Thursday, November 26, 2015

Sarasota to Cape Haze

We left Sarasota at daybreak this morning. We hoped to make it all the way to Ft. Myers Beach, which would be a 10-11 hour run.

This was another day of many drawbridges and no wake zones. Since it was a holiday (Thanksgiving) we thought there would be few boats on the water. Wrong again. This was just the start of a four-day extended weekend and the crazies were out in force.

At one point we were in a very narrow section of the ICW. A small trawler yacht was approaching at his best speed, throwing a pretty good wake. He was in the middle of the channel and not giving way so I had to ease to the side of the channel to avoid him. He kept creeping over more to my side and I couldn't get any further over. I had less than 1' below the keel at this point. He blasted past me only about 6' away. I called him on the radio to complain but his only response was "it's pretty skinny in here". No kidding.

The wind was really starting to pick up, and the Coast Guard came on the radio to announce a small craft warning, with expected winds of up to 30-35 knots from the northeast. We had a large body of water to cross this afternoon, Charlotte Harbor, and would be exposed to some big waves. We decided to find a place to stop for the night just before the open water and leave at daybreak. Hopefully, the wind would not pick up too much before we got across.

There was a small lagoon located about 30 minutes before Charlotte Harbor that looked like a perfect anchorage, so we were headed there. Reviews on ActiveCaptain said there was 9' throughout the lagoon and room for several boats.

About an hour before we would arrive at Cape Haze and the anchorage there, we had a minor disaster. The wind had picked up and we were now getting gusts to 40 mph.  When one of these gust would slam against us the boat would heel over about 20 degrees and get pushed several feet sideways. In open water this is not an issue, but it was happening while we were in a very narrow channel. We had just passed another trawler that was hogging the center of the channel and forced us over to the very edge. As we approached a day marker (nav aid mounted on a big piling) a big gust hit us, heeling us way over. It literally pushed us into the day marker. It slammed into the boat about 10' from the bow and scraped all the way to the stern.

Once we got our hearts out of our throats we assessed the damage. We now have a very large crack in the fiberglass near the bow, and a very large and deep gouge running down the side of the boat. In addition, it ripped off the winch electrical control box on the davit for lowering the dinghy. It was dangling by its wires. Fortunately, the winch still works so we can lower the dinghy. I have the control box held in place with bungee cords for now. We will have to find a boat yard to get the fiberglass repaired. I am no good at it.

Considering how hard the wind was blowing there was no way I was going to attempt to cross Charlotte Harbor. When we arrived at the Cape Haze location around 1100 I promptly turned left off the ICW into the lagoon. It was surrounded by very nice homes, and nice high trees that would help to block some of the wind. There was room for perhaps three boats here. Stylist had arrived just before me and was already anchored. I moved past him and dropped the hook. We spent the afternoon listening to the wind howl overhead.

We had a nice Thanksgiving supper of steak, baked potato, and grilled zucchini. We were in bed by 1930 so we could be up for a early departure to hopefully get across the open water before the wind kicked up.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I passed through that area on an old Alaskan on a beautiful spring day about ten years ago. Like you, I have never seen so many rude nuts on boats. Hope your fiberglass damage heals. Bill