Once out from under the "filter" bridge, we pulled up next to some mangrove, and I put the mast back up. The wind was now building out of the northwest, which would mean for a great ride down Pine Island Sound. We had already decided to make it a short day, since we had not had any real sleep since about 5AM on Saturday. Our destination was Chino Island, on the southern end of Pine Island Sound. From what I had read, Chino Island was some developer's dream, there is a channel cut into it, but nothing more. If things were different, it may have been covered with exclusive houses, but instead, it is just sand and mangrove. We enjoyed a great run across Gasperilla Sound heading towards Cayo Costa.
As we neared Boca Grand Pass, I happened to look back at the rudder, and noticed that the pin holding my tiller extension to the rudder box was loose, the cotter pin had fallen out somehow. We were pretty close to shore, so we sailed towards the least developed looking area so that I could fix it. When the water was shallow enough, I hopped out and replaced the pin and cotter pin. My lesson learned is to replace all cotter pins with cotter rings... they should stay in better!
Once back underway, the wind continued to build; we were flying past Cayo Costa State Park, then Cabbage Key, home of the "cheeseburger in paradise." We resisted stopping to eat (they probably wouldn't have let us in the door) and kept flying down Pine Island Sound, averaging 5 to 6 kts.
We ended up sailing within sight of a yellow Hobie AI as the sun started to set. We found out later that this was AhMaChamee, here is a really bad picture:
The wind continued to build, and I kept furling the sail to keep from burying the amas, this is what I ended up with:
Even with this tiny bit of sail, we were averaging about 4 kts, which was a little more comfortable in the dark and waves. During all this time, I was struggling to stay awake. I would close my eyes, count to 10, then check the GPS and compass to confirm I was on course. I had plotted a straight line course to Chino Island, and I knew there was some shallow areas, but they were not charted well. Well, I found one... I was drifting off, when BANG! My rudder popped up (thanks to the autorelease clamcleat!) Now I was awake! I hopped out and started dragging the boat over the mud, the water was only a few inches deep. As I dragged, it seemed that it was getting shallower, so I looked around and saw dry ground behind me. I wandered around a bit, found the deeper water and dragged the boat over to it. I hopped back in, and we finished the trip to Chino Island without incident. Once close enough, I furled the sail away, Emily lit up the shore with our Ultrafire flashlight (900lm of awesome brightness) and found a semi-sandy looking beach. We pulled the boat up, tied it up, and started pulling out gear. I wandered around a bit, and found a beautiful flat sandy spot in from shore a bit, which kept us out of the wind. Emily set up the tent while I got "dinner" started. We were both dead tired, and once we ate and got things cleaned up, we hit the tent for some much needed rest.