Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Made it to Bradenton

Well here it is Tuesday and I am finally bringing everyone up to speed on our where abouts. My brain was fried for a couple days after staying awake so much during the 36 hour crossing to get here from Carrabelle. Friday we pulled away from the marina and motor sailed for an hour to get to Dog Island where we planned on staging our getaway from. We set anchor about 1pm and I set about getting things ready below as Dirk was doing the same up on deck. I baked a pan of muffins and made a big pot of gumbo so the cooking would be done and all it would take was a quick heat up to eat. We had two routes planned this time. One was for seas and winds that would cooperate and the other was in case we ran into the same type of mess we got into on our last attempt. The weather reports were calling for anywhere between 5 to 15 knot winds and seas 1 to 3 feet. About 6pm we tried to settle in trying to prep our brains for an early night to bed as we were to be up early. 1:30am the alarm went off and we were up and ready to go in 30 minutes. Of course it felt as if neither of us got any sleep as we were both anxious to get a move on. We pulled anchor in pitch darkness and headed to the pass circling around a couple of the buoys a couple times as we completely lost our bearings. It was quiet unsettling seeing lights all around and yet not quiet knowing where we were. It seemed so straight forward during the daylight hours. Finally we made it out the pass and set our sails and autopilot. I have to say, I really don't know how people make long crossings without one. I cant imagine having to hand steer for any length of time. Well the winds and seas were exactly what they called for, somehow we didn't really trust them but they were. We ended up doing the wing on wing with the sails as the wind was coming from right behind us. We motor sailed at about 5.5 knots the entire morning till a little after sunrise when we decided to give Max our trusty westerbeke a rest. It was a quiet slow moving ride for the next six hours till Dirk did the math and realized if we were gonna get through the Egmont channel during the daylight hours we would need to get a move on. Dirk fired up Max once again and we headed off with seas being a pleasant 1 to 3 feet. Butters was very catered to on this trip as he has finally realized the best place to be is in the cockpit with us. I tried taking him down a couple times to use his litter box but he made a bee line up top once again. So momma or daddy would go down, retrieve the litter box every once in a while, bring it up top, drop the cat into it and wait. With Dirk and I taking turns on the helm the other person would doze or rest with the cat happily plastered between our legs covered with a blanket. This is how he feels the safest and that's how he stayed after dark. During the day we could just cover him with a blanket and he was content. We call him our tunneler as I have never known a cat that loved being buried under blankets like him. Any time you cant find him usually go to the bed and look for the lump. Anyway, the first day came and went and as it was turning into night on the second day I wondered if it would end. I felt like the little train that could, I think I can, I think I can. We had nice breaks when the dolphins would come and play in the wake of the boat. We would go to the bow and hang over the front watching them.

As many times as I see them it never gets old. The only scare we had was during the night on Saturday when I am dozing and Dirk says there is a ship out there over 150 feet showing up on the radar coming right at us. We watched it as it kept heading for us in the pitch darkness. Finally we decided to change our course as he wasn't doing anything. Dirk tried hailing the vessel to no avail and we figure they just had the auto pilot set and were all asleep. Whew! I'm awake.....Daylight broke on the second morning and we were in the home stretch. Yes....I was never so happy to see the sun rise. About 11am we hit the Egmont channel and were greeted by a very large pod of dolphins being our welcome committee. I was at the helm and suddenly I felt like a very small boat on big waters as these huge container ships were headed in and out of Tampa Bay. Wow those suckers can move some water and go fast. Once I saw the sunshine skyway bridge I knew it was only a matter of time before we could say we did it.
The longest leg of our journey was over and it was 36 hours after we had begun.Dirk saw all these boats trolling so he threw his line out and it was only a matter of time before we got a hit.We were hoping for a grouper but we ended up with a king mackerel. That would do.....I got the fish whiskey out and Dirk gaffed the fish and raised it up for me to spray the Jim Beam into its gills. I have read that if you spray alcohol down the fishes gills it sedates them and they wont thrash as much. Ha....I think he didn't like Jim too much and he thrashed away sending blood spaying around everywhere. Finally he succumbed to the drunk and went beddy bye. It was either the whiskey or the fact that Dirk gaffed him through a major artery and he bled out. Hummm..... So now I need to see the best way to cook King Mackerel, any ideas?

We are docked right now in a good place on the inter coastal waterway in Bradenton. A place called the seafood shack marina whose rates are the best we found in the area if you go for the weekly rate. They have a marina lounge with washer/dryer and shower/bathroom facilities. To boot we are docked right in front of the restaurant which we have eaten at a couple times and the food it good. Below is where we are docked with Tybee Time on the left.

On the blog position map it shows us several docks down where we were when we first got here. We have since moved on down a ways as we wanted a little more protection. Right across the bridge is Anna Maria Island with many shops and a beautiful beach. These parts are some of my old stomping grounds as I lived here many years ago for a couple years. We will stay here a week, relax and visit with family and friends that are down this way. Our next stop will probably be down in the Naples area somewhere. It feels so good though to be on our way. Dirk and I both have to keep saying that this is real, this is happening, finally.......


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