Day 3

Day 3

The Sunrise spoke of tranquility and whispered solitude, until my ears hurt. I don’t know which one was flowing faster, the tide or my mind. The morning beach had its own personality, hopeful, radiant, and welcoming.
Shells, shells and more shells. The tide was going out rapidly, when I spotted my first Alphabet Cone shell behind the transom of the boat in seven inches of water. Then another and another. I continued walking the beach picking up Cone shells at a rapid pace. The shells were some of the best I have seen in my 16 years of collecting. (The best species of the cone shell I ever found was on Cayo Costa Island, back in 1996 on a hot July day when the tide was half full and going out.The water was gin clear where the shore meets the sea.)

The tide was turning, and coming in fast. It was time to pull the anchor and point my old boat south to the last outpost on the Gulf coast of Florida, Flamingo. The trip took a little over an hour. Halfway to Flamingo, I noticed the boat engine wasn’t peeing water out like it should. This in turn means the engine isn’t cooling properly. I promptly shut the engine down and set out looking for a small piece of wire to stick up the hole to dislodge any debris that may be in there. Of course, I couldn’t find the paperclip I had stowed away for situations like this. Then common sense kicked in and I proceeded to straiten a round metal key ring holder. This worked great. It fit up the water hole and in no time the engine was peeing water again.
I reached Flamingo by noon, topped off the fuel, and paid 3 dollars for a “warm” welcomed shower. I then started the journey back to the north up the southwest coast of Florida for more exploring. Whenever I get this far south in my boat, I always want to keep going south. The Florida Keys are only 26 miles away, Cuba less than 150miles, always tempting.
The seas were light and the ride up the coast was pleasant. The beaches of Cape Sable were a pleasure to look at and also painful. Painful because I wanted to explore the whole stretch of new beach. The threat of weather moving in later that night made me want to be closer to Chokoloskee. I was making good time with the following sea. I decided to take a scenic side trip up the Shark River and then come out the Harney River. The Shark River is AMAZING! The red mangrove trees that grow at the basin of the Shark River are some of the tallest mangroves in the world. The river snakes through mangroves and feels prehistoric. It reminds me a lot of the Amazon River. It holds a lot of hidden mystery behind those leaves. A true wilderness treasure.

Brian Holaway

I have been a Shelling Guide to Cayo Costa State Park since 1995. Many people know me as the Shelling Guide and Captain with Captiva Cruises over the past 20 years. In 2016 I began solely offering private small boat charters to the islands of Pine Island Sound including Cayo Costa State Park, Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, Pine Island and North Captiva. I am a certified Florida Master Naturalist, licensed USCG Captain, avocational photographer, seashell enthusiast and passionate about the history, people and culture of Southwest Florida, especially Cayo Costa. I volunteer as a member of Friends of Cayo Costa State Park and have great respect for the heritage of Cayo Costa. My goal is to provide guests with an overall experience and appreciation for the waters, islands, shells, plants, marine life, wildlife, history and people of this unique area of Southwest Florida.

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