Our adventure has begun.
We left Burnt Store Marina on Monday afternoon with full fuel and water tanks, an empty holding tank and highly excited sailing hearts. The winds were strong, but they were predicted to blow a beam reach for us all the way across the bay and we were excited to do some real sailing on this vessel. The first hour was fantastic – 20 knots right on our beam, sunny skies and Stella was screaming at 7 knots! We were giddy with excitement. Then in the blink of an eye, the winds started to blow maintained speeds of 30, with gusts up to 40. As much as we wanted some good wind to stretch our sailing legs, that was too much wind Stella Blue got up to over 8 knots!! We wrestled to get down the sails and made our way into the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) headed towards Cabbage Key. Our original plan was to anchor out across the channel from Cabbage Key, but with the strong winds we decided to take shelter in the Cabbage Key Marina. The relief that we felt after we were securely tied up to the dock was incredible. We had made it from Point A to Point B on our first solo voyage. Beer time!
All this wind blew in a cold front which brought record lows to the area and more winds. We stayed two nights at the Cabbage Key Marina and waited for better weather. The restaurant/bar was great – we celebrated our one month anniversary there The bar area is covered in dollar bills, so we added our own to the pile. The island of Cabbage Key has some great trails to explore. If you are going to be stuck somewhere, we decided this was an OK place.
We pushed off the dock Wednesday morning and headed south in the ICW headed for Fort Meyers Beach Mooring Field. It was a wonderfully uneventful day. The wind was at our back which meant great fuel economy and boat speed. We navigated our way through channel marker after channel marker and before we knew it, we were near the end of our 23 mile journey. We went under two bridges on the way – turns out that bridges scare me a bit. As many times as you check the vertical clearance on the charts, your heart still speeds up when you pass underneath. Our mast is 55 feet tall and the clearance of the second bridge was only 69 feet! That looks mighty close from the angle of the cockpit!
We picked up our first mooring ball, hopped in Princess Ding-a-ling (our dinghy has a name), and headed off to dinner and drinks. Let’s see, how do I say this? We. got. soaked. It was still pretty breezy and we were headed right into the waves. Seriously, head to toe soaked in cold salty water. Luckily Fort Meyers is a tourist spot with tons of cheap “beach stuff” stores. We re-outfitted in the first one we found, stuck our wet clothes in a bag and still made it to SOB (Shrimp Oyster Bar), a recommendation we picked up at Cabbage Key, in time for Happy Hour.
We are staying here at least one more night, might do a little fishing, might do a little warm weather dance. We didn’t bring the right wardrobe for these winter temps…