We had originally secured a couple of weeks of dockage in Cape Coral which wouldn’t have required us to travel north and then backtrack when it’s time to point towards Key West but when it came time to nail things down with that particular marina (send us a note if you want to know which one) we were informed that our weekly rate would be $2 more per foot than their published monthly rate. Huh? Oh – “that’s because I’m doing you a favor by squeezing you in” said the Dockmaster. Uh, no. We don’t think so. And by the way, we were informed by a friend at that marina that the slip he said he’d have no trouble filling remained empty during the entire time we were supposed to have been there.
And so began our dialing-for-dockage campaign. This is when we began to experience what many people had warned us about – dockage is tight because of the damage caused by the fall storms and finding a place to stay for more than a couple of nights can be tough. As a result, we had to spread out our search zone. We needed to settle in one spot for about 14 days. Our original goal was to gradually move further south but there was just no space. We had considered going north to Venice because our friends Jeff and Barb (see the Hill Runner cocktail named after them in our libations section) have a place there and we thought it would be a great spot. No luck. We kept dialing and as it is often said, things worked out exactly the way they were supposed to. Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda was a 26-mile ride to the north and east of South Seas, so there will be precisely that amount of backtracking as we head south. Not terrible when you consider our conservative fuel burn. If you read the reviews there are some things that may give some cruisers pause – it’s ten miles to the nearest supermarket, water depths can be a bit skinny when the north winds have been blowing (which they had) and the docks are showing their age. We were unconcerned about how close it was to shopping, we were not looking for a first-class resort hotel experience having just spent a week at one and Jaret, the General Manager, said on the phone that while depths were down a bit there was enough water for us to safely navigate and not have OLOH sitting in the mud at its slip. Plus, Jaret couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating when we spoke and the dockage rate was terrific. We were in.
Burnt Store Marina is a gated community of about 600 acres with around 2,000 homes. There are gated developments within the development, single and multiple family dwellings and some high rise condo buildings. There are about 128 acres of water within Burnt Store including the two basins that make up what is the largest privately owned marina on the West Coast of Florida. Its location ten miles across Charlotte Harbor from Boca Grande Pass puts this very protected spot within easy striking distance of The Gulf. Charlotte Harbor is the second-largest estuary in Florida, encompassing 270 square miles. Oh, and why is Burnt Store called Burnt Store? Pretty much for the reason you might imagine. But rather than copy and paste a bunch of text here, we direct you to this link to learn the story and more.
This turned out to be the perfect place for us to stay. Jaret set us up at a terrific T-head dock. Yes, many of the docks are showing their age but they’re perfectly fine and that is being addressed (it’s an enormous undertaking). There is a decidedly charming old-Florida feel to the place and it has all of the requisite amenities. The people who work here are simply terrific – friendly and helpful and always with a smile. Same for the welcoming resident live-aboard boaters and transients we encountered – we’ve met some really nice people. The power is excellent and consistent as is the wifi. Water depths have not been an issue, even with the Super Moon tide we experienced. There’s a good little fitness center just a short walk away that we used and a nice pool which we did not have a chance to use. Yes, you need a car to do any shopping outside of their small, onsite store (mostly beer, soda, some wine and snacks) but we had rented a car one day (Enterprise will pick you up) and the visiting My Rx crew kindly took us for a West Marine and Publix run. And Cass Cay, the onsite restaurant has been great for eat-in and takeout – just the right menu for casual waterside dining and every day we have been here it has had a lot of activity. In fact, that’s one of the nice things about being at this marina for an extended stay. Most marinas can be fairly quiet during the week but because so many retirees and snowbirds live here, boats are on the move all the time which we love to see. Plus it’s been nice to ride around the marina waters with Jasper – he’s always thrilled to take a dinghy ride. If we find ourselves back in this area in need of dockage we will definitely return to Burnt Store Marina and are happy to recommend it. For now, it’s time to start motoring south again. See you out there!
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Quick website note: We’ve launched a new section written by one of our favorite people, Michele Clark, called Wench with a Wrench (her title not ours!) Her first article is about “Heads” and you’ll find it on our homepage under the link Wrench. We’re excited to have her aboard!