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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Boat Parade

One of the finest traditions we have discovered living in the south is the Christmas Boat parades that begin in early December.  Usually organized by neighborhoods or boating clubs these events range in size from canoes and kayaks on the Hillsborough River in Tampa to huge yachts on Tampa Bay.  Our favorite is organized by Boca Ciega Yacht Club in Gulfport Fl.  To be fair it should be noted the HideAways have been members of the sailing club for nearly the last two decades.

HideAway All Dressed Up
All boats are welcome to participate.  It is not a competition like many of the others.  Prizes are awarded but they are usually dinners to local restaurants.

The real reward is the chance to be a rock star as you motor close by throngs of your screaming fans shouting the seasons greetings.



The parade route takes you on a tour of  Boca Ciega Bay visiting the cities of St Petersburg, Gulfport and Southern Pasadena including several other boating clubs and residential areas.


The proceeds of your entrance fee, two or more toys, go to Gulfport's Operation Santa project.  A fine way to begin the Christmas Season.  This year's parade is the subject of our latest video below.  It's a long one so put another log on the fire.


SMALL BOATS ROCK!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Loose Footed Main Sail Report

After a dazzling array of obstacles, broken brakes, mashed outboard gears, not to mention a lingering strength sapping illness, the HideAways finally floated to the end of “A” dock to spend the last hot night of the Summer Sweat Season.

 The early morning air fanned by No-See-Ems so big you could see em, chased the bug bitten crew onto the polished mirror surface of Boca Ciega Bay. Muttering the mantra “Light air is a fine way to test a new sail-yes it tis”; HideAway ghosted along under main alone keen to successfully tack sans jib. Before someone points out that such a maneuver is not difficult clearly has not observed our many failures to accomplish this skill. Over the years you see, any crew who tends jib on HideAway instinctively knows to back it without encouragement from her Capt.

  HideAway tacked smartly and without a whimper of complaint from her wide-eyed crew then sailed unattended for nearly a mile before another tack was executed.

 Sunday brought with it a spot of cool, fast air and a whole flock of Boca Ciega Yacht Club racing boats to share the bay. The monthly club race is billed as informal and certainly is not considered serious racing. If two sailboats on the same tack are judged to be racing then what happens when a dozen or so boats join in  the fun? About that bridge I have for sale….

HideAway's New Main Sail
Since HideAway had not officially signed up for the race we instead steered a parallel heading sufficiently far off the race course as not to interfere with the real racers. Under standard jib and full main the HideAways threaded their way through a zoo of anchored boats, keeping well clear of a sunken sailboat near the Gulfport FL pier. She made herself proud keeping up with the fleet. Something not dreamed possible before the new main sail. 

Racers are funny sailors. After they finished their race every one of them set course for the clubhouse leaving HideAway alone on the bay to enjoy a fresh sea breeze ordered up to test the main. Voila! Another first; in all the years of sailing HideAway never once have we felt the joy of real acceleration. Instead of just heeling over and slogging along a burst of genuine speed could be felt. What a fun concept!

 To be fair the new loose footed main is four inches taller than the old one and certainly holds shape better. We ordered two reefs installed in the sail then realized later that the first reef is not nearly as severe as the single reef of the old while the second reef leaves just a scrape of power flying. Since the first reef is shallow perhaps a second reef could become the norm. It may serve to leave the standard jib up longer before changing to the storm. A decided advantage. The job of changing our hanked on jib has never been agreeable and always more exciting than necessary.

 Made by Doyle Sails in St Petersburg, Fl our new loose footed, double reef main sail is a most welcome new crew.

 Small Boats Rock!