Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Solo Sail Key West To Jacksonville Florida

Pink View has left DevOcean

Sorry ladies I'm not a bachelor, Linda has only left early to go see the kids, our grandchild and get some of our personal stuff organized. I will solo sail DevOcean from Key West to Jacksonville, Florida and that's what I'm blogging about. 

Linda has been and I bet is still a nervous wreck, she gave me a large list of do's and dont's while I sail DevOcean solo. Now I have solo sailed DevOcean before in the North Channel, but never for this long and in unfamiliar waters. I will travel approximately 500 nautical miles doing only day sails. When we are both onboard, we have some safety rules we follow, but this time I will follow them more religiously, I don't want to end up a statistic. Things such as wearing my life jacket constantly, using my safety harness in the day time, not taking any chances, reducing sails early, and not getting overtired, Linda's pet worry. You may read this and say these are common sense and it is, but, boats have been found without their captain or sailors onboard. And, I dont want to give Linda the pleasure of leaving her a bachelorette.

                                                          Scruffy Skipper Sailing Selfie LOL

I made it all the way to Green Cove Springs Marina near Jacksonville, DevOceans dry dock for a few months, so let me recap my solo trip:

Linda flew home from Key West on May 21st. I was pretty well all set other than needing some fuel which I jerry canned to DevOcean that afternoon. I had discussed my plans with Rupert from the S/V Sandpiper to leave early the next morning as the winds were finally calming down. Sandpiper was also ready to go so we left first thing on the 22nd. 

                                                         Leaving Key West With S/V Sandpiper

We had good winds, 15 to 18 knots and stayed near shore using the Hawk Channel. The problem was the wind direction as we had to travel over 50 Nautical Miles that day. We could have sailed, but the tacking and extra miles would have put us into Marathon late and after dark, so we motor sailed. The day wasn't too bad and I managed to get in by supper time, Sandpiper joined me about an hour later. Sandpiper was staying in Marathon for a few days and I was leaving at first light.  Rupert and one of his crew came over for a visit and a sundowner (a cold beer) before we parted ways.

                                                       Early Morning Marathon Florida

Because I was going to sail solo and without a buddy boat I had to plan extra carefully.  As you see in red on the map, each leg is approximately 50 nautical miles.  The tricky part outside the Intercostals waterway was the timing. At five knots it is a full ten hours sail to my next suitable port of entry in the ICW and at this time of the year you only have about 12 hours of daylight. This doesnt leave much time to spare.
On the morning of the 23rd I had less wind, five to six knots and on the nose again so, again I motor sailed, until about midday.  I finally had a chance to turn off the engine and had a great sail to Key Largo. I was getting lots of practice at solo anchoring and I got pretty good at it if I may say so myself.
Im not going to bore you with all my daily details as my days were all very similar. Everyday my routine would be getup at first light, have breakfast and of course coffee, raise anchor and head out to sea to catch the winds and currents.  I did sail most days after Key Largo as my course was more northerly and the winds were mostly East South East.  At the end of the day I would set course to re-enter the ICW to anchor in a safe location have supper check the weather for the next day and bed.
I did see some beautiful sailing vessels, almost ran into a water spout, sorry no pictures. I was too busy bringing my sails down and by the time I was ready for to alter my course it had dissipated.  Another memorable event was Memorial weekend.  I anchored behind Key Biscayne near Miami, what a zoo it was. 

Interestingly, It Was A Calm Day, The Wake Of The Power Boaters Created This Crazy Everlasting Chop 

I have never seen so many boats anchored in one location. Also, for two solid days the emergency channel 16 on the VHF never stopped, my hat is off to the Coast Guard. They were helping, rescuing or directing rescues all weekend.  I have never heard so many MAYDAYS in my life. Calls from boats ranged from losing power, collisions, sinking to a child missing in the water. False alarm on the last one, thank goodness.   
The weather could not have been any better.  I did sail on the outside until May 27th.  On May 28th the forecast was for about 20 knots wind and eight foot sea. This gave me the excuse I needed to use the ICW as I was getting a little tired. Also on this leg I needed to use the lock at Cape Canaveral to reenter the ICW. I didnt want any delay or problem this late in the day so, from May 28th to the 30th I used the ICW and Saint John River to reach Green Cove Spring Marina near Jacksonville Florida. I still managed to sail in the ICW for almost two days as the winds had shifted to the South, talk about good luck.

                                                    Talk About Luck  Sailing The ICW 5 Knots

All in all it was a great experience.  I did learn a lot about myself and DevOcean during this trip.  I now feel confident sailing DevOcean single handed, 
I learned I can dock by myself and also found out catching a mooring ball solo was no easy task. My best friend on this trip was Gustav the auto helm.  Sorry Linda, but Im only talking about this trip. I really enjoyed myself during this solo trip,but found out its a lot more fun to share experiences with Linda.

After nine months on DevOcean we are finally visiting family and friends.  In September we will return to DevOcean in Green Cove Spring to do a few upgrades, launch and head to the Bahamas. 

                                                                            My Stowaway 
                                                                        What A Beauty

Until next time!
Blue View.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

1 Year, 365 Days, 8760 Hours, 4 Countries, Numerous Cities, A Few Blunders, Many Successes, Countless Sunrises and Sunsets, A Handful Of Times I Wanted To Give Up, Copious Days I Wouldn’t Have Wanted To Be Anywhere Else

I never used to be someone who celebrated milestones, I lived with the philosophy, that it’s the little everyday events that count, not the big grandiose achievements. I now know that all milestones are worthy of recognition, and complacency in the joy of the journey cannot happen. Celebrations rejuvenate me by making me excited about our next steps, gives me an opportunity to reflect, and solidify the learning I have been a part of. Maybe that’s why I love to take endless pictures of friends and family, events and locations so I can remember to celebrate each day good and bad. Today, I want to take this blog to celebrate the past year.

Hard to believe, but on June 15, 2014, it was our one year anniversary as live aboards. I don't think of us as live aboards, but as cruisers because after a little more than two months on board, we threw off the dock lines and started our cruising adventure.  So one year ago this journey started and what a year it has been. 

I want to thank Marc for so many things. Mostly for making me the victim of a crazy cruiser husbands dream and drawing me into his dream. Pushing me to live outside my comfort zone. As you may know this trip hasn’t always been easy for me and some days have just been downright hell, but pushing me gave me the opportunity to explore people, places and things that I may never have had the opportunity to see any other way. And what a fun guy you have been exploring with.

Wow, have we learned a lot from many people, including ourselves, our success and our blunders. Sometimes we learned the lesson the painful way, sometimes the painless. We learned so much from the generosity of other cruisers and friends sharing their knowledge experience and rum.

I want to recognise all the people we have met along the way. You start out the day in some distant port unsure of where to get food, water, fuel, then complete strangers invite you into their home (boat) for sundowners and food, before the end of the night you have become life long friends. The sad thing is often once they have gone you may never see them again.   

This year has been emotionally and financially tough. I miss my kids and have had random bouts of homesickness, I have learned to live in a space smaller than the family room of the house we sold, I sleep in an awkward bed, cherish fresh water, monitor the clothes my captain wears and complains if he can’t make the same pair of shorts stand up on their own before I have to hand wash them, I’ve learned to cook with  foreign foods purchased using sign language because I don’t speak the local language. But most of all, I’ve learned that most days I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and I am genuinely grateful and excited about the progress we’ve made and our next adventures together. I recognised the joy, the learning, the growth and the new reality we have created together.

This anniversary makes me look forward to the next.