January 2. We are anchored north of the Bridge of Lions and have to go through at the 0700 opening to rendezvous with Non Linear who will be hauling anchor at 0700. I set the alarm for 0550 so I can get the dogs to shore, get back and stow the dinghy, haul the anchor that’s been set for days and make the bridge opening in time.
As I come back to the boat with the dogs Christy is on deck and says “Do you realize that it’s only 0530?” It turns out that as I set the clock I inadvertently moved the time of day an hour ahead. Stupid clock. So now we stow the dinghy and dilly dally before starting the engine so we can pull the anchor and make the 0700 opening. The anchor comes up no problemo. Love the windlass, hate the clock. So we’re real early and make the 0630 opening, luckily John heard us talking to the bridge tender and was up and running when we got there.
Now with the early start we had an excellent push for hours and were making great time. Today was a day of firsts. Today was the first day we’ve ever left an hour early and after 1123 nautical miles was the first day we’ve ever run aground. Sailing down a narrow section of ICW just above New Smyrna Beach we turn a corner and the water is full of 18 foot fishing boats with guys throwing casting nets. One crosses our bow from right to left and drags his feet about it so we have to veer a little more to the right than I would like too. Then the A-hole makes a quick u-turn and parallels our course, all 3 guys on board are looking away as they crowd us closer and closer. I go out on deck and start to drop sail when we hit hard aground. I thought Christy was tired of me and was trying to pitch me overboard then I realized that she would be smart enough to wait for nightfall.
Out of nowhere a larger center console shows up and is acting like he’s concerned and looking to help. Yeah right, one guy runs you aground and his buddy shows up looking to help for a couple of bucks. My ass. We were able to power off after using the bow thruster to push the bow back towards the deep water and then applying liberal amounts of throttle.
Love………The windlass and the bow thruster. Hate……..The stupid clock and fishermen.
Our next first for the day occurred shortly thereafter, a Manatee. We were in a large pod of dolphins when something bigger and weirder caught our eye. It was huge and was surprisingly agile as it dove and swam away.
At the end of the day we were making such good time we decided to keep going and stop wherever we could for the night. We ended up in a channel that was 70 yards wide for more than 10 miles as night began to fall. We were stuck with pretty much no options. It was like looking for a place to park as you drove through the Lincoln Tunnel. We ended up in 7 feet of water a hundred feet out of the ICW with nothing but a huge body of shallow water surrounding us. Walking the dogs involved a half mile dinghy ride to the nearest island in the pitch dark. It sucked but that’s the price you pay for a 73 nautical mile day.