FL - Cape Romano - 2012/02/22 to 2012/02/24 - 44 miles



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Cape Romano is the first large wilderness area south of Marco Island at the top of the Ten Thousand Islands. There are a number of beaches available for camping north of the no trespasing area of Faxahatchee Wildlife Management Area.






Ramp facility at Marco Island



Cape Romano is located just south of Marco Island, the last community of size before the start of the wilderness on the Ten Thousand Islands and the Everglades. I located the ramp on the southern tip of Marco Island. The fee there is $8.00. I was there early in the morning before it opened and I could not tell if that was a one time fee or a daily fee and if overnight parking was allowed. So I headed off the island to locate a beach launch site on the east end of Goodland bridge on SR92.



There on the side of the road was a graded access down to a solid but muddy beach. A couple of cars were parked there already and a kayak fisherman was packing up after a mornings unsuccessful trip. After packing in my gear and setting out from the beach another pair of kayakers appeared. I hung around a little to see if they would come down off the bank, but they were milling around the car so I took off for the channel, avoiding the shallow water direct route. I paddled down the channel, passing osprey festooned buoys and porpoise chasing mullet. Several caravans of newbie PWC riders under close scrutiny of a guide surged past. About two miles from the launch, I noticed someone chasing me down from behind. It was one of the two people from the ramp. Ray Fossil introduced himself we talked for awhile and then he headed back to his wife who I could not even see. It made me wish that I had waited a little bit longer so he would not have had to come out of his way so far.



I landed on Cape Romano Island at an oyster shell beach for a brief stretch. There was not enough room for a camp here and the mosquitos made the stop hurried. Back in the kayak again, I paddled through the channel into the bay between Romano and Big Morgan Island. There are some interesting little beaches and mangrove islets on the west side of the archipelago. A group of fishermen were having good luck chumming for Spanish mackerel along the shore.



Once I reached the Gulf I turned south and soon came upon the abandoned concrete houses at the actual cape. The concrete is pock marked with shells that have been blown into the sides of the houses with hurricane force winds. I stopped at the cape and walked the beach. Several boats were also pulled up on the beach. The water was deep close to the shore with a strong current headed out to the Gulf.



About a quarter mile south of the cape was a small shell island with only a few small bushes established on the low lying island. There were several flocks of birds - terns, sanderlings and pipers. Two groups of beach walkers were on the northern side of the island. I paddled to the south side and came ashore. I decided to stay the night here even though there was not much ground showing above the high tide mark. The wind was nearly calm and there didn't look like there would be much wind overnight to create waves that would splash into the site.



As the sun went down a golden light reflected off the shells on the steep banks of the lagoon inside the little island. The birds that had been there in the late afternoon all left for points unknown.



The sun went down behind a cloud making a beautiful orange glow in the sky and a pink reflection off the high cirrus clouds directly overhead. When night fully descended the planets Jupiter and Venus were close to the new moon. A heavy star street came out as I lay next to my kayak on the six foot wide shell mound. Around 2 A.M. the tide reached maximum and the water line was only three feet horizontally from my ground cloth. There had been no mosquitos and no no-see-ums on this sand and mangrove free island and I had been able to sleep out the entire night - a first for me in south Florida.



The next morning I headed east on a six mile crossing to the islands just north of the Faxahatchee Wildlife Management Area. There are a number of beaches there just outside the WMA that you can camp on. All the beaches within the WMA are marked with no trespassing signs.



I picked one of the channels back into Faxahatchee Bay and into the Faxahatchee river itself. I took the left hand (west) mangrove tunnel when the river split into three branches. I paddled under the arching red mangroves until a came to a trunk lying across the river with just enough room to get under. I went under but only paddled on for about 10 minutes as the tide was still flooding and I didn't want to chance having to portage. I came back to the blocking tree and just barely made it under, hanging up on a knot touching the back of my PFD briefly before working loose.



Reaching the bay once again I turned north and sought the channel from the Gulf into the Port of Islands community. I followed the markers of the channel and then broke off to find a campsite.



I found this nice little site near White Horse Key that was a three tent sized beach with 10 meters of sand in front of the mangroves and a clear opening to the southerly breeze. Once again the high tide came close to the tent in the early morning but didn't really threaten the camp.

The next morning I paddled back to the Goodland bridge and was happy to find my car still there and unmolested. I drove over to Collier Seminole State park and found out that I could have started my trip from there and parked my car in safety for $10.00 and a float plan. It is about 6 miles down the Blackwater river to Blackwater Bay which is about 2 miles east of Goodland.


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