Just the Two of Us

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 general area of our slip in the marina. We are one dock further in on the T-portion at the end of the dock (seen mid-right picture).

Clear of the docks and motoring out of the marina.

We were hailed on the Manatee river channel by this coast guard vessel requesting to pass “starboard to starboard.”

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.

Cindy, auto-inflating life-jacket in place, enjoying the view from the front deck, with genoa unfurled behind.

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.

Prepared for a delicious spaghetti dinner.

Sunset at De Soto Point

A view looking up the mast while laying on the trampolines.

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.

Anchor and chain manually retrieved and piled on deck.

Awesome two-way communication headsets for use while anchoring, docking, etc. They work great!

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.

Standing in our dinghy, using my bowline knot-tying skills to rig a line from one piling to another to hold our port bow and stern lines.

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.

Leaving Beatitude after our two-day adventure. More adventures await!

Some Pictures from the Maiden Voyage

Learning to Cook in Beatitude’s Galley.

Relaxing on the Bow – enjoying the beautiful weather.

Barry lowering the anchor when we stopped for the day in Venice FL

The dock at Regatta Pointe Marina the first evening. I like the way the sun reflects off the lockers. (Beautitude is at the end of dock-taking pic from it)

Our First Passage Complete

I am now sitting in my home office catching up on mail and other business which waited for our return.  The night shift in the Emergency Dept. awaits me this evening.  When I last left you, we had awakened from a night spent in the Marathon Marina.  I’ve concluded that I’ll be spending less time in marinas and more in anchorages when cruising.  It cost us $133.00 to tie up next to a dock for 1 night.  Comparing that to our $668.00 for 1 month at Regatta Pointe (where we will keep Beatitude) makes our permanent home look like quite the deal.

Well, we left Marathon at 1 in the afternoon.  The morning was occupied by my taxi trip to the local Publix for a few more provisions and utensils, and some general upkeep of the boat.  Shortly after leaving the marina, we sailed under the famous 7 mile bridge.  With a clearance of 65′ and a mast height of 64+’, I experienced anxiety and palpitations looking up to the top of the mast as we motored under the bridge.  I was certain we would lose our mast (which we didn’t, thank God)!  The rest of the day was spent motoring in light and variables winds approximately 20 miles off the gulf coast of southern florida.  The only aquatic life we saw up to this point was a few flying fish removing themselves from the path of our yacht. Around midnight, we spotted the lights of an oil rig off to port (left side of the boat facing forward).  At 7 am we witnessed a beautiful sunrise over Naples.  Shortly thereafter, we were greeted with the company of a pod of dolphins who playfully swam beneath our boat before heading off.   After 28 hours of motoring (we motorsailed for about 12 of those with the mainsail up), we anchored in a beautiful anchorage in Venice.  See the foregoing discussion on anchoring vs. marinas above.  The Crow’s Nest Marina wanted $175 for us to tie up to their dock for the night.  And there was no nearby restaurant as in Marathon.

Friday morning, we were up early so that we might journey up the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) the rest of the way from Venice to Bradenton.  It was a beautiful, peaceful trip on which we saw all manner of waterfowl and several dolphin sightings.  We pulled into our home port, Regatta Pointe Marina on the Manatee River around 3:30 in the afternoon.  After securing Beatitude to the dock, washing down the boat, and generally putting things away, we had a celebratory dinner at the marina restaurant.

All in all, the trip was wonderful and we feel really good about Beatitude and our future plans.  More on that to come.  Following are some photos of our first passage (Click on the photos for a larger version):

The “famous” Porky’s BBQ and Seafood with live entertainment nightly

Beatitude at rest in Marathon Marina

The instrument panel at the helmstation. To the right is our chartplotter/GPS screen showing our location, course, and water depth, among other things.

Morning serenity at anchor in Venice

One of several bridges which had to be opened for our journey up the ICW. This was the only swinging bridge of the bunch.

On the VHF requesting bridge opening. (If you look closely you might see my feeble attempt at growing a sailor’s beard. That’s 10 days of growth!)

Cindy, chillin’ on the port trampoline while we motor up the ICW.

The sliding window between the Galley and the Cockpit was one of Cindy’s favorite features of the Lagoon catamarans.

A gorgeous and majestic sunset over Regatta Pointe Marina welcomed us to our new home.

Barry and Captain Dale who accompanied us for the passage.