We left our anchorage in St. Petersburg early Saturday morning, made quick run to the marina for gas (generator), pump out, water and ice. I've never been so glad to have full tanks of water... we'd pretty much been out for about 2 days but I'd been so busy working I had no time to get over to the marina during their business hours. We'd resorted to buying jugs of water at the store and using paper plates. A little embarassing to admit, but yet a sometimes reality of cruising - although I've only really been caught short a couple of times so far.
Anyway after rejoicing over our plentiful water (approx 65 gallons including jerry cans) we headed out into the Bay. We motored for a while to charge the batteries - and also the wind was dead on our nose. Still it was fun to be moving again and a glorious blue sky day and not too hot - mid 80's. Coleen took advantage of plentiful power (i.e. motor running) and used my computer to have some fun on the Disney website. After passing under the Skyway bridge we were able to turn and take advantage of the wind. We had planned to travel to Longboat Key, but decided to stop first at Egmont Key for the night. It was only a few miles past the bridge, so I sailed most of the way even though there wasn't much wind and I had little speed - really no hurry.
I anchored fairly close to shore in 15 feet, close enough to row the dinghy, but far enough away not to swing on shore if the wind changed - although it were forecast to remain NNE for the night. After anchoring, we changed into our swimsuits and headed to shore, with DJ leading in his kayak. Coleen and I had fun swimming, hiking and playing on the beach. One of the trails led to the Gulf side of the island. It had an almost pristine white sand beach with emerald water. It was a bit eerie though as most of the palm trees had been deheaded. Most of the key is a bird sanctuary and off limits but we had plenty to enjoy. There was also a very small settlement of Pilot houses and a little dock for the pilot boats, but it was also off limits. The trail to the Gulf beach was pretty remote and wild and on the way back I started thinking about alligators - so Coleen and I ran :-) Unfortunately, part of the lovely afternoon was marred by cleaning the bottom of the dinghy -- my least favorite task.
We headed back to the boat around six and we relaxed with a pina coloda before cooking a delicious chicken curry with brown rice for dinner. Of course later in the evening the wind changed directions putting us on a lee shore, but it wasn't blowing hard. It hardly ever blows hard on a lee shore until you are trying to sleep! I had a rough night of it in the v-berth bouncing up and down. About 2 a.m. I went out as I recalled that I'd forgotten to put the chafe gear on the anchor rode, and I had a slapping halyard. Then at 4 a.m. I awoke to the sound of waves slapping on the hull. I looked out my little turtle hatch and saw white caps had just started to form and decided it might be time to go. We were holding well, but in the dark it looks like you are closer to shore. I got dressed, got the boat ready and called DJ. He took a look and suggested that we were fine. So I laid down in the cockpit and had a fitful sleep until 7 a.m. when I finally got up for good. We ended up leaving around 8:30 for our sail to Longboat Key.
It was a glorious day's sail. We had wind - 5 to 10 and were able to sail close hauled most of the way, with only a few tacks. Part of the time we were 3 miles offshore and other times we were practically sailing on the beach. The boat handled well, we didn't heel too much - which kept the crew happy. This was Coleen's first real day sailing in the Gulf (aside from our little one hour jaunt in Pensacola). She actually stayed out in the cockpit most of the time reading to me. I showed her how to use her harness and tether and we even sat on the bow for a while together reading while letting the autopilot steer for us. We even made a harness and tether for one of her dolls. We saw so very many jellyfish you'd almost never want to swim again! I also tried my hand at fishing yet again, and you guessed it lost another one---and a new lure too!
Sometime around 3 p.m. we headed into the pass. It was a bit choppy, but mostly due to some very obnoxious cigarette boats. It's a tiny little pass, shoal on both sides, but deep enough in the narrow channel with a draw bridge just inside the entrance. Thankfully the bridge master timed it perfectly and opened it just as we arrived - so we didn't have to try and wait in place in all that mess of a chop.
A short cruise down the ICW brought us to this little anchorage. We have a little wooded island on one side, houses and restaurants on the other and are not all that far from the entrance. I had a quick glass of wine to relax and then made a pot roast in the pressure cooker, and a batch of no bake cookies too! I was so very tired I totally crashed around 9 p.m. I didn't wake until 4 when it started raining and I had to do the dash around to pick up things I'd left on deck. I also tried my hand at collecting water - I have a new little drain thingy for my bimini.... but decided 4 a.m. was just too early to be messing with it, plus I was the only thing collecting water :-)
I dried off, went back to bed and actually overslept, very nearly missing my first phone conference of the day.... had 10 minutes to spare....
We took the dinghy to shore this evening and had a short walk where we found a small store with bread, ice, milk.... good things for a cruiser to have within walking distance.