Last week I was lucky enough to be invited on a “Girls Day Out” excusion…A day of sailing in the 10,000 Islands.
At first I had no idea what the 10,000 Islands were and better yet…how to get to them. I soon found out that the 10,000 Islands is a chain of islands off the coast of Marco Island in SW Florida. The islands are mostly unoccupied and only accessible via boat, but that’s not a problem…we’ve got a boat!
We met bright and early at 8:30 for our drive down to the dock to pick up our Tropic Bird Eco Tour. As my friends know, I’m not a huge nature gal. Yup, that’s right, camping to me is running, barefoot down the hallway of a hotel. I am, although, a huge fan of sailing. I love the feel of being out on the water and feeling the breeze. Very Zen… Anyway, armed with my sunscreen, hat, newly acquired water shoes and water bottle, I was ready for the challenge!
Along the drive we did encounter an odd sight…pink bras draped over the trees. Hmmm… at first I thought it was some ritual that I was unaware of, which did give me some pause, but then I realized it was Breast Awareness Month. What a great idea and it definitely got my attention! If I had a pink bra on that day, I would have draped my own!
We arrived at the dock and were greeted by Patrick Higgins, owner of Tropic Bird Eco Tours, licensed Captain and general “smart guy” on all things Eco. You can read about him and his travels here. We hopped on (ok, so maybe hopped is a little exaggerated..) we carefully maneuvered onto the boat as to not fall into the nature filled water. The boat was a Gemini 105MC 34 foot sloop-rigged cruising catamaran. Beautiful boat, fully equipped with anything you could want or ask for on a day out on the water.
I spotted the prime seat immediately..a hammock/settee on the stern. But before we settled in, Patrick wanted to give us a brief overview of the 10,000 islands. While going over this info, we were treated to muffins, coffee and juice. I’m never one to turn down a good snack.
Once we left dock, Patrick needed to appoint someone 1st mate and I was chosen. I’m pretty sure it was because I was jumping up and down, waving my arms…can you tell I like sailing?
We were off! It was a beautiful day and here are some pics so you can see.
Along the way we were treated to more snacks. Shrimp anyone? Yum!
After sailing for a while we anchored by a little island. We were going to take the dingy ashore and learn about the beach plant and intertidal zone areas (listen to me being all technical..lol). This was also a good time to just hop in the water and swim around. I decided not to take a swim…I mean, you never know when the 1st Mate is going to be needed. I know…I’m a chicken.
Prepared with my gear, I boarded the dingy to explore the island. Little did I know that my new fancy water shoes would let shells in while walking in the water…that’s NOT what it said on the box! Off with the shoes and barefoot I went off exploring.
I wandered around the sandy shores. It was so beautiful and peaceful (with the exception of the shoe issue) and here are a few pics.
Patrick did a great job explaining the plant and animal life on the island. Look at these oyster shells!
Back to the boat for some lunch. Patrick had made a wonderful chicken salad. That and a glass of white wine hit the spot.
I also had some time to snag the “best seat in the house”. It was my turn to sit in the hammock…pretty much could have stayed there all day!
We were off and sailing again and weather could not have been better. I was learning so much about sailing and the 10,000 Islands.
Patrick and Tropic Bird Eco Tours did a wonderful job and I was so lucky to have been invited. It was truly a memorable experience and I would highly recommend it. It’s educational, relaxing and a wonderful day out for family and friends.
Sunset was approaching and we had head back to the dock. What a great day out! I so enjoyed it.
Time to head back to reality. I figure I’ve only visited 1 of the 10,000 Islands. That’s 9,999 more to go… I better go get new water shoes!