I would head
south from Tampa and pull into Charlotte Harbor
. It is a nice sailing area. From there maybe spend a night or two anchored off of Fishermans Village on the east side of Charlotte Harbor
. Touristy, but fun. You can also pull into the marina there. It is a nice marina, but solid non-floating docks make your approach critical. Draft
can be an issue too. We pull about 6 and had to watch tides.
From there, head around to Cabbage Key/Useppa. You can anchor off of Useppa and dinghy
around there. These islands are on the SW corner of Charlotte Harbor. GO have a 12 cheeseburger at Cabbage Key (and a few beers), and bring a dollar to hang on the wall. It is a fun place. Actaully pretty good food
too - especially if you have been sailing all day!! We go there a lot. You can also dinghy
into Caya Costa SP which is just north of there. Nice beaches and nature trails.
Head south from there to provision in Fort Myers
Beach. If you grab a ball at the beach (Mantanzas Pass), you can hop in the dink and head to Snook Bight marina and walk to Publix which is litterally on the same parking lot. THe beach has really been trying to clean up its act over teh last few years and has a LOT of eat out and baot accesible bars. SO are expensive... some not. If you want specifics on what restaurants are good, and have a price
range, let me know.
From there you could either head south to Factory Bay (Marco) or the keys or Tortugas. Tortugas are about 120ish miles SW from FMB. It is one of our favorite places. We jsut got back from there a few weeks ago. I will caution you that it is all offshore
with little or no VHF
for a good piece of it should you head out of FMB. Another option is to round the keys to Marathon and stay there... and though we aer heading back there in a few weeks on our way to the Bahamas
, I am not a huge Key West
fan and kinda see Boot Key as more of an easy stop over. Others will dissagree, but I have kids
and Key West
is not the most kid friendly place in general. My opinions. Fun to visit as a couple more than with kids - especailly cruising kids.
ANyways, any of that is at least a week or more of adventuring. If you want details, let me know. I am in/out of internet
ability and will try and respond as I can.
PS Here's a shot of me and my boys on top of the wall in the Tortugas.