Early morning tide was about a minus 0.5 feet so we thought we had better get on our way by 0800 while there was still 0.0 feet as it was still falling. We had to cross a sand bar before getting back into the Intracoastal Waterway channel. We carefully maneuvered our way out and always had at least two feet under the keel so I was pleased with our progress. Upon reaching the marked channel I turned to starboard sharply – but not sharp enough. The channel was so narrow at that point I quickly found we were aground on the opposite side of the channel. And I mean aground. Reverse did nothing to free us and wiggling us with the bow thruster also did nothing. What to do? We would have to wait until about 1100 hours before the tide would be back up high enough so we could float off.
Mazel Tug had been following right behind us and saw me go aground so managed to stay in the channel. Via vhf we tossed around options and decided to try getting a line from his bow to mine and then he would try to pull us sideways back into the channel.
I had to launch the dinghy to go over and get his line. I brought it back and handed it to Vicki who tied if off to our bow cleat. I then tied the dinghy on the stern and fired up the engine. With my engine at half throttle in forward and Mazel Tug giving me an assist we broke free and floated back into the channel. We towed the dinghy to a wider part of the channel where I was able to put it back up in the davits while Vicki watched the chart plotter and channel markers carefully to make sure we weren’t blown out of the channel again. Hurray! We were headed down the channel once again.
Charlotte Harbor is a sizable body of water and the wind was blowing from the northeast at about 15 mph. Wind waves were 2-3 feet but we were quartering downwind so the crossing of an hour plus was comfortable. We were interested in anchoring in Pelican Bay behind Punta Blanca Island as there is a park with great shelling beaches on the gulf side on Cayo Costa Island and a good park dinghy dock. The water is shoal between the channel and Pelican Bay so we had to carefully find our way in using the depth contours on the chart plotter.
Wind continued to blow around 15 mph as we anchored and for the rest of our stay here. We put the dinghy down and made our way through the chop to the park department dock. From there we were able to take a shuttle trailer towed behind a pickup truck to the gulf side of the island where we walked the beach shelling and enjoying the surf and sun.
We remained hermits aboard the boat for the rest of the afternoon and evening as the wind continued to blow. One nice thing about being at anchor is the bow points into the wind. The boat wasn’t rolling but it was pitching and continued to do so throughout the night thought the wind did shift from the northeast to east.