We relaunched Thyme Hyssop & Wry last Tuesday morning. Both Ron and I were aboard as her keel was lowered into the water, Ron checking the back of the engine, I was watching our bilge: no leaks… yet. We had considered waiting until the following morning to leave, but we’d been in the boatyard so much longer than planned. We were antsy for a change of scenery. And the forecast overnight was for near calm conditions, perfect for locking out into Charlotte Harbor near high tide (about an hour before sunset) and then anchoring in the open for the night.
Tuesday evening could not have been more beautiful. The night was dead calm. Our only concern was whether our solar anchor light was bright enough/charged fully to last all night, but there was no boat traffic after dark. It was so great to be back on the water, our bilge was still dry, and we both slept well.
Wednesday morning was still calm and clear and warm. One of our fellow boaters from the boatyard had locked out in the dead of the night during the high-high tide (they draw 6 ft and need the higher daily tide for getting in and out of the South Gulf Shore Lock) and were anchored just outside the channel markers where the chart shows 7 feet. I don’t know that I will ever get used to these shallow depths here. One wonders how the dolphins have enough water. Guess they don’t need much depth!
Our plan was to anchor at Useppa Island for the night, but we were there by noon (and there was SO much boat traffic going into Cabbage Key for burgers!). We decided that we might as well go on down Pine Island Sound to the anchorage off from Ding Darling Nature Reserve. But once there, the wind wasn’t doing what was forecast. The anchorage was exposed to the current wind direction and because there was so much motorboat traffic (it was a beautiful, perfect boating day), we were going to be spending the rest of the daylight hours bouncing a bit more than we wanted on our first full day on the water.
Ron asked me to check the wind forecast for overnight. I checked both Windfinder and NOAA, and they didn’t agree. Windfinder was showing much higher winds than NOAA, and neither one was accurate as to what we were experiencing at that time. What to do? If NOAA was correct, we would be fine overnight at Ding Darling. But if Windfinder was correct, we were going to be downright uncomfortable and neither of us would be getting much sleep. We were close to (the lower) high tide, a good time to make our way through the Miserable Mile. If we went on, we would be in Fort Myers Beach mooring field (our destination) before sunset. We decided to go on.
And so, even though we had planned on a couple of days to reach Fort Myers Beach, we ended up doing it all in one day–rather like our summers getting to the start of the North Channel all in one day. And now we’re here, where we’ll be spending the rest of our winter living aboard. The airport is close and easy enough to reach by public transportation should I need to fly home to my sister, Amy. (She has just finished her 4th chemo treatment of 6 planned–she is 2/3 of the way through this part of her treatment.) We have friends here–from home and from the boatyard. It’s a pleasant place to be.
And which forecast was correct? Well, Wednesday overnight at Fort Myers Beach, it was definitely NOAA. The night was as calm as the night before. However, later in the day, Windfinder’s forecasted higher winds came in to the area. I am enjoying not needing to worry about wind forecast for the next while.
P.S. Yes, so far our bilge is still dry!–jes