Three days of sailing, two days of sitting ...
Back on the water at last! We took the five days starting Monday, January 25th to get back on Alizee and enjoy some time away from land life. We left the slip at Burnt Store Marina at 12:50 and were under sail in twenty minutes. A light NW breeze got us on course to Pelican Bay at about 3.5 knots, but by 1400 the wind had fallen off. Soon we were motoring into our anchorage and by 1615 we were securely snugged in for the evening. But in the process of anchoring, we discovered that mice had been attempting to nest in the rope locker at the bow. James cleaned it out, and we'll put mouse traps in the locker once we're back.
Our first evening on the hook ... seems like it's been forever, and in fact it has!! This is testified to by the fact that James could not blow the conch horn effectively at sunset ... nor could Penelope ... only one decent little "toot" was managed after numerous attempts at puckering and blowing. Cocktails followed by a dinner of Empress chili and Mazza salad and a nice conversation on the phone with Tony and Lin Kay, who James always wants to call when we get on the boat and he has an after-dinner drink of Ricard.
Tuesday were arose at 0800, and relaxed with books while awaiting the tide to rise and permit a passage through Pelican Bay's entrance. James decided to straighten up the rope lockers in the cockpit, and we discovered that mice had been nesting in each one, so the task became one of cleaning out as well as straightening. We are going to have to put copper wool in the drain holes of each locker. Mice, birds!! What a pain in the rear.
We weighed anchor at 1100 and had a foot to spare while going through the bay entrance. Got a nice SE wind of 10-12 knots and got 3/4's of the way back toward Burnt Store Marina before we had to tack. Then on our second tack back to the north, the wind died and we motored north to the Myaka River to spend our second night. James through out a trolling line for the trip, but got no bites -- the water's a bit cold so the fish are likely headed into the shallower shore waters -- so we just had to suffer with a lamb chop dinner.
Motoring is not our favorite way of moving across the water, but it does have the benefit of letting us charge all our electronic toys by using the inverter as well as the 12-volt charging outlet, so when we anchored in the Myaka at 1600, everything was charged up. The weather predictions pointed to a front coming through with possible lightning, so that night we put all our electrical devices in the range oven, so if Alizee were struck with a bolt, they might survive, the oven acting as a Faraday cage.
We got no lightning, but we did wake up to roily conditions. We love the Myaka River and our evening was incredibly nice as we floated on milky waters, but we always forget that the combination of the river current, tides and winds often leads to a rocky ride. Up at 0730, and knowing that weather was headed our way by noon, we decided to weigh anchor and motor over to the anchorage just north of Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda. We arrived and anchored by 1000, and the rain started almost immediately. James made a bacon/egg/pancake "brunch" and we settled in for a rainy and windy day, which by the end of it we each had finished books and were starting new ones. Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs, and James managed to log on to Amazon and download the book Dead Wake to his Kindle. We continued reading!
We had hoped Thursday would bring a break in the rain, but alas, the front continued storming through all day and into the evening. The waters got a bit roily because the wind was out of the northwest and blowing across Charlotte Harbor, but by now we had our sea legs. It reminded us fondly of waiting through storms in the Bahamas at places like Sail Cay and Eleuthra. Penelope put it perfectly: "This is really like cruising." But despite the rain and wind, we were very comfortable, and Penelope cooked a great dinner: Filet Mignon (from d'Artagnan), baked potato, brussel sprouts, mushrooms -- a real feast!!
At the start of the evening, I inflated the dinghy, which when soft and hanging on the davits is able to swing side to side when it's windy. Clearly there was a leak I had not found and patched earlier, in December. Around 0400, enough air had leaked out again to cause the dinghy to swing, and the first thing I did on Friday morning was to inflate it again. But I found the leak this time and will fix it once back at the marina.
Alas, Friday was our return trip day. We left anchor at 0930, and motor-sailed with just the Genoa out of the anchorage with a nice NNE 10-knot breeze. Although the breeze softened, we were able to sail from outside the anchorage to about one-mile north of Burnt Store Marina, at which point the wind died completely. We docked at 1330, put on the canvas, fenders, turned on shore power and inflated and raised a new bird-control balloon called the "Evil Eye" up to just below the top of the mast. We'll see if it keeps the birds from landing on the mast and covering the deck with poop. We were home by 1500, and so ended our first short sail week of the new year.