Sea Trial To Venice!

We had a great 4 days of sailing with great friends from Kansas City. Father and son, Paul and Mike DeGeorge came to visit over the weekend and join us for an extended sea trial to test the work we have completed in the recent months. They arrived late Thursday evening and we had a late dinner at the local marina then off to bed. The Admiral had to
work Friday so "da boys" went sailing on Tampa Bay for the day. We returned to dock early in the afternoon and the Admiral joined us and we headed for Egmont Key to drop anchor for the night. We had a delicious talapia dinner en route prepared by the captain/chef. We sailed under the Tampa Bay Sky Way bridge after dark and had a beautiful view of the lights! We arrived at Egmont Key well after dark and dropped anchor at a familiar spot on the southeast side of the island. It was a rather calm night and we awoke refreshed for an early start to sail the Gulf of Mexico south to Venice Florida. Winds were not as strong nor the direction as favorable as we had hoped but we did manage to get some time in under sail but we had to motor sail most of the way. Motor sailing was not a bad idea since we wanted to give Mr Perkins (the engine) a good test due to all of the work recently completed. We arrived safely in Venice in time for a nice long walk on the beach and hot showers before dinner at the Crows Nest restaurant. The meal was superb! We had Grouper, Scallops, Lobster and Shrimp. We have had great meals at this restaurant and we highly recommend it to all. We headed out to the Gulf early on Sunday morning with strong winds holding 20 - 25 knots steady. Even though they were of good strength, the direction was not favorable for a trip back north to Long Boat Key, where we intended to spend the night at anchor. We sailed well out into the gulf hoping for a shift and maybe being able to get a good tack angle to sail to Long Boat Key. Well, it just did not happen. We ended up sailing back to Venice and tucking inside the barrier islands and following the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) north to Sarasota and dropping anchor on the southeast side of Cortez bridge. It is a safe well protected anchorage with good holding on the bottom. We planned to be ready to leave early and pass through the Cortez draw bridge at the 6:40 AM opening. The published openings for the Cortez bridge are on the hour and every 20 minutes past the hour. I called for an opening and was informed that the opening schedule had been changed due to construction and the first opening would not be made until 9:30 AM that morning. We pulled anchor and headed for longboat key bridge which would allow us to pass on demand out into the Gulf of Mexico and we would sail north to the Tampa Bay entrance. The approach and pass at Longboat Key is a bit tricky and was additionally challenged by a strong current against us as we made the pass. We were pushed to the edge of the channel and we actually bumped the bottom a couple of times before we made it to deep safe water. Once again we had strong winds but they were right on the nose again! We did manage to get a couple hours under sail but we had to motor and motor sail most of the way back to the marina. It was a great time and all systems worked well and the captain and crew were well fed. We all pitched in and gave Mary Rose a good scrubbing before we headed to the showers and then to dinner. We dropped Paul and Mike at TPA and then the Admiral treated the Captain to a great concert by Celtic Thunder. We highly reccomend them and they have some great videos on utube. Take a look and enjoy there work! Be sure to check out all of the photos by clicking on the Photo Album button on the front page of the blog. All in all it was a very successful Sea Trial To Venice.............................Florida