I feel very honored to have an article published Sail Magazine's MultiHull Sailor. i am not sure if it will be legible here, but if not, you can always take a look for it on Sail Magazine's website.
Friday, September 25, 2020
Hurricane Sally (landfall September 16, 2020)
I wish I was writing this post under better circumstances, but as they say, "it is what it is". Let me first say that Janet, Austin, and I are fine as are our dogs Salty and Annabelle.
We had been carefully watching the development of Hurricane Sally. This was the storm that came from nowhere, moving across Florida as a disturbance and stalling in the Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center first gave it a track towards Louisiana, about 350 miles west of us. But we watched as slow but sure the model runs started trending east. Equally worrying, this was a slow moving storm - first predicted to be a Tropical Storm. But as it moved at a snails pace over the Gulf (3 mph), it grew in magnitude and its path became unpredictable.
Here's what we got
As Morning Light Came
|Midnight Sun III pinned by tree|
|Tree laying across Bows|
|Debris in our yard|
|Everyone had debris from destroyed docks|
|About 50 percent shingles missing from roof|
When Friends Really Count
- Our daughter Helen immediately loaded up with tarps, chainsaw, gas, rubber boots.......you name it; and drove down (10 hours) from Tennessee. Then climbed on the roof with Austin (our son) and I to tar holes and place tarps. Helen and Austin - we love you and can't imagine what we would have done without you!
- Friend and former colleague Jeff Simons similarly drove from Birmingham and helped for 3 days. Cutting and moving debris and anything else he could lend a hand with. Jeff was similarly amazing - thank you so much.....words can't describe!
- Sailing friends Larry and Tracy and their son Taylor were there despite having damage to their own boat. They started the process of cutting away tree limbs off the boat........and many other things - thank you guys! You are the best as always! The job was looking too big and we needed a heavy lift, so I started the search for a crew with a crane.
- Jared Patterson came to lend a hand with removal
- Shaun West and Casey Kimberley arrived.......on a tractor loaned to them by Pirates Cove Bar.. now that was a true "God-send" Shaun spent the better part of a day
|Shaun and Pirates Cove Tractor|
- And of course all of our neighbors helped each other where we could. Mike, Cathy, Ron and Cindy - thank you! But a special thank you to neighbors Paula and Kenny for allowing heavy equipment access by their driveway!
- Pirates Cove Bar made burgers for the neighborhood and gave away beer for 2 days, despite having their bar/grill essentially destroyed.
- The adjacent neighborhood (Stone Quarry) made BBQ for several hundred people
- The Red Cross showed up with meals, tools, water and supplies.
Saving Midnight Sun
I got a couple of tree services to quote......after sticker shock, I hired the one that had the crane available. 4 guys and a crane from Trinity Excavating worked for 2 days to remove the tree, and recover the mast from the canal. They did it "piece by piece" (just like eating an elephant). They caused no further damage - which was amazing!.
- no holes!
- bent stanchions and hardware
- scratches seem superficial
- some damage to solar panels
- broken mast
- and I am sure we will find more as we get into it
- After tree removal, it took 60 man-hours to clean off the sawdust and staining from the tree and debris. I pressure washed her 3 times, and had to chemically clean the decks, coachroof, and cockpit.
The bottom line is - she is saved and repairable! Midnight Sun III will sail again! How long it will take to get a new mast from France......???? we shall see. But our good friends at Zern Rigging are already starting the process.
We are Thankful
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
|Florida's Forgotten Coast|
|Cape San Blas, Florida|
Our TripOur trip took us from home to Ft. McCree, Pensacola for an overnight stay. We left McRee at around 8am with nice winds from the S, to SW. The seas were a little big and confused due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobal which came through the area over the weekend. But all in all not bad and the south winds were perfect for our ENE sail to Panama City.
I think the top speed that I saw for the day was 10.9kts. Which is pretty respectable for a cruising cat in winds that didn't exceed about 18kts.
It was a great sail, and we made it into Panama City/St. Andrews Bay well before dark anchoring near Shell Island.
|Shell Island, St. Andrews Bay|
Salty enjoyed stretching his legs after a long 85 mile day-sail on the shore at Shell Island.and all was good for the night.
The following day (Thursday) we set sail again for Cape San Blas/St. Joe's Bay. The wind was light and nowhere near as cooperative so it was a motor sail, but with full sail and one engine running, we were making a respectable 6.5 to 7 kts making it a sort 25 mile day to the anchorage at the tip of Cape San Blas.
|Salty orders drinks at the Apalachicola Ice Company|
The following day, we moved on again and headed for Carabelle and Dog Island. The first night we
anchored just off Carabelle Beach for a smooth night at anchor. The following day, we explored Dog Island. We headed over to the east end first and explored the area around Tyson's Harbor. I was surprised at the number of homes on this private island and cars - since there is no ferry service that supports the island.. There is apparently a water taxi available from Carabelle.
|Anchored off East End of Dog Island|
For the evening, we moved down to Shipping Cove on the west end of the island. This proved to be a great spot with a nice beach that formed a narrow barrier between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The view from the anchorage was great, and the narrow sandy beach between us and the Gulf provided protection from any wave action.
|Shipping Cove - Sandy Beach separating Gulf and Bay|
Returning HomeThe following day we decided reluctantly to start the return journey. Looking ahead at the weather, we saw less favorable winds - not heavy, just with a west component making it "uphill sailing". We decided that we would sail on the outside (Gulf) on the return. Our boat-buddy, Tra-Sea indeed did this. We set off out of the pass and conditions were not great. We were hobby-horsing and the admiral was not feeling great. She had been a trouper as she is recovering from a bout of Shingles. So, given the discomfort we elected to follow our outbound tracks and return via the bay and ICW to Cape San Blas.
We actually had a great downwind (dead downwind) sail across St. George's Bay before motoring along the ICW/Apalachicola River. It was a nice comfortable trip and I think the admiral approved of the route! Surprisingly, we arrived in St. Joes Bay just ahead of Tra-Sea and again spent the night just off Cape San Blas.
The following day we moved the boats and anchored just off the entrance to the old marina which as destroyed by hurricane Michael and to date has not been re-built. It does seem however that a portion of the marina sea wall is actually public and is outside the fenced area. We ere able to tie up our dinghies to the wall for a visit into town. There is also a fishing charter boat that seems to be operating from this spot. We love the town of Port St. Joe. It is so friendly and the town is not over-run with tourists (most of the time). We had a great lunch at Krazyfish, got a few provisions from the Pig (Piggly Wiggly), and of course had "just one more" at the Haughty Heron.
|St. Joes Bay|
to the south end of St. Joes Bay to an area known as Lighthouse Bay. We attempted to dinghy over to to a relatively new brew pub called Scallop Republic.located near Salinas Park. Unfortunately we tried this at low tide and water in the majority of this end of the bay was less than one foot deep. We got to within about 100 yards..........but the girls were not up for walking in the mud!!.....so it was drinks and dinner on the boat.
The following day we sailed back to St. Andrews and were able to dock at the St. Andrews Yacht Club. even though still suffering from some storm damage, the club is open, and they have one floating dock available with no power or water. The staff were great adn very helpful. We actually stayed 2 nights making use of thier nice swimming pool. We then headed onwards to Destin. for the night.
Sunday, June 7, 2020
Latest Video of our Atlantic Crossing SeriesCovid lockdown has given me a little more time to work on the video series from our Atlantic crossing. I really want to get this entire trip chronicled as soon as possible.
Well I am happy to report that I just completed Episode 8 of the series which takes us from Antigua to the Bahamas. Here is a link to the lastst video in the series.
Friday, May 8, 2020
Trip to Chandeleur Islands
|Beach - Dauphin Island - South Side|
But then there are also the other extremes - the oil and (more likely) gas production platforms. Some in operation, and some abandoned.....but all in all, quite a collection of rusting engineering "junk metal".
But it is what it is......this is what Mobile Bay and the western Gulf have to offer! They light up the sky at night with their gas flares, and its quite a sight.
From Dauphin Island we continued west with a short daysail to Petit Bois Island (pronounced locally as "Pettyboy"). Here, the beaches were a little nicer, and the water a little clearer.. The view to the south was of the Gulf and a few gas structures, but to the north had the appearance of "Gotham City", due to the presence of refineries and shipping facilities in the port of Pascagoula.
But still - it was a pleasant place to be.
From Petit Bois, we headed SW towards the Chandeleur chain. We had very settled weather. once we got midway along the chain, we saw a number of "hotel boats" used by fishing guides to accommodate charter fishing trips. Some were larger boats (50-70 ft) and another was a "pole boat" jacked up on spuds. The guides use these as a base and take out their clients out on small skiffs......needed to navigate the shallow waters.
We spent a couple of nights here and did some dinghy exploring and fishing.....but unfortunately not much catching. We are sailors - not fishermen, and we were either in the wrong spot at the wrong time, or had the wrong tackle.....or more likely, both!
So the Chandeleurs are certain beautiful in a remote way. But I have to say, there's no protection in a blow;
|Chandeleur Islands - near North Islands|
|Horn Island....Salty enjoys a swim!|
We headed back along our tracks, but stayed the night at Horn Island. To me, this was the nicest stop on this trip with very nice beaches, and pretty good water quality. We stayed at the eastern anchorage marked on Active Captain -
and thoroughly enjoyed the overnight stop. From there, we went back to Dauphin Island for the night and offshore to Ft. Mcree, near Pensacola Pass.
|TraSea flies their Spin!|
|But Ft. Mcree, Florida.....still one of our favorite spots (but avoid weekends in summer!)|
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe in these very trying times. Today is my birthday (April 15) and I feel so blessed that thus far, our family has not been seriously impacted by the COVID -19 virus. I say "seriously impacted" a little tongue in cheek as we have many family members, in both the UK and USA that work in the healthcare field, and are dealing daily with patients and the very worrying risk of bringing something home. My hat goes off to all healthcare workers that are continuing on a daily basis to take care of sick patients and help us through this time.
|SV Shenanigans anchored in Tarkiln Bay|
|Exploring Tarkiln Bayou by Dinghy|
So, we have been spending a few days on the boat, then returning home to replenish supplies, then we head out again. The weather for the most part has been exceptionally good, with daytime temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s and 60s at night.
|Salty takes a "Sand Bath"|
We were happy to be joined for a few days by our friend and long-time crew-member Patrick. He is a dentist and obviously his practice is currently closed - so he joinud us for some much needed outdoor recreation.
|Framing and two 315 Watt Rigid Panels|
|solar controllers and wiring - almost complete!|
|SV Tracy rafts to Midnight Sun III in our slip to ride out a Cold Front (boats not occupied!)|