Sunday, December 30, 2018

Fog, cigarette boats, and an accidental emergency

When we walked the dogs in the morning a light fog had rolled in, less dense than the fog we experienced yesterday. We were pretty quick to get out again, hoping to beat the traffic. That didn't last long. The fog lifted pretty quickly and the boats came out in fleets.

Some of the day we had completely to ourselves. The crossing through Sarasota Bay, above Sarasota, was almost devoid of boaters. But all the canals were nearly clogged. There was so many wakes at times our autopilot struggled to maintain course. We bobbed a fair bit. 

Right around Siesta Key, Russ had just gone into the boat for something (water, food, I don't recall) and I was alone on the bridge. Suddenly, a shrieking squeal filled the radio. I looked at all my gauges, thinking it was some kind of alarm telling me our engine was on fire -- it was that intense. It lasted a few seconds, causing our dogs much distress (Lizzie is not a fan of beeps, we've learned). Russ came up asking what that was, as if I did something to make that noise. He even restarted out VHF system thinking it got pooched somehow. Over the next half hour or so the Coast Guard hailed everyone on channel 16 asking for information about a boat in distress. A number of captains responded, saying they may have accidentally triggered their distress signals, but the CG were looking for a specific vessel. Apparently, they knew who they were looking for (the boat was called the Beagle, and they recited registration numbers to get that boats attention), just not where. It was also apparent that most boaters (like us) were shocked by the alarm and thought that they had done something to trigger it. In the end the Coast Guard gave an all clear, saying it had been an accident (I'm thinking curious kid pressing the big red button).

Everybody is boating
Our only other bit of excitement (in a "shaking our fist" kind of way) was the flotilla of cigarette boats that buzzed by. About twelve of them. Noisy, fast, and making four foot wakes. Once they passed us and vanished on the horizon, a captain on the radio asked if anyone knew where they were going. I don't think he wanted to go anywhere near where they were. It's a shame I didn't get a picture of them. I was too busy keeping my balance to get the camera.

Otherwise, it couldn't have been a better day. Calm winds, smooth waters (baring jet-boats), warm sun. 

Oh, and docking in Palmetto was almost trivial compared to some of the places we'd been. And I used to think it was tricky!


We spent a great couple of days in Ft. Myers. Here are some highlights.

Gorgeous sunrise

Cheesy pirate ship

Real pirate ship 

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