Hey Everyone! How are you? Anything exciting happen while I was away? I am sure everyone got along, no bannings, and no rule-breaking!
Well, I will try and recount a bit of our trip and some pics. A lot of it was very uneventful. Some of it was too eventful and your's truly made at least one bad decision (not the last, I assure you). So, here goes:
We dropped the boat in Pensacola. I will do a lot more writeups about this later, but let me tell you that Pensacola rates number one on my list of places to take your boat and outfit her. I have been to MANY ports, from San Diego, Houston/Kemah, obviously the Valiant Yard at Texoma, and all over southwest Florida, and I will tell you that these guys are top notch, extremely courteous, VERY NICE, and inexpensive. All those words do not typically go together, as anyone in boating knows. Again, I will do lots of pics and writeups on this later, but for those completing the circle and exiting Mobile, this is a great port to refit if you only want to push east a bit further.
The outfitting in Pensacola went fairly seemless. Nothing broke on the shipment. We chose Penbsacola because I figured that we might get stuck there for Christmas (which we did) and I wanted a nicer place to spend Christmas with the family than some other ports. And yes, for those interested, Santa Clause does make visits to boats! He took good care of the kiddos (and mom and dad's credit card). I seem to have some of those pics on my other camera, so we will have to hold off there.
After we had everything ready, Kris and the kids hoped in the truck and headed south to Fort Myers Beach with some good friends of ours that live on the beach. We came VERY close to taking them with us (especially Chase) as it looked like it would be a milk run across the gulf. In the end, we decided not to and simply dad and I went across. This turned out to be a very good decision as you will see shortly.
I tried to pick my weather window fairly well, and failed miserably. I headed out a tad bit too early. The weather called for a northern to come through after the high and clock the winds around to a favorable reach. Instead, the wind built and never clocked and the seas got nasty. By that time we were committed.
Here is a pic of us as we headed out. That is dad steering and Pensacola Bay in the background.
When we headed out the wind was blowing out of the east about 15-20k and the air temp was in the 50's I would guess. We elected to put up a full enclosure (except the back) and it turned out to be a life saver. I have become a huge fan of them overnight - although the seas partially tore some of it in the gale.
By that evening the wind was blowing sustained 25 and gusting to 30. By nightfall it was usstained 25-35, and we saw 50 knots - all out of the freaking east. The problem was that we were heading east too! We tacked and tacked countless miles. The seas grew nast and were breaking over our nose as we rushed down into the trough. We consistently took breakers on the dodger and about every fifteen minutes took one ON TOP of the bimini! I am sorry that the pics suck and they do not do the seas justice, but here goes with some lousy pictures:
It was about this time we realized that the wind and weather had been very badly guessed by our friendly meteorologists, and wee were going to be in for a nice little gale offshore.
The wind picking up and gusting way past 25, though I only shot 25 here.
These are pics right after the seas broke on our Bimini. The bimini held it, but everything leaked through. By that time we were soaking wet and getting beat up.
At the worst of it I ended up having a roller furling failure... but not the in-mast! The jib got backed as we tried to pull it in and I had to go forward and get her un-tangled from the roller furling. I honetly thought I was going to have to cut down the jib at one point as it was very hard to hold ontp the boat and get it unraveled while staying safe. Poor dad was sicker than a dog. trying to keep her running straight in a large rolling sea. But we did it and got her in and nothing broke.
Well, we survived the gale. We pulled into Panama City that next morning (we were not scheduled to make panama, but it is an awesome stop over guys for those who need to get a rest and it is an easy port to make even in a storm). Thumbs up to Panama City.
We got ourselves cleaned up and waited out the approaching front as it pushed in. Poor Mountain Mike (a member here and a super nice guy) got his hands full in that one.
Lots more to tell here, but let's just say that I will be making my way north to Panama City come Spring. It looks an awesome cruising cround and is pretty and relatively cheap. They cater to cruisers and it shows.
At Panama, on the back side of the low/Northern, we puched out. We may have pushed out a tad bit early, but I wanted to catch the back side and run with it and see how the boat would do offshore in that kind of seas and wind. She did awesome, awesome, awesome! Here, take a look at the speed:
That's right... 9.1 knots, but I saw 9.5 and we did a steady 8.5-8.8! We were surfing, Baby. And it was a nice, smooth easy run. It was colder than crap. I think it got below freezing both nights, but the trip was so nice and smooth that we alterered our course further south to make straight for Port Charlotte and avoided Tampa and the other cities all together.
Here are some much nicer and more memorable pics:
And some of my favorite pics of the trip:
This pic was offshore between appalachicola and Tampa, IIRC. It is Sunset (soon to go in our sunset pics thread). Nope... no green flash. I am beginning to believe that is a myth!!! Although dad did flush the toilet and we got some brown-green flashes... but I do not think that is the same.
First, beautiful sunrise... (the others were yucky and cloudy)...
I just thought this pic looked cool! The sun was lighting up the Jib brilliantly and I had to take a pic of it creatively. Xort would be proud!
Anyways, that is at least part one of the trip. I will try and get some more stories and pics up a little later. Everyone take care. I will reply back to all of you as soon as I can!!
Brian and family!