St. Johns River '10

May 22 to 28th

May 22, 2010 - Ft. Myers to Englewood, FL

It was kind of a rocky-rolly night due to the fact that we were on the end of the inner breakwater. The waves were wrapping around and creating some turbulence. Once the light wind stopped, the movement did too, and I was able to get some sleep. The AC unit kept kicking off too, so there might be something blocking the water flow there. We'll have to check it out. We got ready to leave and pulled away from the dock at 8:30--getting that early start like I mentioned.

 
 
With the AC situation and no end to the 90 degree heat and humidity for the next week, we decided to skip spending a night at anchor in Cayo Costa (Pelican Bay) and head straight for Englewood Beach. We'll spend the night there and head for home tomorrow at high tide. It was a bright sunny day with light winds. We decided to cruise a little faster today at 18 mph to give ourselves a little breeze, since we would be traveling with the little wind there was. The ride was comfortable and boat traffic was heavier because of it being a Saturday. We entered the "Miserable Mile" near Cape Coral where you have to go at idle speed and traffic is usually heavy. For 9:00 in the morning, it was!

 
 
Another reason they call it the "Miserable Mile" is because there is a strong current there and you can get pushed sideways out of the lane without really knowing it. You really have to pay attention to your driving. It was pretty choppy on Pine Island Sound as we neared Cabbage Key and Useppa Island. There were quite a few sailors taking advantage of the stronger breeze today in this area. There had to be 100 fishing boats in Boca Grande Pass. We called Gasparilla Marina and asked them what was going on. They said it was a ladies tarpon tournament. How cool! You go girls! Charlotte Harbor was pretty rough as we made our way across it to more sheltered water in Gasparilla Sound and the ICW. I must say the "weekend crazies" were out in all their glory today creating havoc on the water. We arrived in Englewood Beach at our anchorage for the night around 1:00. As we entered the anchorage we spotted an older man who had gotten his boat stuck on a sandbar and was trying to push himself off. A man and his son stopped to help and pushed his boat free. They were both on their way in no time. It's so nice to see people helping each other like that!

 
 
We dropped the hook and hung out waiting for the sun to go down and watching the boat traffic. Our trip today was 55.1 miles. There was a nice breeze blowing through the boat which kept things cool. We watched a grandma and grandpa drag their grandkids around on a tube behind their boat.

 
 
Two dolphins started following them and one jumped up really high in the air. Until that time the kids were screaming for grandpa to go faster. Now the girls just wanted to get off the tube and back into the boat as fast as possible. I think they were scared. After the engine room cooled down, Bob went below to do his daily engine room check. Everything looked good. I heard him talking to the boat. He said, "OK, old girl. We're almost home and you can rest. We'll give you a nice bath and clean you up. You have taken good care of us. Soon you can take it easy." My sentiments exactly! He also put the snubber on the anchor chain, so it wouldn't make noise tonight when the boat swings from side-to-side. We wasted away the afternoon just taking it easy and enjoying our last day of vacation at anchor. After awhile, we took our beach chairs out on the bow and sa there to be in the breeze and watch the boat traffic go by in the ICW.

 
 
When the sun got too hot, we went inside to do cocktails before dinner. Bob grilled a steak for supper and we sat in the AC watching some TV. About 9:00, I felt a bump on the boat and saw a light. Bob went outside to find a DNR/police boat tied to us. The water cop said he beeped his horn and called out, but we didn't hear him. We had the TV, generator, doors cold, and fan on. How could we hear anything? We didn't have our anchor light on yet, so he stopped to inform us of that and then he checked our registration. It was kind of scary at that time of the night, but everything checked out ok, so he wished us a good night and left. We turned on the anchor light and went to bed shortly thereafter. The cool breeze would help us sleep easy.

May 23, 2010 - Englewood Beach to Palmetto, FL

Palmetto here we come. We woke up to a beautiful, warm day. Bob made our usual Sunday ham and eggs breakfast. We got things ready to go and pulled the anchor at 8:00. We timed our arrival at home to coincide with a high tide, otherwise it would be dangerous to try and get into our canal and to our dock. Traffic was light on the ICW this morning, except for a few fishermen, but I was sure that would change. We traveled at cruise speed where we could and idled through the "slow-no wake" zones. We hadn't gone far, when Bob spotted a manatee right in the lane. We slowed down, took the engines out of gear, and just floated over him. Once we were sure we were clear of him, we moved on. So far, the day was cool, with a light breeze blowing over the water creating only ripples. We saw a few early morning bikers and hikers along the bike path that runs on both sides of the ICW from Venice south for a couple of miles. It's called the Venice Waterway Park. We'll have to come and ride our bikes on it sometime.

 
 
The activity level started to pick up as the morning wore on and boaters were beginning to move about. We passed under the bridge that brought the beautiful skyline of Sarasota into view.

 
 
Farther down, New Pass was a zoo of boats going every which way and the ICW got very crowded all of a sudden. How many boats can you see ahead of us in this picture?

 
 
Tampa Bay was fairly rough with the waves coming out of the north. As we turned east into Terra Ceia Bay, the ride got a little smoother. We cruised into the Manatee River. We were almost home. I missed the gorgeous blue color of the water on this side of Florida. The ICW on the east coast of Florida consists mainly of rivers and the water can be a cloudy, ugly brown color. This is where the blue of the sky meets the blue of the water. It's much prettier here and it's good to be back in familiar waters. We turned the corner into our canal and entered our lagoon.

 
 
We pulled up alongside our dock. We had arrived home and were tied up by 1:00.

 
 
We were greeted by our friends, Neal and Lynelle. It's nice to be home. I'm sure Justavacation thinks so too. We off-loaded a few of the items from the boat, but would save the rest for tomorrow. We got the house opened up and running again. Neal was kind enough to turn on the AC ahead of time, so at least the house was cooled off by the time we got home. Tomorrow Justavacation would get her long-awaited (and needed) bath and an inside cleaning from bow to stern. Before we got back, I asked Bob what he was looking forward to once he got home, after spending 2 months and 3 days on the boat. His answer was, "I just want to sit on my deck at the house for a week, do nothing, and not have to wear sunscreen every day." (He's religious about putting it on every morning.) As for me, I want to take long showers and do dishes without having to worry about how much water I'm using. I want to not have to move 10 things, to get at one thing in the fridge. It's the little things you come to appreciate, you see. As much as I have loved writing my blog and taking pictures, it will be nice not to have to write one every day and carry my camera with me everywhere I go. It was a labor of love--as much for me and my memories, as it was for you. We traveled a total of 1,498 miles. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. With that, I'll end by saying -- It's been a great adventure! The new boat ran well and we have adjusted nicely to the smaller size. We learned that going slower is not such a bad thing and definitely saves on fuel. We actually saved 461 gallons of fuel for a savings of about 2 tanks of gas. We've gotten to know our home state of Florida much better on this trip, and have come to appreciate its beauty--even the SALT water. Thanks for coming along with us. Till next tide.......

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