April 3, 2014 – Keys Log Day 1: Lazy Jack Snap!

Clearwater by Sunday morning was going to be a two-day, three-night haul.  The longest Phillip and I had ever undertaken together, but we were excited about it.  Invigorated by the challenge and adventure of it.  But, it was early in the trip – we were still feeding happily on excitement, adrenaline and the thrill of taking sailing selfies!

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Look at me!  I’m headed out to SEA!

We had a great sail out into the Gulf.  The tide was coming out at the Pass and, even with a strong southeast wind pushing against us, it pretty much gushed us out of the pinchpoint at 4 knots.  We motored through to be sure to stay in the channel, but once we were safely out, we cut the engine and clocked over southeast.

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It was around dusk at that time, and I learned another of many important lessons in sailing.  Don’t try to eat light when you’re sailing.  “Oh, I’ll have the salad greens with the low-fat dressing, please.”  No.  That’s not going to cut it darlin’.  We had been working on the boat all morning, packing up the last of the provisions, re-tying the Jerry cans and the anchor, running the solar lights, packing more provisions, filling the water tanks, etc.  A lot of up and down the companionway stairs, hauling heavy items here and there, in general, some hard work.  And, allst I had was a bowl of cereal and a little salad under my belt.  Probably around 600 calories … total, and I’d probably burned about 2,469.82 calories, approximately, by that time.  I was starting to feel a little pekish and convincing myself it was not seasickness.  I’ve crossed the Gulf before, in 4 to 6 foot seas.  I don’t GET seasick.  But, I just felt weak, a little queasy, a little weird.  Then Phillip mentioned the idea of dinner and it sounded like some grand revelation.  Food??  Why yes, yes I would like dinner!  And, let me tell you, I ate my friends.  I started inhaling and choking down my fair share and thensome of the tuna salad we had brought for dinner while Phillip eyed me suspiciously as I shoved heaping forkful after heaping forkful clumsily into my mouth.  And, he told me I needed to eat more.  “You need to eat before you’re hungry,” he said.  And, he was right.  I should have stock-piled some energy hours ago.  But, I wasn’t going to let this happen again.  I started eating!  A handful of almonds, three handfuls of pretzel crisps, followed by chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter Chex, trail mix, some snap pea crisps, some more almonds, before I finally just gave it up and inhaled a calorie-dense protein bar – much like the kind boxers scarf when they’re trying to get to the next weight class.  I was ravenous, carnivorous, OM-nivorous.  Eating anything in sight with unabashed abandon.

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But, within minutes, I felt better. Much better.  Food.  Who knew?  Ladies – it doesn’t matter if you’ll be slipping into a bikini later, if you’re sailing, you’re burning it off.  Eat early and eat often.

Unfortunately, the wind was right on our nose all evening and into the night.  We were taking long tacks back and forth, trying to make our way upwind but not making much ground.  While underway, we entered our coordinates, as well as our heading, speed, the sea state, weather and other note-worthy items, in the log book.

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The afternoon sail was nice, albeit not very productive, i.e. we didn’t make much ground toward Clearwater, but it was a comfortable sail.  After the sun dropped down, we donned our safety gear and settled in for the evening.

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Later in the evening, the wind picked up to 15 knots, and we put the first reef in the main, followed by the second, followed by a reef in the Jenny.  The sea state was probably 4 to 5 foot waves, thoughout the night, which made for some rough wave jumps and crashes on the boat, all of which sound entirely manageable in the cockpit but horrific down below.  When we started taking our two-hour shifts, it was hard to close your eyes and try to get some sleep when each wave sounds like the hull is cracking in half.  It’s not, and some part of you deep down knows that, but another small part also asks “Are you sure?  Was that a crack?  Maybe I should get up and check … ”   

That first night was pretty rough.  We rode waves up and down, crashing water over the bow, and occasionally spraying us in the cockpit, and took turns getting fitful, disjointed pockets of sleep.  But, the true champion that night was Otto — our auto pilot.  That guy.  I mean.  Damn!  He held through howling 15 knot winds and rolling 5 foot seas.  He held much more than I ever thought he was capable of.  He would, of course, on occasion, lose his ability to grip the wheel.  It would spin freely under his belt, his motor screeching out trying to stop it, and then he would follow up with a cackling cascade of beeps to let you know he was losing it.  As much as you wanted to curse him.  (Okay, I did often – “Damn you Otto!”), you really couldn’t.  He held the wheel probably 80% of the night.  I mean, a little slippage was allowed.  But, the problem was, if you weren’t at the wheel the moment he slipped, by the time you jumped back there, clipped in, got your bearings and turned Otto off it was sometimes too late.  He’d fallen too far off course and you were in a jam, having to turn the boat around in a large circle and catch the wind with a forceful pop around the backside.  Needless to say, it was a long night, and was certainly hard on the boat.

We woke the next morning to find out just how much.  Phillip was holding the sunrise shift and when I started to blink to, thankful to see light pouring in through the windows, Phillip heard me stir, and shouted down to me, “I’ve got bad news.”  Oh-no, I thought.  That’s just what we need.  I scrambled up the companionway to see what he was referring to.  And, there it was, the remains of our lazy jack lines (on our new stack pack) strewn haplessly across the deck.  The eyelet on the spreader that held them up had snapped clean off.

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Well, they must be called lazy jacks for a reason.  Perhaps we could handle the not-so-lazy route for the rest of the trip.  In all, considering the night we had, it seemed a minor loss, really.  One day down and only one piece of (lazy-slash-luxury) equipment down.  We shrugged our shoulders and continued south.  What do you have in store for us Day Two?

This entry was posted in Cruise to the Keys 2014, Equipment Failures, Gulf Crossing, Sail Skills and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to April 3, 2014 – Keys Log Day 1: Lazy Jack Snap!

  1. Mary Warren says:

    Goodness, sounds amazing & I have faith in you guys always. Annie, listen to Captain about that food. Keep snacking, don’t worry about weight, pls. You are using a lot more energy. Paul used to take us out for days in WPalm beach but & I was younger . 4 days was about enough for me ! You are a tough little cookie, take care. Captain can be a hard driver. The day is almost here for him. love u guys !

    • anniedike says:

      Thanks Mary. I’m not sure what my “day limit” is (if I even have one) but I’m guessing this trip will tell me a whole lot. Cap’n sure keeps us going! It’s go, go, go all the way to the Keys! You’re right – big day coming up!!

    • anniedike says:

      I don’t know how many “days” is my limit (assuming I have one – I’m hoping I don’t) but I’m guessing this trip will be a good indicator. That Cap’n certainly likes to go, go, go! Whether it’s sailing, motoring, or motor-sailing – whatever gets us south baby! We are on the MOVE! Thanks for checking in!

  2. Bob McDonald says:

    Hey,Windy City ,Gulf Shores,AL here.Rumor has it you may be in Ft. Meyers Beach during your travels.My good sailing buddy is a live aboard there & a very good guy (week-end mooring field master).If you need anything there give me a call & I’ll put you in touch. See ya,Bob McDonald 251 978 5537

    • anniedike says:

      It seems you’ve got perfect timing. We are motoring the ICW to Ft. Meyers Beach right now – planning to snag a ball at the Meyers Beach Mooring Field. Is that the same as your guy’s “weekend mooring field?” If so, we’ll be sure to tell him thanks and send him a big hello from Gulf Shores. Let me know! And, thanks for following and checking in. We are headed south baby!

    • anniedike says:

      Bob – we ran into Cap’n Doug here at Ft. Meyers. He said he was going to send you photo proof! Great guy, and great goings on here at Ft. Meyers. Thanks for sending us the “referral”!

  3. Casey says:

    Isn’t that blue water pretty? Coastal waters are beautiful too, but that blue water just has a look to it. Just kinda says: “Hey look at me, so dark and dense…and deep”. Wonder what’s all down there? Hope it stays blue for you, and not grey…grey not pretty…not pretty at all. Keep the canvas side up.

    • anniedike says:

      Aha. The canvas up! Good advice. We’ve certainly been tipping that canvas a lot closer to the deep, dense blue than seems possible at times, but we always seem to manage to end “canvas side up” – thank goodness! It’s been more crystal green here lately, though, than blue. Just gorgeous. You don’t have to wonder what’s down there — you can see right to the bottom. More to come!!

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