I love to sail. With people, or alone. I always take something with me from my experience. It could be from a person, a moment or the sea itself. It's always good.
A week or so ago, I received a personal email from Capt. Ron. It needed to be read right here. Enjoy a day at sea with a great Captain.
You know, doing sailing charters this time of year has poses many difficulties that people just do not seem to understand. First of all, it is the slow season, so getting charters is already hard enough. then when you do schedule a charter, you hope the weather is good on the day of the charter. Then there is the cancellations, the re-scheduling, the clients who do not understand the threat of going out when there are thunderstorms in the area, especially when you tell them that the storm is 20 miles away. I guess people just do not understand that Florida is the lightning capital of the world, and also the tornado capital of the world. We have so many small tornadoes here that towns do not even bother with sirens to warn people. Then, when you do get to go out on a charter, then there is always the issue of "those no wind days or periods" and clients wonder why don't you put up the sails. I guess they do not understand the concept that unless I am motoring to make the boat move, that they would be on a BBQ. I wonder what part of "Sailing" did they not understand?
Of course, having the passion for the sea like I do, I guess that one cannot totally dismiss our charter clients thoughts. On labor day I decided to take a little boat trip by myself. Yes, no woman in my life yet, so the trip was by myself. I had decided to go to Cabbage Key which is a beautiful Island north of here about 26 miles. I know, what could there be on a island for me, but it is very beautiful there. It is a lush tropical island, with beautiful birds, tortois, lizards, iguanas, and other creatures and it sits along the ICW. It is also the place where Jimmy Buffet was inspired to write "Cheeseburger in Paradise".
I decided to leave around 8am but with chit chat with neighbors on the docks and such I did not leave until almost 930am. Since I got a late start, I decided to take the ICW (inside the barrier islands) up to Cabbage Key. What a beautiful day, a perfect weather day. I saw manitee, dolphins, logger head turtles, and many other creatures of the sea along with a arm full of different birds. The boat performed flawlessly, and of course, had a perfect docking at Cabbage Key docks which is a very good thing when you are handling a 38 foot boat by yourself.
Ok, so the restaurant is pretty cool at Cabbage Key with all the walls lined with dollar bills stating peoples names, home ports, and dates. The restaurant owners say about 20,000 dollar bills fall off the walls every year and that they donate this money to childrens needs charities. Pretty cool, and of course, the hamburgers are great as long as you do not turn your back on your burger while sitting outside because Vincent (a greater white egret) will steal it if you do. Departing the docks 1.5 hours later was a breeze, again, a good thing when you are by yourself.
The day was beautiful, and the evening seemed like it was going to be just as beautiful so I decided to take the long way back to Ft Myers beach by going farther north, and then exit out of the ICW through Boca Grande Pass out into the Gulf of Mexico and sail the deep blue back to the Ft Myers. Out in the Gulf it was beautiful. Winds were 12 from the WNW, seas flat at 1-2 feet, and just a beautiful aqua green. As soon as I got the sails up, I had a group of 5 dolphins swimming along side for more then 30 minutes. Not much later, a loggerhead turtle popped up. About an hour later, I saw a huge Manta Ray jump out of the water several times playing. Of course, all the usual sea creatures seemed to make an appearance for me like they were welcoming me back to the ocean. There were large bonnet head sharks and hammer heads that would surface and take a look. Flying fish would skip along the surface in front of the boat as if scared by the presence of it. And of course, the sea birds and pelicans making their end of day dives searching for their dinner.
Sunset was beautiful and found me just a couple of miles away from Sanibel Reef, but to the east, the sky was starting to take a change for the worse. Watching the radar, the weather was not looking good and it was all heading to the same place I wanted to go, Ft Myers Beach and the home port of the boat, Salty Sam's Marina. What was suppose to be a beautiful evening with a full moon, now was pitch black out on the ocean, with lightning and thunder coming closer and closer. Winds picked up to the 25mph range and I had fun sailing the breeze, but keeping a very watchful eye on the radar and weather in the sky. Sometimes, I believe it is better to believe in my sky, then the silly radar because in the lightning I could see a dry line followed by a very large squall line and it was coming fast.
I secured all the sails as fast as I could, and I closed up the bimini top and secured it around the radar arch as fast as I could and just like a watch ticking away to the countdown, as soon as I got behind the wheel again, the winds came up to 47 mph and the seas grew to 6 footers rather quickly, and within minutes came the down pour of rain. A little more of an hour went by and the rains stopped, and the moon came out, and it was like glass on the ocean. I could see another dry line and squall line coming so I motored as fast as I could to try and beat the second storm to the docks. Now I know what a cat feels like when a dog is nipping at their heels because this second thunderstorm was filled with major lightning and thunder and it seemed to be rolling right up my stern. I was a little worried I was not going to make it in time to the pass and begin thinking maybe I should turn and run for the open ocean again. However, when I hit Mantazis pass, I felt safe and knew I could then make it safely to the docks before the storm hit.
Docking at midnight, cleaning up the boat, resecuring the canvas, and giving the boat a bath gives a person time to reflect up one's day. What was I thinking going out by myself, all day, and then being in the storm? But then, this is sailing in Florida in July, August, and September, and many people just do not understand all the dynamics of sailing in the Gulf of Mexico this time of year. But, back to my question of "Was this a good idea?" YES, because how else would you ever experience all the things I got to experience in one day, and to see all the things I got to see, in just one day, and to feel the power of mother nature, in just one day. But, the greatest thing I got to see, was a rainbow at night.
For those who have never seen a rainbow at night, it is like any other rainbow as it appears at the end of a storm. For it to appear at night, you have to have almost or a full moon. It will appear against the black storm clouds and will be a perfect arch just like a full rainbow in daylight, but it is just different shades of white. Sailing this time of year, and by myself, hmmmm,,,,, Yes, it was a good idea.
Thanks Ron… It was good sailing with you through your words.