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Cabbage Key
 by
Shelle Hudes

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The past few weeks had been one massive blur of activity my company was in the mist of implementing a new internet based computer system that provides vital information to our users.  In addition, it was my birthday and I NEEDED a break. 

It was decided to visit Ft Meyers, FL., and Cabbage Key!  Ft. Meyers is about a 2 hour drive from FT Lauderdale but an eon away in pace and attitude.

I had heard of Cabbage Key for many years and the location was perfect about 10 to 11 miles west of the main land in the Gulf of Mexico.   It is the former winter home of the author Mary Roberts Rhinehart and the alleged location and inspiration where Jimmy Buffet penned his classic “Cheeseburger in Paradise” (For more complete information see Gulfshore Life

The trip, to the island, aboard the “Tropic Star” was memorable in itself.  The Tropic Star is a bi-level vessel operating out of South Sea Plantation Resort on Captiva Island and takes about an hour to cover the 10-11 miles to Cabbage Key.  The knowledgeable crew provided an excellent narration on the area.   Arriving early for the scheduled departure to Cabbage Key we had an opportunity to "walk" the marina and admire the yachts that were docked here. 

 

 Being a sailor I especially admired and lusted for a 40' BERMUDA 40 called "Black Magic".  Seeing here sitting serenely at the dock she looked stunning.  Her teak was beautifully varnished, her paint shined like a mirror and her fittings were nicely polished.  "Black Magic" left the dock a short time before our departure and we had an opportunity to observe her under sail as we voyaged to "the key."

 

Cabbage Key is located in San Carlos Bay and Pine Island Sound – the home of the largest population of porpoise in the United States.  About 15 to 20 minutes into the crossing a pod of four started to play in the boats bow wake.  I am not certain who had the most fun the dolphins or the passengers.  Click here  visit Captiva Cruises web site for more information on their tours! 

Arriving at the key was exciting – why because of the professionalism of the crew.  Everyone knew their job and executed it flawlessly – no banging against the dock no unnecessary thrills. 

As we left the Tropic Star the tranquility of this piece of paradise just off of the west Florida coast was shattered by my cell phone .  Darn, I did not think that it would operate this far off the coast, but it did.  Fortunately, it was a valued amigo and the reception was poor to bad – so I did not have to stay on the phone very long. 

The main house from the time of Mary Roberts Rhinehart has been converted to a restaurant and is open to the public.  When we were there ~ it was was not crowded; it was mobbed.  Another tour boat had arrived shortly before the Tropic Star and packed the place.  We arranged to wait in the lounge until a window table was available in the famously decorated restaurant.   Legend has it that this is the place that inspired Jimmy Buffett to write his hit ballad "Cheeseburger in Paradise"  after our time their I agree with the local lore.  

  Visitors over the years have affixed one dollar (USD) bills to every solid surface approximately $30 to 40,000.00 worth.  It is a remarkable sight.  The drinks were good, the service was better and the seafood was excellent.  After dinner, a short walking tour of the island was in order.  We took a short walk and, due to a lack of signs, got lost and could not find the nature trail.   We decided to return to the dock area to await the Tropic Star for our return trip back to the main land.
Unfortunately, a few hundred insects were also at the dock, awaiting their afternoon feast of tourist.    They are cunning,
well fed and with he tenacity that any Air Force general would have admired I a fighter pilot!  I am certain that if the breeze had been from the water they would not have been any problem.   All of the passengers were extremely happy when the Tropic Star returned to the dock and we were able to board and get away from those insects.

The trip back to Captiva Island was as interesting as the trip to the "key".  Again the dolphins joined us for part of the trip and enjoyed racing the boat.  they normally won!  It was a beautiful day, cruise and experience only enhanced by the great water views and the opportunity to visit and enjoy a small piece of a living history. 

As the entrance to the marina appeared I started to anticipated our next adventure.

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