This was a cruise that we have been looking forward to for months! John,II has leave from the Army for 30 days home and the plan was to get to Little Bahama Island for his first Ocean trip and our first real journey in "S/V Neptune's Toy".
So, we planned everything, charted our course, had Port fees ready, documents retrieved and the Sailboat was ready with a brand new jib furler we were really looking forward to using since the bow of that 28 footer tends to bounce around really bad in choppy, short interval waves.
Well,TS "Earl" pretty much messed up our schedule to have plenty of sailing time for us to make it to and back from the Island since our time was limited and figuring a slow pace of an average of 3-4 knots it was going to be a nice sailing trip. (NOT!) So, we decided to take a trip out on the Indian River since it was close to home and easy to get back if the weather did turn bad. Boat was loaded for a great day trip and away we go!
The morning was really light winds and dead in the water from about 9am-10am then a little wind came in. That was fun! Sails up and we caught a nice 12 knot wind. John, II took the helm and it was a nice smooth sail as we watched those clouds come right straight for us. Of course the front of the storm was what had given us that nice wind and as they got closer, and winds got much more gusty. Capt. John and I discussed getting the sails down and prepping for what looked like a pretty good storm coming at us with lighting clearly a big factor also.
NOTE TO SELF! When you talk about what needs to be done, DO IT THEN! It was about 10 minutes later when the Captain called "all hands on deck!". Get the jib down! RIGHT!
Well, unfortunately the halyard to the Furler for the jib sail was loosened by mistake (ANOTHER NOTE TO SELF! Color code the halyards for fast working!!)-----away the jib goes! I grab the port jib sheet to try to keep the jib sail out if the water while it separated itself from the furler and here I am on my butt in the cockpit, feet firmly planted on the cockpit wall trying to not loose the one jib sheet we had on her while the guys were on the bow trying their very best to pull that sail in and tuck in on the deck so they could get the other two sails down and get control of the boat. The tlller is set by our ties but unmanned at this point. I am the only one in the cockpit and all I could do was hold on to the end of that port jib sheet so we did not loose it completely. Now the jib sail is attached only slightly at the TOP of the furler and The guys had to pull all that down manually while the undetermined force of the wind gust beat us all half to death!
FINALLY, jib on deck, Main and Mizzen down.....I am down the steps to the galley to lick my wounds and the Captain gets the boat back under control! He makes the decision to anchor out and wait this little blow out. DONE.
After a bit of rest and a quick snack, the storm moves through and we have sun again. So under main and mizzen sail, we head toward our home marina. The winds start to pick up again and we are heeling +- 30 degrees and a great smooth sail for the Captain. Myself; I am not quite ready for those 30 degree heels and I retreated to the galley once more leaving Capt. John having a ball in the cockpit on the tiller...sailing away! I hear, "Am I alone?"...he heard, "YOU BET!".....so he continued on having his great time until we almost got back to home port.
Here it comes again! "ALL HANDS ON DECK!".Sails down!..DONE....but the winds had picked up so then that even our trusty motor and rudder could not get us into our canal and home, so once again we anchor. The storm moves on but the winds keeping us from moving on to home and the Captain decides that the problem was the prop and we should have cleaned it from any sea life before we left home ( ANOTHER NOTE TO SELF!) It just would not handle well enough to work against the current....The three of us decided we would just stay overnight and head home in the morning calm. So be it.
The night was nice actually, the winds continued most of the night but it was cool on deck and we all spent time looking at the stars when the clouds parted and listened to the Dolphins checking out the boat occasionally. Shooting stars and all, it was a beautiful night.
0430 hrs comes around and we are all up, turned on the spar lights and the Captain and John, II went ahead and starting putting the jib back into the furler and the boat "to bed" before the sun came up so we could dock her and not spend an extra hour on deck when we got in, because there were early morning dark clouds coming in and we were headed straight for them as we made our way home.
We made it though, safe and sound; a little out of breath and a little tired and sore from it all, but as we always say....there is never a time that we go out that we do not experience something new in the way of emergencies and are learning that the "being prepared" and "no delay on action" thing was the lesson for this outing.
The great sailing time was a hoot, so the trip was definitely worth the time out on the water. Captain John said that "Neptune's Toy" LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT ALL!