November 12, Friday:
On the right: Light house at the entrance to Mystic River, CT
At left, yours truly with three "Nuns", they were a team in the 5 legged relay(Downhill skiing, 10 mile cross country ski, 26 mile bike, 6 mile run, 2 mile kayak and 1/2 mile sprint, in Bend Oregon last winter. The team name The 3 Bad Habits, from left to right were Tequila, Chocolate, and Caffeine. Of course this has nothing to do with the cruise, but I threw it in just for fun.
We had some boisterous winds starting out today. Rose at dawn and were underway by 7:30. Winds were northeast at 15-20. We were planning on an outside passage to be able to sail on the last day of our cruise. A few miles in we had to decide if it was going to be to tough a slog up wind outside. After checking the bridges ahead we found 9, most of which would open on request, but added to that it was a slow and twisted channel in many spots. So we elected to go out Boca Grande Inlet stay close to shore where the wind wouldn't have much fetch to build up the chop. This worked out very nicely and the soundings dropped off to 20 feet just a hundred yards off the beach. The wind abated to around 15 with occasional higher gusts and we raised main and genoa and sailed most of the way close hauled or nearly so making 6 knots.
I kept reminding Jason to stay close to the beach. He asked, "How close should I get?"
To which I replied, "You'll know your close enough when you can tell if the gals are wearing a one or two piece bathing suit!" Ahhh......the fringe benefits of Florida sailing. We got so close to the Venice Pier that we were waving at the fisherman and tourists.
As we scoped out the two inlets to Sarasota, the information available was conflicting and worrisome. Most shifting shoal inlets are not charted on the East Coast and state that on the chart, although they do in fact have nav markers, these markers are constantly moving and can't therefore be fixed on the chart.
Both Big Pass and New Pass into Sarasota Bay show markers on the chart, however, the Sarasota Sailing Squadron web site shows that New Pass is shoaled in and not recommended. Furthermore, that Big Pass has been remarked and not as shown on the current charts. We elected to use Big Pass and to sound our way in with the centerboard most of the way up. As it turned out we were able to follow several other power boats in that showed us the way. Plus the water was clear enough to be able to see the most dangerous shoals. At near high tide our lowest sounding was 9 feet. The balance of the channel inside the inlet was narrow and even more shallow, with visible above water sand bars only a few yards from us in several areas.
We arrived at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron dock at 4PM, lots of friendly folks to show us the transient dock and help us tie up bow in and between pilings.
So arrived at last after 39 days and 1728 nautical miles!
Jason flew back Saturday AM. Thanks Jason for being a very competent crew a huge help and great company.
I have found a very reasonable dock a few miles north in Sara Bay for a couple of months in front of a private home, while I wait for the mooring I purchased to become available at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. I am flying back home Tuesday to see my lovely bride.
So long for now, until the next adventure. Could be Cuba this winter.