Friends, do not worry- we still have Serenity and have been awaiting (for many months) for Parr Marine to update our 20K boat lift to accommodate her… Like all things in Port Charlotte, they don’t bother to call/text/e-mail and will cancel on you last minute, but we remain hopeful that eventually the job will get done. In the words of a man I once worked for, “They are not good, but they are slow!” Indeed- Serenity has developed a lovely slimy bottom since we have been waiting for 6 months for someone to modify the lift… FML and SMH… Anyhoo, since we are depth restricted during the winter (something that we were spoiled with not ever having to deal with at St. Pete Municipal Marina), Brian has been itching to get a little power boat. After many drive-byes and test drives of many boats, he found a Trophy Pro 2103C in Tampa off of Craigslist, and once the owner and we determined neither was a Nigerian prince, came to a very fair deal. The boat needed some cosmetic work (like cleaning) and once we got the title, had to make the choice- do we tow it with the Nissan (the trailer is crap) or bring it by water via the ICW (AND, we did NOT do a sea trial on this boat…) On a weird Friday night, we decided to throw caution to the wind, and tow it with the Nissan (after changing out the ball hitch, and pin… Don’t ask…) The Nissan, while it struggled on the hills, performed beautifully. Being that I did not realize we would be towing the boat down, did not bother to fill the gas tank, which was at a little over half full. FML, the gas light went off 5 miles from our exit (NOTE: I have never run out of fuel in my life. But this was not the time to tell Brian. So I panicked internally!) Once we hit our exit, we were able to refuel and drive our “barge” the remaining 5 miles to the house. The next day, we stopped at the gas station to fill her with rec fuel (FML- next powerboat I buy, I will make them not only deliver the boat, but have a full tank of fuel!) and launched her (still nameless boat) from the local boat. A powerboat is TOTALLY different steering wise, but it is bad-ass to be able to get from point A to B quickly. The previous owners of our house had a similarly-sized power boat, so we did not need to adjust the bunks, either, which was pretty awesome! While it could never replace a sailboat (I love my Serenity), it is still pretty awesome and a great boat for exploring the more shallow local areas.
Once we made the left hand turn into to ICW, we had two bridges to go under- Anna Maria Island and Cortez, before sunset. Being as that we did not know how many miles we would get under our belts before the sun set, we did not plan our marina stops in advance (and we would have to stop at marinas on this trip, as the tiny brown and white fur children STILL will not go aboard the boat- despite my newest effort of collecting dirt from their preferred potty sites to entice them to go on it… Why are they so stubborn?!? We ended up calling Marina Jack’s in Sarasota to inquire if they had a transient slip 45 minutes prior to arrival- indeed! We were in luck! While this is not a cheap marina ($3/foot per night), the crew and facilities are AWESOME! Atlas and Luna were grateful for the dog walk and park, which were really nice. The marina has a few restaurants, which were hopping, and the bathrooms were incredibly clean as well, which was paradise compared to our marina in St. Pete. While it was an early night for us, we did get to meet our really nice neighbors aboard another sailboat, and have thus deemed, this is a great marina! The next day, we departed early and our attempts to get to Port Charlotte were hindered by the bridge schedules. Sun was setting on day 2 and we found ourselves in Boca Grande after the last bridge closing. We called Uncle Henry’a Marina, and hence began a fiasco- Irma knocked out a few pilings, and the navigation was not showing up for this marina on the RayMarine Dragonfly. We ran aground, and hard. Stuck and embraced, I flagged down a guy in a pontoon boat (who was skeptical initially at helping us, but succumbed to my desperate pleas… This marina is not for those of draft beyond 3 feet- we ran aground again near our designated dock, and we able to free the boat. What a PITA. While the marina is charming, clean, and has concrete docks with shore power, it is not really depth friendly for sailboats. The pups were happy to have land to do their business on, but what a pain. We left early, so I taped money to the office door for our slip- ironically, we ran aground a few more times trying to leave the channel during high tide. SMH… The last leg of our trip consisted of more bridges and the turn into Charlotte Harbor- seas were still confused, and this made a bumpy ride for which Atlas was not pleased, and Luna, well, it is Luna- she slept. We found our main channel to our lot, and once again ran aground when making the turn. Remembering what our powerboat neighbor said, “Cling to the wall- it is deeper there!” I swear the final turn of going into our channel was the worst part of the trip- “FML- will it be deep enough? Did we buy a sailboat access house we can not even access?” No worries- the channel is actually deeper than the main one, and we were easily ably to maneuver Serenity into her new slip (oh, vey, it was close though- if we had a bigger boat, we’d be crying.) The look of surprise on Atlas’ face, though, was priceless to pull up to his new beloved backyard.
This was an old post from November 2017 that I never published: We have been looking for the perfect weather window in which to move Serenity- which is always a funny thing when the weather man says one thing, and one finds the forecast to be totally out of whack and absolutely wrong. Last Wednesday, we made the command decision- we are moving the boat. On the inside, I was still damning Poseidon, and would have preferred to have an off-shore sail. But, we have two tiny dogs who refuse to pee on their little pee-station, and, despite the initial forecast 2 days prior promising happy seas, awoke to a Small Craft Advisory in Tampa Bay and offshore. Well, hell there went my hopes and dreams of making it to Charlotte Harbor as we were getting beat up in Tampa Bay just trying to get to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Brian was questioning our decision, and I think he wanted to turn back, but I kept to my decision, “No, we are going to just do this.” As we approached the bridge, we heard the calls of a shipping vessel hail us on channel 16, “Sailboat on the other side of the Sunshine Skyway, what is your status?” There was some confusion, as there were a few other sailboats nearby, but since we were motoring into the channel, we figured it was meant for us, as our course was the only Southbound one. After relaying, “We are the only true Southbound sailing vessel, next to the red and white trawler, and will give way to you. What is your ETA?” “10 minutes.” “Copy, thanks, and standing by” we jogged into big waves (this was so not fun) and waited… It seemed like forever until he finally passed, thanking us for giving way as he did with a few toots on the horn, but once he did, we were able to motorsail a little further with a little sliver of genny out to keep us a tad more stable until we made that left-hand turn into the ICW… The journey through the ICW was relatively uneventful, as the waters were significantly calmer. In our minds, we would make great timing and just would be a lot of motoring to make it to our dock. Had we not had the pups, I would have just chanced it and sailed offshore, but with two stubborn tiny brown and white dogs who refused to pee on the boat and held it all day, we were forced to seek solace on the first night at Marina Jack’s in Sarasota.