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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pelicans in Paradise -

Cabin fever begins in August in these parts. It is the season that belies sound reasoning and encourages foolish actions. Naturally a summer’s sailing excursion is in order.

An ideal cruise quickly planned from Gulfport Fl to the tropical paradise known to old time locals as Picnic Island or by its more modern name, Caladesi Island State Park, just across from St Joseph’s sound from Dunedin some dozen or so miles north of Gulfport as the pelican flies. The award winning park boasts a well run marina nestled back in the mangroves hosted this time of year by No See-ums the size of hungry bats.

Our solo sailor set sail later than prudent on a hot sultry sunny morn crossing Boca Ciega Bay then following the ICW north. Later that afternoon a secluded anchorage behind a spoil island as far from the urban shore as possible was secured. Moments later our explorer extraordinaire found his ship besieged by mosquitoes of such size and number an immediate retreat was necessary.

Sailing out of John’s Pass into the Gulf of Mexico he found the peace and serenity he was looking for. He was so taken by the warm tropical wind pushing him effortlessly at 5 knots that he phoned northern friends, family and ex lovers to drop everything and come to Florida where they would sail together in pure harmony and bliss all the way to Key West. It was the best sailing experience of his life he explained. Then the sun went down.

“Why not anchor in the Gulf for the night?” The thoughtful explorer reasoned.

It should be explained here that the Gulf of Mexico is only about 20 feet deep for tens of miles off shore as well as pointing out the next landfall is Mexico, over a thousand miles across the uninterrupted ocean.

“Are you out of your mind?” demanded the HideAway Capt “do you know what happens in the Gulf at night?”

“Well I do NOW!”

“How big were they?”

“ ‘Bout five feet”

“Your rode?”

“140 feet”


“AND everything in the boat was banging around ALL night long AND I was sick from the heat AND my stomach decided to take up acrobatics.”

“Did you sleep much?”

“Who could sleep at all with stuff falling off of places I didn’t know were occupied? Queried the queasy sailor. “I finally did gain unconscious bliss until something hit my face.

“Were you sleeping on the settee by the companionway?”

“Yeah and the hatch was open to get some air, then when I woke up and climbed up the steps I found I’d been boarded by a flock of pelicans!”

“Do you know what pelicans DO?"

“Well, you know, if you believe in reincarnation coming back as a pelican would be fun. They get to fly around all day, dive, fish and swim… Not a bad life.” Suggested the Capt.

“No, you idiot!” Snarled the solo seasick sailor, “They poop prodigiously.”


Do you mean you had prodigious, pelican poop all over your cockpit?”

“No, I had PUTRID, prodigious, pelican poop all over ME as I crawled up those steps!” Groaned the explorer

“Now I know what “Heave to” really means”

“Just out of curiosity,” the Capt winced “did you call your friends back yet?”

“Yeah, after the very best sailing sojourn I’d ever had turned into the worst in just a few hours I told them not to come – I’m selling the boat”

“Oh come on now” started the Capt. “that’s a bit over the top don’t you think?”

“Have you ever tried cleaning off petrified, putrid, prodigious, pelican poop on a sultry, stifling summer day???

Humans, Ya gotta Luv 'em

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Sweltering Summer Sailing Story-SV HideAway Compac 23

A smarter than average person once said that, given the invention of ice boats, sailing the west central Florida coast in the August heat makes less sense than sailing the north eastern coast of Nebraska in January.

HideAway Under Tow

The Capt., a philosopher of no repute, observed that it’s really a matter of what you want to see in your truck’s mirror. A fully rigged sailboat, such as HideAway for instance, following you to the boat ramp or a picture of the same observed on a blog while surrounded by conditioned air in a cool place. I’ll leave any iceboat analogy to you for the moment.

Hopeful the forecasted sea breeze on Sail Flow would commence as scheduled the HideAways could not suffer the entrapment of air conditioning any longer and cast off lines. It was sunny last weekend. The sand on the beach offered 50 cent blisters for the feet of unwary souls. A light breeze blew in over the 93 degree Gulf of Mexico water equaling the actual air temperature and producing a dew point of 76 on a scale where anything over 70 is unbearable no matter how bare you may be. The concept of jumping overboard to cool off into water so hot that any activity in it can cause heat exhaustion is not a thought that occurs to the ice boater yet should be a warning to the soft water sailor.

A Hot Launch

Launching HideAway - Compac 23

Launching a sailboat in these conditions requires special equipment and daring-do. Heavy leather gloves prevent burns from handling the trailer hook-up for instance.

And other than removing the tie downs, nothing on board is prepared for sail.

The goal here is to launch and get out of the harbor as fast as possible then tie off the tiller motoring slowly stripping off the sail cover and hanking on the jib while dancing on the hot deck.

The risk of collision is slim with the knowledge that nobody could be as foolish as the HideAways to actually be on the water, busy as they are reading a blog with a picture of a sailboat framed in a truck mirror.

Although sailflow was right about the sea breeze, the air felt much like it does when you are engaged in shoveling coal into a large roaring furnace on a cold Nebraska winter night. The big genny did her stuff and HideAway leaned into the water at the prescribed angle for speed. The after sail burgers were great, the beer ice cold and the ceiling fans on full in the out door jasmine encased terrace. The HideAways laughed at told stories until well after sun down. A fine Florida sailing day without a hint of Jack Frost nipping at ones body parts.

Iceboats indeed!