Day 1: Is this Alaska?

The next several blogs will chronicle an 8-day sailing adventure from January 17-24, 2014.

It was 5:30 in the morning as we were pulling into San Carlos Bay on Day 2 of our trip. Cindy and I were standing in the helm station attired with several layers of clothing, attempting to stay out of the wind. It was 58 degrees, Beatitude was headed north, directly into the teeth of a 20 knot northerly wind. I turned to my wife and asked, “Is this Alaska?”

We’ve been looking forward to a planned adventure with our daughter, Julie, and her partner, Tracy, for some time – an eight day sailing adventure. They flew in from northwestern Pennsylvania for a few days in the warm Florida sunshine. Instead, at least at the start, they got some brisk northern air.

Two Pelicans and an Anhinga on the sea wall and in the water as we leave Regatta Pointe

Two Pelicans and an Anhinga on the sea wall and in the water as we leave Regatta Pointe

We had hoped to make a trip to the Dry Tortugas and back, but Mother Nature said otherwise. This week we will experience back-to-back cold fronts which will provide near-constant northerly winds and cool temperatures. We would have no trouble getting to the Dry Tortugas, but getting back would be miserable beating into the winds and waves for 2 days. Instead, we decided to revisit areas from a previous adventure. We’d take an overnight Gulf trip to Sanibel and work our way up the Gulf ICW back to Bradenton.

Documenting in the Log Book

Documenting in the Log Book

The ladies on deck as we motorsail down the Manatee

The ladies on deck as we motorsail down the Manatee

Captain and Admiral

Captain and Admiral

Looking up the roller-furling genoa to the top of the mast

Looking up the roller-furling genoa to the top of the mast

Armed with our new oversized anchor and repaired sails, we left the Marina around 11 a.m By 1:30, we were out into the Gulf of Mexico angling southward. Late spring of 2013, we did a similar trip. We experienced 15-25 knots wind and 3-6 ft waves over the stern quarter the entire way. The sails were reefed and we were flying. This time it was not to be. We had virtually no wind from the time we left the marina until about 9:30 pm. The entire day was spent motor sailing with only the mainsail.

Repairing the windlass while heading south in the Gulf of Mexico

Repairing the windlass while heading south in the Gulf of Mexico

Out on the Gulf

Out on the Gulf

The only other boat we saw all day (and night) on the Gulf

The only other boat we saw all day (and night) on the Gulf

Twilight at Beatitudes helm station

Twilight at Beatitudes helm station

We watched the sun set at 5:58, had a dinner of salmon, aspargus, and rice and settled in for the overnight. Around 9:45 in the evening, the wind picked up slightly (~9-10 knots), so we also unfurled the genoa, but continued to motor sail. Tracy and Julie decided to stand watch until 3 am. Cindy and I laid down around 10. The girls did great and were happy to be relieved around 3. Cindy and I continued at the helm until we anchored. To be continued…

Dad and daughter preparing for grilled salmon and asparagus

Dad and daughter preparing for grilled salmon and asparagus

Sunset over the open water

Sunset over the open water

If we were to follow the sunset, we would be in Mexico in about a week!

If we follow the sunset, we’ll be in Mexico in about a week!

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