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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Venice, no not Italy, Florida 3/31

After the events of yesterday I wanted to get an early start to beat the winds that were to match yesterday.  As I pulled the anchor they were already at 15 knots, coming up from 5-10 when I woke up!  As I crossed the bay the chop was getting rougher and the winds stronger. I was getting low on fuel so I thought I could get into Whidden's Marina as it looked protected on the charts. LOL  There is a 90 degree turn at the very back of the channel with power boats in the way.  Do not do this in a sailboat with winds exceeding 20 knots! Abort! back to the channel and the roller coaster ride of a conveyor belt of waves.

 The whole surface of the channel was traveling at 7 knots and I couldn't move forward (faster) or slow down in the "belt".  When I got to the end of the channel there is a tight "J" turn near an old rail road bridge and then a draw bridge!  there were already 4 power boats here, now Gemini Dreams and soon a 90 foot motor yacht.  The bridge tender told the yacht he couldn't open as scheduled because the winds were now exceeding 30 knots!  The yacht played the "vessel in distress" card over a bow thruster and the bridge opened immediately!

After we were in the channel for about a mile it started to level out.  A little more north I had to wait on the barge crossings in front of a marina and while there I picked up the radio to call the marina.  That is when Gemini Dreams found the shoal.  I was in 20 knots +- suddenly healed over on the sand.  I put the motor in reverse and raised the main sail.  This leaned me over more while pulling me into the channel.  When I was free and called the marina telling them I was waiting for less wind up channel.  Shortly after, I met s/v Sol Mate a MacGregor they had heard the whole bridge ordeal and seen most of it from where they spent the night on the north side of the bridge.  Shortly after I heard about 88mph winds on Sunshine Skyway bridge.  (I have the benefit of  3-4  radios on while I cruise.)  I radioed over to Sol Mate and filled them in and they should turn to channel 2.  I stopped and got gas at Marine Max (easy entrance) as Sol Mate continued on.  When I passed the Venice bridge I noticed Sol Mate at Fisherman's Wharf & Marina,  I ended up staying here too with the threat of winds gusting to over hurricane force!  I went to McDonald's to check email and post a quick note on the blog. I got a little wet on the way back.  I then enjoyed dinner with Sol Mate's crew and waited out the storm.  Our part of the front ended up being way less than at Tampa bay.  Better safe than sorry!



  1. Wes,

    Admiral Patty, Captan Marc, and First Officer Bob of s/v Sol Mate, a Macgregor 26M, had a good time getting to know you and learning of your fabulous adventure. Fisherman's Wharf Marina and Marker 4 restaurant proved to be a pleasant safe haven for the last night of our weeklong round trip cruise to Cabbage Key from Anna Maria Island. Happy sailing and hope we cross paths again sometime in the future.

  2. Hi, I really enjoyed my time with you as well. Glad your safe also. I saw Marc's name on a Macgregor site but couldn't remember if you had a blog or page. Also Apalachicola oysters here at the Sun Harbor in PC are $2.99 a dozen!

    fair winds