I am now sitting in my home office catching up on mail and other business which waited for our return. The night shift in the Emergency Dept. awaits me this evening. When I last left you, we had awakened from a night spent in the Marathon Marina. I’ve concluded that I’ll be spending less time in marinas and more in anchorages when cruising. It cost us $133.00 to tie up next to a dock for 1 night. Comparing that to our $668.00 for 1 month at Regatta Pointe (where we will keep Beatitude) makes our permanent home look like quite the deal.
Well, we left Marathon at 1 in the afternoon. The morning was occupied by my taxi trip to the local Publix for a few more provisions and utensils, and some general upkeep of the boat. Shortly after leaving the marina, we sailed under the famous 7 mile bridge. With a clearance of 65′ and a mast height of 64+’, I experienced anxiety and palpitations looking up to the top of the mast as we motored under the bridge. I was certain we would lose our mast (which we didn’t, thank God)! The rest of the day was spent motoring in light and variables winds approximately 20 miles off the gulf coast of southern florida. The only aquatic life we saw up to this point was a few flying fish removing themselves from the path of our yacht. Around midnight, we spotted the lights of an oil rig off to port (left side of the boat facing forward). At 7 am we witnessed a beautiful sunrise over Naples. Shortly thereafter, we were greeted with the company of a pod of dolphins who playfully swam beneath our boat before heading off. After 28 hours of motoring (we motorsailed for about 12 of those with the mainsail up), we anchored in a beautiful anchorage in Venice. See the foregoing discussion on anchoring vs. marinas above. The Crow’s Nest Marina wanted $175 for us to tie up to their dock for the night. And there was no nearby restaurant as in Marathon.
Friday morning, we were up early so that we might journey up the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) the rest of the way from Venice to Bradenton. It was a beautiful, peaceful trip on which we saw all manner of waterfowl and several dolphin sightings. We pulled into our home port, Regatta Pointe Marina on the Manatee River around 3:30 in the afternoon. After securing Beatitude to the dock, washing down the boat, and generally putting things away, we had a celebratory dinner at the marina restaurant.
All in all, the trip was wonderful and we feel really good about Beatitude and our future plans. More on that to come. Following are some photos of our first passage (Click on the photos for a larger version):