We left Sue and Rob Linehan’s dock on Sunday 11th April heading for Pelican Bay in Cayo Costa, about a 3-4 hour trip. Just as we left the canal and turned into Charlotte Harbour, a rather threatening sky greeted us. The marine forecast was for a few showers, winds 15-20 knots. We decided to carry on looking forward to hoisting the sails and having a good sail. So much for the best laid plans, about one hour out we were hit by a very nasty squall. Heavy rain, thunder and lightning and winds over 40 knots. Lightening was striking the water and one bolt obviously came too close because as Peter decided we should turn around and head back, the GPS went blank! The rain was so heavy we had virtually no visibility. Just a tad scary. Out of the gloom came a red TowBoat US with his lights flashing. We tried to hail him on the VHR to find that was no longer working so he zoomed off. Then just as the rain eased a bit, we spotted another yacht coming in our direction. We motored over towards him and called out over the wind and asked our position and found he was heading for a similar area to where we wanted to be, so we followed him back up the harbor. Fortunately the weather was calming down a bit and as visibility grew we were able to pick out landmarks and figure out on the charts where we were. By this time I had managed to call TowBoat US on the phone and although we did not need assistance they did call back to make sure we were ok, in fact the captain of the boat we had seen earlier phoned saying he saw us out there and thought we had taken a direct hit, fortunately that was not the case otherwise we would have had no instruments at all, and could be facing a rather large repair bill. Thank goodness for insurance!
We returned safely to Rob and Sue’s and Peter and Rob spent the afternoon pulling the boat apart, literally, trying to locate the problem. Not successfully I might add. However with the help of Rob’s portable GPS antenna connected to our computer, we were able to set sail the next day, in much nicer weather.

Margaritas at the end of the day!
We are now anchored in Pelican Bay, enjoying the lovely area. We have walked on Cayo Costa most days over to the Gulf side and along the beach. It is a popular nature reserve. They do allow camping and provide basic cabin accommodation and a couple of small ferries come in and out each day bringing people from the mainland.

A walking track on Cayo Costa

Yesterday we took the dinghy for a run around the bay. We found a small estuary which we followed for a few metres then it opened out into a small lake. Swimming round in there were five manatees. You could just see their noses above the water and occasionally their tails as the dived down. Hard to get a good picture, but great to see.

A Manatee – use your imagination!

 We have also been thoroughly entertained by the pelicans. Our boat is absolutely surrounded by small fish, hundreds actually, and the pelicans circle above watching, then dive headfirst into the water, but the amusing thing is they usually manage to crash into the side of the boat, so hard, the boat actually moves! How they don’t break their necks I have no idea!

One of our friendly Pelicans.

A beach on Punta Blanco with Anything Goes and Cayo Costa in the background.
We plan to leave here on Monday, weather permitting, and sail to Cabbage Key. The rumor has it that Jimmy Buffett wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise” there, however I am assured it is only rumor but allows the local restaurant to make pretty ordinary cheeseburgers, and charge double the price!

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