S.V. Gratitude

Brewer 44, hull number 284

18 March 2019 | Cumberland Island, GA
08 February 2019
08 February 2019 | George Town, Exumas
01 February 2019 | Great Harbor Cay
31 December 2018 | Stuart, FL
21 December 2018 | Stuart Florida
21 December 2018
17 December 2018 | Stuart, FL
14 December 2018 | St. Augustine, FL
13 December 2018 | Sister’s Creek
12 December 2018 | Atlantic Ocean
11 December 2018 | Windmill Harbour
01 March 2017 | Exumas
26 February 2017 | Jumentos Cays & Ragged Islands
09 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos Islands, Bahamas
27 January 2017 | En Route to Nassau
23 January 2017 | Sister Creek, Marathon, FL
06 January 2017 | Cayo Costa State Park
17 March 2016
14 March 2016

Crab Pot Lottery

20 December 2011 | En route to Marathon
EVS: Windy and Sunny
December 20, 2011

When we departed Naples, we had thought we would spend the next night anchored north of Indian Key (near the access to Everglade City) on the edge of the Everglade Park. As we considered the charts, however, we realized that would be a short run and make the next leg (to Marathon) a real haul. So, we decided to push on to Little Shark River, where we had stopped three years ago and marveled at its primordial feel. The sail was very nice, good quartering breeze pushing us along at a respectable 6.5 to 7 knots, the sun was shining, and all was well. We noticed another boat heading roughly the same direction and hailed them on the radio. Pacific Quest is an English boat (a Fisher) and hails originally from Seattle, where the owners cruised her for several years before having her transported to Florida.

We arrived at Little Shark just before sunset, entered the river, and dropped the hook in a small cove just inside. Pacific Quest went further up river as they were planning to stay several days. There was one small sailboat at anchor and that was it for civilization. We watched the wildlife, had dinner, and settled in for the night.

We departed Little Shark River at about 7:00 am on the 19th. The small sailboat was getting underway at about the same time. She was about 20 feet long and being single handed by a gentleman who appeared a bit older than Van. Anyway, while we were getting ready to haul our anchor, get our “marriage savers” (two way headsets so we can communicate from helm to bow) set, generally get organized to put up the sails, he had his sails up and was pulling his anchor. There is something to be said for simplicity!

The winds were stronger than the day before and forecast to build through the day, which they did. We started with a good push from 12-15 knot winds and were enjoying a 7+ knot sail. When we got out of the lee of the south Florida Cape, the winds had a lot more sea room to gather force and create waves, so it got rougher and the winds built some more. Once they got consistently over 15-18, we decided to take a reef (i.e. shorten the sail size) in the main and jib. We went just as fast (7.5+) and the boat was a lot less trying to control. Then, we noticed that the boat seemed to be quite calm and relaxed in her motion and her speed dropped to a bit over 5 knots. We thought the winds had subsided, but they had not, in fact they had built further. We looked aft and saw that we had snagged a crab pot; oops, two crab pots; no, wait, three crab pots! (Florida Bay – the area of the Gulf of Mexico along the south Florida coast – is littered with them and they are quite the problem to avoid. They are strung out in rows, so, unless you happen to cross a row of pots, you go along a row of pots, which must be what we did to win the booby prize and collect three.) We headed into the wind in an effort to slow down and – with luck – drop the pots. No luck. Van tried dislodging with a boat hook. No luck. As he was contemplating going in the water – tied to the boat – to cut the lines, Lauren (being a mind reader) said “you are not going in that water” because it was quite rough and the boat a handful. She said “we installed a Prop Protector for just this purpose, so let’s try that.” (A Prop Protector is a razor sharp disk around the propeller shaft just ahead of the propeller. The idea is that, if a line is caught in the prop, when the propeller spins, the line is brought into the shaft and is cut. The risk is it may not work and the line can grab so tight as to stop the engine.) We tried it; started the engine; put it in gear briefly; and heard the wonderful “popping” sound of a taught line being cut. We looked aft and saw Styrofoam debris rising in our wake – the aftermath of the crab pot floats. We hated to do it because that represents someone’s livelihood, but we could not drag three pots and risk doing damage to the boat, risk picking up more, or get snarled in a channel marker. Besides, we do not know what pot field they came from, so the damage was done by their having been moved. Once the pots were gone, Gratitude resumed her romp and we were back to 7.5+ knots the rest of the way to Marathon. We arrived here at the marina (where we will leave her for Christmas) mid-afternoon, topped off the fuel tanks, and headed to our assigned slip where a bunch of “neighbors” came over to assist tying up.

Today, we visited and had lunch with a dear friend, Bill R., and did errands. (The marina is a good three miles from the grocery store, so we get our exercise.) Tomorrow, we have lunch with former neighbors from Brandon who winter in Islamorada. Thursday, we head for Seattle and Christmas.

With that in mind, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and the joys of spending time with family and friends.
Vessel Name: Gratitude
Vessel Make/Model: Brewer 44 Ketch
Hailing Port: Brandon, VT
Crew: Van and Lauren
About: It is hard to believe, but this is our 7th season aboard Gratitude. It will be a short season and close to FL, but we hope to relax, enjoy the time, being on the water, and each other. Come along.
Extra: Live it while you can.

2015 Cruise

Who: Van and Lauren
Port: Brandon, VT