We returned a couple of days ago from a trip from our marina in Palmetto, FL to Cayo Costa State Park on the Gulf ICW. What follows is a day-by-day log and a link to a Google Photos photo album that contains stills and some videos.
Palmetto to Cayo Costa State Park today. Thank goodness we decided to go out into the Gulf, instead of travel the whole way on the ICW, because it gave us the room to maneuver around a really nasty, white-out storm that moved south to north along the coast. One storm was moving up the coast and another came in from the Gulf, colliding with it. From a distance, we could see a tornado form and dissipate before it reached the water. We ended up going about 15 miles out into the gulf to skirt around the worst of the storm.
The extra travel time meant we didn't arrive in Cayo Costa until after dark. This was our first time anchoring in the dark. Fortunately, we knew the layout of Pelican Bay pretty well and our charts were the most recent so we had no trouble getting safely hooked.
We went to start the generator so we could turn on the a/c, cool down, and cook a hot meal. Unfortunately, the generator wouldn't start. Wouldn't even click. About an hour of diagnostics proved fruitless so we had a cold meal, took cool showers, and went to sleep under a fan.
After a hot, sticky night of quasi-sleep, I started making some calls to mechanics and marinas. We were about to pull up anchor and head to a marina to get the generator fixed when a mechanic called back. During the discussion, I recalled bumping a battery switch the day before we left. On closer inspection, I noticed it wasn't quite in the On position. Turned it all the way off and back to on and the generator started with no problem. Yippee! Lesson learned.
A pod of dolphins came to visit this morning. We splashed the dinghy and took it into Manatee Hole to tour around. Oddly enough, there is a swarm of bees having an orgy (yes, we watched) around our radar antenna. Weird.
We had our first hot meal this evening and slept quite well in air conditioning.
Rained a bit in the morning. Then we dingied over to the State Park and were going to walk to the beach but Debbie was attacked by mosquitos so we turned back. Sat in the covered waiting area for the ferry and met a guy named Warren, who lives on a catamaran that is currently anchored in the bay. Great conversation.
Came back to the boat, made some drinks, and sat on the aft deck listening to music. One of my strongest memories of the trip will be slow dancing with Debbie on the aft deck while listening to Marvin Gaye.
We made a fantastic dinner and finished the evening off with a sunset dinghy ride to the Gulf side of the island.
It rained in the morning but cleared up and became a nice day. Last day at Cayo Costa. Lazy start to the morning. Fired up the watermaker and topped up the freshwater tank, took the dinghy to Cabbage Key for an expensive lunch, climbed the water tower for a lookout, tried to hike the trail but mosquitos attacked Debbie again. They really like her.
We took the dinghy all the way around Useppa Island, stopped at a beach on Punto Blanco island and then came back to the boat. On the way back, we ran into two manatees getting frisky on the surface. First time seeing that. Weíre pretty sure thatís what was going on because one of them was smoking a cigarette afterward.
Debbie cleaned out the a/c strainer while I cleaned out the generator strainer.
Showers and a dinner. We were going to stow the dinghy, preparing for departure in the morning, but decided decided on a mid-afternoon departure and shelling on the island in the morning.
Sure love staying here.
This morning, we dinghied over to the state park, walked all the way through to the Gulf side, then walked the beach for a couple of miles looking for shells. Found some really nice one but gave one to a little kid who was only finding broken ones. We also found a mollusk out of its shell and put it back in the water.
High tide hit after lunch so we departed Cayo Costa. This time, I wrangled the anchor and Debbie drove from the anchorage all the way to the first bridge. She did great! This was her first time driving the boat.
We anchored again in Don Pedro State Park. Itís easy in and easy out. On the way, we passed by an anchorage known as Cape Haze just to check it out. Itís highly rated but itís really only for smaller boats.
Turned out to be our last day of the trip. We planned to pull the anchor and head up to Otter Key, just outside of Sarasota. That didnít quite work out but more on that shortly.
After I pulled the anchor, Debbie spun us around and drove us out of the anchorage at Don Pablo State Park then she stayed at the helm for a good part of the day. She handled her first bridges like a champ and seemed attentive but relaxed. Iím very proud of her growing skills! Way to go, babe.
We decided to stay on the Intercoastal all the way to Otter Key. Our intention was to check it out to see if our new, larger boat would work well there. It will. Then we decided to put the anchor down and stay the night.
The anchor bit on the first drop but there wasnít enough chain out and it started to drag when we backed down. Two other attempts resulted in failures so we decided to bag it and continue on to Palmetto. When we pulled the anchor up, it was caked with about a foot of mud. Our guess is it picked up that much mud on the first drop and was too caked to get a good bite on the subsequent attempts.
About three hours later, we pulled into our home slip, neatly and quietly, and wrapped up a terrific shakedown cruise. Lots of laughs, lots of learning, lots of memories. Our Wanderlust is a solid girl and ready to take us wherever we point her. ❤️
Cayo Costa Photos and Videos
Here is a link to a Google Photos album with several stills and a couple of short videos.