Posts Tagged ‘Motorsailing’

Sailing South for the Winter Part III

11/06/2009

As we left Fort Lauderdale, it was down to three of us,  Michael, Linda and myself.  It felt like a new start.  We didn’t realize the tension we were under  and were relieved that we were back on the ICW. Next stop was a place to eat dinner.  We weren’t under way for long when I decided to get a quick shower to clean up.  Thinking that it would be awhile before we stopped, I stepped into the shower.  I could here people talking and laughing, lots of people.  I was very disoriented and looked out the port to find that we had docked the boat right up against a restaurant dock where people were sitting outside having dinner. We had arrived at Le Tub, near Hollywood Beach.  As I worked my way up on deck I could see the lights that lit up the water which were a clear lime green.  And in the water were these huge Catfish.  They looked to be 3-4′ long.  The people sitting on the dock were throwing pieces of bread into the water and the fish were as if “in a frenzy”.  I would not have liked to have fallen in the water at that time.  The restaurant was open to the outside . It wasn’t fancy.  Just the kind of place where you wouldn’t mind spending some time.  The music was great, as well as the food.  There were pool tables, dart boards and if I remember correctly, sofas and soft chairs arranged in a living room order.  We had dinner,while enjoying the warm breezes blowing across the place. Drank beer, played pool and darts until it got late.  Afterwards we got back onto the boat, untied the lines, motored across the lake, dropped anchor and made plans for the following day.

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The sun was up early, and so was Michael.  Linda and I had heavy heads and were moving slow. After we all had our coffees, we got underway.  We still had a few hours  before we got south of Miami.  It was a Saturday morning and the ICW was rocking.  I had never seen so many Cigarette boats with so many tanned bodies all in one place.  When we headed out the inlet at Miami,  a submarine had surfaced and was tooling along above the water.  It was a British Sub and  was lined with Sailors standing side by side along the entire deck(manning the rail).  They were wearing white shorts that went to their knees, with white knee socks  and hats that went flat across the top of their heads. They all looked like Gopher on the Love Boat.  And they were waving to everyone.  Linda and I couldn’t wave enough at these guys.  They were a sight to see, so was their boat!  Boats were zooming past us, coming from every direction.  How anyone kept from hitting each other I’ll never know.  It was early for a Saturday and the Marine Patrol was running people down and giving them tickets.  As we continued south, the traffice died down.  At the north end of Biscayne Bay you could see a tiny island with houses built on stilts.  The island had no roads or electricity.  It was too small.  It looked like a great place to “getaway” to.  I learned years later that the houses were distroyed in hurricane Andrew.

The water was a crystal blue, green color.  It was so pretty.  There was no way to gauge just how deep the water was.  Looking over the side of the boat, you could see fish and coral.  Linda and Michael put me in a Bosuns Chair and with help of the wench, ran me up the 60′ mast.  The view was great!  From up there I could see large turtles. I couldn’t stay up there for long.  The rocking back and forth motion of the boat going over the small waves, was very abusive up top.  I had to wrap my leg around the mast and each time the boat hit a wave, my body was slammed into the mast.  Can only do that so many times.  I remember Linda got tired winding the wench, running me up to the top and Michael had to run me up the rest of the way.  Coming down was a sinch.  It was just like repelling.

As we sailed passed Matecumbe in the Keys, we turned starboard which was a short cut through Florida Bay.  This way we didn’t have to go around to Key West.  We had put in a full day and dropped anchor on the west side of the Keys, near Duck Key.  We stopped early enough to fix a great dinner, have a cold beer and watch the sunset.  I knew then that I was going to love spending time on the water here.  I felt like I should  pinch myself to see if I was awake.  Michael had set up the hammock earlier. Then pulled out his guitar and played us a few tunes.  We were only one day away from our destination, Marco Island, Florida.  The next day was spent in open water most of the time and the highlight of the day was watching the flying fish.  They would pop out of the water, at a good clip, sail thru the air and land a few yards away.  Sometimes the fish would even land in the boat.  We arrived at Marco Island right before sunset.  Michael docked the boat at a restaurant called O’Sheay’s.  He was known here and many people were excited to see him.  It was a shock to be around so many people after spending two weeks on the water.  Linda had a time table she had to stick to.  We all had dinner and a farewell party.  The next day she was headed back to North Carolina.  Thru out the day Michael had friends coming and going from the boat.  My head was still on the water sailing.  While Michael and his friends spent time catching up, I would sneek off down below in the boat, and take a nap.  The year was 1990 and cell phones were not as popular as they are today.  The only way of communication amoung the boaters was to use the VHF radio.  Each person had their own call sign.  Since I was new to boating, I had yet to have a name.  I was deemed “The Sleeper”.

After spending several days at the docks at O’Sheay’s, we decided to take the boat out into the Marco River and drop the anchor.  Life out on the anchor was much more like a vacation than life at the docks.  I had almost forgotten that we were there to do charter work. But that was fine. I would enjoy it anyway.

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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.


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