When folks asked about our plans for this cruising season, I glibly answered, “Oh, we’ll spend a couple of months in the yard, but we’ll be cruising by Thanksgiving.” Even as I said it, I didn’t really believe it. Sure enough, Christmas somehow snuck up on us before we finally finished our projects, completed provisioning, and finally felt ready to untie the lines and head south.
This year, we had a flurry of friends seeing us off! Our friend Pat, from Siesta Key, joined us for the trip from St Petersburg to Sarasota. He and his family have been real supporters of our adventure. I think he finally understands what sailboat cruising is really like: it took an hour from him to drive to St Petersburg early on December 22nd, and it took us seven hours to bring him home by boat!
The trip down the ICW was fairly uneventful, until we were circling to wait for the next draw bridge opening. I was at the helm, and Capt. Mike was below decks getting a snack. He called up, “You doing ok?” And I said “Sure!” And then the depth reading went from 9 feet to 8 feet to SHALLOW WATER ALARM!!! And our boat speed went to zero. Darn it! Tried a quick burst of reverse to no avail. Mike had already heard the alarms and leapt into the cockpit. Now he loosened the mainsheet and swung the boom way out over the port side and called out to Pat for help. “Come on Pat! We’ve gotta hang our fat butts off the side!” With that strategic distribution of weight, Sanitas tipped over just enough that I could rev the engine, jam it into forward, and turn us sharply to starboard into deeper water. Hooray! We were moving again, and still had barely enough time to make it to the bridge for the next opening. (Ironically, we had just passed another sailboat aground just a quarter mile back. The drifting sand and shoaling in this part of the ICW is pretty tricky! Apparently you really need to be in the center of the channel!)
It was also a bit tricky timing our passage under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Three cargo ships were passing through at about the same time, and they are gigantic! If it came down to a game of chicken with a cargo ship, Sanitas will lose every time. Discretion is the better part of valor, so we slowed down by tacking upwind and let them go right on ahead.
Lots of traffic at the Cortez bridge on a sunny (but cold!) Saturday morning!
After picking up a ball at Marina Jack’s, we celebrated our first day back on the water with cocktails at Louies Modern.
Thanks for keeping us company, Pat! Come back and sail with us again any time!