Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cedar Key in the RV

We have a new-to-us toy. It's a small class-A RV called an Amera Coach II. This Cedar Key trip was our first RV open water voyage.

Launching Goat. Does this still count as small boat camping?

The weather was superb and there were several WCTSS boats out sailing while we launched and beached Goat at Island Place. Photo: Rex and Kathy Payne.

Friday night sunset at the aptly named Sunset Isle campground. We love this place.

The view from our bed was OK.

Saturday dawned very gray and dreary with a forecast for afternoon thunderstorms. We met up with a few other boats and sailed over to Snake Key. The wind was adequate but dying. 

Michael Jones's Malu and Goat at Snake Key.

On the beach at Snake Key.

Leaving Snake Key with almost no wind, we walked our boats up current to avoid getting swept onto a shoal.

The wind kept dying.

Kent and crew milking the zephyrs for all they are worth.

Some, who shall remain nameless, succumbed to the hydrocarbon's siren call.

After a long paddle-sail we arrived at Atsena Otie where most of the group had gathered.

On the way back to Island Place beach. Still no wind. It piped up just as we were entering the harbor, figures.

A good time was had at Island Hotel Restaurant, Saturday night.

Sunday Hugh Horton and I set out to explore behind Scale Key. When we got out of the lee of Cedar Key the wind was gusting to 15kn so we beached and put in the second reef. Still plenty of power but a much more sedate ride for pleasant exploring.

Moving halyard attachment forward to balance the second reef. Photo: Hugh Horton.

The tide was falling fast so we changed plans and headed for Corrigan Reef.

Exploring the fascinating terrain of Corrigan Reef while keeping an eye out for the elusive Marbled Weed Dabbler.

Preparing to leave Corrigan Reef for Cedar Key. The boat bottom takes a good beating on the oyster shells. Periodic touchup with epoxy fixes it right up.

Back at camp Sunday evening. The clouds lifted and we were treated to another spectacular sunset.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cayo Costa with the WCTSS

Kristi could not make this trip so I decided to single hand Egret. Launched Friday morning at Eldred's Marina in Placida without any drama. Chris Throop was launching at the same time and he suggested we take the outside route through the Gulf. It was a good call. We exited through Gasparilla Pass. The pass is unmarked with a big sand bar on the north side but easy to navigate in settled weather. The Gulf was dead flat with a brisk offshore wind. Egret set an all time broad reaching speed record maintaining 6.5 to 6.8 knots. Entering Boca Grande pass was a bit rough with steep short chop piling up at the channel edges. Egret's waterline prevented serious hobby horsing but I did take spray on deck. As Pelican Bay came into view more and more masts started popping up over the trees. Ron counted 17 boats which was a great turnout considering the iffy forecast. That night we had a small fire and just relaxed among friends.
Winds were forecast to increase to high teens Saturday afternoon and Sunday was forecast to be in the high teens gusting to mid twenties. Most folks decided to cross Charlotte harbor mid day Saturday before the winds increased. The return trip to Placida was a beat into unpleasant Charlotte Harbor chop for the first hour or so then the water smoothed out in the lee of Little Cape Haze and the rest of the sail was great. Ron, Chris, Tim and I holed up behind Dog island and had a good dinner at The Fisheries followed by a great night's sleep in a gentle mid sixties breeze. Sunday morning I dawdled around with kite-cam just a little too long and ended up stuck on the falling tide. Had a very nice day just relaxing and piddling about the boat. Floated free around 5pm. Retrieval at the ramp was super quick as Egret was already de-rigged and road ready.

Great shot by Ron Hoddinott of Egret and I approaching Pelican Bay .

Pelican Bay Saturday afternoon.

Ron and the fleet.

Elcapitan Gerry arriving. Gerry prepared delicious steamed dumplings for the whole group. How he fits all that in the canoe is as impressive as his sailing that open canoe through some pretty rough Charlotte Harbor waters. 

Saturday morning, Sun Cats preparing to motor back to Pine Island.

Tim Webb in Red Wich and I on the way to Dog Island.

Tucked in out of the wind behind Dog Island

Chris ferrying us to The Fisheries for dinner.

Bellies full, happy bunch.

Sunday morning, after a good night's sleep, it was time to play with kite-cam.

The sky looks like winter in Jersey but it actually was perfect temperature.

That's not a selfie stick. THIS is a selfie stick.

Winds aloft were so strong that I enlisted Chris's help to winch the kite back in. 

Ron leaving for Eldred's.

Chris preparing to leave.

And then it was just me. Why? Because the tide receded just a bit too much while I was playing with kite-cam and Egret got stuck.

Had all day so after talking things over with Wilson we decided to fly kite-cam some more.

Just before he left, Chris helped me lower the masts making for a quick ramp retrieval once the tide let me go at about 5pm. Thanks Chris!