04/11/2012, Brunswick, Ga.
I've posted some pictures from my final days of this sailing season. The pictures are mainly in the Fernandina, Fl, and St. Mary's Inlet area. While in Fernandina I changed plans and instead of sailing a couple more weeks, single-handed up to Oriental, North Carolina, I've decided to keep Elysium on-the-hard in Brunswick, Georgia at Brunswick Landing Marina. Although I really wanted to keep the boat in Oriental where I know the marina and boatyard well; trust the quality of work and have friends, the thought of two more weeks single-handed on the ICW was more than I could handle after taking nine days to get through Florida. Plus, the thought that in the Fall I would have to back-track another two weeks just to get to the Florida/Georgia border if I stayed in the ICW. So, this first sailing season aboard Elysium is drawing to a close. The final days were marked by getting to see Fernandina; watching a submarine sail by with two huge escort ships on either side of her, and half a dozen or so Coast Guard vessels with guards on the bow with fixed guns getting all pleasure craft a minimum of 500 yards away from the sub (including one coast guard boat speeding over to me to make sure I stayed back) and ending with going hard aground and waiting until high tied to be towed off at Jeykill Island..ended the trip. By the way, Jeykill Island is where Rockefeller and several other people met to decide to form the Federal Reserve. So, I am spending the next couple of weeks cleaning and preparing the boat for storage for the summer. I will then fly home to spend the summer with family and friends. May you have following seas, and favorable winds.....Thanks for reading my blog this past sailing season....Renard
Rescue at SeaThursday, April 5, 2012; Somewhere on the Inter-coastal Waterway just south of Cape Canaveral.--- The day was overcast mostly, but by afternoon had turned mostly sunny. Winds were 15 to 20 with occasional sustained winds in the 25 to 30 mile per hour range. We were flying the 150 genoa and cruising along at over eight knots with an occasional spike to 9.3. It was a terrific ride and we were ticking off the miles in rapid succession.
We had picked out two possible anchorages for the night. It meant we would be sailing later than normal...probably dropping the hook around 7pm; late on the ICW. It's not advisable to sail past sunset on the ICW.
I had been at the helm for several hours and decided to take a break and asked my friend Charlie who is accompanying me for part of the journey, to take over.
Up ahead I saw a girl on a jet ski. She was standing up and waving her arms. It appeared her jet ski wouldn't start. I told Charlie to slow down and sail closer to her. I walked up on the side of the deck and yelled through the strong wind what was wrong? "Is there anyone you want me to call"? I asked. Her answer was unintelligible. She seemed confused. We sailed out of ear shot.
I walked back to the cockpit and told Charlie we couldn't leave her and we had to go back. As Charlie drove I pulled in the genoa sail and we began to make our turn. She surely must have thought we were going to continue on without stopping.
As we approached I told Charlie to be careful not to drift into her with the strong winds and currents. He did an excellent job of getting us near to her. But wait, she wasn't on the Jet Ski any longer. It was a man. Where was she? Then I saw her struggling to hold onto the side of the Jet Ski and going underwater than up again. There are two of them.
Both were confused and didn't have a good idea of where they were, where they launched the jet ski from only that it was a park and something about the kill switch. We learned later they were from Atlanta and visiting a sister and didn't know the area at all. I also learned later they lost the kill switch to the Jet Ski and that is why it shut down and couldn't be re-started. The man yelled that he was a cop. They were unsure of what to do or what they wanted us to do. The rear half of the Jet Ski was sinking and under water. Slowly the contraption began to tip and the man went over and under water. Thank God both had life jackets on.
Up to this point I thought the major problem facing us was getting help to them to get them and the Jet Ski back to shore. That however turned out to be not the imminent danger. I dialed 911 and told them the situation and that we needed assistance. The 911 operator began asking me a bunch of questions, one of which was, "are the two people in distress"? It was then, as I watched them continue to go under, try to hang on to the sinking Jet Ski, seeing both exhaustion and fear that I realized the gravity of the situation. "Yes", I said, "both are in distress....I gotta go", I said and hung up.
While Charlie maneuvered the boat down- wind of them to lessen the chance of drifting into them with the strong winds I untied a stern line and threw it to them. The man caught the line but didn't seem to know what to do with it. "Tie it onto the ring in front of the Jet Ski", I yelled. While he did this, the woman began to pull herself towards Elysium by hanging onto the line I had just tossed. She made it to the boat and put both feet on the side of the boat while holding the line and was now almost laying down on the water.
The freeboard on Elysium is very high (the boat sits high out of the water). We have no ladder to put over the side of the boat and I didn't feel we had time to drop the dinghy off the back davits and try to pull her onto the swim platform.
She continued to struggle with trying to stay above water. I glanced at the man and he too was having difficulty holding onto the Jet Ski.
I ran to the front of the boat and grabbed a line that I knew had a loop in one end. Coming back to the cockpit I opened the side gate on the lifelines and lowered the line to her. "Grab this line, I'll hold onto it", I instructed her. "Let go of the first line and grab this one", I said again. She grabbed the line and I pulled her away from the stern. "Put your foot in the loop on the end", I told her. She struggled to get her foot in the loop and went under water once or twice. "Get the loop in the middle of your foot", I said. While she did this I wrapped the other end of the line around the genoa winch in the cockpit. "Do you see what we're going to do", I asked her. I didn't give her a chance to answer. I started cranking on the winch and telling her at the same time "try to straighten your leg...keep your leg stiff". She understood. Slowly I cranked until her hand could reach the top of the boat. I grabbed her wet, cold hand hard trying to not let her slip back in. She reached up with her other hand and grabbed a lifeline. I pulled as she climbed between the two lifelines and into the cockpit. I moved her behind me to the other side of the cockpit so I could now focus on the man.
"O.K. buddy, your turn". He was in the water with part of his upper body on the back of the Jet Ski. He didn't respond. "Come on buddy, let go and come over here", I said again. He seemed to be talking to himself and ignoring me. I was now afraid he was going into some type of shock.
"John", the woman shouted, "let go and come over". Hearing his name jolted him and he slid off the Jet Ski, made his way to the front of it and grabbed the line tied to the boat. He pulled himself along as the woman did. He went under again, a couple times. "Cramp. "Cramp", he shouted. "Put your foot in the loop John", I told him. He struggled a bit. I gave him the same instructions I had given her. Slowly I began winching him up. He said something about being too tired but I ignored him and just kept coaxing him, "reach", I told him, "reach". The cramp in his leg was killing him but I saw him gather all his strength to reach. I grabbed his hand with both my hands. With his other hand he grabbed the lifeline. I pulled, he pulled and finally managed to get a knee on the edge of the boat. I was afraid he was going to fall backwards into the water. With one knee on, he brought the other up and squeezed between the two lifelines. He couldn't move for about fifteen minutes. He just kneeled on the edge of the boat, thankful to be out of the water.
All of this took about 45 minutes. I won't go into the details of the next two hours. It was a circus dealing with the authorities. Both the Cape Canaveral and County Sheriffs Department were calling multiple times to ask numerous questions. We were told more than once that rescue was on its way, both from the fire department and sheriffs department. They couldn't find us. We gave them our latitude and longitutde several times. We told them we were about a mile past the bridge where a huge accident occurred a couple hours earlier, and they still couldn't find us. On one call back they asked ; "was that the accident that occurred today on the bridge or yesterday on the bridge"?
Finally, a Coast Guard vessel arrives (now well past two hours since my first call to 911) and sits off our beam (side of the boat) for 20 minutes while they talked on the telephone to a superior. They then moved over to the Jet Ski to inspect it. "Captain", they called out", "can you turn your boat so we can get a better look at the Jet Ski"? they asked. "Are you kidding me", I said. "Do you know the radius this boat makes". I answered. "Ah, Roger that Captain".
Finally a Sheriffs deputy showed up also. Of course the first thing he does is pull up to the Coasties and discuss the situation with them for a while. At last they reveal their plan. The Coast Guard pulls along side Elysium to take John and Lisa off Elysium. I take Lisa's hand and help her step to the side of Elysium and down onto the Coast Guard Boat. John steps out onto the side following Lisa. He shakes my hand and gives me a manly hug and says "thank you, I don't know what we would have done if you hadn't come along". All I could think to say was "no problem".
We set our course and hoisted the genoa and did the only logical thing we could think of. Open a couple of beers and continue on our way.
Post Script: I want it to be known, in posting this blog, I write it only for my own recollection and memory and to share the story with my loved ones. I do not write it out of pride. There is nothing to be prideful of. We did what anyone would have done; what we are all supposed to do; I just happen to come along and be the one this time.
My passage back to Oriental, North Carolina has begun. I will park the boat on the hard for the summer and return home to family in Oregon. My friend, Charlie King, climbed off his boat in Marathon, Fl., and climbed aboard Elysium to help me part of the way.
We left April 1st under sunny skies and light winds. We sailed with friends aboard two Hunters. The Hunter sailboat is a much lighter boat then Elysium and consequently a little difficult to keep up with in light winds. Our first day ended at Rodriguez Key, still in the Florida Keys just before the keys begin to bend towards the north and Miami. Rodriguez Key is a nice anchorage, well protected from wind at most directions and serves as a jumping off point for boats going to the Caribbean or lower Bahamas.
The second day ended at No Name Harbor at Key Biscayne. We decided to anchor outside the harbor as winds were light and we had more space and a quicker start to the next day getting out the channel.
Day three was a beautiful sailing day up the east coast of Florida. It was a long day but very pleasant. We set anchor at the Lake Worth Inlet which is in Palm Beach. Huge, beautiful mansions line the shores with huge, beautiful yachts parked in the backyard. While at anchor, a yacht motored past us called "Medusa". I have to go on line and see if I can find it. It was enormous and carried many toys including a large helicopter on the back. As it crept by Elysium....within a hundred feet or so....everyone just stood there with their mouths open. It surely was a sight to behold.
Day four was another great sailing day in the North Atlantic en route to Ft. Pierce. The Ft. Pierce inlet has a very strong current. I had to goose the motor up to 2600 rpms to get through it. The seas were boiling at the entrance to the channel...but not to the degree that made it dangerous or scary. We had reserved a slip at the Ft. Pierce city marina for the night because my friend, Captain Jaye, was going to stop by for a few "sundowners" with Charlie and me...and share in our Tennessee Honey....and then later in the evening my cousin Dennis was coming over and we went out for a pizza dinner and more laughs. In November my friend Jack and I stayed at this marina for a couple of days and really enjoyed ourselves. It was nice to be back and brought back some great memories that I share with Jack from last November.
While in Ft. Pierce I had a fellow make a service call to check on my transducer as my depth sounder was acting up. He said it works somewhat on one frequency but not on another. In other words, it works sometimes. Really! THIS I ALREADY KNEW. I could have hung around for a few days, order a new transducer and have it installed...or hope it keeps working most of the time (as it has been) and repair it in Oriental. I chose not to hang around and get it fixed (and it has been working better than ever)..
This morning, after studying different weather charts and forecasts on my laptop, I made the decision not go into the Atlantic, but stay in the ICW. A storm is approaching and my concern was out-running it. We tried that once before and it didn't work out so well. The problem with the decision is that although we're safe from a storm, it is slow going and there really is no good place to pop back out into the North Atlantic until we get to the Florida/Georgia border which will add days to the trip.
So, in situations like this there is only one thing you can do. Sit back, enjoy the scenery and have a beer.
By the way, I've posted several more albums recently that include pictures of friends from Marathon and then pictures of the first four days of this trip. I'll try to write more and post more pictures and update our position on the map when wireless internet is available.
03/23/2012, Key West
I took today off from preparing Elysium for the nearly 900 mile trek back to Oriental to visit the home of Ernest Hemingway in Key West. Being a long time fan of "PaPa Hemingway", I promised myself I would see his home and studio before I left the Keys.
Hemingway lived here for 9 years. It was one of his most productive times as a novelist. He wrote many of his most famous works while living here. There remain many six-toed cats on the property, decendents from the original six-toed cat he raised. Please note the captions with the pictures.
While in Key West I took the opportunity to visit President Harry Trumans summer "White House" also...so a picture of that is included. And finally, a schooner caught my eye that I took a few pictures of. It is a replica of a famous shooner from the late 1800s. And, although it looks just like the original, this one was built with the most modern techniques. For example, although the masts look like solid ceder, they're really made of kevlar with a thin ceder wrap around them.
A weather window opens around Thursday, March 29th, so that is my tentative departure date. I will try to post updates as my passage progresses. Ciao'
03/18/2012, Marathon, Fl.
Download ip_interior.pdf (592K)
Some of you have asked to see pictures of the interior of the boat. I don't know why I hadn't thought to do this sooner. So, if you check the photo gallery you'll see a new album called "Elysium Interior". Click on that and read the captions with each picture to understand where you're looking in relationship to the front and back of the boat. Enjoy...
03/17/2012, Marathon, Fl.
The winter sailing season is starting to draw to a close. "Snowbirds" are beginning to point their boats north where they will check on their homes...visit with family...catch up with friends...and think about next season.
Oh some continue to sail during the summer months. The full-time live-aboards. Even they however usually have to head either south or north; above or below a specific latitude to avoid the tropical storms and conform with the demands of their insurance policy.
So I will be heading back to Oriental, North Carolina as stipulated by my policy. I'll be leaving sometime around the first of April. I have not yet decided how much sailing in the North Atlantic I will be doing versus going up the ICW. Doing the ICW by myself will take a long time as the long days will take their toll and require me to stop frequently to rest for more than just a night.
In any event, I'm sure there will be more adventures to share with all of you on this final major passage of this season. I will keep you all posted on my progress.
Cheers...and enjoy the pictures...I awoke early today and got some early morning shots of Boot Key Harbor and channel...along with some other random pictures I've taken recently.