Monday, May 12, 2014

An almost perfect sail ...

It's starting to warm up here in Florida.  The snowbirds have almost all flown north.  Soon those of us who stay for the summers will be spending most of our time in the AC cooled indoors.  But the past three or four days have been lovely, short of 90 degrees with low humidity and, most important for sailors, with a nice 8-12 knot breeze.  We would have left the dock on Thursday morning, but we had already bought tickets for a Charlotte Stone Crabs (Class A Advanced) baseball game that night to join a couple of friends from the yacht club, so we didn't cast off until Friday morning.  (The game was great fun, with the best Philly Cheesesteaks and dollar beer, but the Bradenton Marauders trounced the Stone Crabs 8-2.)

We sailed about 21 nautical miles down Charlotte Harbor (which, if you don't know, is really a very large bay: 270 square miles) to a spot about two miles north of the historic fishing village of Matlacha, where we found a nice anchorage.  On the way south, we trolled and caught two nice Spanish Mackerel, which Penelope stowed for fileting later.  We caught a couple of other smaller fish, but released them.  We had a peaceful evening and night here, reading, relaxing and marveling at the wonderful conditions.  It was a little warm in the cabin, but we were able to stay on deck until dark (when the mosquitos started to appear); after that it cooled off nicely down below.

The next morning, Penelope fried up the Mackerel with a couple of over-easy eggs for breakfast, and we finally weighed anchor around 10:00 and sailed north with a southeast wind pushing us along nicely to the Myaka River, a little over 16 miles.  We anchored at 14:30, arriving earlier than we expected.  This anchorage was not as good a choice.  We probably should have gone another two miles up the river to an anchorage called Cattle Dock, where we'd stayed before, but that was closer to the mangroves and we wanted to be sure we weren't eaten by no-see-ums -- one of the reasons not to spend nights on the water during Florida's summers.  So, we tolerated the tidal changes and river currents that worked against a nice 14 knot wind to create a roily anchorage for the night.

Although we didn't get quite enough sleep, we finally awakened to a nice morning with a steady 10 knot breeze.  After a breakfast of apple sausage, mushrooms, red peppers and scrambled eggs -- one of our best! -- we set sail and headed back to our marina, about 10 miles.  We were at the dock just before noon, and spent a little over an hour packing up, cleaning up, and washing Alizee down.  First, however, Penelope caught a little chameleon and returned her to shore.  The little guy had hitched a ride for all three days, apparently getting on board via a dock line.  S/he had clung to mainsheet rigging and other lines for the bulk of the time we were out, and s/he drank some water Penelope left out and devoured a fly we trapped. 


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