April 8, 2017
Miles traveled: 13
Total miles traveled: 3289
Several people have asked me what an average day is like on the Namaste so I have randomly selected today, Saturday April 8th to share perhaps more detail than you might want.
Awoke to the rising sun, brisk temps and bright skies – no alarm! We make the coffee the night before so all I had to do was light the propane stove and wait the 15 minutes it takes to perk – that’s right we use our new $22 stove-top percolator because an electric drip pot takes up too much real estate and is useless when at anchor. Jim walked Sammy and paid the rent (way over budget) and upon his return we checked our three weather sources deciding this was the day to leave South Seas Resort on Captiva Island. Jim also made-up the v-berth consisting of a thick v-shaped mattress pad, two sleeping bags, two sheets and two pillows. Mostly we sleep on top with just the sheets but last night crawling into the bags felt beyond cozy. I cleaned up the cabin and made myself presentable. We did our morning exercise routine of balance, stretches, bands, and steps but didn’t eat breakfast, always a mistake. but neither of us is hungry on travel mornings. Biggby coffee is best.
Last night Captain Jim created the route on his iPad using an app called Garmin Blue Charts with the Active Captain overlay. We decided on a short trip of 13 miles north to Pelican Bay across from Charlotte Harbor and at the tip of Cayo Costa Island where a Florida State Park of the same name is located. The Waterway Guide describes it as the best anchorage in southwest Florida and not to be missed. We went over the trip plan and then proceeded to get the Namaste ready to depart. This includes: start the engine, turn on and check all instruments, take off the water hose and electric cord, close hatches, run bilge pump, check oil and fuel, and stow anything that might move about during rough water. I email Curt with a float plan of exactly where we are, where we are headed and our ETA and then our actual arrival time and place. This serves two purposes, hopefully he will know if we do not arrive plus at the end of the trip we will have an accurate record of all travel days, times and places. Finally, we create a cast-off plan which was slightly more complicated today due to the wind direction – blowing us against the dock. We both knew exactly which lines to release when, where the dinghy should be, who would be at the helm (Jim) and who would be working the lines (me). It worked perfectly without dockside assistance and we cast off at 9:15 a.m. saying good-by and thank you for the wonderful stay on Captiva.
The route required us to follow a narrow and winding channel back out to the ICWW (Inter-coastal Water Way) where we met a beautiful ketch almost identical to the Namaste, named “Lark”. There aren’t too many of these around, particularly down here. Both boats put up their yankee and mizzen sails and followed the channel to Cabbage Key where the course turned us directly North into the wind. You cannot sail (nor should you pee) into the wind so down came the sails and with the motor running we ultimately passed and waved to Lark. Delightfully, on this waterway there is always something to look at up ahead or coming from behind. When it is a short travel day Jim does most of the helm work with me taking pictures, managing Sammy, checking Facebook, putting on sunscreen, getting more coffee. Tough work but somebody has to do it.
We knew that getting into Pelican Bay would be tricky and were hoping for some local knowledge, ie., follow a local boat. It worked as we followed a larger boat within 75 feet of the shore arriving in the middle of the Bay where we easily anchored with me at the helm and Jim feeding out anchor chain. The hard part about anchoring is deciding exactly where to drop the hook. You must be far enough from all other boats and shallow water that your boat can swing 360 degrees and not hit anything or go aground. We are in about 7.7’ of water with two feet variance of tide over 12 hours. This requires 50’ of scope (30’ of heavy chain and 20’ of ¾” anchor line) as the winds are predicted to increase tonight. For the next couple hours we stayed aboard checking and recording the GPS position every 15 minutes to make certain that the anchor is holding. It was! Now starving, I made lunch of sandwiches and fruit quickly opening and closing the refrigerator as it is a huge drain on the batteries so is turned off unless the motor is running.
Anchorage is on the left and beach on the right
All seemed well with the anchor so we three piled into the dinghy for some exploration. Our first stop was the State Park dock on the far west side of the bay. The only way to access this beautiful park is by boat and we saw at least 3 ferry/tour type boats arrive with passengers mostly boy and girl scout troops with mounds of camping equipment. Upon arrival we found not only a good dinghy and small boat dock but also a shelter, camp store, restrooms, trails, small cabins and large tenting area – everything you would expect at a state park. With a $2 fee even a small tram was available to transport visitors to the Gulf beach on the other side of the island (1.5 miles). It was a dusty road so we took the ride only to find out that dogs were not allowed on the beach. We “trammed” it back to the store for an ice cream bar and set out in the dinghy for the Love Tunnel to Manatee Hole. It was a beautiful covered channel that lead to a small lake where indeed we came very close to a very large snorting manatee. Next we toured the anchorage looking at boats and boat names. There was one other looping boat from Maryland (identifiable by our mutual burgee/flag) but they were not aboard, probably at the park. My guess is that by sunset there were 50+ boats of every description anchored here along with us – pretty nice neighborhood.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon reading (Jim has seriously out-read me), napping (he leads in this department as well) and catching up on email (me J) as there is surprisingly good phone reception here given its ruralness (is that a word?). Then back out in the dinghy to a nearby dog friendly beach where Sammy ran, slowing only to sniff and roll in the good beach smells. A cold beer with some cheese and crackers rounded out the afternoon.
Dinner consisted of leftover chicken parmesan, cold veggies, and a cookie which we ate while watching the sun set and the almost-full-moon rise. This is one of the great rewards for anchoring out.
Our day ended with a game of Euchre, dishes, making the coffee for tomorrow morning and setting up the v-berth for sleeping once again. Jim then read as I am capturing this glorious day. It has turned out well but when I committed to the idea this morning, who knew it would be a perfect day? That is part of the fun.
Well, time for bed. We will set the alarm to get up every hour and check our position on the GPS to make certain we stay in place! Due to the 20-25 mph winds we will hear weird noises and bounce tonight but dragging anchor into another boat or going aground would make for a terrible night. The numbers are exactly what they were an hour ago so all is well for now. As I turn out the lights and look out over the stern, I see 50+ anchor lights twinkling amongst the stars and a bright almost-full-moon.
Sammy Sayz: Don’t bother me I’ve been sleeping for over an hour. It has been a tough day of guarding and smelling, eating and sleeping.
Quote of the Day: “There is nothing – absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Good Boat Name: “Cinderella and Dumpy” on a beautiful boat sailed by a gorgeous young couple. I’m pretty sure there is more to that story.
Bad Boat Name: Toad (yes, it was a less than attractive boat)
Happy Birthday to: Lisa and Andrea today!!!