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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Key Largo
Randy
11/30/2006, Card Sound

We took a relaxing day to finish preparing the boat. Roq and I explored the various golf courses on Key Largo and found a little sailing club (8 or so little 20 footers) nestled in one of the mangrove creeks. The sunset over Pumpkin Key was beautiful.

The Bahamas
Sailing Key Biscayne
Randy
11/29/2006, Biscayne Bay

We left Key Biscayne this morning. We had been waiting for a break in the weather to cross the Gulf Stream and the break looks like it will be here Friday. Winds will be coming from the Southeast if reports hold. For the past month we have had nothing but North wind, which makes big nasty waves in the Gulf Stream; or East wind, which is coming right from where we want to go. So today we took advantage of the East wind and sailed down Biscayne Bay to Card Sound on a beam reach. This gives you perhaps the best southern jumping off point for the Bahamas when the wind is just south of east. It was our first time sailing Swingin' on a Star by ourselves and it was great. She sailed wonderfully and did 8-9 knots plus in 18 knots of wind with one reef in the main and no heavy sail tweaking. I'm used to sailing in places where you don't hit things unless they're sticking out of the water. I must admit, going 9 knots in 10 feet of water (aka swimming pool depth) was a little nerve wracking.

We had planned to come down with Wind in the Willows and Edelweiss who were in No Name harbor, all seeking a better angle on the wind for the Friday passage. The other two boats left No Name at 8AM. We woke up at 8:30 just in time to watch their sails setting South. We hailed them on the VHF and, after hauling anchor and getting the sails ready, we set out after them. Meridian, a Catana 43, had left a day earlier and helped us all find good holding in the anchorage. We ran across Karl and Pat from Canada in Ishmael, a custom built trimaran, at the anchorage as well. So there we were, three cats, a tri, and a mono-hull all staging for a run to the Bahamas. Seemed like a good excuse for a party. Michael had shut down for the night but the other three couples joined us for a few hours on Swingin' on a Star discussing sailing and life in general. It was a wonderful evening with a wonderful group of people. Cruising at its best.

Key Biscayne
Coconut Grove
Randy
11/27/2006, Coconut Grove

Today we decided to take our dinghy to Coconut Grove about 4nm across the Biscayne Bay. We wanted to have lunch and pick up some things from the chandlery while we were there. We got about half way there, of course, and our 8 HP Yamaha said, "I quit". Now a brand new Yamaha 2 stroke is typically a thing you can trust under just about any conditions, so I spent quite a bit of time yanking the cord to see if it would start again. Plenty of gas, gas line looked good, vent open, etceteras. We had a strong North East wind pushing us down the bay and out toward the channel so rather than drifting too far I picked up the oars. Hideko spotted the many dolphins that came to laugh at my plight while I rowed. With the tide and current working against us it took some time to get back to Key Biscayne. Once we reached a spot about 100 yards from No Name harbor entrance I decided to try to use my head a bit more than my back and take one last look at everything. Hmm, fuel hose squeeze pump is closer to the tank than it should be…

Our Yamaha is working great again. Be advised that the gas hose will work when hooked up backwards, just not forever. Hideko and I were talking about how it?? s not easy to get a cardiovascular work out on a boat. Well I have found a suitable way to solve that problem. When we got back to the harbor we went to the Boater?? s Grill and had a nice meal right as it started to pour down rain. Thanks to our fuel line issues we had a dry and happy Monday.

Key Biscayne
12/01/2006 | HH
I'm already enjoying following your adventures!
H
02/26/2007 | Randy
Hey Hans, Great to hear from you. You are, once again, making some beautiful bikes. Mine is staying with a friend while we travel. We did get two folding bikes which are good for the boat and fun to tour small islands with.
-Randy
New Friends
Randy
11/26/2006, No Name Harbor

While the anchorage off Key Biscayne is much more calm than No Name, we have meet a lot of wonderful folks here in the little Harbor. Rick and Rose in Merlin, a Gulf Stream 39, were the first couple we met here. They had been to the Exumas many times and gave us a lot of Bahamas crusing tips.

We met two new couples in the anchorage over the past two days. Mike and Brenda on Magic were here for a Thanksgiving pot luck with their yacht club. We clicked with Mike when we noticed him yelling ?No wake” at all of the power boaters plowing into the anchorage at 10 knots. Magic is a very fast looking Cal 27. We joined them aboard for a few beers and some great conversation. They were even more newlywed than we were so we had a lot in common.

Today Jane and Lowell came over to visit for a bit. They are heading to the Bahamas as well on Edelweiss, their Hunter 45. Great people from my folks?? home state of North Carolina. We?? re hoping to make the passage with Edelweiss and some other yachts from the harbor, all of whom have been waiting for a weather window.

We also met Michael, an 80 something year old single hander, who sails to the Bahamas every winter. He is a wealth of knowledge and has laid out the passage plan that most of us are going to follow. It is amazing and encouraging to see his vigor and zest for life and sailing. He is full time aboard his Prout catamaran and spends the summers in the Chesapeake bay.

Key Biscayne
Swimming Lessons
Randy
11/25/2006, No Name Harbor

Well it had to happen sooner or later. Roq took the plunge today. Hideko went with him. I jumped in of my own accord to ensure that the entire family was equally wet and stinky.

I have been taking Roq ashore with the dink every morning since we moved aboard, so today Hideko decided she would give me a break (some break) and take Roq herself. Hideko then proceeded to dunk Roq in the drink right at the stern of the big boat before even getting into the dinghy. I went out to see what the commotion was and helped Hideko get Roq into the dinghy.

Hideko then set out, rowing the 100 feet over to the quay. After the first incident I decided to stay out on the transom to look on, it was low tide. As Hideko got to the dock she made a valiant effort to get Roq up onto the quay from the stern of the dink while it was tied up by the bow. Having experience here, I know that you want to get his front feet on the quay at the bow of the boat when tied up by the bow so that you can then shove his butt up without the boat flying out from under you. I was in the middle of calling this to Hideko?? s attention when the stern of the boat skated away from the quay and Hideko and Roq both disappeared into the brine.

My choices were, 1) Get a 50?? cat underway to go help (not happening), 2) Take the concerned neighbors up on their offer to use their dinghy (very kind but a bit slower than needed), 3) Jump. So I jumped, and swam over to the dinghy.

The water was 82 degrees a few days ago, but post the Norther that came in it was now somewhere around 71, a refreshing swim to say the least. Hideko and Roq were back in the dinghy by the time I got there and once I trundled in over the transom the circus was over, no charge to the many well entertained lookers on. We are now waiting to see if Roq develops the famous ?wet dog” smell.

Key Biscayne
Crazy Anchorage
Randy
11/24/2006, No Name Harbor

For the first couple of days in No Name harbor every time we saw a boat anchor close to us we would worry. After Thanksgiving weekend we gave up worrying. The anchorage was crowded last weekend but this weekend it is even worse. There are folks visiting for the long holiday, the usual weekenders and a yacht club gathering for a pot-luck as well. Some of the yachts that come in just turn around and leave when they see how packed it is. Others, determined, squeeze into spaces a mere spitting distance from the next boat. All's well when the breeze keeps everyone lined up but it gets scary when there's no wind and the boats begin to drift in different directions. I'm certain that many of the anchor scopes overlap.

[Power Boat Rant]
I hate to say it, but statistically the power boaters are in the greatest need of an upgrade in seamanship. Many of them blast through the anchorage (a no wake zone), anchor on top of other boats (although most of them tie up to the dock), blast stereos as if they were the only boat around, fish (no fishing posted), swim (no swimming posted), tie up to the dock overnight (no overnighting on the dock posted) and generally display a lack of regard for others. Some of the sailboats are in this category as well and there are some very well handled power boats, but by and large…

Key Biscayne
Thanksgiving
Randy
11/23/2006, No Name Harbor

This is our first Thanksgiving on the boat. It was a great test of just how much food our galley could prepare in one go. We BBQed turkey on the grill with candied Yams, we cooked stuffing, gravy, asparagus and fresh cranberry sauce on the stove top, and we cooked pumpkin pie in the oven. It was yummy and we were both stuffed at the end of the night with plenty of left overs for Roq.

Key Biscayne

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