Friday, November 25, 2016

Marco Island to Boot Key Harbor

Crab Pot Debri

As we had supper aboard Wrinkles on Tuesday night we changed our plan to sail from Marco Island to Shark River (Everglades) to Boot Key Harbor. Brenda wanted to sail overnight directly from Marco Island to Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. We planned to leave between lunch time and 4 pm so that we would be navigating the waters around Marathon during the daylight on Thursday morning. We had the boat prepped and ready to sail at 12:30 pm and we pulled up our anchor for the trip.

The forecast called for 11-15 knots of wind out of the ENE for the next 36 hours. A perfect wind for our route. We motored out into the Gulf of Mexico and got ready for the wind to blow so we could raise our sails. 5 hours later we were still motoring on dead flat water. As we put the Cape Romano shoals well behind us we finally started to see some ripples in the water. Yippee skippy we get to sail.

We had a blast sailing along with all three sails up and Wrinkles hitting over 6 knots. The sunset was beautiful over our starboard side. As the night progressed the winds slowed to 7-8 knots which had us sailing, but not fast enough for a trip this long. We decided to motorsail with the Yanmar contributing just enough to keep us over 6 knots. The sky at night offshore is nothing short of amazing. You've never seen so many stars.

We were making such good progress that by 2:15 am we knew we would have to slow down or arrive near land before sunrise. We reduced sail and turned off the diesel which got us down to 4.5 knots. Then suddenly we dropped to 1.0 knot and Brenda said, "Something is wrong, I can't steer." Uh oh! We had picked up a crab pot on our rudder. Or so we thought.

The crab pot stopped Wrinkles completely and held her stern directly into the waves and wind. With a flat transom sailboat this is not a good thing. The waves roughly picked up our stern and slammed us down over and over. Before we could address the crab pots we needed to do something with the poor dinghy. Mike learned his lesson a year ago crossing the Gulf with the dinghy up in its davits. He said he would never do a long passage in the Gulf again without putting our RIB on deck. It is just too exposed back there to following seas or big waves. He followed his own advice on our next trips in the Gulf, but for this trip it didn't seem necessary. Another lesson about to be learned.

The waves picked up Wrinkles stern and then dropped her deep enough to nearly submerge the dinghy. When the boat raised again the strain bent our starboard stainless dinghy Davit, putting the dinghy and a solar panel in jeopardy. We cut the davit lines to drop the dinghy into the water and tied it to our port side. OK, that is under control lets work on that crab pot. With the stern rising and crashing down every 2-3 seconds there was no way to go overboard and cut the crab pot line. We used a boat pole to snag not one but two of them. We pulled as much line aboard as we could before cutting them. We couldn't pull up the crab pot basket that somehow attached itself to our rudder and it was still holding Wrinkles stern to the waves. We put out our Rocna anchor hoping to get Wrinkles aimed into the waves, but the crab pots held tight. We attempted to pull forward by raising full sails, but Wrinkles was fully held in place. Two crab pots removed and we still had issues.

Bent davit on the left.

What time is it? Yup, Tow Boat US time. We hailed them on the VHF and were told they were busy until around first light. We rested until dawn and then tried to remove some more of the crab pots. Yup, we pretty much had the whole crab pot field attached to Wrinkles. We were able to find one line that was really stretched tight. Using one boat pole to pull the line up near the surface and our second boat pole rigged with a sharp kniffe we sawed through the line. Wrinkles stern swung about 20 degrees which brought a bit of relief from the waves directly on the stern. Much better, but we still can't move. TowBoatUS arrived at 8:30 am and pulled us from the bow until we were free from the crab pot's grasp.

TowBoat US

Unfortunately there was some line and a basket still banging around under the hull. We decided not to risk destroying the prop by trying to run the diesel. The tow boat dragged us the final 17 miles to an anchorage by Marathon. The clanking stopped under the hull after about 10 miles, so we hoped all the debri was finally gone. The next day Mike dove on the prop and found that everything was normal and no damage had been done. Another adventure in our log book folks.



  1. Crab Pots,,, are EVIL !!!!! ( except what's inside )

  2. Wow...adventure follows you wherever you go!