We only had a few miles to make our way to the Seven Mile Bridge inlet. We had light winds and motor sailed until we could cross through.
Once we made it through the bridges, (both the new and old Seven Mile Bridge) we set our heading and sailed North into the shallow waters of the Gulf Coast.
We had no interest in motor sailing so we turned off the engine. Even though we had light winds and an average speed of around 2 knots all day. We just wanted to sail.
It was such a smooth peaceful day. We were going so slow we were able to jump in for a swim from time to time and swim back to the boat. Willow even got some bottom cleaning done on the boat.
We spent the day taking shifts, listening to music and relaxing. At some point in the day we lost cell signal. We didn’t care.
A few hours after dark the winds picked up a little, giving us around 4 knot speeds. We took turns at the helm so everyone could stay rested and sleep.
*While this is slow speeds for larger ships it is decent for a 30 foot sailboat with light winds.
Our second day went by much faster as we made our way toward the west coast of Florida. We motor sailed a few hours as we wanted to make our way to Marco Island before dropping anchor. So, we sailed into a second night.
Our second night became a bit windy and rainy. The winds became so strong that we had to take down our sails.
We made our way toward the Marco Island Inlet for the next few hours using only the engine. We finally made it to the Inlet to find ourselves in unfamiliar waters, at night, for the first time in a long time.
The current was so strong at the Inlet that we were moving 3 knots with the engine barely above idle. I quickly remembered what it was I didn’t like about night sailing. Things can become so distorted near inlets. You have to constantly check the maps to make sure you don’t run aground while trying to find the channel markers in the dark. All the while, relying on the map for what is in front or beside of you since you cannot see anything.
After spending months in the Keys with much more open inlets and less currents running through them, this was something I had forgotten about.
This was our longest sailing expedition so far. While it can be accomplished in under 24 hours, it can take much longer as well. It all depends on the wind.
I am very proud that we were able to navigate this first part of our journey nonstop for two days and nights. While our stay in the Keys was filled with many amazing adventures, tropical islands and the clearest waters I have ever seen, it was time to change our latitude for a new adventure.
“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.”
~ Louis L’Amour