I spent Monday morning redoing the fittings for the new Raycor fuel filter/water separator which I recently installed on our starboard engines (for the third time, and I still think there is an air leak). You may remember that on our last trip, the starboard engine kept dying on us at low rpm’s and idle. (It still did this trip as well). Anyway… Monday afternoon, around 1 o’clock, Cindy guided Beatitude out of our slip and out into the Manatee River for three days away. Cindy’s twin sister, Christy, is visiting with us for a couple of weeks. These three days are the only three we could get away during that time.
I’ve never had so much as a nibble on my fishing lines trolling behind the boat while on the river or out on Tampa Bay. That changed just before we exited the Manatee River channel. Something hit the line trailing behind the boat on the starboard hull. The usual panic ensued as Cindy took the wheel, Christy scrambled for the net and other fishing equipment, and I hauled in the prize (One of these days, we’ll be ready and organized when we get a fish on the line.) Disappointingly, the prize was not all that great. As I drew it nearer the boat, it became apparent that I had hooked a ray. After bringing it up to the bottom step, I wrestled with it for a few moments attempting to free the hook. The futility of my efforts were soon manifest, so I cut the line and lost another of my favorite lures.
The marine forecast called for waves of 1-2′ in the Gulf. Rather than take the ICW to our destination, I decided to head out into the Gulf through the Egmont Channel, make a quick jog to the north, and then reenter the ICW through the North Channel. In retrospect, not the best decision. Those 1-2′ waves were 3-4′ waves and rolling directly in from the west. This means that for approximately one hour they were right on our nose. The girls, who were out front sunning on the trampolines, were drenched as water splashed up through them every time the bow would drop from one wave crest into the next trough. Although never in any real danger, Christy did a lot of praying. As soon as we made the turn north, all was well. We did sustain some breakage inside, however, from the violent rises and drops.
Here is a short video of Cindy and Christy’s “ups and downs”:
It seems that fish never strike when in wide open spaces. This always stresses Cindy out, because she has to hurriedly take the wheel and maneuver the vessel in tight spaces, hoping not to run aground, hit an obstacle, or another vessel. Just before we made our way under the Pinellas Bayway bridge, the rod tip bent and the drag began making noise. We scrambled once again to prepare to land our fish. This battle was short-lived, though, since as soon as I grabbed the rod, my trophy leaped up from the water’s surface and spit out the lure. That would have been a nice one to land.
We motored on into Boca Ciega Bay and dropped our anchor in 9 feet of water not far from the Gulfport dinghy dock. We then dinghied in for dinner at Pia’s Italian Restaurant. This was our second visit, and it was as good as the first. It has a great feel and the food is excellent. By the way, our recent Yamaha outboard motor servicing did wonders. It is so nice not to worry about the dinghy motor starting or dying once started. After returning to the boat, I took 2 out of 3 card games (Christy took the other). We then retired for a good night’s sleep.
The next day, we dinghied into town again for a little shopping. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Gulfport hosts a street bazaar on Tuesday mornings! After lunch at Neptune Grill, we returned to Beatitude and weighed anchor around 1:30 in the afternoon. Around 6:30 we dropped our anchor in our go-to anchorage at the mouth of the Manatee, DeSoto Point. After some grilled corn-on-the-cob and burgers, we all had a good crying session watching Les Miserables (the new one with Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, and Anne Hathaway). That has got to be one of the greatest movies ever. For me, the third time watching was better than the first.
Today, I awoke to observe the sun rise (a rarity with my schedule) and then took a quick nap on the trampolines. We took a morning dinghy ride into the DeSoto National Memorial Park, returned to the boat, and around 1:30 eased into our marina slip. How nice it is to get away from the rat race and relax on the water for a few days.