Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 9th-10th: Fort Myers to Marco Island

On Monday, May 9th we tossed off the lines and began with the first (short) leg of our planned voyage.  Since it was such an abbreviated run (just down-river to Sanibel) we had a lazy morning of preps, finally getting underway around 1300 local time.  We fought a bit of an incoming tide current, so didn’t make Sanibel until around 1540, but it was a beautiful day and we really didn’t care about pace – this was just a short shakedown to test major systems before we got too far away from home port.

Punta Rassa Anchorage Location
Anchoring at Sanibel turned into a small frustration...the water was a good deal deeper than the charts indicated (aided by the westerly sea breeze), and with the current and apparently some hard bottom, we just couldn’t get an anchor set with which we’d be comfy.  So we made our way across San Carlos Bay towards Fort Myers Beach to look at another site that had decent Active Captain reviews…but we ran out of water before we could get close enough to that one.

At Anchor at Punta Rassa
So we backtracked to the north side of the Sanibel causeway (Punta Rassa) and found a good spot not far from the entrance to Port Sanibel Marina where we had kept our Grady-White for years.  While somewhat close to the ICW, Monday evening traffic was minimal, so it was quite comfortable.  It wasn’t an anchorage listed on Active Captain, but we found it as good as or better than the ones over by St. James City at the south end of Pine Island, with good wind protection from all directions and depths from 7 to 12 feet.  However, it would likely be too lumpy on weekends.  The location was 26-30.010N / 82-00.642W, will try to figure out how to post it to Active Captain.

Boat stuff:  all good, everything performed ops normal with no new issues.

On Tuesday, May 10th, we pulled up the anchor just before 0930 and headed south to Marco Island.  Weather-wise it was another beautiful day in south Florida...mid 80’s, tolerable humidity, with a fresh breeze out of the south at 10-15K.  Sea state was also comfortable with variable 1-3 footers at 3 second intervals.  And as with Monday’s leg, we drove this one entirely from the fly bridge.

Along the way we got some chores done – testing the new discharge pump switch (ops normal); re-testing the wing engine stuffing box (again….damned thing still overheats); plus some admin & cleaning chores.  And Rick successfully reacquainted himself with navigating using only the Furuno NavNet2 units (vs. our primary Nobeltec system…proving that the Chivas scotch hasn’t destroyed all of the older brain cells.) 
PowerView Display

Additionally we got smarter with the nifty computerized Murphy Powerview display – that’a a digital readout of a long list of parameters reported by the main engine’s ECU.  While its display of exact engine RPM, coolant temperature, oil pressure and fuel flow rate are always of primary interest, another parameter we’ve come to recognize as critical is the engine load factor – diesel motors do not like to be run at light loads, and in the case of our continuous duty Lugger L1066T, it craves load factors at or above 40%.  Cheerfully we’re able to report that at our normal cruise setting of 1700 RPM the engine load reads between 45 & 50%, and at WOT (wide open throttle) it reads exactly 100% --right where it should be.  That means we have a healthy motor & fuel filters, and a good match on prop pitch & diameter.  Love it.

View of Factory Bay
We were bucking mild headwinds, head seas and current, but still made it into the Marina at Factory Bay at Marco Island by 1500 local time, after which Ghost Rider got a much needed fresh water wash down….as did we. 
MR on Fly Bridge @ Marco

Tomorrow is mostly a down-day here in Marco, then we head to the Everglades (Shark River) area on Thursday, with some SSB practice there since that is otherwise a dead zone when it comes to connectivity.  More to come after that.