Today is the ultimate day for the sailing purist. Winds are out of the northeast at 18 to 22 knots. Our destination is to the southeast. These are the ingredients for an exhilirating 53 mile sail from Marco Island to the Little Shark River in the Everglades National Park.
Skies are overcast as Cutter Loose enters the Gulf of Mexico through Capri Pass. Our course takes us south on a broad reach in 3 to 4 foot waves as the highrise condos of Marco Island disappear astern. The only vessel visible to us for the next 30 hours is the high speed ferry bound for Key West, passing to starboard at 8:30 AM.
Once beyond the shoals of Cape Romano at 10:30 AM, a course adjustment places Cutter Loose on a beam reach towards our anchorage at the Little Shark River. Around noon, the sun makes its initial appearance of the day. Winds subside to 14-16 knots upon entering the lee of the 10,000 Islands. We are out of sight of land. There is no cell phone coverage. The VHF radio is strangely silent. This is remote territory.
At 4:15 PM, Cutter Loose is at anchor in the protection of the Little Shark River. We are the only boat here tonight, but we are not alone. Egret and heron are busy working the shallows while pelicans and osprey provide aerial reconaissance. The eerie sound of crackles and pops in the cabin signal that snapping shrimp are busy cleaning the underside of the hull.
With the completion of today’s journey, we eclipse the 2,000 mile mark of our winter voyage. It has been a particularly satisfying day of sailing and relaxation at anchor, made even more enjoyable by the thought of many more yet to come.