March 27 The wind was still blowing but less than before. As we were almost out of the long channel and in 20 ft of water, we suddenly and violently bounced on a 5ft 6” spot right in the middle of the channel! This was not a pleasant experience to say the least and really shook us up. We managed to finish the channel and turn north and make the short hop to Venice where we tied up at the Crow’s Nest Marina. The plan was to go out to dinner for once but we were not in the mood.
March 28 Our cruising friend, Alan, was dropped off by his wife, Kat, and he became our guide for our next leg of the trip. They live in Palmetto which is across the bridge from Bradenton in the Manatee River. He guided us to the dock at his house. With a cross wind at the dock, it took us quite a long time to get our tank Windermere secure. There were lines running every which way like a spider web but it worked. Kat made us a delicious dinner.
March 29 The wind was down and it was a beautiful sunny day. We had come to see some of the area so Kat took John and I to the farmer's market and flea market for the morning. Then our hosts drove us down to Sarasota for lunch in an area called St. Albans Circle. There were lots of restaurants and shops and people watching. Next, they drove us down to a RV place south of town where they showed us the small RV they were interested in buying. We were also intrigued by these “vans” that fit in a regular parking space. Maybe, if we can sell Windermere, we will buy a land yacht.
Back home for dinner and a movie on their big TV.
March 30 Our friends, Pom & Marsha, from Mystic rent a house for the winter on anna Maria Island which was nearby. We had called them earlier and planned to see them. They picked us up and took us out to the island for lunch a nice walk on the pretty beach there. After, they dropped us off, Kat and I did some errands. Dinner and another good movie.
March 31-April 2 The weather was looking good for a few days so we said our good byes and untangled ourselves from the dock and took off for Ft. Lauderdale. Our first night was great but the day was full of crab pots. We kept catching them and having to stop, go in reverse, circle around, etc. to try to work them off or cut their lines. Most of the time this worked but there was one stubborn one that would not budge. We stopped and John got into the water with his snorkel gear on and was able to free it. The rest of the way, we really had to pay attention. Around 5pm, we went under the Marathon Key bridge. Another hour or so of pots and we were in deep water outside the reef that follows the Keys east side. Beyond the reef is the Gulf Stream so we angled over to it and rode up the western edge the whole way to Ft. Lauderdale. By 9 am, we were just about there. We have a new anchorage there but we had not actually taken the boat there so we went cautiously up the Middle River to a cul-de sac where we could anchor for our time there.