Perfect weather at last- at the end of our trip
09 March 2015 | The Keys to Punta Gorda
When we saw that the forecast had changed for Saturday, Feb 28, we quickly took advantage and got underway. I don't usually see Bob move so fast! He was ready to get home to know the boat would be safe at the dock without worry about winds, anchor, and other boats nearby. Seven weeks of bad weather was enough!
We had a nice motorsail up to Little Shark River, where many dolphin surrounded us along the way. What a serene place this is! I wanted to stay longer, but Bob insisted we move on with the good weather conditions that were forecasted. We stopped at Factory Bay, Marco Island for the night. The bottom is pure mud, which our Spade anchor doesn't like; we had to reset three times. You know the story when anchoring: you either watch the show or you are the show. It seems each time we've been in Factory Bay, we are the show!
After getting out on Monday morning, we decided to make it a long day and go right to Pelican Bay, Cayo Costa, instead of a usual stop near Fort Myers. Unfortunately, we had to motor the whole day, with calm seas and no wind. Our plan was to get home to Punta Gorda on Wednesday, and we thought we could have a couple relaxing days at anchor rather than ending the cruise in boat-delivery mode.
As we were pulling into the anchorage, we were greeted by Sally and Conrad on It's About Time. We were in the Bahamas at the same time as them, 10 years ago, and last year they bought a house in Punta Gorda and joined the PGIslanders, our boating club. What a great "welcome home!"
It was a perfect time at Pelican Bay - the weather was sunny with light (or no) winds. On Tuesday, we took the dinghy around to the Gulf side to set the anchor and walk the beach; not having been off the boat since Friday, we needed to stretch our legs. Although it was calm, we couldn't get to shallow enough water to place the anchor with the short painter we had. So, we went back around to the Charlotte Harbor side ... cutting a fisherman's line and wrapping it around our prop; boy was he mad. They were on the beach with their poles stuck in the sand; we couldn't tell they were fishing!
That evening was a boater's dream at anchor - no wind, the full moon reflecting in the water, stars all around. Breathtaking. Stunning. The kind of cruising we had hoped for.
After such a wonderful and peaceful day and night, on Wednesday we decided to stay one more day. We had had such lousy weather the first 7 weeks, it would be a shame to return with the perfection we were experiencing. We took the dinghy into Manatee Cove, and caught a picture of a Manatee as it surfaced for air. Then we went around to the two beaches within the bay, and walked the sandbar that separates the two islands that used to be one. As we dangled our feet off the dinghy, we commented on the relaxation and peace we were feeling.
The wind stayed a consistent 12-17 SE, so it wasn't as calm as the day before. Bob shielded the grill as he cooked the steak, and we enjoyed dinner in the cockpit. A motorboat had moved in next to us, and kept its generator on throughout the whole evening. There ought to be rule against that! Noise pollution interrupted another peaceful night. Well, that wasn't all that was an interruption - our anchor alarm went off about 1:00a as the winds picked up again. A fitting end, Bob said!
So on Thursday morning, 9:15a, we weighed anchor and sailed (what a concept!) all the way home. Along the way, we heard WindDrift on the radio. I hailed to see if they were the same WindDrift that was in Georgetown, Bahamas 10 years ago, and sure enough, they are. Mutual friends, George and Toby Hoenstein had told me they lived in Punta Gorda, and here we were, passing each other 10 years later. The community of boaters is what I love most about our life on SeaTryst And it's one of the things we missed most about this cruise - we didn't find the social activities in Florida as friendly as other cruising locations, making it harder to connect with fellow cruisers.
At 1:00, we arrived at home, with strong current and 15 SW winds blowing us off the dock. Neighbor Jim Morrow came over to toss our springline; we cleated off the slidemoors, and turned off the engine.
One of the reasons to come back so soon was the opportunity to see nieces Julie and Stef, and their precious 2-year-old Kenzie Jane who were visiting Carlene and Brian in Port St Lucie. It was worth every moment of the 5+ hours in the car to spend time with them. She's adorable, smart and lively. As I ran around the house with her, I commented to 27-year-old Jessica (Carlene's daughter) that I had done this same thing with her, and with Julie, and with Carlene ... What a realization that over the years I had bounced them all on my foot.
As I write this, we are snug at home in Punta Gorda, with temperatures in the mid-80s, about 10 degrees above normal the pool at 84 degrees. Friends Cindy and John are coming to visit soon, and then before you know it, we'll be heading to Connecticut to plant a garden. While it wasn't the best cruise, for me it's always a special time on SeaTryst. Let's see what next season will bring...
Don't forget to look at the photo gallery, in the right column. Thanks for following along with us.