Monday, June 3
It took us awhile to motor through the Caloosahatchee River and Fort Myers. At some point Stephen took the helm and Ralph and Arlene took naps preparing for the journey ahead.
By 11:30 we were back in the ICW following the red and green markers through the maze of islands to Redfish Pass where we would make our exit into the Gulf of Mexico.
There were thunderstorms all around but we had checked the weather carefully and we were able to make our sail free and clear. We were all thrilled to be sailing without the incessant roar of the engines. Very fun.
Eventually we would be on a beam to broad reach and the winds would slow down. By evening we were going only 4 knots and by midnight the winds slowed so much that Ralph took the sails down and we putzed the rest of the way on only the port engine. We were in no hurry.
We did three hour watches. We had six hours off in between watches to nap, eat or relax. Arlene from 3 to 6 p.m. Stephen and Franci from 6 – 9 p.m. Ralph from 9 – midnight. Arlene back on midnight to 3 – 6 a.m. Stephen and Franci back on 3 – 6 a.m. Ralph brought us in to Bradenton. He reported that there were huge swells and pounding surf as we left the Gulf of Mexico and came back into the ICW. He also took a photo of the lighthouse that Stephen and Franci saw for hours on their pre-dawn watch. We arrived at 9 a.m.
Here's the lighthouse whose light Stephen and Franci saw throughout their pre- dawn watch.
For the most part we saw no other boats on our journey through the Gulf. Perhaps the threat of a tropical storm scared them away. As we came close to the Tampa-Bradenton area, for several hours we could see the lights of ships that were anchored in the shipping lanes waiting for their turn to come into port. We turned right into the Tampa area before reaching the shipping lanes.
This is the area of Florida where Hernando DeSoto first landed many years ago. As we pulled into the Manatee River where our marina in Bradenton is located we saw what may have been his first anchorage of choice. It was a beautiful protected cove with white beaches.
We also saw many very nice houses.
By 9 a.m. we were at the Twin Dolphins Marina, a very nice place that will be our home for the next few days. We refueled and checked into our dock site. Parts to fix the AC will arrive here tomorrow. We'll be happy to have AC. It's beginning to get warm. We're not in Maine anymore.
We had breakfast at Robin's Cafe, recommended by the marina. They certainly knew what they were talking about. YUM!
Spinach feta cheese quiche with fruit.
Tortilla Wrap fried with lots of delicious things inside. Side of potatoes. Not pictured is a grilled sweet roll with icing that we split for hor'derves. We were all really hungry after our 26 hour journey.
On our way to breakfast we passed this lovely fountain with a mother manatee with her baby. Everything here is about manatees. We are, after all, on the Manatee River.
We've been here long enough to know that the Bradenton area where we are located is very charming with many restaurants, museums, walks with outstanding tropical landscaping and shopping areas. We'll tell you about it in our next blog.
Life is good.
Franci and Stephen