06 January 2017 | Cayo Costa State Park
EVS: Foggy, clearing, and closing in
Finally, we are under way. We arrived at the boatyard just before Thanksgiving, with enough time to drop some stuff off and take Thumbelina to the vet/kennel, and headed to Seattle for the holiday with Erik, Catherine, Andrew, Rebecca, and Justin. (Kea flew out and joined us, which made a nice mini family reunion and gave her time to connect with the Seattle side.) After a nice holiday, we returned to FL on the 30th and set to work readying Gratitude.
There were many projects, some more major than others, and we soon realized we would not (comfortably) be able to leave the yard by December 15 as originally targeted. We planned to (and did) sand and pain the bottom; wash, buff, and wax the hull; install a new (larger) solar panel and charger (for which we had to drive to Miami); checked and repaired numerous systems and boat parts; and get Gratitude rigged and (generally) ready to sail. We took time out for Christmas on LI with Kea, Ethan, and Hunter, flying there on December 24 and returning the 30th. Gratitude was launched the 23d, so we were able to leave her on the dock and make sure refrigerator, freezer, etc. were functioning. However, just before heading out for the Christmas holiday, in the process of installing the sails (main, mizzen, and new Genoa), the main sail tore at the leach (aft edge of the sail). We called the sailmaker, but got no answer and knew the odds of getting the sail repaired (much less a new one) over the Christmas week were nil. Fortunately, Bob at the boatyard does a lot of sewing and sail repairs and he was willing to repair our sail to get us through this season at least.
After our return from Christmas, we finished getting Gratitude ready and departed on January 2 after the boatyard New Years Eve potluck, which was much fun. In order to leave the canal system, we have to pass through a lock and can do that only at mid high tide or above. We got to the lock a bit early, so dropped the hook and readied the fenders and lines for the passage through the lock, always a high gulpers moment. Fortunately, a fishing boat came into the canal system from the outside, so we asked them to leave the gate open and we were able to enter the lock without stopping at the first dock. We coasted in, closed the gate on the canal side, opened the gate on the bay side, exited, stopped at the outer dock to close the gate, and then headed through the channel to the open water. Phew! We anchored there for the night, and our friends Steve and MaryAnn on Living Well anchored nearby.
The next morning, Steve and Cindy on Slip Away exited the lock and anchored briefly, awaiting full light. By mid-morning, we all were underway heading to Cayo Costa State Park, a favorite. But first, we had to leave the deep hole in which we had anchored and we neglected to check the tide and best route, so we ended up (under power and sail) plowing our way through the muddy bottom for about ½ mile to deeper water.
Under way at last, the three boats entered Cayo Costa on the high tide without issue and enjoyed happy hour on Gratitude, the first of the season. We spent two delightful days in Cayo Costa, walking the Gulf beach and enjoying each other’s company. The aspect of cruising that is most appealing to us is spending time with good friends – new and “of long standing”.
As well, we continued to do things we did not get done before we left the yard, like rig the reefing lines on the mainsail (we have yet to do those on the mizzen). Of course, like so many other projects, we had make several attempts to get it right, raising and lowering the main four times to get all the lines (and Gratitude has a lot of lines) properly routed so nothing was fouled, the sail cover zipper will work, etc. One of the topics of conversation during one of our happy hours was that, no matter how many years (and this makes 9 for us on Gratitude) we have spent on our respective boats, how many miles we have sailed (and we estimate well over 10,000 for us aboard this vessel), and how many times we have rigged the boats, each year is a learning (or re-learning) process, which just goes to show that indeed, we Can’t Remember Sxxx.
We are heading to Ft. Myers Beach, en route to Marathon, where we will sit out a weather system and allow Steve and Cindy to guide us on restaurant tours of FMB. We look forward to it (not so much to the new list of projects to be completed before we really are ready to get underway for real).