I was starting to wonder if this day would ever come.

After spending three extra weeks at Snead Island Boat Works to prepare Mojo for a new life in the water, we are now ready to sail her 100 miles down Florida’s west coast to Port Charlotte.  We look forward to tackling some needed repairs in one of the few “Do-It-Yourself” boatyards that still exists, and Charlotte Harbor Boat and Storage has an excellent reputation among fellow Whitby and Brewer sailboat owners.

Captain Norm laid out the float plan for our two-day trip. On Monday Nov 7, Norm and I would sail 43 miles south to the Crow’s Nest Marina in Venice FL, where we would meet Dove and Buster for dinner. The next morning we would sail the final sixty miles to Port Charlotte, while Dove drove down to complete the paperwork ahead of our arrival.

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Snead Island to Port Charlotte

With so much recent engine work, we felt confident that we could kick it on should we need it while out at sea. As a precaution, I also signed up for Boat US Towing Service should things go horribly wrong!

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Sailing 8 knots on a beam reach
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Captain Norm at the helm
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Mojo is hull number 275
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Heeling 15 degrees

Fortunately, we wouldn’t need the towing insurance as we had nothing but awesome sailing the whole way down. As soon as we left Snead Island and waved goodbye to Dove, we hoisted sail and took advantage of some amazing easterly winds. Sailing a couple of miles from shore, we ran down the coast at about 7-8 knots (8-9 MPH) the entire time. Norm and I shared duty at the wheel, loving every minute while heeled over 15 degrees to starboard. We arrived in Venice before sunset where a dockhand took our lines and tied up the boat.

With such a good day behind us, I was feeling very confident as we left our slip the following day. This feeling quickly disappeared as I started the engine and throttled Mojo forward and away from the transient dock. As we turned to open water, the davits swung wide behind me and caught the dock piling. This knocked Mojo off her line and against a few rocks piled along the marina wall. The boat bumped and bounced to open water. I just looked ahead, hoping the boat would fare better than my ego.

We were able to hit 6-7 knots as soon as we got out to open waters. This lasted for a few hours until the wind started to slow and our speed started to fluctuate. Worried that we wouldn’t get to our destination before dark, we turned the motor on and bumped our speed to 7-8 knots. I’m glad we did. Much of the final leg required miles of motoring through a very lengthy channel system. In fact, even with the motor, we arrived at the boat yard well after sunset in the darkness of night. Folks gathered at the dock to help us with our lines, and we wobbled off the boat, feeling grateful for a safe passage.

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Fishing from channel marker 3
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Navigating the shallow canal system
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Racing against time with 2 miles to go
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We finally make it to Charlotte Harbor Boat and Storage

Norm earned his captain’s fee this day. He had to navigate Mojo through multiple shallow areas on our way through the channel. Fellow boat captains told us afterward that a boat with our draft was tricky to get to the yard on such a low tide, let alone in the dark.

We celebrated with a late night dinner at Applebee’s.  Thank you Captain Norm – you brought us through safely!

4 thoughts on “First Passage

  1. Amazing…kind of a nail biter but the captain (I remember him) obviously knew what he was doing. Won’t be long and people will want to hire you to captain their boats. You and Dove have learned so much. I can’t wait to sail with you someday. Love you both and very happy you are at a do-it-yourself location. Whew!

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