Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On the move, slowly.

This morning Kintala nodded to the rising sun from Factory Bay, Marco Island. We stopped here on the way north and, except for bumping the ground on our first attempt to gain the anchorage, liked the place. There were no such dramatics getting in this time, “previous tracks” are a marvel of modern navigation.

Leaving Charlotte Harbor
Where we did bump the ground was exiting the canal in Punta Gorda two days ago. “Bump” isn't really the right word, “stuck fast” is a better description. Trying to get away early in the morning on a falling tide maybe wasn't the best choice. But there was a long day's sail ahead and, well, stuff happens. So after paying four years' worth of premiums to Tow Boat US, we finally got the opportunity to try out their service. Barely an hour after fudging to a stop in the soft and sticky mud (and providing the morning entertainment for those walking and fishing in the park), Kyle had pulled us free and out into deep(er) water. No harm, no foul, and excellent service all around.

If you sail the ICW, don't leave home without it.

We had been giving longer, outside runs to the Keys serious consideration. Two or three nights worth of passage making would have had us there already. Assuming, of course, one didn't get tangled up in one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of crab pots polluting the water even miles off shore. I know, crab fisherman need to make a living, and people like eating crab. But the crabbers have effectively confiscated the west coast of Florida for their own use. Picking one's way through in the day is possible, though in bigger waves than the ones we have seen so far it would be difficult. Trying it at night is a pure crap shoot. Maybe next year we will try the “sail 50 miles west during the day then turn north or south as appropriate and be on your way” approach. For, truth to tell, the combination of crab pots and shallow water is getting rather tedious.

Great Blue Heron in the Venice Inlet
Still, we are in Factory Bay, on the hook, and it is sure good to be back to our chosen way of living. We even had sundowners with newly met friends, who are also new to cruising. We met on Rascal, their 42 foot Jeanneau DS. Good folks on a sweet boat. Reasons to come this way.

There hasn't been a lot of sailing going on yet. Yesterday, just after leaving the channel off Sanibel Island, we saw a glorious hour of reaching, starting out with the two reefs in main left over from the last romp with Daughter Eldest and Family. (Yep, its been that long since the main was put to serious use.) We had to heave-to for a few minutes at first to reconfigure the auto pilot from “tiller pilot” to “wind vane” mode. That is every bit as much of a pain as it sounds, but that's what happens when one layers back-yard engineering onto marginal-in-the-first-place equipment. It all works and we have learned to live with it. In fact, I am a bit proud of how well it seems to work most of the time.

As the winds faded, we shook out first one reef, then the other, hanging onto the sailing as long as we could. Eventually though, it was clear that night would fall on the lurking crab traps long before we would gain the entrance to Marco Island. No need to heave-to for the auto pilot reconfiguration this time. Kintala was effectively drifting in placid water.

Figuring it out as we go. Stumbling a bit once in a while. But still making progress. Not too bad. Not too bad.

Thanks, Dave for teaching me that this was an Aninga not a cormorant.
The duplicate of the Vietnam Vet Wall located in Punta Gorda, FL

The Captain is happy to be on the move again.

1 comment:

The Burnhams said...

"Shallow water" or "Too Deep Boat?" One must choose an appropriate boat to enjoy this coast (or the Bahamas) that's for certain... FIVE FOOT of draft "might" be "fine" for New England waters but sure don't "work" here in "The Armpit of Florida" (Apalatchee Bay) where, with anything over about 4 foot of draft you can actually "run aground" out of sight of land! But the same holds true for Florida Bay as well.
As for pot warps...there are any number of propeller-shaft line cutters available ("Spurs" etc.) for that problem...they do seem expensive...until you wrap one of these black polypropylene lines around your shaft, don't "catch" it in time and (with heat and compression) turn the whole into one big solid mass of ugly black plastic (which will resist even the most energetic, determined attack of knife, spike or anything else---except a cutting torch while hauled out on the hard...) Depending upon how much "space" you have between prop and skeg, you may not even be able to "attack" it with a hacksaw, but one of those "handy-dandy" little hacksaw blade holders has "done the job" successfully in the past. Good luck.