten Thousand Islands), but having stayed up late and we also promised to take a picture of the group before they leave, we decided to stay another day. After all, we're in no hurry now.
It was nice and warm all day. We strolled, while watching the birds, watching the jumping fish and the dolphins feed. We observed that around 7:30 every morning, a large group of pelicans fly north to spend their day....who knows where. Then around 4:30 p.m., they come back and fly south.
Late afternoon, the three families we spent our evening with, left. Before leaving, they gave us plenty of food and water. We were very touched and happy to receive all this diverse food. For us, the food and water have become very valuable, especially when we sleep on an island without services. A big thank you to all of you for your generosity, your hospitality and the wonderful evening.
We thought that we would be alone tonight on the beach since the holiday season is finished, but shortly after the departure of Butch, his family and friends, four boys arrived. We were surprised because they quickly came to see us and they already knew our names. Butch had met them on their way and had told them our names and what we were doing. Shortly after the boys came and talked to us, their parents arrived. It was almost dark. So we made a fire on the beach, watched the moon and the stars shining. The sea was now calm after a hectic day.
January 4, 2015
We were supposed to leave this morning, but with all the food and water we received, we decided to spend another day on Keewaydin Island. After all, we like the location and have enjoyed very nice encounters here. We spent time with the boys (Daniel, Tommy, Matthew & Jack) and their parents (KP & Dee Dee) during the day. They are really nice people and the boys are curious and bright. Pierre took the two younger boys for a canoe ride.
In the afternoon, we met a Canadian couple who live in the north. Sophia and Rob are currently on sabbatical and have taken the opportunity to travel. We'll see them, perhaps in 2 years, when we will be in the last part of our adventure, paddling in northern Canada. We have also seen, for a second time on this beach, a small Blacktip shark. Awesome!
January 5, 2015
This morning, we were treated to quite a show ... in fact two completely different shows! First, we witnessed a beautiful moon setting over the gulf. Then, dolphins came to within 3 feet from the shore to feed. Jasmine went swimming without any hesitation, even though she does not like swimming. The dolphins did not want to play. Jasmine received a tail shot to the head. We are hoping she learned her lesson.
We packed up and paddled to Cape Romano. On the way, we travelled close to Marco Island. There were many people on the beach. Jasmine received a lot of nice remarks!
On our way to Cape Romano, we could see the remains of the dome houses. This project from late '70s was abandoned in 2007. Two hurricanes have passed in this site in its history. Today, there are only the shells of houses on stilts. Really unusual to see!
We stopped for the night on the beach adjacent to these structures of the past. In the evening, we talked to Brett, a kayaker and life enthusiast who arrived almost at dark to see the igloo like houses. He left around 10:00 p.m. to go home since he had to work the next day. It was a very interesting and completely unexpected encounter. In the evening, the sky was very grey. We were delighted by the rising moon. The moon was huge and red! Beautiful!
January 6, 2015
The tide was very low when we came out of the tent this morning. We have not seen such a strong tide since we arrived in Florida. We took our time to pack up our camp. We did not want to walk and have to drag the canoe over a long distance.
Starting from Cape Romano, we decided to cross the bay rather than paddling around it. It was a good decision. We saw from a far distance White Horse Key where we could have stopped for the night. We headed towards Indian Key Pass to catch the marked channel that brings us to the entrance of the bay to get to Chokoloskee. In the afternoon, the heat was almost unbearable!
We arrived in Chokoloskee late afternoon. After setting up camp, we took a well needed shower. In the evening, we walked to the wharf of the campground where several people were fishing. It was not a good evening for fishing, because the wind was not blowing in the right direction. We learned that a 7 foot shark had been caught here!