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Ever the adventurous dreamer, I spent years ignoring one of the most beautiful sailing venues only a few miles from home. By car, it is about 4 hours from Indialantic, Florida and about two from Everglades City. By boat from Everglades City it took us four days. Consider that we meander at 5 - 7 knots during no wind days and that we are in no hurry. Stopping along the way after about 7 hours motor sailing each day is our preference.

What we discovered is Charlotte Harbor. Surround Punta Garda where the Peace River ends its southwesterly path is miles of shallow water. Shallow is being defined as 10 feet or less. It is only along the perimeter that depths drop to 4 feet or less. With a shallow draft boat you can sail for 20+ miles going from one corner to another. 

The Peace River on the northeast end provides decent anchoring in 5 feet of water. There is a Fishing Village that you can either tie up to or if you anchor out it is a short row (dinghy ride to the restaurant dock). Foo-foo shops that us ladies typically enjoy browsing in line a shaded walkway. At least 3 restaurants whet your appetite. For desert we found two ice cream shops. Grocery shopping is at least a mile away. Save for the blazing sun yesterday, it is a healthy walk for sailors in need of stretching their sea legs.

On the west south side of the harbor is a near perfect anchorage and state park. Pelican Bay is like a mini Georgetown, Exuma. It's probably about a mile long and 1/4-1/2 mile wide. With Visual Piloting and a good chart you should be able to negotiate your way around the bay. There is a beautiful sandbar that is overcrowded on a nice Sunday afternoon. During the week it stays isolated. Egrets, cranes and little sand birds abound when the day cruisers stay home.

We rowed from SPRAY to the state park, Cayo          . There is a $2 fee, bicycle rentals and a gift/camp store. Ann, the clerk has a friendly, carefree sense of humor. When I told her we needed change and that I would have to return when my handsome mate isn't with me I would buy a token or two. Her laughing reply, "Oh, honey, our choice of two style shirts is sure to need more decision time than he could tolerate." Truth is they have post cards, key rings, and several styles of shirts, candy, crackers, and toiletries. 

So, if you need/want a place to hang out for an overnight rest or even several days of pleasure, this could be one of the cruising world's best kept secrets (or maybe I just kept thinking I'd have to go to the Phillipines to appreciate earth's waterways.

bla, bla, bla,,,,,,,

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