Day 3-Feb. 3, 2018
We awoke the next day to a fairly overcast morning and a boat that had sadly settled to the ground. Forced to await a few hours for a few inches that would be brought by higher tide, Matt and I passed the time planning our next trip to the Cape Romano Dome Houses. Abandoned years ago, the dome houses off Cape Romano were built as a vacation home for a inventive oil producer, named Bob Lee, who wanted to make a home that was completely self-sustaining and hurricane proof. For the most part, the concrete structures succeeded in this goal. The only issue the owner didn't quite anticipate, erosion, was what would lead to its eventual destruction. Being built on stilts, Bob and his family figured that occasional tidal changes and storms might cause his spic of land to disappear in the waters temporarily, but he didn't quite anticipate the land to disappear entirely. Though it was a slow process, after two decades of fighting mother nature, the family decided to sell the land and the home. Eventually, an enterprising Naples resident bought the property, hoping to move the homes further inland, but permitting issues and red tape mired the project, and over the course of years, the domes were finally surrounded by the seas. While hurricane Irma has claimed two of the domes, the cast concrete and rounded forms have proved to be remarkably resilient and have since grown into a sort of unintended artificial reef. Huge congregations of fish and rays take shelter around the piling while shorebirds peer down from above. The spot is popular with fishermen and those who simply love the eerie nature of abandoned buildings.
When we were finally able to leave our anchorage, the sun had risen and the wind had finally shown itself. As soon as we were far enough out, Matt eagerly unfurled the sails. We were finally officially sailing. While the seas were relatively calm, we did have some small close set swells of 1-2 feet. An easy day by most standards, but for someone like me, who still hasn't quite got her sea legs, it sadly led to some slight nausea. Thankfully, everything stayed in and it wasn't something a good amount of mint gum and some long stares at the horizon couldn't fix. That being said, seasickness, even slight sickness definitely tires you out, and since we had already arrived a bit later than intended to Cape Romano, Matt and I decided to get up early to explore the houses the next day and settled for exploring the Cape Romano beach instead.
Cape Romano is a long island south of Marco Island. Since we were on the south end of Cape Romano and further away from the bustle of Marco Island, the beach was lined with long swaths of Buttonwood trees and thick layers of seashells. Along the eastern end of the beach, visible only by those that come ashore, the island was lined with miles and miles of thick mangroves which surrounded a large salt marsh that lied just beyond the sandy dunes. As we reached the end of the beach, our pockets heavy with shells, Matt and I stumbled on another island of hundreds of White Pelicans settling in for the evening. Their long yawns inspired us, and we soon made our way back to settle in as well. This marked our last night near civilization. The lights of Marco Island were visible a few miles to the north, but the velvety darkness of the 10,000 Islands shown stark just to the south, giving us a hint of the nightly beauty that was soon to come.