We awoke this morning to another cold blustery day with northerly winds at 20 knots and a high expected in the 50s. But, the sun was shining brightly and all was better after our anchor fiasco. There is no pleasure in sharing my ineptitude and mistakes, but I do so in order to paint a true picture of this lifestyle and so that others may benefit from my miscues. At any rate, we were able to weigh anchor this morning with no difficulty, and after another pancake breakfast, we eased our way out of Pelican Bay at low tide. The depth meter alarm continually squawked as it read as low as 3.2 feet. We made it out, however, without touching bottom and turned northward for a 3-hour trip to our next overnight destination.
The trip up the ICW across Charlotte Harbor was uneventful. We fought wind and current on the nose for most of the trip, but it was actually enjoyable. Our newly redone bimini/dodger windows kept the wind from directly blowing across our faces. Numerous dolphins and pelicans served as pleasant distractions along the way. We did encounter one bridge today, the Boca Grande Swing Bridge. In order to make the opening on the hour, we had to rev the engines a little higher than normal, and we made it with just a moment to spare. Shortly thereafter, we turned into Palm Island Marina, a gem of a Marina just south of Lemon Bay that we had visited once before.
The staff at Palm Island Marina was exceptional. As we entered through the marina channel, 3 young men stood ready to assist with the lines. But first came the death-defying maneuvering of a 42 x 25 foot sailboat in narrow confines. This marina is quite small. We had to pass our slip and progress to a small open spot in which to spin Beatitude around, and then we had to come back into a side-tie on a dock with the wind blowing us off the dock. All of this was not without challenge, but thankfully we executed the necessary acrobatics without a flaw. They guys quickly grabbed the lines and tied us securely to the dock. They then connected our shore power, filled our water tanks, and pumped out the black-water. I must say, that after 5 days and nights off the grid, it was nice to be plugged in to the mainland again. Even more nice was to have wifi once more!
After tying up, the ladies did 2 or 3 loads of laundry at the free (yes, I said free) laundry facilities. We also unloaded the 3-4 bags of garbage we had accumulated since leaving Palmetto. Several folks walked by who had been eating at the marina restaurant and commented that the whole restaurant had been attentively watching me enter the marina and maneuver Beatitude in tight quarters. It was nice to hear them say that there was applause at the end. Receiving compliments for a task well-done are appreciated, especially as minor compensation for the foolishness one feels over his blunders (e.g., last evening). There is no better entertainment for other cruisers and onlookers sitting in an anchorage or marina than to watch another boat come in to dock, anchor, or pick up a mooring. Often, these maneuvers provide high comedy! Fortunately, not this time.
Palm Island Marina has an excellent restaurant across the ICW on Palm Island called Rum Bay Restaurant. We were all eager to make our way over on the marina water taxi. What we didn’t expect to encounter upon arriving at the taxi dock was a whiny captain who didn’t want to take us to the restaurant. He said he was closing down early today due to the extreme cold (upper 40s at the time with a brisk northerly wind). We (especially Cindy and Tracy; I’m easier to push around) would not take no for an answer. Against his wishes and in spite of his whininess, he eventually relented and agree to take us the 2 miles or so up the ICW to the restaurant. You would have thought we were asking him to take us out into the perfect storm. And, he was a Massachusetts guy as well, complaining incessantly about the cold! After he realized he had to take us over and come back to pick us up, he had a change of countenance and attitude. He actually was quite friendly and seemed like a nice guy (I hope I’m not being too skeptical in wondering if he knew that this tactic was his only hope for a tip, since he had to be out in the frigid temperatures anyway.)
The restaurant served delicious food and drinks. From Rum Bay Smashes to hot peel-and-eat shrimp with drawn butter, to potato, bacon and cheese appetizers, to caesar salads, to fish and chips and coconut shrimp – all was excellent. After dinner, we walked over to the gulf beach and watched a gorgeous sun dipping into the ocean and collected scores of shells as we walked along. The tide was going out leaving behind generous deposits of shells behind it. Our now-jolly water taxi captain was there to transport us back to the marina (and, yes, I did tip him).
We ended the day aboard the boat, enjoying our shore-power and wi-fi. What a great day!