It is 7 AM in Factory Bay. The sound of clanking anchor chains can be heard across the anchorage as our group of Island Packets simultaneously get underway. Cutter Loose brings up the rear of the parade leaving Marco Island via Capri Pass as the first rays of sunlight peek under the bridge to the mainland.
The wind freshens as we enter the Gulf of Mexico. It is now blowing a steady 10 knots out of the east. Cutter Loose leaps anxiously onto a comfortable beam reach bound for Fort Myers Beach to the north. There is nothing quite so effective in setting an optimistic tone for the day as being under sail to a new destination during the first few hours of daylight. Our hopes soar in the belief that this favorable wind will remain with us for the duration of this 37 mile journey to Fort Myers Beach.
The highrises of Marco Island are still visible astern as the skyline of Naples comes into view. North of Naples, the wind subsides as we approach the shoreline of Estero Island and enter San Carlos Bay. A well-marked channel to starboard takes us alongside the beach and into Matanzas Pass. This inlet leads to an inland waterway that passes under the tall Matanzas Bridge connecting Estero Island to the mainland. Cutter Loose is on a City mooring just south of the Matanzas Bridge.
We celebrate our arrival with a group meal at Nervous Nellies at Snug Harbor Marina under the bridge. After dinner, we stroll towards the beach where the sidewalks are filled with tourists and street performers. We will remain in Fort Myers Beach, enjoying our new digs through the weekend.