Shortly after sunrise following our second night of anchoring at Ding Darling, the gang arose for a tasty pancake breakfast with bacon. Tracy and Barry tried a little fishing over the side of the boat, with no success. We then put our new two-person kayak to the test, but not before I tested my new lifeproof iphone case. It works. I stepped into the kayak first and within one minute I found the kayak upside and me in the water beside it. Brrrr! The water temperature is around 60 degrees and that is plenty refreshing. I was anxious to get out with iphone intact. (The jury is still out on the GoPro).
Soon, I reassumed my position in the rear and Cindy made her way into the seat in the front. We tandem-paddled our way onto the shores of the Ding Darling NWR, scaring off two large white pelicans in the process. I found a rather large conch shell, still inhabited by the conch. The conch lives to see another day. We enjoyed the beach and the time on the water. Upon our return, Tracy and Julie took their turn. They, too kayaked into Ding Darling and explored the beach before returning. Not wishing to visit Florida without a swim, they both decided to take a plunge off the back of Beatitude. And a plunge is all it was, as neither could withstand the cold temperatures for long.
Once we were all safely aboard, the engines were fired up for departure. At least the starboard engine started right away. The port engine produced only a warning beep when the ignition was pressed. This happened once before when in our slip in the marina. I replaced the port engine starting battery and have had no problems since. When I read the voltage on our battery monitor it seemed to have proper voltage, but the engine would not turn over. So… I went below and flipped the switch to start the engine off the other start battery (something I learned since our last problem) and it started right up. I’ll have to investigate once we return home (Addendum: We had no further problems the rest of the trip. Must be a short or something.). At 11:45 am, we weighed anchor and slowly made our way out of the anchorage.
It was a delightful 2 hr and 45 minute trip up the ICW. Bright sun, light breezes, and plenty of visits by the local dolphin clans. It was mostly quiet and uneventful… except for one small moment. I was at the helm and I heard the drag on one of our two fishing lines clicking away. I went back to grab the rod while Cindy took the helm. Julie ran for the camera and Tracy grabbed the net and gaff. Again, this fish seemed like a big one as it was all I could do to keep him from taking out line. I was battling hard until suddenly the shallow depth alarm went off. Beatitude had wandered out of the channel and I quickly went to the helm to correct our course. Tracy took the line and attempted to battle the fish. Unfortunately, in wandering off course we had also curled around a day mark piling. The line made a bend around this piling as well. I attempted to turn the boat in a circle to double back on the line to see if we could get things under control. Unfortunately, about the time I thought we might be making progress, a speed boat came along and ran over our line. Now we had the prop of a two or three thousand pound-plus boat on our line. Needless to say, the line was zipping off the reel until suddenly – pop! The reel was completely empty as all 400 feet of line was gone and our fishing adventure was over. Also on the to-do list is to put more line on the fishing reel. Our fishing fiascos never cease to amaze me.
After dropping the hook in six feet of water in beautiful Pelican Bay behind Cayo Costa State Park, we quickly changed into something warmer, piled in the dinghy, and started out for Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant. The 2.5 mile dinghy ride was pleasant enough, and soon we docked the dinghy on Cabbage Key and headed in for dinner. Cabbage Key is quite the place. It is famous for reportedly being the place where Jimmy Buffet wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise after a wonderful day fishing. So, what did we eat? Cheeseburgers (in Paradise)! The setting was very relaxing and had a nice, tropical feel. The walls are covered with one dollar bills (supposedly about 50,000 of them) with the names of those who’ve eaten there. On those walls, are the names of John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Ernest Hemingway among others. Of course, now the names of Barry, Cindy, Julie, and Tracy also grace dollar bills attached to the walls.
Our dinghy ride back also marked a first. A nighttime dinghy ride. It was the first time we used the navigation lights for our dinghy (red and green for the bow and white for the stern). When we arrived back to Beatitude, all was quiet and dark.We settled in and sat around the salon table for our evening competition. Winners: Bananagrams – Barry (Still undefeated); Ten-Down – Julie; Golf – Tracy.