Monday, February 11, 2019

Out and about on a boat

It looks like we got lost in the Tampa Bay, but that is the route.
If you stray, you'll end up calling for a tow!
FINALLY! We took Cat-n-Dogs out of her slip for the first time in over a month. Loaded up with new electronics, auto-pilot, and solar panels we had a lot to shake out. Russ also had done a fair bit of engine maintenance that he hoped he'd done correctly. He did, of course.

We left Palmetto around one in the afternoon and took a three hour cruise to the ICW and down south. There were a couple of anchorages near Longboat Key, and the island itself had easy access to the shore. We hadn't tried anchoring since we did it with "the anchor people." Yet another thing to shake out.

It was Sunday. Warm weather, calm seas. In other words, jammed with boaters ramping up for the boating season. Both anchorages were busy, making us newbies a bit nervous about trying it out. We suspected that in a few hours they would all leave, that most of them were there for a day out only. But that still meant finding a spot and anchoring without bumping into anyone.

Russ took the helm for a while.
Check out the monitor on his left.
Given it was our first solo effort, as we expected, it didn't go smoothly. In fact it took about a hour.

We were talked into using a snub line by Rudy (of noted "anchor people") which was a different method of attaching our bridle to the anchor rode. When we anchored before we used a Mantus chain hook. It was a challenge - since it didn't fit through the roller bale (a hoop on the tip of our boat that keeps the chain in its track) you had to dangle yourself out over the boat to attach it to the chain. Not something you'd want to do if the seas were remotely bumpy. The snub line can be tied onto the chain from the deck and will pass through the bale without issue.

Knowing all that and doing it are two different things. The knot pulled free a couple of times while trying to set the anchor. Eventually, we got it in. By that time, however, we'd drifted closer to Jewfish Key, where the waters are only three feet or less. Odds were we'd twist about during the night when the tides shift, and we didn't want to end up running aground at three in the morning. We weren't in any danger at the moment so we lowered the dinghy, and took the dogs to shore for a long walk. That went well. Dogs are getting comfortable with the little boat. Well, Lizzie is, anyway.

Daybreak on Longboat

After hoisting the anchor we checked out the other anchorage, nearer to the public dock. Our depth gauge told us this was a worse location. Back we went to the first anchorage, which started to thin out. We picked a new spot, anchored with little issue this time, and settled down for the night.

The weather was still and the night was quiet. Just before we retired I checked the weather. The winds were predicted to kick up during the night and taper off in the early morning hours. Sure enough, come midnight, subtle rocking woke us. We'd spun 180 degrees from where we'd anchored. All sorts of new noises filled our ears, like the slapping of water on the hull, and something that clicked in regular intervals. Occasionally we'd feel a bump, which I think was the dinghy running into us since we'd left it lowered. Russ got up a couple of times, unable to sleep, worried we'd drag our anchor. Not as restful a night as we'd hoped.
Heading back to the boat from Longboat Key.
The light is Cat-n-Dogs.
Note the new blue painter line :)

But we didn't drag the anchor. Everything was great! Around three in the morning everything calmed and we both slept sound until our morning routine.

We got up, fed the dogs, loaded them into the dinghy, and using a headlight as our "all around" light, made our way in the dark to the shore at six in the morning. We docked at the pier, walked the dogs, and came back, all without incident.

Taking our time to do morning things, like coffee and breakfast, we weighed anchor around nine and headed home.

And docked that bad boy like a boss!

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