Last weekend we had a perfect opportunity to take the boat out and try anchoring overnight for the first time. The weather was nice, tides were favorable and we finally had the confidence to take the boat out by ourselves with no extra crew! We’ve been out on S/V Mary Christine maybe 10 times already but every time so far we’ve had someone else with us, either friends or family. Our first time out just the two of us was amazing! Its starting to sink in a little more, we’re really doing this :)
We sailed across Charlotte Harbor over to Cayo Costa where our friends Jan and David had arrived an hour or two ahead of us. Its real tricky to get in and out of Pelican Bay where everyone anchors up. There is a very narrow channel with 1-3 feet depths on either side. Since we didn’t have previous tracks in and out, Jan and David met us in their dinghy to lead us in.
I backed the boat down as Peter dropped the anchor. We don’t have our chain marked yet for length but Peter did a rough estimate of how much chain he was letting out. It was pretty rusty and made an awful mess on the bow. We pulled the anchor snubber out of the depths of the line locker and got that all set up too. The current made it a challenge to keep the boat into the wind and to reverse in the right direction at the same time. We did pretty good for the first time though!! I suppose it’s just like docking… practice makes perfect. Pretty soon we’ll be doing this in our sleep, literally ;)
The next item on the agenda was to drop the dinghy into the water. We hooked it up to the mail halyard and lowered our dink down. Suddenly, we realized something was missing…
Our gas tank was safe and sound inside a crate… back on the dock at Burnt Store Marina!! No need to take the outboard off anymore! We will be rowing this time. Good thing I like to row!
We grabbed a spare line to tie the dinghy up at shore and got the dogs ready. Betsy is only 45 lbs so Peter could pretty much just pick her up off the deck and set her down. She was a little unsure of it all but that dog has no fear!
I didn’t get any pics of lowering Gunner down because it was a two-person job. I’ll try for some next time so you all can see how we get this big guy around. Thanks to our AWESOME ‘Help’EmUp‘ harnesses, we were able to get a 75 lb dog off the boat into the dinghy relatively easily! Peter grabbed the forward handle and I held the rear hip lift handle and we lowered him down. Gunner had one thing on his mind… Get To Shore!! He gets really excited to go anywhere so this was totally fun for him. They both did really well once they were inside. We have an aluminum floor so we didn’t worry too much about their nails.
The current was moving with us and we got to shore pretty quick. The dogs got to stretch their legs and we checked out a few of the trails.
We wen’t back to the boat right away and started on dinner. BBQ pork loin and Caribbean rice was on the menu. Our LED cockpit lights were on and the evening was just perfect as we enjoyed our first meal at anchor. Next was time for showers. Since our generator isn’t quite fixed yet, we ran the main engine to be able to use the hot water heater. Hot water showers at anchor? Yes Please!! It was sooo refreshing. We snuggled up and enjoyed being rocked to sleep as the small waves lapped up against the hull.
All was quiet until 4am. Gunner has been recovering from a bladder infection and in the wee hours of the morning he HAD to go potty. The way he was whining and talking to us let me know that he really had to go. Peter was sound asleep, but I got Gunner up into the cockpit and took him back to the aft deck where our chunk of Astroturf lay waiting for the first potty away from the dock. It didn’t take long and Gunner copped a squat. HOORAY!!!! This was such a relief to know he’ll actually go if he needs to.
The dogs have been in training for a few weeks now. We would sneak the fake grass underneath them as they peed to get a little scent on it. If we held them in place long enough they would go as long as it sat over top of the real grass on shore. Betsy finally got the hang of it and she doesn’t have any trouble going on the boat if we tell her to.
Gunner must have been nervous because he had to go again at 6am and 8am. He was whining all night long and would NOT go to sleep. When 6am rolled around I decided to just stay in the cockpit with him incase he was trying to hold back a #2. It was cold, breezy and very dewy. Even though I didn’t get more than a couple of hours of sleep I did my best to enjoy the stillness of the bay around us. The sun began to come up and the gratitude slowly grew. A sliver of serenity? Youbetcha!
We had anchored in the deep hole in the center of Pelican Bay. When the sun came up I heard splashing all around and realized the dolphins were herding fish and feeding. They kept popping up in different places as they went around in circles swimming by all the boats.
In the morning we went to shore again and walked across the island to the gulf.
There were shells EVERYWHERE! The tiny pieces littered the white sand beaches as far as I could see.
There were a few horseshoe crab shells along the shore as well. Check out Jan’s post if you want to learn a little more about these strange-looking creatures of the sea :)
When it was time to row back to Mary Christine the wind was NOT our friend. It was blowing 15-20 knots and we had to row up wind. There were a few times we got a little scared we would be swept out to the gulf. We were barely making any progress and I all could do was cheer Peter on. He powered through it getting us and the 12′ dinghy back safely. Scary.
We wanted to get back to the marina before sunset so we pulled up the anchor and followed our tracks back out to the harbor. It was a little tricky keeping the boat into the wind again while Peter pulled up the anchor but we managed.
We sailed back and the puppies were happy to be going somewhere again.
We ended this awesome adventure by catching our very first fish while underway!! Spanish Mackerel… mmm!
Back at the marina we docked for the first time alone, and of course it went way easier than I expected :) We had a lot of firsts and a lot of fun!
Until next time!!