A high pressure center in Georgia brings windy conditions to Punta Gorda. Cutter Loose is anchored south of the Tamiami Trail Bridge in the Peace River. Winds from the northeast at 20 knots makes for a soggy ride ashore in the dinghy.
Punta Gorda is a community in recovery. In August, 2004, a Category 4 hurricane named Charley made landfall just south of here at nearby Cayo Costa. With wind speeds of 150 MPH, Charley devastated entire blocks of Punta Gorda’s downtown. To its credit, the City has redeveloped portions of its waterfront, including parks, a convention center and several new hotels. But large tracts of land fronting on the Tamiami Trail (Route 41) remain undeveloped. Nevertheless, Punta Gorda’s downtown historic district has much to offer, including a variety of pubs and restaurants.
On Sunday, we hike to First Pres and Publix in the suburbs, then return to the harbor via Fishermans Village, an urban mall. In the evening, we enjoy snacks in the cockpit of Cutter Loose with friends Hayden and Radeen to commemorate an anniversary of sorts. Today marks the 100th day of cruising since leaving Rock Hall together on October 22nd. Hayden and Radeen will sail on to Key West in the morning while we remain in Punta Gorda for a few more days.
On Monday, we focus on boat chores in the morning while waiting in vain for an opportunity to dinghy ashore in calmer conditions. In the afternoon, we take advantage of the City’s free bicycle loaners to tour the community. The wind has clocked to the east, which places Cutter Loose in the lee of the downtown waterfront.
On Tuesday morning, we take a slip in the marina at nearby Fishermans Village. Cutter Loose is visited today by Sandy and her husband, Chris who live 30 miles to the north in Englewood. Pat and Sandy have some catching up to do. They have not been in one another’s company since their high school reunion in 1983. Over lunch, the 1968 yearbook from Bishop Carroll High School makes a surprise appearance. We are grateful to Sandy and Chris for taking the time to visit with us today.
Pittsburgh friends Glen and Nancy arrive at Fisherman’s Village on Wednesday afternoon as part of their winter tour of the east coast. They bear gifts from the north, including a fresh supply of white pomegranate tea from Prestogeorge for Patricia. We enjoy their company for several days, setting sail to Cabbage Key and anchoring overnight in Pelican Bay. A stationary front has settled into southwest Florida, bringing cloudy skies and brisk winds from the east. Glen and Nancy are treated to an exhilirating daysail with 15 knot winds in Charlotte Harbor.
The southwest coast of Florida has much to offer the cruising sailor. Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor offer daysailing opportunities in the relative protection of inland waters. Within a day’s travel from here are several interesting towns and remote anchorages. It was well worth the effort to explore this area. Tomorrow, we will sail south with the goal of returning to Marathon in a week’s time.