Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Winter Home, Naples Florida

Moored Starboard Side too, Naples Florida
Partly cloudy, high 70's

My sail from Marathon to Naples surely was one of the most trying sails I've had in my life. Total distance was just over 100 nm and I was hard on the wind or close reaching for the entire distance, rail down in 20 knots plus. Westsail's are very tough boats indeed and I am thankful, once again that I spent the money and time to oversize the rigging and care for the boats systems. The strain on the rig is immense during trips like the one I just had. Florida Bay, of which I just covered is not open ocean, but it churns up a steep chop that is very difficult, especially for such a wide beam, as Christa has. In order to keep the boat moving through a steep chop, I must carry maximum sail area, if not each wave will just serve to stop Christa in her tracks. This means being over canvased, which means the boat is out of balance, which means the windvane struggles to keep Christa on track. This results in more wandering back and forth which adds to the amount of distance and time one must pound into the weather. Such was the case. Why go? Did I violate my rule of waiting for appropriate weather? I went because I very much wanted to get to my destination prior to Christmas and with the weather pattern, I would have spent another two weeks, maybe more in Marathon. And I did violate my weather rule, but not exceedingly.

Christa, in her normal fashion took very good care of me. I have become a better sailor since I left in 2007 and can make her sail to windward when needed. The problem is, it takes a lot of work to keep her moving. To explain: The wind is not perfectly consistant. Sometimes the wind would plus up and I'd be moving at 6.5 to 6.8 much pounding. I head up on deck and reef the main..or or strike the jib and raise the staysail. With things dialed in....maybe a few minutes later, the wind would ease just enough where the steep chop would take over and we'd be moving at 3.5 knots or sometimes we'd hit just 1 knot. No good. I'd crack on more sail, keep things situated and lay down. This cycle lasted the entire trip. This results in zero sleep. I perservered despite the cold and constant spray and by 6am, I was getting some relief due to the proximity of land. I was truly bolstered with the imagery of beautiful Naples and the safe and secure dock floating around my tired knoggin. As the sun was rising in the east I was entering Gordon's Pass into Naples. Things kind of unraveled at this point.

I was very very tired, not just sleep wise, but physically, hands tore up, back hurting, just running low. Speaking of low, just as I was making my last turn under power into the canal, no more than two hundred yards from my final destination, I ran aground. This was not totally unexpected, but demoralizing in the extreme. I back off the bank and back into the intercoastal waterway.

You see all of Naples is hellishly shallow, an inch outside the channel and you may run aground in your bass tracker. None of the charts are accurate, shoaling is occuring all the time and the dredge is always sucking up mud some where locally. I was considering the fact I may not be able to get to the dock at all. I had taken a turn to negative town, in fact I checked into N town and lobbied the mayor and ran aground again. I backed out and headed to the town marina to get situated and ran aground off the town dock. Lovely. I eventually made it onto a mooring, after nearly grounding in the mooring field.

John Gamble to the rescue. My buddy John who is down here for the holidays, hopped into a boat and came over to Christa at the mooring to get a game plan together and generally talk me off the ledge.  We rallied. We simply started sounding out the channel and found one. Old school style, we lined the stern up on a big ole mansion, pointed the bow toward a boat on a lift, came within 5 feet of the boat, came starboard and stayed close in to the breakwater and finally turned into Mike and Amy's canal. Game on! We watched a movie waiting for the tide to rise to maximum, retrieved Christa and motored on in with tow feet under the keel to spare. Beautiful.

Thankful, happy, relieved, overjoyed. These are words that spring to mind after a long and deep sleep last night. I'm back in the saddle.

This concludes my active sailing for awhile and my life now takes a turn. I really hope that you all, the blog readers will continue to check in with me as I re-direct my life. I plan on getting a job, but also I have all kinds of projects on the boat planned and this will be relevant for boat people.

A special shout out to Mike and Amy for allowing me to tie up to their beautiful spot and plug into the world. And to my bud John, who once again came through when moral was low. And the readers of the blog. With all the information to digest, the shear number of blogs, I still marvel at the fact anyone stops by mine, let alone reads it regularly. Thank you!

Capt Chris

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rolling to Naples

On a mooring Boot Key Harbor, Marathon Florida Keys

I have the best weather window I can see for sometime and so I think I'll take it. The temperatures are down right cold for Florida. I don't want to belly ache about it to much. But when your sailing with temps in the low 60's with a biting 20 knot northeast wind and salt spray, it can get cold. I should be close reaching for the 90 miles to Naples and hope to arrive at the entrance to Naples harbor by sunrise tomorrow. If I chicken out, I'll let you know!

Capt Chris

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Galliot Cut to Sampson Cay Video

On a mooring, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon Florida Keys

Man is it cold! Only in the 60's here in the keys. Burrr. So here is my latest video editing effort. I need to put in a disclaimer. The videos I post only show, generally optimal sailing conditions. I do not shoot video during the bad times, hard on the wind, cabin a disaster, spray flying all over the place, smell of fuel, mold in the bread ect ect. This is kind of a shame in that it gives a false impression of what sailing long term is really like. Who wants to see some sweaty dude humping 5 gallon water jugs all over the place? Or the distress when your buying yet another can of Vienna Sausages for dinner. There are aspects that can't be captured, but only experienced. For all the budding cruisers, I recommend racheting down the bliss factor a notch or two.


Capt Chris

PS: You'll notice in the center of the video, a glare or some kind of a blob. Well I dropped the Flip Video camera and cracked the lens. The the crack is impacting some of the quality. Sorry bout that.