After departing Snead Island Boatworks last Tuesday, I first made my way to Marina Jack in Sarasota. Marina Jack holds a special place in my heart. As a kid, I spent a few summers in the Sarasota region with my grandparents, and more than a few of those summer days were spent looking at all the boats in that Marina. So, I spent a few days there on a mooring ball. I had a chance to visit with my parents and grandparents. I also spent a decent amount of time working on the boat and gathering supplies and parts that I needed while I still had access to a set of wheels. I eventually parted ways with mooring ball number 2 in Marina Jack’s mooring field and started our route towards Venice. I was fortunate enough to have my dad aboard one last time and we had an awesome cruise through the ICW towards Fisherman’s Wharf Marina. The most exciting part of the trip was passing under the Stickney Point bridge. I have been driving over this bridge since I was born and I always wanted to be aboard one of the sailboats that would halt the traffic traveling to the beach. Today, that boat was me; I wish I could say I felt sorry for the cars I held up during rush hour, but I wasn’t really. I was too busy enjoying the moment.
The ICW was uneventful with plenty of weekend warrior and rental traffic. Everyone was courteous and friendly as we made our way south at a blazing 5.5 knots. Once entering the Venice inlet, the channel began to get a little skinny. We were able to slowly maneuver through without getting stuck in the sand and a few minutes later we were sitting at the dock. The dockmaster at Fisherman’s Wharf was friendly and helped us tie up to the fuel dock which is where they keep the transient boats. It is an easy dock to tie up to and the fuel and pumpout are located on the dock. Also, the current running past the dock was minimal and the marina is situated right next to the hatchet creek bridge which you will need opened if heading southbound and you are on a sailboat like me. There is also a restaurant on site however they were closed for renovation during our stay. Bummer. On the other hand, the dockmaster has a tiki hut with fishing bait and COLD BEER! They are not a bar, so don’t pop a top at the counter. I think having the marine police station on site is a little more incentive to follow the rules. I am pretty sure I freaked the guy out when I was about to pop open a cold Landshark the second I had it in my hand. I quickly understood where he was coming from and my dad and I continued to tidy up the boat while enjoying our refreshments aboard .
Afterward, My mom drove down to pick up my dad and the three of us went to Sharky’s restaurant. It has been a few years since I last visited this beach side restaurant and I was surprised to see that they have nearly tripled the size of their facility. They added another restaurant named Fins on the upper level and also have an awesome pier to walk on. And with a name like Sharkys you can imagine what the catch of the day is off the pier. You usually can’t find much as far as shells, but the beach always had hidden treasure buried in the sand. You can easily find shark teeth along the shore or in the water using metal sift nets. We have acquired many boxes of shark teeth over the years from this beach and it has always been a favorite for my family and I to visit. Unfortunately the night had to come to and end and my parents headed back towards Sarasota and I grabbed some shut eye before waking up, getting a pump out and continuing south solo.
After passing through two drawbridges back to back the portion of ICW from Venice to Lemon Bay is mostly rock lined channel and not very exciting. Once in Lemon Bay I found an anchorage and spent the rest of the day organizing the boat and making dinner. I had an amazing sunset over the bay and was greeted by a pod of dolpins to end the evening. Not a bad way to end my first solo day.