Venice to The Keys

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Venice, Fl  - (or Things That Go Bump In The Night)

May 2, 2005

Anchorage:    N 270 06.650
                    W 820 27.584

Finally, we had a day on the ICW. Things started improving, but there was still the dread of going into Venice. We had been there in 2001 and ran aground getting into the anchorage. As much as Bob studied the charts, there was just no other place we could be sure of reaching before dark. What we hadn't seen or read about was a city park with anchorages in Sarasota. It was too late when we realized that.

The trip to Venice required waiting for six bridges to open - some on a timed schedule and some on request.  Five of these bridges posed no problem. We had been cleared to proceed through the Stickney Point Bridge and it was on the way up. The bridge tender came back on the radio to tell us that the opening was being aborted due to an emergency vehicle needing to cross the bridge. I don't know what ever happened to the emergency because the bridge hung as soon as it began the closing. We waited, and waited, going around in circles. The bridge wasn't stuck open enough to risk going through. Finally, the bridge tender notified us that she didn't know how long the bridge would be stuck because they may have to call out an engineer. Should we go back to the Sarasota anchorage or just keep doing donuts? Before we had to actually make that decision, we were notified that the engineer was able to resolve the situation over the phone. The bridge raised and we got through at last.

In Venice, there is a city dock where about five boats can tie along a bulkhead. One boat was already there when we arrived and three others were vying for a spot. Not feeling we had much choice, we decided to try anchoring in the part that was supposed to be "ok". Turns out the "ok" part was a very small area and already full of boats on permanent moorings. We ran hard aground just trying to get in position to drop anchor between two of them. The engine soon overheated from the hard work of trying to pull us off.

We have unlimited towing with BoatUS but we don't want to call them until we've tried everything. We did call for tide information and decided to wait as long as possible before having them come out. The engine cooled, the tide came in, and we moved to drop anchor. We were much closer to other boats than we like and far too close to the channel. There just didn't seem to be another choice. The green can (channel marker) was right in our path should the wind change direction so Bob dropped the Max anchor off the back. It wasn't really set but most of the time the weight is enough to hold us in place. Later that evening the wind changed 180 degrees and all the boats on moorings swung into the wind. Escapades stayed put with the Max holding us in place but now turned opposite from all the other boats.

I never felt a thing, but Bob felt the "bump" about 1:30 in the morning. The way he was moving on deck woke me and I knew immediately something was wrong. What a shocking feeling it is to go above and find your boat "kissed up" against another boat - bow to stern, no less. The wind had strengthened and the Max had drug. We were now sitting on top of the mooring for the boat next to us with Escapades trying to turn into the wind. It's definitely an "Oh S---" situation. For awhile all you can do is walk back and forth, trying to figure out what happened, what the damage is, what to do next, and you just keep repeating "Oh S---", unable to stop.

On this section of the ICW, you seldom see a tow. Wouldn't you know it! Here I am in my nighty again - the same one even. On top of that, Bob had lost his modesty and come on deck in only his briefs. Now, tows have giant spotlights that can illuminate the world. What a sight we must have been when he shined that spotlight on us and our "kissed up" boat. I'm used to being in the spotlight,  but poor Bob just couldn't get it all covered up in time.

Anyway, we managed to get the two boats apart by pulling up the Max, slowly pushing apart the boats, and raising the anchor a little at a time; then repeating the process. Fortunately, fenders had protected both boats from damage and we were able to re-anchor in another spot. We sure were glad to leave Venice for the very last time - ever.

Useppa Island, FL

May 3-5, 2005

Anchorage: N 260 39.411
                 W 0820 12.931

We stayed on the ICW for out trip to Useppa. Several bridges to wait for and constantly watching for markers isn't much fun. The ICW is not nearly as nice as the GIWW. Somewhere along the way I ran aground. I would have sworn I was in the channel but Bob says "no". When the red and green markers are staggered, it's hard to tell for sure. Bob was very patient and let me work it out myself, giving only occasional bits of advise.

We celebrated my 50-something birthday in Useppa, as planned, but were stuck there an extra day due to bad weather. There were always 6-9 boats at anchorage but when the weather is bad, there is no chance for visiting. The captain on the boat next to us yelled over that he thought we should all put out more rode to prepare for what was to be severe weather. This turned out to be a mistake for us. The storm passed but Escapades found a three foot shoal to settle into. The next morning we were up at 5:30 to get an early start by 6:30. The engine didn't pull us off. The sails with the engine didn't pull us off. A fishing boat circling us to make wakes didn't pull us off. Waiting for the tide to rise and trying all the above again didn't pull us off. Out of desperation, we called Tow BoatUS (our new best friend). They were 30 minutes away. Well, the sight of that little red boat must have really scared Escapades; she came loose from her hold on the bottom just as it approached. Shortly after 8:30 we started our passage to Naples.

Naples, FL

May 6,2005

Anchorage:    N 260 6.137
                    W 0810 47.641

The city moorings have been removed in Naples and anchorages are hard to find. We read about one nestled between homes and was sure we would be the only ones smart enough to find it. There were already two other boats with "smart" folks there when we arrived.  There was still enough room for one or two more boats but only with minimum scope on the anchor. The way our luck was going, it was risky but turned our ok.  It was a nice, calm anchorage with a view of several lovely homes.

We encountered no problems in the night, but to make the next morning complete we ran hard aground, yet again. I'm almost certain they added two feet to our keel when we had the last bottom job done. It couldn't have been that the captain failed to read the guide correctly. It took awhile to get off that one but I enjoyed watching the dolphins play while Bob accomplished the task.

Gosh, but I miss NonameWe didn't have these problems when he was along.


Russell Pass/Indian Pass in the Florida Everglades

May 7, 2005

Anchorage:    N 250 49.866
                    W 0810 26.623

This was an almost perfect anchorage - no rolling or bouncing. Almost - except for the mosquitoes and flies that were so bad we were forced to put up the "wedding veil" to keep from being devoured. This was only the second time we had ever used the cockpit netting that I made years ago. It has often seemed it wasn't worth the space it takes up, BUT, on those two occasions we were sure glad to have it.


Off Shark River Island in the Florida Everglades

May 8, 2005

Anchorage:    N 250 20.709
                    W 0810 08.575

Another great anchorage except for the flies. I've never seen flies so big, 1/2-inch at least. They covered the boat before the anchor was even set. The cruising guide recommends a gun and I now see why. It took quite some time to rid the boat of those big suckers after we got the veil and port nettings in place.

The Everglades anchorages were not what we expected but I'm sure there was much to see if we'd had the nerve to brave the insects, get the dinghy down, and explore. Maybe next time.

Next Port: The Keys to Ft. Lauderdale