Are We Lost?
("Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, Fl.)

April 1, 1998.....

We arrived early this afternoon at the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island.We have heard about fabulous birds here, and were anxious to explore. After anchoring across from some mangroves, we ventured into their thick growth in our 9 ft. rubber dinghy hoping to see a spoonbill. I wanted to practice using my new camera with a telephoto lens, so while George navigated, I focused on the birds, bugs, and magnificent mangrove roots. When our fuel tank was half empty George decided we should start heading back. We found ourselves in the midst of what we knew to be hundreds of tiny look alike islands. Were we lost? This was not an April Fool's joke. How were we ever going to get out of this maze?

We thought for a moment, and knew we could figure it out. Years of Search and Rescue, reading maps and using compasses proved to save the day. We knew that we approached our anchorage at 150 degrees, and that we had tacked once to get there, subtract about 100 degrees, so we knew where our boat was. We knew we had taken off at about 30 degrees to get to the mangrove entrance, subtract that, and we knew the way out lay in the direction of about 20 degrees. Luckily, Captain George, who is always prepared, has a compass on his watch, so we decided to take paths in the North East directions. The first few came to a dead end, so we worked our way backwards, and kept taking the next path until finally we were out. It could have been scary, but it wasn't. It was fun to know how to get out, and succeed in doing it.

Last Updated: 4-22-98
By: Ted Handel

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