Days on cruise: 263
Distance traveled: 36.8 miles
Travel time: 4 hours, 40 minutes
Total trip odometer: 5,739 statute miles
Often when we leave port in the morning, we don’t know for sure where we’re headed. We may have alternatives in mind, but the ultimate destination depends on things like wind, current, bridge openings required, the presence (especially in Florida) of posted zones that can go on for miles, saying “idle speed; no wake” or “slow speed; minimum wake” which lengthens travel times. This morning was one of those days. We’d seen enough of Sarasota to satisfy our interest so wanted to move on, but the weather called for a High Wind Advisory to move in sometime during the day. We knew we’d be okay in the protected waterways of the ICW with the barrier islands preventing lengthy fetch leading to big waves. So at 7:45 am, off we went: destination unknown, but multiple alternatives planned.
All day there was an unusually bright glare on the water, small-ish waves, and high wind: as in the kind of wind that rocks the boat, whistles loudly through the canvas and isinglass, and heightens alertness to make sure we aren’t blown out of the narrow marked channel, or that we don’t get blown into a bridge as we pass closely underneath with current and wind combining to throw us off course. Fortunately it was warm, high 70s, so we were comfortable on the flybridge.
But the going was slow, we had to request 3 bridge openings, and there was a surprising amount of boat traffic to pass (mostly sailboats) or to be pass us (mostly sportfishers going at high speed and annoying us with their huge wakes).
Our boat is 18.5 feet tall, meaning height above the waterline. So anytime we approach a bridge we pull out the binoculars and read the “air height gauge” posted on the bridge fenders to tell us whether we can get under. It is unlawful, and subject to fine of up to $25,000, to ask for a bridge opening if you don’t really need it to safely pass. The other complicating factor is most bridges are curved on the bottom, and height listed on the gauge is the height at the lowest point, not the center. So you have to read the tiny print to find out if the mid-section of the bridge is the same, or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 feet higher than the reading on the gauge. This only really matters on bridges like the one depicted below, where we can’t safely clear at the edges, but can in the middle. That doesn’t matter much either usually, but on days where the current is running and the wind is blowing, you really want to make sure you pass under the bridge smack in the middle so you don’t hit!
This big house was empty: no furniture, wall hangings, nothing! Anyone want to become a squatter? It’s got 270 degree views of the ICW, as it sits on a point.
Lots of Florida homes have these huge screen structures, often two stories tall and covering a patio, pool and decks. This is, of course, to keep the bugs out.
This was a 9-foot high swing bridge we had to request be opened for our passage.
Two-directional car ferries briefly blocked the ICW channel as they passed one another.
Finally at 1:00pm, with the wind blowing steadily 25 mph and gusts to 30 mph, with the forecast for it to continue through the night, we decided we wanted to sleep soundly, so pulled into Cape Haze Marina instead of the anchorage at Cape Haze. It’s sunny and warm, so pleasant conditions for getting some boat chores and laundry done onboard.