Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 111/II Boot Key Harbor Marathon to Little Shark River Everglades

Our Destination, Little Shark River

Exiting Boot Key Harbor

Running out into the Atlantic towards Mosser's Channel to take the cut through the 7 Mile Bridge

The Sea Ray wanted to go first!

Mosser's Channel through the 7 mile Bridge.

Tide was down.

Can't wait to pick up the Admiral at Tampa airport tonight so we can figure out what kind of bird this is.

Going slow on the approach to Little Shark River entrance.

A couple of vessels were already anchored, we decided to go in just behind them.

Time to relax, anchored after four attempts.We spaced ourselves well clear of the vessel ahead and the one behind.

Two more vessels arrived after this trawler, starting to get full up.

The trawler went to the end of the line.

Whoa, this sailboat was really moving, guess they wanted to get anchored before it got real dark.

I know there were alligators around us but you just could not spot them.

Got real peacful after sundwon and had to escape to the safty of the full enclosure as the No-Seeums started nibbling.

Day 111/II

Boot Key Harbor Marathon to Little Shark River Everglades

Depart 3/18/13 0730hrs, Arrive 1530hrs, Underway 7 hrs.30 min., 45.3 NM, Avg. Speed 5.7 Kts. Cloudy 5-15 SE winds 80 degrees. Seas 1-2’; 2-3’ in the afternoon.

Departing Boot Key Harbor was Bitter Sweet. This is the 480th day after leaving Corpus Christi. Bill Wilson flew down from St. Petersburg to crew on the planned Seven day sail back to St. Petersburg. I drove up to Ft. Lauderdale to pick him up from the airport and we stopped at a few stores on the way back to get him some clothes and living goods for the trip back as the package he had mailed to Marathon with all his stuff in it was delayed. I wanted to get underway since the weather with all it’s unpredictability beyond 2-3 days was on my mind and the first four day trips would be on the outside in the Gulf of Mexico. We motored out of Boot Key just after first light and as with beginning any passage all five senses were running on all cylinders. We motored out and entered Mosser’s Channel to clear the 7 Mile Bridge. I was glad the tide was low as passing through any bridge height of 65’ at mean high tide makes me a bit nervous with our 61’ mast + mast head instruments. A 50’+ Sea Ray races ahead of us to get through the bridge first and I throttled back some to let the waters calm before we passed through to make sure any wake did not push the mast within striking distance of the bridge.

We set the sails after clearing the bridge and had a marvelous sail to Little Shark River. I was pleased that at least 50% of the crab traps had been removed from Florida Bay and the challenge to avoid them was relived.

The autopilot was not responding well for some reason so we hand steered until I finally remembered to check the setting for the Gain. After correcting the gain the autopilot steered perfectly and I was a happy sailor as this would be one of the best test of the system under sail. Bill wanted to know what I had named the autopilot. I explained that we did not have a name for the autopilot. He insisted that every autopilot should have a nickname so I let it rest and thought a proper name would surface along this trip.

As we neared Little Shark the winds piped up to 20-25 and we reefed the head-sail. About five miles out we put the sails away as our attention turned to navigating the relatively shallow inlet to this famous protected anchorage in the Everglades. We entered Little Shark on a rising 3’ tide and there were a few vessels already anchored for the day.

Roco and Gator in Marathon had provided a bit of local knowledge and they advised anchoring in the wide section just after entering the inlet. With the winds piping up there a just a small bit of fetch in that area so we decided to go deeper in just behind two vessels already anchored. We tried to set the anchor in the center of the river in about 12’ of water. I did not want to anchor to close to the Mangroves as the insect season was just beginning and avoiding mosquitoes along with the no-seeums were important to me.

I had read a review where one sailor awoke in the morning to find his vessel blackened by all the little bugs and after trying to get his anchor up the next morning he was chased back down below by the fierce mosquitoes. He put on his wet suit and snorkel mask so he could go back up and raise the anchor and get out of there. I thought that was brilliant!

We tried 3 times to set the Rocna anchor; it just skipped along the bottom that signaled coral rock. Finally on the fourth try the anchor set and we hoped we were good for the night. We discussed this later with a couple in Naples that had been in Little Shark that same night. We agreed that the current that runs in and out of the river leaves little in the center of the river to anchor in and the holding is actually better on the sides where there is more sand/mud to grab.

We grilled some pork chops and toasted the successful sail and fine anchorage, we were soon buttoning down the full enclosure and lit a citronella candle as the no-seeums made their presence known

I was amazed the next morning when we raised the anchor, no bugs and there was very little to clean off the chain with the wash down pump as I raised the anchor. Just a bit of sand/shell on the tip of the anchor

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