Florida Sailing and Cruising School
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Explore Southwest Florida

Photo of Marine Life
Beyond Gasparilla to the north, the ICW winds through scenic Lemon Bay in route to Venice and Sarasota. Taking the outside track from Boca Grande Pass, you have access to the ICW again at Venice Inlet, Big Sarasota Pass and Longboat Pass. Both Venice and Sarasota offer convenient dockage facilities and some of the best restaurants in the area. Known for its wealthy island ambiance, and world-famous shopping, Sarasota is a favorite stopover for the cruising yachtsman with a landlubbing crew! Shoreside attractions include the Ringling Museum and Selby Botanical Gardens. Beyond Longboat Pass is Tampa Bay and the commercial center of central Florida, marking the northern terminus of our cruise along the "coast with the most" — Florida's west coast.

Now that you've had a "taste of the islands" of Southwest Florida, let's head south from Fort Myers and sample another area of beautiful cruising, including Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades. Heading south, the ICW ends for a time and the Sanibel Bridge forms the "gateway" to the Gulf and the coastal communities of Naples and Marco Island. Once through the Bridge, you'll commence the twenty six mile passage to Naples, the first stop on our cruise toward the state's southern tip. The prominent fishing pier makes for an easy landfall to Gordon Pass and the entrance to the world-renown Naples. Anchor amid the mansions lining the canals leading to town, or tie up at the City Docks. Either way, you can experience the sights and sounds of this Mecca for the "rich and famous". Not all the dining is "five star", however. There are dockside dining spots like "The Dock", and pubs for a variety of cruising pocketbooks.

Prop artJust seven miles south of Gordon Pass is Marco Island. The inside route from Naples southward on the ICW is a treat for nature lovers young and old. Alligators, raccoons, bald eagles, osprey and manatees are just a few of the "friendly natives" you may encounter along the way. Now a model of resort living, Marco Island offers a number of marina and leisure facilities. By contrast, taking the waterway further south to Goodland you will almost step back in time to a sleepy fishing village of "old" Florida. While only a few miles from one another, the towns of Marco Island and Goodland are worlds apart. Leaving civilization behind, you will travel through Coon Key Pass and into the world of the Ten Thousand Islands. The fifty-six mile stretch of coastline from Coon Key to Flamingo at the tip of Florida consists of countless keys and unnamed islands. Aids to navigation are few, while peace and solitude remain plentiful. Indian Key lies at the mouth of the Barron River which leads inland to the charming Florida "cracker" (as the early settlers were called ) town of Everglades City. A haven for birds and wildlife, Everglades National Park extends to the south and west from the Ranger station at Everglades City down to Flamingo, and encompasses nearly one and a half million acres of tropical savanna. The flora and fauna of the Everglades give life to what the Indians called "Pa-hay-okee", or river of grass. The nearly one hundred-mile-long Wilderness Waterway snakes through the mangroves from Everglades City south to Flamingo. While not navigable by most cruising vessels, small powerboats make the trip in about six hours; a canoe will take seven days.

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