The Weekenders

Sail in the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge

Jul 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Red, white, and you: sailing Florida's ocean blue

You live in Florida, where water is the dominant geographic feature. So how are you going to spend an active family weekend? Riding the wet stuff, of course. Hone your sailing skills or simply enjoy the ride when you join Jim Edwards, owner of the Bow to Stern Sailing School, and his family—wife Stephanie and daughters Nicole, 5, and Alexis, 4—on their 52-foot ketch for a weekend cruise on Florida's southwest coast.

On Friday evening, you'll sleep on the boat, moored on Marco Island, 110 miles west of Miami. Your berth is up front: a cozy den with a double bed and bunks and your own shower and head (boat talk for toilet). Next morning, you'll cruise into open waters on a due-south course along the coast and through Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Kick back on deck and enjoy your blue backyard, the Gulf of Mexico. You'll sail past dolphins, manatees, and stingrays; above water, look for ospreys, egrets, herons, and even bald eagles. The youngest passengers can play spirited games of hide-and-seek or take turns on the rope swing dangling from the boom; older kids can jump in the water when the boat is anchored or take the wheel under Jim's supervision when the sails go up.
A five-hour push brings you to your Saturday-night anchorage on a tiny island, Indian Key State Historic Site. Relax on the beach, or bring a mask and fins and go snorkeling. After dinner (Jim will hire a cook for the weekend, or you can bring and cook your own provisions), let the gentle lapping of waves rock you into dreamland. On Sunday morning, you'll sail back to Marco Island.

WHO CAN GO: Swaddle 'em in a PFD (life vest) and kids of any age can sail.
COST: From $525 per couple per day; fees for kids negotiable.
CONTACT: Bow to Stern Sailing School, 941-571-5360;

Filed To: Sailing

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