Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cruising Course Day 2 - Sandy Key to Marco Island

After a good night's sleep anchored near Sandy Key, we were awoken by Captain Tracey making coffee in the galley before the sun was up (he has a nice metal thermal coffee press, seems particularly good for a boat).  As would be a familiar theme on this trip, in addition to the lessons, we were also on a schedule to get the boat up to Bradenton by the 25th so we would once again get an early start.  We raised the anchor and continued our journey as the sun rose over Florida Bay.
The winds were still light and so we continued steaming along the ICW in Florida Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.  As we got to the more open waters of the gulf and made our turn northward, we were greeted with better winds out of the northeast.  Finally, we could sail!

Raising the main on a 41 foot Catamaran is quite a chore by hand.  Fortunately the boat had an electric self tailing winch, so after we made sure the sail's battens weren't getting hung up in the lazy jack system, push the button and up the main went.  If it weren't for all the main halyard on the deck to deal with, it couldn't have been easier.  We also unrolled the 150% genoa and the result was 6~8 knots on a broad reach with no drone of the engines.  Much better.

Sailing on the ocean actually seems easier than all the sailing on reservoirs that have made up much of our prior experience.  On our reservoirs near the mountains the winds would often be inconsistent, blowing from different directions at different times.  This left us constantly tweaking sails to get the right trim for decent power.  Ocean breezes, as one might expect, tend to be more consistent in direction if not in speed.  Of course, the chop of the waves was not something we generally had to deal with...but in a 41' catamaran, they weren't much of an issue either.

While underway my wife went down into one of the hulls and it made her a bit queasy.  She took some Bonine and pretty much went to sleep at the saloon table for a little while.  The other couple didn't seem too interested in a lot of learning either , so we just had a nice relaxing sail up the coast.  I was at the helm a fair amount of the time, dodging the occasional string of crab pots along the way.

We ended our sailing day anchoring off the northwest shore of Marco Island.  Unlike the previous night, we anchored in the light this time...in front of some expensive homes.
Of course, the view the other direction at sunset was a bit better...
While a boat floats in water, fresh water on a boat is a very limited resource so another thing we tried that evening was bathing off the back of the boat.  Basically, it is swimming with a little soap and a fresh water rinse from a hand shower mounted in the transom.  It works fairly well and definitely saves on the fresh water use.  Our regular soaps and shampoos don't work great in salt water though, so we'll have to try some of the specially formulated ones at some point.

It was a nice relaxing day...something I can definitely get used to.


  1. Sounds like a great day overall, except the little bout with seasickness.

    I like the sea bathing idea! It's interesting you mentioned the soaps not working well with salt water. I never considered that. What's the story with that?


  2. Hey Mike,

    Well, I'm no chemist so I don't know exactly why, but most regular soaps and detergents don't tend to lather up very well in sea water. The bar soap we had actually felt a bit gritty when used in sea water and it felt like we had to use more shampoo.

    Other than the lack of lather and the gritty feel of the bar soap, it does seem to work (and I've read several places that lather doesn't actually equate to working...that's just what soap advertisers have apparently taught us to believe). I've read that castile soaps lather better. There are also special soaps that are formulated for use in sea water like this one: http://www.sailorsoap.net/

    We also washed dishes using a seawater pump and the Dawn dish liquid we had seemed to suds up ok, so my guess is that it may just be a matter of finding the right brands.

    Overall, bathing in the ocean with a brief fresh water rinse at the end left us clean and refreshed so it does work. We'll definitely do this to save on the fresh water supply.