This morning we let go of mooring ball #44 for the final time this season. We are heading back to the boatyard, cutting our winter a bit short. We received some not-so-great news from my sister (who is fighting pancreatic cancer) on Friday morning and I need to be home: for her, for my parents, for me.
We’ve been watching the winds forecast, hoping to get to Naples and maybe Marco Island yet this winter, but after about 10 beautiful Florida-like winter days (finally!) with warm air and light breezes, the wind again piped up. The good news is that the wind hasn’t been out of the north and nights have been calm and pleasant. The bad news is that during the days, the wind has been gusty and blowsy out of the southeast and the Gulf is riled up.
The past few days we’ve woken to near calm conditions, but the winds fill in quickly and against the tide, our days aboard have been bouncy and we’ve had many an interesting dinghy ride. Forecasts keep promising lighter air to come, but by the time this morning’s forecast was updated, NOAA was again calling for SE15 with gusts to 21 after 11 AM. We left as soon as Diversified opened so that we could pump out (as the pumpout boat didn’t get us on Friday, but that’s another story) and take on fresh water. We were out of FMB’s harbor by 9 AM (would have been 8 AM yesterday), and already the winds were gusty and strengthening with 2-3 footers. We discovered that Prairie Dog rolls unpleasantly when waves are coming to the side. Fortunately, we didn’t have far to go to get under the bridge and into the mouth of the Caloosahatchie (though then we had to contend with some of the hotdogs throwing massive wakes, showing off for their guests. Not nice and very unseamanlike. We’ve encountered more inconsiderate boaters here in southern Florida than anywhere on the Great Lakes, and that includes the Landsdowne Channel outside of Killarney.
Tonight, and likely tomorrow, we are tucked into Bimini Basin (Cape Coral)–our first time here. We have lots of wind, but the water is flat and once the winds die down later this afternoon, it will be a near perfect Florida cruiser’s anchorage: park, groceries and restaurants, Ace Hardware, and a West Marine store all within easy walking distance. Near perfect because the cruising guides report that there is room here for 8-10 boats and at last count, there are 18 anchored. We’re hopeful that our 3rd anchor reset holds. The bottom is not great holding (need lots and lots of scope!)… that, and we’re still trying to get used to all chain.