We did it! We left Bradenton. We took our time in the morning and packed away all our loose “stuff.” We have no idea where to stow an anchor, 100 feet of chain and 150 feet of rope. The big, starboard lazarette locker looks like a tornado hit it. Almost every good locker - with lots of space, is filled with a compressor, a waste tank or a motor of some kind. So we worry about putting an anchor into a locker with a compressor... God knows what will happen in rough seas when things go crashing around.
We motored way out around Anna Maria Island, between Passage and Egmont Keys. Many disagreements about the correct passage.
|Checking our course.
Once we got near the Gulf all heck broke loose. It was like a roller coaster looking straight up at heaven and then plunging down, sticking the bow in the water. Not part of the dream!!! Finally, with a grim look from Pam, we put up a sail and things actually calmed down considerably. We sailed in no more than 25 feet of water for 2 hours.
Headed towards Longboat Pass bridge - only a couple of hours south. Saw dolphins - which we mistakenly believed would bring us good luck. Guess the good luck was seeing the dolphins.
Getting close to the bridge we looked back and saw black, black skies. Really black.
|Sky not looking great!
Our timing was close and all we needed to do was to radio to the bridge tender to raise the bridge so we could get into our anchorage. Tried the handheld radio twice and it didn't work. Brad tried the main VHF radio in the cabin and it didn't work. Finally figured it out and the bridge operator opened the drawbridge just in time.
|Thanks Mr. Longboat Pass Bridgetender!
Now this crazy storm was on us - Brad was sandblasted with hail and when we looked back at the bridge we couldn't see it through the rain. Did an emergency anchor right inside the bridge - realized it was our first time anchoring the Blue Pearl. After 20 minutes of lightning, a deluge and hail it cleared away... and cooled down.
So, faithful reader... all done and clear, right? Wrong. We upped the anchor, moved to the spot we were aiming for and navigated our way... onto a sandbar.
|Helpful Floridians towing us off a sandbar.
They say boating in Florida is one of two things... you're either aground or about to be aground. After fretting about, we were rescued by a nice couple and finally put down the anchor. Champagne and burgers for dinner.
|Celebrating our safety. We live to enjoy another adventure.