The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Tuesday we had a gorgeous day’s cruise (40 miles) down the Inter Coastal Waterway from the Field Club in Sarasota, through the City of Venice and on to the island getaway of Boca Grande (aka Gasparilla Island).  It was a warm day, and the Admiral kept herself busy trying to find the “house of the day”, which proved to be impossible given the number of beautiful homes we saw along the route.  Carrie's dolphin buddies joined us quite a few times along the way.
My First Mate thought this little cabana was nice...
...but, this one was having a bad hair day!
And, we saw some rather odd architectural elements here!
Manatees are protected with 5 mph zones.  Haven't actually seen a manatee yet though.
We arrived at the Boca Grande Marina, a small but well run place with a nice little restaurant and ship’s store in the mid afternoon. 
Boca Grande Marina from our slip

Sticker on the boat next to us...I want one!
The island is seven miles from end to end, and the marina was about two miles from the south end.  We rented a golf cart for our two day stay as there were plenty of shops, restaurants and sites to see. 
One of the light houses on Boca Grande

The Gulf side of the island

Quaint street in Boca Grande

Part of downtown
We spent an hour or two at a beach bar snacking on grilled “mojito” shrimp (me) and pot stickers (my allergic to shellfish first mate).  A couple of rum and cokes to wash it down seemed appropriate.  This was our first taste of “island life”, which we plan to enjoy for the next couple of months in the Keys.  Meanwhile, I discovered another future job opportunity for me once I truly retire:
We quickly cruised around the downtown area scoping out the shops on our way back to the boat.  A simple dinner of grilled grouper and rice on board and we were down for the count.
Next day, the Admiral announced our plans for shopping (our plans?) would have to wait.  It seems she too now had come down with a sore throat.  Our search for a clinic or pharmacy on the island proved fruitless, so we needed to get her into town.  Judy (from Moonstruck) came to the rescue.  Already planning on visiting us and delivering a package we had shipped to their home, Judy offered to drive Carrie back into civilization (about 10 miles) to a doctor and drugstore.  They were back in time for a late lunch at the marina café, but after Judy left, Carrie went below for “a quick nap” that pretty well shot the afternoon.  She must have needed it.  By dinnertime she had rallied and we ate at “PJ’s Sea Grill”.  Recommended by a local, it turned out to be an excellent find.
We were told checkout time at the marina was 11:00 AM, but they allowed us to stay longer as we were waiting for the tide to rise a bit.  Pelican Bay, an anchorage we were planning on heading to, has a bit of a shallow bar at the entrance.  We had an early breakfast in town followed by golf cart aided “power shopping” at some of the nice boutiques there.  The Admiral’s sore throat was gone!  Returning to the marina, we slipped our lines and had another very short cruise (4 miles) to Pelican Bay.  By 2:00 PM we were swinging at anchor in a beautiful bay with a half dozen other boats. 
Our 130' neighbor, Hilarium, in Boca Grande Marina
Once Around at anchor in Pelican Bay
View of Pelican Bay
Our first order of business was to launch the dinghy and head for Cabbage Key Marina and Restaurant a few miles south.  By 3:00 we were chowing down on a “cheeseburger in paradise”.  No kidding.  Legend has it that this little spot, accessible only by boat, is where Jimmy Buffet wrote one of his most famous songs.  True or not these folks are capitalizing on it quite well!  Although we enjoyed our burger on the patio, Carrie snapped a photo of the interior of the bar, where every square inch of wall space was covered by dollar bills inscribed by patrons. 
The only way to get to Cabbage Key...

Approaching Cabbage Key Restaurant and Marina

...and once inside

The house of the day on Useppa Island near Cabbage Key
The weather here is a very comfortable 73 degrees, with a soft breeze blowing that cools the boat down naturally.  Quiet...listen carefully…you can almost hear steel drums playing in the background…

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