Last week-end after many months of not sailing, as GRENDEL was being updated, painted, new portholes, new dodger, and new cockpit cushions and on and on, we finally got her off the dock and sailed up past Fort Myers into Pine Island Sound. We love to go there as there are several places to stop and enjoy the food, the beaches, if you are a beach person and just “vegging” out after weeks of work, chores and on and on.
I must admit that we are not your regular lay around the pool or beach people. I do not know why, I just know we enjoy the atmosphere and the serenity that come with quiet anchorages. We did not have a long window to sail and travel at this time, so we decided to sail up to a place that is very charming and we enjoy very much. We left Marco and sailed straight to the entrance of Caloosahatchee River. We anchored in Glover Bight and dinked to Tarpon Cove Marina, and went to Marker 92 Restaurant for a very delicious lunch and beer. This is a really great place with a varied menu. Try the pizza slices. Wow! I did enjoy my Margarita pizza and my husband had shrimp Gumbo, which was also great. If you have not tried this, I highly recommend you do it.
Glover Bight, just north of Fort Myers Beach, is a well protected anchorage. It is a popular overnight anchorage at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River and near the southern entrance to Pine Island Sound. Besides access to Tarpon Cove Marina, you can easily dinghy up the waterway leading to Cape Harbor. Here you will find a great restaurant called RUM RUNNERS which has a dinghy dock. Also within walking distance is a complex of shops including restaurants, bars, gift shops, and a great place to buy homemade canolas. Some of these eating placesare Run Agrounds, The Joint, and Pignolis.
From Glover Bight to the west is the southern end of Pine Island Sound. Going north up the channel in Pine Island Sound, keep your eye on the water depth, as it is very shallow in places outside the channel. This route will lead you to Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, Cayo Costa and Gasparilla Island.
When you arrive at Useppa Island, you can anchor in the passage between Cabbage Key and Useppa outside the channel west of Useppa Island. Once you are anchored take your dinghy over to Cabbage Key and enjoy a “Cheeseburger in Paradise” or any thing else either for lunch or dinner. You can’t help but take note of the thousands of dollar bills stuck to the walls. Jimmy Buffet may or may not have written his song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” here, but it makes no matter. This is still a really quaint place to stop, have a beer and cheeseburger, and enjoy the atmosphere.
Cabbage Key Inn was built by the writer Mary Roberts Rinehart, who has often been called the “American Agatha Christie.” She is considered by some as the source of the phrase, “The Butler Did It.” Also, she created a costumed criminal called “the Bat”. Bob Kane, the creator of “Batman,” said her character was one of his inspirations for his “Batman.” She authored “The Circular Staircase” along with many short stories and novels.
If you are into walking trails, bird watching, fishing, quiet anchorage, history and so much more, Cabbage Key is a must stop along the way. It is one of our favorite places to visit.
If you do not have a boat or would not want to take you own boat, there are charter and ferry services. Go on line and look up Tropic Star Charters or just “Ferry boats to Cabbage Key” and several sources come up. Pick the one that’s good for you and book your daycruise to someplace special.
Useppa Island is a private Island open to members or guests of members. Check with the internet. It is another island that was inhabited by the Calusa Indians who called it “Toampe.” They left behind many artifacts and a burial mound with tools and other artifacts. Many years later a Spanish rancher, Jose’ Caldes moved and started a fishing settlement. His ship was named “Josefa”. Another source of the name comes from the modern name, a corruption of his ship’s name. Also, is it said that Jose’ Gaspar named the island after a princess. He fell in love with her and she rejected his advances. He beheaded her. He quickly regretted his harsh action and thus named the island after her which was also Josefa.
This quaint, quiet village sitting in the middle held a secret for many years. This tiny island played a major role in Unites States history. It was here on this most unassuming island the United States planned the “Cuban Bay of Pigs Invasion.”
In 1960 President Eisenhauer issued an order to the CIA to equip, train, and lead Cuban exiles in an invasion of Cuba to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. The invasion occurred just three months after John F. Kennedy became president. The Bay of Pigs ended three days after when the Cuban armed forces defeated their combatants. Prior to the war, the soldiers were brought to Collier Inn for physicals. There were 28 men who passed and became known as, “The Cadre.” After the battle, there were 20 civilians who remained. Today, veterans of this invasion return to Useppa to honor the memory of this event.
And finally, yes, the Collier mentioned is Barron Collier who bought Useppa Island and lived there and built a home and put in a nine- hole golf course.
Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island and AP United States Power Squadron.