The Morning Fog May Fill The Air
27 January 2008 | Gulf of Mexico
Day 13 - Thursday, 1-24-08 - Gulf of Mexico to Clearwater
......but we do care; we are fifty miles offshore and this ain't San Francisco! From midnight to 0400 it was cold and clear with no wind to speak of, so we continued on the Iron Genny, steaming as before. Roger and Gerry adopted a natural two-hour watch rotation that seemed to fit their cycadian cycle better than the four-hour routine they had planned. One would sleep in the cockpit while the other would man the wheel. No surface contacts were noted and an overcast sky added to the somber mood.
Roger's $600 steaming light (a long story that must await our return) failed early in the evening, so we were improperly lighted for operating on the engine. Bulb repacement was not an option until we reached Clearwater. A steaming light bulb failure was presumed as the foredeck light was still bright, another item on the out-of-commission (OOC) list for repair during our stay in the Tampa area.
At about 0300 Jean arose and made hot chocolate for the watch, a true angel of mercy. She also brought a blanket to cover Gerry and may have saved his left leg from needing amputation. He had been sleeping and had not noticed the cold had numbed him from the waist down. He was asleep with his Leatherman tool in his left pocket and did not realize it until the blanket returned normal feeling and blood flow along with the sensation of pain. (He had a sore left hip for a couple of days but no permanent damage.)
More good news, around 0400 the fog returned as we caught up with the weak cold front that passed as we left Carrabelle; only now it had gone stationary, begging the question "are we having fun yet? " Visibility dropped to fifty yards at times as we commenced sounding fog signals using the " huff 'n puffer " to save our air horn. We only had two cans of air, another item for our Tampa replenishment list. Our overly-friendly fog stayed with us all the way to Clearwater where, on arrival of course, the wind leaped up to 20 kts., and along with a 3 kt. ebb current, further complicated our landing at the Clearwater Municipal Marina. Then we had to endure the idiot with the bullhorn on a passing pirate-bedecked square rigger lookalike there for the Gasparilla festival who proceeded to critique our landing which had become somewhat awkward with the wind and current trying to return us to Carrabelle.
The bright spot in the day was seeing Roger's brother David on the pier with the offer of lodging, warm showers, and a wonderful meal. David helped us moor in our assigned berth and drove us to his lovely home in Tampa where his wife Martha served delicious cuban sandwiches and deviled crab, a welcome repast for weary, bedraggled sailors home from the sea.
Our first offshore leg is now completed. We began in fog and ended in fog with the only significant wind arriving in time to make life exciting on the landing approach. It was completed with no serious injuries or significant damage and in aviation terminology "any landing you walk away from is a good landing." (GLR)