We got under way with steady winds from the north. As we sailed around the southern end of Chino Island, we saw CaptJackOtter anchored just off the shore. We waved and continued on our way.
We were enjoying the north winds as we approached the Sanibel causeway. I ended up a little to the east of the tall section of the causeway, but I assumed I had enough clearance to get under the section we were nearest to. As we got closer, I started to doubt, but now we were comitted. Well, now I know that the Sanibel Causeway is 16ft above the water... My mast is 16ft, but my sparfly (wind indicator) is about 16ft 6in. Needless to say, my sparfly is now floating in Pine Island Sound somewhere... oops! Fortunately, no other damage was done. As soon as we passed under the bridge, the wind began to die. We ended up drifting slowly by Point Ybel and the Pine Island Lighthouse.
Our goal for the day was to get near CP2, we were planning on Panther Key cutting through Caxambas Pass. We sailed and paddled for a couple of hours; with the wind finally starting to build after lunch.
It turned into our best sailing day of the entire event. We sailed at 5 to 6 kts for most of the day, slowly approaching the shoreline. Near Naples, we caught up with Brogan in his Hobie AI.
He had lost his GPS and was wondering where Big Marco Pass was. I attempted to relay some details, but I'm not sure we could hear each other. We could also see CaptJackOtter's red gennaker farther offshore, and we soon caught sight of a pair of Pacific Action sails. The PAS sails turned out to be Paddlemaker and SavannahDan in their Pygmy triple kayak. Just before we caught them, they turned into Gordon Pass. Brogan and CaptJackOtter also sailed into the pass. The waves around the pass were pretty wild, but the XCR handled them just fine. In fact, we stayed perfectly dry all day. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, and sailed and paddled the final few miles towards the lit up high rises of Marco Island, and the entrance to Caxambas Pass.
I had the course into and through the pass programmed as a route into my GPS, so I was confident in the approach. I knew from looking at satellite maps that there were three rocky barriers just before the entrance to the pass. There was one flashing white light that marked the first one, but the others were unlit. We could hear the waves breaking onto them, and barely see them as a "blacker" area in the water. We sailed past the first one, and as we neared the end of the second one, I decided to turn between the second and third "island." Well, that sure got my heart going!
As soon as we entered the pass, the wind got really flukey. We paddled and sailed through the pass, and only hit one mud bank. We got over that quickly and sailed out into Gullivan Bay. I set a course to Panther Key and we had a pleasant sail under clear skies. After a couple of tacks, we landed on a sandy beach on Panther Key. We got camp set up, ate our dinner, and hit the tent. I ended getting up after a few minutes and moved the boat; I was concerned about it floating away (I'm not used to tides...) I got the boat secured and was quickly asleep.