Thursday, June 22, 2017

Secure in Fishermen's Village Marina

Mike, Brenda, Don and Gail

Wrinkles and Island Tyme arrived safely in Punta Gorda after a fantastic and rewarding journey together. The exclusive "My Little Pig Yacht Club" members posed for the above photo to commemorate the end of the trip. Island Tyme is now tied up in her slip behind her owner's condo while Wrinkles is tucked away in a slip at Fishermen's Village Marina.


Don and Gail will be checking on Wrinkles as Mike and Brenda travel to Wisconsin for their youngest son's wedding. It makes it much easier to leave Wrinkles knowing she will be lovingly looked after.

We will be posting our thoughts on the cruise including; highlights, favorite stops, provisioning, boat equipment, budgeting, phone service and more in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Coming Full Circle

Wrinkles in her slip

On our last night in Pelican Bay we were greeted with the sight of "Scout" motoring in and dropping their anchor next door to us. We met Beth and Stan in Boot Key Harbor last winter. We truly enjoyed their company and were excited to have run into them again. After securing their catamaran they dinghied over for sundowners and getting caught up on each other's travels. You meet the nicest people out there cruising.



Leaving Pelican Bay

Mike blew the conch and Don played Amazing Grace as the sun set on our last night of this trip. It was touching as always, but a bit (no, a lot) sad. We have been sailing side by side with Don and Gail now for 3 months and it has made our trip so much more pleasurable. They have become some of our dearest friends since we met them in February of 2016. We can't picture our Bahamas trip without them and their great senses of humor. Thank you two for helping us create so many fantastic memories.

As we awoke, a nice 7 knot breeze was blowing in our rigging. Oh boy, we get to sail today. The weather had finally cleared with blue skies and puffy white clouds. Sweet! Mike popped his head outside and the companionway to see the real live sunshine. But wait he thought, the wind is from the northeast. Guess what direction we needed to sail today. That's right, directly into the w

ind again. Mike and Don found this new wind direction funny enough that they started working on some new lyrics for a sailing song. They are going to call it "Yanmar Winds". Stay tuned, we'll post the silly ditty when we finish it up.

We saw this a lot on this trip

We motored across Charlotte Harbor toward our slip in Fishermen's Village. Eventually Island Tyme veered east toward their slip behind their condo. It was difficult to see that boat going in a different direction than Wrinkles. Every trip has to come to a close sooner or later. Even if we never sail with Don and Gail again we will always be keeping in contact with them. Yes Tina, mom was crying.

We approached Fishermen's Village knowing the boat traffic was going to be a zoo. Saturday is National Marina Day which means free slips for about 30 boats for the weekend. We saw a line of 5 boats heading into the channel leading to the marina. The captain's were all hailing the dockmaster for their slip numbers and asking for help catching their lines. The dockmaster tried his best to keep the boats organized, but two more boats came flying in and butted into the line and really messed things up. All of the captains were trying to talk on their radios at the same time which just added to the confusion.We waited for a break in the conversations and hailed the dockmaster to tell him that were would just hang out away from the madness and that he could call us when he was ready for us.

Eventually everyone got into their slips and then we were told to motor in. We slowly made our way in and executed a perfect docking without any drama. Hard to believe it went so smoothly with so many people watching from their boats and on the docks. Wrinkles had come full circle on her trip. We left Fishermen's Village nearly nine months ago sailing the Florida Keys, Bahamas and then back through the Keys before returning up the west coast of Florida to Punta Gorda. Well done Wrinkles. You performed amazingly well and kept us safe and comfortable throughout our travels.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sanibel to Charlotte Harbor

Near Captiva Pass

When we awoke at our Ding Darling anchorage the weather looked ominous. Dark ugly skies just as forecasted. The wind was relatively light and the radar images showed most of the ugly stuff north and south of our course, so we decided to move to Pelican Bay in Charlotte Harbor. As Mike was raising the anchor the Coast Guard issued a small craft warning for nearly the entire western coast of Florida. Brenda wanted to immediately cancel our move today, but after checking the radar one more time she hesitantly agreed to go.

Oh boy!

We watched the radar closely and kept tabs on where we could safely anchor along the way should a storm cell come directly toward us. We motorsailed the 18 miles in 3.5 hours never getting more than some light rain. Those big ugly black clouds tracked almost parallel to our course the entire way. We entered Pelican Bay (one of our favorite anchorages) and set the anchor in 7 feet of water. Half an hour later the skies opened up and dumped water on us. Good timing!

Pelican Bay

Brenda was relieved to be safely anchored and a bit proud of herself for "putting on her big girl panties" today. Mike was pretty proud of her as well. We used our judgement and felt the sail would be safe and result in a more secure anchorage to wait out what looked to be a three day thunderstorm roaring across the Gulf Of Mexico.

As soon as the weather breaks we will finish the last leg of this trip. We have four hours of sailing to get Wrinkles into her slip at Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda. It was time to get a good book out and listen to the storm's pass over us.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Naples to J. N. "Ding" Darling (Sanibel)

Sanibel Causeway Bridge

After spending the night anchored among all the multi-million dollar homes in Naples we headed out the channel for our final day in the Gulf of Mexico. We had 30 miles to cover to our anticipated anchorage near Sanibel. The national wildlife refuge in Pine Island Sound is named after the cartoonist Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling. He won two Pulitzer Prizes and signed his work "D'ing" which is where the nickname "Ding" apparently came from. He also started the federal duck stamp program and was instrumental in founding the National Wildlife Federation.

Last leg of the Gulf of Mexico

Once we left the Gulf of Mexico and headed inland on the GIWW we ran headlong into a strong current. Wrinkles was giving everything she had and we were only doing 3.1 knots. We motored under the Sanibel Causeway Bridge which was our last bridge of this trip. Once boaters turn west they encounter what is referred to as "The Miserable Mile" section of the inland waterway. This stretch is quite narrow and the water is very thin which gives us very little wiggle room as we pass boats headed the other direction. Every weekend warrior who can rent, buy, borrow or steal a watercraft does so and brings them to this stretch of water to wreak havoc. Untrained drivers with absolutely no knowledge of Colregs or sense of responsibility go crazy cutting in front of each other while the megaboats merrily throw the biggest wake they can to show how impressive they are. Near collisions are just part of the experience. We unfortunately ended up doing this stretch of water in the middle of the afternoon on Sunday. Good planning Captain!

Island Tyme headed under the bridge

After some close calls and some frayed nerves we made it past "The Miserable Mile" and resumed merrily sailing along. As we neared our anchorage at "Ding" Darling Mike was frustrated to find that his Garmin BlueChart chip had a dead spot which went right through the approach and anchorage area. Nothing but a gray background color to sail by. This is not what you want when you are navigating shallow waters and picking out a suitable spot to drop your anchor. Fortunately Brenda loves her paper charts and as usual was keeping track of our progress on the chart. She used the chart and the compass to guide Wrinkles in and drop the anchor. A good lesson for beginner sailors out there.


The weather forecast didn't look good for the next several days. A larger thunderstorm system was catching up to us as it traveled northeast out over the Gulf. We would have to wait until the next morning to see if we could move again.


Indian Key To Naples

Heading into Naples anchorage

After waiting at anchor for an extra day while a large weather system went across the Gulf of Mexico, we were anxious to get sailing again. Mike was disappointed with the lack of wind forecasted for the sail, but it was time to move along. At 9 a.m. We set sail heading south of west to clear the Cape Romano Shoals before heading north to Naples.

We started out moving pretty slowly due to some tidal current, but eventually enough wind came to help Wrinkles pick up a little speed. Once we cleared the Shoals the Gulf current added some more speed which made the sail much more enjoyable. We took advantage of some westerly winds to get Wrinkles sailing along at 5.7 to 6.4 knots. Traveling by sailboat is so much more enjoyable when you actually get to sail.

The winds came and went which meant putting sails up and down a few times, but overall we had a really nice trip. Once we were within 8 miles of Naples we slowed Wrinkles down on purpose to time our entry into Naples at the beginning of a rising tide. There isn't a lot of water in these anchorages, so a rising tide gives us some insurance if we should "temporarily park on some sand".


Don and Gail had anchored here, so they led us in. We dropped anchor in a tight little canal that could maybe fit three sailboats in it. Nice neighborhood! Don dropped his dinghy and rowed over to collect two empty water jugs from us which he rowed back to his boat and filled with fresh water for us. He even brought Mike a cold beer both times he arrived at Wrinkles. We have been sailing side by side with Don and Gail since March 12th and have been together nearly every day since. It is amazing how much fun we have had with them and how compatible we we have been. There are very few couples in this world who can spend this much time together and still enjoy each other's company every day. We feel so very fortunate to have pulled into that slip next to theirs over a year ago in Clearwater.

Tomorrow we sail to the J.N. "Ding" Darling (Brenda calls it Ding Dong Darling) anchorage near Sanibel Island. After that we sail just 18 miles to Pelican Bay in Charlotte Harbor and finally 20 miles to Punta Gorda which will complete this season's trip.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Grassy Key to Shark River to Indian Key

Grassy Key was to be our last anchorage in the Florida Keys. We sailed north to the Florida mainland as we headed home. "Home" is now a strange thought to us. What is home? For two years it has been wherever Wrinkles was at the time. Since we really don't have a firm plan for our future, home is in limbo. We believe we will continue to live aboard Wrinkles for another winter, but after that who knows. Let's just continue having fun aboard Wrinkles while we can and let our future create itself.

The sail across the Florida Bay was uneventful and very relaxing. At one point we were in eight feet of water, but couldn't see any land in any direction. We also commented on the color of the water. Its emerald green. That's pretty, but we miss the Bahamian blues and turquoises and teals and being able to see bottom. We hadn't stopped at Shark River on our way down, but Don and Gail had anchored there previously. We followed them into the anchorage and dropped our anchor. The spot is very tidal which caused Wrinkles to sit at odd angles to the wind and waves. A thunderstorm was brewing across the Gulf of Mexico causing the waves to grow a bit. Mike became concerned about our dinghy hanging on the davits in these conditions, so we put it up on the deck. Later the waves settled down and we had a decent night's sleep.

The next morning the weather looked better, so we pulled our anchors and headed to Indian Key. We enjoyed good winds, but we spent most of the day killing all the mosquitos that hitchhiked a ride from the Everglades. Our cockpit looked like a slaughterhouse. The Indian Key anchorage was a good spot for an overnight rest. There is nothing else there but nature and more mosquitos.

We awoke to a lousy weather forecast which called for thunderstorms out on the Gulf of Mexico. We decided to stay put and see if Saturday's weather would be better. We read books, played cards and just had a lazy day. It was kind of nice for a change.

Off to Naples we go.