Our extended stay at Fort Myers Beach affords an opportunity to visit with family and friends and to enjoy the relaxed ambience of this casual beach town. The outstanding weather this weekend attracts a massive migration to the beach.
From a boating perspective, Fort Myers Beach is a worthwhile destination because inexpensive mooring balls are readily available in the City’s Matanzas mooring field. Our mooring is within a five minute dinghy ride to the town dock. For a fee of $13 per day, the rental of a mooring ball entitles us to use of the marina’s laundry and shower facilities. Tidal currents in the mooring field can be considerable. In this circumstance, a mooring is a convenient alternative to anchoring.
One of the more memorable aspects of the harbor is the arrival of hundreds of cawing crows every morning at approximately 6:45 AM, just before sunrise. There is no need for an alarm clock in this harbor. These noise makers flock to the rigging of sailboats, leaving reminders of their visit on the deck below. Precisely at sunrise, they take flight in deafening unison and are not seen again for 23.5 hours. At the time of their departure, the harbor is reminiscent of a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Ashore, Fort Myers Beach is somewhat similar in character to the Jersey Shore, absent the boardwalk. In the center of town, Times Square is home to restaurants, bars, t shirt shops and sidewalk performers. Estero Boulevard is a two lane spine road along the beach that is congested with bumper to bumper traffic. Many of the license plates here tell the story of visitors from frigid places to the north. Pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists compete for space on a parallel sidewalk. A series of privately owned surface parking lots front on Estero Boulevard. Each day, these lots are filled to capacity with tanned tourists toting their chairs, umbrellas and beach totes. They gallantly charge through stalled traffic to make their way to and from the beach. The daily tarriff for a parking space is five dollars.
Friends Jerry and Ginger drive from their winter home in Largo, FL on Saturday to visit Cutter Loose. From our mooring, it is clear that the weekend traffic is building on the Matanzas Bridge. Our guests successfully navigate their way to the town dinghy dock and we spend the afternoon enjoying lunch and catching up on news from home. On Saturday evening, we participate in a buddy boat dinner party to meet former Island Packet owners Craig and Debbie who arrive by Harley from their home in University Park, FL.
Sunday morning finds us amongst a packed audience at Chapel by the Sea, the local Presbyterian Church. After lunch, Craig applies his Island Packet experience and electrical engineering background to successfully diagnose and solve a generator problem aboard Cutter Loose. Then it is on to Nervous Nellies, a convenient eatery located near the dinghy dock. Here, we join our fellow buddy boaters and fervent New England fans in watching the Patriots defeat the Ravens.
Monday morning begins with a seminar on boat electrical systems presented by Art, an Island Packet owner and DC expert that lives in the St. Petersburg area. We learn about the charging characteristics of batteries and an array of troubleshooting techniques that can be used to diagnose and solve boat-related electrical problems.
Monday is also sibling day aboard Cutter Loose. In the afternoon, we enjoy a visit from Pat’s brother Butch and his lovely wife Ann who have traveled to Florida to escape the big chill in Pennsylvania. During their stay in Florida, they drive from St. Petersburg Beach to have a look at Cutter Loose for the very first time. Then later in the afternoon, we enjoy an overlapping visit from my sister Dianne and her husband Terry who are en route back home to Spring Hill, FL from a trip to Key West. All of our guests today are good sports in waiting their turn to be shuttled to and from Cutter Loose via dinghy. Late in the afternoon, we stroll with siblings and their spouses to witness sunset over the glassy waters of the Gulf.
By sentiment of the majority of buddy boaters, our departure from Fort Myers Beach is postponed by 24 hours. We use this time productively to catch up on correspondence, hike to the grocery store and prepare Cutter Loose for departure. We will leave for Pine Island Sound early on Wednesday morning.