Wednesday, August 21, 2019

7 Day Cruise (part 2)

I took this double rainbow shot while we were aground. We knew we would be fine.
We will now pick up the story on the morning after grounding the boat. I was tired and slept in. Kim got up to say goodbye to Dave and Janice. Janice had to be back at work the next day, so they had one day to make the 65 NM trip back to Palmetto. They ended up stopping after a 12 hour day motoring up the ICW and then just making it in time the next morning. We did not have any time restrictions, so we decided to spend the day exploring this beautiful area.

We started the day by taking the dingy to the dock at the State Park. They charge a $2 per person daily pass, that we gladly paid. We took a golf cart ride across the island to the beach. It is a nice beach with lots of shells. We walked for a little over an hour and added to our shell collection.

Beautiful beach all to ourselves
Flowers on the beach.

Kim on a beach. There is that theme again.
We went back to the boat and relaxed a while. Later in the day we were joined by 4 other power boats in the anchorage, but there was still plenty of room and privacy. In the late afternoon we took a dingy ride to further explore the area, but I guess we were not in a picture taking mood. I fished in the evening hours and caught 6 fish, but no pictures. None were keepers. 5 were trout and one catfish. I had a double hook rig and actually caught two fish on one cast. It was our best day yet on the boat.

We were watching the tide schedules to give us as much water as possible to get out of the bay, so we decided to leave at 10 am the following morning and head back north. It was our first day traveling alone and we wanted to take it easy, so we just motored up the ICW 18 miles in about 4 hours. We opened two bridges and then stopped at a very exposed anchorage in Lemon Bay. We wanted the open location to give us better breeze. That did not work out so well. All was good until I was awoken at 12:30 to a strong breeze whistling through the rigging. The anchor alarm went off and I was up in a shot. I looked at the instruments and it showed solid 20 knots of wind with a gust or 2 over 30. I checked our position and we were stable and the anchor was holding. I stayed up for an hour or more to keep a watch. By 2 in the morning the storm had passed and I was able to get some rest. That is just part of life on a boat.

Our view of the sunset at Lemon Bay

A rainbow at Lemon Bay
We left the next morning and continued to motor up the ICW. The wind was pretty good, but there were storms all around, so we decided to play it safe and not sail out in the gulf. 

I was hearing storm warnings on the VHF radio all day, but they were pretty far north of us. We had motored about 28 miles and were just entering the large open water of Sarasota Bay, when I heard a storm warning that was for the area we were in. I pulled up the radar on my phone and it did not look good. We had to make a quick decision and found a protected anchorage just about a half mile back. We spun the boat around and headed for Ken Thompson Park. I had to watch the charts closely to not run aground. I worked my way between boats that were moored in the area. I found a fairly open area and Kim took the helm, so that I could get the anchor ready. We dropped it and let out 70 feet of chain. I backed down on the anchor with the motor and we were hooked well. By this time the storm was closing in on us. Kim went below and got everything closed up. I put on a rain jacket and sat in the cockpit and watched it come in. I wanted to be able to start the engine and help the anchor if needed. We saw gusts over 35 knots. We had rain coming through the cockpit like a firehose. It was intense for about 20 minutes. Through all of that, the anchor held tight. Then just as fast as it came, it was gone. 

We had a nice evening with a comfortable breeze.

Downtown Sarasota from the Ken Thompson anchorage

Other boats moored around us.

I thought we were done with the storms, but at 2 am, I was awoken by another one. This one was not as bad and our protected position helped, but we still saw gusts about 30 knots. It was another night without enough sleep.

We got moving the next morning and hoped to sail down the bay, but the wind was right on the nose and we did not have room or desire to tack up the bay. We motored for about 4 hours and were at the mouth of the Manatee river when another storm hit us. The wind was not bad, but it rained buckets for about a half hour. We motored on in to the marina, got the boat put to bed, then another one hit. It was nice to go below and not worry about the anchor. We feel very secure in our slip. And it was even better to turn on the Air Conditioner. I went to bed early and slept very well. 

We have learned that this is not a good time of year to be sailing in Florida. It is very hot and humid and the afternoon thunderstorms are daily. Not to mention the possibility of a hurricane. This past week, the storms were much more frequent than normal due to a disturbance out in the gulf. It will certainly be our goal to be in northern climates during the summer months in the future.

That wraps up our 7 day trip. We had an awesome time and we learned a ton of important lessons. We can't thank Dave and Janice enough for taking us under their wing and showing us all that they did. 

In my next entry, I will talk about our plan going forward. 


  1. Not sure I could handle that much out for those storms. Sounds like you will be a seasoned sailor soon.

    Dick & Cathy

    1. It was a bit crazy, but has given me more confidence in the boat, anchor and ourselves.

  2. Sounds like ya'll are doing more motoring than sailing. Did ya'll consider a motor boat instead of a sail boat? Also, I'm shocked by the prices just to dock for the night. That is crazy high. I'm enjoying ya'll's adventure. Be safe out there.

    1. Thanks for the comment Darrell. We did consider going with a power boat, but decided that sailing is much more enjoyable. There is nothing like the moment after you turn off the engine and know your speed is caused totally by wind. It is so quiet and peaceful.
      The costs of dockage has been shocking to us also. Part of that is Florida is just expensive. Our costs will be lower in other places. The good news is that we only spent one night in a marina, so our costs for 7 nights was the $100. It does make it sound a bit better.

  3. Congrats on a successful first outing! The thunderstorms and hurricanes sounds pretty scary though.

    1. The storms can be scary, but the more I learn about how to deal with them, the easier it will be. My confidence increased significantly during the trip.