I had a few errands to get done before we left the marina. Picked up some parts, returned the rental car and picked up some cash. Got back to the boat and had a chat with the previous owner, more questions answered. Next we left the dock and headed to the pump out for the toilet tanks. It was a challenging docking with a couple of scratches added to the boat. Two men helped us tie up and we finished there. I felt bad because one of them dropped his cell phone into the water. Getting off the dock was easy.
Headed out into the Bay without further incident. We headed toward the entrance to the intracoastal waterway (ICW) which meant we needed to cross under the Sunshine Skyway which is a landmark for all of Florida. On the way we saw an oil tanker leaving Tampa harbor so the race was on to see who would get under the bridge first. James was sure we would beat him but I wasn’t. Turned out we beat him with less than a minute to spare. The coolest part was that there were dolphins on the bow wave of the ship and we could see them jumping. Then we turned into the wake and boat bounced over it.
We headed into the intracoastal waterway which is a dredged channel that runs on the east coast of the US. Not sure but it might go the whole way. Anyway, initially the waterway was really cool, especially the bridges that you call and then they open to let you through, but after a while it is like following pylons while walking. I never remember the name of the next bridge even though the bridge captains remind me of it. We do have a guide book that does have pictures but it doesn’t have the names of the bridges. I started to ask and then write the names down. Still screwed it up a few times. Because the ICW is a dredged channel the helmsman must be vigilant at all times to make sure they stay in the channel. Combine that with dodging crab pots, log book entries, reading the map and you have a full time job.
The boys watched the shore, animals, took pictures, ate and eventually got bored. We put a show on for them and Leah and I chilled in the cockpit.
Another problem with the ICW is that large portions of it are not places where you can stop, so you must push on until you get to a spot or quit early. We pushed on and got to Sarasota Bay and set the anchor right in the middle of it. It was after sunset by the time we stopped and soon it was dark. After the kids went to bed we watched a show and went to bed too.
That night Leah and were both woken up by the sound of the paddle boards hitting the lifeline stantions, the rattling of the baby stay cover and the general creaking of the boat. The wind also tripled the forecast up 15 knots so there was some chop on the bay. I went on deck to reduce some noise and check our position. Every thing was fine. Our first night at anchor!!
The next morning I got up early and pulled the anchor by myself. Normally Leah and I do this together but she was in bed and it was totally calm. I actually really like the early starts and getting the boat going before any one else is stirring. It is so calm and quiet…
One of the best moments of 2013 for me was the morning we motored out of Laura Cove in BC this summer. I got up before anyone else and went on deck, it was calm, cool and there was a slight mist in the air. But most of all it was silent except the sounds of our departure – the rattle of the chain through the windlass, the hum of the engine as it warmed up and the intermittent splashing of the water from the engine. We left the cove and Leah guided us out through a tight channel into Desolation Sound. All this before breakfast.
We motored the next 4.5 hrs until the crew was going boat crazy, adults and kids alike. We stopped at Crow’s Nest Marina for fuel and a walk. The restaurant there was fish mainly so we skipped it and headed back out into the ICW. The next 4 hours we motored until we got to the Boca Grand bridge. I decided to stop at a marina there instead of anchor because my crew needed a break before we go offshore to the keys or motor through the Okeechobe Waterway for 150 nautical miles (150*1.8=270 km).
Viatori travels at 5.5 to 6 knots or 10 kph under power. We use about 0.66 gallons of diesel per hour with tanks of about 35 gallons. This means our range motoring is about 290 nm or 520km. We also have 5 gallons in a Jerry can as a reserve.
We passed through our last bridge and tied up in Gasparilla Marina. No scratches or dents this time. The marina is so big they loaned us a golf cart which the boys love to cruise in. We all had showers and a great steak dinner with left over chilli on the side. The kids crashed and we followed not long after. A long two days but good ones too. About 70 nautical miles traveled and 60 miles closer to Key West.