One month after bringing Beatitude home to Bradenton from Ft. Lauderdale with the assistance of a captain, my schedule cleared enough for Cindy and I to sail her by ourselves for the first time. Come to think of it, it would be the first time we have ever sailed any boat by ourselves. We’ve always had some crew on board to assist. Over the past month, we had already spent a few nights on board the boat at the marina, but this was different.
Having struggled with maneuvering and docking Beatitude in close quarters on our maiden voyage, I have developed an irrational fear of docks and pilings and other boats nearby. Put me out in the wide-open waters and I’m fine. Just don’t make me maneuver under motor in tight places. So, with this fear in place, we prepared to cast off. There was a 15 knot breeze from the ENE pinning us onto the end of C dock (1 knot = 1.15 mph). Thankfully, with Cindy’s assistance with the lines, we made it out of the marina without taking gouges out of the side of Beatitude and without bashing into any other vessels.
The rest of the day was spent in blissful sailing out on Tampa Bay. We were going no place in particular. A steady 15 knots of wind out of the east made for excellent sailing weather. Our boat speed maxed out at 8.2 knots in 15 knots of wind on a close reach (sailing at 60 degrees into the wind). What a relaxing, exhilarating way to spend an afternoon! Cindy and I worked well together tacking and jibing and trimming the sails. After a while, I asked her to let me single-hand our vessel and found that I could handle the sails alone without difficulty. That’s good to know. The plan will be, over time, to get Cindy to be able to handle Beatitude confidently under sail or power.
We anchored for the evening at De Soto Point and settled in for an evening of relaxation. Cindy worked on her art. She produced an amazing textural drawing of Albert Einstein. While she actually made art, I watched some lectures on the history of art. We enjoyed a nice spaghetti dinner aboard. We retired for the evening fairly early, but I slept uncomfortably due to my irrational fear of docking.
The next morning we had breakfast and did a few boat chores. Around noon, we decided to weigh anchor and return to Regatta Pointe. Preparations were made, the engines were started, and I eased the boat forward while Cindy pushed the “up” button on the electric windlass (the device which pulls up and lets out the anchor). Nothing happened! After two hours of reading the instruction manual and climbing in and out of hatches… no success. We were not even able to bypass the electrical operation and manually operate the windlass with a winch handle. Only one choice remained if we did not want to be permanently anchored there. Cindy took the helm and eased Beatitude forward while I manually pulled in the chain and anchor hand-over-hand. I’m a little sore today, but it worked and we were soon underway.
About a quarter of a mile from Regatta Pointe, with my phobia of docking already well in gear at this time, things were looking okay with the wind actually decreased to about 12 knots. Out of nowhere, a squall appeared with winds steady at over 20 knots, gusting higher. Rain began pelting us both as I pulled into the marina. Although I would have liked to head right back out to open waters, I figured I had no choice but to attempt to dock the boat in 20 knots of wind and rain. Fortunately, conditions did let up just as I rounded the end of the marina toward our slip. Two friendly neighbors saw us coming in and offered to help us out with our lines (which we gladly accepted). Cindy had a little fear of her own concerning getting from the boat to the dock to tie the lines, so her prayer was answered when help arrived. By the grace of God, I was able to maneuver the boat perfectly and guided her into the slip without major incident. We then spent another 3 or 4 hours, tidying up lines and cleaning and closing up the boat.
We had a great time together on Beatitude. We both feel we are still novices at this whole sailing and boating business, so we count it a success that we took a 42 ft. by 25 ft. sailing catamaran out in 15 – 20 knot winds for two days by ourselves and returned relatively unscathed (Unfortunately, Cindy had a misstep and injured her left shoulder). We were dealt some adversity by the inoperable windless and the inopportunely-timed squall, but we dealt with it and succeeded. This was the first of many such adventures. For the next 2 to 3 years, we will have many such excursions in preparation for the day when we cast off our lines and head out for distant places.