Thursday, March 10, 2016

Two days with great winds and flat seas ...

Monday, March 7th, we awakened to a beautiful spring morning and by 11:00 hours we had loaded a couple of meals aboard Alizee and were ready to leave the slip.  Even with winds gusting 14 knots out of the east (to our stern), we easily let the lines go and motored out of Burnt Store Marina.  Just past the outer channel marker, we turned into the wind, raised the main and put out the genoa (with one reef).

What a gorgeous breeze ... we headed north on a broad reach, often reaching 6.5 knots over ground. Along the way, we threw out a hand line with a #10 planer and gold  spoon.  Although we hadn't caught anything our last couple of times out, I thought perhaps the water was warming and we might catch something this trip.  And, indeed, we pulled in a lovely 14-15" Spanish Mackerel, which Penelope filleted and put on ice.

By 13:00, we were in the Myaka River and dropped anchor amidst a sea of crab pots to have lunch. We didn't stay much longer than 45 minutes, and set sail on a close reach in a southerly direction back into Charlotte Harbor. We sailed about three miles south, then tacked back across the harbor toward Punta Gorda. Although the winds were to much on our head to get directly to our anchorage for the night just north of Gilchrist Park and Fisherman's Village, we got within about a half-mile before dropping sails and motoring in to drop anchor at 15:45.
We love sitting at anchor. We read, watch the birds, other boats, solve world problems (though nobody cares), manage to toast the setting sun (and Monday night's sunset was truly lovely), and always fix a comfort meal of some sort.  As with our last couple of sailing trips, we brought a prepared meal, "Mom's Spaghetti and Meatballs", which is one of Penelope's best recipes.  Truly a yummy treat for day's end.  Indeed, by 21:00 we were tucked in our bunk and gently rocked to sleep.

Tuesday at 07:30 saw the boat boy (me) up and making coffee (which I made a little too strong this day), and soon we were both nestled in the cockpit in the morning sun busy reading our books.  Penelope prepared some gruel (oats with raisins and nuts) for breakfast, which is always a good way to start a sailing day.  Can't quite remember as I write this, but I think we raised the main, weighed anchor at around 10:30, and sailed off the anchor on a broad reach.
The winds were unexpected.  Predictions had been for gusts of 14-16 knots, but we had gusts from 25-30+ knots and a steady 20-22 knot breeze. Fortunately, we'd put a reef in the main as well as in the genoa, and Alizee handled the weather beautifully, even when we turn south and from a broad to a beam and finally a close reach.  There were three or four other sail boats going in the same direction from the Isles Yacht Club in Punta Gorda, but they ran only reefed genoas, and one only its double-reefed main (it had to be motoring).  Indeed, they rolled up their genoas for most of the trip south, and I had to rest mightily the urge to go on the radio and ask why anyone would motor their perfectly good sailboat on a day with such great wind!  For the life of me, I'll never understand it!

We had to overshoot the Burnt Store Marina channel by a couple of miles to lay a course to it, but nevertheless, we were in the slip by 15:00 hours, and in 45 minutes washed Alizee down, put everything away, packed up and were headed to the parking lot.

It was a great two days, and it lingered. On Wednesday, Penelope had an early-morning appointment, so we postponed our final treat of the sailing trip to this morning: a fresh fried Spanish Mackerel breakfast!


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