Plans change – Every day
December 14, 2020
Our plan was to set off Monday morning at 9:00 am and get to Cape Haze by noon. Cape Haze is a very small anchorage off the ICW just north of Burnt Store. It is a round area of water that looks like the front yard for several rather large houses. It is very well protected and a short dinghy ride from Don Pedro State Park. Don Pedro is a beautiful three mile beach that is only accessible by small boat. From Cape Haze it is a 10 minute (at most) dinghy ride due west. There is a very small dock that marks the entrance to the park. We went there last year with Bill and Michael and found a beautiful sand beach and a treasure trough of shark teeth.
Burnt Store sunset
Once we got to Cape Haze, the plan was to dinghy to the beach for a couple hours, and then go back to the boat for a peaceful dinner. Tuesday we were going to get up early, go back to the beach and then leave for Burnt Store midday – a quick getaway and first shakedown cruise.
Unfortunately, we didn’t check the tide table prior to making our plan and when we got up on Monday and did check the tides table prior to departure we realized that we really couldn’t leave until about 10:30 am because the water would be too shallow at the entrance to Burnt Store Marina any earlier. We waited until 10:30 am and then cast off. We knew there was a chance of rain about 3:00 pm but thought we would be safely anchored prior to that and if we had to wait to go to the beach – so be it.
The wind was coming out of the southwest but was more westerly than we expected so we were pinching as we started out. (That means our bow was almost right into the wind, which is not a good point of sail - keeps you from going quickly) Even though the winds were a steady 16-18 knots with 22 knot gusts, we weren’t going more than 4.5 knots and at times 3.0 knots. The entire trip was only 17 miles and we had hoped to get anchored by 1:30, well before the rain. As we sailed across Charlotte Harbor it become increasingly clear that we were not going to beat the rain. The storm was now due at 1:30 pm and we were going slower than expected and would not make our 1:30 pm ETA. Additionally, the light one hour shower we were expecting was turning into a more significant rainfall of longer duration with possible lightening. So, we looked at each other and agreed to turn and head back to Burnt Store.
As soon as we turned (now sailing at a much better point of sail) our speed went to 7.5 knots (very fast for our boat) and we had a ripping sail all the way back. The sky was beginning to turn rather dark behind us but we took some time to put in a reef (reduce the size of the main sail) just for practice. We got back to the dock just in time to reconnect the water and electricity and put up our canvas that protects the cockpit from rain.
As much as I wanted to walk on that beach, feel the sand between my toes and hunt for shark teeth, I was glad we made the decision to turn. Sailing in the rain and anchoring for the first time (this season) in a thunderstorm were just not on the agenda for today. Besides – it gave me time to write this! More to come……