Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 Sailing Recap III: bringing Alizee south ...

At last, moved into our new house and having found a reliable cat sitter, we drove up to St. Petersburg to bring Alizee south to her new berth at the Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club (CHYC) in Port Charlotte.  We dropped off my car at the yacht club and drove north on 30 October.  We spent an afternoon getting Alizee cleaned inside, retrieving the dinghy from "Hi & Dry" storage and doing the necessary grocery shopping.  We were exhausted by 17:00 and just had enough energy to fix a sundowner and dinner.

In the morning, I made a quick run to the market and to a marine supply store (for water tank treatment), filled the water tanks, changed out the Genoa sheets with new Sampson sheets and turned in the gate keys to the harbor master.  We
cast off at 11:30, and within ten minutes were sailing southward on a close reach in 11 knots of wind.  Between 13:00 and 13:30 we watched coast guard helicopters working with rescue divers.  They would throw a market out, lower the diver to retrieve the marker, sometimes having the divers swim to it for

recovery, sometimes not.  We were easily within a
1,000 meters of the training which was being done with two or three helicopters and several divers.

By 16:00 hours, we had passed under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and on course to the Manatee River channel.  Winds had died out for a while in the mid afternoon, but  now picked again to 10 knots for another hours or so.  We were anchored by 17:30 on the west end of the Manatee River anchorage, a location which for the past two years had been made most unpleasant by a transient sailboat that had a heavy-duty and extremely loud, un-muffled generator which its captain ran twice a day.  As a result, we'd studiously avoided the west end of the this very large anchorage, but we were happy to be the only boat there this day.  So, we settled in to watch a beautiful (and very red) sunset and have a nice egg plant Parmesan dinner.

The night sky plainly told us that the next day would be a "sailor's delight," but we also knew we'd be sailing directly into the wind all day, so we elected to spend the day on the hook, reading, napping, munching, whipping the ends of our new Genoa sheets and, eventually, supping on lamb chops, baked potatoes and Napa cabbage salad.  The next morning brought a red sky sunrise -- "sailor's take warning" -- and a front out of the northeast passed over us somewhere around 0900.  Some boats from our Dolphin Sailing Club had been anchored across the river on the south side, and just before the squall, one of them weighted anchor and came across to our north-side anchorage -- I don't think they saw us, but we recognized Gene and Jo Weatherup's ketch.  After the front passed, we saw two or three of them sail out toward St. Petersburg, while the Weatherups went up river, we think to the Twin Dolphin marina.  We could imagine that the boats headed out had a rough time of it across south Tampa Bay, sailing a close reach in 20 knot winds in waters that certainly were roily as could be.  But, we sat tight, enjoyed being on the hook, reading and relaxing.  And, we had to run the engine for a couple of hours to charge the batteries.  Despite a functioning wind generator, we still had the electrical problem.

At 06:30 on 3 November, we awakened to try and see the lunar eclipse that was predicted, but it was too far east and probably below the horizon, not to mention being right in the path of the rising sun.  Since we were up early and the conditions were great, we sailed out to Egmont Key, thence south along the Gulf coast to Venice.  Crossing south Tampa Bay we got more wind than anticipated, and we had to stop and reef the main and Genoa -- the new electric winches made the task so much easier.  Worth their weight in gold, as far as I'm concerned.  Once we were south of Tampa Bay on the coast, the chop disappeared, the winds moderated and we let the reefs out.  I called ahead to the Venice Yacht Club and reserved a slip, which would be free for the night, thanks to our now being members of the CHYC and to reciprocal privileges between yacht clubs in the Florida Yacht Club Council.  All in all, it was a good sail: 42 nautical miles in 8 hours averaging about 5.3 knots speed over ground, but mostly 6 knots when we were sailing along the Gulf coast.  At 15:30, we slid into slip C-8, headed for the showers and then for drinks and an early dinner at the club's Tiki Bar.

Lately it seems that electrical bugaboos have visited us.  Trying to hook up shore power we discovered that the 30 amp breaker seemed not to be functioning.  Very odd, as the shore power was charging to batteries, but the internal A.C. power was inoperable.  Then we discovered that by flipping on the 50 amp breaker, the outlets worked.  A real head scratcher!  

The next morning, we fixed breakfast and then borrowed a couple of bicycles to fetch more bread.  Alas, the mini-mart had just sold out of bread, so we returned empty handed.  We decided to go down the ICW rather than spend another day along the coast ... the winds were building and we want to relax.  So we finally left at 10:30, went out the yacht club channel to the ICW, turned south and I almost instantly went aground.  Unbelievable!  I'd mixed up the channel markers somehow.  But, because the wind was building (already 17 knots out of the east), I raised the mainsail, heeled us over, and we slipped off the bar and back into the ICW channel.  We had five bridges to go through, the last three opening on-demand, so we waited only about ten minutes at the other two for openings.  A nice motor south and, with our stay sail out, occasionally helped by the 22 knot wind from the east.  After five hours we anchored off the ICW at red marker #24, just north of the Boca Grande Causeway Bridge; a very peaceful spot.

On 5 November, we awakened at low tide, and we had to wait on a rising tide until 1330 before we could leave the anchorage.  So, we spend a quiet morning watching hawks, blue herons, pelicans, osprey and flights of ducks, while occasionally reading and fixing a nice veggie omelet.  Once under way, we just made the 14:00 opening of the causeway bridge, and thence sailed south to Useppa Island, where we anchored again at 16:15.  This was the last night out on the hook, and we enjoyed a steak and potato dinner.  At 08:30 the next morning, we weighed anchor and sailed virtually all the way up Charlotte Harbor to the Peace River, motoring only the last five nautical miles.  We arrived at our new permanent berth at the CHYC at 16:15, where Joe Malat, the dockmaster helped us into our new slip.  After washing down the boat, we sat in the cockpit and had a cocktail while observing the club's monthly "sundowner" ceremony, this one particularly honoring vets.  At 18:15, we packed up and got in my car and drove home.  A day later, the boat transfer complete, we drove back up to St. Pete, picked up Penelope's car and drove home.


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