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Order of Blog posts...oops
12/25/2011

Sorry folks, in posting the blogs I reversed parts 2 and 3....soooo...to read the blogs in order you'll need to scroll to the bottom to read the first blog: "Am I too Late."

As you're scrolling up skip the second blog and continue to the 3rd: "Am I Too Late - Take Two"

Then scroll back down to read the 3rd and most recent posting: "Let The Adventure Begin".

Regards,

Let The Adventure Begin
RNM
12/21/2011, Oriental, North Carolina

LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN
After a month and a half of preparation and getting familiar with my new boat (new to me) and searching for a Captain to help me bring the boat down to Florida from Oriental, North Carolina I was set to cast off.
I had plenty of recommendations for Captains. One recommendation took the form of: "I would sail anywhere with this person". Well, that sounded pretty good. I contacted him, had a lengthy conversation and ended the meeting with him agreeing to find me at the boatyard (where his boat is dry docked) next time he was there. I never saw or heard from him again.
A woman who use to own a business in Oriental heard I was looking for a Captain, and enthusiastically recommended a fellow who was not only a delivery Captain, but also a sailing instructor. Perfect! For reasons that will become clear in a bit, I'll just refer to him as "The Captain".
One of my best friends flew in to help. He grew up around boats in San Diego and had plenty of sailing experience, plus, he's a lot of fun. We would have preferred four people for the passage, but three would work, it just meant only two hours of sleep between watches instead of four.
Our goal was to move as quickly as possible to Florida since my buddy only had a couple of weeks to spare before having to return home. So, the decision was made to travel "the outside" rather than "the inside" route. The inside route is down the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW is a series of rivers, bays and canals that run from New Jersey down through Florida and over to Texas. You are protected from the high winds and seas of the North Atlantic. It can be a fun way to travel if you're not in a hurry because you can only travel during the day. You also have to be very careful of not running aground. The furthest we traveled in one day was about 80 miles. And those are long days. But it can be enjoyable as you pass through different towns, cities and little bergs along the way. There are areas where the ICW passes by beautiful, huge mansions, areas where there is nothing to see, and areas where your traveling through some beautiful grassy and somewhat remote waterways. You could spend months on the ICW if you wished.
But, because time was a factor, we elected to head out into the North Atlantic for a quicker passage. The boat was provisioned with plenty of food including certain things the Captain suggested, like M&M's, trail mix, crackers and other snacks, along with the basics and food for some nice dinners. The three of us took turns preparing dinners.
We left Oriental on a crisp (o.k., cold) November morning. We traveled a short distance down the Neuse River and then entered the ICW and continued on to Beaufort, North Carolina.
At Beaufort we entered the North Atlantic and headed out 20-30 miles off shore. It was cold so we all had multiple layers of clothing on. The winds had a northerly component and we had following seas. The days were sunny for the most part and the sailing was excellent. We had two days and nights of excellent sailing. We even ate dinner in the cockpit. We had smiles on our faces, and were making great time with the following seas...averaging more than 8 knots.
Page Two
We knew there was a storm headed towards us and debated whether to put in at Charleston, South Carolina. Because we were making such good time, the decision was made to continue on. A decision we came to regret about 8 hours later.
In the early morning hours we ran into rain. It was pitch black and visibility was poor. My friend was off watch and asleep below. The Captain was at the helm. The seas began to grow and the wind pick up to 20-30 knots. We had doused the mainsail and a while ago and were on a run with just the genoa.
Before I realized what was happening (remember I'm new at this), we were in a strong gail storm. There is much about this night that remains a blur for me (which is probably a good thing...trauma can do that to a person).
I recall checking the time at 2AM. I don't know who turned the deck light on but it certainly didn't help my anxiety levels (now in the red zone). There are a few things I remember clearly. Here are a few of them: the noises from down below as stuff flew around the cabin; the pain in my forearm as I was flown around the cabin; standing in the companionway watching the Captain trying to control the boat; seeing the rail in the water; watching the bow go straight up in the air and then come crashing down; green ocean water covering the deck and filling the genoa. Time to change my pants (maybe that's how I hurt my arm?)
We were making a half-a-knot at best. The winds were between 40 and 45 miles per hour and the seas 10-12 feet. The boat was being pushed around like a bathtub toy.
I must say, although the Captain was concerned he maintained his composure and made good decisions throughout the ordeal. At one point, he said we were going to turn back to Charleston. I turned and looked at my buddy and we both read each others minds ("no way can we turn back"). About thirty seconds later the Captain took back the statement and said, "no, we have to continue on".
We were aiming for the Savanna River to get out of the storm. All we could see were the lights of huge ships aiming for the river as well to get out of the storm. My depth perception in pitch blackness is nill. I couldn't tell if those ships were a mile away or 5 miles away.
"I see the sea buoy", I announced with joy. "How far is that from the mouth of the river"?, I asked. We were close to safety I thought. "About sixteen miles", came the Captain's answer. My heart sank.
"We're going to have to stay out until dawn because of the ships going in", the Captain said. "Its too dangerous to try and go in now with those ships going in". My heart sank further. We were going to have to sail in circles for hours in this gail and get the stuffing kicked out of us until dawn.

Page Three
"Is there anyone we can call?", I foolishly asked. "Who ya gonna call", my friend said...with somewhat of a snicker. "What about the Coast Guard", I said. He was enjoying himself. I think he even had a smile on his face. This was the adventure he was seeking when he agreed to come and help.
So, it was a naïve and stupid question in retrospect. But it wasn't there retirement savings tied up in this boat. How sick is that? I was more concerned with losing my investment than my life.
"The Coast Guard isn't coming", the Captain said. "Can't they tow us in"? "No, they don't tow anyone in unless it's a matter of life and death". Helllloooo..I thought to myself?
It was about this time I remembered Bob Bitchen suggest to me I not sell my Harley-Davidson yet as the cruising life isn't for everyone.
As dawn broke, we entered the mouth of the Savanna River. The sun was starting to shine and I could see again. Phew! The sphincter meter was beginning to drop.
Around 2PM we put in at Isle of Hope, Georgia. More than twelve hours since we were in the worst of the storm. We went to the fuel dock first then guided to a dock space where we would spend the night. Showers and a warm meal quickly followed along with a beautiful walk on firm soil. Ah, terra firma.
The storm was still raging out in the Atlantic and we knew now the rest of the trip would be down the ICW. The next day we headed south continuing on our journey at a much more relaxed pace.
The Captain apologized for what had happened. He didn't like exposing new sailors to that sort of thing. Hell, I don't think experienced sailors enjoy exposure to that either. I told him not to feel bad about it. The boat wasn't damaged, no one got hurt (except for my now severely bruised arm) and it was a great learning experience.
The Captain got off the boat in Jacksonville, Florida and my buddy and I continued. We enjoyed our stops along the way, especially New Smyrna. We got to Ft. Pierce where we stayed for a few days and had a great time at an Irish Pub one night, and a terrific time at the huge Saturday Market complete with a Regge band. If a slip were available at the city marina we would have stayed, but because there were none available we continued on to a mooring field at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, Florida.
Alas it was time for my friend to return home. He took hundreds of pictures and videos documenting each day of the trip (unfortunately no pictures were taken during the gail..go figure). He had a great time, although was a little disappointed we didn't get more ocean sailing in before he left. It was great having him along for the adventure.


Page Four
Stuart was a great place to hold up for a while. I have two cousins that live here who I grew up with, but hadn't seen in many years. We've had a great time together. I flew home to Oregon for Thanksgiving. I needed a "family fix" bad. I had a wonderful holiday visiting with children, grandchildren and friends who wanted to hear about my trip.
I'm not ready yet to take the Harley out of storage. The adventure will continue as I head south to the Florida Keys with Vaca Key and Boot Key Harbor as my next destination. Stay tuned.

12/21/2011 | Machelle
Ooooh this is going to be fun following along. We have a 25' trailer sailer we sail on the mountain lakes of Colorado. You are pursuing what we hope to. Glad the Harley is still in storage....
12/21/2011 | Nancy
Loved reading your adventure. My husband and I took off from Panama City FL 3 years ago with no ocean travel under our belt. Our plan was to head to Tampa but after 36 hours we found ourselves back very close to Port St. Joe. 10 foot seas and 30 knot winds for more hours than we wanted in a 40 foot O'day sailboat. Many people would have walked off that boat and said to hell with it, lets travel with the harley. Within a week we were back at it and have been cruising ever since. Would I ever go back? Not if I can help it. And the Harley is still in storage, really....What doesnt kill us makes us stronger. Realized that the end results of cruising really do outweigh the bad days.
12/26/2011 | Sherry
We left from Florida almost 5 years ago on a slow circumnavigation--weare in Tonga now 1/3 the way around. Good luck on your adventure. I am not familiar with SailBlogs, but it is probably possible to re-order your posts by editing each one and setting the date on each post--they will order in date order.
AM I TOO LATE - TAKE TWO
RM
12/20/2011

AM I TOO LATE?
Take Two

Here it is nine months after my horrific (read that fantastic) sailing experience along the Gulf coast of Florida in January sitting on my very own money pit, time consuming, aggravating and aging...beautiful, fantastic, comfortable sailboat. But, it's been a bit of a journey getting here. Here, by the way, is in Oriental, North Carolina.
Following my sailing classes in December and again in January I began my search in earnest for my boat. After looking and reading about hundreds of boats on the web, magazines, books, brokerages and people in general, I kept coming back to a specific boat and eventually gave up looking at other boats and focused exclusively on the Island Packet.
Every boat has its positive and negative aspects. It boiled down to the Island Packet had more pluses then minuses for my intended use, level of experience (or lack thereof) and what appears to be a descent re-sale value. Plus, the company is still in business and has a rich IP owner website for answers to any question I might have. Did I mention the company is still in business? Let's not forget the fact I used my retirement money to fulfill this dream and hope to one day recoup a good percentage of it back when it's time for the 'ol folks home (I'd rather be eaten by a shark!)
At this point let me inject how brilliant I looked to all my friends at the time of my purchase. Rather than face their scorn and ridicule, I was praised as being a "master of timing", a "smart tactician"; and "savvy investor". The same week in July I pulled my retirement money out of the market (much to my financial planner's dismay); the market dropped several hundred points...and continues to do so as of this writing (I believe riots occurred over the lack of adequate training for sanitation workers in Lichtenstein causing the most recent drop).
These are indeed strange and unchartered times when a person can look brilliant to friends for pulling his/her retirement money out of the market and buying a damn boat!!
Back to my journey to find my "perfect" boat; a couple of months after completing my January sailing classes I found a boat for sale by owner located in the US Virgin Islands. The boat was a little smaller than I wanted, but hey, it was already where I wanted to be. How convenient is that? I had been talking to another couple selling their IP in North Carolina. It was the boat I wanted, but the appeal of already being in the USVI was strong.
I spoke with the owner of the St. Croix boat numerous times over several weeks and we developed a good repoir. I believed we had covered every system and piece of equipment on the boat. The boat was in terrific condition, needing nothing essentially. I lined up a surveyor on the island, arranged for a short-haul for the survey, bought my airline ticket, got a certified check for the deposit and planned on a quick 3 day trip...down and back to by the boat.
It's a loooong flight from Oregon to the USVI. I got there mid-afternoon following the red-eye flight. The owner was anxious to meet me and show me the boat. He had lived on this boat for many, many years and was very proud of it and the improvements he had made to it.
I would have preferred to catch some shut eye for a few hours. I felt a little "rummy" following that long flight. But, I too was anxious to see the boat so plowed on meeting the owner and seeing the boat.
We sat in the salon as he pointed out different things to me; the total amp hours the batteries provide, what the solar panels contributed to the house bank, the improvements made to insulate the freezer/refer; condition of the rigging, tackle, sails, gel coat, etc., etc. The day ended with an early dinner and I crashed in the hotel room I had reserved at the same marina the boat was docked at.
We had not discussed what I would offer him for the boat. Over one of the meals we had together he mentioned he had several parties inquire about the boat but they were trying to steal the boat with their offers. He mentioned a figure as an example. Damn if it wasn't what I was going to offer. It was ten percent less than his asking price. I wasn't trying to steal the boat, but given the economic times we're in, and the fact it was a cash offer with no financing involved, it would have been a fair price. I didn't say anything to him yet as I was now thinking what my new offer might be.
The next morning we continued to talk and look at the boat. "Where is the dingy", I asked? "Oh, it's over there", he said, pointing to one of several deflated dinghy's on the ground next to the dock. "It has a small hole in it", he commented. "I've looked for it and can't find it", he said, "so I have to put air in it every so often" he added.
So I may need to buy a dingy. I held back a little money for something like this. No biggie.
"Where is the outboard", I inquired. As I did so, my eyes searched the dock area for an outboard. The only one I saw was lying in pieces on a nearby dock. "It's over there", he pointed. "Its shot", he said. "I've tried to get it to run but you'll need to get a new outboard".
So I may need to buy a dingy and outboard, plus I've already spent $1500 in travel expenses, not counting the survey and haul-out fees. My hands are starting to itch from nerves.
I take a deep breath and plow on. I've already invested a lot of money into this boat. Let's continue on. "Can we fire up the radar so I can take a look at that", I asked. "Ya know, that radar doesn't really work so well anymore", he said, "plus its only good for 16 miles, you need to get one good for 24 miles".
Now the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up and not only are my hands itching, but my arms too as a nervous rash continues to spread.
Seriously, I was dumbfounded that he had not revealed these things to me on the phone during our numerous conversations. I really didn't know what to say. I went to my hotel, then for a walk.
We met the next morning and I told him I was feeling uncomfortable with making the purchase at this time. I wasn't calling off the deal just yet, but I did not want to invest in the survey and haul-out until I had a couple of days to digest what I now knew about the boat and review what my cash reserves were for all the other things I would still need to acquire.
I couldn't call the surveyor to cancel him, so he showed up and joined us for breakfast. I apologized to him for cancelling and explained I couldn't get a hold of him in time to cancel. He was a very friendly chap who completely understood. He had lived and sailed the Caribbean for many years and was very knowledgeable. He advised me not to proceed with the survey if I wasn't positive it was the boat for me. He declined my offer to pay him something for the inconvenience.
After he left, I told the owner that I would like to start the engine up and take a look at that. His response floored me. He said he was going to be too busy selling his boat to meet with me any further. We parted ways.
I flew home and kept going over in my mind what had happened and what did I do to contribute to the deal blowing up like it did. My biggest mistake was not making an offer for the boat early in our conversation. This was foreign to me, as I never made an offer on something sight unseen before. But it appears in the boating world that this is a common way of buying boats.
I was also wrong for keeping my thoughts to myself. I didn't express my misgivings and growing list of concerns clearly. Instead I just kept gathering all this negative information. I kept waiting for him to "sell" me on the boat...and that never happened.
He is a nice fellow and I hold no ill-will towards him even though he concealed problems with the boat until I traveled all that way. I think we both approached the selling/buying process from different perspectives.
Upon my return home, I called the couple selling the boat in North Carolina. I had told them if for some reason the deal in the USVI fell through I would get back in touch with them.
I explained what happened and we went through every item I could possibly think of with them. A couple minor items that needed attention were taken care of by the sellers. We stayed in regular communication both via telephone and email. We communicated well with each other. This time, we had discussed a specific price other than the asking price.
With the help of the seller I arranged for a survey and short-haul and sea trial. I flew into New Bern, picked up my rental car and drove to Oriental, a beautiful, quaint tiny community made up mostly of retirees and sailboats and people who work on boats. I got to the hotel around midnight...and crashed. At 8am (that would be 5am my time) I met the surveyor and seller on the boat.
It was clear the couple selling the boat took great care of her and tended to all necessary matters. The surveyor, at the end of the day and the sea trial, commented on what a good boat she is and what great condition she was in.
The next day at lunch we struck a deal. The sellers had retained the services of an attorney to act as the intermediary for the transaction and hold all monies in escrow. We signed papers. I flew home, wired the money as directed to the attorneys escrow account and we proceeded from there.
The sellers were absolutely the best. They went out of their way to assist me with every silly question I could think of about the boat, sailing, North Carolina, transferring the Coast Guard documentation into my name, transferring the EPIRB registration, how to light the stove, turn on the air conditioning, etc., etc. On July 26th I took possession of the boat.
I had the boat hauled out the first of August to have one side of the hull peeled and paint the entire bottom, add a swim platform to the stern that swings up and locks in place when not in use, added a Wi-Fi antenna to the mast, change the name and added a teak bow seat.
The insurance I secured for the boat requires me to stay in Oriental until Nov. 1, 2011 and return by June 1, 2012. The odd thing about that requirement was shortly after buying the boat the only major hurricane to hit the US mainland so far this year aimed directly for...you guessed it...Oriental, NC. I think I will call my insurance agent and see if they want to amend that requirement. Maybe make sure I'm in Florida during hurricane season...or Hispaniola.
The boat suffered no damage as it was on the hard being worked on and all the people at Sailcraft Service were here throughout the storm guarding the boats and constantly working the screw pedestals they sit on as the storm and weight of the boats kept driving them deeper into the ground.
The plan, at this point and subject to change at any time, is to stay here for another month learning the boat and then head south to Florida with the Bahamas as the final destination (for this year anyway). Let the adventure begin...and to hell with the stock market!!

AM I TOO LATE?
04/07/2011, Ft. Meyers - Key West, Florida

AM I TOO LATE?

O.K., I just turned 62-years-old and after 25-years with one company, the last thirteen of which as the General Manager, I find myself unemployed. Well, at least I have my house and a rental property. Oh wait, I owe more than they're worth. Hmmmm. Well, at least I have my 401k; Oh, wait, I had my 401k; it seems to have gone south as well. If I draw that down at the rate my accountant wants me to I'll be able to buy a really nice suit by the end of the year.
So, I do what everyone else does, file for unemployment and look for work. The unemployment went fine, the "finding the work" part less so. While looking for work I got in the habit of stopping at the local Safeway grocery store each morning and getting the paper, a cup of coffee and a bagel.
Everyone kind of got to know me. One day I looked around at the poor homeless people who gathered here, and thought "these are my peeps now"? I've gotta get out of here and do something because the prospect of a job "ain't lookin' none to good".
It's time to live my dream (as I once heard someone say) and go sailing. I could envision it. It became my goal, my sole focus. I've sailed a 25-foot Catalina the past half-dozen years on a high mountain lake in southern Oregon. But I'm talking about real sailing; as in ocean, island-hopping, canal crossing; conch eating sailing.
Where to start? My sailing knowledge has been mostly self-taught. Since Florida and the Caribbean were my intended sailing grounds I wanted to find a sailing school down there. It's a long ways from Oregon, but at least it's warm...or supposed to be anyway.
After investigating a number of schools I zeroed in on the "Offshore Sailing School" at their Ft. Meyers, Florida operation on Captiva Island. They've been doing this since 1964 and I liked their testimonials and I liked the way their courses were laid out. The people who answered the phone were very helpful in talking to me about my skills, my goals and placing me in the right courses. I also liked the idea of the US Sailing certifications offered.
Although I had learned a lot on my own, I thought it best to get the formal instruction by beginning at the beginning. So, I signed up for classes in December and again in January. I've taken the first steps to realizing my dream.

December Classes:
The December classes were for three different courses; "Basic Keelboat", "Basic Cruising" and "Bareboat Cruising". There were only two other students with me so we got plenty of one-on-one attention from the two instructors that shared responsibility for the courses.
The first couple of mornings began with classroom instruction with Ryan as the instructor. Following the classroom work, he took us out on the Colgate 26 that Steve Colgate (Founder of the Offshore Sailing School) designed. Basic parts of the boat, terminology and sailing in the bay were taught. On day 2 we went into the Gulf of Mexico, which was kind of a big deal for me, being from Oregon. In the Gulf we practiced MOB drills, how to hove to and how to use a preventer.
The next five days were spent living aboard a 43-foot DuFour sloop and now Andy joined us as the instructor.
After sailing in the ICW we anchored for the night behind York Island. The next day we continued on the ICW en route to Ft. Meyers Beach, tacking, jibing and practicing more MOB drills.
The weather wasn't quite what I had in mind for Florida. It was freezing. But, we all came prepared and had multiple layers of clothing on so it was bearable. Plus, we were having so much fun no one really cared. That night we put in to Moss Marina at Ft. Meyers Beach to plug in to some electricity to make sure the boat stayed warm.
The next day we sailed around Sanibel Island to Captiva. The winds were calm in the morning when we left and a little overcast. But, by mid-morning the sun was out and a nice breeze allowed us to turn off the motor and sail.
Thursday night we dropped anchor at Cabbage Key. This was one of the highlights of the week. We hopped in the Dingy and motored to the island which sits 38 feet above sea level for some fine dining and great wine. Besides the fact you can only get here by boat, the most unique thing about this lovely resort is all the walls and ceilings are covered with dollar bills. We met some great people, had a lot of laughs and a memorable evening. The resort first opened to the public in 1944. It is very cool.
On the final day, we dropped Captain Andy off and the 3 students took the boat out by ourselves. We sailed in the Gulf all day practicing what Andy and Ryan had taught us that week. My two new friends dropped me off at the airport the following morning to return to Oregon. I was anxious to get home and tell my friends about my trip and at the same time anxious to return in January for my next set of instruction. The January trip sounded exciting, but at the time, I had no idea just how exciting.

JANUARY LESSONS
It was a Tuesday, January 18th that I flew back into Ft. Meyers, Florida for my next set of lessons from the "Offshore Sailing School" founded by Steve and Doris Colgate.
This time I'm going for certifications in "Coastal Navigation" and "Coastal Passage Making". The latter one being the one the students were most looking forward to; overnight sailing in the Gulf of Mexico, hopefully down to Key West!
On Thursday our four-days of navigation school began. Kevin was the instructor. He was great. He had a great sense of humor, took his time to explain everything well and worked individually with anyone who was having difficulty understanding something. He was patient.
The course books the school sends to you in advance of your course were a huge help to me. It had been many years since I sat in a classroom doing algebraic equations and taking tests. Damn. I was crummy at this when I was a kid. And taking tests was never my strong point. There were less than a dozen students in this class. On the fourth day (Sunday) we took our 3-hour test and six of us would continue on for the "Coastal Passage Making" class and board the 43-foot DuFour that afternoon, along with two instructors.
On Monday we spent a good part of the day going through the entire boat; checking bilges, thru hulls, fire extinguishers, on-off switches, galley use, head use, sail inventory, etc. We also discussed where we were going to sail to.
A storm was due within the next 36 hours or so. The Captain and lead instructor, Josh, suggested we head north, towards Tampa. The students really wanted to see Key West and convinced him to sail south. Plus, we reasoned, what better time to learn how to sail in stormy weather than with two instructors on board? Didn't they realize we had no idea what the hell we were talking about?
Late that afternoon we headed down the ICW towards Ft. Meyers Beach where we dropped anchor behind a sheltered island to make dinner. That evening, around 9PM, we weighed anchor and headed out into the Gulf of Mexico, south, towards Key West.
The winds were perfect, with almost a full moon. Our watches were 2 hours on and 4 hours off. My first turn at the helm was around 3AM. I had several layers of clothing on and was nice and comfortable. One of the instructors was with me while everyone else was below catching some shut-eye. About the only thing I remember that first night is how my face ached from the huge smile on my face as I sailed under a bright moon, in the middle of the night in the Gulf of Mexico. Wow! That's what I'm talkin' about.
The next afternoon we landed at Key West. The students decided we'd all chip in the $20 or so and grabbed a slip at Conch Harbor Marina for the night. This way we could easily take a shower and walk into town and see what Key West and Duval Street were all about. It was quite educational for us to dock the boat using spring lines on pylons. We had a great time and most of us were back to the boat at a decent hour. All of us had a taste of Key West and agreed we all would return one day to explore this area again.
Around 9:00 the next morning we had a nice breeze with overcast skies. As we left the harbor a large Coast Guard Cutter was alongside heading out to sea. As I snapped a picture of the ship, I turned to my fellow students and asked if it meant anything that the only other boat leaving this morning is that humongous Coast Guard ship? No one answered.
Our goal was to sail to Marcos Island and spend that night there. It wasn't meant to be.
As we sailed on, the seas grew and the wind picked up. First 2-4 feet, then 4-6 feet. We were bundled up with multiple layers of clothing. Each day, each student had a different job. One day you might be the skipper, the next day the cook, the next day the engineer or navigator, etc. We reefed the main, then reefed again. We all wore our life vests and harnesses attached to a jack line. We lowered the roller-furling genoa to hank on a jib, only to learn it was the same size as the genoa. We took that off and put up a "screecher". This was a light weight, colorful sail about the size of a 150 genoa. That stayed up about five minutes and then it came down and the original roller-furling genoa was put back on.
The wind was howling. The instructors gave us great direction on how to "feather" the boat going up and down the waves and how to cope confidently sailing in these conditions.
It was evening now, and colder. The seas continued to grow and now were more like 4-8 feet with an occasional 10 footer. Around 9 or 10PM I was at the helm and the Captain was with me. We heard a loud bang. A really loud bang. I yelled below if that noise had come from down below. The answer was no. The Captain studied the rigging from the cockpit, then went to the bow of the boat and studied it more. There was no moon to help him. Then he looked at me and yelled, 'tack, tack now, tack".
I tacked the boat and he came back to the cockpit. "What is it?", I asked. "An upper shroud broke", he answered. "We have to stay on this tack to take the pressure off that side of the mast", he explained.
After consulting with the rest of the crew, the navigator suggested we make way to Little Shark River where we can drop anchor and see what to do in the morning. We got into the cove around midnight and we all drew a collective sigh of relief.
Early the next morning we gathered on deck to examine the problem. The upper shroud was dangling against the mast. The pin holding it to the spreaders had broken. One of the students, a farmer from the St. Louis area threw out and idea. We all agreed farmers know how to jury rig just about anything and we should go with his idea. The captain went up in the boson's chair and in a short period of time had fastened the shroud to the spreader with a wrench holding it in place.
We headed out; the seas and wind were still aggressive and we kept one eye on that spreader. We sailed all day and could have made it to Ft. Meyers, but instead the Captain decided to grab a buoy at Ft. Meyers Beach for the night. It was late afternoon and we were all exhausted. Several of us decided we couldn't wait any longer and took a shower on the boat; the others were going to wait until tomorrow when we reached the marina.
That last night on the boat we had dinner and one of the students brought along the movie "Captain Ron". Several of the guys had not seen the movie. The boat had a nice flat screen TV on the saloon bulkhead. So the last night we ate and watched Captain Ron.
The next morning we took our exam as we sailed the 20 miles or so up to South Seas Island Resort where the sailing school is based and disembarked. As part of our package we all had rooms waiting for us at the resort.
That evening several of us gathered for dinner, beers and to celebrate our adventure and new friendship. We all shared a feeling of accomplishment. We departed for our respective homes the next day, much more confident in our sailing abilities and smiles on our faces, each of us already planning our next sailing adventure.
As for me, well I'm letting things sit for a few months as I decide whether to blow my 401k on a boat or to save up and buy a fancy suit. It's percolating in the recesses of my mind. Stay tuned.

04/08/2011 | Allan Smith
You have had some tough hits there but you also kept an upbeat attitude. I hope to read more....Allan

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