Monday, October 21, 2019

Oct 2019: Sea Trial to Captiva Island

TS Nestor Moved Quickly from the Southwest Caribbean & Into the Gulf
Towards Florida.  But Its Winds Stayed At or Below 50 MPH.
We took a break from boat business from 10-October to 15-October to enjoy a visit from daughter Suzanne…a friend’s wedding and copious amounts of wine were involved. It was a great family break.  During that time Rick was trying to decide between selling the boat and taking it out for a sea trial, with the latter winning out for now.  Besides, our local Grady-White boat club has scheduled a long weekend get-together at nearby South Seas Resort on Captiva Island, and that looked to be a good excuse and opportunity to wring out the systems.

So by Thursday, 17-October, we were back on the boat to prepare for the sea trial.  We packed and provisioned for a short three day jaunt and performed our usual pre-departure checks on Ghost Rider.  The weather forecast wasn’t particularly good for the coming weekend – actually it rather sucked.  A tropical depression was spooling up in the southwest Caribbean and would eventually become a named storm (Nestor), and head in the general direction of the Florida panhandle….just close enough to cause some nearby meteorological chaos, but nothing dangerous in our estimation.  At a minimum we thought our departure and return windows looked reasonably good, even if in between that wasn’t the case.
Our Track from Fort Myers to Captiva Island and Back
So on the morning of Friday, 18-October we steered Ghost Rider out of her mooring at Legacy Harbor – ever so slowly and carefully, paying very close attention to throttle behavior and response – and then chugged down river, across to Pine Island Sound and then north up the ICW to the tip of Captiva Island.  It was a short sortie, just over three hours to cover 25 NM to the South Seas Resort Marina.  We had overcast skies but warm and dry (albeit humid) conditions with a light southerly breeze from the south.  The bottlenose dolphins were plentiful and playful. During our wide open throttle (WOT) run towards the end of the short cruise, five of them flew formation on our starboard side for nearly ten minutes, with one adult in particular enjoying repeated leaps and side flops in the slipstream.  You’ll find one video link HERE (taken from the upper boat deck).  And another taken from closer to the fish and the water HERE.
The Dolphins Put On a Show for Us in Pine Island Sound
And the boat (and its new electronic throttle system) performed perfectly:  docking at the South Seas marina was mercifully boring.

Upon arrival we were met by good friends Bill and Terri from our Grady-White boat club, who had arrived the previous day in their gorgeous Marlin 300.  The remainder of the GW boat club contingent had cancelled out due to the deteriorating forecast, understandably so.  But the four of us enjoyed an excellent dinner at the marina’s Harbourside Bar & Grill, and then gathered on Ghost Rider for Goombay Ghost citrus rum drinks to conclude a good day.  As expected we got plenty of rain overnight and into Saturday morning, along with gusty winds from Nestor.  But by midday the storm’s rain bands had cleared out and allowed for some pool and beach time.  The ocean was all commotion (video link HERE). Unfortunately the strong southerly winds also brought a red tide algae bloom into the area, so we spent much of our remaining time in Ghost Rider’s air conditioned salon to avoid the respiratory impacts.  
Bill & Terri

A frontal passage dragged some more rain across the area early Sunday, 20-October, but that too cleared out rather quickly, and by 1130 we were back underway and heading back to our home port in Fort Myers. Winds continued to die down as the day progressed, with some sun peeking through a broken cloud layer, although the red tide aerosol lingered enough to tickle the throat.  The egress channel between the marina and the ICW was a little sporting at low tide, with barely a foot of water below the keel at one point, but we stayed off the bottom.  As expected, boat traffic was very light on the waterway and Ghost Rider continued to run well and without any issues throughout the warm and humid day.  Less than four hours after departure - punching into a current the whole way - we were back home at Legacy Harbour in Fort Myers, and the stern-in docking maneuver proceeded smoothly.

So overall the sea trial went well and the short journey was enjoyable.  It was a good reminder that the boating between breakages can be good fun.  Now to see how long that lasts.
Bill & Terri's Grady-White Marlin 300, Starship, Docked at South Seas.
Ghost Rider Docked Up at South Seas
The Gulf of Mexico Was a Boiling Mess Even Though Nestor Was a Good 200 Miles Away


  1. Terri and I had a fab time with y'all. Both the Host & Hostess and the Goombay Ghosts made for a fun weekend, and Rick could make some fair money as a bartender if he so desired. Glad to have made the Blog and that Ghost Rider ran well both directions.

  2. Bill...happy to teach Terri how to mix up Goombay Ghosts for you; after you develop a little resistance to the ingredients you'll be fine. Cheers/Rick.

  3. I wondered why you stayed inside on ICW for short trip but looking at above pic, I see why. BTW, when and where is your next big trip taking you two?? Love to read about your trials and adventures. Always, Doug and Cat

  4. Good to hear from y'all. Sent you a private email with some rough trip planning info.