Posts Tagged ‘45′ Sailboat’

Memorial Day Weekend

02/28/2010

Sailing on  Florida Bay, in May, was the best sailing I had ever experienced.  The wind was perfect as we made  14 knots.  The sky was deep blue in color, the clouds scattered, not organized as in previous days and the sun was in full force.  While towing the Aruban Queen, both boats were able to throw up our sails, throw off our lines and plow our own paths thru the bay. Each boat tacked back and forth, passing each other, going in opposite directions, waving and yelling at each other as we got closer to Marathon Key. It was the last time that the Aruban Queen would be sailed by her long time companion, Aruba Jim. It was an emotional yet gorgeous day!

For the sake of homage, Jim felt he couldn’t be seen being towed into his home port. Arrangements were made that we would meet up just outside of the waterway leading to the marina. Since Jim knew the area, he led the way in and dropped the anchor.  Followed up by the Flying Dutchman, we came in somewhat close and dropped anchor as well.  

Lucia, the French passenger aboard the Aruban Queen, jumped off of the boat and swam over to the Flying Dutchman.  She climbed up the swim platform and onto the boat, wearing only her thong bathing suit.  She couldn’t wait any longer to tell us about how our water balloon had wiped out Jim’s lunch. I couldn’t help watching Michael’s face as he stood there listening to Lucia, standing there with only her bathing suit bottoms on.  He seemed to keep eye contact with her, all the while his face was beet red. Between listening to her story and watching Michael, my stomach hurt from laughing.

 Jim had called the marina  ahead of time and had arranged for a boat slip for us for several days.  His last request was that Michael use his dingy boat, with a motor and escort the Aruban Queen into her boat slip.  Side to, Michael threw his arm up on the side rails as tho he were having a casual conversation with Jim and pushed the Queen right into her slip. No one knew or even suspected that there was engine trouble.

As the Flying Dutchman moved up the waterway into the marina, it looked like a fun place to visit.  The water was clear blue-green and schools of fish could be spotted in almost every direction. Large rocks lined the entrance way into the marina and on the right side was a long inlet and on the point were several living room chairs, a sofa and a small refrigerator.  It was obvious this was the gathering point to catch the sunset.  As we entered the marina the boat slips were filled with every type of boat imaginable.  People were standing  along the docks watching, waving and ready to take a line.  Once the Flying Dutchman was secured in a slip and the engine motor was shut off, people came over to chat and visit.  It was a true party atmosphere.

Later that day, in came Gin from Alabama and Tom. As the sun set, we were all able to sit on the Flying Dutchman while having a cold one and reflect on the last 24 hours.

 Picture taken in the Flying Dutchman cockpit, seated left to right; Tom, Miss Boston, Gin and Aruba Jim.  We were all “salty”  looking to say the least.

Lucia on board the Flying Dutchman the night we rafted up in Shark River.  Didn’t take any shots of her while sunbathing, she probably wouldn’t have minded.

Next Time!

Advertisements

Sailing South for the Winter Part II

11/04/2009

Part II

The following day, we  each took our turns at the wheel. But there was lots of free time on our hands.  I like to be doing something most of the time, so I would clean anything I could.  We  also took turns at cooking the meals.  Everyone else had either a gadget to mess with or a book to read.  I could never slow down enough in the past to read so I didn’t even bring a book.  Then the issue came up of Felicia.  She was only able to pull one of her shifts and was down sick the rest of the time.  When she felt a bit better she would come up on deck, with blanket and pillow, and lay down on one side of the cockpit which would force four of us to sit on one side.  At this point Michael decided that we would continue on all night all the way to Jacksonville, FL..  Michael and I took the 2 am to 6 am shift.  I took the first two hours and Michael took the next.  Everyone else had retreated to their cabins for the night, so I grabbed my pillow and blanket and layed down beside him.  There were lots of stars out that night.  It was so very dark.  The wind was on the port quarter and we were sailing at a good clip.  All you could hear was the sound of  splashing on the side of the boat as we made way thru the water. I was almost a sleep when out of the blue Michael yells “Oh my God, What is that?” I jumped up (out of my skin) looked in the direction he was looking, behind the boat, and there were two tubular shaped figures coming up very fast.  He thought they were torpedoes.  He explained later that we were passing Kings Island where the U.S. has a big submarine base.  We were also 20 miles off the coast which is where the subs like to come to the surface and he was watching for them.  With all this going through his mind in the middle of the black ocean, torpedoes seemed logical.   But as they got closer, we realized they were dolphin approaching the boat at a high rate of speed and the phosphorous  was lighting them up as they went along.  So they glowed.  It was wild looking. The excitement was enough to keep him awake until the end of the shift.  I knotted off until the sun was in my eyes and noticed the humidity had risen substantially.

As I sat up and looked around the sun was extremely bright, and the strong scent of salt was in the air.  Over to our port side was a huge ocean liner headed in the opposite direction. The difference in size between our boat, the Flying Dutchman, and the ocean liner was immense.  It took my breath away.  I thought “If he hit us, he’d never know it”.  We were approaching Jacksonville, Florida Inlet .  The ocean liner was one of many huge vessels moving up and down the inlet that morning.  As we approached Florida, our quiet stretches of sailing would be few and far between.  The term “snow birds” started to make sence to me.  Florida had a “hum” to it.  There were people, and every kind of boat you could imagine on the water.  This seemed to be the dividing line from cold weather to warm, each had a price.  Navigating on the Intercostal Waterway (ICW) was similar to I95 or I75 on a Sunday afternoon.  Up till now, Michael would be doing maintenance on the lines or the engine or studying the charts down below.  Now, he stayed close by and kept the charts up top.  With all of the commotion of life going on, he had to stay on his toes at all times.

A couple of days passed, now it is Thanksgiving Day.  Thinking that it was a family holiday, there may not be as many boats on the water.  Our location is still the ICW and we were approaching Juno Beach, Fl.  The waterways characteristics started to change from here south.  It had the appearance of a suburban neighborhood.  Houses were lined along the waterway with canals that fed into it like fingers or streets that fed into a main road.  The smell of turkey dinners permeated the air.  We hadn’t planned for a turkey dinner that day and hot dogs were on the menu.  Needless to say I was salivating for homemade bread, baked turkey, dressing, green beans, cranberry salad and pecan pie.  I failed to mention earlier, spending time on the water had a way of keeping me hungry.  I spent lots of time thinking of “what would be good right now”.  Especially when I had no way of getting it.  This frame of mind drove Michael crazy.  He barked at me once “keep your thoughts to yourself”.  As the day wore on, the number of boats on the water increased.  The wake from the “fast boats” churned the water up and had the “fishbowl” effect.  It was very uncomfortable with the constant up and down motion of the boat.  If anyone was drinking anything, they had to keep it in their hand, otherwise it would be knocked over.

To date each of us were still taking our turn on the wheel, all except Falicia.  She had stayed in the parallel position most of the way .  She seemed mostly tired all the time.  It put Michael in an awkward position, due to the fact that “her spot” was intended to be a “paying position”.  And she had not payed her way nor was she able to work.  After discussing the sensitive topic with her husband Bruce, Michael realized they had no intention of paying and expected meals as well. As the boat approached Fort Lauderdale, it was determined that the boat needed some maintenance work.  We docked at a Marriot where Michael gave Bruce and Falicia the proverbial “boot”.   It was then that Michael announced the alternator wasn’t working and needed replaced. He was a good mechanic and needed someone to pick up the part while he worked on the boat.   I volunteered and headed down the docks, thru the Marriott and out to the street where there were several taxi cabs sitting waiting for business.   The first one that approached me was a tall young dirty blond guy.  He opened my door for me, ran around and got back in the car, turned and asked me where I was headed.  I told him the Napa and he started driving.  It was then that I noticed the naked Barbi Doll leg hanging from a chain on his rear view mirror.  All I could think of was “Oh God, If I get to where I’m going and back to the boat, it will be a wonder.”  He tried to drum up conversation, but I was a little “weirded”  out to talk.  Fort Lauderdale turned out to be an interesting/wide open town.  We passed several strip clubs along the way and the people were very interesting.  Thankfully, I got the part I needed and was back on the boat safely.  Michael fixed the problems and we were off and sailing again.

Sailing South for the Winter Part I

11/04/2009

Flying Dutchman

It was the middle of November and we were already off to a late start for heading south.  The temperatures at night had dipped into the low 40’s.   A sure sign that colder weather was on its’ way.  People were applying for the position of crew, to sail to the west coast of Florida from the outer banks of  North Carolina.  This would be a situation where the crew member paid for their passage way in exchange for experience on the  45′ single masted, sloop rig sailboat.  A colorful selection of people were willing to go, but only a very few seemed reliable.  The Flying Dutchman was a comfortable boat with three staterooms , two heads, a large saloon and workable galley. This would be a trip of comfort mainly.  All that was required was someone to man the wheel on a regular schedule and we broke it down into shifts.  Three people were committed for the trip.  There was Bruce and Felicia, a mid-aged couple from New England, and a young solid, muscular lady named Linda from North Carolina, along with the Captain Michael and myself.  I was mainly a deck hand due to the limited amount of time I had spent on the water.

A time was arranged for everyone to meet on the Flying Dutchman at 6pm , the night before departure.  Each of us filtered on board, one by one, introducing ourselves to each other.  We were all feeling a bit apprehensive about the long journey ahead.  Bruce brought on board several expensive nautical “toys”/electronics and was overjoyed and eager to share them with the Captain.  Linda’s nervousness had surfaced by her quick, constant chatter and Michael was geared up and had already started telling stories of “I remember when and what to expect ahead”.  I began looking around for Bruce’s wife, Felicia, who was no where in site.  When I discovered a pause in conversation I jumped in to ask “Where is Felicia?”.  It was then that Bruce broke the news that she had been ill and would meet us later on the trip.  Michael wasn’t too happy to have just learned that he was one crew member short and was contemplating finding her replacement but decided against it.

The following morning I was awaken by the sound of the engine running and people moving around on deck. As I made way up top,  I was just in time to see Michael on the wheel and Bruce tossing the lines from the pilings on deck.  Our journey had begun. The first day we made it as far as Beuford, North Carolina.  It was a salty looking water town with many boats that looked like they had been at anchor for a long time.  We dropped the hook as well, had dinner and off to bed.  The next morning was much like the first.  The men were up early and ready to roll.  The day before we had traveled down the Pamlico Sound. Today we would go out thru the channel to the Atlantic Ocean and go on the outside all the way to Charleston, SC.  The weather had been great so far and this day was no exception.  The temperature was in the 60’s and the sun felt good.  It was one of those feelings again where you could sit on the front of the deck, smell the salt air and watch the world go by.  Sailing was better than any dope you could buy and the feeling of freedom made me want to lay down and take a nap, I’ve said that before.   I must admit, that life on land conditioned my mind to go fast.  Everything was go, go, go.  This trip had of way of forcing me to slow down.  It was tough to do at first, but I adapted quickly.  When we arrived at our destination for that evening, it was  at a marina where the people were very hospitable.   When the sun went down it was cold and your winter coat was in order.  There was a deck hand to greet us that took  our lines, tied up the boat and then proceeded to tell us what was in the area.  Bruce had arranged for Falicia to meet us there.  When she arrived we all decided to go to a nice seafood restaurant and have dinner.  The restaurant had a delivery service where they would come to you and pick you up and then bring you back.  The moment we got into the car and began ridding, I had a feeling of dizziness and felt like we were speeding excessively down the road.  I leaned over to Michael and said “Geez, how fast are we going?”.  Michael laughed and said “Not even 40 mph”.  Motoring and sailing all day we never exceeded 8 mph, talk about slowing your mind down,  and that was two days of sailing that got me to that point.  Our dinner was enjoyable and getting off of the boat for a short while was a nice diversion.

Weekend Cruise

10/28/2009

breezin upThe time of year was Autumn, ironically, and this was going to be my first “long trip” cruise.  We were headed to a place that would take six hours by water. Didn’t need to bring much in the way of clothing; extra shirt, jeans, warm jacket and rain gear.  So it didn’t take me long to get ready.  As for Michael, the captain of the “Flying Dutchman”, 45′ Sailboat,  he had more to attend to than I was aware of, such as checking over the engine, batteries, filling the water tanks and I can’t leave out socializing with all the other neighborhood boaters. Upon my arrival I was handed a handful of cash and was asked to run to the store for food. He said pick up anything, I like about everything.  (His famous last words.)  When I returned with the groceries it became evident that he didn’t like most of everything I bought. He was a good sport about it and said hop on board and grab a line.   Then we were off.

It was a gorgeous day. You know how vivid blue the sky gets in the autumn and how the trees will turn bright yellow, orange, red and hot pink, right before they fall off the trees?  Well it was that kind of day.  We headed out into the Roanoke Island Sound.  It was wider than any river or lake I had ever seen and there was no one else in sight. Such a rare experience for a landlubber.  Not many places you can go where there isn’t someone else around.  I loved it!  As we headed around the port island and turned the nose to the north, the sails were pulled out and the southwest wind filled both sails.  Then it was time to turn off the engine.  The only sound now was the wind and boat moving thru the water and the occasional seagull or osprey. The boat was large enough that you could talk awhile, wander to another part of the boat and soak in all that the wind, water, and sky had to offer.  It was difficult to not take a nap.  Funny how nature alone can make you forget all the loud noise in your head. The time went by quickly.

As the sun was going down we were approaching the 65′ bridge that spanned the outer banks to the mainland.  Being that Michael had a wicked since of humor, while studying the chart,  he told me that the mast on the boat was too tall to go under the bridge and we were approaching the bridge at a good clip.  My stress-less day just came to an end and I began to get a mind picture of the mast hitting the bridge, the boat sinking and us swimming to shore.  As the mast approached the bridge it looked as tho the radio antenna, at least, was going to hit the bridge.  But we passed smoothly without a collision. I can still see  Michael now with that big “shit eating” grin.

On approach to the town of Edenton, the sun set and the sky was filled with streaks of colors of red,  yellows, orange and grays.  Once it got dark, it seemed to take us forever to get to where we were going.  Eventually the moon came up, the lights on shore came on, making it difficult to see the markers.  Navigation at night became a whole different  set of rules. Thankfully, Michael had done this before and navigated his way to the town docks. We had arrived.

After spending two nights at Michael’s sisters beautiful Victorian Home, and one day touring the quaint sound-side town, we were back on the boat early headed back to Roanoke Island.   While underway I went below and fixed myself a bowl of cerial, went back up on deck, sat down and ate.  I remember thinking ” I could do this everyday”.  The freedom that I felt went down to my core.  I could feel it in my veins. Sounds silly, but the feeling was Real. We took our time sailing back that day. On a scale of 1 to 10, the day was another 10.  The wind was on our side.

Michael took the opportunity to tell me a few things about sailing such as navigation, man overboard drills and weather.  At one point he was so into what he was doing that he turned the wheel hard to the right and until the boat was turning in a large circle, after all we were the only ones out there so it seemed.  It wasn’t too long until we heard, over the vhf radio, someone hailing the sailboat asking if we were alright.  We knew then that we weren’t alone. In a way it was good to know incase we ran into trouble.

Later that day we arrived back at our home port, Roanoke Island.  As we approached the dock, I grabbed a line and took a turn on a piling, then the next piling,  while Michael at the wheel turned off the engine and the electronics.  We stepped off of the boat and walked down the dock. It was then that I felt like I had left a part of myself behind on the boat. Once again, we had a perfect day.


%d bloggers like this: