Sunday, February 8, 2015

Continuing South in the GIWW

A view of the gulf from the park on Venice Inlet

When we left Sarasota we decided to head back on out into the gulf where it looked like we might have a nice sail to the Venice Inlet. But first we had to leave through the New Pass Inlet to get there. We did this back in May and remembered it was a bit of a challenge. The inlet markers aren't on the charts because they're moved frequenly due to shoaling, but if we did it once we could do it again. That being said, we will never, ever use this inlet again. We passed under the bridge and were happy to see so the channel was very well marked with a lot of green cans and red nuns. Peachy! We weren't surprised to find shallow depths and four feet under us was okay. Finally the last red and green were behind us, we turned toward the gulf and immediately saw the depths drop to three feet, two and a half feet... Crap! We draw two and a half! Hans cut back on the engines and we drifted about in panicky fear and didn't know what to do. He continued to steer toward the gulf and we finally saw three feet, then four feet. What a relief. Later, Hans looked New Pass up on Active Captain (the newest guru site of the sailing community) and it basically said this inlet should not be attempted. There was not one favorable comment. Live and learn I guess.

Wilbur tries to hold Hans captive after we return to the boat. He doesn't like to be left alone.

It was a beautiful day so we put up the main and unfurled the jib, and then the wind died. So back to using the engines. Our original plan was to enter Venice and check out the anchorage there and if we didn't like the looks of it (another pan from Active Captain) we'd move on a few miles to another anchorage. But with the loss of time due to poor winds we knew we'd be pushing it to get to that other anchorage before dark and anyway there were several draw bridges involved. I ended up calling the Crow's Nest Marina right inside the Venice inlet and made a reservation (Very Pricey! Horribly Expensive! cautioned Active Captain). But since we've turned into spend-thrifts here on the Knotty Cat, what the hell, why not.

First of all, Venice Inlet has to be one of the easiest channels in the world to traverse. On one side is a beach and on the other is a park, and they were both packed with people. We tied up easily to our dock and for the first time in a week connected to shore power. We really do want to anchor as much as possible but if we had to get stuck at a marina we could do far worse than The Crow's Nest. We loved it.

Wilbur was happy to display his handsome pittiness for all to enjoy as we walked him in the park. It wasn't until this morning on our second walk that a lady told us dogs weren't allowed and we'd get a hefty fine if caught. We never saw a sign and I was surprised because I'd seen a couple of other dogs there, but I dragged him out of there anyway. No problem, we walked him in the other direction and at the marina office he met Pete-E who had no desire to be his friend.

Pete-E. He said hello to me. He hissed at Wilbur

"Please to be my friend", Wilbur begs

Another potenial friendship doesn't happen

The dreaded sign. No wonder we didn't see it, it was in the parking lot and we didn't arrive via car. Oh, the land of the free.

We were both massively starved and I could have easily made something for dinner but we decided to treat ourselves to the Crow's Nest Restaurant. I mean, really, why should the Knotty Cat and all her systems get all the attention? But when Hans called to make reservations the whole Active Captain 'Horribly Expensive!' warning became a bit more clear. They were booked solid until 9 PM and were we interested in the upstairs dining or the downstairs? Ouch! That usually means pricey for sure so we didn't make reservations and decided to check and see if they had a bar. Luckily, we are downstairs kind of people and were happy to find the prices there very reasonable. It was only 4:30 so we were able to snag a table by the bar. By the time we were finished there was a huge line waiting outside. Our bill, which also included four draft beers, came to the same amount we spent at lunch last week.

The view of the channel from our dock.

This morning after a nice marina shower (they have soft water!!! A huge bonus and my hair was very happy!), we shoved off and motored a whole 14 miles, got smoothly through four drawbridges and by 2 PM we were anchored in Lemon Bay (not one bad word about it in Active Captain except for the guy who said he bumped bottom both arriving and leaving but someone's gotta be a pill).

As for navigating I'm still using my 2010 Skipper Bob Guide with Active Captain as a back up. I know people love Active Captain but Hans and I both get a forum vibe from it. Tons of duplicate comments and completely opposing opinions, but there is definitely entertainment value in some of the reviews. One woman wrote a scathing essay about her Crow's Nest Restaurant experience; her reservation called for a window table and she didn't get it (gasp!), a birthday candle was forgotten (the agony!), her waitress was awful (didn't you just see that one coming?), all this after having driven 12 HOURS to eat there. I have a feeling no restaurant within 12 hours of her will take a reservation from her, hence the long drive.

Our first goal is to reach Cayo Costa and it's not far away at all. We are loving this no schedule thing right now and may just stay put tomorrow. Wilbur needs his peeps to stay put for a change.

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