Saturday, March 1, 2008

We Sailed!!!!

I know we haven't posted in a while. Several of you have inquired if we are okay. We are fine...we were just relaxing and socializing for a few days in a very special place called No Name Harbor.

Earlier in the week the wind had begun to pick up and strong storms were predicted. No Name Harbor was across Biscayne Bay from our anchorage at Dinner Key, so we sought refuge there late one afternoon.

No Name Harbor is a small, protected, natural harbor on the east coast of Key Biscayne, near the south end. It's part of a state park and has room for about 20 boats to anchor, if they are tightly packed. It also has a restaurant that serves great Cuban food, a pavilion, lots of walking and bike paths, a beautiful beach on the Atlantic side, a washer and dryer for cruisers, and friendly and helpful park rangers.

We spent the week there, and nearly every night there was a cruiser get-together in the pavilion. Sometimes it was appetizers and wine, sometimes it was a pitch-in. We got to know lots of interesting folks.

Some had been cruising for years, some were single-handing their boats. Most were cruising couples. Most were veteran cruisers. All had fascinating stories to tell.

We laughed about needing name-tags. Many of the cruisers had boat cards, the cruiser equivalent of business cards. I had just designed some boat cards and printed them (see above), so we were glad to have cards to exchange.

This morning (Saturday), the anchorage was beginning to fill up, so we decided we needed to move on. We upped the anchor about 9:00 a.m. and headed out into Biscayne Bay.

Without a real plan, we began to motor south. The sun was shining, it was about 75 degrees, and there was a northeast wind blowing about 15 knots. Great sailing weather.

We looked at each other and said, "Let's raise the sails." We have no real sailing experience. We only knew what we had read in our sailing books.

All of our sails are "furling" sails, which means they roll up into a vertical mast. There is a main sail, which unfurls from the main mast, and two smaller sails that unfurl from masts at the front of the boat.

To unfurl any of these sails, you must release one line attached to the lower edge of the sail, while taking in another line that wraps around the mast. So, each sail has two lines to control it.

We decided to put up the main sail first. The winch that controls that sail was balky and didn't want to work. Phil gave it some expert attention and it finally began to unfurl.

We headed into the wind and opened the sail completely. Then we turned the boat south and we began to move! We kept the engines idling, just in case we needed them. Soon we were doing three knots, solely from the wind!

Next, we unfurled the jib, a small sail in front of the main sail. The boat began to sail faster. When we were doing 4.5 knots, we finally turned off the engines.

It was suddenly quiet. All we could hear was the sound of the water beneath the hulls and the wind against the sails. We felt like the crew of Kon-Tiki headed to the Polynesian Islands.

The wind remained steady from the Northeast, and we kept sailing south at four to five knots. At one point, we reached nearly six knots. We traveled 18 miles under sail today.

About 2:00 p.m. we arrived at Elliot Key, which our guide books described as a good place to spend the night. We anchored in about five feet of crystal clear water, about 100 yards from land. Several other boats are anchored here.

Jimmy Buffet is on the stereo. The sun is beginning to set in the west. There's a light breeze from the north to keep us cool.

We didn't hit anything. We didn't tip the boat over. Nobody went overboard. And we sailed 18 miles today! It was a monumental day!!

The picture on the left is our boat card. The photo on the top right is Miami in the distance. You have to look very closely to see it. The photo on the bottom right is our anchorage at Elliot Key.


Jeff said...

Yahooo! It sounds wonderful there, even though it is low 60's in Greenwood, just not the same. Congrats on your successful sail.

Jane said...

Happy Birthday to the Winch. It's okay to be bulky and not want to work on your birthday. It sounds like you had a magnificent one! It's icy, cold and "uncomfortable" in Westfield.