Different Boats for Different Folks

We often get asked what’s the best boat to buy. Some may jokingly say the best kind is the one you can enjoy without owning! But in all seriousness, we think the best kind of boat for you will depend on what you’re looking to get out of it. With so many options, this can be hard for new boat buyers to navigate, so we’ve gathered some of the most popular boat types in SWFL to give you a head start.

Read more “Different Boats for Different Folks”

Cape Coral Cruise Club Revisits Fisherman’s Village Marina


Despite a rocky, rolling, breeze driven, Charlotte Harbor, eleven hardy Cape Coral Cruise Club vessels and their crews maneuvered their way to Fisherman’s Village Marina in Punta Gorda for the October 21-23 cruise. Counting the boat crews and folks who traveled by land yacht, over 30 club members enjoyed all or some of planned activities over the 3 day event.

While some went fishing, others played card games, went biking on Marina provided bicycles, or visited the local art galleries. All enjoyed shopping at the local craft and tourist shops on Fisherman’s Village concourse. Warm weather and light breezes added to the pleasure of afternoon pool time where many members floated and shared stories of the day.

Steve and Nell Winner coordinated the cruise and attending members enjoyed daily hot breakfast casseroles prepared by Nell. As is customary with this group each afternoon ended with happy hour snacks and docktails in the Captain’s lounge. The staff at Fisherman’s Village Marina are quite accommodating in that the Marina makes the Captain’s lounge available at no added cost.

Wednesday was a pre-arranged pizza party in the Captain’s lounge with several pizzas delivered by a local restaurant. All enjoyed pizza along with their favorite beverages.


Thursday evening was the group dinner party at the “Captains Table” restaurant on the second floor at the north end of the concourse. All participants enjoyed a wonderful salad bar and meal overlooking Charlotte Harbor while watching the sun set on a beautiful clear evening.


The Friday morning departure saw all boaters safely exiting the harbor and traversing much calmer conditions on Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The Cape Coral Cruise Club has been making Fisherman’s Village Marina a fall cruise destination for years and it is a cruise that regularly takes all the slips that the marina makes available.

The Cape Coral Cruise Club is open to new members who own a boat with overnight accommodations and reside in the Cape Coral / Ft. Myers area. For membership information please contact Phil Kryger at 239-541-0236. View a short picture video of recent Club activities and read additional Club information on its website www.c-c-c-c.org Like us on Facebook.

By Steve and Nell Winner

Southwest Florida Yacht Club’s Summer Cruises

Southwest Florida Yacht Club (SFYC) continues to cruise through the summer with trips to the Naples Boat Club (Burger/Marta) and Palm Island (Zych/McKinley) in June, Snook Bight (Burger/Scheinert) in July, and South Seas (Hummer) and Legacy Harbour (Barnhart/Mann) in August. The over-riding theme for the summer cruises was Relaxation.


A lot of time on these cruises was spent relaxing by the pool and/or beach, enjoying casual pot luck and restaurant dinners, excursions to shop, and hanging out with friends. Many of the boaters made other stops on the way to/from the destination to extend their trip a few days.

South-Seas-Beach South-Seas-Pool

The South Seas cruise was enjoyed by all as it had a large number of youngsters and teenagers. Some came from as far away as England to cruise with their grandparents. They all spent a lot of time at the beach and in the pools, and kept all of the adults entertained.


SFYC is a very active yacht club with over 35 scheduled cruises per year ranging from 3 days/2 nights to 3-4 weeks in length. Upcoming cruises include Snook Bight, Cape Harbour, Tampa Bay (2 weeks), Palm Island, Pink Shell. SFYC also has on average two social functions per month, many at our home base, The Marina at Edison Ford/Pincher’s in Fort Myers.

If you are interested in participating in a trial cruise to meet us and see what we’re about, or to arrange to attend one of our monthly meetings, please contact our Fleet Captain, Harvey Steele, at (239) 671-8887 or hsteele@handeecleat.com. Much more information, including our cruise schedule, is also available on our website www.southwestfloridayachtclub.com. You can also visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SouthwestFloridaYachtClub.

Cape Coral Cruise Club returns to Palm Island Marina

Led by Jon Lynch and Elise Vannoy on Desperado, a flotilla of 10 boats cruised up the ICW to a club favorite destination, Palm Island Marina. Under sunny skies and seas that were surprisingly calm and slick as glass, many boats made record time. Many boaters voiced their surprise at the number of dolphins spotted during the trip. Joining in the fun were Commodore Lee Jetton and Brenda Butler on Moonlighter, Vice Commodore John and Pati Queen on Semper Paratus, Doug and Michelle Rhees on LunaSea, Phil and Lin Quick on Sunkissed, Bob and Carol Peterson on CR Side, Joe and Kelli Miller on B Mine, John and Mary Brehm on Panacea, Jeff and Joanne Ziemer on Still Crazy, and last but not least, Jim and Rear Commodore Edie Limbright made their maiden voyage on Princess, their recently purchased Viking.


Arriving by car were Brenda and Mike Stewart as well as Mac & Bobbie McEwen. Most of the boaters gathered at Leverock’s for lunch on Tuesday then adjourned to the pool or games under the pavilion shade which made for a leisurely afternoon. Gathering for our traditional happy hour, cruising tales and mechanical advice freely flowed. With heavy hors d’ouevres supplied by each of the boats made for a sumptuous buffet.

Wednesday proved to be another perfectly sunny day enticing many to visit the beach and have a bite of lunch at Rumrunners, take a walk, float and chat in the pool or play cards. As we enjoyed our happy hour, all members participated in two brainteasers. Winners of the “Name that Boat” and “Flying Colors” quizzes were Jettons and Ziemers. Congratulations! Mike Stewart demonstrated his Grill Master credentials by cooking 26 burgers to perfection. Many thanks to Edie Limbright for a wonderful Spinach Salad, Michelle Rhees and Brenda Stewart for luscious desserts. After dinner, crews toured Jim and Edie Limbright’s new “Princess”.

On Thursday, a continental breakfast of berries and sweet rolls started the morning followed by a polite game of keep away which quickly devolved into a rowdy dunking session providing entertainment for onlookers and lots of laughs for participants. Beach goers collected perfect and imperfect shells as well as sharks teeth. Since it was Red Nose Day, each couple posed with a red nose. During happy hour, crews chatted and revealed items remaining on our “bucket lists”, then headed to Leverock’s for a group dinner full of laughter, stories and good company.


Friday morning boats departed Palm Island Marina as a good time was had by all.

The Cape Coral Cruise Club is open to new members who own a boat with overnight accommodations and reside in the Cape Coral / Ft. Myers area. For membership information please contact Phil Kryger at 239-541-0236. View a short picture video of recent Club activities and read additional Club information on its website, www.c-c-c-c.org Like us on Facebook.

By Jon Lynch and Elise Vannoy

Cape Coral Cruise Club – 2015 Extended Cruise

Each spring the Cape Coral Cruise Club plans a “long cruise”, which is to say a much longer itinerary is planned than its normal three day monthly cruises to local destinations not more than a 3 to 6 hour boat trip. The Martins began planning the 2015 trip to Tarpon Springs last fall, making marina and restaurant contacts, searching for interesting places to visit at each planned location.


The two week 2015 long cruise began April 13 with fourteen member boats departing Cape Coral, bound for Palm Island Marina in Cape Haze, Florida.  After all boats were secured in the slips, several club members enjoyed the marina’s pool, and on-site restaurant.  Other members opted for the complimentary water taxi to the marina’s Gulf front beach. Four other members ventured off in a dinghy looking for the channel to Rum Bay on the beach. A minor incident occurred when the captain, wanting to get the dinghy up on plane, encountered the large wake from a passing boat that caused a wall of water to wash over the bow.  The dinghy captain’s quick action, plus an efficient bilge pump, prevented almost certain swamping of the small boat.  The only casualties were two wet women, and a cell phone that ended up under several inches of water on the bottom of the boat. On the second day of our stay at Palm Island, the cruise leaders prepared breakfast, and later, with help from other cruisers, grilled sumptuous herb-crusted beef tenderloin for dinner.

The next morning the boats departed Palm Island traveling north to the gorgeous Longboat Key Club Marina and Resort. Due to an unannounced bridge closing on the GICW just north of the Venice Inlet three boats went out the Venice Inlet and proceeded north to New Pass Inlet returning to the GICW and into Longboat Key. Most of the boats were in slips along a sea wall less than fifty feet from the beautiful pool and a fabulous restaurant.


The next morning, breakfast was provided by the cruise leaders before members headed out on their own; some taking the Longboat shuttle bus to St. Armand’s Circle for shopping and the many fine bars and restaurants.  Others opted to borrow the resort bicycles, ride around the resort, and/or pedal the 3-1/2 mile trip to St. Armand’s.  As a side note, on the way to Longboat Key, one member drifted out of the channel, and ran aground in soft sand. Assistance from a tow boat got the boat back in the channel with no apparent damage.  Such is boating in the sometimes skinny waters of Southwest Florida!  Everyone knows how important it is to stay in the channel, but it is so easy to drift out. Two days later the cruise leaders drifted not more than fifteen feet off channel and ran aground.  Again, a tow boat was called, and the boat suffered no apparent damage.

Our third stop on the trip was Loggerhead Marina in St. Petersburg.  Two boats could not clear a nearby twenty foot fixed bridge and stayed at Maximo’s Marina.  We all gathered by the pool under the Tiki huts and cooked burgers and brats, with lots of tasty side dishes.


Turtle Cove Marina in Tarpon Springs was our northern most stop for three nights.  On our first night the town was celebrating “Night in the Islands”; a very romantic Greek food themed evening where several restaurants filled the street with long tables and strung up small overhead lights.  Odyssey, one of the best Greek bands in Florida, supplied soothing, sensual, traditional Greek music. While some people danced in the streets, others formed a large circle where local ladies instructed them on traditional Greek dances. All this, while the wait staff continually delivered tasty Greek food and wine to the large crowd made this a truly memorable evening.  Over the next two days members were on their own to explore the town.  One night, we gathered at Hellas Restaurant and Bakery. Everyone was able to select a Greek dish to suit their desire.  Several dishes of Saganaki (flaming cheese) were delivered to our tables as shouts of Opa made the meal festive.

Turtle Cove Marina was very accommodating to our club, dock hands were prompt, helpful, and attentive.  One night, with a threat of rain, the marina opened the lounge for us as Phil and Gary prepared their famous fish bites.  We also used the lounge the next morning where the cruise leaders prepared a pancake breakfast.  One note here; a guest on a member boat slipped on the ramp of the dock, and fell, injuring his leg.  An ambulance was called, and he was transported to a local hospital for x-rays. Fortunately there was just severe bruising with nothing broken.


Our first stop on the return trip was a single night at Clearwater Beach Marina. The dock master was alone, and overwhelmed with our arrival, so it was up to the members to help get all our boats secured up in the slips.  A short walk had several members taking in the fabulous Clearwater beach along with its several bars and restaurants.

The next to last stop on our trip was the always popular Marina Jacks in downtown Sarasota.  After breakfast by the cruise leaders, several members hopped on the shuttle to visit the Ringling Circus and Art Museum and the John Ringling Mansion. Others opted for the great shops and restaurants in downtown Sarasota.

The final stop before heading back to Cape Coral was Gasparilla Marina. A final happy hour under a huge canopy by the docks gave the cruising members the opportunity to express their thanks to the cruise leaders for arranging a great itinerary, and or course assuring that the winds were calm and the weather outstanding.

All boats returned home safely, ending the “Long Cruise” for 2015.  Bonnie and I want to thank all the participating members of CCCC for joining us on this cruise, and we hope that everyone else had as much fun as we did!  The fellowship and cohesiveness of our club is like none other, and is so apparent in a setting such as the CCCC’s long cruise.  We can all be very proud of the courteous and proficient seamanship displayed at all times, by all our members!

The Cape Coral Cruise Club is open to new members who own a boat with overnight accommodations and reside in the Cape Coral / Ft. Myers area. For membership information please contact Phil Kryger at 239-541-0236. View a short picture video of recent Club activities and read additional Club information on its website, www.c-c-c-c.org Like us on Facebook.

By Robert and Bonnie Martin

2014 Fisherman’s Village Cruise

On a beautiful October Tuesday, fourteen Cape Coral Cruise Club boats headed north on the GICW, turned into Charlotte Harbor, then on to the Peace River to Fisherman’s Village Marina. The good member turnout was because this remains one of the Club’s favorite destinations. With mooring assistance from Harbor Master Jim’s helpful crew, boaters completed the always present post cruise boat chores, then relaxed the remainder of the afternoon. The Pre-happy hour time at the Boater’s Lounge produced some groans with the announcement of a trivia quiz on Florida. Prizes were awarded to both the winning and runner-up couples. Happy hour was followed with most everyone’s favorite, heavy hors D’oeuvres. This is the occasion when the first mates out do themselves. The first night is usually an early one, probably because of all the fresh air.


Wednesday started with a midmorning walk through the park along the river in Punta Gorda to the Rte. 41 bridge and back. Appetites having been built, most members took advantage of the fine restaurants at the Fisherman’s Village Shops for lunch. It was then time for a wet “T” shirt contest on the dock behind the boats. Each couple was given a tee shirt and one of the two had to put it on. Seems simple but the shirts had been water soaked, rolled tight, then frozen. Only body heat and muscle power were allowed. Again prizes were awarded to the top two finishers. Their unique means to thaw the shirts – the winners sat on them, used body heat! Dinner was a mini-Oktoberfest prepared by the cruise leaders and helpers with fare including brats, sour kraut, beer-cheese soup, and Black Forrest cake. A few of the night owls finished the day with a rowdy game of “99”.


A breakfast of biscuits with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage links, fresh fruit and adult beverages started the day on Thursday. The bulk of the day was a “do your own thing” event. Some rode marina courtesy bikes to town, some shopped in the Village, some enjoyed the pool, and some just sat around and told sea stories, a few of which may have been true… The main feature of the evening was the group dinner at the Captain’s Table. Good food and excellent service were enjoyed by the boaters who were joined by ten Club members who arrived by car.


Friday morning saw the flotilla depart the marina heading homeward. Neptune must not have been as pleased with us as he was on our trip to the marina. Winds of 15 to 20 out of the northeast made the seas a bit snotty on Charlotte Harbor, but all arrived safely at their destinations. As usual, another great, safe Cape Coral Cruise Club trip goes into the books.

The Cape Coral Cruise Club is open to new members who own a boat with overnight accommodations and reside in the Cape Coral / Ft. Myers area. For membership information please contact Larry Mitchell at 239-560-2823. View a short picture video of recent Club activities and read additional Club information on its website, www.c-c-c-c.org Like us on our Facebook page.

By Mac Mc Ewen

Southwest Florida has superb destinations.

The Cape Coral Cruise Club, founded in 1963, is unique among S.W. Florida boat clubs in that it owns a portion of a private island on the Caloosahatchee River east of the Franklin Lock. Over the years a covered pavilion has been built where the members enjoy monthly picnics. The facility also has four docks with both 50amp and 30amp power that can accommodate up to sixteen member boats for a weekend.


CCCC is a group of active cruisers. Monthly cruises are planned for September through June each season. If you have a boat with overnight accommodations, reside in the Cape Coral – Ft. Myers area, and would like to get out on your boat with fellow boating enthusiasts, take a look at the destinations of past CCCC organized cruises.

We visit South Seas Resort and ‘Tween Waters resort on Captiva Island; Pink Shell Resort and Snook Bight Marina on Ft. Myers Beach; Boca Grande Marina, Uncle Henry’s Marina, Burnt Store Marina, and Fisherman’s Village in Charlotte harbor.


Going further north on the GICW we’ve visited both Palm Island Marina and Gasparilla Marina, as well as attractive locations in Sarasota and Longboat Key. There is a 2015 trip in the works for a cruise further north to Tarpon Springs.

Local short cruises include Tarpon Point and Cape Harbour in Cape Coral, and Legacy Harbor in downtown Ft. Myers. Naples is an annual tradition with the Naples Boat Club, City Dock at Crayton Cove, or Pelican Isle Marina as destinations.

Venturing further south the Club has visited Marco Island, Everglades City, Marathon, Key Biscayne and Key West.


Each year an extended cruise is planned. In 2014 that destination was first to the South Georgia Isles and beaches with stops in Stuart, New Smyrna, St Augustine and Fernandina Beach. Other members elected to do the second extended cruise to the Bahamas with stops in Clewiston, West Palm Beach and the Club owned Hidden Island on the Caloosahatchee Waterway.


For those interested in extending their local boating distances, or who may be new to the area and are looking for an active boating group, the Cape Coral Cruise Club will have a booth at the Ft. Myers Boat Show November 13 -16 at the Harborside Event Center & City Yacht Basin. We look forward to talking with you about local boating!

Stop by and meet Club members and a view short video of Club cruise activities, and obtain membership information. Or contact Larry Mitchell, CCCC membership chairman at 239-560-2823. Additional information is posted on the Club website, www.c-c-c-c.org. Also “Like” us on our Facebook page.

Cape Coral Cruise Club Fall Schedule

The Cape Coral Cruise Club, founded in 1963, is unique among S.W. Florida boat clubs in that it owns a portion of a private island on the Caloosahatchee River east of the Franklin Lock near Alva. Over the years a covered pavilion has been built where the members enjoy monthly picnics, bocce, horseshoes and other relaxing activities.


A major advantage for members is that the Island has ample dockage for member’s boats. Over the years, four docks have been installed on an inside oxbow off the ICW with both 30amp and 50amp electric service. This allows docking for as many as 16 boats up to 45′ in length. Ferry service across the ICW aboard the club’s 24′ pontoon boat is provided for members & guests who drive up for the monthly picnic.


Because the Club is a cruising organization, in addition to the Island picnics, members can participate in monthly cruises to local destinations. Fall 2014 cruises include:

September destination: The Naples Boat Club has become one of the most popular Club cruise destinations. With a first class onsite restaurant, beautiful pool and outstanding docking facilities this cruise is always full. Cruise leaders have been known to plan very interesting and different activities and Naples dining adventures.


October destination: Once again the Club returns to Fisherman’s Village Marina on Charlotte Harbor. With abundant shopping on Fisherman’s pier and the close proximity to activities in downtown Punta Gorda, this is a very well attended cruise.

November destination: For a quiet and laid back cruise the Club returns to ‘Tween Waters on Captiva for the late fall cruise. With fine dining and the beaches of Captiva close by, along with outstanding sunsets, this cruise is always a popular event. Also in November the Club hosts a booth at the Ft. Myers Boat Show. Members are present to answer questions on membership and point out many other fun Club functions.


December: Traditionally no cruise is planned for December as the Club holds a formal “Change of Watch dinner where past Club officers are recognized for their achievements and officers for the coming year are installed. This is the only annual Club “Coat & Tie” event.

Several other destinations, including South Seas Resort, Palm Island, Pink Shell Resort, Legacy Harbor, and Marco Island are in the works for the spring of 2015.

The Cape Coral Cruise Club is open to new members who own a boat with overnight accommodations and reside in the Cape Coral / Ft. Myers area. For membership information please contact Larry Mitchell at 239-560-2823. View a short picture video of recent Club activities and read additional Club information on its website, www.c-c-c-c.org.

By Bruce Longman

Sailing a New Beneteau 48 from Canet, France to Catania, Sicily.

A friend of mine, Henry Lund of Dublin, Ireland, bought a new Beneteau Oceanis 48 and took delivery in Canet, France, which is just north of the Spanish border on the Gulf of Lion, the windiest part of the Mediterranean. Henry bought the boat from the Beneteau dealer in Turkey and sailed it to Marmaris, Turkey where he keeps the boat. He already had a shake down and sea trials the week before with a few friends and was able to get the new boat bugs out before the 1,536 nm trip to Turkey.

I elected to sail the 781 nm leg to Catania, Sicily because of time restraints and also the fact that I had not sailed that area previously. Henry, the skipper, Joe, John and I were the crew for this leg and the chemistry between us all was really great. When I boarded the boat, “Anna Bella”, my first impression was how clean her lines are and the very impressive cockpit layout. The interior is very spacious, with plenty of cabin space and spacious toilets/showers. Since this yacht is equipped with two wheels, I asked Henry if we would flip coins to see which wheel to use. After this trip, I came to love the twin wheels and being able to sit on the low side and see the tell tales on the jib, switching to the high side wheel to look for other boats or obstructions or docking in close quarters. Since all lines are run to the cockpit, it did not take me long to see where everything was located. During the trip, I joked that we needed to use a megaphone to talk to the crew sitting on the other side of the cockpit. We could really have a great party in the cockpit which, compared to other boats her size, is enormous and very well laid out. The skipper gave us a briefing on the location of ALL the safety gear and had us fit the offshore inflatable life vests. We hooked up the safety tethers to the vests and made sure they fit snugly and put them in our cabins for later use.

Entering Bonifacio, Corsica at dawn

Henry plotted the course as follows: 290 nm to Bonifacio, Corsica, 162 nm to Nettuno, 77nm to Ischia, 56 nm to Agropoli, 75 nm to Tropea and 69 nm to Riposto, Sicily, all in Italy. We cast off at 0815 on Sept. 4th and we had to motor sail because of the lack of wind. Joe did a great job keeping our stomachs happy and nobody had problems with the pint size beer cans or the great wine on board (we take these trips seriously). The next morning the seas started to build and we could see thunderstorms all around us. It reminded me of the typical afternoon thunderstorms on Tampa Bay. Around 1600, we hit a major thunderstorm and we had to reach off to sail the quickest course through it. I was on the wheel and the boat drove through the storm beautifully and at one point I had it sailing over 11 knots. The next morning we sailed into Bonifacio, which was a great experience. The harbor is surrounded by high limestone cliffs and you cannot see the entrance until you are on top of it. It would be easy to sail past it from the west since you don’t see the town on top of the cliffs until you are past the entrance on the east side of the cliffs. We spent 2 days and nights in this medieval town, which has a fantastic marina and you just walk from the boat to the shops and restaurants just yards away. They also had a great tango dance and band for the public right on the harbor.

The one thing I like about most of the towns on the Mediterranean coast is that the harbors are the central focus of the towns. The restaurants, taverns and shops are along the waterfront and there is always a constant parade of the local people and tourists walking along the waterfront viewing the yachts in the harbors. I wish we had more of that in Florida!
On Sept. 8th we left for another overnight trip to Nettuno next to Anzio, where the Allied landing was in 1944. We stayed in Nettuno for two days, since the weather was forecasting gale force winds. This gave Joe and I an opportunity to take the train to Rome for a day and see the Coliseum and the Forum.



The rest of the trip was a short day trip to the marina in Riposto, Sicily. We sailed across the Bay of Naples and saw Mount Vesuvius that whole day. Whenever I saw landmarks, I would look up the history and found out that Mount Vesuvius is the most dangerous volcano in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby. We sailed to Cetrada and had to put up with swells that had not subsided from the previous day’s gale force winds. We picked a restaurant right next to the harbor and we were the only customers there. The owner had to call the cook, who came over on his bike.

Rolling Seas, Mount Vesuvius in BackgroundThe next day, on our way to Tropea, the sea had moderated and we had a nice sail, passing the active volcano of Stromboli, which would be beautiful to see at night with its glow. Tropea is again a town high on the cliffs to avoid the pirates and raiders of the old days and to give exercise to the tourist of today. From there we sailed through the Straights of Messina, separating Sicily from mainland Italy. You have to sail along the shore and the commercial traffic stays in the center. Because we went through on a Sunday, the traffic was light. As we approached our destination, we could see Mount Etna and the volcanic ash still spilling out the top. We sailed past Taormina where there were some beautiful mega yachts moored and I went back later with a car to visit a Greek theater and a small but very impressive museum that I came across, with artifacts that went back to 380 BC, when there was a Greek settlement. We had our last meal before the crew went their separate ways and Captain Henry got ready for the new crew to take Anna Bella to the final destination 755 nm away.

Captain-Henry-RelaxingI stayed in Catania for two days and saw 12 churches; a concert made up of young musicians from the university, walked miles all over the town and visited a boat yard where I met with the owner. We exchanged the same issues that we all seem to have as small business owners. Most of the boats in Italy are power and they love big engines. The price of diesel fuel is $8.55 per gallon, so you really have to love boating. My sailboat has two 100 gallon tanks, so it would cost $1,710 to fill my tanks over there. I am glad I am back in the USA where I can afford to go boating. It was a great trip with a fun crew and captain plus I had the opportunity to sail in an area I had never seen plus absorb history going back to 400BC. Not bad!

Words by J. Jopie Helsen

Riding The Storm

stormI’ve heard the term before (riding the storm), but I never really experienced it until July of this year.  David and I were going to Marco Island to watch the fireworks and fish.  It was the usual hot Florida summer day and the storm cells that week formed anywhere, at any time.

It was impossible to anchor long enough to get a hook in the water before a thunder cloud threatened our safety.  We were off of Coon Key, searching for Triple tail near a large marker.  A storm cell formed, David announced we got 5 minutes.  By the time we lifted anchor, the waves and wind was sending Anhinga 8.4 knots towards the river.  She liked that.

If anyone has been in the Marco River, one would know right away it is a great safe haven for storms.  Outside in the Gulf a storm could be raging, but inside the river, a boat would experience only ripple of waves.

The sky was kind enough to halt it’s downpour until after the fireworks were over.  We decided to leave the next day.  David took stock of the weather and saw that there were two storms in the gulf, but a wide margin of clear skies were between them.  The entrance to the river was a bit deceiving.  It’s a blind exit into the gulf.  We casually motored out, watching others in their yachts motor inward.  David put up a reefed main, knowing the winds would be high.  Once out of the river’s mouth we found ourselves not yet in a full gale storm, but as we looked back we could see a high energy large thunderhead with soft rolling clouds around the top of it like a halo.  We were in the warm strong wind the storm pushed ahead of itself.  It was about 40 knots.

The main slammed against its starboard stay, as the wind was directly behind us.  David could not get the main down and this was vital for our safety.  He couldn’t leave the helm, so he told me I had to go and pull the main down.  I wanted to tell him he was crazy, it was not safe and I didn’t know I could do it, but when I looked at David’s face, I knew it was a job I had to do.  I only had my bibs on and a t shirt.  I held the hand rails tightly along the port side, dragged the main sail down; it was hard.  I barely got a hold of the halyard line to pull it around the cleat as my butt smashed down on the cabin with my legs wrapped around the mast.

What I did not know at the time, David’s plan was to throw some of the jib out, to steady the boat.  The jib tore loose from its roll and slammed all the way out.  I was flat on my back at that point as Anhinga tipped about 40 degrees and her side railings was slicing through the water.  I grabbed onto the hand rail and nothing could stop my mouth from letting out a girly scream.  Flat on my back and tipped towards starboard, I could not even sit up as the wind pressed down on me.

Then I heard David from behind me yell, “Don’t worry… we are still under control!” I was safely secured to the mast by my legs and my hand on the rail.  I was in an exhilarating position; I thought to myself, I’m glad someone decided to tell me because it really doesn’t look like we are in control!

Yet, I trust my salty dog with my life; he is experienced and knows what to do in an emergency.  My second thought was, “I’m going to stay right here until he fixes this.”  Just then, I heard the grinding sound of the winch as David slowly pulled the jib in until we had about 2 feet of triangle sticking out.

Anhinga righted herself up properly and we had a fast sail home.

I learned a few things:

To gain proper experience, one must allow oneself to reach out of the comfort zone.

Trust the one with the most experience behind the helm

God is still in control of the wind and the waves.

Experience in the storm will help you through the next one.


Sharon Bickel, www.theshipwrightshop.com