Over the next six days, I plan to provide a daily account of our six day sailing adventure with Cindy’s twin sister, Christy.
The day was mostly overcast. The wind was blowing out of the west at 15-20 knots. At 11:15 a.m., we eased Beatitude out of her slip and began our most ambitious day of sailing yet. As we made our way into Tampa Bay we raised the mainsail. Almost immediately, I noted that there was something which wasn’t quite right. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the sail had become disconnected at one of the points at which it attaches to the slides which ascend and descend in the mast track. Thankfully, this was but a small stumble to begin our trip. I was able to take a piece of rope and at least temporarily reattach the luff of the sail to its slide.
At 1:30, we entered the gulf. raised both sails, turned off the engines, and… Aaah! That sweet sound of wind and water and little else. We would not turn on the engines again until 5:30 a.m. the next morning. That’s 16 hours straight of sailing. That is also a first for us! And, what wind we had! Virtually the whole of the 16 hours were filled (as were the sails) with 15-20 knots of wind from the WSW. Ideal for beam reaching all the way down Florida’s gulf coast. There was one problem, and a good one to have at that. We were going too fast. I had figured about 5 knots on average for the overnight sail. Instead we were consistently moving along at over 8 knots. Around 8 pm, I started reducing sail. Eventually, I had two reefs in the main and two in the Genoa and was still sliding along at 6 knots.
I think this was really a good sail for us. For one thing, it was our first solo (duo) overnight sail without the assistance of a captain. Since it was for only one night, I didn’t mind doing most of the night watch duties. I was on up until 12:30 am. Cindy stood watch until 3 am (with Christy’s company), when I awoke and finished out the night. Thankfully, there were no issues.
I think it was also fortuitous that the sail did not take place on a smooth glassy surface. For the entire 16 hours of sailing we had waves between 2-6 feet in height. Initially, they came right across our starboard beam, but as we edged in a more southeasterly direction, they came across our starboard aft quarter for most of the night. The wave action varied from a gentle roll to a clanging, banging jump. All three of us did well. By that I mean that none of us were seasick. We had each taken meclizine the night before our cruise started and then the morning of. It must have helped.
The sunset was nice but not the most spectacular Florida sunset I’ve seen. Just before the sun went down, Cindy prepared pizza for our dinner. It was just what we needed after our exciting day. Oh! One other piece of exciting news. Twice I was startled by the clicking of the drag on our fishing reels. My first trophy was a big chunk of seaweed (which, by the way, put up more of a fight than my second trophy). It seems like a fish hits my line always at the most inopportune times. As I was helping my wife remove the pizza from the oven, the reel started clicking loudly. My second trophy was on the line. It was what I now believe was a spanish mackerel! (I say “now” believe, because I had no idea what it was when I caught and released it). I’m guessing it weighed 4 or 5 pounds. It was quite a pretty fish, but still with some scary looking teeth.
The moon rose from behind the eastern clouds around 10:30 or so. Day one was transforming itself into day two of our adventure.