Thursday, February 4, 2016
It had been a beautiful day of sailing. We were making our way past Sanibel Island on the outside passage in the open ocean. Sailing conditions were good. We'd had a late start due to heavy fog so we knew we'd be anchoring in the dark. That didn't bother me as we'd night sailed often enough before.
Unfortunately we got tired and decided to go in at Captiva Pass so we could anchor and rest. Bad decision. We placed too much reliance on our paper charts and chart plotter. Hindsight being 20 20, we should have gone in at the much larger Boca Grande Pass up the coast.
In short, we hit an unmarked shoal. Where my plotter said we should have 17 feet of water, we had two feet. The transition from deep water to shallow was too quick to react. The boat grounded, hard. We tried repeatedly to get off the shoal, but the wind and breakers kept throwing us back on.
The boat was tossing violently from side to side and were starting to take a beating. We decided to abandon ship. The boat was rocking so violently that my lovely wife was thrown onto the tiller and it cracked. With some difficulty I was able to assist my wife and dog into the kayak. I ducked back into the cabin to get our go bag that had basic survival supplies. I added my c-pap, my wife's pocketbook with her medications, and her cell phone. Conditions were worsening by the moment. Several attempts later I was able to untie the kayak and successfully jumped into it.
We could see lights on North Captiva Island so we headed for shore. With water breaking on the shoals all around us, we paddled towards the lights. After a while we could hear surf pounding, but were unsure if it was more shoaling or the beach -too dark to see much of anything. Deciding it was probably the beach, we surfed in on a big wave and made a successful landing. Our Sea Eagle kayak really came though for us that night.
Some lights from beach houses were visible and we could just barely make out a trail. I sent my lovely wife to knock on the door of the first house we came too. I'm kinda big and ugly looking in the dark, especially after washing up on a beach. A wonderful couple on their first day of vacation took us in. Our cell phone had no service on the island so they let me borrow the land line. I called 911 and let them know what happened and had them dispatch EMS to check my wife. Outside of a few bumps, bruises and exhaustion, she was fine. Better safe than sorry.
I called my boat insurance company, Boat US, and they put me in contact with the Charlotte Harbor Tow Boat people run by Captain Kyle. They sent a boat out right away. I paddled back out to try to help the guys. The boat was tossing too violently to get back on-board. The tow boat was in danger of getting stuck on the shoals so I tried to tie a tow line on the bow cleat. With the boat bouncing violently and with waves breaking over me, my cleat work wasn't the best. The tow line came free and I wasn't going to attempt it again. The kayak was so full of water by the time I got to shore that I couldn't even flip it over to drain it. Fortunately, the 420 model has self bailing drains and by opening one of those enough water drained so the kayak could be dragged up the beach.
The kind beach people let us sleep on their couches and made us breakfast in the morning. Kyle and his crew were right back at it first thing in the morning. They tried to rescue the boat, but during the night's pounding the keel came off. They barely got off when the boat flipped over on its side and sank. As a hazard to navigation the wreck of the sailing vessel Morning Glory became a huge liability issue. Fortunately I'd gotten liability insurance and Boat US covered the salvage costs. It took three tow boats and their crews to get the boat, still mostly submerged, back to their base on Pine Island.
Kyle gave us a lift to Pine Island and called a cab for us. My wallet was lost, but fortunately my wife's purse had a debit card. Unfortunately she did not have the cards that accesses most of our funds. Those were in my lost wallet. We barely had enough funds to pay for a cab ride and a rental car. We got to my step-mom's with just the cloths on our backs and a deflated kayak.
The boat is a total loss. Kyle will save any personal items he finds, but he says the boat's pretty open. Much was lost to the sea. We lost almost all of our personal possessions. I'm writing this on a borrowed computer as mine's gone. We don't even have toothbrushes or a hair brush. It will take some time to rebuild our finances and replace our necessities. In the end though, it's all just stuff. My lovely wife and I, and even the dog, are all right.