Dry Tortugas Run III

Time in the Dry Tortugas just wasn’t long enough. After a couple of days of snorkeling, sun bathing, touring the Fort, and eating seafood, we all had to get back to Marco Island and go back to work.  The lifestyle was so laid back, that the mind had a way of forgetting everything it was chewing on before the trip.  We left early in the morning.  I hadn’t been cruising long enough to know all of the in’s and outs, and do’s and don’ts while cruising. I had cooked a big breakfast for everyone but the guys were eager to get underway.  I remember handing two plates of potato pancakes up to the deck-sides only to have them handed back down the companion way steps to me.  Michael’s words were sincere but firm “Thanks Shannon, but no thanks! Save this for another time“.  I was a bit ticked off that he didn’t save me the trouble of cooking breakfast.  But then again, I didn’t talk it over with him either.  He was preoccupied with listening to the weather report and getting everything in order for the sail back.  As the morning progressed, I understood why my breakfast had been turned down.

The weather forecast was calling for winds 25 to 35  knots out of the NW, seas choppy 5-6′.  The nose of the boat continued to move up and down as it reached one wave and went down the next. The waves were hitting the  port quarter, rocking the boat from starboard to port, back and forth.  We could tell Kim was already starting to feel bad, as she paced back and forth on the deck sides.  Her face was very pale and she didn’t look very happy. Our bodies were stressed as we braced ourselves to take each wave steadily. As the morning progressed, we realized that the seas were the least of our concerns.  While Doug was at the wheel, the motor cut off.  Michael went below to diagnose the problem, only to find that the injector pump was bad.  He broke the news that we were going to have to sail back to Marco Island without the help of the engine.  Which turned a 15 hour trip into a 30 +  hour trip. This meant we couldn’t navigate straight from the Dry Tortugas to Marco Island, we were going to have to tack according to whatever direction the wind was coming from.

Kim and I both had our share of time on the wheel.  My longest stint was from 3am to after sunrise.  Everyone was exhausted from fighting the wind and the waves all day and night.  Kim had gone below to sleep, and Michael was crashed on the sofa down in the saloon and Doug was asleep in the cockpit. While on the wheel  we had to keep an eye on the sails and keep the boat headed in the direction that kept the sails full of wind.   But right as the sun was coming up I noticed a small boat way off in a distance up ahead.  The wind had tapered off to  a gentle breeze and any turn to port or starboard would cause the sails luff and lose their wind and the boat would slow down.  While I watched the sun come up it was invigorating to watch the colors change on the water and in the sky.  The water had laid down.  It was quiet and beautiful with no one else around.  I felt like I was on top of the world.

While keeping an eye on the closing distance between us and the small boat ahead,  we were moving slow enough that I was able to judge wether or not we could pass safely without changing course.  As we sailed closer, I could see there were two men in the small boat, each had a fishing line in the water and a blue cooler in between the two of them.  We passed them on our port side, close enough to say “Good morning” almost in a whisper tone.  The men each smiled and returned the greeting. Doug immediately throws his head up, looks around,  and says  “DAMN SHANNON! Think you passed close enough?”   Then he sat up, shook his head and lit a cigarette, ” I’m awake now“,  he said in a surly tone.

As Marco Island came into view, it still took us several hours to get to the inlet as we tacked north, then south, then north again, several times over.  We arrived back at the docks at The Snook Inn around 11AM.  After we unloaded all the gear, Michael asked me what I thought of the trip and I had to say “I loved the Dry Tortugas and I learned with sailboats, when Plan A falls thru, you can always count on Plan B to get you home.”


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7 Responses to “Dry Tortugas Run III”

  1. Stacie Says:

    Ha…I was always lucky not to get sick in high seas…I loved it…and I know what you mean about being on top of the world out there…I miss it terribly…

  2. frigginloon Says:

    Tacking, now that is always a challenge, especially with the boom! Our family had a catamaran when I was a teenager and my favorite part was riding high and they suddenly turning it around. It was my “no fear” days.

  3. wenchhandle Says:

    That would be a lot of fun, especially during a hard blow. Although the boom has been known to tag a few people in the past, knocking them overboard, knocking them out, even out for good.
    You sound like a daredevil:)

    • frigginloon Says:

      I wiped my dad out once with the boom. I forget to say “watch out the friggin booms going to hit you on….” I had to fish him out. Wasn’t at all pretty 😦

      • wenchhandle Says:

        Was that the last time you went sailing?

      • frigginloon Says:

        No I had sea legs until I went to University, now I get sea sick at the drop of a hat. I think I must have some issue with my inner ears. I was suppose to film on the Endeavour replica when it sailed around the world but I had to fly to Europe for another job. Lucky I guess would have been violently ill, they went through some pretty rough weather!

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