As we approached the causeway to the SunshineSkyway Parkway we raised the sails and took the ditch running south know as Sunshine Skyway channel. This is a little shortcut right along side the parkway. It cuts about 5 miles off the journey as opposed to following the ICW. We were now sailing across Tampa Bay. Finally with winds.
As we sailed across Tampa Bay the wind increased as did the waves. By the time we reached the intercoastal on the south side of the bay the waves were becoming more uniform. They were also building as they entered the shallows. While we were more sliding than surfing on these little 3 footers, surfing made a better title. Our timing at Anna Maria bridge was perfect and we followed a Benneton down the ICW toward Cortez. Our sails up and them obviously not motoring at full throttle. The spacing of these bridges allows us to make both in sequence, just barely.
We are getting a better grasp on the prevailing wind vs the sea breeze. To simplify it 10 knts or less the seabreeze, whether on shore or off shore really messes with things. With early morning and late afternoon most effected. Mid day the winds die down. At 20 knts the prevailing wind takes control. Now in between 10 and 20 you can flip a coin. Take into account the number of high-rise condos, land mass, color of the ground surface and you realize the rules just going to be different around the next bend.
As we passed through the Cortez bridge the cloud cover started to return and made it seem closer to sunset than it really was. Thinking about a place to anchor (I have hand drawn anchors all over the charts from previous trips so as not to have to think too hard) I grabbed the iPhone and clicked up Active Captain. I scrolled through the anchorages from here south until I got to Longbeach. Seems that the Benneton must have the same plans as they turned into the basin just south of Jewfish Key.
Turning in well north of marker "39" we headed toward the northern boats in the anchorage. Oh boy was this a mistake.
- First while crossing Tampa Bay we lost the reading on our new depth gage. Turned out that The Fisher King had accidently unplugged the cable.
- Two we were king of sort of following a deeper draft boat as we had never been into this anchorage.
- We miss read the chart enough to allow us to be too far south. Looking at it this morning I can see my mistake.
Benneton aground as the moon rises
As we entered the basin in 13 feet of water it quickly rose up to touch the bottom of our keel. Luckily we were wary enough to idle into the basin. Touching just slightly more than at Apalachicola we were stuck. After trying to point the boat to deeper water I took the Fortress and the dinghy out as far as it would go. By the time I rowed back to Gemini Dreams another cruiser was on the scene. Paul on s/v Le Bonne Vie a Oceanis from St Pete was there to lend a hand.
With a push on the bow from his dinghy and a hard pull from me on the Fortess' rode Gemini Dreams was free. With the Fisher King on the controls I quickly tied a fender to the bitter end of the rode and set the Fortress free. Once in safe water we followed Paul's directions from sign to sign before entering the anchorage. We took the first we came to as not to push our luck tonight.
Checking on the stranded, maybe I can row them to safety. lol
Once hooked up I was back in the dinghy headed to the Benneton. They were still aground. (Did I forget to say that earlier). Paul was unable to push them off as he had me. They called Tow Boat. Next I needed to retrieve the Fortress and all that line. Third on the list was to row by and thank Paul one more time. As I reached Le Bonne Vie I looked back at the un-named Benneton and she was free from her sandy shackles.
It wouldn't be an adventure without adventures!