05/29/2011, Bradenton, FL
Sarah, Brittany, and John at Times Square, Ft Myers Beach
Sarah and Brittany flew into the regional airport near Ft. Myers. The boat was ona mooring buoy in Matansas Pass, next to Ft Myers Beach. Brittany had been day sailing with us before, but never spent the night on anchor, or mooring ball, or anywhere other than our Texas marina (in Palacios).
We spent their 2nd day in FL touring Ft Myers Beach by foot. Shopping the beach shops and having ice cream. We didn't go to the beach because it was raining and not very inviting. But the girls were saving their beach time for the next stop.
Sarah and Brittany at Orlando Airport - leaving FL
Sarah and Brittany left on Friday after spending 12 days with us. We had an awesome time and so did they. Now it is back to San Antonio, summer semester for Brittany, and a job as camp counselor for Sarah. And, John and Ann are getting underway again.
How about a pictorial of their visit.
05/22/2011, Seafood Shack Marina next to Cortez Bridge
The Seafood Shack Marina
Our night anchored in Little Sarasota Bay was one of the more pleasant of this trip. The anchorage is just off the ICW but as predicted by the guide book, the traffic died down in the evening leaving the sea around us broken only by gentle ripples. The bay became as quiet as if we were at a remote island anchorage. Following another of Ann's tasty meals, bar-b-cue chicken this time, and after a rousing session of Mexican Train, we settled in for a great night's sleep. A gentle breeze kept us cool all night long. Around 11pm, the moon came up lighting up the bay. The whole evening and night could have been an advertisement for the cruising life.
We left the anchorage around 8:30am and motored to the Seafood Shack Marina located next to the Cortez Bridge in Bradenton arriving there at noon. Jascat will be spending the next week here while we tour Sarasota and the Ringling Estate and Museum, and go to DisneyWorld. When we get back, the girls will have flown back to Texas and their summer jobs, and we will be preparing to cruise over to Pensacola.
After much consideration, Ann and I have decided to leave Jascat in Pensacola for the summer and early fall. We originally planned to be back in southern Texas by the first of June before the summer heat in Louisiana and Texas really started to ramp up. This vacation with the girls, as much fun as it has been, has kept us here in Florida an extra three weeks making it nearly July before we could get back. Neither of us can stand the thought of motoring for days on end along the hot, muggy ICW in Louisiana and Texas in mid June.
So, why Pensacola? It has a great cruising ground we've not explored, and it's just a day and a half from San Antonio. Should be fun.
05/21/2011, At anchor just south of White Beach in Little Sarasota Bay
Two of the dolphins that joined us off Manasota Key
First off: if you are reading this, you are in deep trouble. Sarah tells me that today was the start of the end of times and those of us still here tomorrow are in for considerable misery over the next few years. Personally, we haven't noticed any changes as yet. Perhaps the west coast of Florida is already close enough to heaven that we'll get an exemption.
But back to the sailing report. We left Pelican Bay at about 8am and went out Boca Grande Pass into the ocean. It seems we always encounter a Tarpon tournament in this Pass and today was no exception. There must have been 100 fishing boats milling about in the Pass all concentrating on the water and not watching out for catamarans passing them by. We managed to avoid them all, however, and set off north for the Venice Inlet twenty three nautical miles away.
The wind was very light, less than 7 kt all morning, and directly off our stern. These were very challenging conditions even for a light weight boat like the Gemini but after having to motor the previous day, we were determined to sail to Venice. We set the sails in a configuration oft used by trade wind sailors, but new to us. This is a double headsail configuration with the jib on one side and the cruising spinnaker on the other. This worked reasonably well allowing us to average about 3 kts for the morning. In the afternoon, the wind clocked around to the west and increased to about 10 kts. Switching to the main and cruising spinnaker, the average speed jumped up to the mid 5's.
We had a notable dolphin encounter in the afternoon. As we passed by Manasota Key, perhaps a dozen dolphins appeared off our port side. Several of the dolphins found us interesting enough to swim over for a closer look. Sarah and Brittany ran to the bow and got to see several swim through our bow wave. Brittany says she could have touched them if she dared.
We passed through the Venice Inlet at 3:30 after enjoying a truly great day's sail. From there we motored up the ICW for another two hours to reach our anchorage in Little Sarasota Bay.
05/20/2011, At anchor in Pelican Bay
Sarah, Brittany, and John enjoying the good life at South Sea Island Resort
The South Sea Island Resort is the best marina stop of this entire trip. It has the best showers/restrooms, laundry (which we didn't actually use), and the most convenient docks of any marina we've stayed at. Plus it has all the amenities of a 5 star resort: great beach, super pool and water slide, superb dining and shopping, and manatees swimming in the harbor. The crew didn't want to leave but the schedule couldn't be ignored.
We left South Seas at about noon and motored the short distance to Pelican Bay at the north end of Cayo Costa anchoring at about 3pm. The winds were just as light as forecast never getting above 5 knots until we were within 30 minutes of Pelican Bay.
There is a park and nearly deserted beach on Cayo Costa but the girls were beached out, so we skipped the hot, muggy walk over there and swam off the back of the boat instead. After showers and little rest, Ann prepared another of her stupendous suppers. The entree was one of our favorites, bar-b-cued pork loin a la Roberson. A fleet of boats came in to anchor as the evening went on providing entertainment for several hours.
05/18/2011, K dock in South Sea Island Marina
Jascat sitting in the lap of luxury, South Sea Island Resort
Today's trip to the South Seas Resort at the south end of Captiva Island was the first extended period of motoring Jascat has had to endure since we first entered the Abacos back in late February. We departed our mooring buoy in the Matanzas Pass mooring field at 7:35am in a near calm which carried through the entire day. Fortunately, Captiva Island is only 20 some odd nm from Ft Myers so we only had to listen to the noise for about four hours. There may be more motoring ahead. The forecast is for winds of 10 kt or less through the weekend. We'll be staying here at the South Seas Resort until Friday noon when we'll set out for the short hop to Pelican Bay.