Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #29 Thanks For The Memories

Ah, memories. We’re still sitting in the delightfully natural anchorage at Glover Bight off Cape Coral. But today, the mangroves notwithstanding, it is quite reminiscent of Lake Monroe. This morning about a dozen power boats of various sizes came into the anchorage and proceeded to make a huge raft-up (each boat tied side-by-side onto another one in a line). After the first couple of boats came in, though, it took the better part of an hour to get the prop of the third one untangled from one of the anchor lines before the rest could raft up. Then we got to worry all day about whether or not they would drag down on us. But the winds are light, and they apparently have enough anchors holding them in place. We hope we can sleep well enough tonight.

Raft-up in Glover Bight

No problems from the raft-up. Except for a generator from one of them we didn’t even hear much noise. But this morning we chose to move anyway. Tonight we’re up in Pine Island Sound anchored off York Island. This afternoon we took a dinghy ride into St. James City at the southern end of Pine Island. It appears to be a sleepy little backwater waiting to be discovered. Either that or it’s already been discovered and it’s a secret well-kept. We hope to see some of Sanibel in the next couple of days.

Today we dinghied over to Sanibel through Tarpon Bay. Getting into Tarpon Bay we had to paddle the dinghy when the water got to be about 6 inches deep. We rented bikes and peddled through Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and then toward town. This was a place we visited on a charter boat 9 years ago, and we wanted a return visit. Sanibel seems to have a commitment to maintaining a substantial amount of natural growth throughout the island. Half of the island has been set aside as a wildlife refuge, and development has been sufficiently limited. By the way, J.N. “Ding” Darling was an editorial cartoonist in the 1920’s. He and his wife wintered on Sanibel & Captiva. As an avid conservationist Darling was instrumental in establishing the refuge in 1948. Shore birds are bountiful in the refuge, and today we saw several alligators. We had gorgeous weather for our outing, and the beautiful day was capped off by a stunning sunset.

Resident of Sanibel Island

Today we took the dinghy about 3½ miles down to the Sanibel Marina. We wanted to see the marina without taking the boat in, so we opted for the long dinghy ride. Glad we did. The marina wasn’t very big, and getting Caloosa Spirit past the entrance shoal may have been difficult, if not impossible. From the marina we walked about a mile down to the lighthouse and beach. After walking back we had lunch at Gramma Dot’s at the marina. This restaurant was always intriguing to us, largely because Jim’s mom used to be “Grammy Dot” to her great-grandchildren. And our cruising guide includes a rave review of the restaurant. Although much smaller and less imposing than we had imagined, the food was very good, as the crowd waiting for seats would suggest. So after visiting the marina, the lighthouse, and Gramma Dot’s we’ve checked off one of our cruising must-do’s.

Yesterday we left York Island and Sanibel to come up to the anchorage between Cabbage Key and Useppa Island. This is one of our favorite anchorages on Pine Island Sound. It’s quiet, protected, and mostly natural. We had a pleasant sail on just the headsail with the wind on a broad reach most of the way. For once, we weren’t in any hurry, so we could take as much time to travel the 15 miles as we chose to.

Today we took the dinghy a couple of miles behind Cabbage Key to go through the Tunnel of Love. No, that’s not an amusement park ride. It’s a 2-mile narrow, winding cut through the mangroves that leads to the beach on Cayo Costa. This was something else we had done a number of years back, but we had some difficulty finding the right spot in the mangroves, nevertheless. The “tunnel” through the mangroves has a primeval feel, and the beach at the end is quite beautiful and mostly deserted. We enjoyed some quality sunbathing for a few hours, although the Gulf water was too cool for comfortable swimming. As we left to return to the boat I gazed enviously at the ospreys in their nest atop a tree with a glorious view of the sunset. How fortunate the osprey pair is to daily watch the day close in such total isolation. Like so many wild creatures, they need no interference from the world of humans to live the good life that their Creator (and ours) gives them.

Cayo Costa from the Tunnel of Love

It was time to leave Pine Island Sound. We’re concerned about some vibration in the engine, a broken engine mount, and a slight stuffing box leak (related to the drive shaft), so we need to find a fix-it person or persons. The engine runs fine, but needs some attention. So today we motor-sailed up to Sarasota “on the inside,” meaning we again used the Gulf ICW. If we had been prepared yesterday to leave, we could have had a wild romp downwind on the outside with 15-20 knot winds. But instead we sat those out at anchor. Today the winds were supposed to be 10-15, but never got above 9. Jim didn’t want to run the engine hard on the Gulf, so we came up inside instead. Lemon Bay was once again lovely and enchanting, but this will be our last sojourn there—at least, until the bridge repairs south of Venice are completed. We first thought that we would spend two leisurely days making the trip, but when we arrived at our first anchorage destination at noon, we decided to continue on and spend the rest of the day getting to Sarasota. There are 3 draw bridges on Venice’s south side which are fairly close to one another, and the first and third have been under repair for several months, maybe years. When completed these dual span bridges will have four opening spans. Each time we have gone through them, only one set of the two spans of the draw have been elevated. That significantly cuts the available space for our passage. We lowered our bimini, so Jim could see the top of the mast more easily. This time at the southern-most bridge the second span on the right was already up but not all the way. Jim radioed the bridge tender and asked if we were going to have 60 ft. of clearance. The tender’s response was “I don’t know”! The first span on the right did go up all the way, but then we had to steer close to the first closed span on the left and around the second partially open span on the right. Jim did a masterful job of steering through what appeared to be about 6 inches of side-to-side clearance at the top of the mast. As I frantically tried to give him some direction on which side to steer closer to, I eventually just quit looking. We both breathed a huge sigh of relief at getting through with no mishap. Then there was the third bridge to contend with. Well, fortunately, the dual spans on the right were fully open, so a little less tense. After getting almost the rest of the way to Sarasota, while we putzed around for fifteen minutes waiting for the last draw bridge before the anchorage, we watched a fog bank roll in—something new and different. The weather all day had been glorious—warm and sunny—so this phenomenon was quite weird. Upon finally getting through the bridge we had to use the electronic navigation on the computer to get through the next few channel markers to the anchorage. Within 15 minutes of getting the anchor down we couldn’t see across the bay. Another huge sigh of relief. Bedtime came early after such a long day of sailing—8:30 AM to 6:00 PM.

How well I remember the satisfying day 10 months ago in St. Thomas when we forsook a windy, bumpy anchorage for a breezy, smooth one by taking a risk. Today was another such day. That time we had to make it through some very skinny water, touching bottom once. Today to find the smooth water close to the shore we had to plant two anchors on the bottom, both with all chain rode and both off the bow. Two anchors (16 lbs. & 8 lbs.) was never a big issue on our small boat, but the possibility of tangling two heavy chains (on anchors of 44 lbs. & 35 lbs.) has kept us from attempting this maneuver before on this boat. But today we were successful, and the attempt was well worth it. From here we can see the white caps in the anchorage we left behind—the ones that prevented sleep from 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM this morning. Twenty-knot winds and two- to three-foot waves slapping against the hull and making Caloosa Spirit hobby-horse were enough to keep us up worrying about dragging into a steel hull behind us. We held fine, but we worried anyway. Tonight we hope to sleep more peacefully, even though the wind is still blowing “like stink!” On the way to the close-in anchorage, we stopped at Marina Jacks for fuel and pump-out. Jim: Alice deserves extra credit for her ability to jump onto a dock in strong winds and secure the docklines of a 42-ft. vessel in the absence of dock attendants.

A real golden oldie today. On the bus ride to Wal-Mart we noticed a Friendly’s Restaurant across the street. So after our Wal-Mart shopping excursion we walked over to Friendly’s for lunch. Now, most of you won’t have any idea why that’s a golden oldie to us, but those of you familiar with New England will know. As we sat in the booth enjoying a Big Beef sandwich and a Swiss Chocolate Almond sundae we reminisced about our dating days. For me Friendly’s was the local teen hang-out in my Massachusetts home town, and everybody who was anybody frequented the haunt after school. In fact, the day of our wedding I had lunch at Friendly’s and ran into an old friend there. When Jim lived in Mass. he learned to appreciate the outstanding hamburgers and ice cream served there, and together we ate there often. We’ve always been excited to find a Friendly’s in towns outside of New England—there are two here in Sarasota—but, unfortunately, the company has never made it as far as Indiana. Today’s trip down memory lane tasted oh-so-good.

Fair winds and smooth sailing until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford

Posted Wednesday March 10, 2004

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