|Vessel Make/Model:||1977 Irwin Ketch|
|Hailing Port:||El Jobean, Florida|
|Crew:||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.|
Home Sweet Home! We arrived home at 5:00 on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. We have some maintenance to do on the Wyvern. One, we will need to remove the transmission. The consensus is that the clutch in the transmission has worn out. Charlie noticed that we weren’t getting the speed out of the boat with the same rpm that we normally run the engine. We ran the engine hard all the way across the Great Bahamas Bank and then across the Gulf Stream because we had no wind to sail. The choice was to cross with smooth seas which necessarily means less or no wind. Whether that contributed or just accelerated the decline of the clutch is really neither here nor there. We did have a bit more difficult time keeping up with our buddy boats from Angelfish Creek until we anchored about 2 hours north of Channel Five Bridge at Long Key. At that point we separated from Caprice. They opted to stay at Jewfish Hole on the northeast point of Long Key and then go to Marathon because of possible high winds and storms. Make It Easy needed to be home by the 19th and we also wanted to walk the beaches along Cape Sable in the Everglades, so we decided to go ahead north and make the extra two hours to allow us time the next day to beachcomb. We stopped at the marker on Springer Bank because our propulsion was down to a speed of only 2.5 to 3 kts. Thinking we might have caught a crab pot, so Charlie dove on the propeller. He did find a wad of what we are calling witches hair, a stringy seaweed. We had a nice evening out in basically open water. There was a thunderstorm up by Miami and Key Largo. At first it looked like it would go offshore. It did give us a nice light show most of the evening. At midnight it hit us. Blowing quite hard, both boats drug anchor. Being dark and not wanting to reset the anchor in the high winds, we just kept watch as we drug nearly two miles. We were dragging into relatively deeper water, from the 9 or 10 foot that we anchored in to 11, 12 and 13 feet, so there was no danger. We seemed to be dragging in tandem with Make It Easy, but not close enough to cause concern. By about 2:00 or so in the morning, we seemed to have stopped dragging. We set the anchor alarm and went to bed. The next morning when we raised the anchor, we had a whole head full of witches hair on the anchor, trailing about 3 feet and a ball covering the whole anchor. We had our hopes up that the witches hair was our problem with the propulsion, but we still couldn’t make any speed with the engine. We did manage to motor up to Cape Sable. We found lots of nice shells, some Styrofoam floats and nice driftwood pieces. We saw lots of alligator tracks and tail drag marks and even saw one floating in the water along the shore. We left that end of the beach for him and walked the other direction. We stopped at north Cape Sable at another beach, then headed to the Little Shark River. Probably less than fifteen minutes before we arrived a thunderstorm hit. Winds were blowing up to at least 38 kts and the rain was falling so heavy we couldn’t see much more than 200 feet. Tim made the prudent decision to not enter the river during the storm, so we both rode out the storm in safe water just outside of the entrance. We made it into the river just before dark as the storm departed. We enjoyed a calm and restful night. Luckily we had great winds for the 60 mile sail from Little Shark to Marco Island. We used the motor very little to get into Smokehouse Bay, but mostly sailed and tacked our way in. Another calm and restful night. Very little wind the next morning, so we did have to use the motor to get out to open water with just a little wind in the sails. Unbelievably we actually passed another sailboat on the way out. We had initially planned to sail to Boca Grande, but the wind didn not cooperate enough in the morning to give us enough time to make it before dark. Winds did clock around during the afternoon and we were able to sail into San Carlos Pass just north of Fort Myers Beach. We had a bit of trouble with the wind through the bridge and by the high rise buildings, but once past those we were able to sail to St. James City. Mike and Cindy from Nautical Girl met us and Tim and MaryAnn for dinner. We convinced Tim and MaryAnn to go ahead of us from St. James City to home. We were able to sail most of the way home, thankfully. The wind did die completely for several hours, but came back up the last few miles home. Our second maintenance problem is having the inverter repaired. I also need to find a Pactor Modem for use with the single sideband radio so we can send emails and post the Wanderings when we don’t have cell service. We also need to find several leaks. Guess that is the major maintenance items. Lots of minor ones. But we have all summer, right? The picture is of all our treasures from beachcombing.
Left Smokehouse Bay in Marco Island at 6:30 this morning. First rattle out of the Bos, we ran aground getting out of the bay. Back winded the job and were able to get off after 15 minutes or so. We hesitate to use the engine due to the transmission problems. Winds not ENE like predicted. So it was a bit more difficult to sail for the first half of the day. Had to sail hard on the wind and tack to make our heading. After noon winds did clock off of north gradually. We were able to sail all the way to St. James City on the south tip of Pine Island in Charlotte Harbor. Did call on the engine when we went through the Sanibel Bridge since they often block the wind. Met Make It Easy at St James City. They picked us up in the dinghy and we went into the Waterside Restaurant and met Mike and Cindy from Nautical Girl who had driven down to have dinner with us. Great fun and relaxing after the hectic sailing day. One more day and we will be home barring any more setbacks.
We made it to Marco Island after two nights in the Everglades. Several interesting incidents I will relate later. The inverter quit, so we have no 110 power and my computer battery doesn't hold a charge so I am writing this on my iPhone. So just a short version tonight. Charlie didn't get the pelican clip fastened well on the mizzenmast when he tried to raise it several days ago. Halfway up the clip opened. The sail came down and the halyard ended up at the top of the mizzen mast. The only way to get it down was to haul me up the main mast, then lower me down the triatic stay. The wire that runs between the masts. Then I hooked onto the mizzen halyard and came down the mizzen mast. Not something I enjoyed. But, managed. Tim came over and helped Charlie get me up and down. Felt we needed to use the sail tomorrow because the transmission on the boat has a problem. So we need to sail as much as possible. Glad these problems waited until the end of the trip! I'll try to elaborate on all our trials and tribulations when we get home. Just wanted to let everyone know we are safe and sound tonight. Oh! Sailed all day today!
We will be in the Everglades tonight and tomorrow night and there are no cell towers, thus no signal and no Wanderings for two nights. Picture is of float plane that came into lunch at Lorilei's in Islamorada. We had lunch there and then went to the Bass Pro Shop to see the sister ship of Hemingway's Pilar. Cloudy all day. Just enough wind to keep the job full while we motor sailed.
The El Jobean Yacht Club Irwin Sailboat Fleet has made it back to the US. We motorsailed the whole way from Chubb Cay to Key Largo in the Florida Keys. Our choice, we wanted calmer seas, thus we had less wind. We were able to catch some wind across the Banks, but our sails mostly hung limp across [...]
Surprise! We are still in Chubb Cay. The wind forecast keeps us in the 20 to25 kt range all day today and tonight. We planned to stay at a marginally protected spot on the Banks tonight, but with the winds that high, the waves would make anchoring very uncomfortable, if not miserable. So, after a [...]