Sunday, April 7, 2013

Day 117/II Engelwood Beach to Long Beach Anchorage

The Monster Go Fast Boat we saw docked at  Ft. Myers is sneaking up on our stern. They are considerate and pass at a reasonable speed. 

Just so you can understand the size of this Vessel.
I would like to see this guy on the outside with it opened up for sure.

See how big it is and how small the people are?

We had to wait for the bridge to open along with the little sailboat being towed in front of us, they ran on through.

We navigated through 10 bridges this day, this is the Magnificent Venice Avenue Bridge, the 4th one for the day.  Some open on request, some every 30 minutes, some every 20 minutes. Weekends and  Holidays can be different so read your Skipper Bob Cruising Guide for the info. 

I'm Thinking Venice would be a good place to come back to for a few days.

Dense Fog at marker 14 set in after the 6th bridge, The Albee Bridge. 

After Marker 20 Visibility was less than 100 yards, we were going ahead at 3.4 knots, 1000 rpm, just running with the flood tide. We had our auto Fog horn on and announced our position at every marker on the VHF.

This is the Blackburn Swing Bridge and you can not see the traffic headed  South so  the VHF was very important in  negotiating on who would go through first. 

Wow, really? running at planning speed in the Fog!

At least they had a  sacrificial lamb to follow through.

We enjoyed seeing this guy with his nice home right on the ICW near a  outlet to the Gulf with his big sailboat parked alongside in a very protected private channel. Do not think he even experiences wakes from the ICW.

After responding to a couple, on a Transpac 49,  who hailed us on 16 we moved in to a closer spot and the Rocna seemed to set just fine. 

Just in front of us was a shoal where one of the local liveaboards dragged onto.  The  people at the resturant said he  has lived here a long time and regularly drags all over the area.

The Very Cool Long Beach Anchorage. 

This couple from Houston on their Transpac 49 had the best spot in the whole anchorage. 
We heard of the two restaurants that the Mar-Vista  was the best all-be-it  more pricey

We decided the best thing to do was  get several appetizers and split  it.  They were great but the portions did not quite  fill us up. 
We still had some daylight left so we walked the short distance  through the neighborhood to Long Beach

There were just a few people here hoping for a sunset that did not come. 

One of the finest beaches I have seen so far. 

These are the only real dunes I have seen in Florida so far, not as big as Mustang Island but still pretty impressive as this neighborhood has not allowed any development making this a very nice beach. 

Several of these guys were freely roaming the neighborhood.

Bill decided he needed more food so we went in to Moore's and  we decided this should have been  our first stop. 

Bill managed to Grab a sunrise shot, I did not even notice as I was so concerned about the anchor dragging!

Day 117/II Engelwood Beach to Long Beach Anchorage

3/24/13 Departed 0740 hrs. Arrived 1510 hrs; Underway 7:29 hrs;  38.4 NM; Avg speed 5.1 Kts; 70-80 degrees sunny 10-20 SW winds. Dense Fog beginning at marker 14, began to lift to 1/4 mile visibility by 1130 hrs. 

The concern this day would the 10 bridges that we would have to navigate through on the way to Long Beach. Nine of the bridges are either Bascule or swing bridges and each have their own opening schedule. Since it was a Holiday a few were opening on request, Some of the busier bridges were on their weekday schedule. Skipper Bob's Cruising guide has all the info and makes the trip easier by putting this in a easy to use format as you travel through. 

Our trip through the remaining part of Lemon Bay was accented by the passing of the Huge Go Fast Boat we saw docked in Ft. Myers two days before. They were easing down the ICW and unlike the go fast boats the day before slowed as they passed oncoming vessels. I wondered just how fast would that vessel go? 

We were just past  Venice near St Mile 57 entering Blackburn Bay when the fog began to set in, Visibility was not to bad at first and we were hoping the temps would go up and it would be short lived. Well it just got worse. Bill slowed to idle speed at 1000 RPM's but we were on a flood tide and so we were drifting at 3.4 Kts. anyway. I turned on the radar, we set the fog horn on auto and we began to announce our North bound position as we passed each marker. We looked for a place to just stop and wait it out but this is a very narrow section of the ICW and depths were 1-3' on either side of us for a long distance. 
I was really tuned into our position as it was so dense now that we would not even be able to see the next bridge coming up. As we neared the Blackburn Swing Bridge the fog decreased just enough that we could see the bridge but not the other side where there was several power vessels waiting to pass South bound. We thought the tender would determine the order in which the vessels went through but I guess he could not see us either so he told us to figure that out ourselves. We had to trust everyone had a VHF radio and was listening on VHF 09. All went well even though there was an impatient Captain behind us in a 50+ plus Sea Ray. After we negotiated the bridge the Sea Ray hailed us to pass and we of course said come ahead on the 1 and he definitely did, I am thinking he has a lot better radar than I do as he cranked it up and zoomed by. Maybe he is so high on that flybridge he has excellent visibility??? 
By 1130 hours the visibility started to improve and so did our day. The one thing we disliked about this fog is it stole away our chance to see several miles of this cool section of the ICW. Onward we passed Casey Key, Stickney Point Bridge, Siesta Key Bridge, and into Sarasota Bay. We knew there was a bit of weather ahead, the winds were piping up and we discussed the options of stopping at Sarasota Moorings and looked at other possible nearby anchorages. The only safe anchorage in windy conditions was just the other side of the Ringling Brothers Bridge so if we stopped in this area it would be best to just get a Mooring Ball at the Mooring field. We checked weather radar and felt we could make it to the anchorage at Long Beach just a few miles ahead. The Weather Gods were kind to us and we avoided any hard rain or winds. After we got anchored at Long Beach I checked the weather radar again and the more serious weather skipped over us and was now just to our South, cheated death one more time! ( I can't help saying this as it is one of my favorite quotes of Dr. Ken on his 24' Pacific Seacraft Dana "Star" back at Commanders Point Marina on Lake Travis). 
After we got anchored a guy from Houston on a Transpac 49' hailed us and advised us to come in closer next to them. After looking about we decided he was right and there was plenty of room for us among the 4 vessels anchored over there so we moved in closer. 
We had plenty of daylight left so we got the dingy down and went straight over to talk to the nice couple who hailed us. They sold a relatively new Island Packet 44 and bought their 87' Transpac 49 in Kemah. they put the boat in cruising order including a in Boom Mainsail Furler (which I was lusting after) and are headed South to the Bahamas and beyond  They recommended the Mar Vista Restaurant as they had been here several days and had tried both restaurants a few times. We bid them fair winds and dingied to the dingy dock to check out this quaint key. Bill found us a table right away with a view to the little anchorage. We enjoyed a fine brew and several mighty fine appetizers that we thought would be better than ordering a couple of entree's. That idea fell a bit short but after another beer we were ready to move on and explore the Island a bit. We walked West down a neighborhood road to Long Beach and the Gulf of Mexico. Here we were surprised to find a beautiful beach complete with real Dunes. This is the first time I have seen any significant dunes in Florida as the condo/hotel development along the entire coast pretty much wiped them out years ago. There were some feeble attempts in some areas to restore the dunes but the progress was minimal at best. This community was pretty smart and did not allow any development on the beach so they have a beautiful spot  and hopefully I can bring the Admiral back here before we leave Florida for St. Pete. We  walked back with a bit of daylight left and Bill insisted on going to the Other restaurant and getting at least one more snack. We both agreed we enjoyed Moore's Stone Crab restaurant more, it is a bit more relaxed and the food was just as good.
We got back to the boat after dark and decided not to hoist the dingy back up till the morning since we had just a short 3-4 hour trip to St. Pete the next day. The winds were still out of the South but they were due to change to the North during the night. No worry I would be up a couple of times to check on the anchor as always. 

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