Pensacola was great and we were even able to meet up with some old friends I went to school with who now live there. But we needed to get moving. We pulled anchor at 5 pm on Thursday, March 17, for a short overnight run to Panama City. Winds were light and seas were calm so we had to motor almost the entire way. On the plus side, I wasn’t seasick at all (yeah me!). We anchored in Bunkers Cove off St Andrews bay which was beautiful and well protected. We didn’t go ashore but could still see a lot of damage from hurricane Michael.
On Thursday, the 22nd, we left for Ft Myers – which, of course, was our original destination when we left Kemah last month. We pulled anchor at 7 am and made our way back out into the Gulf. Winds were 15 to 20 knots with 3 to 5 foot seas from behind making for very rolly conditions but we were sailing along around 5 ½ to 6 knots with the main and jib.
We were visited by several different pods of dolphins that would play by the boat for long periods of time before disappearing again. We saw a large sea turtle that appeared to be sleeping on top of the water. I guess we interrupted his nap because as we got closer he swam a bit and then dove. We were also surprised to see a number of small birds that far off shore. A couple of which landed on our boat and then died. Russell tried to give one some fresh water and even though it drank some it didn’t make it. Our best guess is that they were Purple Martins migrating up from Central America.
At one point we did, kind of, maybe, sort of, sail through a little bit of the bombing area used by the military. At least that’s what we think the guy in the fighter jet was trying to tell us as he zoomed by.
On my 3 to 6 am watch Friday morning I was seasick again because I stupidly forgot to take another Bonine (will try not to let that happen again!) but thankfully the seas settled down and I was able to recover. Unfortunately that was because the wind died. So after a few hours of poking along at 3 knots, we started up Old Blue and motor sailed what turned out to be the rest of the way into Ft Myers.
Saturday was a beautiful sunny day of motor sailing. We put out a lure and within a short period of time caught our very first fish, a Mackerel. Since our Florida fish ID book cautions against eating them (potential for ciguatera or parasites – YUCK) we threw it back. Our next fish was a tuna!!! Well, it was actually a Little Tunny or Bonito which is only rated as bait fish in our trusty book so, back into the water it went. At any rate, it was a beautiful fish. As we got closer to Ft Myers we began so see crab pots so brought in the lure.
There are limited anchorages shown in the guidebooks but we choose Matanzas Pass which is directly behind Ft Myers Beach. Since our mast is somewhere around 62 feet and the bridge clearance is 65 we planned to anchor just before the bridge. We were coming through this very narrow channel just at sunset and the first thing I see is a sailboat laid over on its side. Didn’t give me the warm fuzzies I have to say! But we were able to drop our anchor in a small unoccupied spot barely outside the channel just as it was getting dark.
Successful passage so now dinner of spaghetti with wine, lots of wine!