A Winterlude Update from Spring 2011 – the year of the refit, so no major adventures, but we discovered that gunkholing is fun and can be more challenging than anticipated! 🙂 Enjoy! …
Anchored at Indian Key in the Everglades National Park, the world and the hustle & bustle of Marco Island anchorage seem a lifetime away even though I’m fairly certain the GPS route said we only sailed 23 miles! After the excitement of the Marco Island anchorage, we were very happy to anchor in the peace & quiet of this mangrove pass channel.
As is often the case, we brought the excitement at Marco on ourselves by blazing a new anchorage off Stingeree Key. It looked so perfect as we deftly sailed among the sandbars to pick a perfect anchor spot. Unfortunately after dinner we watched in horror as our 7 foot anchor site grew a large sandbar just off David’s side of the cockpit. Checking the depth sounder we were now stuck in the mud! It didn’t occur to us that less than 60 miles south of Charlotte Harbor where tides are a foot, tides would be over 3 feet! Luckily high tide was at 3:30 AM, but it was dark then so we couldn’t escape the muck until 1st light. Needless to say we didn’t sleep well!
After taking a great photo of the sun rising over Capri Pass in Marco, Winterlude sailed south to miss the Romano Shoal! Great sailing. Three other boats passed us either motorsailing or just motoring, wasting all the beautiful wind. I just never understand. We were going 6 knots so it wasn’t as if they couldn’t sail. Oh well.
We dodged crab pots, enjoyed the perfect sail, watched as a giant fish leaped clear of the water! He was every bit as big as the sailfish on my wall at the lake! And the rays were leaping and cavorting all around us! In fact, after anchoring and after dinner, hearing the rays smack the water with a loud ker-splash was a bit scary in the dark until we realized what it was.
Just as we reached the outer marker, we had a bit of a surprise! Winterlude simply refused to go! We had just dropped the sails when the trusty diesel went urrrrrrr and died! Yikes, swing round into the wind and dropped anchor in the middle of nowhere. David quickly diagnosed the problem as a disconnected throttle cable, fixed it and we were on our way. Of course the anchor UP switch chose that moment to refuse to budge … after we safely anchored inside , David fixed it too…corrosion.
Winding our way in and anchoring in 18 feet of water with at least a 3-4 knot current was interesting. We haven’t had that much current since the Rio Chagres in Panama. David was afraid if the dinghy painter broke we’d never see our dinghy again. So we tied it with 2 lines! We explored Indian Key’s tiny beach, saw swallowtail kites soaring overhead for the first time- they look sort of like frigatebirds but they’re not supposed to be here, so I got out the birdbook and voila, a new species for me!
Today we’re exploring these mangroves by dinghy and kayak… at least until we spot a gator. Then I’ll see if David will play anymore! Tomorrow we sail to Little Shark River and then to Marathon & Key West.
Cheers! Jan & David
Anchored at 25 50.294N. 81 26.342W