Friday, April 5, 2013

Day 115/II Naples to Ft. Myers Beach

It is always easier departing a channel out to the Gulf than arriving, of course you have already been there so there are fewer surprises, a view of departing Gordon Pass.

We put all the sails out and actually passed this cruiser until he unfurled all of his head sail.

The race was on we were gaining on these two and in the distance to the left you can  just see a sail appearing so we were gaining on him also.

The exciting race lasted only 1.5 hours as the wind went to Zero and  seas were flat. Passing this Catalina 34 made me think of my friend Rick on GodSpeed at Lake Travis

I think this is an Endeavour Ketch?

Yep you will always see a Hunter out there.

His Mainsail fooled me, at first I thought it was a Tartan, but pretty sure this is a 80's Hunter.
We were in the Matanzas Pass channel to Ft Myers Beach when this Parasail came way to close for comfort, we I asked
Bill to shift to neutral and let them pass as the last thing we needed was some teenage girls dangling from our mast! 

The Garmen chart plotter would have had us entering to the starboard of the vessel you see coming at us. This is when you have to trust what everyone else is doing, your eyes,  and of course the channel markers. Chart plotters are not always right!You can see the North end of Ft. Myers Beach to the right, you pass very close to the sand!

After making the turn past the beach. 

The customs have a big presence in South Florida.

Approaching the Ft. Myers Beach Bridge

The biggest go fast boat I have ever seen, this boat passed us two days later on our way to Long Beach.

Bill said this is an Oyster, (top of the line sailing vessel) we figured the skipper of this vessel must have won her in a poker game or something  since it was anchored out and had a less than luxurious tender

Very busy Coast Guard Station to port just before the Ft. Myers Beach Bridge.

And to Starboard just before the bridge this Topsail Schooner "Lynx"

She has Cannon.

And a Mighty Crew

Lots of traffic above and below at the 65' Fort Myers Bridge

Just Past the bridge entering the North side of the Ft Myers Beach Mooring field, our Mooring Ball assignment is on the South end.

Thsi is Gene's Catalina 30, he was on the end of the dock with his new wife to welcome us to Ft. Myers Beach as we motored by.

This is the South end of the mooring field looking back at the  Ft. Myers Beach Bridge, a long dingy ride back to the Matanzas Inn by the bridge where you have to check in.  

We were just across from Salty Sam's Marina, and nearby was the Key West Express docked ready to take a bunch to Key West.

Check In Here

We met Gene and his new wife here for drinks and food. 

The Scallop Salad was mighty fine, Genes wife shared a big fried onion ring!
The Ft. Myers Mooring field is the bottom half of the Harbor, all the way just past the bridge all the way to the right.

Back at the boat before sunset to prepare for the next days passage. 

Day 115/II Naples to Ft. Myers Beach

Depart 3/22/13 0900 hrs Arrive 14:30 hrs, 30 Nm avg speed 5.5 Kts Underway 5 hrs. 27 min, Partly Cloudy 0-10 kt. E winds 78 degrees. Seas 1 to 2’

We slept in a bit since our trip up to Ft. Myers beach would only be about 6 hours. Bill took the helm as I released the lines from the $10 per night mooring ball and we easily glided to the Naples channel. There is no ICW here so you have to go on the outside to Ft. Myers Beach. Another reason to depart a litle later was to give the Gulf a bit more time to calm down after the passing front. We snapped a few more pics of the Mega Million$$ homes and noticed several new ones going up on the water front where they had knocked down the cheap $5 million dollar ones. As we approached Gordon Pass we noticed that the waters were pretty calm. Several sailing vessels were ahead of us and it looked as if we would have some company for our trip up to Ft. Myers Beach. At 0940 we were out and headed North, Bill turned off the engine and we put all the Sails out as the winds looked promising. We had 10 kt. East winds and thought how great it was going to be to be able to sail all the way to Ft Myers Beach. I trimmed the sails for maximun gain and we began to ease by a cruiser just to our port. It appeared as though we were actually gaining on the two...No wait,  three boats ahead. After about an hour and almost catching two of the boats ahead (the third was actually coming south) the winds laid down to 0. with the Iron genny fired up we were making 6 knots again and in no particular hurry for sure.
Two Cigarette boats passed us far to starboard heading North, they were out of sight in just a few moments, Bill said they were traveling 75-100 mph. they were certainly throwing up huge rooster tails and you could here the roar of their engines as they flew by.
We were soon in Matanzas Pass channel to Ft. Myers Beach. Very busy, the first encounter was with a vessel towing some teenage girls para-sailing  He was coming way to close for comfort and passed immediately in front of us. It looked to me that if we continued on the cable could tangle in our mast so I asked Bill to Throttle back and just let them go, did not need a bunch of teenage girls dangling from the mast for sure! The Channel passes very close to the North end of Ft. Myers Beach (A lot like Destin). On our approach the Garmin Chart plotter would have had our course 50-100 yards to port, the channel was busy with traffic so we slowed down and changed course hoping the channel markers marked the deep water, and they did. You can not always trust the electronics, If we had followed the chart plotter we would have run aground for sure just off the marked channel. It was a bit concerning since I could have jumped off the boat as we went by and landed on the sandy beach!
The closer we got to the Ft. Myers Beach Bridge the more traffic there was, It was Spring Break! We eased on under the bridge and got a bit confused again for a moment on how to enter the mooring field, we did a 360 and re-evaluated, the channel to Starboard appeared to be the one and 1 more time we cheated death and made it in. We had called a old friend of Bills and a Corpus Christi acquaintance of mine to let Gene know we would be there and perhaps we could all go have a drink together to meet his new wife. They were perched at the end of their dock as we went by and welcomed us to Ft. Myers Beach. Bill was creative with his own salutation. We soon found our mooring ball assignment at the South end of the mooring field and began to make plans to go check in, Meet up with Gene and be back in time to change the V-belts on the engine. I knew it was time to change them and did not want to be motoring in the ICW with belts that might be questionable. If one gave way it would be at the worst possible moment in narrow waterways with lots of traffic and bridges to navigate. It is always better to work on a cool engine rather than a hot one but the logistics of possibly getting back to the boat after dark after a couple of fine beers to change v belts did not sound so attractive either. I decided to just get her done so our evening schedule would not be difficult especially since we would be dingying to the far end of the mooring field for the evening activities. It was not so bad I just opened up all the hatches, got all my tools together and dived in. The old belts were cooperative, came off easy and the new ones back on.
After wards we dingied to the Matanzas Inn, checked in and then met Gene & wife at the Upper deck just above the Matanzas Inn and had a great reunion. Afterwards They gave us a walking tour of the Ft. Myers Beach area, one more beer at one of Gene's favorite Bar & Grill. They invited us back to their boat for more conversation but I felt myself headed for the dingy and a restful sun down on the boat. I told Bill I would be glad to dingy back in and get him later but after consideration he was ready to return to Wand'rin Star as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment