Cayo Costa Pine Island Sound

Radeen and Hayden on the Beach…..

We love it here at Cayo Costa where there is plenty of anchorage area, a Florida State Park, zero development, no services but water, just a beautiful beach with friendly volunteers. Who could ask for more? Not us. Life is great on a cruising sailboat.

Sunset over Cayo Costa as seen from our boat at anchor

It is wonderful to be back living on anchor and living on our sailboat. Life slows down. Life gets so easy (when all systems are working) and life is very peaceful. Yes, we have digital TV, but it has not been on for many days. Yes, we have satellite radio and, of course, listen to the Jimmy Buffett channel. Yes, we have connectivity via Verizon cells and our app PDAnet+  for our WiFi hotspot and, yes, we share via Facebook and this blog. Even with all this connectivity, somehow life on a sailboat is just simple and basic. Days run together, and you are lucky if you even know what month it is, let alone what day of the week it is. You just live, relax, read, laugh, enjoy, explore and discover.

Cayo Costa in Pine Island Sound is one of those places NOT to MISS on the west coast of Florida.  It is located just south of Sarasota and north of Fort Myers Beach. It is a great location with a deep ocean inlet to the north, providing an easy exit if you want to go to sea. For now, we may just stay here for days, after all…..why not?

My favorite way to share this adventure is though my photos. Please enjoy these.

Radeen walking the 1.2 mile trail to the beach
Sunlight illuminates a beautiful palm
Natural Florida with interesting sun light
Wild flower blossoms abound

Welcome to the REAL FLORIDA, Cayo Costa

Prickly Pear Cactus on the sand dunes

One of the many types of seagulls on the beach

7 miles of beach, and only sand, shells and birds

Vegetation running across the dunes

The vast, uncrowded beach

Spanish Moss in the trees along the trails 
Our home, Island Spirit, at anchor

The original DOLLAR BAR, Cabbage Key, FL

Sunset at anchor, calm harbor

Typical “Selfie” on the breezy beach at Cayo Costa

Look at the crowds! This is crazy!

The best shell found today, there are so many.

This is where Cayo Costa is located on the west coast of Florida

While our family and friends suffer through yet another Northeast Snow Storm, we count our blessings every day and reflect on this dream we are living and sharing. We wrote down and outlined this dream in 1992, hoping we could make it happen. Now, in 2014, we are three years into living it. Yes, Claire, B.E., we really DO know how LUCKY we are…..thank you for the lesson. 🙂

Shake Down Sail One

Under sail, at sea, Island Spirit….

She still LOVES to sail; this Island Spirit Yacht is so happy at sea! She dances on the waves and plays with dolphins and pelicans. She handles the inlets with ease, bashing into the seas, and once the anchor is dropped she is a comfortable floating condo with white leather sofas and cozy sleeping quarters. What a joy to sail and to explore the coast aboard this boat. I am never disappointed in how well she sails. Today, we only hoisted a 135% headsail as we were too lazy to break out the main for this short 25 mile offshore leg from Venice Florida to Boca Grande inlet at Charlotte Harbor. Even with only a jib, Island Spirit sailed at 5.5 to 6 knots of boat speed. That is not bad for a 20,000 lb boat. So with the winds on the port beam at 15-19 knots and only a jib, we were able to test out all systems and get adjusted to life on a moving yacht. We are happy to report that all systems are working very well and the work the Island Packet Factory did to the drive shaft, stern tube, cutlass bearing and exhaust system makes this boat seem like a new yacht. It is much smoother running and quieter under power. What a joy to observe this difference.

Salt Spray all over the decks and canvas…errrrrr
Of course while sailing, all was great, no salt spray over the deck, no issues. Then when we dropped sails and had to turn dead into the wind to run the Boca Grande Inlet, we started to take waves over the bow and spray over the roof. GREAT, salt water and salt spray all over all the glass windows, the decks and all the canvas which was just washed and polished all new. Now, on our first day at sea, we trashed the boat, but that is exactly how it goes. 
Salt spray is a real battle out here. For example: it gets onto the deck, then the breeze dries it out and the salt is left. Then you walk on the deck, picking up the salt on your feet and then you walk below taking the salt below decks! That is a big no no. Worse yet, you sit down on the deck and get salt on your shorts or swimming suit. Next you go below deck and sit on the sofa. Now you deposit salt on the sofa or, even worse, your bed. OH WHAT A MESS. Salted sofas and beds then absorb moisture and become damp and never dry out. So, when your boat is covered with salt spray after a sail, you need to wash it off… hand…..with a bucket and a sponge! That is what we do. We really try to wash the salt off and keep it off the NICE Varnished TEAK. Welcome to life on a sailboat and we LOVE IT.
Here are some photos of the day.
Celebrating at anchor with champagne 

Stickney Point lift bridge opens for us as morning traffic is stopped

A heron works the low tide looking for breakfast

One of my favorite homes on Little Sarasota Bay

A very cool SWING Bridge, Blackburn Bridge
The bridge tender must go to the center to operate it, then is trapped there until it closes

Pelicans and AM Kayakers

Siesta Kay Bridge

Heading to sea out the Venice Florida Inlet

Beautiful headsail set in 15 knots of beam winds heading SOUTH

The flag on the stern shows the 15+ knots of wind as it cracks in the breeze

Look at the sea, so beautiful

The afternoon sun lights up the waves on the Gulf of Mexico

One Happy Sailing Girl, Radeen

The wind instrument shows the wind angle and the true wind speed

Bashing into the inlet for one hour, taking salt spray everywhere

A digital navigation helm with: Autopilot, VHF mic, RL70 Color Chartplotter
and a 10″ Samsung Tab 2 with Navionics for a back up GPS and nav system
Everything is checking out and we are happy to be under way. Not sure where yet, we are still working that out. Will we re-challenge the Okechobee or will we sail to the Florida Keys and out to sea? Today we are thinking of staying here on the Florida West Coast for a little while and sailing this Gulf before heading to Miami. That is the beauty of NO SCHEDULE….let’s see where the winds take us….Happy New Year, everyone!