Our MacGregor Index Page.......Southwest FL 2010 Index

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.........................................--- A Nervous Night ---

....................................................................--- and ---

..--- The Lock to Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte ---

...................--- Wed/Thur. - Dec. 15th & 16th ---

Day's Starting and Stopping Points:

Thursday's Starting Waypoint = 026°30.491 N -- 082°11.158 W

Thursday's Ending Waypoint = 026°56.443 N -- 082°03.541 W

Thursday Anchorage: Punta Gorda

Anchorage = 026°56.443 N -- 082°03.541 W

Wednesday was a great day after the night's before proposal and the acceptance on Ruth's part. The morning was again cold in the boat with the inside temperature registering 41 when we rolled out of bed. The wind was down finally and the day looked promising. We also started to see a few boats using the nearby lock.

We could of headed out for Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda, but got a late start on the day and decided to just stay put where we were for one more night as the weather forecast was still mixed to some degree.

Some locals returned to the lock to fish and one commercial looking guy was throwing his net up from the lock when it was in use, but then when not in use moving right to the lock and threw it at the entrance where a sign was posted saying this was prohibited. Towards dark he left and then after dark, which was coming a little after 5 p.m., about 8 p.m. what appeared to be 3 guys showed up at the lock and started throwing their nets off of the lock in the near darkness. There was a security light of some type above the dock, but it didn't throw much light and we really couldn't see who or for sure how many were over there. We could hear indistinct voices and see shadowy forms moving around and could hear the nets hitting the water. I could also see that they were catching so many fish on one throw that the person with the net was having a hard time actually lifting the fish filled net from the water.

We knew that they weren't suppose to be fishing with nets off the lock, but had no idea if doing this at night was legal or not. Some time after 9 p.m. when they still hadn't left we decided that we should turn off the interior lights of our boat and not draw attention to us. We started to worry that maybe if what they were doing was illegal they wouldn't be happy knowing that we were aware of it and could possibly call it in on a cell phone. With memories of the movie 'Deliverance' our thoughts soon went from bad to worst. We can lock our cabin on the boat from the outside, but not the inside so someone if they wanted could lock us in, but we couldn't lock them out. We of course also had no weapons other than our flare gun and a couple knives.

Of course our imaginations were in retrospect getting the best of us, but at the time in the dark that didn't seem to be actually the case. We kept telling each other that these were just a couple guys trying to make a living the best they could and they were completely harmless and had no intent on harming us in anyway.

We sat in the dark cabin thinking they would leave at any time. That didn't happen and finally we went to bed about 11:30 and drifted off in a listless sleep only to be awaken occasionally by another net hitting the water. Also twice in the night we were awaken abruptly by the boat rolling wildly from side to side as if a large power boat had just run by us on our beam. There was no powerboat, so Ruth was convinced that it was a large Alligator going under the boat. I didn't want to contemplate the thought of an Alligator of those proportions, so came up with the theory that the guys with the nets were opening and closing the locks with the intent of getting more fish to move in on them. I'll let the reader reach their own conclusions, but whatever it was we didn't need it to add to the tension of the night.

Finally around 4:30 we heard nets hitting the water for the last time and we went back to sleep and still alive and the fishermen departed in their boat on the bay side of the lock with hundreds of pounds of very dead fish.

We wanted to head out as early as possible on out trip to Punta Gorda, so were out of bed and up just before the sun around 7 a.m. The water was like glass and it looked like it would be a great day.

We set about eating breakfast and preparing the boat for departure and were finally on our way around 9 a.m.. We decided on a different strategy for the lock this trip through. I edged up to the dock ahead of the lock and Ruth stepped over onto the dock. I backed away and then just used the outboard to hold position. She pulled the handle and opened the lock. I went in and she moved to the middle of the lock and pulled that handle and the lock closed behind me. Then while I held position in the lock she went to the dock on the bay side of the lock and pulled the handle there and opened the lock and I departed and again held position. She then pulled the handle again and closed the lock behind me. I edged over to the dock and picked her up. This worked way better than trying to work the handles from in the boat.

Above is a screen capture showing our route on the monitor using the free program SeaClear. The upper left arrow points to where we left the lock and the upper right arrow points to our anchorage off of Punta Gorda by the highway bridge there. The lower right arrow points to the trip distance of 9.97 miles for the route that was plotted. Of course since we were going to sail and would have to tack into the wind for the first leg the trip would be longer. By plotting the route and having it loaded into the ship's computer in the cabin and the Garmin Map 76S in the cockpit we knew as long as we stayed south, below the route, we would be in deep water and wouldn't be running aground.

The day had started still, but as we left the small bay with the lock at its head, arrow, the winds had come up some and were coming right in on our nose from the SSE. If we are in no hurry and the wind isn't threatening to us we enjoy trying to make headway into the wind. This is something our MacGregor Classic S does very well in fact.

We didn't make fast progress to windward, but none the less we did start moving south on long tacks.

After a while we finally started to draw abeam of the point of land that we had to make a wide berth of on out port side and started seeing the condos at Punta Gorda's southern shore.

To our starboard inland a ways right next to the fresh water canal system we could see the tall tower that we had anchored next to at the beginning of the trip that was about 6 miles south of the lock.

We rounded the point and started to head in the direction of Punta Gorda that was now in an easterly direction from us and pretty much downwind.

We were really enjoying the new full batten main that Martin and his crew at Somerset Sails in New York had made for us.

Running now before the wind we attached the preventers to the boom. After becoming dependent on them at Lake Powell the previous year I redid the 'for now' ones with new pulleys and cam cleats so that they could be deployed faster and used with greater ease. A pulley had been tied to the base of the pulpit forward on each side. A line on each side went from the boom bail, top left arrow forward, top right arrow, to the pulley where it turned and came back along the deck to a cam cleat, middle bottom arrow and from there back to a cleat on the coaming on the cockpit side, bottom left arrow. The bottom right arrow points to the starboard side preventer that is slack at this point.

When not in use we just unsnap the preventer from the boom and snap it to an eye strap down on the cockpit coaming and pull it tight and cleat it off. Very simple and fast to use and almost no more worries about an accidental jibe.

Running now we started to make good time towards the bridge that would be our destination at Punta Gorda. We were aware of anchorage's on both sides of it and chose the east side as that was where the predicted winds were suppose to come from that night.

Talking about winds, as we drew closer to the bridge you can see from the picture about the winds started to diminish until they....

....were almost nonexistent. Ruth fired up the Tohatsu and we started motoring in the last 1/2 mile or so. The arrow above points to the long distance WiFi antenna mast with the Bullet 2HP radio and the 8 dbi antenna just out of the picture. You can also see the invaluable 180 watts of solar panels above Ruth also.

Above you can see the handheld GPS with the course in it after it has been downloaded in a few seconds from the ship's 12 volt computer/chart plotter running SeaClear.

Here the 9 inch monitor is showing the last part of the route into Punta Gorda as plotted once again by SeaClear. We probably have $600-$700 in the 12 volt computer/9 inch monitor/and the long distance WiFi setup that also includes a router so that the WiFi can be accessed via Ruth's laptop. This has been a great investment for the boat and our safety. With all of it running it only draws about 30 watts total and gives us a large screen chart plotter, a computer for e-mail and things like writing this report on along with the abilities to watch movies on DVD'S. With it we also have WiFi about any time we are near a population center. Just think what a chart plotter would cost that has a 9 inch screen and you will see that this setup is a real bargain. As a bonus it is a snap to download a route into the handheld in seconds and now we have backup and an easy to see plotter in the cockpit. The screen above swivels and can be viewed from anywhere in the cabin or at the entrance to the cabin at the companionway where I normally sit while Ruth is on the tiller.

O.K. how do you end a perfect day of sailing? How about a fantastic sunset and.....

....we had music coming to us over the water from the nearby park. It must of been amateur night or something.

So after many cold days on the water in what was suppose to of been warm Florida we finally got in a really nice day of sailing and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'll close the day and probably bore some of you, but here are some more sunset pictures starting with the nearby bridge that seemed to look like it was made from a ribbon of gold....

....this sailboat on our port side and this...

... sailboat off our starboard side, our only two neighbors on the water.

The sun tried to stay up in the west, but as always the....

...earth rotated away from it and soon the light sky started to turn...

....dark when a layer of clouds move down over the sky like a large curtain bringing to an end the final act of the day.

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