Update time – Crossing The Gulf

Well, where did we leave off?

Fog rolling in to Palafox Pier

Fog rolling in to Palafox Pier

The enclosure is completed, looks mighty fine, the artisans at Coastal Canvas worked their wonders and the full enclosure really looks great.  The 50 amp electrical service is also complete, all new wiring and breakers.  Electrically, we are ready for just about anything, such as the addition of another air conditioning unit….someday<grin>
Dave on the look out

Dave on the look out

Beth’s notes: Before we left, our friends Dave and Joyce came for a sail with us and then we went to Cosmos, an awesome restaurant, in Orange Beach and met up with Mark and Sue. A few days we got our official vessel registration and had a renaming ceremony.

Randy and Dave

Randy and Dave

Randy and Dave

Randy and Dave

Sunset at Orange Beach

Sunset at Orange Beach

Dinnerat Cosmos in Orange Beach with Mark & Sue and Dave & Joyce

Dinnerat Cosmos in Orange Beach with Mark & Sue and Dave & Joyce

  

We have pretty much rounded out our inventory of spare parts, spare pumps, hoses, belts, zincs, etc. and it is time to move on.  Having ice in the bottom of the dinghy pretty much tells the tale, it’s time to head south.  Unfortunately, we won’t have any help this trip.  Stanley has work commitments, and Caroline just can’t take that much time off work.  So, Beth and I are prepping for a two hander across to Port Charlotte Harbour, a trip of about 370 miles or so.
Finally, boat officially renamed to "Moorahme"

Finally, boat officially renamed to “Moorahme”

Tuesday morning, the 6th of December finds us casting off our lines at 8 a.m.  Tony and our new favourite dog Roxy were there to see us off, and we had friendly g’bye waves and best wishes from Harbour Master Ron and Q, the engineer from Nyhaven, the 90 foot Azumit we have discussed previous.  We are kind of sad to leave…the Panhandle area of Florida has a true southern flair, great folks, real friends.  I know that we will be returning there one day soon.
Ready for departure

Ready for departure

Ready for departure 2

Ready for departure 2

Saying goodbye to new friends

Saying goodbye to new friends

is going to be that hardest part of this adventure

is going to be that hardest part of this adventure

We head out Pensacola Bay, and Beth’s cell phone rings..it is Keith, the former owner of Moorahme, calling to wish us a safe journey, and to poke me for not having the head sail up yet.  Going to miss that guy!
jet from airbase

jet from airbase

We hit the pass, the waters are fairly calm, the tide is going out, and we are going out with it.

Rounding the last can in Pensacola Pass

Rounding the last can in Pensacola Pass

Once out of the pass, I hoist the headsail, and we head off to Charlotte Harbour.

Toward the East

Toward the East

It is a beautiful day, winds from the north east 8 to 15 knots, 2 to 3 foot swells out here in the Gulf.  We are making good time, rolling along at 6 knots or better.  The winds die off, and we start the iron lung to help us along.  Beth is beginning to feel just a wee bit sea sick, and she lays down.

Sunset crossing the Gulf 1

Sunset crossing the Gulf 1

Sunset crossing the Gulf

Sunset crossing the Gulf

Around midnight, all hell breaks loose.  The winds have now jumped to 15 to 20 knots, and we are sailing along at a great rate of speed.  Then, our wind indicator shows an apparent wind speed of 35+ knots, and Moorahme jumps to 10.4 knots speed over ground, and is heeling over pretty good.  I tell Beth that we have to reef the sails, we’ve been caught with our pants down, and I prep to go out to the mast by hooking up my safety tether to the jack line.  The winds are not backing off whatsoever, and I instruct Beth to round Moorahme up into the wind so that I can pull down some sail cloth to slow the boat down and maintain control.  Beth is having trouble bringing Moorahme round and holding her there, and we do at least a couple of circles while she tries her best to bring the boat under control.  The headsail halyards are whipping about, and I am quite literally hanging on to the granny bars, a set of chromed bars at the mast which help a person to hang on in rough seas.  I really have no idea what the seas are doing at this point, but I can quite confidently state that they were at least eight foot waves with a fairly short fetch……which means that the waves were very close together and pounding us pretty good.  I finally got half of the mainsail pulled back in, or reefed, and went back to the cockpit to reef in the head sail…not as easy as it sounds…the headsail halyards had loosened off and were getting caught on various items on the deck preventing me from reefing the sail as quickly as I would have liked.  I finally managed to pull the entire head sail in, and headed in to the cockpit, soaking wet with saltwater and sweat….what a fun exercise!  NOT!
Beth meanwhile is very nauseous, and not thrilled at all with the conditions at hand, and quite honestly scared.  Our research on a Stevens 47 had me convinced that these conditions, though adverse, would not be an issue for the boat, but may be for us.  Poor Beth and her seasickness would carry on until we were almost to Port Charlotte Harbour, a trip which ended up taking us some 56 hours, of which Beth was seasick some 49 or so.  Not a pleasant trip for her at all.
Later that day, there were at least 4 dolphins which played at the bow of Moorahme for probably a three miles, or about 25 minutes.  They were so much fun to watch!  The remainder of the day was pretty much taken up with course plottings and taking care of the mess down below which occurred when we heeled over in the heavy winds.  Spending too much time down below was not a good idea for either of us, but the jobs needed to be completed were.
That night, the second overnight leg of the journey, was a long one.  We encountered a lot of cruise ship, freighter and barge traffic, and at night, even though you can see them a long ways off, you still have to maintain a constant vigil on this larger traffic to ensure your own safety.  Thursday morning found us well past St. Pete’s and the larger harbours, and traffic decreased accordingly.  Beth was able to take over the helm and I could get some needed rest.
Going into Port Charlotte Harbour

Going into Port Charlotte Harbour

We arrived at Burnt Store Marina around 3 p.m. on Thursday, and I was quite happy to bring Moorahme into the dock and tie her down.  Our first big saltwater crossing was an eventful one, and one in which we both learned a lot.
Our trip home was great, the car ran flawlessly.   We had rented a car in Punta Gorda, and drove it to Pensacola to pick up our car, which Tony, the canvas man, had stored in his locked compound.  It was great to see him and Roxy again before we left.
We spent Saturday night at Keith and Linda’s home, and we were entertained like royalty.  Special fried shrimp, cheese grits and Turley wine, along with the great companionship of our hosts, made for a wonderful night.  We departed early Sunday morning, and drove to just north of Cincinnati,where we took a room for the night at a nice, new Hampton Inn.
So, that’s a “quick” update for everyone, I’m sure there would have been additional pictures had Beth been feeling better.  Next time!
Keep your stick on the ice!
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2 thoughts on “Update time – Crossing The Gulf

  1. So happy that you made it safe and sound- sea sickness aside. Totally bummed I couldn’t join you as I’m sure Stanley is as well, but you did wonderfully and learned along the way. Aaron will be sad your gone and won’t be here for the parties while he’s home. Take care and keep in touch.
    Caroline

    “The sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet
    so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and
    impatient when least effective.”
    -Henry David Thoreau

    Like

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