Thanksgiving Outing (Late November 2001)
This was our first overnight outing since the ICW trip over a year ago. My how time flies!

Wednesday, November 21, 2001: Loading Up

Dad and I went down to the boat to put the floor back together, then we did a "drop" of stuff for the boat: Theresa backed the truck up as close as we could get it, and Dad and I carted stuff down to the boat and ultimately on board. We're close to ready.

The swim ladder bracket arrived, though, and the bolt doesn't fit. Looks like I'll have to have one made, and that won't happen before we leave.

Thursday, November 22, 2001: Thanksgiving Day

We did another drop to load our food and personal items onto the boat (noting a group of manatees mating right under the dock!), then we ate lunch and departed. It was less than an hour after low tide, but the wind was out of the south, so we made it out through the Pass-A-Grille channel without any difficulty.

We had a nice sail to windward, but the wind was only blowing about 10 knots, so we weren't going very fast with the engine off (about 3 knots). We soon realized that we needed to put on some steam if we were going to make it all the way to Longboat Pass. We cranked up the engine, but as the day grew long, we realized that we were going to run out of daylight. I simply hadn't figured on us spending so much time enjoying our sail!

We got to Longboat Pass about an hour after dark, and we made an attempt to enter the channel with the help of our new chartplotter, but we found shallow water and retreated. We were reluctant to give it a more serious go since we'd never been through the pass before, and the far end was spanned by a bascule bridge anyway. In the end, we just nosed up to the shore and anchored. It was fairly pleasant out, and the wind had practically died, but there were some annoying little cross-swells coming out of the southwest. Theresa prepared a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, and we settled in for the evening.

Friday, November 23, 2001: An Uncomfortable Dawn

I woke around 2:00am to some stronger swells, and they grew worse as the hours ticked by, robbing me of any sleep. Theresa was also awake for most of the night. I finally got up just prior to 6:00am, determined to find a quiet anchorage where we could get some sleep. Dad wasn't even awake yet!

When everyone was finally up, we cranked up the engine, hauled the anchor, and headed back north. Theresa and I were dog-tired, but once I got the boat moving about as fast as the swells, we had a pleasant jaunt back north. We entered the main shipping channel into Tampa Bay, then cut behind Egmont Key and back southeast to the mouth of the Manatee River. We made our way up the narrow channel and rounded DeSoto Point, where we found a beautiful, protected anchorage that was already occupied by several boats. We motored around a while looking for an ideal spot to drop the hook, and finally settled on our spot. It wasn't even noon!

We ate some lunch, then Theresa and I crashed and slept for over three hours. I felt much better afterward, and we were all better able to appreciate the beauty of our anchorage.

Unfortunately, we soon discovered that the galley sink had become clogged, so we were obliged to pull the hose loose from the through-hull and clean it. The whole fitting was clogged with bits of food, forming a disgusting paste. Once we got everything put back together, Theresa made some chicken pizza for dinner, and we enjoyed the sunset.

Saturday, November 24, 2001: A Relaxing Day

In an effort to actually RELAX a bit on this vacation, we didn't do much of anything but sit on the boat, fish a little, and have a few drinks. It was a beautiful day out, so this was fairly enjoyable. Theresa and Dad kind of wanted to go ashore and see DeSoto Park, but they didn't want to deal with the hassle of inflating the dinghy and (more importantly) putting it back away. I think we need to get one of those two-person plastic kayaks that we can just lash to one of the rails.

After dinner, I noticed that the galley sink was once again clogged! I hate having to fix the same thing twice!

Sunday, November 25, 2001: Returning Home

We once again disconnected the exit hose from the galley sink and cleaned the connection. Dad thinks that there must be barnicles on the outside of the through-hull that are catching the food to bock it. I think we need to be more careful about what goes down the sink, and that we might need a bigger exit pipe. Theresa thinks we need a garbage disposer -- not a bad idea, really.

After lunch, we weighed anchor and motored upriver to the Blue Dolphin Marina for fuel (engine hours 1066) and a pump-out. (Will the fun never stop?) The guys at the marina were very helpful -- we'll have to stop there more often. We went back downriver and out into the bay again, then sailed north to the "back door" channel that runs up beside the Skyway Bridge. The tide was rising, but we still bumped ground at Mark #3, and we nearly bumped ground again at Mark #13. They really need to dredge that channel!

We arrived home at dusk, and we made our easiest docking since our last protected marina in Miami last year! Have I mentioned how much I really like our new slip? Theresa went to get the car, and dad and I ferried stuff off the boat for an "extraction". (We have to run these things like military operations because the closest access is in another complex's "No Parking" zone.)

Monday, November 26, 2001: Clean-Up

Dad left first-thing in the morning. I thoroughly cleaned the boat's deck, then dragged the hose down into the cabin and hosed out the refrigerator, heads, and bilge. That's certainly the easy way to clean them!

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