Back the USA!
21 March 2012 | Gasparilla Marina
Sound Effect arrived in Florida Monday March 20 after a SEVEN day passage from Puerto Morales Mexico to Garparilla Marina in Charlotte Harbor, Southwest Florida. This 436 miles trip should have taken 3 days possibly 4, however in order to make the last 10 miles we required a tow from Sea Tow .
We left Mexico Wednesday morning at 7am after waving good bye to friends and marina employees.
We motored out of the marina through the channel for 20 minutes and began sailing in typical Caribbean winds of 18-20 kts of wind. We had left earlier than planned due to a projected weather window of east winds. The rhumb line or direct route is 38degrees magnetic compass heading from Mexico to the entrance of Charlotte Harbor. With an east wind (90degrees) we would have a close reach up the rhumb line. Initially that worked and with a Gulf Stream boost we were sailing along at 8 plus knots feeling on top of the world. Sure the seas were lumpy with square waves, but it wasn’t raining , and we figured three 150 mile days and we would be there Sat morning latest.
THEN the wind began to turn NE and we were forced west of the rhumb line, still doing 7 knots. If we tacked back east to the rhumb line we dropped to less than 4 got pummeled by the waves and were actually making no northward progress at all simply east, so we tacked back to our more northerly heading hoping the winds would eventually go east as forecast. However the geometry eventually begins to work against you and as you go north the direct course is no longer 38 but 40 and then 42 and eventually when the east winds did fill in we needed to go east. During this part of the trip we needed to run the engine for topping off the batteries. We noticed that there was no cooling water exiting the boat and sure sign of a raw water cooling problem. I did all the obvious things including disassembly the raw water pump cover to inspect the impeller (all in a very bumpy sea no joy there). We could not determine where the blockage was, so we ran the engine for 20 minutes at a time until it got hot and then shut it down. I determine the heat (there is no gauge) by using an infrared thermometer.
One day we simply hove to and pulled out the gas generator to top off the batteries. (Heaving to is a way of using the sails against the force of the rudder to actually stop the boat.)
The last two days we were alternately becalmed twice and had raging wind out of the east at over 20kts.
We finally arrived off the entrance to the Boca Grande channel at 9pm too late to go in so we tacked back and forth to counter the tidal current, and then when the tide turned I hove to for Connie to get rest while I continued on watch.
I emailed Andrew (our son) to inquire about tow insurance with our policy holder and SEA Tow and Boats US. But unlike triple AAA you can’t join if you have an existing problem, so we had to pay full bore.
We were not able to sail up the channel as the wind would require constant tacking and the channel is very narrow. I was willing to stay off until the weather conditions changed but Connie said she would prefer to be towed in. In fact she said she would go back to work to pay for the tow.
To give you an idea of the conditions the metal bracket in the tow line bent and parted during the tow once again setting us a drift. We were able to retrieve the line a second time and tie a bowline bypassing the metal connector.
We are now in Gasparilla marina the closest one to the inlet for the tow company, intending to get the engine repaired and continue to explore the area.