When about to embark on a journey for which you have been planning for months and years, all sorts of powerful emotions well up from that reservoir deep within. We were both fatigued when we pulled out of our slip around two in the afternoon on August 11th. I had worked until 1 a.m. the previous night. We had two cart loads of provisions to bring on board in the wee hours of the morning. Before we were able to leave, I did some last minute grocery shopping at Publix, returned the rental car to the Tampa International Airport, filled the water tanks, pumped out the holding tank, washed the boat, and otherwise made sure we were ready to go. Cindy did three loads of laundry, met the Bright House Networks guy to disconnect our cable and internet, and unpacked and put away all the provision brought on the night before. Neither of us slept well in anticipation of the coming day.
We were overcome with a sense of gratefulness and thanksgiving as we rounded the corner and made our way past the marina. Good friends, with whom the strong bond of friendship had been solidified over the past two years, stood on their docks waving, taking pictures, sending out good-bye horn blasts , and otherwise wishing us well. Tears welled in both Cindy’s and my eyes as we pulled away.
As we made our way down the Manatee river for the very last time, a sense of satisfaction and excitement emerged. Satisfaction that, with God’s blessings and favor, we were able to realize a plan that had been set in action approximately three years prior. We were finally cruising. The excitement was blended with a touch of anxiety as we faced the challenges of the coming months and years – challenges of navigation, challenges of boat repair and maintenance, challenges of wind and waves, challenges of living and surviving, for the most part, off the grid.
In a little less than three hours, we had reached our first anchorage as cruisers. 14.16 nautical miles after leaving Regatta Pointe, we dropped anchor in 11 feet of water at Mar Vista anchorage off Long Boat Key. Shortly, thereafter we ate dinner at Mar Vista Restaurant (soft shelled crab again for me!), and returned to the boat for some much needed sleep.
It was a good first day.