Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sea Pearl "Whisper" Kite Cam

This was my first attempt at flying the kite cam from a boat.  There was very little wind so the kite was not flying steady resulting in pretty shaky video.  We are sailing aboard Ron Hoddinott's Sea Pearl "Whisper" from Cape Romano to Panther Key in the 10000 Islands, Florida.  The camera is a GoPro set up on a very crude Picavet rig. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

10,000 Islands Trip

We did not really have time to go on this trip but the weather forcast was just too good to pass up,  Highs in the 80s is warm for this time of year, even by our standards.  It was a bit of a scramble getting everything ready and we ended up arriving at Port of the Islands launch ramp around midnight Friday.  Port of the Islands is a pretty nice facility with hotel rooms, lots of slips and a small relatively short ramp.  Of course it was low tide when we arrived but we decided to launch anyway as we had reserved a slip and stealth-camping on the boat while on the trailer was not really an option here.  We quickly rigged the boat and launched without any trouble.  Egret with her flat bottom and one foot draft slid effortlessly off the trailer.
We spent a peaceful night in the slip and by the time we were waking up John and Colette Johns, Terry Clements and Jeff Carr had shown up and were rigging their boats.  We are always extra slow to get rolling in the morning so even though we were already rigged we were the last to leave the marina.
To get out into the Gulf you have to motor or sail, if the wind is just right, down the ~3nm long Faka Union Canal.  We motor sailed until it opened up into the 10,000 Islands area where we were able to sail.  The channel out is very well marked and easy to navigate.  We hung a right between markers 16 and 17 and soon after popped out on the west side of Panther Key.  This was our first time sailing the waters of the Everglades and it felt good to finally experience a bit of this beautiful and fascinating area.

Motoring down the Faka Union Canal.

 Northern tip of Panther Key.  

Northern tip of Panther Key

 The fleet at Panther Key

 Terry's Satori looking super sharp with the new mizzen mast.


 Colette not having any fun at all.

Waiting on the fire Saturday night.

We had a beautiful sunset Saturday night, alas no green flash.

Conversation around the fire Saturday night was so engaging that we forgot to check on the boat during the falling tide ...... or was it the refreshments.

So this is how we spent the night and all of Sunday since the morning tide was not high enough to float us free. We're never going to get tired of being able to do this with impunity although visions of Scamp's misadventures in the Everglades Challenge briefly flashed through my mind when I realized we had beached at a relatively high, high tide.

Ron and I wanted to explore Cape Romano Shoals so we took off in Ron's Sea Pearl "Whisper"

Ron on lookout approaching the shoals

The famous domes of Cape Romano came into view.  This dome home was constructed in 1981 and purchased in 2005 by a family with the intent of restoring it as a retreat.  The restoration has not happened and the domes are now being claimed by the Gulf.

 There were several tents set up on the cape.

Whisper's track from Saturday

 We explored the south west entrance to Morgan Bay behind Cape Romano. It was dead low tide so we did not venture too far in.  It's a neat area and warrants further exploration.

 On the way back I got to play with the new bigger kite for the GoPro.  What little wind there was, combined with Whisper's speed under power barely got the camera flying.

Still high and dry as we returned back to Panther Key.

Colette and John came sailing back about the same time we returned.

You know the water is warm when Kristi is willingly just hanging out in it.

Jeff Sailing his Kruger

Yep still not floating and Kristi is still in the water.  We really get a big kick out of this drying out business.  It's been too long since we had a boat that could do this.

That got me onto nostalgia lane so here's a pic of our and a friend's Macs drying out at Cape Lookout NC, circa 1998.

Back in 2013 the tide finally floated us free and we left on Monday morning while Terry and the Johns remained for another day.

On the way home Ron, Jeff, Kristi and I stopped by Goodland to check out the launching facilities. The Goodland ramp looks marginal for bigger boats but Calusa Island Marina has a nice looking ramp and docks with a lot of parking.  We ended the trip with a delicious lunch at the New Little Bar in Goodland.  Highly recommend this place.  Great food and a really nice outdoor patio.  You walk in to what looks like a typical South Florida fish joint but the waterfront patio feels like you've stepped out somewhere on the Med.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Say Hi to the Egret

My New Year's resolution is to not get so behind on the blog, nah who am I kidding, ain't gonna happen.
A couple of months ago we accidentally bought a Munroe Egret.  We had no intention of buying another boat right now but Egret is one of my favorite designs and one just happened to pop up on Craig's list not too far from our house.  I've been interested in sharpies for a while and a couple of years ago Kristi got me The Commodore's Story by Commodore Ralph Munroe, designer of Egret.  She also bought me plans for the Goat.  I'm starting to see a pattern developing.  The book is a fascinating account of the early settlers of Biscayne Bay (mid to late 1880s) and of the sharpies which Munroe adapted for the shallow and sometimes treacherous waters of Southeast Florida.  Munroe designed Egret in 1886.
I've admired Dennis Bradley's beautiful Egret many times but never considered getting one as I thought all of the Egret replicas were built of wood.  Now don't get me wrong, I love wooden boats but I don't think I'm up for taking care of a largish traditionally built one that stays out in the weather.  So when the Craig's list ad said "fiberglass Egret" we had to go look ..... and buy.  Someone built a handful of these in the 1990s.  I know of one other that is being rebuilt at Cortez.  I'm assuming it's from the same shop as it's hard to imagine there was more than one fiberglass Egret builder.

 At DeSoto

Yep, she floats where the birds walk.
The boat is basically functional with all of the sailing related systems working well enough to get out sailing.  She needs some freshening up and a good coat of paint inside and out.  Our first outing was with the WCTSS to Cayo Costa.  Dennis Bradley was there with his Egret so we got to do a bit of sailing together.  How cool is it to sail with another Egret the first time out!
 Denis Bradley's Egret passing us. Picture from the WCTSS trip album
Our boat needs a lot of hydrodynamic work to sail to her potential.  We are dragging a giant, open outboard well, and the "foils" are very un-foily consisting of small, flat, triangular bilge boards with oyster encrusted leading edges.  Needless to say Dennis was much faster and pointed a lot higher than us.  A fair bit of that is skill as he's one with the Egret, having spent years fine tuning her to his liking. But it's good to see that there is potential for a decent turn of speed once all the important bits are up to snuff, skipper included. 
 On the beach at Punta Blanca, Cayo Costa

Kristi says she's a keeper.
Click below for more pics of our Cayo Costa trip.