Last week, Randy and I had our first overnight guests aboard s/v Blue Turtle. Since it was Spring Break and no school, my sister and nephew Ryan joined us for a week of cruising and sailing. Getting a late afternoon start, we decided to try a new anchorage near the Sanibel Causeway. But first, we thought we would pull up the sails and introduce my sis and nephew to sailing. We sailed for about an hour on the Gulf before heading to anchor for the night.
The anchorage was great, plenty of breeze and little boat traffic. We had happy hour and dinner and even did some puzzling. We learned over the holidays that our family loves to put together puzzles. My sis brought an awesome roll up mat to stow the puzzle away while we weren’t working on it. I thought this was fantastic since space is always an issue on a boat. Randy ran our generator for about an hour to charge the batteries when it decided to quit on us. With it being late and frustrating, Randy decided he’d have to look into it in the a.m.
The next day was spent in the same anchorage troubleshooting the generator issue. We had planned to cruise to Cayo Costa that day but decided we needed to make sure the generator would run for us out there. Randy was a trooper and was completing relentless on fixing the issue. It turned out to be a fuel clog in one of the lines and we were able to get it back up and running. Woo hoo! We were set to cruise north!
The next day, with the generator back in working order, our crew left the anchorage and cruised out into the Gulf. For the next few hours, we motored North toward Boca Grande Pass. We were able to sail a bit and then had to motor sail the rest of the way through the increasingly lumpy water. Waves were probably 4-5′ and the trawler would have been a bit uncomfortable, but the sailboat cut right through them. We have been pleasantly surprised at how well she handles herself in choppy or rough water. Once we made it into Pelican Bay, we found a spot to drop our anchor. That evening, it was a repeat of sundowners in the cockpit, dinner and more puzzling.
It appeared that we had a cold front pushing through the next couple of days with some high winds and minor rain. We spent the next morning having coffee, breakfast and working the puzzle since it was a bit too windy and rough to get the dinghy down. That afternoon, Randy and Ryan got the dinghy in the water and we all went ashore to stretch our legs.
With winds roughly 15 – 20 kts, we decided to spend a morning trying some heavier wind sailing. Most of the sailing Randy and I had done up to this point was light winds (10-15 kts). With all crew on board, we set out motoring through Boca Grande Pass. Once we got out the pass, we raised our sails. Instead of pulling out all of the sails, we only pulled out some of the main and the genoa. Since we already had great wind, we didn’t need all that sail out to move. We were able to make 6 kts easily. It was a beautiful day and the water color near Boca Grande is spectacular! We had a great half day sail that gave Randy and I a little confidence in sailing in these conditions. We need it since it turns out we need 15+ to get our girl going with her size and weight.
After such a great day sailing, we had yet another fun-filled day planned. My oldest nephew, Jack, and his girlfriend (Bella) were arriving to Cayo Costa for the day via the Tropic Star ferry out of Pine Island. We knew they planned to spend a day out on the boat with us, but we couldn’t think of where we could pick them up. That’s when we got the idea of getting them tickets on the Tropic Star and having them delivered to us. Randy and Ryan were already waiting at the docks at Cayo Costa to pick them up. Once they were onboard, we decided to take them out for a short sail to show them what it’s like. Winds that day were a bit higher – 18 kts, gusting to 25 kts. We started raising the main sail while in the pass and heeled over quite a bit. By the time we were out of the pass, we were cruising to almost 7 kts! We were flying! We did a short sail out the pass and tacked to come back in. It was by far the strongest winds we had and it was awesome! After that, we headed back in for some lunch and to take the kids to Cayo Costa for some beach time before having to board the ferry at 3:30pm.
Once we saw Jack and Bella board the ferry, our remaining crew (Tracy, Ryan, Randy and) I dinghied toward our boat. On the way back, we decided to check out the little cove where the manatee hang out. We immediately saw about 4-5 manatee and were enjoying them when the Tropic Star came barreling into the narrow entrance. We didn’t realize that this was part of their ferry tour. We were a bit disappointed at how they called out for us to move out of the way and then drive right through the large group of manatees. Once through the narrow passage, it opens up for more space for boats like them to view, but it seemed like there wasn’t much consideration for the poor creatures we were all there to see. After that, we headed back to the boat to make dinner and prepare to leave the next day.
With the front still in the area, we left Cayo Costa a motored on the inside back to our lovely little new anchorage near the causeway. We spent one more evening there before heading back home to Fort Myers Beach. The morning of our return home was actually chilly for March temps. We enjoyed the short cruise into Matanzas pass. We reflected about how this was a great trip for a couple reasons: (1) We had our first overnight visitors and had planned our provisioning perfectly, and (2) the higher winds gave Randy and I a bit more confidence sailing in these conditions. We are already looking forward to the next time we drop the dock lines.