Saturday, November 29, 2008


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Home in Port Charlotte

High of 78
Ship's log hour 357.8
Kimber and I set out from our home port at 3:00PM and cruised the canals to Charlotte Harbor. As we idled through the residential canals I enjoyed my first sighting of a manatee. These aquatic mammals are an endangered species and a real treat for any Floridian to see. They are gentle giants, weighing up to 500 pounds, and as vegetarians would not harm a human in the water.

At 4:00 PM we docked at Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda, where we met Kathy. She had driven over to meet us because I had planned on spending the night on board and the girls didn't want to. We launched from Fish.Vlg and set out to Boca Grande to watch the 5:35 sunset. The water became absolute glass and was unbelieveably smooth. Just shy of our destination I spotted a bottle nose dolphin to port side and stopped so Kimber could shoot some pics. We were instantly surrounded by a pod of dolphins that must have been more than 2 dozen. This was the biggest pod of dolphin I have seen since arriving in South Florida.

The sunset was all Kimber could have dreamed of. Clear skies, perfect temperatures, a real Kodak moment. Our trip back to Fish.Vlg was so smooth, Kathy didn't even object to me running at wide open throttle, 34 knots. I dropped the girls off as the twilight was really fading and I made a beeline for the Charlotte Beach complex, where I planned on anchoring down in 6 feet of water in a rising tide.

My plan was quickly altered when the anchor windless malfunctioned and wouldn't drop the chain. I determined the problem wasn't witht the actual windless as much as some kind of electrical shortage in my dashboard. The windless switch made a hard, rapid clicking sound like a bad solenoid. When I activated my running lights I noticed the instrument panel gauges all red lined and my GPS shut off. If I turned the running lights off, everything came back to normal. With the fading light I didn't have much time to troubleshoot. A decision had to be made. I could stay away all night, drifting and fishing in the darkness. No. I could tie up at the Charlotte Beach pier in violation of the county ordinance against camping there. No, mostly because foot traffic could approach my boat on the pier while I was sleeping and even though I was armed, I didn't like that idea. (At 2AM on Thanksgiving morning, 17 Cuban refugees landed at Gasparilla Island, near here). I checked the GPS and saw the tide was at 1.1 feet above mean tide. Last I calculated, I could make it under the short bridge. I decided to try it. I set out in the darkness, using my running lights but no GPS and got to the short bridge at 7:30PM. I made it under with 2 inches to spare. I love it when a plan comes together.

My new dock light and pole made docking a piece of cake. I flushed the engine and spent the night in my own bed. Now I have an electrical problem to mess about with.
Ship's log hour 363

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