Anclote Key Sailing 30 May 2008

Surprisingly my first mate always seems to prefer the title “wench”. Although considered demeaning, I guess she likes it’s bawdy, rough, risqué and romantic undertones. So, through the remainder of this post, she will be hereafter referred to as the “wench”.
A week prior to 30 May the wench dropped a little bug in my ear about playing hooky for a day. The idea was anything away from work

Surprisingly my first mate always seems to prefer the title “wench”. Although considered demeaning, I guess she likes it’s bawdy, rough, risqué and romantic undertones. So, through the remainder of this post, she will be hereafter referred to as the “wench”.
A week prior to 30 May the wench dropped a little bug in my ear about playing hooky for a day. The idea was anything away from work that wasn’t stressful.
Of course, sailing is the first thing that popped into my mind as a possibility. The Florida weather was turning iffy at best. The heat was on the rise hitting low nineties daily mid-day and the winds were especially light with few to no gusts at ten miles an hour or less. But as the weekend wore on, the wench’s optimism and mine were rewarded with a marine forecast warning of winds light in the morning picking up to fifteen miles an hour after noon.
With that in mind we planned what I consider a late launch from Anclote River Park with a sail on the east side of Anclote Key at around 1030. With my West Wight Potter 19 “Fashas Dream” in tow the wench and I hit the road for new waters. It was our first experience with Anclote River Park and we were surprised in many ways. The boat ramp parking is pretty large but for the 945 time on a weekday when we arrived it was incredibly busy and nearly half full.
As we were rigging, we had power boats constantly launching around us. We had visions of insane fishing crazed psychos fighting us on the launch. Thank goodness there was nothing like that. Maybe it’s because we were the only sailboat and they all watched curiously from afar shaking their heads with the why would anyone thought. It helps to have the wench’s extra hands and growing knowledge assist in the rigging.
We launched easily enough. The outboard sang like a champ now that I understood what I had been screwing up on the choke (i.e. reduce the choke immediately after the engine fires up). Of course, as we’re motoring out of the channel at our typical five knots (guesstimated) large power boaters of all sizes were flying by at full throttle with no consideration of the disturbing wake to boats in either direction.
With the weighted dagger board fully down we still rocked a good seven degrees and I reassured my wench all was fine while learning how to time the wakes with “Fashas Dream” fore or aft sections to mitigate the affect. Only two or three outbound affected us to that point. Inside of 25 minutes of departing we were passing the #3 channel marker and headed north with the depth at around 8 feet.
We turned into the wind and hoisted the main and unfurled the jib and….. waited. The deep red sails cut a great profile on the horizon, except they were limp. Then the sails filled and we propelled. I hoisted the outboard up and …. The sails went slack again. They lay there like laundry, limp. We took the time to lather ourselves in suntan lotion, kick on the Jimmy Buffet tunes, bask in the aimless drift factor and enjoyed the reality that we weren’t at work. The sky was a wonderful blue and some people pay huge amounts of money to enjoy languishing in a tropical setting like this. Being adrift on our own personal space in good company with cold drinks and food at the ready there was no way we could be upset about the lack of wind.
This level of bliss lasted about thirty minutes. We took pictures of Anclote Key from afar and squeezed in a small attempt at video with my camera. Then the sails filled. Then the sails sagged again. Then they filled again. The sag and fill cycle lasted about 20 minutes and we made a little progress, but in no particular direction.
Then miraculously the forecast delivered. It actually came through as predicted. In no time we were bearing NNE with full sails winds from the NNW over our port bow. Which brings up another lesson I learned regarding the rigging. I never felt like I was able to point in the wind like I felt Fashas Dream could achieve until today. This time I rigged the lines to the genoa to the track pulley directly connected on the cockpit closer inboard, then forward to a deck pulley further outboard and then back to the cam cleat.

It felt good to know we were able to point at least another five degrees closer to the wind. I kicked on a brand new handheld GPS and began watching our heading and progress. It was fantastic. The GPS was clocking us as high as 5.5 miles per hour. The wind remained steady and the auto pilot was fantastic. As we got to the northern end of Anclote Key the autopilot began to hunt as the angle of the wind got tighter so I assumed the tiller.
We ate a wonderful salad compliments of the first mate, I mean wench. It was crispy with crunchy nutty things and a couple choices of that spritzing salad stuff. Really a fantastic meal. The spritzers were an excellent idea for any boating. No loose tops, no gloppy spills, and it appears that it would last a while. [Yes, I enjoy nice things but I’m still a guy like the Brad Paisley song]. With the prevailing winds it was a bit of a juggle. Occasionally a bit of lettuce or nut would blow down wind into the cockpit. Kudos go to the wench.

Eventually we turned south westerly intending to pass closer to Anclote for a better look only to realize that the depth went to 4 feet and shallower. We reversed course back in the direction we came. My charts didn’t show enough detail in that area to be helpful. I played conservative and headed back in the course direction we already cleared. I would never have been able to trace my steps back the way I came without this little gps.
About this time we realized the day was getting long, put the wind on our stern and headed south. We made fantastic progress moving as fast as the theoretical hull speed would allow. My handy dandy multi-tool of info, the gps was clocking as high as 5.7 mph or 5 knots. Fantastic. Theoretical hull speed for my West Wight Potter 19 is 5.5 knots.
The trip back to the channel was enjoyable, uneventful and quick. In no time I turned into the wind, we furled the genoa, dropped and tied the main, dropped the outboard and we were motoring into the channel near #3 marker.
The channel trip was a repeat of the outbound experience. Dozens of power boats blazed by throwing up large wakes and I was compensating constantly to keep it comfortable for the crew. I would have thought overtaking vessels would at least power down a little to smaller and slower vessels.
Fortunately the vessel traffic wasn’t heading to the park ramps. We were able to pull in with no lines or waiting. The wench made the transition easy enough to the dock so the forward line was in place. However, I had forgotten to have the aft line prepped on the correct side and I had to scramble to push us off a sea wall of the ramp areas. Thankfully others were around on the docks and won big karma points by helping.
Overall a wonderful sail. The marine weather broadcast was aces on. However I didn’t plan ahead enough before pulling in.

Author: 21Buzzards

Retired military reservist and corporate helping parent a grandchild. Sharing my evolution as age and priorities impact life.

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