Isn’t that what you’re all thinking? At least that’s what I get asked three times a week. (Yes, I’m talking to you Bleeke!) Soon, people. Soon. Stick with me. But, I’ll tell you, even when we do get there, it’s not going to be any more beautiful than this:
And, when we cook up a meal in the galley off the coast of some remote island in the Keys or Bahamas, it’s still going to look like this:
Adventure is relative and can be found anywhere. Usually, it’s the act of getting there that’s the real “journey,” not the destination itself.
But, you want to see us on a passage. I get it. So do we, minus the transmission fluid catch this time. Although I’m sure you want to see some equally entertaining minor disaster occur that we have to resolve in true MacGyver fashion with bubble gum, nail polish and sheep shears (all of which we keep on the boat for just such an occasion).
I’ll see what I can come up with.
Trust me, we were ready to get back out there, too. With the summer pretty much behind us and all of our major boat chores done, the rubber gloves finally came off,
and we set down to plan our trip. Which we, of course, had to do over wine and dinner – a whole roasted snapper, anyone?
Between work, family and my obligatory appearances on the rodeo clown circuit, we had about two weeks to work with in November. Yes, we do plan to go longer and further later, but that will have to come later. All evidence to the contrary, we do have to work. I can’t stress to you enough how expensive boats can be. Now, let me remind you how far the actual Keys are:
I think even MacGyver’s scruffy eyebrows raised with that one. It’s about a four-day passage offshore, if made straight. That’s 96 hours of solid sailing, which means someone always at the wheel, even with auto-pilot, you still need to keep a lookout and stay close to the helm, particularly at night. This means, for four days, you only get to sleep in one-to-two hour snatches. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong. There’s a certain sense of freedom, adventure and accomplishment when you finish a passage, but it is also a very tiring stint at sea, even in the best of conditions, exhausting and harrowing in the worst. If we made the four-day passage straight to the Keys, we would need a day or two to rest and recover and that would leave us about one day to enjoy the Keys before we had to start meandering back, two or three, perhaps, if wanted to make another four-day epic passage back across the Gulf. But that would put us on a tight schedule, and we learned the hard way during The Crossing that you can never be on a tight schedule when sailing. You have to build in a cushion for the weather. It’s just part of it. We hated to push the Keys trip back, but it had to be done. Trying to squeeze it into the tight travel window we had this winter was not going to allow us the time we wanted to truly enjoy the Keys. Plus, there were plenty of places we wanted to cruise locally and enjoy. We decided we would make the trip to the Keys in the spring (after skiing season – of course – that’s a must!) and stick around these parts in November.
Phillip and I decided to head East to Carrabelle.
That’s about a two-day passage straight. Forty-eight hours, assuming a good weather window. If you recall, our boat spent some time over in Carrabelle when the transmission went out, and we really enjoyed poking around the sleepy little mariner towns around there, which feel like they’ve been preserved in time, when sea-faring sailors roamed the streets, rum bottle in hand. We wanted to head back and spend a couple of days immersing ourselves with the old salts and eating some of the best fresh oysters I have ever let slither down my throat.
We then wanted to take our time heading back inshore, protected along the Intracoastal Waterway (as much as we could … we would have to pop out into the Gulf for several stretches where our mast height (50 feet) won’t allow us under the bridges). We pulled out the charts–and the snapper–and started plotting our passage.
And, what meal is complete without fresh homemade bread and salad? … None we know of.
The plan was to hope for good weather, so we could head straight for Carrabelle, spend a night or two there boozing with the locals, then mozey our way back to Apalachicola for some local fare, another night or two to booze again and get our fill of fresh oysters. Then, we thought we would check out Port St. Joe, a great littler marina there, Cape San Blas (lots of cool anchorages there, too), head back to Panama City in hopes of catching another sighting of our Lady Legs-a-Lot (you remember those heels!), then make the twenty-four passage offshore back to Pensacola.
Even with a few extra days’ cushion for potential bad weather, this trip, even taken leisurely, would still easily fill two weeks. We planned to leave November 15th and return on the 29th. This was going to be a significant passage for the two of us – heading offshore for a four-day passage. While I may have proven some creative gumption and gusto in surviving the dinghy debacle and transmission fiasco during The Crossing, this was going to be my first true offshore voyage as First Mate. I started glossing over our old sailing books again, working expletives back into my everyday conversation, upping my rum tolerance and practicing my knot-tying skills on empty wine bottles. Oh, and watching weekend-long MacGyver marathons. That helps too.
A two-week passage in the blistering winter? Done. I was packing all my gear.
Aside from the mullet, MacGyver ain’t got nothing on me!