Carlos And Elsie

Yesterday, our good friends, Carlos and Elsie De Leon Campos paid us a visit. We were happy to share with them our new home and lifestyle. They are both excellent artists and Carlos has won numerous awards for his work. Two of his large pieces of work which adorned our former home is now admired by those who enter All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Lakeland. When we downsized to boat-life, we donated these two to our church. We still have some of his smaller pieces on board Beatitude to brighten the place and add a little culture to our lives.

Carlos' "The Presentation of Christ in the Temple" after Simon Vouet (Now gracing the walls of All Saints' Church in Lakeland)

Carlos’ “The Presentation of Christ in the Temple” after Simon Vouet (Now gracing the walls of All Saints’ Church in Lakeland)

They arrived mid-morning, and we soon threw off the dock lines and made our way down the Manatee River. Instead of heading out into the bay for a sail, we decided to duck into De Soto Point and anchor for lunch. After eating a healthy salad, we dinghied onto shore and took them through the De Soto National Monument/Park. Cindy and I have now been several times, but we always enjoy it, both walking the meandering trails and looking over the educational material regarding De Soto’s landing in the Tampa Bay area and his subsequent 4,000-plus mile journey across the southeastern United States.

Elsie, Carlos, and Cindy (Elsie and Carlos in full sun-protection gear!)

Elsie, Carlos, and Cindy (Elsie and Carlos in full sun-protection gear!)

Along the way, we lost a fender overboard.  Carlos stands with his prize fished from the river.

Along the way, we lost a fender overboard. Carlos stands with his prize fished from the river.

Lunch at anchor

Lunch at anchor

This little guy defiantly placed himself in the middle of our trail, only moving on with a little nudging by me.  A yellow rat snake?  Help me out, all you herpetologists!

This little guy defiantly placed himself in the middle of our trail, only moving on with a little nudging by me. A yellow rat snake? Help me out, all you herpetologists!

There are Indians lurking in the woods!

Beautiful Beatitude

This little crab was playing dead along our trail

This little crab was playing dead along our trail

From there we headed back in, dodging rain showers along the way. All boat systems worked well and no significant problems during our day’s adventures. Cindy and I enjoyed the evening onboard. I grilled some burgers (in a driving rainstorm) and we watched “Letters to Juliet.”

Grilling in the Rain

Grilling in the Rain

P.S. My creature loving niece, Paula, has correctly informed me that the above pictured snake is not a snake at all, but an Eastern Glass Lizard. Who would’ve thunk it?

Up the Mast and Flying the Gennaker

First things first… Less than 16 months on the countdown to cruising!! Boy does that countdown move slowly sometimes.

Now… to the topic at hand: We had a wonderfully productive and educational day today. Captain Roy Rogers, who taught Cindy and I how to sail about 19 months ago when we were still uncertain whether we would pursue the cruising life, joined us for a day of additional education aboard Beatitude. We are thankful for Roy’s friendship and his willingness to join us for the day. We greatly enjoyed his typical relaxed demeanor and vast fund of sailing knowledge.

A glorious beginning to the day!

A glorious beginning to the day!

There were two primary objectives for the day. The first was for me to ascend the mast in our bosun’s chair. My life is in Cindy’s hands as she hauls me the 65 feet in the air using the halyards. Captain Roy was there to show her how to handle the winches and halyards, after making sure I was securely fastened into the chair and that the chair was securely fastened to the halyards. It was really quite exhilarating (and a little scary, at first) looking at the world from 65 feet up in mid-air. My legs were a little rubbery for a while after descending.

"Haul me up!"

“Haul me up!”

Halfway there!

Halfway there!

The top of mast!

The top of mast!

I've been "sainted."

I’ve been “sainted.”

Two things I discovered while at the top: Our TV antenna is broken (which we don’t use anyway), and the wires to the antenna are broken (again, not a great loss). There was actually a pressing need for me to go up there. Our anchor light has not been working for several months. I retrieved the anchor light in order to replace it. Unfortunately, when I tested the light this evening, it worked fine. So there must be either a short in the wire going up the mast or there is corrosion where the bulb fits in its socket. I’ll probably head up again soon to see if there is corrosion I can clean up and see if the light will then work. If not, I may have to call in back-up.

Beatitude from 65' above.

Beatitude from 65′ above.

Beatitude.  Cindy and Roy with my safekeeping.

The view down "C-dock" from 65'

The view down “C-dock” from 65′

The other objective for the day was to figure out how to rig and fly our gennaker sail. A gennaker is a colorful light-wind sail which enables one to make some progress towards his destination when there is little wind. It is so-named because it is a cross between a genoa and a spinnaker (google them). This will probably get little use until we start doing more extended cruising, but I’m certain we will use it more frequently at that time. After laying out the sail on the dock to make sure we knew what we were dealing with, we then had to figure out how to attach the sail to the boat and where to place the attachments. It does take some effort to set everything up to use the gennaker, so it will likely only be used when we are going to be sailing several hours at the same point of sail in light winds.

The gennaker, in snuffer,  stretched out on the dock.

The gennaker, in snuffer, stretched out on the dock.

Captain Roy preparing the gennaker for deployment.

Cindy raising the snuffer.

Cindy raising the snuffer.

Fully deployed.

Fully deployed.

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Once we felt that we had a handle on the gennaker, we turned Beatitude around and headed back to the marina. We were quite surprised to find ourselves heading directly into a 25-30 knot wind with sea spray flying all the way back over the entire length of the catamaran. Fortunately, when we arrived at the dock, the wind had subsided a little, but we still had 15 knot winds. Fortunately, again they were blowing Beatitude on to the dock rather than away from it.

Good conversation on our return.

Good conversation on our return.

The day's crew back at the marina.

The day’s crew back at the marina.

After washing the salt from our vessel, we changed and enjoyed a celebratory dinner at Bonefish grill. It was a good day!