Cortez Small Boat Festival - By Stephen Luta

April 1 and 2

Had a great time at Cortez.  It will be a must for me next year.  I took hundreds of photos.  Saw a few WCTSS and CBA members there.  I sailed up on Wednesday and Thursday.  Wednesday I got a late start but luckily all the tides throughout the trip favored me except for two inlet entrances.  On the way up NOAA had the wind directions correct but the strengths wrong.  Mornings and early afternoon winds were light out of SE which clocked around to strong 10-15 NW by mid afternoon.  First day was 40nm from Cape Coral to Stump Pass. I sailed up Pine Island Sound and entered the Gulf at Boca Grande. They are dredging the pass.  It is well marked and deep; however I entered on a full flood and encountered 3-4 knots of current.

Got an earlier start on Thursday and motor sailed in the Gulf with light SE winds which clocked to the NW with strengths intensifying into the afternoon.  I entered the Cortez inlet at full flood and needed all the Gimli's 30HP Yanmar and 3 bladed prop as I went under the bridge.  Current had to be close to 4 knots.

The bay has numerous shoals and was very tricky to navigate even with Gimli's 2 foot draft.  I motored back to where the festival was being organized.  The channel was very narrow.  While maneuvering I rapped the dingy painter on the prop and it came adrift.  (OK - Gene you were correct on putting noodles on the painter).  I dropped the anchor in the channel, all of 20 feet wide and went for swim to retrieve the dingy.  Once back, I was able to untangle and cut the line from the prop.  I was glad I had sharpped my knife before the trip. 

A cook from the Cortez Kitchen came out and shouted that I could not anchor there.  I explained my circumstances.  The then wanted to know if I need a dinner reservation.  All this while I was hanging over the dingy with my arm pits on the gunwales.  I politely declined the dinner reservation. 

I motored back to the harbor and anchored off the Coast Guard Station in 8 feet of water. 

Al and Cindy Davis (Sanderling) joined me for a sail.  I was going to race with the group but the area they chose to race in was a little lean and I had my fill of dragging Gimli's bottom across the bars in that harbor.  I enjoyed a quite night on board Thursday. 

I took the walking tour on Friday and had the best seafood lunch at the Cortez Kitchen.  Friday's presentation on the demise of the fishing industry in Florida was very informative. 

Saturday's messing about was great.  The workman ship of these sailing craft was very impressive.  I have lots of photos. 

Saturday's dinner and speaker were magnificent.  There was talk of having next year's festival a week a part from Cedar Key. 

I started home on Sunday sailing the ICW.  I had never sailed on Sarasota Bay.  It was beautiful, like sailing on an aquarium.  Venice was like a scene from Jaws. Boats, people, and music everywhere.  The channel adjacent to the airport was depressing, but it did open to some very nice bays.  I anchored in Cape Haze.  Winds were light from the NW and increased all day with out a change of direction.  

Monday started out light with NW winds again.  I broad reached down Pine Island Sound as winds increased.  I put a couple of reefs in but eventually dropped sail and motored.  Fatigue was getting to me. 

Loved the trip and will do it again next year. 

Stephen Luta    - Catboat Gimli  AC24