Don Pedro State Park - A little Known Gem

Motoring down the Gulf Intra-Coastal Waterway (GICW) south from Sarasota I had a harrowing experience. We have an AirChair that is much like a hammock we hang from one of the halyards. We usually don’t use it while underway but since the GICW is very calm and we had a few hours to motor, I decided it would be cool to sit in the chair as we went along. Initially it was an idyllic situation; warm sun, cool breeze and beautiful scenery that reminded us of the Erie Canal we traveled through last year. Then out of nowhere, a large power boat came screaming by and threw a three foot wake. Most often we can turn the sailboat into the wake of a passing boat so that it makes us go up and down but controls the side to side rocking. Unfortunately because of the speed of the passing boat, we were taken by surprise and had no time to turn into the wake. As a result, I went swinging wildly from side to side. I found myself looking down at water as I flew outside of the life lines on the port side of the boat, then starboard, then back to port. Bob yelled, HOLD ON and for sure I did. It took some time before I stopped shaking. We tried to call “Yo Baby” (the offending boat) on the radio to tell him what his careless action almost caused but he didn’t respond. I know he heard us – what a coward.

Her Diamond and Aquila anchored at Cape Haze

We anchored, along with Aquila, in a quiet cove called Cape Haze. The Cove is really the front yard for about a dozen beautiful homes right off the GICW. It is a very short dinghy ride from the anchorage to Don Pedro State Park which has one of the most beautiful beaches we have seen in Florida. The park is only accessible by boat which means it never gets crowded. We spent two days on the beach and I loved it. I was able to walk the beach looking for shark teeth and sit in the water looking for shark teeth as the warm surf passed over me. What a pleasure. I found 128 shark teeth in one day! I’d like to send a big thank you Patty for recommending this wonderful spot.

Motoring up the canal to the dock at Don Pedro State Park

Cribbage on the beach - always time for a game of cribbage.

Bob trying to get some shade on the beach.

Cool tree on the side of the canal near the anchorage.

Unusual craft on the canal near the anchorage.

Saturday afternoon, after the beach, we started out for Burnt Store Marina. We decided to leave that afternoon because the weather was supposed to change with strong winds coming in on Sunday. One and a half miles south of the anchorage we went through the Boca Grande Causeway swing bridge. This is a relatively new bridge, with the remains of the old bridge still in place, steel uprights sticking out of the water just 30 feet south of the new bridge. As soon as we cleared the swing bridge the sound of the engine exhaust started to change into a deeper growl. As soon as I said something to Bob the overheat light came on and an ear piercing alarm started to sound. We had to continue motoring until we had cleared the old bridge remains even though the alarm was still sounding. There was a smell of burning rubber as I steered the boat off the GICW to anchor and turn off the engine.

I am so proud of Bob and what he was able to do. He quickly diagnosed the problem - there was no water coming in through the through-hull for the engine. Unable to clear the through-hull he re-plumbed the hoses so that the through-hull for the generator could be used. Even though we didn’t have the right length hose, he was able to use a hose barb to connect the short section of hose we did have so that we were underway in about an hour. Bill and Michael, on our buddy boat Aquila, stayed right with us even though I told them to go on, so that they were available if we needed their help – great friends!

Once underway, we were only five miles from Charlotte Harbor where we were able to turn east and put up our main sail. We had a glorious sail on a beam reach for 10 miles back to the marina. It felt good to tie up back on R dock, connect the shore water and power, and turn on the air-conditioning.

We have had a slow, persistent sea water leak in the engine compartment for most of the winter. Bob has tried on multiple occasions to determine where the water was coming from. Sunday morning while re-plumbing the engine through-hull back the way it was before the overheating, he noticed a salt trail from the through-hull that belongs to the propane locker drain. Propane lockers have to have a hose that allows a possible gas leak to drain directly out the bottom of the boat. This prevents gas from accumulating in the sail locker which could blow up if it comes in contact with a flame. The hose was original equipment and had deteriorated over the years, with multiple cracks. When traveling under motor the back end of the boat squats a bit, causing the through hull to submerge and permitting sea water to dribble into the engine area. Bob replaced the hose and hopefully solved the water issue. This was the silver lining to the overheating incident.

Faulty Hose

Now back at Burnt Store, we have had time to relax a bit, do laundry, replenish the pantry, play bingo, prepare for Passover and learn how to play pickle ball with David and Rhonda. We have ridden our bikes around the neighborhood and I am happily back at yoga.

Rounding Cape Horn

Not a bad place to stick and stay for a while. The boat comes out of the water May 15, and we are going to try to get a little bit of the decommissioning projects done every day so it does not all wait for the last minute. We will also go on a few overnight trips and want to get our fishing gear out. So much to do….as the adventure continues.

Candles and flowers for Pesach. Michael and Bill are joining us for Seder. Their first Seder experience.

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