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Friday, February 15, 2013

A Hitch Hikers Guide To Little Shark River

We left Marathon just after the cruisers net with East wind forecast.  It always seems that a forecast of east winds in the Florida Bay are less than actually forecast.  At least for us they are.  So we spent a calm day slowly sailing toward Morgan Beach (an outside anchorage).   As the day closed we found ourselves once again with a sunset out in the LAKE of Mexico (Florida Bay).

Ripples in the Florida Bay 

We spent another night out in the bay.  With the wind still light from the East we decided to head off toward Little Shark River to wait out the oncoming front.  The slight increase in observed wind propelled us forward at 3.5 knots.  Just the right speed it seems for Spanish Mackerel.

The Spanish liked our slow trolling

We arrived and tucked just past the bend in Little Shark River.  As we entered the anchorage we were at idle speed when I dropped the anchor.  Damn!  The current was so fast that when the anchor caught it was like setting it at full throttle.  I barely got it sopped just over the 100 foot mark on the chain.  Needless to say that the next morning I had to motor up over it to pull it out.

The locals

 Low tide

Sunset at Little Shark River

The Vibrant Twilight

We left Little Shark River the next morning headed off toward Morgan's Beach at Cape Ramano.  But as our luck has it the front we stopped into Little Shark River to hide from fizzled out and we were left once again with light winds.  With the constant light winds and slow going I thought I would get some down time and let the Fisher King captain while I napped.  Within 10 minutes of stretching out I felt the boat change.  His response was it is still on 300 (degrees).  I knew something was different and it appeared that we were loosing almost all the wind.  I decided to pull out the spinnaker and give it a hoist.  By the time all this was done we had no wind, zero, nada!

This is where we found out the secret to hitch hiking in the Little Shark River.  If you are a no-see-um and the crew of the sailing and motor vessels keep their screens up to keep you out you actually have a second chance.  Stow away and tell all the other teeth with wings creatures you are hitch hiking your way to paradise.  Soon you and your closest 10 bazillion friends are having a free ride to the next tropical human paradise.  No more dwelling in the swamp!  No more left over gator scraps!  You now will have fresh meat for life.  Seriously when the wind died we thought we were in a bee swarm that we could barely see.  We only got glimpses when the sun hit them or the actually landed on the boat again.  As the wind increased to around 5 knots it looked like someone had peppered the boat!  I wish I still had a garden sprayer!

We motored up and I had just enough rest to make me more tired.  Clicking across a little over 4 knots we found a sunset just shy of the Cape Romano Shoals marker.  Too close (and upwind) to the shoals to heave to and feel comfortable we anchored for dinner and a movie.

Sunset at Cape Romano Shoals

Just about to the end of the movie we had surprise winds.  At least more than the WX called for.  It was getting a little like Nixon Bay out here so we decided to pull up and sail off into the darkness.  Keeping a watch out for the marker, the marker that was supposed to be flashing every 4 seconds!  The coordinated for the marker passed about 1/2 mile north of us and we still have yet to see a flash, or even a reflection from our spot light.  Oh well.  As the shoals cleared off safely behind us at 3 am I heaved to and went below to catch up on the nap I had planned on 14 hours before.  Being waken by the alarm every hour doesn't give you much rest but some is better than none.  Maybe I should have gotten up every half hour as we covered 12 miles during that 4 hour nap.

At 7 am I flipped the Genny over started off on a zip of a ride.  From 12 miles off Cape Romano to Gordon Pass we zipped along at full hull speed or more.  Somewhere past Gordon the noon sun started the onshore shift and we slowly lost our power.  We still had enough to sail up the coast but it was diminishing.  By 3 pm we were feeling the effect of the daily sea breeze vs  dominate wind.  Our east wind was climbing up and over the sea breeze.  Vroom went the little motor as we were going to be able to make it to Estero Island or the bridge at Sanibel Island.

We entered the anchorage on the East side of  San Carlos Bay just after sunset.  The wind had been coming from the west for a couple hours now but we knew that was to change around 10 pm.  It was an easy entry into the anchorage but we knew the wind was not in our favor for the night. I don't understand the names of the Active Captain anchorages here.  West is East and East is West?  With the 4 hours of nap time since yesterday morning we were going to deal with it.    

The wake makers paradise awaits us tomorrow, the beginning of the intercoastal.


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