The Island: Longboat Key, Fl 27.4125° N, 82.6590° W
Where: Western Florida south of St. Pete and just North of Sarasota
How: Longboat Pass is a gorgeous island in western florida offering resorts, beaches, shopping and plenty of other things to do.
Why: We decided to tuck up into Longboat Key Moorings Club to wait out some very windy weather. We fell IN LOVE with this marina and plan to keep our boat there in the future.
What: Not only was the marina gorgeous, it had a short, easy albeit skinny channel to get in but then plenty of room to maneuver into our slip. We had a pool within sight, Italian restaurant, a pub, Publix and a golf course. The marina has all the amenities including laundry, ships store, bike rentals and a free taxi to the beach where we were waited on all day on the beach by their fantastic beach service. Even though it was windy we made the best of it and limed, relaxed, provisioned and did laundry until the weather improved.
The Island: Jewfish Key, Fl 27.4417° N, 82.6793° W
Where: Jewfish Key is a small island just inland of Longboat Pass.
How: There are very few homes on Jewfish and they are private so you have to arrive by boat. The sandbar just off the western side offers plenty of options for dinghy’s, pontoons or any water vessel that doesn’t require much of a draft.
Why: While we hadn’t planned to make a stop here, fate had other ideas for us. When our destination anchorage didn’t work out, we anchored next to Jewfish just south of the sandbar at Longboat Pass…and didn’t leave for 2 days. It was THAT good.
What: The sunsets were epic and the sandbar plentiful. It only took us a few minutes to get to the sandbar even in our not so fast dinghy. Once there, you were met with gorgeous white sand, bright blue water and an abundance of sea life. We witnessed more than one person walking away with handfuls of sand dollars. While we don’t recommend needing that many, we did love seeing so many in the water as well as crabs and other large whole shells. There are many restaurants nearby on Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island as well as Longboat Pass which offers a perfect opportunity to watch boats going in and out of its VERY skinny opening.
The Island: Egmont Key, Fl 27.5891° N, 82.7628° W
Where: Egmont is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay in western Florida
How: Egmont is the last stop before the open ocean and a boat is the only option. While there is a national refuge and plenty to do on the island there is currently no ferry, restrooms or overnight options.
Why: Egmont Key has a deep history with the military including an old Navy hospital, a fort which is now in ruins and several lighthouse keeper homes. The island also has a gorgeous brick walk that was part of Fort Dade and its 300 residents that lived on Egmont during the Spanish-American war. The army and its families offered protection for Tampa Bay. There are reports of many turtles on the island but we didn’t run into any on the day we were there.
What: We had a nice sail through the bay and anchored on the south side of the beach. It was a nice hold but a long walk to the lighthouse and ruins. I highly recommend taking water and a snack if you plan to walk the whole island. Not a hiker? The white sandy beaches brought plenty of shelling opportunities and all sorts of treasure hunting finds. It felt like a step back in time. I’m so glad we stumbled on this super cool island!
Where: An island just N of STJ. www.lovangovi.com
How: By boat, dinghy or ferry The Lovango Beach Club ferry runs from St. Thomas and St. John to Lovango. The day we arrived we were in a dinghy and it was a bit choppy. We almost didn’t attempt it but changed our minds because it looked too gorgeous to miss.
Why: Last stop on the dinghy tour! This Beach Club is new and we really wanted to check it out.
What: The history of Lovango is rich in culture and legends. Today, there are full time residents PLUS a new fancy resort called Lovango Beach Club. I will admit I’m not a resort type girl but ALL the staff were friendly and welcoming even though our salty sailor attire didn’t match the gorgeous tropical resort decor. We will definitely be back!
The Island: Small uninhabited island great for snorkeling
Where: Just north of St. John, USVI and Caneel’s beaches
How: This island can only be accessed by boat, dinghy, yacht or sailboat. There are some mooring balls just off shore for snorkeling.
Why: We love to snorkel! I’m not much of a scuba diver but I LOVE to snorkel. Being able to put on a mask and seeing what’s below the surface of the ocean is exhilarating and beautiful.
What: On this stop we saw fish and great coral and the non-snorkelers got SOAKED by a rainstorm!
The Island: St. John, USVI
Where: St. John is one of three main US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean
How: To get there, head to your local airport and take a plane to Cyril King airport (STT) then take one of two ferries (Crown Bay Ferry or Red Hook Ferry)
Why: We LOVE it! STJ was our honeymoon destination and has drawn us back many, many times. Philip first went in the 90’s with a marine biology class and first took me in 2008. Even our daughter who is now 7 has been 6 times. The community, the beaches and the crystal blue water brings us back over and over. If you’ve been then you know the mystical, magical enchanting lure this island has.
What: This trip we went with friends to relax, explore and eat good food! While there, we relaxed on our favorite beaches, limed with our island friends, ate at all our favorite local watering holes and beach hopped on a dinghy.
The Island: St. Thomas, USVI
Where: St. Thomas is one of three main US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean
How: To get there, head to your local airport and take a plane to Cyril King airport (STT)
Why: We love the Virgin Islands but typically for us St. Thomas is just a necessary stop to get to St. John, USVI!
What: There is something about the warm breeze that permeates the plane when they open the doors to St. Thomas. After a quick taxi ride to Crown Bay Marina we settled in to Tickles for lunch and wait for the ferry to St. John. From the airport, you can also head to Red Hook and take a ferry from there. Private boat options are also available.
After 15 years, we said goodbye to our sweet girl, Drift Away. She was a 1995 Bayliner 2655, we put over 500 hours on her engine….and replaced it. She took us on 3 ICW trips, served as an OSHA Safety Boat for post Hurricane Katrina bridge inspections in New Orleans, was our “getaway car” after our wedding , covered over 1500 miles on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (with absolutely zero mechanical problems), ran out of gas exactly once (traded a case of beer for a tow), and saw two young best friends become lovers, spouses, and parents.
We were sad to see her go but in a nice unexpected turn of events, some friends of ours bought her. She now lives only 3 slips away at our marina!
Our new boat is a Regal Commodore 3560 from Missouri and we are just THRILLED with her. Her twin Volva Penta 8.1 engines purred as we hit 45mph on the lake last weekend. We cant wait for all the new adventures she will take us on!
We awoke at beautiful PCI with the plan to go to Alligator Reef before our 60+ mile journey to Homestead Bayfront Park in lower Miami. Alligator Reef is a lighthouse 4 miles offshore known for gorgeous water and good snorkeling. We unfortunately had super choppy seas and it was not comfortable enough to stop and explore. We are definitely adding it to our list for another time!
After an uneventful trip to Homestead Bayfront we were met with really nice ramps. After some difficulty loading the boat, we found a corner at the park to unload as much as possible and get the boat ready for the two day journey home. After discovering what would be the first of many flat trailer tires, we got it changed and headed thru Homestead towards I95 and towards home. This first stretch was so gorgeous with palm tree farms at every corner.
We decided to spend the night in Palm Coast and enjoyed the luxury of a hotel room and comfy beds. After being on the boat for almost two weeks, our 600sqft hotel room seemed like a luxurious mansion. With a good nights rest and hot showers, we awoke early to another flat tire and that we had to change then headed up the coast. All was mostly well for the very long journey from Florida to Virginia till we were in familiar territory and about 20 minutes from home. All of a sudden as we exited to interstate we saw lots of smoke on the passenger side. We pulled over and discovered we had lost a bearing. After pulling the whole wheel off we decided it made the most sense to drive the last few miles home on 9 of our 10 total tires. What an adventure we had!
We woke up to yet another small craft advisory but who could complain when you are staying at PCI? As I brushed my teeth that morning I had a little friend watching me from the water thru my bathroom porthole. I went up top to investigate but he seemed to disappear. I went back to the head and there he was peering up at me again with his sweet little manatee eyes. I grabbed my daughter so she could get a peek too.
We spent the day lounging at the pool, enjoying the beach and resting in a cabana on repeat throughout the whole day. At one point, the pool had to be shut down (poop!) so we headed back to our cabana for more rest and relaxation. We met several others staying at the resort/marina/hotel and even chatted with a woman who used to work for a company who did boat refits. We indulged in the nachos once again for lunch at PCI and then again at Ciao Hound for dinner. Did I mention there is also a Starbucks? If we don’t come home you know where to find me.
After dinner, there was a one man band at the tiki bar conveniently located near our boat and our firepit. We watched the sun dance on the water while being serenaded by the music.