Monday, July 30, 2012

TEB's Observations of Captain Brian's Observations of the Water

So, you've been waiting all year for that tropical beach getaway.  Nice sandy beaches full of sunsets & shells.  But when you arrive............

Everyone else had the same idea - at the same time. Sometimes the traffic on the beaches of Sanibel can be a tad overwhelming.  There are lots of shells but also lots of people looking for those shells. 

If I only had some way to get out to all the little islands less traveled that surround Sanibel somehow.  If I only had a boat.  If I only had a friend with a boat.  If I only had a friend with a boat who was also a shell guide.

Put 3 Rednecks in a boat, with nets, what 'ya got?
There are plenty of shell guides that will motor you to the outer islands but you better check them out first. Any ole boat captain can dump you off on a desolate beach while he reads the newspaper or catches a few zzzzz's.  To really enjoy your trip  to the fullest one needs to select a captain who is experienced on the water, knowledgeable of the local wildlife, & hopefully one with a love for what they do.

The first clue that a shell guide is passionate about what they do would be the dashboard of their truck.
Another sure fire indicator of a great shell guide would be a really cute first mate.

If there is any trouble your shell guide should be able to kick some a** with a machete in a hand-made sting ray hide sheath.
Sting ray hide dries as hard as  armor. It's an imposing weapon with the animal's eye holes left intact.

Here's the shell guide that fits the bill - meet Captain Brian Holaway of  Captain Brian's Observations on the Water.  Captain Brian has been navigating the waters of SWFL for 17 years.  He has a special place in his heart for the island of Cayo Costa.  Captain Brian even travels out to Cayo on his days off. 
  When you book a trip with Captain Brian he will customize your travels with him to include your interests.  Whether you are desiring to explore a deserted beach for shells,  shoot some wildlife photography, learn about the local ancient culture, or just enjoy being on the water and have lunch on North Captiva.   Captain Brian enjoys showing off his backyard. 
Captain Brian pointing out some landmarks to my niece on the trip we took with him & first mate Salty last week.
Looking at the low tide lagoon on Cayo Costa.  We decided to forgo paddle boarding and go shelling instead.
The remains of Tropical Storm Debby were still littered every where.
First Mate Salty found a nice spot to relax.
Captain Brian always manages to spot something unusual in the sand.  Heart Urchins aka sea potatoes which is exactly what they look like in mass quantities.  (I always bring a little Tupperware holder to keep delicate finds like these from getting crushed on the way home.)

We had an amazing trip with Captain Brian on Cayo Costa.  My niece said she felt like she was on her own private island.
Shellicious finds from Cayo Costa.

Angel Wings were everywhere.
Thanks Captain Brian & Salty. Till next time.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I was hoping we could keep my sleepy little slice of heaven on earth a secret for just a little longer.  After all you guys are the only ones I've told about how wonderful my home base of Englewood, Florida is. But now that Coastal Living has featured us in the July edition you can bet travel plans are being made far & wide to visit our spectacular little coastal community. It's a pretty good article that encompasses the surrounding areas of Placida & Boca Grande.  You know if you want the real skinny TEB is just an email away.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sanibel - Day #1

I'm spending some time on Sanibel with a niece visiting from out west. She had high hopes for a shelling bonanza but alas....Bowman's Beach was beautiful but bare of any of the bodacious shells one expects to find on Sanibel. We tried the east end of the island to no avail. Even the shell experts on the island have come up empty handed these last few days. 

With the exception of some traverse arks, sea pork, & a wayward sea hare nothing was happening on the middle of the island either. To make matters worse my niece was all stoked for a Mucky Duck sunset on Captiva & the place was packed with no parking spot to be found. So leaving slightly disappointed we skeedaddled over to Blind Pass to catch the sunset. Good things come to those who wait. My niece & I got soaking wet in our dinner clothes as we pounced on a newly formed shell pile. That is what Sanibel shelling is all about - going with the flow. Don't ever let the lack of shells or parking get you down. There's always a shell pile waiting around the corner.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Florida went on Daylight Savings time with the rest of the Eastern  Standard Time on March 11.  It's a Florida coastal dweller's rite of springtime to get those extra few hours of daylight after the early evening dark nights of winter (I know - Florida right - what winter?)

Now smack dab in the middle of summer, the  sunset is at 8:45pm these days.  Leaving Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, & the supper dishes in the sink is not that hard of a decision for me. My beach buddies Wade-ster & Gee-man feel the same way.

These fellas can spend hours inspecting the ocean floor for sea critters.

Both boys love to fish, cast net, & snorkel but tonight the long-handled nets are the apparatus du jour.

Gee-man always gathers a crowd with his 5-gallon bucket containing his finds of the evening. 

It's raining somewhere out there but not on us.

Cotton candy clouds.

Even the clouds behind us are lit up from the glow of the setting sun.

One last look in case he missed something.

The sunset is the Manasota Key version of children running through the neighborhood when the streetlights come on.....Time to head home.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life is a beach

The good news is................

An early morning thunderstorm blew through Englewood  on Wednesday leaving behind lots of shell booty.
Pen shells are a sure sign of a storm.  The stinky odor was a sure sign the pen shells were goners.
The newly formed sand bar/tidal pool was lined with shells from ding to dong.

The bad news............

The beach erosion has reached critical mass.  Manasota Key lost an estimated 90% of it's turtle nests. Several homes have lost their back areas when the dunes washed out by the high surf.
Beach Road is the only way to access the mainland from the north & south.  To close the road for repairs would be a major headache for home owners, summer tourists, & local beach goers. Love the rain - love the shells - erosion, not so much.

The good news is.........

The federal government approved disaster relief funding for Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties on Monday, which will help officials cope with at least $17 million in damages wreaked by Tropical Storm Debby.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

“Mosquitoes remind us that we are not as high up on the food chain as we think” - Tom Wilson

Every once in a while TEB has to travel inland to pay a visit to land-locked relatives. I traveled 200 miles north last weekend to attend a family picnic at my cousin's house located in Levy County.   Like most of the southeastern US, the Nature Coast of Florida has been experiencing drought-like conditions for several years now. Thanks to Tropical Storm Debby, Florida got a much needed drenching.  Everything is green & growing, the frogs are croaking in crescendo, and the mosquitoes are proliferating  with a vengeance.  My weekend in the swampy coastal hammock where my cousin lives was in the state of mosquito plague. 

 My cousin's cousin came with his mosquito truck and blew around the property...twice.  My cousin's husband donned his full body mosquito net suit that he uses for hunting and sprayed the perimeter of the house with a hand-held fogger.  I doused myself in my fancy botanical insect repellent made from Lemon Eucalyptus.  The little buggers actually yelled "sucker" at me before they covered ever available uncovered fleshy surface of my body.  I upgraded my defense to Cutter Deep Woods with deet.  I figured my malathion intake from breathing the mosquito fogger would make the deet issue a moot point.  Swarms of blood-sucking, disease-carrying insects aside the week-end was a wonderful family get together.  

One of my favorite stops in Blogville lives in the same neck of the woods.  Pure Florida  is a 10th generation native  Floridian who worked as a National Park Service Ranger for 8 years.  He now works as a high school science teacher.  His blog is an enjoyable look at the real Florida through the eyes of someone who loves the land and the creation it contains.  He has a fancy little camera that shoots some really cool video too.  His latest post contains a video of his take on the mosquito eruption.  Take time to peruse his archives to experience some really authentic Florida culture from Datil peppers that he grows and makes into hot sauce to zip lining, rattlesnakes, shrimping on the St. Johns River to snorkling videos of springs and Cedar Key.

I donned my mosquito gear to get a foto of the owls hanging out in the front yard.

He doesn't look too happy about the mosqitoes either.

The latest fashion in mosquito chic from Gulf Hammock, Florida.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Shift Happens

The first tropical storm of the 2012 storm season -Debby - blew in, hovered over Florida for 3 days, then blew out leaving many SWFL beaches rearranged. The southern end of Manasota Key was dredged 2 years ago to open up Stump Pass and deepen the channel to allow boats to travel through without getting beached on the shoals building up by the constantly shifting sands.  The dredging was a success but thanks to the storm the pass has become shallow again.  Further north on Manasota Key, Blind Pass Beach (not Sanibel-Captiva) has a swath of new sandbars cut into the beach. Good news to sharks tooth hunters.  It hardly seems a week ago we were all hunkered down with tornado warnings, rain squalls, & flooding.  But the sun is shining again and SWFL is back to normal. 

 Lest we all forget there was a storm, Here's a video I took last Monday.  I donned my slicker and hiked the mile out to the end of Stump Pass to see if my junonia had washed in yet.  It had not & I had to skeedaddle out of there before my path was completely under the storm surge roaring in with the high tide.

Blind Pass Beach on Manasota Key  has had a storm make-over.  The sandbars stretch along the entire beach now.

The shoreline is even better with the addition of the newly-formed sand bars for finding sharks teeth. (till the next storm)

The bottom of the sandbar trench is full of sharks teeth, shells, & fossils.

Full moon tomorrow & minus low tides every night this week .  Life is good.