Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Naples to J. N. "Ding" Darling (Sanibel)

Sanibel Causeway Bridge

After spending the night anchored among all the multi-million dollar homes in Naples we headed out the channel for our final day in the Gulf of Mexico. We had 30 miles to cover to our anticipated anchorage near Sanibel. The national wildlife refuge in Pine Island Sound is named after the cartoonist Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling. He won two Pulitzer Prizes and signed his work "D'ing" which is where the nickname "Ding" apparently came from. He also started the federal duck stamp program and was instrumental in founding the National Wildlife Federation.

Last leg of the Gulf of Mexico

Once we left the Gulf of Mexico and headed inland on the GIWW we ran headlong into a strong current. Wrinkles was giving everything she had and we were only doing 3.1 knots. We motored under the Sanibel Causeway Bridge which was our last bridge of this trip. Once boaters turn west they encounter what is referred to as "The Miserable Mile" section of the inland waterway. This stretch is quite narrow and the water is very thin which gives us very little wiggle room as we pass boats headed the other direction. Every weekend warrior who can rent, buy, borrow or steal a watercraft does so and brings them to this stretch of water to wreak havoc. Untrained drivers with absolutely no knowledge of Colregs or sense of responsibility go crazy cutting in front of each other while the megaboats merrily throw the biggest wake they can to show how impressive they are. Near collisions are just part of the experience. We unfortunately ended up doing this stretch of water in the middle of the afternoon on Sunday. Good planning Captain!

Island Tyme headed under the bridge

After some close calls and some frayed nerves we made it past "The Miserable Mile" and resumed merrily sailing along. As we neared our anchorage at "Ding" Darling Mike was frustrated to find that his Garmin BlueChart chip had a dead spot which went right through the approach and anchorage area. Nothing but a gray background color to sail by. This is not what you want when you are navigating shallow waters and picking out a suitable spot to drop your anchor. Fortunately Brenda loves her paper charts and as usual was keeping track of our progress on the chart. She used the chart and the compass to guide Wrinkles in and drop the anchor. A good lesson for beginner sailors out there.


The weather forecast didn't look good for the next several days. A larger thunderstorm system was catching up to us as it traveled northeast out over the Gulf. We would have to wait until the next morning to see if we could move again.


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