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Sunday, September 28, 2014

A 200 Yard Cruise – Blowing Away on Labor Day

Sailing on the Labor Day weekend in Florida pretty much guarantees steamy heat with no wind and bath water temperature in Boca Ciega Bay.   For the HideAways it means a three day weekend during which, by golly, we will be sailing and spending the night at anchor sleeping on deck pretending to be cool.  

Launching SV HideAway
SV HideAway Goes To The Sea
After a deliberately late launch in the hot sun Mr. E, our sleepy outboard motor, delivered us to Boca Ciega Bay at a slow idle to allow for the sail raising-deck clearing ceremony we all know by heart.  Full main and the 150 genoa were ordered by the capt.  While the crew fidgeted with the big genoa, the capt tied off the tiller and set about removing the dock protection devices, stowing the sail cover, and running the jib lines.  Up went the main sail – then the jib, followed closely by the dismissal of Mr. E.

The Legend Has It Wrong: The Moon Is Not Made Of Swiss Cheese.

Boca Ciega Bay is. HideAway found one of the holes.  Cat’s paws and ripples circled the windless waters around the HideAways.  The sails hung like wet laundry.   The crew had a lot in common with the morning dew.   Mr. E chuckled, or maybe it was a burble, the capt was too miserable to investigate.  Boats not far distant were heeling over, their sails filled with wind. The HideAway filled with heat.  Finally, we drifted close enough to the wind to exceed 2kn of exciting forward motion.  Then more and more until HideAway slid to a stop in another slice of cheese.

Hope was building East by South.  The summer storms promised cool sailing-quality air soon.  Mood on board picked up with the freshening wind.  After a delightful reach to the eastern bay we dropped the jib when we neared the anchored fleet of holiday optimists.  The capt sailed around the boats, found a choice spot and tacked up wind to let the crew drop anchor just off Clam Bayou.  Then, back-winding the main sail, set the anchor.  The depth finder read 5 feet at mid tide and we were off the Gulfport channel far enough for only the most persistent wakes to find us. 
Sailing HideAway Navigation Binder
Check out more Sailing hideaway Binders at Zazzle
Only two things matter when you’re sailing –

The Here and The Now – Especially the Now Part

We enjoyed an early supper as the sky darkened and began to swirl.  The first water spout formed a few hundred yards away bearing down on us.  The ugly, evil thing was large and strong; a true “Oh s---” moment.   The crew ducked below.  The capt grabbed his camera. The water spout vanished.  The VHF blared another warning.  

The bay turned angry throwing waves and white caps with abandon.   HideAway heeled over 30 degrees and spun on her anchor in the wind.   A wall cloud slid by dangling two large funnel clouds from which several small tornadoes hopped out and back like hairy roots on a carrot.  Chaos reigned.  The capt noticed a bird flying, against all odds, directly into the storm.  We watched as it gained then lost ground flying backwards.  Still, the bird pushed on.  

The storm passed.  Cool air, by Florida summer standards, prevailed accompanied by one of the most dramatic sunsets in memory.

The HideAways sunk into soft air mattresses in the cockpit and pondered the night sky.  The wind slept.  The no see ums flew over from Clam Bayou to snack on exposed skin. The HideAways retreated to the protection of the fan below.  The night seemed much longer than normal. 
Up Early

After breaking fast the crew, unable to raise the anchor, wrapped the shortened rode around the big forward cleat as the capt sailed over the buried anchor under main sail alone.  The anchor broke free.  Falling off the wind we sailed through the fleet on the cool-morning land breeze raising the genoa underway.  Soon HideAway reached the breath taking speed of 5kn touring the bay until the solar-powered furnace fired up for another attempt at baking the foolish.  The HideAways beat a hasty retreat to air conditioning. 

On the way home the crew observed that we had been on our 200 yard cruise exactly 24 hours. 

Sunset Gulfport Fl SV HideAway
Fire In The Sky Gulfport FL Aboard  SV HideAway