6:30 a.m. Sunrise. Time to go!
We are just barely inside the channel, so it only takes 15 minutes to exit into the Gulf.
As we head North, Nick gets an innovative idea on how to make us some coffee. He sticks one of my coffee bags inside a water bottle. Then, he sits it outside in the sun to heat up; shaking it every now and then. After an hour? Pretty darn good with some vanilla flavoring. So now, at the end of our trip, he is a better Captain AND cook than me. Thats humbling.
Last day on the water - and I have "relatively" hot coffee - I'm in a good mood.
We know that when we make it to the Venice pier, we are getting very close to our final destination where we will ultimately meet Jeff:
We just passed it.
We reach the Venice channel:
We tie up to the Venice Yacht Club dock next to a 100 ft yacht.
If you look hard, you can see our sailboat on the left:
We, of course, head to the bar next to the pool, to wait for Jeff.
I have a feeling that this is a private club, but once again, my motto of: "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission".
Based upon that philosophy, we order frozen, tasty drinks.
"May I have your member #, sir?" The bartender asks me."Member #?" I ask.
"You don't have a member #?"
"No sir. We just sailed in from the Keys".
"Oh, in that case, I'll just make you a guest of 'Mike'."
I think the bartender assumes we are on a huge catamaran sailboat. Because of the big yacht between the bar and our boat, he can't see what we are on. (No idea who Mike is, avid sailor, perhaps?)
"Perfect, I reply. Mike loves the keys - and he is a great guy!"
"Yes he does, and he is" answers the bartender.
We pay for and enjoy our frozen drinks at the private Yacht Club :-). At the end of our adventure, we are, apparently yachtsmen now! I should have had them charge our drinks to "Mike". :-)
Jeff arrives a few minutes after we finish our drinks. Perfect timing, bro.
Is the cabin as clean as it started?
I won't miss hitting my head on the boom.
Tight quarters for this last week.
We, fortunately, make it back to Clearwater without any significant problems and park the sailboat in the driveway where it started.
Nick and I shake hands and hug. I let him know how proud of him I am for some of the quick-thinking decisions he made. I thank him for making me a better Captain. He really did a great job out there.
Why did we do it? It wasn't the "sanest" thing in the world to attempt. I suppose it has something to do with being in your 50's. We are still healthy and we still can. Another decade of age? Perhaps not.
The best explanation: Nick and I both love being on the water. Sure, we yelled at each other a few times (mostly my fault), but come on, the average temperature was 95 degrees!
Are we still friends? Never closer.
Thank You's go out to:
- Garmin corporation for their amazingly rugged and durable hand-held GPS. That thing worked flawlessly through the rain and the sweltering heat. We relied on it for our lives.
- Don and Natalie for housing us for two days in Bahia Honda.
- Hancock Whitney bank for my handy-dandy Florida cutting board.
- My employees for working hard while I was gone.
- Brian, from Custom Hitch & Trailer in Naples.
- Jeff, Sue and his family for housing me two nights and for coming to rescue us with the trailer.
- My wife and family for letting me go without complaints.
- The Coast Guard, for always listening to idiots (adventurers!) like us on the VHF and who are ready to come assist whenever we need them. And for maintaining those offshore buoys.
- The Lord, for changing the weather at the last second - and for my life.
- Road Rangers.
- All the nice and helpful people we met along the way. (Including Everglades City sailboat guy)
- And most importantly to Nick's 1983 9.9 HP Johnson motor. My favorite engine - FOREVER!
Nick, that was an unusual experience my friend. Hike part of the Appalachian trail with me next year? Sam says he is already "in".
How would I sum it all up? Adventurous, Scary, Idiotic, Surreal, Beautiful, Strange, Hot, Epic!
And mostly to my blog readers (20,361 all-time pageviews) based upon Google stats - If you have actually read all of these Sailing chapters - thank you very much - I really do appreciate you spending part of your busy day to read them. As a writer, it warms my heart when you text me, or make comments on this site to let me know you enjoy them. (Thanks Lorraine for being one of my most avid fans.)
I hope I have kept all of you somewhat entertained with these short stories.
Back to offshore fishing posts reel soon.
USCG Certified Master Captain
"Sailing Yachtsman" :)