Terry and I left St. Augustine Saturday morning after picking up Annie at the shop where we had loaded her. We headed down I95 and then I4 through Orlando. I decided to take a slightly longer route south to Sebring. Our firm had designed and built an exhibit on the Civilian Conservation Corps in Florida at Highlands Hammock State Park and I thought Terry would like to see it. The CCC was a national work project that built the original Florida State Parks during the Depression. As we arrived we found that the park was having their annual CCC Festival. We walked around, saw the exhibit and spoke to the assistant manager I had worked closely with 9 years ago. Sometimes going back to a place in your past isn't the best idea. This was good.
We continued to Cape Coral, crossed the bridges to Pine Island and made our way to Bokeelia on the north shore. Lavender Landing boat ramp charged $10 a day to launch and park. As we were rigging Terry noticed that the boomkin was left behind. It is a spar that support the turning block for the mizzen sheet. The boat hook took its place, tying a loop of line to act as a block.
We motored out the canals and passed through Shell Cut into the sound. It was around 1630 and the wind was a solid 15 with gusts to 25 out of the NNE. I had tied in a double reef in the main to stay on the safe side.
As we made our way around west up and around the shoal markers the sun started setting. Terry held course as I prepared the running lights. He had been getting some oversized waves and when I returned to the cockpit from the foredeck a gust hit just as a large wave lifted us up. The rail dipped and water rolled in to the cockpit. She righted quickly and I started pumping. All was well in a couple minutes as night set in.
Around 1930 Annie rounded the markers at the north end of Cayo Costa and hugged the downwind side of the opening to Pelican Bay where several anchor lights shown beyond. After clearing we anchored in a cove protected by thick mangroves and tore into a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. We set up the cockpit tent (Terry's 'cabin') and I went below for the night. The exploration had started.