We decided to be a bit more adventurous on this vacation, and go out boating ourselves, rather than with a guide. We picked up the boat at 8am, did a quick check of the water/tide charts and headed for some new areas to explore! We planned to stay on the bayside, just fishing the canals and maybe visit a sandbar or two. We ended up going the opposite direction, toward Passage Key (which is between AMI's Bean Point and Egmont Key). We could see that it was full of fishermen and since we were already at the mouth, where the gulf and bay meet...why not just go boating all the way around the island?! We decided to boat parallel to the beach, and almost immediately, we saw a huge shadow near us, not far under the water. It was approximately 6 feet across and moving along with us! It was a ginormous manta ray! I'm not sure exactly how far off shore we were, but the water was very shallow, at times we would slow down because it was shallow enough that we could have walked around! Seeing Anna Maria Island from the gulf was awesome, passing by our last beach house, and seeing the condo. It was absolutely breathtaking, to be out in the gulf, wide open waters, blue as ever.
We made it to the bay inlet at Longboat Key, went under the drawbridge, and anchored out at Jewfish Key. Billy and Blake wanted to fish, but soon realized they could catch things better without a rod. They just went snorkeling with a net and found all kinds of critters! lol!
It's amazing to be walking around, waist deep, in the middle of a huge waterway, that also is the reason that we were very cautious...concerned with boating ashore. You can be going along in deep waters and then all of a sudden, see the bottom, clear as ever! We did really well, with the exception of one little mishap, right near the gas dock at the very end of our adventure, no damage done, so all was well. The guys fished alongside the mangroves as we traveled the intercoastal waterways through the bay. Dolphins swam all around us, while stingrays jumped right out of the water! This was Taylor's first boating experience and I think it was quite a memorable one...for all of us!