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Sunset Cruise to San Carlos Island

A few weeks ago the captain of the Old Glory catamaran treated his guests to an unexpected tour of the western end of San Carlos Island. We had just returned from an absolutely stunning sunset cruise over to Sanibel Island when our captain decided to take an unusual route back to the dock at Salty Sam's Marina.

View the video I shot and posted to YouTube here!

Normally, we stick to the well-trodden Matanzas Pass channel which brings boaters around the northern-most tip of Estero Island. But on this particular occasion, noticing that it was high tide, Skipper Bud shared some of his "local knowledge" with those of us aboard and took us into Estero Pass. This shallow channel is bordered by spoil areas (where dredging material is deposited) and is only 4-5 feet deep.

This satellite image from Google Maps shows the shoaling areas and the deeper, just-navigable water running near the docks of the waterfront homes: 

San Carlos Island Sunset Cruisecredit: Google Maps

This image, from the official NOAA Office of Coast Survey chart 11427, shows the same thing, in the way a true sailor would see it (with our course depicted with a red line I drew):

chart 11427 sunset cruise to San Carlos IslandCredit: NOAA/Office of Coast Survey

Most traditional "keelboats" (sailboats with a fixed keel) wouldn't be able to make it through here without running aground, even at high tide. But our boat, the Old Glory, is a shoal-draft coastal cruiser, drawing about 3.25 feet, and Skipper Bud knew we'd be alright.

Just as the sun was setting astern, we made our way in close to the beautiful homes lining the waterfront...and there wasn't a soul in sight ashore. Kind of a pity to own such marvelous real estate and not enjoy the view of the sun sinking into the water in the backyard!

After we marveled at the homes and their vacant docks, we made our way to the tip of the island where the Coast Guard station is, swung around into Matanzas Channel, and headed underneath the Matanzas Pass/San Carlos Blvd. fixed-span bridge.

Our return to the marina was also quite spectacular, with the moon rising above the shrimping fleet and harbor: 

Moonlight Sunset Cruise

After more than 60 cruises with Capt. Bud on the Old Glory, I had never had the pleasure of taking this little detour, and it reminded me that no matter how many times I go out, there's always something new to discover. 

Join us sometime! 

-- Capt. Kris, SAIL SWFL Cruises