Home At Last
28 July 2013 | Punta Gorda, FL
We moved into our new house end of May 2013. Tom towed the SeaRay down and put it in storage. We made several trips down to move, but sadly left Santorini behind in Panama City, Fl until we could prepare her slip in Punta Gorda.
Finally on July 17, dredging was completed - the same day we left for Dallas, TX. We quickly pulled out the Tide Charts - very important since she sits on the bottom at low tide in PC, and the Ponce De Leon Inlet in PG is only 6 ft deep mean low tide. Santorini draws 6.5. We were returning from Dallas on 7/22. It became clear that if we did not get her out of PC that same week, it would be 3 WEEKS before we could think about moving her.
We got home from Dallas on 7/22 at 2:30 pm, drove home from the airport, dropped off our convention clothes, and picked up our sailing clothes (& the ship's cat Chico.
We drove 8 hours to PC, got in about midnight and slept on the boat. We got up early to provision, get fuel, etc. and pulled away from the dock about 2 pm - just after high tide. We decided to sail to Port St. Joe - 4-5 hours away. We'd get a good night's rest, do an overnight sail to hopefully arrive at Egmont Cay (Tampa Bay) late the next day.
Our first disaster was a cockroach infestation. Tom ran out of room the last trip of our move and stored a bunch of stuff on board. The bugs must have been in the cardboard boxes - what a MESS! We anchored in PSJ just before a squall came though - with 45 knot winds. We were glad to be in a protected anchorage. We had a nice dinner, went to bed early, so we could get an early start. Our next problem was the windlass - the switch went out so Tom had to pull up 100 ft of 3/8 chain and 60+ lb anchor BY HAND.
West winds were predicted - great we thought since we are headed East. The problem was the West and Southing we had to do to get around the Cape at PSJ. In the midst of it, the engine quit. We've had fuel problems in rough seas before, but Tom thought he'd fixed it. Apparently not. Sails went up very quickly!
It took half the day to get around the Cape, and by then the predicted thunderstorms had rolled in. We knew the dodger was on its last legs but now you see daylight though the canvas - and it leaks like a sieve. Time to replace it with that hard dodger we've talked about! We were soaked.
Fortunately we got the jib rolled in before the storms came - only to realize that the roller furling bearing had parted. The seas were rolling, getting hit broadside made for a VERY bumpy ride. The wounded jib was a non-issue because the wind was 15-20 knots - to much. The evening wasn't bad, but not very comfortable either.
We were tired, clearly out of shape for the trip. We really did not want to have to do this during Hurricane Season, but really had no choice. Let's just say this is NOT this time be be sailing the Gulf of Mexico. We didn't see ONE boat all night that first night at sea.
We were headed for Egmont Key, but soon realized we'd likely get in around 3 am. By that night West winds had shifted to NW, right behind us pushing us home. We decided to spend a second night at sea and get in to Charlotte Harbor the next morning. We were blessed with a gorgeous sunset, a full moon and lots of stars.
Turns out we made the RIGHT decision, the thunderstorms later that night were INTENSE. How intense you ask?
Well, Tom was sleeping in the cockpit with his eyes closed and his hat over his face. There was lightening in every direction and he could see the bolts through the dodger, hat and closed eyelids! He was nervous, but I just visualized a bubble of white light around us and Santorini- protecting us all - determined we would NOT be hit by lightening.
We were glad we weren't trying to get into port or anchor in those conditions. At times it was coming down so hard that we almost couldn't see the bow of the boat! The rain looked like fog.
We had a better sail the next day, eventually the waves eased and the wind was behind us - surfing down the waves. Tom was able to fix the fuel problem but then the alternator went out. Fortunately we had solar panels to keep the batteries charged - necessary for the auto-pilot (which started to wander off course toward the end of the trip) and the refrigerator. We put up the storm jib and hauled.
We pulled in to Charlotte Harbor at about 10:30 am, we got to PG about 3:30 pm. It was still 3 more hours to high tide, but we wanted to be HOME. We decide to go for it and did not hit bottom. Our neighbor John saw us pull in, so he ran out to help us tie up at the dock.
She may look like the boat in the movie Captain Ron now (before they fixed her up). But she's HOME, and with a little TLC she'll be back in Full Santorini Splendor! Welcome to your New Home Rini.