One thing I LOVE about cruising is I never know where I’ll end up at the end of the day! I can remember many times over the last 11 years and 11,000 miles when I woke up expecting to enjoy another perfect day snorkeling, swimming and enjoying the perfect anchorage … then the VHF radio would crackle, our buddy boat would say “I been thinkin'” and we’d be off on another adventure.
Today we were supposed to sail from Indian Key in the 10,000 Islands/Everglades to Marco Island, one of my favorite anchorages on the West Coast of Florida. But for once, King Neptune smiled on us and provided fast winds and flat seas to cross the shallow and potentially treacherous Romano Shoal. With the 15-20 knot easterly winds directly astern, it was rocky rocky rolly cutting across — there is a light marking the end of the shoal but we can cut off several miles by cutting through. Since we normally sail at 5 knots, every five miles we can cut off saves an hour underway. Today might be rocky rocky rolly maybe, but also FAST, very FAST! 6.1 – 6.6 and no current push! We found ourselves at noon having a blast already sailing by the Marco sea buoy. It was definitely too early for the fun to end, so we decided to continue to Naples, another 7 miles, and try a new anchorage.
But at 1:45 it was still a wonderful sail and we were reluctant to give it up. It’s just not an everyday occurrence! PLUS … it must not be crab pot season… the very same waters that were thick with crab pots forcing us to be on our toes every minute to avoid getting a line wrapped around the prop or the keel, were pot free with clear sailing. This was dangerous though because every now and then would be a random escaped crab pot waiting to snag us. Luckily we were under sail so the prop shaft wasn’t turning. If we did snag one, hopefully it would be easier to get it off!
But this was our lucky day, no crab pots attacked us.
We were scurrying though to get back to our home waters. The weather forecast showed 60% chance of thunderstorms every day for the next week. Current radar showed we were sandwiched between nasty thunderstorms just north of us in Tampa and another band south of us in the Keys. So the perfect sailing seemed like a gift that we probably should not pass up, especially since the chance for thunderstorms later in the week was even greater.
Looking at the chart again, we decided with a little more luck and a fast sailing boat, we could anchor in Glover’s Bight in Cape Coral. Now it was a race against darkness and the thunderstorms we could see building over the shore a couple miles off. We sailed through all the day sailing boats full of beach tourists enjoying the view and the water. At one point it seemed like the paraglider boat was going to catch their line around our mast they came so close. But the two tourists above were snapping pictures of our boat under full sail! By the way, if you were paragliding off Marco/Naples around May 12-13 and took photos of a sailboat under sail, we would LOVE to have copies!
Sailing under the Sanibel Causeway bridge a half hour before sunset, we were hoping the current would not be against us all the way to Glover’s Bight, about an hour up the Okeechobee Waterway. And we actually had a knot of current with us, but also almost got ran over by a sunset cruise ship packed with tourists, also snapping photos. I guess the sailboat under sail makes a pretty foreground for a sunset! I remember the days when I used to snap photos of those lucky people that owned their own sailboats… and now we are them! What a great feeling!
I think back upon 11 years and 11,000 miles of fun and adventures that owning Winterlude has opened up for us and grin. Both of us are feeling pretty good – we know we’ll be anchored within the hour in a safe, all around protected good holing anchorage — good thing too, those thunderstorms are looking more and more ominous!
Sure enough, just after dropping the hook and backing down we watched a glorious sunset – and then the skies opened up — the light show was fabulous, especially since the hook is down and we’re relaxing in the cockpit after dinner!
Do you have a favorite anchorage near the Sanibel Causeway Bridge? We’d love to find somewhere that’s not quite so far up river. Please leave a comment and let us know! Cheers! Jan