… And Back.

We awoke Saturday morning safely moored in Sarasota Bay. After breakfast, we dinghied in to the dinghy dock at Captain Jack Marina, paid for our mooring, and took a three mile walk into Sarasota. Sarasota is a beautiful city! I told Mariah I would love to take a few weeks and visit one restaurant each day walking up and down Main Street. There were so many places that appeared to have great food and atmosphere. On our way back to the marina, we visited the statue which commemorates the famous photograph of the kiss in NYC at the end of World War II. For the interesting story behind “The Kiss” read The Story of the Kiss.

At Captain Jack Marina: The ladies with our dinghy in the background right tied to the dinghy dock

At Captain Jack Marina: The ladies with our dinghy in the background right tied to the dinghy dock

The Kiss

The Kiss

On this day, we would accomplish another first – our first solo trip up the ICW. We had three bridges to contend with. The fist was the Ringling Causeway bridge which has a vertical clearance beneath the bridge of 65 ft. The anxiety producing fact is that our mast is 64.5 ft. high (It was intentionally cut shorter by the previous owner to enable ICW travel.) The second anxiety producing fact is that we were leaving around noon and (high) high tide was at 12:15. We passed beneath the bridge around 12:40 p.m. In spite of every fiber of my body telling me that I was about to lose my mast, we barely eased beneath the bridge without incident and continued northward. From 60 feet below, that 6 inches of clearance didn’t look like much.

The anxious moment before passing under the Ringling Causeway Bridge

The anxious moment before passing under the Ringling Causeway Bridge

Making our way up the ICW

Making our way up the ICW

Posing by the furled genoa on the ICW

Posing by the furled genoa on the ICW

The rest of the trip up the ICW was uneventful and blissful. We had gorgeous sunny weather! Nothing broke! No unwanted excitement! We did have another first during this trip… that of hailing the bascule bridges (drawbridges) for opening as we neared them. At 2:40 we passed beneath the Cortez bridge and at 3:00 we passed beneath the Anna Maria Island bridge. I was able to time my approach perfectly to pass through without stress. Shortly thereafter, we were into Tampa Bay. We made the 90° starboard turn to approach the Manatee River channel, and then made our way up the river to Regatta Pointe. Remember that easterly wind for which I said I’d give anything in order to dock more easily. Well, we had it! We backed into the slip with ease and had our smoothest docking experience to date. Everyone was dry and the lines were not wrapped around the prop.

Heavy Memorial Day Weekend traffic on the ICW

Heavy Memorial Day Weekend traffic on the ICW

Preparing to pass through the Cortez Bascule Bridge.  The Anna Maria Island Bridge is in the background.

Preparing to pass through the Cortez Bascule Bridge. The Anna Maria Island Bridge is in the background.

Passing through the Cortez Bridge

Passing through the Cortez Bridge

The opening of the Anna Maria Island Bridge

The opening of the Anna Maria Island Bridge

While, we didn’t get to go out for as long as originally planned. All went well and we had a great time. These are the kinds of experiences we need in preparation for our future life at sea.

Mariah safely back on land at the marina

Mariah safely back on land at the marina

Our newly acquired American Flag set in place just in time for this weekend.  Happy Memorial Day!

Our newly acquired American Flag set in place just in time for this weekend. Happy Memorial Day!

To Sarasota…

The comedic adventures on board Beatitude continued this weekend. Our daughter, Mariah, is home from college in Boston for a couple of weeks. I have some time off, so we decided to go out on the water for a few days. The original plan was for four days, but Mariah and the boat don’t get along very well, so we decided to make it a two day trip.

Reading a Kindle book out on the bay

Reading a Kindle book out on the bay

Barry and Mariah having lunch on the trampolines

Barry and Mariah having lunch on the trampolines

We had several firsts on our two-day adventure. The first first was leaving the protected waters of Tampa Bay and heading out into the open waters of the gulf. It was exhilarating to be out on the gulf. As we made our way out of Southwest Channel between Egmont Key and Anna Maria Island we encountered a steady 15 knot northwesterly wind. This provided us with following seas of about 2-3 ft. The gentle rocking motion of the waves passing beneath us from behind was a new experience, as was the slight queasiness which accompanied it. Nothing a little ginger gum couldn’t help. We followed a line about 3 miles off the coast until we reached our destination. No major incidents to report in this.

Cindy standing on the starboard side

Cindy standing on the starboard side

The second first involves a fish on the line. I must preface this story with the statement that I have limited to no saltwater fishing experience. My only time fishing in the gulf involved a day charter a couple of years ago in which we went out a few miles, dropped some lines over the side of the boat while still and caught a number of grouper and snapper. I’ve never trolled for fish. Now, having said that, after reaching the gulf, I dropped a new 7″ lure I just bought over the back of the boat and let out 150′ of line or so. We sailed along at about 6-7 knots with the lure trailing behind. Finally, just a half-hour or so before our exit from the gulf, we heard the clicking of the drag as the tip of the pole bent downwards and line was flying off the spool. Now, that’s an adrenaline rush. Of course, it is one thing to have a fish hit your lure, it’s another thing to land it (especially when one has no idea what he is doing). I grabbed the rod with the anticipation of landing my first fish. Although, I turned my drag all the way up, the line kept reeling off. I have about 400 feet of line on the reel, but I was quickly having visions of an empty reel and losing all. It occurred to me eventually (after what felt like minutes, but was probably 45-60 seconds), that I should slow down the boat since even if the fish was stationary I was losing line at a rate of 6-7 nautical miles/hour. About the time I figured that out, in concert with my awkward attempts at reeling in the fish while giving enough drag, the rod straightened out and the tension on the line was gone. I had lost my trophy. I have 40 pound test line on the rod, so I am assuming that whatever sea creature I had snagged was of decent size. I reeled in the line and my lure was gone. Bummer!

Preparing to do (short-lived) battle with what I'm sure was a massive fish

Preparing to do (short-lived) battle with what I’m sure was a massive fish

Happy to have our little girl home from Boston

Happy to have our little girl home from Boston

The third first came as we made our way through the channel and into Sarasota bay. I must first note that Big Sarasota Pass is terribly misnamed. There is nothing big about it. Even though I stayed within the channel exiting the gulf, my shallow water depth alarm continually sounded and read 3.5-4 ft. My draft (the distance from the water’s surface to the lowest part of my boat beneath the water) is 4’2″. Fortunately, after several minutes of tense focus, we hit the deeper part of the channel and was comfortably entering the bay with 15-20 feet of water. Now, we came to the part where the channel splits into three separate channels. Although, I was pretty certain I was following the navigational markers, I soon heard my shallow water alarm sound. The next thing I heard was the dull thud of my two hulls on the sandy bottom. I had accomplished a new first of running aground (I’m sure there’ll be many more.) I take consolation from a recent sailing magazine quote said that there are only 2 sailors who have never run aground: The one who has never left the dock and the one who is a voracious liar. Well, I’m not lying and I did leave port. Fortunately, I was going rather slowly at the time (at least, one smart thing I did!). I quickly put both engines in reverse and gradually eased myself off the shallow sand. Whew! No need to call for a tow! The funny part (or not so funny) is that approximately 15 seconds before I ran aground, Cindy looked at the nearby sign which read “Shoal” and asked “What’s a Shoal?” Yes… that should have been a sufficient hint to avoid that area. Here’s your sign!

"What does Shoal Mean?"

“What does Shoal Mean?”

After our little experience of resting on the bottom of the bay, we motored on into the Sarasota mooring field, picked up our mooring ball which we had reserved, and settled in for the evening. You may recall that on our recent (first) mooring attempt, we had to make several passes to pick up the ball. This one we accomplished on the first attempt, although Cindy did lose one of our two boathooks overboard. Fortunately, we were able to grab the second boathook and secure ourselves to the mooring. I then jumped into the dinghy and performed a successful rescue of our pole.

Preparing to grab the mooring ball

Preparing to grab the mooring ball

Rescuing our boat hook (seen in upper right of photo)

Sunset behind the Ringling Causeway Bridge

Sunset behind the Ringling Causeway Bridge

In my next post, I’ll chronicle our return home the next day.

Moonrise over Sarasota

Moonrise over Sarasota

The Blessing of the Boat

Today, Cindy and I were honored to have Fr. Al Jenkins and Fr. Reid Hensarling aboard Beatitude. Fr. Al is the rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Lakeland, and Fr. Reid is the Associate Rector. We have been a grateful part of that congregation of thoughtful, spiritual, and loving Christians for a couple of years now. Prior to that time, I (Barry) had been wandering in a spiritual wilderness for 20 years. My faith and confidence in Christ and Christianity never wavered, but I could find no church where I felt at home. All Saints values the life of the mind and the life of the spirit. It is faithful to biblical Christianity and orthodoxy, while being actively engaged in culture. All Saints truly is a unique place to serve and worship our great God.

Beatitude's cockpit, ready to be blessed

Beatitude’s cockpit, ready to be blessed

Photo-op in the Salon

Photo-op in the Salon

Cindy emerging from the guest hull into the salon.

Cindy emerging from the guest hull into the salon.

Conversing about the boating life.

Conversing about the boating life.

As I stated, it was a honor to have these two godly men visit us today and pray a blessing over Beatitude and our lives aboard. It has now been set apart as a blessed place – a place with divine protection, and a place to enjoy God’s blessings and experiencing God’s great creation. In short, it is a place of “Beatitude,” of being “supremely blessed”.

We are officially blessed!

We are officially blessed!