Tag Archives: Florida

The Trawler Trash Series; Featuring Meade Breeze

Breeze is part rebel, part knight in rusty armor, and every ounce his own man. He’s a rugged, reclusive Florida boat bum, living on the outer edges of society. He’s on the run from his past, but that doesn’t stop him from growing dope on one island and brewing rum on another.

Trouble finds him, no matter how far off the grid he goes. He has a knack for getting out of predicaments, mostly of his own making. The women come and go. Breeze is the new anti-hero of Florida Fiction.

Breezebooks

http://www.amazon.com/Trawler-Trash-Confessions-Boat-Bum-ebook/dp/B00MWUAROA/ref=pd_sim_351_7?ie=UTF8&refRID=0XTX5X37M0B4N6H8SP5K

http://www.amazon.com/Following-Breeze-Trawler-Trash-Book-ebook/dp/B00U57DYTW/ref=pd_sim_351_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1AGFNEQYFJVB77EE3QCT

http://www.amazon.com/Free-Breeze-Trawler-Trash-Book-ebook/dp/B013L2EX88/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0BVTXNW2S5MP0BP04VNV

Readers are loving this new series. The reviews have been excellent. Click the links above or see all of my books at my Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/Ed-Robinson/e/B00F42LGJ8/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

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Marinas Will Suck You In

  Once upon a time Kim and I were diehard, “on the hook” cruisers. We took pride in our ability to live and prosper without the need to ever tie up to land. We survived almost three years solely on the hook. Then one day late last summer we found out that Laishley Park Marina in Punta Gorda was beginning to allow liveaboards. Our generator was dead, cash reserves were getting low, so we decided to come on in and take a slip. 

  Oh how our lives changed. We had unlimited electricity! We had unlimited water! We had HOT showers that we could stand in forever. We had a place to dispose of our trash. We had ready access to Publix, West Marine, the liquor store, and a whole host of bars/restaurants. We quickly became spoiled. 

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  Laishley Park is a beautiful, clean marina that is very well run by friendly staff. Our stay here has been wonderful. I even took a part-time job with the marina to help pay the slip rent. ($11.00 per foot for annual stay, but we paid 11.75 per foot because we did not want to sign a one-year lease.) We made lots of new friends, as one tends to do in a marina. Overall a great place that I highly recommend. 

  Then things started to change for us. We started noticing all the noise. Lawn mowers, pressure washers, bridge traffic, sirens, garbage trucks going BEEP BEEP BEEP at 4:00 a.m. We started having visitors almost every night. Folks stop by constantly to share a drink or sit and chat. These are good people mind you, people we like. But the constant flow of traffic to our boat was starting to wear thin. People know what your business is worse than in a small town. I mean they know when you poop for crying out loud. 

  We never had these problems on the hook. We lost our tolerance for everyday noise and stimulus somewhere along the way. It started to drive us crazy. In my second book, Poop, Booze, and Bikinis, I wrote a chapter called Marinas versus Anchorages. I listed the pros and cons of living in a marina as compared to living at anchor. Well I’m here to tell you that I’m more in favoring of anchoring out than ever before. Sitting on the boat off the island of Cayo Costa didn’t have any drama, except maybe the weather. Now we have dock drama on a daily basis. 

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  Sharing a deserted beach with only the lovely Miss Kim is much preferrable to sharing a dock with forty of your closest friends, who were all strangers a few short months ago. Giving up the marina will mean a return to running jerry jugs to shore for water and gasoline. It will mean lugging groceries in the dinghy, as well as laundry and trash. Going back to living at anchor will also mean no more quick trips to the store for bread and milk, no more last second runs to pick up a missing ingredient for dinner. It means conserving water like your life depended on it. It means conserving electricity more than any green environmentalist. It means paying attention to your boat and it’s systems with strict regularity. While at the dock I’ve let these duties fall by the wayside for long stretches of time. Shame on me. 

  For the past month I’ve tried harder to give Leap of Faith the attention she deserves. While planning our departure, it has taken lots of work to get ready to go. Before we lived in a marina, we were always ready to go within a few minutes. I miss the peace and quiet of Pelican Bay. I miss happy hour on the sand spit. I won’t miss all the noise in Punta Gorda, nor the dock drama. As nice as this place is, I can’t wait to get out of here. Kim and I each have a few more days at our jobs here in the marina, and we’ll be pulling out on Wedneday of next week, weather permitting. 

  We may miss this place and the people, but it’s time to move on.

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Home base will again be Pelican Bay, with provisioning in Fort Myers Beach. We may also head north to Long Boat Key again. We might even do some exploring in the St. Pete/Clearwater area. Who knows? One of the best things about cruising is just doing whatever you want on any particular day. No schedules, no hassles. Look us up if you make it to southwest Florida in your boat. 

 

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Longboat Key, Florida

  One of our favorite stops in our travels has been Longboat Key. A nice anchorage, good restaurants a few hundred feet away via dinghy, spectacular beach and a party atmosphere on weekends make this must stop along the Gulf Coast Intercoastal Waterway. Longboat Pass is a treacherous and dangerous one. Access is best made from the inside. 

  Heading north approach the bottom of Jewfish Key and turn to port. You can see Moore’s Stonecrab Restaurant as soon as you clear Jewfish Key. It looks as if you want to anchor between Jewfish and Longboat, and you can, but the current is wicked strong there. If you instead choose a spot alongside Moores, the current diminishes. During winter this spot can get crowded, but holding was good for us while we were there. Next to Moore’s is the Mar Vista Restaurant. Both offer good Florida fare and are boater friendly. 

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  The water is gorgeous with plenty of dolphin and manatee willing to visit. Weekends get a little busy in this area as it’s a popular place to party. Just inside Longboat Pass is a large sandbar that locals congregate on.

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  The north end of the island offers a really nice white sand beach. There is no access to this part of the beach for the public, except by boat. It’s a short dinghy ride. You can set up beach camp on the inside and watch the revelers play out on the sandbar, or you can go around to the Gulf side and enjoy the spectacular view. 

  Across the pass is Anna Maria Island. During our stay we took a dinghy ride across the pass, walked up to the public beach, and caught the free trolley to Publix for some supplies. Pretty good deal for cruisers with no cars. Bradenton Beach anchorage on Anna Maria offers a place to get rid of trash and take on water via jerry jugs. The general atmosphere there is kind of seedy though. Several of the anchored boats are derelict. Some of the resident liveaboards might be derelicts as well. Longboat is much higher end and safer appearing in our opinion.

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Longboat Pass and Beer Can Island to the right. 

 

  Longboat Key is best visited out of the height of snowbird season. As I mentioned, the anchorage can get crowded during the winter, but if you can find a spot to drop anchor, it’s well worth it. It truly is a beautiful stop along the Intercoastal. Do NOT pass it by if you travel this way. 

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 Sunset from the Beach, Longboat Key, Florida

 

(By the way, Happy Hour at Moore’s is from 4 to 6 daily

Cruising Southwest Florida

  Even though we have no home other than our boat, we consider Punta Gorda our home base. That may change in the future as we stretch our sea legs, but for now the areas closest to Charlotte Harbor is where we consider “home”. Punta Gorda is widely recognized on various “Best Of” lists for quality of life, best places to retire, low crime, town beauty, etc. We didn’t quit our jobs and live on a boat just to live in a town though. The boating and anchoring opportunities nearby abound. 

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Perusing the chart above, you can see that we are a short distance from several awesome destinations. Boca Grande sits on the southern end of Gasparilla Island. Cayo Costa offers pristine white beaches and the best anchorage in all of Florida. Captiva and Sanibel are just to the south. The Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on the Intercoastal side of Sanibel Island also has a beautiful anchorage. Across San Carlos Bay lies St. James City on the southern tip of Pine Island. Just across the Caloosahatchee River is Ft. Myers Beach. A great stop for re-provisioning. 

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Ft. Myers Beach Mooring Field

 

Heading north from The Boca Grande Pass up the Intercoastal presents dozens of neat little hideaways to anchor in. Englewood Beach is home to more than a dozen full-time liveaboards, but there’s always room for a few more boats. Stump Pass anchorage is a bit tricky to get into with a draft of 4 feet or more, but once inside it’s well protected and the views are stunning. 

Further north once can explore Sarasota, Venice, Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island and on to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Don’t forget a side trip up the Manatee River towards Bradenton. Happy cruisers can spend months, even years hopping from anchorage to anchorage along the west coast of Florida from Tarpon Springs all the way to the Keys. Key West and even the Dry Tortugas are within range from the mouth of Charlotte Harbor. 

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Pelican Bay, formed by the islands of Cayo Costa and Punta Blanca.

 

The Florida Keys get all the credit for scenery, but I’m here to tell you that SW Florida rivals the Keys in every way. The beaches are far superior. The anchorages offer much better holding and protection, and the sunsets are every bit as awesome. 

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If you’re thinking of buying that cruising boat and sailing off to the Keys, I urge you to reconsider. Southwest Florida is far less crowded, much safer, and dare I say, even more beautiful than the Keys. 

 

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The beach at Cayo Costa. Where are all the tourists?!

 

As I stated in my first book Leap of Faith; Quit Your Job and Live on a Boat, when you get your boat and make your way to Florida, look us up. I’ve got a cold beer waiting for you. 

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http://www.amazon.com/Leap-Faith-Quit-Your-Live/dp/1478720921/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Gasparilla Island

According to Florida folklore, Gasparilla Island gets its name from the legendary pirate captain José Gaspar (“Gasparilla“, c. 1756–1821), who had his base on the island and purportedly hid his fabulous treasure there.

Situated above the Boca Grande Pass, just north of Cayo Costa, this island is famous for two things; The town of Boca Grande and the world’s best tarpon fishery. It’s the playground of presidents and Fortune 500 CEOs. You can visit too, as long as you’re willing to pay the 6 dollar toll to cross the old swing bridge from Placida. You’ll pay again to park at one of the public beaches, or you can visit The Southbeach Bar & Grill and skip the parking fee, (if you can find a parking spot).

Having the reputation for hosting society’s elite and for charging to visit, keeps the beaches uncrowded. The wide expanse of white sand leading down to the clear, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a sight to behold. 

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The Boca Grande Pass is known worldwide for it’s awesome tarpon fishing, and is also the entrance to beautiful Charlotte Harbor.

The old lighthouse on the southern point of Gasparilla has been converted into a museum, and is worth a visit.

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Although I could never afford the real estate there, it’s nice to visit once in a while. The anchoring possibilities are either inside Boca Grande Bayou, or just outside behind the golf course. I have taken the dinghy into the bayou from Cayo Costa when the winds are light. It’s a short walk into town from there. Note: there is a public dock available, but dockage is limited to 15 minutes during tarpon season (mid-april thru June). Anchoring inside the bayou means dropping a hook, then backing into the shore and using a stern hook or tying off directly to the mangroves. There is zero swing room. I wouldn’t try it in my boat, but I see boats less than 30 feet do it all the time.

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Cayo Costa

The Boca Grande pass is the gateway into Charlotte Harbor from the Gulf of Mexico. To it’s north is Gasparilla Island (home of Boca Grande), to it’s south is Cayo Costa.  Spanish for Coastal Key. this island is basically uninhabited. There are a few self-sustaining weekend homes and some park rangers.  It sits in it’s natural state, undeveloped and undisturbed.

  We called it our home for the past two years, living in it’s protected harbor of Pelican Bay.  It is only accessible by boat. Ferries run from Punta Gorda, and Pine Island to bring visitors. We tend to avoid the area where tourists congregate, instead preferring pristine beaches with no other humans in sight. 

  Nature abounds on and around the island. At any given moment one may spot manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, osprey, eagles, racoons, gopher tortoises, otter, and hundreds of fish species. 

 The natural features of Cayo Costa Island are stunning: Miles of beaches, acres of pine forests, oak palm hammocks, mangrove swamps and a spectacular display of bird life. The unique tropical vegetation looks much as it did 500 years ago when the first Europeans arrived here. Because it occurs in the area of transition between the temperate southeastern coastal plain and tropical south Florida, the vegetative composition of Cayo Costa is unique among barrier islands. The interior of the island contains a mixture of pine flatwoods, oak-palm hammocks and grassy areas interspersed with palms. Mangroves dominate the shoreline along Pine Island Sound.

  Nearby are the islands of Useppa, Cabbage Key, Sanibel and Captiva. We have traveled from Tampa Bay to the Keys on our trawler, and we have not found a more pleasant place to be. It’s a superior anchorage, well protected from most any wind. You have your choice of Gulf side or Pine Island Sound side for beaches. Hiking, snorkeling, fishing, and bird watching are all spectacular.  

  Most of the island is designated a state park. Hopefully development will never find this little piece of paradise. If you ever have the opportunity to spend some time on Cayo Costa, don’t turn it down. 

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I invite you to enjoy more images of Cayo Costa here:  https://www.google.com/search?q=cayo+costa+state+park&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=2tx3UtCME4W6yAGDrYCICw&sqi=2&ved=0CGQQsAQ&biw=1538&bih=839