21 June 2011,
Summer Sailing Trip, Mobile Bay Alabama to Port St. Joseph Florida.
We Set sail Tuesday morning destined for Port St. Joe. This is our first over night sailing trip. Forecast is for good winds and calm seas. We have a nice sail out of the bay, heading south till we can clear the Mobile ship channel. We head east staying about 3-5 miles of shore, we are sailing on a beam reach winds out of the south. It’s a fantastic sail, I head below to check on the below decks and get a bottle of water, when I hear this boom and ragged flapping, I rush on deck to find the foot of the main torn away, the sail is flogging, I get hooked in and go up and with boys help get the main furled. Now all I have is my jib, this does not deter us, and we continue on with the trip, a bit slower, but still sailing. The rest of the day turns out to be a great day of sailing. The Boys, Brandon & Austin
Towards evening we are beginning to see lightning in the north, I listen to weather and start to weigh my choices, I can run for Pensacola, or steer south and east and push off shore to avoid the inshore weather, I choose to run. However the wind is starting to not serve us well, so I fire up the iron genny and start our run south and east, we are tearing along at 7.5 knots, the boys have the first two watches, and I go below into the heat to catch some sleep. I know now that I need to have fans installed, wow it’s hot. I pop the forward hatch in the head, this makes it bearable, but we are getting a little spay, so the head is getting a little salt spray from time to time. But getting a little sleep is worth it. No issues all night, the boy’s wake me from time to time check on things but all is well. At 0400 I take my shift, I check the position we are 50 miles off shore, wow what a run, I shut the engine down, adjust course, adjust sail trim and enjoy the morning. I see flying fish, and in the distance a pod of dolphins playing in morning light. It is fantastic, I break out the camera and get some great pictures of the sun rising, what an awesome sight.
22 June 2011, At Sea
As the morning drags on I decide to set the spinnaker, the wind is coming out of the south, south west, perfect for a spinnaker run into Port St. Joe, and what a run, we are making good speed now at least 6 – 7 knots, wish I had decided on this earlier. That big sail really makes the difference. We make port St. Joe about 1500, we top off on fuel, running all night really burned it off. But for the boys peace of mind it was worth it.
We are dead beat and cooking is not looking appealing, so we head to bar and grab some food. We try some oysters, wow, they are fantastic. We are told they come from Apalachicola, the best in gulf, I have no doubt. We try some on our way back in different spots, and they don’t compare with these. So note is that we want to come back for oysters and scallop season, you can get your own when they are in season.
23 June 2011 Port St Joseph Florida.
We get up late; everyone is tired from our passage. We have a good breakfast and I head into town on a bike from the Marina to pick up some snorkeling gear. We head out and find a place and do some snorkeling, it’s a nice experience, I dive on the bottom of the boat and find some barnacles I know that this needs to be looked at, I make a note to talk to the Marina when we return. The snorkeling gear is an n investment in our future so it’s worth it. We see sea urchins, hermit crabs and all sorts of sea life… I so look forward to all there is to discover in the future.
24 June 2011 Port St. Joseph, Departure for Mobile
We wake up and prep for our departure back to mobile, we pull around 0900 once again we pushing to get out before the weather hits us, gives us a great beam reach un out of the bay and then a good broad reach as head for the deep waters of the gulf. Another great day of sailing passes As we close on Panama City, more evening thunder storms, and again wrestling with the choice of putting in or staying out. We decide to stay out and head south again. We douse the Spinnaker and unroll the Genoa. The wind is starting to pick up, and beginning to clock. This night will see the come from the south west, north and then out of the south by morning. Our luck still hangs in there, a little closer this time as we get some wind this time, but nothing over 25 knots, I stay up longer and to ensure things are going to be ok. Brandon stays on the first watch with me. I am really proud of him tonight; I think he is really scared, but using bravado to get past it. I don’t mind, he is really stepping up and watching and being very helpful. We tuck a reef in, probably a little too much, it’s ok we are still tearing along; it’s a great sail in the dark of the night. No engine this time the wind serves us well as we sail in the pitch black of the night.
25 June 2011, at Sea.
We awake to another fabulous sunrise, and shape a course for the Pensacola cut. We make it around 1400, in time for some snorkeling and time in the water.
After the Snorkeling I start messing the anchor, this becomes a mess, loose one anchor to the deep and unable to use the second because of the rope becoming snarled in the winch. I decide I am going to all chain rode, it’s cheaper than replacing the winch. We motor to the oyster bar just across the border in Alabama; we have dinner, (not that great) and tie up for the night. We are worn down, what a long two days of fun in the sun. I didn’t want to stop and pay for another stop, but wow, it’s worth it to have the AC and good night’s sleep.
26 June 2011 Lu Lu`s Florida/Alabama border ICW
We take off early headed down the Inter-costal water way for Lu Lu`s. After motor for several hours I give Brandon the wheel, and I rig up my hammock on the bow between the forestay and mast, what a ride, its pleasant and quite with the water rushing by. Soon we are closing on Lu Lu`s. I take the wheel and get us docked; we go have a late lunch, good food, good music, and Good times. The boys are enjoying the scenery so I go to lie down and take a short nap. I try to lay down below, but it’s hot, too hot to nap, so I go back to hammock, aaahhh, now this is the life, then the knot gives out, what! And I plummet to the deck, going part way into the hatch, not such a good day anymore, bruised ribs, and trip to hospital to make sure nothing is broken. WOW the pain is rough. I make it back just before the music ends, I find a chair and get some good service and listen to the music. We go to the boat and get some sleep, no power tonight, so it’s a little warm.
27 June 2011 Lu Lu`s Gulf Shores Alabama
We wake up early and head out. We are head for our home port on Mobile Bay. I manage to stay up for awhile, but my ribs are complaining so I go below and let boys man the wheel. I come up and manage to stay up the rest of the cruise into the marina. We get boat docked, fix dinner and I hit the rack, I am tired and I hurt.
28 June 2011 Turner Marine Mobile Bay
The Journey is finished, what a trip it was. Now for some maintenance and the long drive home. I don’t get much done myself; the ribs complain too much and put me on my back again. I get the boys to help some, but they are done being sailors. Time for the trip home.
Brandon and Austin seasoned sailors, at this point, but still not buying a cruisers life, so we drive home J
More to follow as more adventures are yet to be had.
My goal in the future is to start writing these as we go, adding a little more detail, so we can a better log. Takes practice and discipline.
9 July Puts on Surprise again. We are here for a week while we wait on the truck that’s got our stuff in it, we have moved from Radcliff to Phenix City Alabama. It’s a short week, but good to be back on the boat again. This is the end of spending lots of time aboard. Job becomes a problem and paying for two houses. Which I am still doing, finishing the move and all the expenses really hurt. However as I write this I realize that I have to go to the boat, its gives me peace of mind and peace of heart, yet at the same time makes me long for the sea and the places that Surprise can take me. I make friends with those that are passing thru and those taking a break, only to see them leave and head off to where I dream of going. I tell myself that my time will come. Ok, this brings us to today, 24 Oct. I spent the weekend of the boat, it was great, no awesome sail, and I have got that itch to go again, but alas here I set at work only dreaming. I spent the weekend 8 and 9th aboard as well, another nice sail. Before that saw us moving into our new house here in Phenix City, this is temporary dwelling to give my daughter a place to call home for high school. It will work I tell myself. I think it will. I have some a good friend here, so that will help the winter months pass. Yet, with each trip Surprise, I since its time to start preparing for that voyage to the south. Ok, its time to stop writing and look forward to my next trip Surprise.
About two weeks ago had a fabulous sail on Mobile Bay, was great fun. Wind out of the north 15 knots all afternoon. Even with a foul bottom and barnacls on my prop, Surprise still stepped out at 7.5 knts. Set up bottom cleaning and repainting of water line in the stern. She has been setting a little low so the little crusty guys were growing on the stern of the boat. This will help boat speed, will have to take her for a sail and see if I can get 9 knts again. Ok I leave it here till next time. Cheers to all my Sailor Friends.