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Wyvern's Wanderings
Vessel Name: Wyvern
Vessel Make/Model: 1977 Irwin Ketch
Hailing Port: El Jobean, Florida
About: Charlie and Phyllis Atha
About: After living aboard our 42' Irwin for almost 10 years, we sold her and bought a home in El Jobean, Florida. Bought a storm damaged 1996 Hunter 45 and have been working on it for the past 3 years. THEN we sold the Hunter and purchased the Irwin back. Feels like home!
Extra: Both Charlie and Phyllis are USCG licensed captains and ASA sailing instructors.
Recent Blog Posts
14 April 2014 | Home, El Jobean, Florida
Charlie weighed the anchor, motored out of the anchorage, and set the sails all by himself. He let me go back to bed for an hour or so. We did have a good usable wind all day. The first third was a bit light and on our stern. Then when we turned north for the 2nd third of the journey, we were on [...]
13 April 2014 | St. James City, Pine Island, Florida
Up at 6:30 and off by 7:00. We motored back out of Capri Pass at Marco Island, then set all the sails. The wind was blowing about 10 - 13 kts and a bit close to the bow, but workable. We sailed over 5 kts., sometimes close to 6 kts. all morning. The wind did subside some around noon, but by the time we hit the Sanibel Bridge dark clouds covered us and the wind was up to 18 or 20. Charlie had already taken in the jib and we took down the mizzen. Sailing and heeling quite a bit with the main up. Before we turned into the Miserable Mile, we turned into the wind and took down the main. One of our deterrents to sailing was the amount of boats. Since its Sunday, the number of boats out was up even out on the Gulf on the way down, but when we hit Fort Myers Beach and then the Intracoastal when we went under the bridge they exponentially increased in numbers. The feeling was like Wyvern had wandered into a hornets nest, with all size and makes of small power boats going and coming in no discernible pattern. Much easier to just motor through them all, especially since we only had 2 nm to go to our anchorage at St. James City. We arrived at 2:30 and anchored. The wind was still up and the seas a bit bouncy, but it felt good to be anchored and away from all the congestion. We relaxed. Charlie now has TV reception. Not much, but the 24 hour news station and an old rerun of Streets of San Francisco. Enough to keep him happy. I read in the cockpit. Then we showered and spiffed up to go into the Waterfront Cafe for dinner with Jack and Kris. An enjoyable last dinner with our cruising buddies for this trip. Since they had picked us up in their dinghy, they dropped us off and agreed to come aboard for our last sundowners and captains meeting. The weather calmed considerably after we anchored. The sun returned and gave us a beautiful sunset. Seas are mildly bumpy, but much less than earlier. We have had a wonderful journey this winter with our buddy boats Caprice and Nautical Girl. Sort of sorry to have it end, but now anxious to get home and settled for the summer.
12 April 2014 | Marco Island, Florida
We started off from the Little Shark River at 6:45 this morning. I think we had 3 or 4 boats that followed Caprice and Wyvern out. Wind was good and we put up all the sails. Making about 6 kts under sail, we thought the 65 nm we had to traverse might go quicker than we thought, but noooo. The wind started dying, little, by little, by little. We upped the throttle, little, by little, by little. Caprice hailed us on the radio. Their engine would not start. Caprice's exhaust is on the port side and on a starboard tack, I guess the waves were just high enough to force water backwards through the exhaust system and flooded the engine with salt water. It happened last year, but in much worse seas. No one thought the seas were high enough to cause the same problem today. Anyway, they made what headway they could in the lighter winds and Jack pulled off the injectors and was able to get the water out of the engine. He started it up and it ran okay, so off we are again. Another hail and one of his cylinders is not hitting. By now we are in the doldrums and the sea is glassy. After some discussion of options, he tied the dinghy to the side of the boat and used it like a tiny tugboat. The dinghy would push the boat at about 3.5 kts. Not bad considering. Jack is an amazing mechanic. While Kris watches the helm, he goes below. Finds that the push rod in the non-working cylinder is broken in two. He uses the gas cook stove, the anchor on the bow and a hammer and solders the rod back together and beats it back into decent shape. He puts it back in and it works!! AND continues to work. We motor on into Capri Pass at Marco Island, turn north into the intracoastal and go up about a mile to a bend in the creek where there is a good anchorage. It was 7:30 when we arrived. A 13 hour day. I assumed they would be exhausted, so I made enchiladas, beans and rice, and a salad for dinner and invited them over. Had some trials and tribulations today, but we made it to our destination, before dark, and have a calm, quiet anchorage to regenerate. After today, our 65 nm, 13 hour day, tomorrow will seem like a breeze with only about 35 nm. Plans are to stop at St. James City, but if everything goes well, we might go another 3 hours to Pelican Bay??? Home by the full moon on the 15th. Oh, we saw two turtles today and quite a few dolphin.
11 April 2014 | Little Shark River, Everglades, Florida
Charlie and I were up early and weighed anchor before 7:00. Charlie had went out several times and brought in about 20 feet of chain. Then he would let it set and most of the mud would rinse off. He did it several times and we didn't have a mud bath on deck. We motored to Marathon Marina fuel dock. Burdines and Pancho's were already full with boats at the dock. Put 30 gallons of diesel and 50 gallons of water, plus got 2 gallons of dinghy gas. Cost was just under $170. Should get us home though. We put the main and the mizzen up as soon as we cleared the channel. Didn't put the jib up right away, because we were going downwind and we were going to jibe (change the sails to the other side with the wind behind us) when we got to the opening of the 7 Mile bridge. We sailed with all three sails most of the 37 nm to the Little Shark. Could have sailed the whole distance, but we stayed upwind of our rhumb line so we could hit the beaches south of the Little Shark. Jack and Kris opted to sail on to the anchorage. The first beach we stopped at, our walk was cut short because there was an alligator just off shore in the water. This is his habitat, so we relinquished the beach to him and went back to the dinghy. We did go back his direction in the dinghy thinking he might go up on the beach and we could see how big he was, but he wouldn't go ashore and we weren't going to get too close in a rubber boat. His head looked like it was about 18 inches or bigger. It wasn't a tiny gator. We went back to the Wyvern and motored with just the jib out another 5 miles north and stopped at Upper Cape. No alligators or even signs of any on this beach. We picked up 15 Styrofoam floats and some decent shells today. I hang this kind of floats in the lanai at the house. They are painted different colors and are beat up enough to have character. At the Upper Cape, we anchored too shallow and were aground when we returned to the boat. Charlie went out in the dinghy and picked up the anchor, then pushed the bow of the boat around. The bottom here is soft mud, so with him pushing the bow and then me powering forward we were able to get off fairly easily. Again we motored with the jib another 5 miles to the Little Shark arriving at 6:30. Said hello to Caprice and anchored the boat. I had put up the screens on the cockpit, because the Little Shark is notorious for bugs in the summer. After we anchored, I helped Charlie pull up the dinghy on the davits and the noseeums attacked. Charlie didn't even finish tying off the ropes that keep it from swinging. Again, this is their habitat and we closed ourselves in the screening and let them have it. Had our salmon and salad in the cockpit with the little buggers clinging to the outside of the screen. The anchorage is extremely still and calm. When the sun went down, the wind just died. Probably about 10 other boats anchored. The wind was mostly east today, but a bit northeast at times. We had a brisk sail this morning with winds about 15 kts. It started to subside after noon. The seas just had a small swell with wind chop on top. Wyvern was pretty close hauled and stayed heeled over pretty good all morning. Hard to stay on the seat on the high side of the boat. We also had to maneuver around the crab pots. Not quite as many as we had in February when we left, but still plenty to keep you carefully watching. The skies started out mostly clear and ended up with a lot of clouds. Not stormy ones though. When the sun wasn't out, it was chilly out on the water. A good day. We only have 3 more days until we get home.
10 April 2014 | Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Vaca Key, Florida
Not much going on today. We have done everything we need to do in Marathon, and we are just waiting for the winds to go eastward. Charlie and I started to bring in the 2nd anchor. Had to go slowly, because of the glue like mud that stuck to the chain. Charlie washed it as I pulled it in. Charlie had mud all over himself. I only got the dregs as I pulled in the chain. But, sticky and mucky really doesn't describe it adequately. Jack and Kris moved Caprice off the mooring and came down to the west end of the harbor and anchored with us. They may not think it was such a good idea when they have to pull their anchor up. The four of us dinghied into Burdine's dinghy dock and walked west on Highway 1. We stopped at a roadside grill and had lunch. They had an excellent lobster bisque. We stopped at a junk marine shop, but it was closed today. Then we walked across the street to a tourist shop with a lot of ceramics painted in bright colors, metal sculped wall hangings and lots of shells and coral. They had pink flamingos, of which I have wanted one for ages, but just can't bring myself to buy one. We walked back to the dinghies and went for a short dinghy adventure up a canal behind the marina where they keep the crab boats. Not much there, but a long seawall with nothing on it. At the end was several small mobile homes and tiny houses built right on the water's edge. Some empty slips. Interesting. Back at the boat, Jack and Kris came aboard for a cold drink. While they were aboard, the clip holding the topping lift on the mainsail boom broke. Then the topping lift blew around, caught itself in Chewy's blades. So when they left, Charlie had to pull me up the mizzen mast to get the topping lift down. Chewy is wounded, he lost a tip off his already shortened blade, so he will be out of commission for the rest of the trip. Charlie did go out and put the rubrail on the side of the boat back in. It has a rubber insert that either got bumped or rubbed and popped out in spots. Then we put the dinghy up on the davits which pretty well signaled the end of the work day. The wind has clocked to the east, but is still up above 15 kts. all day. Seems to be subsiding a bit again this evening. Not, just checked. Sort of hazy clouds all day, but enough sun. Warm and the breeze wasn't too cool. Plan is to go to the fuel dock first thing in the morning. Get a bit of fuel and water. Then head off to the Little Shark River in the Everglades.
09 April 2014 | Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Vaca Key, Florida
We enjoyed a relaxing, laid-back day. Slept late (me), listened to the Cruiser's Net, then dinghied over to Caprice. We all dinghied into the marina and walked over to the Stuffed Pig. Had a sumptuous breakfast. Afterwards we walked down the side street to the Fisheries Restaurant. Not to eat again! Just to show Jack and Kris and to look at the seas on the Gulf side of the island. Quite choppy with whitecaps. Didn't look welcoming. Back to the boats and an afternoon of reading and napping. Charlie made chocolate chip cookies. Jack and Kris invited us over for dinner. Kris was making Chicken Caprice. It was delicious. Had Charlie's cookies for dessert. Charlie and I made it back to Wyvern just before sunset. The wind did blow most of the night and we did have a little rain, but I believe the worst of the storm passed us by. Still windy this morning, though the skies were clearer. Blowing around 18 to 20 all day. But, the seas are calm in the harbor. Still blowing this evening, from the northwest. Forecast is for it to start dropping in intensity and clocking around to the east tomorrow, but we all decided we would wait another day. Forecast for perfect conditions on Friday and beyond. No sense in going out there with winds in a questionable direction and seas still bouncy. We are after comfort.
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12 December 2010
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