Here's Island Breezes, a Pearson 323 sailboat with a Yanmar deisel engine. Dwight bought her last spring. Now it's June, 2007 and we're getting ready for our maiden voyage with her. She's been stored at a slip at Cut's Edge Marina in St. Petersburg, Florida.
This is a closer look at the dodger (keeps wind and rain out) and the bimini top over the cockpit.
A quick look below decks. The settee area with a table and cushion seats that make into a bed. In the background you can just see into the V-berth sleeping area in the bow. There is a "head" with a shower and toilet before the V-berth.
MONDAY, JUNE 11
I flew into Tampa and Dwight met me. He'd arrived a few days earlier by truck. We spent the next week buying supplies, cleaning, repairing and getting the boat ready. It was HOT HOT HOT and humid. Tough acclimatizing. We spent one day with an instructor (Wayne from SV Imagine) who showed us the basics of sailing and how to operate the sail set up on Island Breezes.
SUNDAY, JUNE 17 - SATURDAY JUNE 23
We made our way down the west coast of Florida to Venice and Naples. We ended up staying 2 nights in Venice anchored out. One night and a day in Naples before heading out about 6 PM for the overnight crossing to Marathon in the Florida Keys. The overnight crossing was pretty smooth - not a lot of wind and clear skies - which was the best conditions for us novices! We did have waves coming from the corner of the stern (I think it's called quarter aft) which causes the boat to roll in a very uncomfortable way. I had applied a patch (Scopaloderm) 12 ours earlier. It kept the worst of the motion sickness at bay but I ended up christening the boat. I managed to doze after that.
Altogether, we were 17 hours on the crossing. Almost all of that was out of sight of land. We had the GPS and auto steering so we navigation wasn't a problem. If we'd lost either of those it would have been a different story.
We anchored just outside 7-mile bridge at Marathon and swam and napped before entering Boot Key Harbour. It was our first time to radio a bridgmaster and ask for the bridge to be opened. It was pretty neat. (We need 45 ft clearance.) The master called me "captain" and told me to keep on coming on. I felt like a regular ol' sea dog.
We spent a few nights a Boot Key Marina. The first day I took the Key bus to Key West - a popular tourist spot. The bus ride was interesting and took us through all the small towns/whistle stops along the way. I spent about 2 hours at Key West and most of that was going through the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. Very interesting day for me.
SUNDAY, JUNE 24 - Dwight's entry re: waterspouts
It was another boring day down here in the keys. We started out with grocery shopping, to get set for the next few days of slowly traveling. Then we left our safe little harbour and headed out. We got about two miles when I was feeling uncomfortable about some vibrations and opened the motor hatch to se the motor jumping almost off the mounts. It appeared that the shaft was bent and was rotating off center. It has been a slightly suspect arrangement, and this was bad news, meaning a possible haul-out and expensive repairs. Further inspection revealed that on the coupling between the shaft and the trans. had sheared 3 of 4 bolts, and the coupling was off center, a fact that I discovered later. This was at first so depressing that we just dropped anchor and went over the side for a swim. At least that was fun, and we swam around the boat for about an hour. We were sitting in the cockpit when the radio came on with an excited voice from the harbour we had just left and were a couple of miles away from. Waterspout! Big one, a tornado over water. We looked up and there was a huge funnel cloud forming, which moved from water the touch down on the key just near us. Then a second smaller one formed beside the first. And the first became truly huge, with a smaller one forming in the middle. It was coming towards us, and we were crippled and couldn't make more than about 3mph for fear of shearing the driveshaft completely. The radio was alive with panicked people shouting, and the tornado touched down in the marina we had just left and turned over some dingies at the dock. It was very tense for us, not being mobile. Boats were scattering all around us, but the funnel cloud disaapered. Good! In a few minutes it re-formed and kept on coming. Just like the storms you see on tv. Luckily this one also died out before it came t o us. We regained the key and tied up at a fuel dock, where we visited with a man that had been really friendly in the morning when we fueled, and he said that the twister had gone right over his head, while it was up in the air. He could look into the hole in the center, and see papers and stuff flying around. We visited for a while and he suggested that my shaft probably wasn't bent, as we hadn't hit anything, and said to get new bolts and tighten the coupler. This seems to have worked, and we will try leaving again in the morning. Another dull day down here.
Well, we're making our ways up the Florida Keys to Key Largo. We've abandoned the goal of getting to the Abacos. It would be another week of hard travelling and then it would almost be time for me to come home. Instead, we're going to hang around the Keys and get into holiday mode. I slept until noon today so I'm defintely doing my part.Found the library here in Islamorada so we've stocked up on books (50 cents each) and are able to access e-mail. We found a nice place to snorkel yesterday and saw lots of multi-colored grouper fish and large barracudas. The picture of the lighthouse below is where we snorkeled. The fish congregate underneath and in front of the structure.
We also visited a State Park on Indian Key. It was the site of a small town of 55 people established to get the salvage from ships that would wreck on the shallow reefs just off the island. We also practiced our sailing skills by hauling up the sails and seeing what we could do. We did okay, I think, for awhile but then the wind changed direction and we ended up turning on the motor back on to get to where we wanted to anchor for the night. We had to make our way through several channels dredged through the very shallow water between the Florida mainland and the Florida Keys. We anchored just off the little town of Islamorada. The wind came up pretty good last night but our anchor held. The thunder and lightening show was also pretty good. We'll stay in this anchorage another night and then move a bit further north to Cows Pen. We may take a tour into the Florida everglades on one of those flat bottom boats.
Labels: Sailing Island Breezes