Friday, October 31, 2008
Well, we made it.
It was a TRIP, let me tell you.
We waited almost a week in Goodland. Not because we planned it, but just waiting for a favorable weather window. Florida Bay can be nasty unless you get the right wind, so we waited until the forecast wasn't too bad. Or so we thought.
The forecast for Wednesday into Thursday was for northeast winds 5 to 10 and Bay waters a "light to moderate chop." Well, as I've said before NOAA means "I have NOAA idea what the weather will be." It turned out once we got to the Bay the wind was north at about 20. More on that later.
We started out from Goodland about 9:30 Wednesday morning. The wind was light, but we were able to sail or at least motor-sail all the way to Cape Sable. It was a little on the cool side, but otherwise a pleasant day.
The trouble started around midnight. We passed Cape Sable and entered Florida Bay. The winds picked up and the waves started getting bigger. We were sailing on a dead run when we had two back to back "accidental jibes." The boom slammed first to port and then immediately back to starboard. The huge shock loads from the jibe broke the shackle that holds the main sheet block on the traveler horse. With no way to control the mainsail, we had to take it down and motor.
As we motored along in a steep following sea, the dinghy was surfing on the waves and catching up to us, only to fall back and put shock loads on the tow line. So, at 1:00 AM, I'm hanging off the stern rearranging the tow line to keep the dinghy closer and lessen its movement. Well, somehow I managed to leave a loop of line floating in the water which then proceeded to snag one of the zillion crab pots that dot the Bay. Our speed suddenly dropped from 4.5 knots, to 1 knot. We were actually dragging the crab pot along at one knot!
So, here I am again, hanging off the stern untangling the tow line from the crab pot.
Still, we carried on. We motored on through the night and arrived at the Seven Mile Bridge just after dawn. Once we could see again, we noticed that the pin had come loose from the main throat halyard. The block (one of the heavy old wooden blocks on the boat) was swinging free. Once again, I'm up on the fore deck grabbing the flying block and tying it down.
As we approached the Bridge, a wave broke under us causing the motor to lift clear of the water. The engine revved up wildly and I thought for a minute that we had broken the prop as it didn't settle down when the prop got back into the water. As we got near the bridge, our speed kept dropping and I thought we were losing power. It turned out just to be the tide flowing against us.
Yes it was an adventure. But as these things go, it could have been a lot worse. All night long we kept hearing Coast Guard "pan-pan" messages about a 34 foot wooden ketch that left Isla Mujeres, Mexico on October 20 bound for Fort Myers and now over due. It seems like every time we make a long crossing, we hear about a boat that's overdue.
We hope you enjoyed the "SPOT" messages we sent along this trip. These serve not only to entertain and inform you, but serve an important safety feature. These messages mean that somebody will always know where we are when we are at sea. The SPOT system also can alert the Coast Guard and give them our exact location if we send a distress message. We don't want to be the subject of any "pan-pan" messages that other mariners hear and say "Oh, well, glad it's not us."
Hear are a few pictures of our last anchorage at Goodland, the trip here and of course, Morgan taking bath.
Oh! I almost forgot - Happy Halloween!