December 10

It was now or never. I rolled up the legs on my pants, kept on my fleece, put my raincoat on to stop the wind, stocking cap on and said a prayer. I cut behind the island towards the channel towards Boca Grande. I got caught in a few shallows but pushed through and made it to the free flowing shallows. Instantly I could tell I was out of my element. Passing boats that were more expensive than any house I have ever stayed in. I pulled up to the marina but the docks were higher than I could possibly climb out of my boat and reach. I continued on around till I saw a little ramp and pulled up. There were 3 guys working on a small boat in a boat yard. I asked them if I could leave my boat and go talk to the marina. They were cool and said no problem. When I walked out of the boat yard, I saw a well groomed croquet field. I don’t think I have ever seen one of those but knew I was in a wealthy area. Having to walk around a resort to get to the marina took me about 3/4 a mile but finally went in the office to set up a place to store my boat. The lady working told me the manager was off today and I would need to talk to him. She gave me his card. I asked if he would answer if I called and she said tomorrow. That didn’t help me at all. I figured that she had her finger on the silent alarm button just based off the way I looked. I walked out not knowing what to do. My only option was to go back to the boat yard and ask those guys if I could store it there. I figured that maybe if I offered them a few hundred dollars cash they might give in. I walked back up to them and told them I was paddling from Ohio to Key West. Before I could get anything out, one of them said to the other “I *explicit* told you”. I looked at them and they explained that they figured I had traveled far by the way I was geared out. They explained that people come in all the time and brag about paddling from 5 miles away like they just paddled in from Cuba. We got a good laugh and I asked if I could pay them to leave my boat and they refused the money. They had me put it on an old boat trailer. I was able to put it upside down and store my gear underneath it. As I waited for my dad to pick me up I continued to talk with the guys. They were the crew of a boat that was bought for $700K and had $2 million put into it. Their job was to maintain it and take people on trips. Something I could definitely get into. They gave me some advice on where to head in the Everglades and even said they were going to be down there after the new year when I planned on paddling through. I couldn’t have lucked out any better by being rejected at the marina. Even after 6 months of traveling it blows my mind how things work out. My dad showed up and we took off. He said it best explaining how nice of an area it was. “They charged me $6 just to get on the island." We headed to the hotel in Naples and I was able to get a shower. It felt great knowing that I was on a break and stress free for a little while. Now the next side journey had started; spending a few days in town before heading back to Ohio to get my truck to start bringing it south as part of my exit strategy for ending my trip.