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No wind ? Well Then , Let's Do The ICW

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

We were not able to stay any longer at the Saint Petersburg marina and there was absolutely no wind, so when we left the Saint Petersburg at about 1100 on Thursday December 2nd, we decided to motor for three hours to Manatee river near Palmetto. We anchored near Emerson Point Preserve, which is a beautiful area with mangroves near the shoreline and also has a beautiful park. We took the dinghy over to the park and found it to be very nice and clean with historical signs about the area.

Emerson Point Preserve, Manatee River Near Palmetto

The anchorage itself was very peaceful with the exception of in the mornings and evenings when boats would head out/in for the day. We slept good, but woke to very thick fog. This made me kind of nervous with fishing boats going by, but they all seemed to be slowing down through the fog. We decided to stay an extra night, so we took the dinghy over to Safe Harbor Regatta Pointe marina to get some fishing bait. This marina is also where we bought Namid three years earlier, so it was good to see the place again.

Anchorage on Manatee River Near Emerson Point

The next morning we had fog again, so we waited until around 0900 to depart. There was no wind in the forecast for the entire coming week, so we decided to take the Intercostal Waterway (ICW) south. We weren’t sure where we would stop that night, so we just headed south. There were a bunch of anchorages in Sarasota, but it was around noon when we were passing through there, so we kept on moving.

View of Swing Bridge That We Passed Through

We once motored the ICW in Texas from Port O’Conner to Galveston, but this part of the ICW was different. It was lined with mangroves, jogging trails very nice neighborhoods and also had draw bridges and swing bridges that would need to open for us to pass. Some of these bridges open on a schedule, and some on demand. Regardless, we would have to call each bridge on the VHF ( Marine band radio) as we approached. The bridge operators grant passage as they are opening, and always call the boat operators “Captain”. Well, this was another moment for me to pound my chest. Me, the novice sailor I am...a captain ?….Okay, well why not. Haha

One Of The Many Drawbridges We Passed On The ICW

Once we passed through Sarasota, we set our sights on Venice as the stopping point for the night. The anchorages there had only mediocre reviews on the ActiveCaptain App, but our choices in this area were limited. Once we got near Venice, a Sheriff’s boat pulled up next to us that had two very friendly deputies on board. One of the deputies was a part time captain of a sailing catamaran and was asking about Namid and where we came from. As we approached the Venice jetty, the deputies told us there was a Christmas boat parade that night in Venice and pointed out to us exactly where we could anchor to be right next to the parade route.

Crowds Gathering On The Banks Of The ICW In Preparation Of The Boat Parade

We anchored and enjoyed the most incredible boat parade that night that we have ever seen. We lost count of the number of boats that passed. How did we luck into this ? This put us both in the Christmas spirit. So, from there until Christmas, it was to be Christmas music on our radio as we are moving. Haha

Annual Christmas Boat Parade In Venice

The next morning, we left early for the tide was dropping and we were already almost sitting on the bottom. As we left the anchorage, I was NOT on top of my game ( not paying close attention) and we briefly ran aground. I was able to reverse off of the sand, but it was a wakeup call. South Florida is shallow everywhere, so we needed to be very diligent in watching the chart and the area for shallows.

The Bridge At Cape Haze Where We Left The Dinghy To Walk To The Store

We were needing to provision some perishables, so we were looking for a grocery store. The ActiveCaptain app listed an anchorage called “Cape Haze”, which was just north of Charlotte Harbor entrance. Several people on the AC app stated that there was a bridge in a nearby canal that one could tie a dinghy to, and walk to a Publix grocery store. We arrived at the “Cape Haze” anchorage early (1230) and found it to be a very good place to stop and was plenty deep ( 9 foot) . It was a small round inlet surrounded by beautiful homes, and we were the only boat anchored there. We immediately lowered the dinghy and found the small creek that had the before-mentioned bridge. We tied the dinghy to a small tree next to the bridge ( as described by the app) and creviced the bridge and walked to the grocery store. The adjacent neighborhood was absolutely beautiful, and very upscale. We felt comfortable that nobody would be interested in messing with our poor, aging dinghy.

Neighborhood At Cape Haze Where We Locked The Dinghy To The Bridge

I have to say, this trip to the store was actually fun. We felt like real cruisers…finding a way to successfully conquer the situation and complete an unusual task. To onlookers in this neighborhood, we must have looked like we were homeless. After we unloaded the groceries on Namid, we went for a dinghy ride in the mangroves of the area. As the sun was setting, we were happy to be there and totally enjoying our life as cruisers.

Sandra Locking The Dinghy To The Bridge. We Are Bonafide Cruisers Now !

The next morning, it was foggy again. We waited until the sun burned it off (1000) before departing. We planned our next stop to a highly rated anchorage near Cayo Costa park in Pelican Bay that was a short 3 hour motor. We had to watch the chart very closely getting in the anchorage for there was just a little strip that was deep enough to accommodate our 3’ 8” draft. We found this anchorage to be very beautiful with a white sandy beach. We went to the State park and walked around and found it to be very nice. There were a lot of campers that were checking in to the park. The campers were boated in by ferry, for this park is actually on an island, and has no bridges that lead to it.

Campers Being Shuttled To The Campsite at Coya Costa Park

We paid the park fee to walk around, and were hoping we could get rid of some trash, but there were signs all around that said

“ NO BOAT TRASH”. We were hoping they meant our trash….and not us. haha.

We went to the beach as the sun was setting, and as we approached the beach, a Bald Eagle flew off the beach to the mangroves. It happened so fast that we couldn't get a photo.

This was a very special, beautiful moment !

The Beach At Coya Costa in Pelican Bay with Namid In The Background

We enjoyed the beauty and peacefulness of Cayo Costa, but it was time to move on. There was still no wind in the forecast, so we were fine with moving on using the ICW. Our next planned stop, called “Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge” on Sanibel Island, was only 3 1/2 hours away, so we didn’t leave Cayo Costa until 1130. The ICW in this section opened up wide in Charlotte Harbor. This was a non eventful area that we just basically listened to Christmas music and enjoyed the sunshine, while big fast boats sped by us.

Near Charlotte Harbor

Ding Darling, and Sanibel Island in general has good, clean water flowing from the Gulf. Our reverse osmosis watermaker had been “pickled” ( a process of leaving a food-grade propylene glycol solution in it to prevent damage while dormant) since we bought the boat. This was a good spot to start using it for we were about out of water, and the sea water here was clean to do the commissioning. That is how we spent our afternoon here…..making water and relaxing. The great thing about having a water maker is that it makes us even more independent. The Lithium Ion batteries, solar panel and inverter that I upgraded before we left Texas gave us electrical freedom. The watermaker takes us to the next level. We can now go anywhere off the grid and stay for as long time.

Sandra Trying The Water From The Water Maker. After I Didn't Die From The First Drink....


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3 comentários

11 de jan. de 2022

Oh, and thanks for the kind words Jim.


11 de jan. de 2022

Hey Jim, sorry for my delayed response. I‘m not sure of the brand of the solar hatch fans. I can’t seem to find a stamp or tag on them. They were on the boat when we bought her. To be honest, we never use them. During the summer when she is docked, we leave the AC on to prevent mold. Now that we are cruising, that may change.


Jim Bond
Jim Bond
08 de jan. de 2022

Loving your blog, Michelle and I will eventually post more on Instagram @sailing.Skyfall when we start doing interesting things like you guys are! Quick Manta question. I saw you have solar hatch fans, how do you like them? What brand are they?

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