From Cayo Costa we briefly sailed, then motored as the wind dropped, across Charlotte Harbor to the Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club where we attended the Great Lakes Cruising Club’s Spring Break event. It was a good chance to spend dinners with good friends, though we declined the many day excursions so that we could get Thyme Hyssop & Wry ready for storage. It was a great treat being tied to a dock, where we had easy access to shore. Since leaving Indiantown on January 7, we spent just two nights at a dock, when we visited friends at their home at Lighthouse Point, near Fort Lauderdale. Since that time, every night had been spent on a mooring or at anchor.
The water in these parts (okay, pretty much all of southern Florida) is pretty “thin.” Fortunately, Thyme Hyssop & Wry’s draft is a bit under 5 feet, but we still have to watch the tides carefully for arriving, departing, and even transiting some areas.
Dense morning fog burned off rapidly in the hot sun as we waited for a rising tide to depart the CHYC. Thankful for local knowledge, we watched the “oyster line” and were able to leave late morning so that we would arrive at the “cattle lock” close to high tide. We felt our keel briefly drag the soft bottom as we made our way through the channel, though we never slowed our forward progress.
We had taken our sails down and folded them away for storage as we were sitting at the dock, and it was just as well. The waters of Charlotte Harbor were like glass, as calm as we have seen. And the dolphins put on such shows! We saw several pods of them along the way, obviously fishing as they herded the schools of small fish. I will never tire of watching them.
We arrived at the “cattle lock” near high tide. This small lock (and it is small: room enough for one boat) is self-operated. We maneuvered Thyme Hyssop & Wry through a very narrow and shallow channel and tied alongside the starboard side. I got off the boat onto a narrow dock to read the instructions on closing and opening the lock. This was an interesting experience, as we’ve never before operated our own lock. It went without a hitch, and we’ll be less intimidated by this lock the next time.
As we departed the lock, now raised about 6″ from sea level, a huge bald eagle soared in front of us and landed in a tree overlooking the lock. Bald eagles must be coming back; we are beginning to see a lot of them in our sailing travels. They’ve been regulars in the North Channel for years, and we now have a pair nesting near Duncan Bay Boat Club, where we berth Annwfn. I don’t remember seeing them last year while in southern Florida, but we saw a few this year, particularly once we reached the Gulf coast.