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What Ever Happened to Gilligan's Island? (BLOG)

A Florida anchoring update from the Chilbergs: The sunset from Marco Island, Fla. isn't too shabby!

...or I am proud to be an American … BUT Can the Bureaucrats Move to Canada?

We generally prefer to anchor out rather than be at a yacht club or marina. The privacy and peacefulness of an anchorage is delightful for us. Just inside the Marco Island Inlet the charts show Coconut Island, with a perfectly protected anchorage behind it, in about 8’ of water.

For years Coconut was a lovely island, enjoyed by many with its ‘Gilligan’s Island’ vibe. It was guilty of neither misdemeanors nor felonies. However, Lester Shenanigan, the head of the Gulf Island Extinction Department for the Federal Government in conjunction with Felix Flabbergast of the Florida Agency of Beach Destruction and Blacktop Preservation noticed that there were coconut palm trees on the island. How two government agencies could figure out that coconut palms were on Coconut Island is amazing. Well, apparently coconut palms are not indigenous to the area. Therefore, the coconut palms were arrested and carted away to be planted in Lester’s and Felix’s backyards. As you know coconut palms are very dangerous trees. Thousands of Floridians are injured annually playing shuffle board beneath them, not to mention the damage done to golf carts on their way to the mall. So Lester and Felix ordered the palm trees removed. Of course, as is typical of these agencies, only ‘stage one’ was taken into account. They never researched the value of the trees to the island. A storm came to Marco Island, and Coconut Island – sans coconut trees – had no foliage to block the winds or root systems to hold the sand in place; so the island was washed away, leaving only a sandspit as a reminder of its presence. Some of the island is now on the bottom of the anchorage in the form of several sandbars. Ah, and one other benefit of those palms was that they also protected the anchorage from the wind, so all boats swung according to the tides. Here’s how we personally experienced the aftermath of Coconut Island’s demise:

Our dog Baci in the coconut sandspit.

Our dog Baci in the coconut sandspit.

I am not a big fan of getting up while it is still dark. Neither are Susan or Baci for that matter. However, I try never to go into a port in the dark; the danger and uncertainty takes the joy out of cruising for me quickly. Therefore, we were up at 5:30 AM and had secured the boat and retested the running lights. All was fine until we went to pull up the anchor. Remember … no palm trees to block the wind. No more than 20’ of chain had come up when I saw the anchor just below the surface – with about 100’ of chain wrapped around it! With a few choice words about the current and wind spinning us around like a top during the night, [and questioning Lester and Felix’s ancestry], we enjoyed untangling the mess. The best I can describe it, it is like straightening out your fishing line when it turns into a ’bird’s nest’. The only differences are the chain is 10 lbs. a foot, you are hanging upside down off the bow rail, you are drifting toward a sandbar [the ones Lester and Felix caused … more choice words for the boys], your nerves are like a bunch of shorting out electric wires and it is still dark! When the excitement was over, we slowly followed our previous GPS tracks out of Marco River into the Gulf to enjoy a beautiful sunrise. My hands ached, but my blood pressure eventually returned to normal. Next time, we will anchor bow & stern pointing toward the channel.

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