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.
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 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.
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.