April 3, 2014 – Shoving Off!

Well folks, this is it.  April 3rd.  Shove-off day.  Departure day.  THE day.  And, we were ready.  Beyond ready.  All the trips to the stores, the packing and inventorying of the boat, the freezer meals, everything was ready.  All we needed to do now was fill the water tanks and check the weather.  We had been watching the weather for weeks now trying to plan our departure date.  Every time Phillip would click his phone to life and start scrolling through the NOAA reports, that song would pop into my head “I can gather all the news I need … “  And, yes, I do sing that every time Phillip checks the weather.  And, yes, he still puts up with me.  I’m kind of the only first mate he’s got, so …

The weather still looked pretty good on Thursday to make the jump to Clearwater.  We were expecting some potential storms on Friday night and Saturday but the highest sea state prediction was 3-5 feet:

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Assuming that was more THREE than FIVE, it would make good weather for the trip.  So, we made the decision.  We were leaving today.

The weekend before we had taken the boat out for a test sail to make sure the Jenny un-furled fine (remember, we had taken it down the week before to have the UV cover on it re-stitched) and, while we were making our way out, we topped off the fuel tank on the boat (it holds 30 gallons, but we tend to sail a LOT so we only had to put in about six gallons this go round – whew!).  We filled two 5 gallon jerry cans of diesel to strap down on the deck (just as back-up), filled two 1.5 gallon cans for the outboard on the dinghy, pumped out (very important) and filled the water tanks.  So, everything on the boat that needed to emptied was emptied and everything that needed to be filled was, well, you get it.

But, speaking of filling, let me talk a bit about the water on our boat.  I get a TON of questions about water: “How much water can you take on the boat?”  “Can you make water on the boat?”  “Do you have enough water?”  The answers, respectively, are plenty, no and yes.  We have two forty-gallon water tanks on the boat, on one each side, that we fill from the hose.  But, the previous owner of our boat did a great job building a water shelf in one of the large lockers under the vberth:

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We have 8 large gallon jugs of water and a flat (24 bottles) of bottled water stored in there as well as another flat of bottles scattered in various cubbies throughout the boat.   Phillip also had a great idea to fill the solar shower (which holds 5 gallons) with water just as a back-up for the initial passage.  And, that way the first time we used the solar shower, it would already be full.  Kudos Cap’n.

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So, with plenty of food, fuel, water and WINE, we were fully-stocked and ready to go.   We both spent some time the last day calling loved ones to give them a hearty farewell and tell them, re-assure them, and tell them again, our departure date, travel plans and the status of our safety gear and rations.  I can’t tell you how many times friends and family asked me about our life-vest situation – hence the reason for my last post.  But, this fun, feeble attempt still failed to reassure the masses.  So, we provided friends and family with a detailed sail plan and made them all promise that they could only worry, panic or – most importantly – contact the Coast Guard if and ONLY IF they did not hear from us by Sunday evening.  We planned to make it to Clearwater early Sunday morning, so if no one had heard from us by Sunday night, it was likely time to fret.  But, not a second before!

Despite this harsh mandate and strictly enforced ‘cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die’ NO rescue efforts until Monday, I still received many of the like in the mail from concerned loved ones:

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Note the entry at the bottom:

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You see?  It was Clearwater by Sunday or at least some kind of heroic, satellite phone, mid-Gulf check-in or they would be calling in the dogs!  The concern, though, was well-intended and heart-warming.  (I heart you Dottie!).

But, we weren’t worried, or afraid.  We were cautious, sure, and hopeful that we would be greeted with fair winds and forgiving weather and that nothing bad would happen to the boat or to either of us, but there was always going to be the possibility that it could. That’s a given.  Something bad can happen at any time, whether you’re crossing the Gulf on a sailboat or crossing the street.  Crossing anyway is the adventure, and that’s what we were after.  We were excited to get to the Keys, but the destination was not the real goal; it was the journey.  We had both worked really hard to get to this point.  To get out there.  To cross over.

We tossed the lines and sailed out into the Gulf.

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That’s really us!  Thanks to our good friend Kevin who was anchored nearby and took the shot!  Plaintiff’s Rest is headed south, baby!