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October 2000

Copy Write 10/1/2000 ©   Updated  1/4/2006

Pre Trip   Friday   Saturday   Sunday   Monday   Afterglow   Disclaimer       E- Mail


Pre Trip

Planning a sail trip is nerve wracking for me! Once I decide it's time to go it's time to go! Unfortunately I need the weather to cooperate and there lies the problem. This trip was no different. Hurricane season has been mild so to speak, there where a few "situations" early October that delayed launching the boat.

Due to job demands and other family related issues a Friday through Monday trip was my best bet. Monday October 16, 2000 the long-range forecast looked good, by Tuesday things weren't so good and by Wednesday I was about ready to scrub the whole thing. On the off chance I prepared anyway. By Thursday I was flying high my weather window opened back up. Due to the remote location of the destination area, all supplies needed had to be carried on board. Gas, food, water and anything else I think I need.

Gas: Allowances are made for unfavorable winds and gunk holing. At Wall-Mart two 6-gallon plastic cans that have a handle on the top and one side are purchased. The plan is to tie them to the bow pulpit. This gives a total of 18 gallons, burning a gallon an hour, surely enough to get me thru some serious motoring.

Food: Several years ago I bought a Coleman 16 quart cooler for the boat. This cooler has been great. A 2 liter pop bottle can lie flat down in the bottom and still have room for a bag of ice and food. Best of all the coolers are narrow and will fit comfortably in the cockpit lockers; the handle folds down and locks the lid in place. Two different Wall-Marts I can't find them. Then, like magic about three weeks before my trip they appear once again. I grab two more. Three dinners and three breakfast meals need planning, sandwiches for lunch. Time to clean out the freezer for anything that looks good. From there rummaging through the cupboard, several cans of soup are loaded into the mix.

A plastic tub is kept on board with various supplies like paper plates, plastic ware and all kinds of other kitchen and cooking stuff. This trip I have added a nonstick frying pan to the small collection of cooking gear kept on board. With the addition of the frying pan and related stuff another tub is needed. Space is limited to say the least and when ever possible everything needs to do double duty. By shear luck both tubs are just wide enough to fit snug between the keel trunk and the cabin seats making a perfect table, the lid comes of giving access to the contents.

A propane single burner using the small camper bottles has been a part of the boat for some time. A plastic base attaches to the bottom of the canister helping with stability. Normally all use of the burner is in the cockpit. My plan is to load each cooler with that day's supply of food and ice.

Water: A two-gallon water cooler with a screw on lid is a regular part of the boat gear. When sailing it is usually either in the cockpit or down in one of the lockers within easy reach. I have a larger water cooler that I don't like; it has a pop on lid. This doesn't stay on, unless taped. On big trips both are filled with ginger water. Recently I added a 6-gallon jerry jug for other water related needs. I usually drink ginger tea to prevent seasickness and so far it has worked well. This trip I am not loading any soda, just one more thing to try and keep cool.

Clothes: Weather is usually daytime temps in the 80's to 70's and nights can drop down to the 40's but usually around high 50's or 60's. Planning what to wears is no big deal. Just need a little of everything.

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Friday

Up in the morning a quick check and the weather still looks good. Weather fronts in the northwest far away enough to give me a good window. Projected rain chance 20% to 30% (normal). After running my daughter to school and a quick trip home to load gear in the truck and a stop by the gas station for gas. Normally the peanut lady has her stand up at this station and often the store sells bags of her boiled peanuts, today no boiled peanuts in the store. BAD OMEN

Once on the boat I am flying to get everything stored upon the boat motor on and all the other stuff in place. Dragging the bimini frame on the boat I find one of the pieces needed to connect the bimini to the boat has either fallen off at home or on the road somewhere. I finally give in and drive home to check; sure enough it is in the back yard. Driving back it's about 9:30 and the peanut lady has set up for the day. GOOD OMEN two $2 bags are purchased on the way back to the boat. Quickly the bimini frame is installed and the plastic tarp cover in place. The tarp is one of those cheap plastic jobs, not pretty but will do for now.

Finally everything is ready, weather is the forecasted partly cloudy. Connecting the fuel tank, the squeeze bulb primes the motor. One pull on the starter rope the engine fires right on up and runs smooth. Yes you heard me correctly cranked right up and running smooth one pull no starting fluid, never even pulled the motor cover or pulled the choke VERY GOOD OMEN (one of the best there is). 10:30 AM pulling out of the canal no real wind and the water almost flat. Looking at the clouds my heart falls flat, there is rain those clouds.

You know what kind of OMEN rain is! I decide to chance it (if necessary I can turn back). The further south the worse the weather looks but no wind. It starts to sprinkle then to rain, visibility good. The rain continues to worsen, no wind, kind of spooky. I'm sitting under the bimini with a rain poncho remembering all the stories I read of rainy day sailors wearing scuba goggles to see better. If the rain gets much worse I have an old pair of plastic goggles left on the boat during some work with the grinder this summer. As the visibility closes around me some waves seem to appear out of nowhere not bad, but I am getting real nervous, half way to the bridge or halfway back. I know this area well and decide the east side of the bay is where I need to be just in case. Continuing south I am in the narrow part of Perdido Bay I call "the chute", the waves flatten back out dead calm again. The closer to the bridge the better things get, by the time I have to decide to run the bridge or not, the rain has stopped. Clouds are still thinking about dumping on me. Once on the other side no wind and looking a bit better. I still think it odd, all that rain and no wind to speak of.

Motoring south Dupont Point to the east I am trying to stay on the west side of the chute. Two hours from departure, somewhere around Manuel Bayou time for lunch and raise the sails

Light south sea breeze flowing over the bay. Full main and jib by 12:44 I was ready to go. Heading out I seem to have a problem with mainsheet trim. Something is hanging up eventually the problem is located. When I tensioned the main halyard down haul it pulled the boom down and apparently the bimini frame is too high. The boom won't ride over the frame. This frame is one I modified and is the first time used under sail I'm not going to worry with it now, time to go! Using a knife the plastic tie downs holding the plastic tarp in place are cut and the whole mess pulled down and tossed in the cabin. Some twine is used to tie the frame to the backstay keeping it free of the boom.

Fortunately the winds are light and I am able to keep the boat moving at the same time. Once again it is time to head out. Sailing in light wind I usually get lazy, I kick back and often don't pay close enough attention to the water. By 1:22 PM I am at Red Bluffs and in thin water keel dragging, wind is so light. My fault wasn't working south as I should. Cheating the keel is raised a bit, crank the motor and drive further south into deeper water. 2 PM marker # 60 off Ross Point wind up to about 10K sort of, still a sea breeze beam reaching. 2:15 PM the ICW narrows quite a bit no tugboats yet Marker # 68 Hatcher Point more of a broad reach.

Saw my first dolphins of the day. They were feeding and didn't want to play with me. The charter sailboat Daedalus is out today. We are snaking the ICW along the same direction until the entrance to Ingram Bayou where the Daedalus heads north into the bayou. Other than an occasional powerboat I am alone.

3 PM marker # 78 Sapling Point gateway to Wolf Bay which stretches out in front of me and to starboard. Rather than cut across and hope not to scrape bottom I decide to follow the channel markers then turn north. Mulberry Point is my overnight destination, which is on the west side about midway up. Wind still from the south gybing into a dead run the whisker pole is set and am running wing n wing. I have plenty of time and decide to leave the keel rather than crank it up a bit.

3:45 PM rounding Mulberry Point from a run to a port beam reach I pass the sandy shoals in front of the point and see some patchy sand along the north side of the point, perfect. The whole inner bay and ICW area is mostly pine trees and palmetto bush with other trees and brush mixed in. Stopping long enough to stow sails I motor into a promising spot close in. Anchoring in thin water time for some beach combing. It is not a real long beach but a nice stroll. 4 PM and I am already getting bit. Motoring out into deeper water hopefully far enough away from shore from the biting things.

Achored at Mulberry Point

Once out in deeper water the keel is lowered some, bow and stern anchor set. Time to change from a sailboat to a houseboat. I don't care what the SC sales brochures say by the time you load everything there is not a lot of room in the cabin. Sailing mode requires one set up then you must shift everything around for housekeeping. Dinner is salmon filet fried in Pam spray very good and simple to cook. The friend who lets me use his dock had been mullet netting and returned before I left. I mooched a few filets from him. They fried OK in the Pam spray but I would have rather had them breaded and fried maybe next time. Still good. A can of baked beans to go with the fish to round things out. After a peaceful quiet evening it's time to turn the lights out. Apparently I didn't move far enough off shore once the sea breeze died some bugs found me fortunately not all the bugs.

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Saturday

Next to night sailing mornings at anchor is one of my favorite times. Light fog, wind has backed around to the east. Great blue herons honking in the distance the usual brown pelicans dive bombing the water. Clouds look a bit rainy. Weather forecast, a possibility of morning showers. The ICW is not far and already I can hear the rumbling of tugs. It's a bit cool this morning, sitting in the cabin with the burner in the cockpit fresh coffee and sizzling sausage patties. I quickly find the spoons have been used up in the plastic ware bag and most of the plastic knives. Should have looked better. Also I didn't think to carry anything to store uneaten food, plastic baggies would do. I guess I will have to suffer through this last piece of sausage.

I am of a completely different mindset this trip. Usually I rush to get there and scramble to get back before dark. I have four days and am in no hurry to do anything. After lounging around and reading the sun is well up rainy clouds burned off and the wind has freshened some. By 10 AM the boat has been transformed from a floating home to a sailing boat. Wind about 10K and looks like it will build as the day goes by. Looking at the map Graham Bayou is first on the list. Rather than handle both sails in tight quarters I opt to fly just a full main. Wind is enough to push the boat comfortably, keel down 3/4.

A nice easy sail northwest toward the bayou, rounding the last point before the entrance to Graham Bayou I bump bottom again and stall. It's just cloudy enough to make it difficult to judge depth by water color. Raising the keel up to 15 cranks about 1/2 down. Wind in the main part of Wolf Bay is 10 -around 15K with some mild puffs. Graham Bayou is due west and a delightful downwind run the length. There are houses and boats on the north shore and woods to the south. At the end there is actually enough room to turn into the wind. I think I can sail back out. The bayou narrows as it goes in so I should be able to tack back out. With the keel so high I should have plenty of room. Back and fourth we go. Just a bit more leeway than I care for but expected that and am making allowances, especially around the docks. Working dead to wind the puffs are a big help as I can reach a bit higher. The boat is a bit tipsy with the keel so high, controllable but need to pay attention during puffs. Wouldn't want to fly the jib, too much sail for keel depth.

Owens Bayou is next it is much wider and a gentle cruise through the area, lots of fishermen and women out today. This bayou is covered on all sides by houses and boats of all kinds sail and power. From there an easy slide into Wolf Creek. Gets real narrow, sail flogging the motor pushes me around. On the way out of Wolf Creek the main sail is lowered.

Next stop Mifflin Creek it's the same as Wolf Creek, a nice lazy trip looking around at everything. No rush to get anywhere. Back out and I'm getting hungry.

I've heard much about Wolf Bay Lodge over the years all of it good. It is on Peterson Point and has a nice dock, no slips. I am solo and no body on the dock to ask for help. The wind is something that can work for or against fortunately the dock is in the shadow of the point and some trees.

Docked at Wolf Bay Lodge

Docking solo is always tricky and doing it right is an issue for me. Banging into the dock is not something that does my "I can do everything" pride any good. The windward side of the dock has enough room for me to swing in close to shore and turn broadside to the dock. First pass around and I am moving just a bit too fast to grab one of the pilings. Anyway it wouldn't be a good idea I don't know why but as usual I forgot to get a dock line out and coiled for use. Second pass actually looks good I now have a feel for the area throttling the engine to dead slow the boat is turned broadside to the pier. Either the wind faltered a bit or I turned too soon either way I am too far from the dock to get a line around a piling. One more pass this time as I start the final approach I put the engine in neutral and use boat momentum, naturally I throttled down too low and engine sputters and dies. There is enough momentum to clear if needed. Drifting ever closer I miss the first three pilings available almost but not quite close enough.

The last piling is coming up fast and quickly I manage to get a line around and grab the free end. When I'm good I'm very good. It doesn't take much to snub the boat to the dock using one stern cleat and the winch cleat. A few fenders tied to the piling at a rub point. The wind wants to push the boat against the dock. The bow anchor is tossed and snubbed to pull the boat off the dock. I won't be all day so don't need much.It doesn't take much to snub the boat to the dock using one stern cleat and the winch cleat. A few fenders tied to the piling at a rub point. The wind wants to push the boat against the dock. The bow anchor is tossed and snubbed to pull the boat off the dock. I won't be all day so don't need much.

Docking solo is always tricky and doing it right is an issue for me. Banging into the dock is not something that does my "I can do everything" pride any good. The windward side of the dock has enough room for me to swing in close to shore and turn broadside to the dock. First pass around and I am moving just a bit too fast to grab one of the pilings. Anyway it wouldn't be a good idea I don't know why but as usual I forgot to get a dock line out and coiled for use. Second pass actually looks good I now have a feel for the area throttling the engine to dead slow the boat is turned broadside to the pier. Either the wind faltered a bit or I turned too soon either way I am too far from the dock to get a line around a piling. One more pass this time as I start the final approach I put the engine in neutral and use boat momentum, naturally I throttled down too low and engine sputters and dies. There is enough momentum to clear if needed. Drifting ever closer I miss the first three pilings available almost but not quite close enough. The last piling is coming up fast and quickly I manage to get a line around and grab the free end. When I'm good I'm very good. It doesn't take much to snub the boat to the dock using one stern cleat and the winch cleat. A few fenders tied to the piling at a rub point. The wind wants to push the boat against the dock. The bow anchor is tossed and snubbed to pull the boat off the dock. I won't be all day so don't need much.

The Lodge is an older building not fancy and for some reason not oriented with the window seats facing the dock except for the bar. The dining area is huge and I find a seat. Paper place mats serve as the menus. All the usual Gulf Coast delicacies everything fried except broiled upon request. One of those places to make you feel right at home either just off the boat or with that special someone, menu prices within reason. Except for market priced items no dinners over $16.00 almost all the lunch sandwiches within $5 to $8 and you can get the vegetable of the day instead of fries. The fried oyster po'boy looks good asking about the desert the waitress assures me the cheesecake is good (my personal weakness). The sandwich was loaded with fried oysters and good, the vegetable of the day was green beans usual canned stuff and the cheesecake was not a disappointment by any means. Some of these fancy restaurants have cheesecake slices so thin you can't see them and priced in inverse proportion to the size. A decent size slice of cheesecake at Wolf Bay Lodge is $1.50. Personally I find the only "good" size slice of cheesecake is the whole pie. Lunch including tip was $10.00 many of the dinner platters where huge and more than one person had a to go box.

While there I learned an interesting bit of biblical history. Apparently according to some Alabama residents Jesus attended Auburn University. Two couples and a young son on a powerboat came in shortly after I and didn't sit far from me. From what I understand the couple that owned the boat where showing the local sites to a couple and their son on their first visit to the USA from the Ukraine. It was amusing to listen to their discussions on what to order. But, the part about God, Jesus, and Auburn University just about had me on the floor. So if you are ever in Alabama be warned things are different there.

Hammock Bay and Creek are next on the list. Rounding the point separating Hammock Bay from my previous wanderings was massive area of thin water and you must motor well out to avoid grounding. With the wind a bit breezy I didn't want to raise the keel anymore than necessary even motoring. The keel makes a good stabilizer motoring through choppy water. Also being unfamiliar with the area I didn't have a good grasp of a good path through the shoals so opted to motor the long way around.

The entrance to Hammock Bay is quite wide woods and marsh to the west and houses and powerboats to the east. At the time I failed to comprehend what powerboats only meant. As the waterway narrows into Hammock Creeks some fishermen off in the marsh at the head of the waterway I don't want to stray into the marsh, turning I feel the bump and drag. Raising the keel another 10 trying to complete the turn and again bump and drag. Finally all the way up and as I complete the turn I feel the rudder (all the way up) dragging bottom. The rudder runs just a bit lower than the prop. With the cloudy weather it is hard to judge water depth.

1:30 PM completed the tour of north Wolf Bay ahead of schedule raising the main and dropping the keel I start to sail out of Hammock Bay. Trying to work to wind and avoid the shoals on the west side. Almost out and again the bump and drag. Raise the keel and again bump and drag. I am not a happy camper. Raise the keel all the way up and crank the motor. Still drag the rudder a bit getting out. Apparently this area is rather shallow. Need to remember if no sailboats at all in the docks might be wise to wonder why. Not sure what the tide level is at this time.

Once out on Wolf Bay proper the winds have build a bit from the east a good 15K and gusts for good measure. I get a bit nervous about this. If this wind pattern holds south Perdido Bay will be a mess. It runs lengthwise east to west, big fetch and can get nasty in a hurry. I don't want to put myself in a position where I HAVE TO slog to wind in a pounding sea. Did that once, see March 2000 for gory details. I need to work my way back east as far as possible for the push back across south Perdido Bay. If possible a morning crossing would be wise. Heading south under a full main beam reaching an easy ride. Keel 3/4 down and by 2:45 PM at marker # 82 as expected wind on the nose.

Raft Up on Ingram Bayou

Technically I could tack my way east along the ICW, but to be honest would be a pain. Between barges and powerboat traffic more trouble than it's worth. Motors are sometimes handy to have around. Waves not bad yet left the keel 3/4 for stability. 3:45 PM arrived at the entrance of Ingram Bayou, motoring north into the bayou a beautiful deep-water paradise. In the main channel, a club raft up in progress one big sailboat and 5-6 powerboats of different sizes. Further in another big sail boat and a trawler. It's time for a break the gas tank is down to 1/3rd would be wise to fill now rather than later. The two gas cans up front where a good idea I saw no place to fill up on Wolf Bay. Technically I could tack my way east along the ICW, but to be honest would be a pain. Between barges and powerboat traffic more trouble than it's worth. Motors are sometimes handy to have around. Waves not bad yet left the keel 3/4 for stability.

3:45 PM arrived at the entrance of Ingram Bayou, motoring north into the bayou a beautiful deep-water paradise. In the main channel, a club raft up in progress one big sailboat and 5-6 powerboats of different sizes. Further in another big sail boat and a trawler. It's time for a break the gas tank is down to 1/3rd would be wise to fill now rather than later. The two gas cans up front where a good idea I saw no place to fill up on Wolf Bay.

Back on the ICW, north is Pirates Cove Marina a favorite stopping ground for me but not today. Due south is Bear Point Marina and restaurant (Orange Beach Alabama) they have gas. As I near the marina I see a huge dive boat, one of those boats that can cruise the world. A closer look is needed; side trips are part of the itinerary. Looking at my map two bayous on the north shore of south Perdido Bay has my attention. The first is Spring Branch / Palmetto Creek and the other just west of Red Bluffs is Soldier Creek. Soldier Creek looks the better pick, as it is further east.

The wind is up and the fetch working against me, seas a bit heavy no whitecaps yet. As long as it gets no worse I should be able to motor.

Pirates Cove Marina

Not paying attention to what I am doing I get stuck trying to slide along the north side of the Ross Point marker. I have been through here before and know better. After floundering around the boat is back under control keel back down to 3/4. It's a heavy long ride northwest across from Ross Point to Red Bluffs.

At the middle of the entrance to Soldier Creek the keel once again needs adjusting. I can see sail boat masts so there must be a channel somewhere. Once over the thin water (not too thin) I am in the cove out of the wind and smooth water. With some daylight left a bit of exploring. This is an extensive bayou and goes way back. Mooring balls here and there, every size and shape power and sailboats. At the north end of the bayou a marshy area dead ahead and houses on the left and right looks good to me. Setting up camp for the night I remember something that came with the boat that I have never used, often forget I even have it, a mosquito net that drapes over the pop to and down the sides with a long flap for the companionway. The netting is so old it tears easily and doesn't look used much. Good night to try it out.
As darkness closes in around me another great day comes to an end with another peaceful night swinging on the hook.

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Sunday

What can I say this is getting repetitive but another perfect morning up at sunrise goofed off reading and stuff till about 10 AM ready to go by 10:30 AM.

Fresh water is running low I didn't realize how fast it would go. Across the way a couple has been puttering about on their trawler all morning. Motoring over I ask if I can get a refill. After a quick fill up I am once again on the way. Almost ready to leave the protection of the creek I decide to raise the main sail as the winds is already at 15K or more. Sailing out almost works once again bumping bottom with sail flogging the motor gets me out of the jam and into deeper water. I never thought to ask about where the channel is from the folks giving me water. Once out and sailing again the same trawler is coming out, they hug the extreme east side. There are two poles in the water and if you know what to look for mark the clear channel. Live and learn!

I run into a similar problem I had back in March 2000. In heavy choppy seas the main will not keep the bow going where it needs. Instead the bow is pushed around. Raising the jib things are much smoother and we are making good progress. Except for the wind gusts, I had the feeling this would happen and should have reefed before raising the jib.

If you want to learn my heavy weather sailing philosophy including reefing techniques Heavy Weather Sailing

I have sailed here before in worse weather and know the drill. The waves are on the rough side but not excessively bad, wind actually is favorable, east to southeast. Whitecaps are just beginning to form and I am already near Red Bluffs so don't have to cover near the distance. With the sails adjusted I continue the southeast (more south) tack across the width of the bay. Eventually come about when I think I am close enough but not too close to shore. Heading back I am able to hold a north easterly heading which is to my advantage as it will put me in the chute and give a long running tack eastward. The wind is giving me some fits as it dies down a bit then builds back up then gusts and for good measure shifts around just a bit. The waves follow their own pattern; things will go fairly smooth then the big one. I count myself lucky the chop is 1' to 2' rather than 2' to 3'. Many of the gusts cause the rigging to sing. With the jib up a noticeable difference I don't get banged around as much and the boat holds the heading much better. I also find the big gusts are working to my advantage as they drive the jib hard and we literally freight train through the chop. I can't help but wonder if the weight of the gas cans on the bow is working to my advantage.

I am in the chute finally and looks like I just might make Dupont Point before tacking. The wind shifts a bit to the east and I am still working my way northeast but losing some sea way west. Eventually I realize I need to give myself some room and tack back south. My destination today is Tarklin Bay at the southeast end of Perdido Bay.

The reach is more south than east it is a long run and I milk it for everything it is worth. Heading up during every gust. About midway through the run I find the seas calming just a bit I have shortened the fetch considerably and it is showing. Tarklin Bay the wind has backed a bit to the south so still beating. Big long tacks back and fourth in Tarklin Bay seem to be my favorite choice. Eventually I am close enough to stop, stow and motor into Weekly Bayou.

Weekly Bayou has a narrow entrance bordered on both sides by rapple so the channel is easy to find. Once in, it stretches forever and real narrow boats of all kinds everywhere.

My final destination is Tarklin Bayou just a bit north of Weekly Bayou. I can tell by looking at the entrance it is real shallow. Revving up with keel raised I trust blind fate and head in. dragging the prop in the sand skipping across the bottom, looks like I am through. Then another sand bar just inside the entrance, I can see deep water ahead so keep trucking. The sand bar seems to stretch out forever. Right about the time I realize I used bad judgment and would have been better to stop and hike the boat in I am through. Wheew, a quick look at the water pump flow and everything looks OK.

The bayou opens up before me like a hidden sea it is fairly broad and stretches on forever in a big arc ending in a good size lake. If I wanted, could be easily sailed. With marshland all around motoring I make the grand tour. No houses no people just the boat and me. After completing the grand tour I need to find out if I can get back out now that I am in???

Back to the entrance I motor in slowly until the bow bottoms out and stops. The motor is not in the sand. Climbing out I find the water a foot or less in some spots two to three in other. Pulling the boat off the sand I find some deeper water to drop anchor and keep the boat floating.

Deep to moderate draft boats by necessity are highly aware of tides. For me it has never been an issue, "crank-n-go" has always been my motto. I hit this particular area during low tide, the out going tide strong enough to float the boat right on out if I wanted. Walking around some more I locate the deeper parts and walking out both bow and stern anchor to hold the starboard side windward and port near the shallow part. Putting the folding ladder in place on the port side a perfect set up. The shallow sandy water a perfect back yard. It is still early; the sail across was tiring, time for some goofing off and kick back in the cabin out of the sun with a good book.

Often I wonder if I need to move up in boat size, 25' or so. You know the drill bigger means better right! Then there are times like now when I know this is the boat for me. Bigger also means more draft and fewer choices of where to go I certainly wouldn't dare Tarklin Bayou in a bigger boat.

While hanging out in my own private paradise I hear the whine of a boat motor. I am anchored right near the curve of the entrance. You could see the look on the small fishing boat crew (a family) as they rounded the point and saw my sailboat. What in the world is a sailboat doing back here? They know the area and hug the reeds on the north side of the channel. Now I know a better way out for tomorrow! The wife asks if I'm grounded. After assuring her otherwise they go on their merry way into the bayou eventually returning on the way out. Later a pontoon boat comes chugging in same route they stay for some cast netting and then move on.

While hanging out in my own private paradise I hear the whine of a boat motor. I am anchored right near the curve of the entrance. You could see the look on the small fishing boat crew (a family) as they rounded the point and saw my sailboat. What in the world is a sailboat doing back here? They know the area and hug the reeds on the north side of the channel. Now I know a better way out for tomorrow! The wife asks if I'm grounded. After assuring her otherwise they go on their merry way into the bayou eventually returning on the way out. Later a pontoon boat comes chugging in same route they stay for some cast netting and then move on. Sunset on Tarklin Bayou

Last night I had no problems with bugs. Even with the screen up I have some problems. One remedy always seems to work, suntan lotion. Spread it on real thick and let soak in, apparently the bugs don't like the smell or maybe the taste. I don't like using bug spray before sleeping makes me hot. Although spraying my feet seems to save my toes a lot of grief. Eventually it's lights out and drift off to sleep accompanied by the sound of mullet flopping out of the water.

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Monday

Last morning up again at dawn, this whole trip either the clouds haven't cooperated or the location was wrong. Either way I have been unable to photograph any good sunsets or sunrises this trip. This morning I just might get lucky. We will see once the photos are developed. Food and ice has held up well. The ice is gone but the water in the last cooler good and cold. As I used each cooler the ice and water was poured into the 2-gallon water cooler. This last cooler I forgot to put the frozen salmon filet in a baggie. Didn't hurt the salmon (last nights dinner) but, I don't think I want to pour the water into the cooler.

By now you know the lazy morning routine, so I feel no need to rub it in. Last morning is kind of sad; I know its time to head home and am ready but, maybe just a few more days? Only this morning is not as lazy, checking the weather radio I find the wind northeast supposedly building and backing around E/SE as the day progresses. I need to start back before the winds whip up the bay. 8:30 AM winding out the way I saw others wind in I miss the long sand bar I plowed through the day before. Unfortunately even with the tide up the prop drags through some sand on the bay side of the bayou entrance. Rather than tack back and fourth north up the chute once again I cheat.

9 AM rounding Dupont Point from Tarklin Bay wind on the nose and light chop easy ride.

Almost to the bridge on the west side there is Mrs. Kitty's Marina and restaurant. I have yet to eat there looked at a menu once my wallet had heart attack and died, ended up having to buy another. Slip fees are about average. Another sailboat about my size is sailing south from the marina, beautiful midnight blue hull and new sails, kind of boxy looking.

9:24 AM under the bridge and heading northeast up the chute I double check the cooling water stream. The motor sounds right but the cooling water stream doesn't look right, can't tell if I have a problem or not. Dragging the prop through the sand yesterday was really not a good idea. I can't get into my bayou without the motor, rather than risk a breakdown. The motor is shut down and sails raised.

The wind is from the northeast meaning dead on, in the chute. Plenty of sea room to tack back and fourth and the chute widens as it goes north. It's still a nice day and it would be a good day to sail home turf. Wind pretty steady at 10K with a few puffs.

With the N/E wind the west tack is the one that runs me north up the chute. The east tack basically takes me across the way and a bit south. The closer to Grassy Point the wider the area and the wind direction is not so funneled by the chute. The western leg gets much better also the puffs become much stronger. Grassy Point has shoals extending way out into the water you only want to get as close as the crab traps if the keel is down. One last tack east and I am set up to clear Grassy Point.

Tactical decision, the wind is coming directly from where I need to end up. Would it be better to use short tacks or the grand sweeping long runs? I think an N/W tack all the way up to the end of the bay would be better. I would be closer to the trees on the north end and could be sheltered a bit working back east if the winds got real bad.

We are talking about a long run close hauled. The gusts are a bit higher the wind still in the 10K - 15K area. Seas moderate chop really a great time to be on the water. With the traveler centered I'm on my way the puffs hit and the boat heels I make adjustments head up when ever possible. 12:05 AM arrived at the extreme northwest end of the bay I had hoped to be a bit further east but didn't work out that way. Long tacks east probably will not be efficient shorter runs would be better. Picking a mark along the north shore of the bay the boat is turned and a southeast heading close reaching.

I'm unsure why but decide it would be a good time to play with the traveler. I haven't experimented with it as much as I should partially because shorthand sailing it is just one more thing to keep up with. Also it is hard to work. With a load on the sail both hands are needed to raise the traveler. Most often it is kept centered. Sometimes beam reaching I pull it up to a point about a foot on the high side. I have never messed with the traveler close hauled. If the winds are right the boat moves noticeably faster with the traveler raised. Trimming the sail for a centered traveler I (not during a puff) pull the traveler ALL the way windward.

Two things happen one of which gets my undivided attention. First the boat speeds up a bit. Second the boat points a bit higher into the wind! Hmmmm!

All during the S/E run to the mark I picked as a turning point I am playing with the traveler. As the gusts hit I lower the traveler until the sail luffs then sheet in the main or loosen the main depending upon the wind. As the turning mark is reached another tack N/W and closer to the north shore.

This last tack N/W sets me up for a long run east across the end of the bay and should end up pretty close to where I need to be. All the while playing with the traveler. One significant thing learned is on the high side the mainsail will point higher than the 110 jib. The jib will luff out but the main is still drawing wind. I will on another day defiantly explore this much further. Reaching the east side several short tacks are used to bring me in real close to the bayou entrance. By 1:30 PM the boat is anchored and the sails down.

With the motor running and the cooling water flowing much better time to pack it in.

One nice thing about this trip is I didn't come in just at dark. Usually I have just enough time to tie up and grab a few essentials. Then return another day for post trip clean up. Today plenty of daylight to pull all the gear not kept on the boat and clean up things before leaving, home by 3:30 PM.

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Afterglow

I know of no sailors not harboring the ultimate sailing fantasy:
"Head out and don't come back!"
This was my first long trip, anything more than overnight. Granted to some it really wasn't a trip distance wise. But time on the water counts as much as distance traveled in my opinion.

I have a bug screen that sticks to the forward cabin hatch and use it regularly. I am going to fashion some bug screens that attach to the inside of the pop-top rather than drape something all over the top. I am also of the delusion screens are available to keep even the smallest of bugs out although from what I have heard they also block most all the breeze as well. Possibly two sets of screens for different conditions. In addition a clear plastic cover would be nice so the pop-top could be raised in cold or rainy weather. With any luck they will be ready for my next big trip April 2001.

The honey pot thing has been an irritation from moment of boat purchase. There is a pedestal for it port side forward, the keel trunk head is there and rather uncomfortable crawling over it. "M-Word 2001" (that's scary) I am going do some major surgery to the portside bunks. Cut it out and rebuild with allowances for the head further back in the cabin. The area where the head used to be, modified for seating sleeping and better storage capability. There is a small storage hold built into the v-berth. It is not practical for much and normally the pop-top netting has been in it. I am considering cutting a much bigger area. Weight too far forward is not good so I will need to be cautious about this.

Some kind of traveler purchase needs to be rigged for one-handed adjustments. Also If possible leading the lines further aft in such a way I could adjust if another person was in the cockpit.
What will I do different next trip, not much.
Carry more water another 6 gallon jerry jug would be good.

More battery power would be nice, solar recharging needs to be planned. I will check into rigging for shore power. If it's just me I want to be away from everybody and loath marina hopping. If I have someone with me tying up wouldn't be a bad idea. Hot showers at night are a real luxury after a hard days sail. The gel battery I used was down to 25% charge according to the battery charger.
Oh by the way 4 days out on the water 6 gallons of gas burned.
Stinkpotters eat your heart out.
Sail Boats Rule!
Even the smaller ones

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Disclaimer

The information on this page is not intended as a "definitive" guide to sailing .
Rather it is a collection of things that work for me also ideas I have learned from other sources.
The information is specific to my 22' swing keel South Coast Seacraft Eclipse.
The sailing area is local bays and ICW
Use at your own risk
Any good sailing resource book should provide a comprehensive review of sailing theory.





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