En Route South
17 December 2011 | Naples, FL
EVS: Warm and Sunny
December 17, 2011
We awoke at 5:30 am on the 16th and prepared to depart the canal system. For the first time, we were not in “high gulpers” going through the lock. We crawled in and out, used only a spring line – with heavy fenders amidship and fore and aft – and Lauren stayed at the helm so she could control Gratitude’s movement using the engine as needed. (For whatever reason, the gates open before the water inside the lock has reached the level outside, so there is a significant surge of water in or out and it is kind of like trying to keep a 15 ton cork from moving when the toilet is flushed. Anyway, we felt much more in control by taking our time.) We departed the lock from the canal system to Charlotte Harbor just before high tide (and first light), so we tied to the exit dock and waited until we had a bit more visibility. Finally, at just before 6:30, we headed out to catch the tide, even though it was barely light. Having done this route several times now, we felt pretty comfortable even though it is narrow, twisty, and shallow. The markers are well fitted with reflective tape so they stand right out in the spot light.
Our sail to Cayo Costa was uneventful. We had some minor rigging issues to deal with so we used only the jib and cruised along at a stately 4-5 knots. We anchored late morning and spent the rest of the day putting Gratitude back together again – all tools away, cabin cleaned, throw rugs down, bimini and enclosure fitted over the cockpit, etc. She now is presentable!
This morning, we had hoped to leave by about 6:30 AM, but fiddled around trying to remember how the chartplotters work (the one at the helm works differently than the one down below at the navigation station – same make, different generation software) and did not get away until about 7:00 or just before. The downwind trip to Naples (where we are now) was very peaceful. In contrast to the cold temperatures of the last two years, we enjoyed sunshine and high 70s; perfect weather. En route, we read, did some more fix-it work, and were anchored by 4:45 pm. We like the spot we are in – it is a regular for us – called Port Royal. The homes here – mostly second, third, or forth – are huge, some lovely, most not. (The picture accompanying this blog is one of the homes, palm trees lighted for Christmas, and a megayacht out front.) From what we can tell, the properties are enjoyed mostly by the staff – we never see anyone around but gardeners, etc. We have not seen any sign of Occupy Wall Street, but this would be quite the area to pick as a protest site!
Tomorrow, we will depart early again and head for Indian Key. We anchor just north of the island, which has a sandy beach area on the east end. If it is not too buggy – it is the coastal area of the Everglades – we intend to go ashore, explore, and stretch our legs. There will be no cell signal there – the Everglades, remember – so we will not post again until we get to Marathon or beyond.