Unfortunately there are few good places to stop along this stretch, particularly for boats that draw 5 feet. We passed one at Venice FL that was just not viable; shallow and stuffed full of hulls that had that permanent look about them. A couple of miles further along Blackburn Bay was the next chance, the charts showing just 4.9 feet at mean low tide. (Exactly what Kintala draws.)
The only thing I like less than skinny water is being caught flat footed in big winds in a narrow channel with no place to hide and no room to anchor. The hair on the back of my neck was insisting that Blackburn was the only real choice. We crept out of the channel and tossed the hook with the depth meter reading ZERO point ZERO part way up a rising tide. In Kintala that means there is 18 inches or less under the keel. It is a 1.8 foot tide. Sometime in the next 12 hours we are surely going to bump.
The first line of storms went by with gusts in the 30+ knot range and lighting falling close and loud all around. Not bad given that we were settled in and secure. It would have been a near nightmare had we been between the Venice Avenue and Hatchet Creek bridges, a place we had just passed through. At 0.3 nm long by 86 feet wide, with no docks, no space to anchor, just rocks and trees and bridges; it would be hard to imagine a worse place to come face to face with a thunderstorm.
The second wave just passed, mostly rain and thunder. The next is due within the hour and looks to be the meanest one of the day. Once it passes, rain will be on the menu for much of the rest of the night. Last night's anchorage would have been a better place to ride this out but we pushed on, so this one will have to do.
Mostly we pressed on simply to get this part of the trip over. Being in Bradenton, not getting there, has taken over our thinking. And, truth to tell, Kintala will be limping a bit when she finally gets settled between the piers. Foot sore, if you will, having been on the move, more or less relentlessly, since leaving Oak Harbor nearly 8 months ago. Along the way we have stopped to fix only the things that had to be fixed in order to keep going.
As a result, the Beast is dripping water from the inside seal on the raw water pump. (That pump is only 8 months old, and was the warranty pump for the new one that failed right out of the box. At the moment Jabsco is not very high on my list of lovable manufacturers.) The alternator bearing squeals once in a while, the tachometer has died, and the throttle and shift cables are not giving off warm-n-fuzzies while they do their thing. There is a new vibration that might just be stuff growing on the prop, but my thinking is the cutlass bearing will have to be replaced before heading out to the big once again. When the Beast is run too hard, the front seal on the v-drive dribbles brown goo onto the engine diapers. That, rumor has it, is a pretty common failure on the Walter v-drive and it seems that several decades has not been enough time for them to find a cure. (Walter V-drive has never been on my list of lovable manufacturers.) Maybe Jabsco called Walter for a recommendation on a seal?
I would love to find and slay the small oil leak (different than the v-drive goo leak) that has eluded detection so far.
The wind instrument is dead, killed by a bird in Stuart. The stern nav light died all on its own. There are water leaks in the cabin that need plugged, a staysail furler that needs to go away, a bent jib pole that needs un-bent or replaced, running rigging that needs re-run, and the down-stay under the deck below the inner forestay has a couple of broken strands. The seal on the rudder post drips, mostly on a port tack. We need to install some LED strip lights in the V-berth, refinish the cabin sole, and get serious about some bright work inside and out. There is still only one anchor on the boat, though we do boast 200 feet of chain. A new gray water tank waits to be installed, one with a lid to keep the stink out of the boat. The non-skid needs painted and the hull has several scars from more than two years of constant cruising. The boat speed indicator has croaked and the old GPS at the nav station, the one that tells our IAS receiver where it is, is finally starting to fade.
One might think we just bought this thing and haven't started working on it yet.
Deb will carry the load for a lot of this since I have a day job fixing other people's boats. (And spending other people's money!) Weekend's and evenings will see me up the mast or buried in the Cave of the Beast. And, to give you some idea of just how demented I might be, I'm kind of looking forward to it. Oh, I still hate my boat, and my boat still hates me. But Kintala has carried us far and hasn't killed us yet; getting her somewhere near to “right” has grown into a bit of an obsession. I want her to function as well as she looks, and I want her to look a little better as well.
The third wave went through while I was typing the above, with wind gusts over 40. Not sure how much over 40 since the wind gauge is toast, but it takes a good puff to push Kintala over on her side like that. The lightning was closer and louder and I wish there were a few more inches of water under the keel. But I made the decision to "go", and this is where we ended up.
One more day, maybe two, and “getting there” will turn into “being there”.