Saturday, April 4, 2009

S/V Zephyrina's Spring 2009 Sail

It's been a little over a month since we began our sail south to Key West. We've were introduced to a Blog, through our daughter, Keri's, Commute Orlando and others from her cycling trips. Then our fellow sailors, Bob & Carole Barnett started one when we were together in Clearwater, after the first leg of sailing cruise. Then just last week, Peg & Don Watson created one for their RV trip from Florida to Oregon. They are both very diligent in entering posts each day, giving humor insightful and delightful naratives. Well, we are attempting to follow their lead. We may not be make daily posts but we do hope you'll enjoy learning of our experiences, observations through word and photos. During the two weeks we traveled south, we motored all but one day, the first. You know the sailor's lament, "where ever I shall go, from there the wind shall blow". That was true except for our first overnight sail from Pensacola to Port St. Joe. We began the sail with 15 knot north winds with the sea a choppy 1-3'. At nightfall the winds picked up to 18-20 knots with gusts to 22+. Zephyrina pitched, rolled and yawed and sometimes lurched (no nautical definition for that) and the bow drew quick little circles in the air. It was time to reef the sail. We reduced the foresail to 70% and the mainsail to 20%. Zephyrina continued the above motions, but less violently and we only slowed down a little, 7 -7.5 knots SOG (speed over the ground). The end result: a wild ride and a new record for us - 17 hours, 20 minutes for 115 nautical miles. As the winds clocked around to the northeast and then east our Apalachicola to Clearwater run was at first little or no wind with 3-4' rolling seas, then at sunset the winds rose to 15-20 knots, 30-45 degrees off the bow with 4' swells. There was no real good options for sailing, so we just hauled out the main sail 20% for stability and rocked and rolled until we approached the west coast of the Florida peninsula. It took us 32 hours to reach the respite at the Clearwater Yacht Club. We were in about 4 PM. About 10:30 PM, Bob and Carole Barnett, friends from our home yacht club and our "at a distance buddy boat S/V Surprise, called via cell phone. they were just coming into the Clearwater Pass after a 38 hour similar rough ride from Port St. Joe. With our anchor light on (top of our 52' mast) flashlights in hand and cell phone to the ear, John guided them into a tie up just behind us on the long west pier. As we progressed down the coast we enjoyed accommodations at several sister Yacht Clubs and beautiful anchorages and great visits with friends, starting with a fabulous dinner @ Jeannie & Dale Whalen's abode in Clearwater. In Fort Myers we caught up the Bill and Toni Hitchens. Bill and John were high school and college classmates. Then when we were in Naples, we had a delightful luncheon with Ed Maxwell, another friend from Wilmington. After checking our various weather sources we made a quick strategic decision to leave Naples a day early to beat an oncoming front and motored through calm seas and very light winds to Key West and around the southern tip of the city to the third key east, Boca Chica, home of the Key West Naval Air Station. It's been fun to reconnect with friends from past visits here and make new ones. Last week, John's cousin Roger Mitchell and his wife, Gail, were down with friends for visit. This is the second year we've met here and this year we gathered at one of our favorite dining establishments, Alonso's for great food, libation and good conversation. A fishing enthusiast, Tom Wells, captains a twin hulled Glacial Bay Sport Fisher, dock here. He and John went out beyond the reefs to fish. Depth of the water was 150-200 feet. A 33 inch Dolphin was lured to the hook, producing terrific Mahi Mahi fillets for 4 dinners. Our evening "sundowers" are accompanied by a conch blow to signal the sunset and maybe a "green flash"


  1. Helen/John:

    Great info! We'll be checking in regularly. Sounds like you're having a great time.


  2. Wow, what a nice blog. keep them comming.

    Walt and Sue "La Bodega"

  3. Hello Cruisers,

    Glad you had a safe crossing and are enjoying your new locale. All well here. perhaps next year we'll be able to head over that way. Jim and I will be racing this weekend though the predicted winds are very light which is not so good for Heather or her crew. Cheers, j2