Trailer Sailer Trip to The Dry Tortugas, May 2005

{{{Trailer Sailer Trip to The Dry Tortugas}}} {{by Jimmy Harrell}} {{May 24, 2005}} Earlier this year, a friend of mine, Jerry Hardin, contacted me and asked if I would be interested in sailing from somewhere in the Florida Keys to the Dry Tortugas Keys. Jerry is a retired educator from Oakdale, Tennessee. He and I have been sailing buddies for several years since we met at a gathering of small boat sailors in Pensacola, FL. I committed and Jerry contacted other trailer sailors through the internet at www.trailersailor.com . A young couple, Justin Pipkorn and Edith Gillespie, both 71 and from California, signed on. Both Jerry and I are 62 and sometimes had trouble keeping up with them physically. Everyone knows where the Florida Keys and Key West are, but many do not know that there are several keys beyond Key West. The Dry Tortugas Keys are a group of seven small islands about 70 miles west of Key West Florida. The coral and sand islands have abundant marine and bird life, and the reefs are excellent places to snorkel. The islands were discovered by Ponce de Leon in the 1500’s, and the US built a brick and masonry fort there in the 1800’s. Fort Jefferson and the surrounding islands are now a National Park. Between Key West and the Dry Tortugas are several small keys, the major group being the Marquesas Keys which is an atoll which has a protected natural harbor surrounded by the islands. The atoll is located about 20 miles from Key West. We decided to stop there for the night since 70 miles is too far to sail in one day. The core trip plan was set. Sail from near Key West to the Dry Tortugas and back with overnight stops at the Marquesas. From this core, our trip expanded ambitiously. Since we were all retired in no hurry to get back to a job, why not do some island hopping from about the middle of the keys to Key West before heading for the Dry Tortugas? We decided to launch the boats at Seabird Marina on Long Key and take three of four days to get to Key West and possibly take a day and do some snorkeling at Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary about four miles from Big Pine Key. Jerry and I left my home in Putnam County, Georgia early on Sunday May 29 towing his 23 foot sailboat. We arrived at Long Key at about midnight. Justin and Edith had arrived two days earlier and their boat, “Just Right”, was already in a slip. Since the marina was closed, we spent the rest of the night on Jerry’s boat , Vagabon II, on the trailer. The next day, Monday, we raised the mast, rigged, and launched the boat and planned to sail the following day. The weather did not cooperate with winds forecast to be 20 knots and seas four to six feet inside the reef on the Atlantic side of the keys. We delayed the trip one day. On Tuesday, we left Seabird Marina, motored out into Florida Bay, raised the sails, and headed for the Channel 5 bridge to get to the Atlantic side of the Keys. We cleared the bridge and headed west toward Key West following Hawk Channel which is between the Keys and the reefs on the Atlantic side. The winds were light out of the east, and we had a leisurely 32 mile sail, stopping for the night at the Marathon Marina on Boot Key at about 5:30 PM . On Wednesday, the wind was a little stronger, about 10 knots out of the east. We left Boot Key and sailed 12 miles to Bahia Honda Key. We anchored just off the Bahia Honda State Park beach between the Highway 1 bridge and the old Highway 1 bridge. The park has camp sites, a marina, an outdoor shower, a beach, and a souvenir store which sold sandwiches and ice cream. We towed a dinghy to use to get to shore and decided to row to shore and sample the ice cream. Shortly after we got to shore a park ranger informed us that the beach was off limits to dinghys, so we rowed back to the boat and donned fins and snorkel and swam to shore. The ice cream sure tasted good after all that exercise to get to it. We got an early start on Thursday in order to cover the 34 miles to Oceanside Marina on Stock Island, just east of Key West. As usual, the wind was out of the east although it was a little stronger than previously. The forecast was for a 10 percent chance of showers. At about midday a storm hit us. We had seen a dark cloud on the horizon which appeared to be headed our way. We put on foul weather gear and took the first reef in the main sail. As the wind increased, we decided to take a second reef in the main, and we expected some strong wind and rain but nothing to be alarmed about. Before we had finished tying the second reef, it was apparent that the storm was stronger than we expected, and we decided to drop all sails and take it under bare poles. We noticed a large trawler less than a mile away and heading in our general direction. By the time we had the sails down, the hatch boards in place and locked, and ourselves tethered to the boat we were hit by very strong winds which we guessed were around 50 mph. (Local reports said the winds were up to 70 mph.) In spite of its cover, the dinghy we were towing filled with water and was acting like a sea anchor holding the stern into the wind. Jerry started the 5 horse power motor and after what seemed like a very long time was able to turn the bow into the wind. Now, where was that power boat, and did he see us? We thought about contacting him by radio. We had two hand held and one stationary radios on board, but they were in the cabin. Removing the hatch boards to get to a radio was not an option because the waves breaking over the boat could fill up the boat and sink it. (Note to self: always keep one of the radios in the cockpit.) About that time, the trawler was barely visible and passed a few hundred yards off our bow. Our next concern was where we were, how close to the shore. I checked the mapping GPS and it was displaying a lost satellite signal message. The water and rain and clouds were apparently blocking the signal. I had never had that happen before. The water depth would give us some idea about how close to shore we were. Checked the depth sounder and it was reading zero which obviously was wrong because we were still floating. The magnetic compass was still working, and we had mentally noted the wind direction and our direction of travel. It was time for some dead reckoning. When the storm hit, we were about 2 to 3 miles from shore. The wind was blowing us east parallel to the shore. It probably took us 15 minutes to get the bow into the wind. During that time, we were traveling no more than 3 mph in the direction of the shore. That would put us no closer to shore than 1 mile. This was a comfortable margin. At this distance we would have deep enough water to keep from running aground which would be a very bad thing in the kind of winds and waves we were experiencing. So our decision was to head west, parallel to the shore, using the magnetic compass. I kept a lookout while Jerry drove the boat. We were now seriously worried about Justin and Edith. Their boat was two feet shorter and weighed about half what ours did. About an hour later, the winds subsided to an estimated 35 mph, low enough that I was able to quickly remove the hatch boards and retrieve the radio microphone from the cabin and replace the boards. After a few calls, the trawler came back and said that they had been in touch with “Just Right” and that they were OK and that they were worried about us. He asked about our condition. I told him that we were two tired, wet, and scared souls tethered to the boat and hanging on but were otherwise OK. He said that he would relay the message if he could. About two hours after we first started this ordeal, we got a call from “Just Right”. Based on GPS readings, we located them barely visible as a speck on the horizon behind us. By this time the wind had settled down to something very manageable. We bailed out the dinghy, got out of the foul weather clothing, which was just about as wet inside as on the outside, and all was well. A short while later, I asked Jerry if he saw what I saw. Yes, there was another storm on the horizon coming toward us. The foul weather gear went back on, the hatch boards went back in place, the radio microphone was in the cockpit, and we waited for the worst. It fizzled. There was just a little rain and hardly any wind increase. By the time the new storm was over, we were near the channel entrance to Oceanside Marina, which was on Stock Island just east of Key West. This was a tricky entrance but Jerry had been in before on a previous trip and expertly piloted “Vintage II” in with “Just Right” following closely. Everyone at the marina was talking about the storm, and they were a little amazed that we were out in it in such little boats. One power boater had been near the Marquesas Keys when it hit. He said that the waves were 15 ft. or more. In addition to the airport report of 70 mph winds, several others said they would have guessed 70 mph. We found out later that several docks in Key West were damaged. After a while we started swapping lies about storms. Since most of the liars were power boaters, we asserted that we were sailors, and that the storm was no big deal. It was now late afternoon and we cleaned up and headed for happy hour at The Hickory House, a restaurant and bar that was within walking distance. After dinner, we walked somewhat steadily back to the boats, gathered wet clothes and headed for the laundry mat. By bed time we had clean and dry clothes and the boat was in reasonable order. We checked the weather radio. The news was not good. Winds were forecast to be 15 to 20 mph with seas up to 7 feet. This was not the conditions we wanted for the trip to the Dry Tortugas since we would be beyond the coral reefs which offered some protection from the Atlantic waves. Previous wave forecasts had been on the low side. The next morning we decided to spend another day at the marina, caught a bus to Key West and toured the area. Next day brought us the same forecast, so we decided to spend a second day at the marina. On Sunday, May 8, we left Oceanside Marina. After we got out into Hawks Channel, we turned west and crossed the Key West ship channel and headed for the Marquesas Keys, about 25 miles away. As we approached the Marquesas, we located what we thought was the channel into Mooney Harbor, inside the atoll. The tide was going out, and we got stuck on a sandbar. The wind was forecast to clock from the east to the north and northeast during the night. We would be exposed. We tried the motor then kedging off. Nothing worked so we put out two anchors and waited for high tide which was at midnight. Meantime, Justin and Edith had found the channel into the harbor and spent the night at an idyllic anchorage inside Mooney Harbor. While Jerry stood watch, I went below to rest. I fell asleep and Jerry didn’t wake me until midnight. Jerry was pretty wet from waves breaking over the side. We tried to get off again at midnight to no avail. . The next high tide would be at 9:30 AM and it was to be about a foot higher than the midnight tide. There was nothing else we to do but wait so, we went below and went to sleep. Early the next morning we were ready and anxious as high tide approached. We tried at about 9 AM and again were unsuccessful. We decided to wait for 9:30 and try again. If we did not get off this time we would probably have to call for a tow which would have been very expensive. I was beginning to think that we were not going to get off without help. Just before 9:30 we felt the boat float. We quickly got the motor running and tugged on the anchor. We were moving. I retrieved the anchor in record time and Jerry motored “Vagabon II” out to deeper water. We radioed “Just Right” and told them we had gotten free and were headed west toward the Dry Tortugas. They reported that they had just finished breakfast and would be pulling anchor shortly. They caught up after an hour or so and the two little boats were on the last leg to the Dry Tortugas. We were beyond the outer reefs which up until now had offered some protection from the higher waves from the Atlantic. The waves were forecast to be 4 to 6 feet, and it was a rough ride with waves at least a foot higher as we approached the Dry Tortugas. According to my GPS, we sailed a total of 52 miles that day and anchored in the harbor next to Fort Jefferson with about 20 other boats. Our two boats were less than half the size of any of the other boats in the anchorage. We were very tired from being tossed around all day by the waves that sure looked like more than 7 ft to me. We ate supper, watched the sun set and went to bed as soon as it was dark. The next day we went ashore and did a self guided tour of Fort Jefferson, on Garden Key. For pictures of what we saw, check out ths web site: http://www.terragalleria.com/parks/np.dry-tortugas.html . We did not do any snorkeling nor did we visit any of the other islands because of the weather. We needed at least two days and maybe more to really enjoy the place, but the forecast for the next few days had the wind out of the east and getting stronger each day. We felt that we would be OK if we left the next day. If we waited another day, we might be stuck there for several days waiting for a weather window to get back to Key West. This coupled with the constant east meant that we would have a rough ride motoring directly into the wind to get back to the Marquesas in the daylight. Going back under sail would have meant tacking and taken probably a day and a night to make the trip. At the least we would have arrived at the Marquesas in the dark which would have made it difficult to find an anchorage with all the shallow water. Anyway, after one day at the Dry Tortugas, early in the morning, we headed west for the Marquesas. Winds started out at about 10 mph on the nose and increased to 15 during the day. Waves started at 3 to 4 feet and built to 4 to 7 feet by the time we reached the Marquesas about 13 hours later. We motor sailed all the way, a rough and uncomfortable ride. We were very cautious while trying to get into Mooney Harbor because the last time we were here, we spent the night aground. Since we were on a rising tide, it would be easier to get off if we did touch. Our depth sounder had worked intermittently since the big storm so we did not want to depend on it. “Just Right” was behind us because they had decided to take the waves at an angle to make for an easier ride. Justin had given us GPS way points taken from their previously successful approach two days earlier. I stood on the bow and watched for shallow water while Jerry drove the boat slowly. The water was clear for 4 or 5 feet. Using Justin’s we approached what we thought was the channel. I yelled shallow water and Jerry turned the boat around and we tried another approach about 100 feet further east. Again we found shallow water; and again. Then we saw a local commercial fishing boat approaching from about 200 yards to the east of us. He went right in without any trouble. So we followed him, and there was the channel. It was very easy to see once we got close to it. We went in and anchored. The anchorage was magnificent and well protected from the waves, very quiet and peaceful. Shortly two other commercial fishing boats entered and anchored. An hour or so after we anchored, we saw “Just Right” on the horizon. At the approached, they ran into shallow water and retreated. We talked to them on the radio, gave them directions and after a couple of attempts they also found the channel and came in. There few bugs were kept at bay by insect repellent. I think that the best part about cruising is spending the night in anchorages like this. The next morning, May 12, we left the Marquesas and headed east directly into an east wind of 10 to 15 knots. This was another day of a rough ride into mostly 4 to 7 foot waves. We wore foul weather gear all day, and waves were splashing into the cockpit constantly. Some waves were definitely over 7 feet. Counting the distance out of Mooney Harbor and into Oceanside Marina, we covered 33 miles. I think the second best thing about cruising is spending the night in a marina with clean showers and flush toilets after being poun
ed by the waves all day. Happy hour found us again at the Hickory House Restaurant. After a couple of Margaritas, the discussion centered around plans for the rest of the trip back to Long Key where the vehicles were parked. The forecast for the next few was for the wind to be out of the east and 15 to 20 knots. This meant beating into the wind and waves the same as we had done for the past two days. That did not sound appealing to any of us. Someone suggested that we rent a car and drive to Long Key, pick up the vehicles, load the boats, and call this trip a success. This idea was unanimously accepted and this is what we did. The next day we loaded the boats and headed north with the boats in tow.

My Second Morgan Invasion, Mar. 2005

{{{My Second Morgan Invasion}}} {{By Bob Horan}} {{March 13, 2005}} {{{Part 1}}} The experience started on Thursday, the 14 th about 5:30, when I cranked up my antique 1972 Ford F250 4X4 and pulled up the street on my way to the 20 th Annual Morgan Invasion. It was smooth going until I heard a loud bang while passing a semi tractor trailer 10 miles north of Cordele, GA. I could see no lost tread from the semi, so I decided I should pull over to check my rig. By the time I had gotten stopped, I knew it was my rig. Left rear tire on the truck shredded. Back on the road with the wimpy spare and headed to Wal-Mart for two new back tires, but their garage was closed and would not mount them. 20 miles down the road, I finally found a service station that would mount them for me. By 9:30 PM, I was on the road again. I had gotten 70 miles in 4 hours. It was time to get serious about driving. At 1:30AM, I stopped and rested near Ocala until about 7:00AM and then pressed on to arrive at the War Veterans Memorial Park boat ramp in St. Pete at about 10:00. Raising the mast and launching was smooth and I took my time getting everything ready for arriving at the Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club. Arriving at the Club, I was one of the first 24s to arrive. The evening was a mixture of good food and meeting sailors I had met last year plus the new faces of new Morgan Yacht owners. My daughter Linda arrived about 9:00Am on Saturday, and by then I had also recruited another couple from St. Augustine, FL. to be crew also. We would be a crew of four. Tom and Leslee also own a Morgan 24 and were happy to be able to sail on Linda Jean to gain the experience on a boat like theirs. With introductions completed, and race instructions in hand we pushed off from the dock following the fleet. The sea looked peaceful when we raised the sails and we soon decided we needed the 150% Jib up to sail well in the 8-10 kt. wind. When we arrived at the starting line to find we had up too much sail, with the wind blowing about 20. After changing sail and tacking back to the starting line we saw a Morgan 38, Tease, that had the top of their mast broken off. Nobody injured and no hull damage. The start for us followed shortly with us being on the wrong end of the starting line. We finally started 3-4 minutes late. The wind was blowing strong and we had our hands full. The rail was in the water a lot and we trailed behind the rest of the Morgan 24s. As we approached the last leg the waves were building up a lot and rounding the mark was a challenge. Now we were in some pretty bumpy seas and we could see one of the boats behind us was having trouble tacking on the mark, and the other Morgan 38 had lost a man overboard. They retrieved the man and came back in the race. We were on a port tack when we heard and felt the crack. I thought we might have broken a centerboard. Linda called back that the chain plate had pulled up on the port side. I pushed the tiller and Leslee let up on the jib. I let off on the main and told Tom and Linda to pull down the sails. I cranked up the motor and forced Linda Jean into the wind so they could get the sails down. We would be in serious trouble if the mast came down. With the sails down, I went inside to look at the damage. Not good. The chain plate fasteners had ripped apart the bulkhead and was being held from pulling thru the deck by the acorn nuts of the bolts. Back on deck I tied the outer shroud to the jib track using some small line. We motored in thru the 4-6 ft seas hoping we could get into some calmer water before the mast pulled the chain plate and the jib track up. I called the Race Committee boat on the VHF Radio to tell them we were withdrawing from the race. After we motored thru John’s pass we all relaxed a bit, as we broke out the snacks and drinks, since we had been too busy out there to do much of that. Back at the dock we surveyed the damage a little closer to find that the starboard chain plate was also starting to show signs of fatigue. Linda Jean would need some serious repair or replacement of the main bulkhead. The good part of this is that the mast did not fall, no one was injured, and the cost of repair will be relativity low, but would take months to fix. We had dinner and then the awards ceremony started. We knew we would not get any trophies for the race but wanted to see who did them in the 4 classes. During the awards, Linda Jean received the under 40, “Most Pristine and Innovative Morgan Yacht Award. Pristine Classic”. So we did go home with something. Many asked if I would return next year, and my reply was “ I will return to skipper one of my Morgan 24s next year for the 21 st Annual Morgan Invasion”. The return trip home was uneventful. Arriving home at 8:10 PM on Sunday evening after leaving the War Veterans Memorial Park at Noon. {{{Part 2}}} While I was at the 20th Annual Morgan Invasion, I asked a couple of people including Charlie Morgan, what I should consider in repairing the damage to the bulkhead which the chainplate connects to. I received a couple of suggestions. They were: 1: Replace the entire bulkhead. (Maybe sailing in a year) 2: Cut out the rotten wood, patch with wood/fiberglass and add a larger backing plate. (Maybe sailing in a month) After looking at the damage, I decided go with Charlie Morgan’s advice. I would do a wood/plywood patch and a larger backing plate but I would also extend the chainplate to approx 20” instead of the original 7 ”. (I wanted to be sailing a month) I started working on the repair by taking measurements of where the chainplate used to be on both the port and starboard sides. Then after borrowing a cutter from my son, I started cutting on the Formica that covered the port side bulkhead. The cutter was a carbide blade that had only short teeth but would cut even metal if needed. I cut a square of about 12” by 12” cutting out the wood , I tried to keep the edges straight. While I was cutting, the blade created a lot of smoke and dust and after only a short time I was required to put on a gas mask and eye protection to continue. After examination of the wood at the edges of the initial hole, I decided to try cutting a little more down the bulkhead thinking the wood was not too good yet. I cut almost 7 more inches down and found the wood to be very solid. With all solid wood showing I cleaned up the hole so I could put together a good plan. I cut out a cardboard piece to fit the hole and then started looking for some plywood to use for this project. From the local Lowes Home Improvement Store, I bought a sheet of pressure treated exterior plywood. Cutting out a piece that was roughly the same size as the cardboard one I got it ready for installing. I had decided to insert bolts into the good wood and use a sort of interlocking system with the plywood to make the patch tie in with the remaining original bulkhead. Using 5/16 X 3” stainless lag bolts, I inserted the bolts leaving about 1” showing yet. They were in tight in good wood and would hold a lot as long as they were tied in to the patch securely. Cutting T shaped slots in the plywood, I had the plywood ready to slide over the bolts. With the plywood ready, I started the fiberglass part of the patch. Putting in 3 layers of glass on the back side I glassed in the snug fitting plywood. Quickly, I mixed a batch of fiber strand enforced patch and filled in the holes and tried to level out the patch so the cloth and resin would be easy to lay in. The patch was still setting up when I started putting resin and the first layer of cloth on the front side. Using larger pieces of cloth each time, I put on 5-6 layers of cloth with the final 4 layers being large enough to be glassed to the to the hull. Now it was time for a little more patch to fill in enough to make the patch smooth so I could make it ready for the paint and connecting the chainplate extensions and the 20 inch backing plates. After some sanding and more filling, I finally had the patch smooth enough. I painted the patch trying to match the color of white already on the bulkhead. I had ordered a couple of 3ft anodized aluminum bars from McMaster Carr, that were 2” by 3/8” thick. While the paint was drying I cut the 3/8”anodized aluminum bar so that I would have a 20” backing plate and enough for the front to overlap the existing chainplate. I lined up the top hole in the chainplate extension with the bottom, hole in the chainplate and drilled the first hole so it would tie into the chainplate and then extend downward to match up with the 20” backing plate. Using a torch, I heated the aluminum bar so I could put a ” offset in it so it would bolt to the chainplate and then bolt flush to the bulkhead. With the chainplate extension & backing plate drilled, I mounted and through bolted them onto the repaired bulkhead. With the chainplate firmly in place it was time to seal around the chainplate on the deck and clean up the boat. The starboard side also looked like it might have some rotten wood but after cutting away the Formica, I found solid wood, so I just fiberglassed over the wood to smooth it up with the Formica and installed an extended chainplate and backing plate to match the new port side hardware. The two repairs look exceptionally strong, with the six ” bolts connecting the chainplate/extension with the 20” backing plate. It maybe an overkill, but I will never worry about having a problem with the chainplate again under normal sailing conditions. Total cost including the plywood, aluminum straps, 12 bolts, resin, cloth, filler, & lag bolts came to $171.40. Labor came to about 35 hours. For a failure of this type, I came out pretty good on the cost part of it.

Trip to Carrabelle, Oct 2004, From: Medra Hartley

{{{Trip to Gulf Coast, Carrabelle}}} {Wednesday, October 6, 2004} Ron and I began our adventure to Carrabelle under partly cloudy skies but with sunny dispositions and high spirits for a unique Gulf experience in our C22. Spooky towed well and we arrived at Carrabelle around 4 PM. We put in at the Moorings and anchored down in the Carrabelle River. Ron gilled filet mingnon and with salad fixings, we had a 4-star meal. We listened to the weather forecast and to our chagrin learned of 5 foot seas inside the sound, winds 15 to 20 with gusts to 25 and in the Gulf, winds 15 to 20, gusting to 25 and 7-9 foot seas with a small craft advisory from the Coast Guard. Ron had provided me with some pills that made me sleep like a baby. He stated the flapping rigging had provided him with a restless night as well as fear of having the anchors slip. Needless to say, I was oblivious! {Thursday, October 7, 2004} We awoke to a beautiful sunrise with wind gusts beyond belief, with the boat riding well below the waterline due to my “pack-rat”. (You know what I mean…, a ton and a half more packed than was needed.) With only a 4.5 HP kicker we decided that venturing from our present mooring was risky at best and Apalachicola was as far as the moon with the windy weather conditions. We decided to remain in our present position and to make the best of our fall adventure, cool breezes, clear skies, and Jimmy Buffet. My chef rustled up a unique breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, fruit and navy coffee. As we sat in the cockpit around our cockpit table sipping our coffee, we read about the North Gulf Coast C22 Cruise around Mother’s day each year and dreamed of this sail and a larger boat. I’m sure my “Pack-rat needs more packing challenges! Since we were unable to venture into the Gulf, we planned how to make our galley kitchen and packing more efficient (did I mention that our fresh water holding tank leaked? All six gallons of water had to be dumped overboard). We were beginning to wonder whether this fall excursion was jinxed but as my cup is half full, we decided to enjoy the sunny day moored in the Carrabelle River. We both needed the R&R. Ron wet a line and I read with Jimmy Buffet as company as Spooky rocked around with flapping rigging. We were at peace for a small time. We made plans to economize our boat, as we were not ready to return home. We decided to eat lunch in the cockpit and then pull anchor. At shore we rinsed off Spooky and the trailer, secured the boat and checked into the Moorings to stay the night and try some of Julia Mae’s seafood. We had a great time in spite of not putting up a sail.

Over-Night Cruise, August 28-29 2004

{{{Over-Night Cruise, August 28-29 2004}}} Five Boats left OSYC Saturday morning about 11 AM with great expectations for a good sail and good fellowship: -Calvin and Grayson Smith -Tommy and Katie Barker -Jimmy and Charlotte Harrell -Bill Shaw -Greg Phillips The wind did not cooperate. Some of us made it to the Narrows before a motor rope was pulled. Two of the boats went between the Island at the Narrows and the shore. Didn’t think it was deep enough. Oh well, it wasn’t long before all the boats except Bill started up the motors and motored the last part of the trip to Goat Island. Greg Phillips turned around about this time and headed home. He had company coming and could not spend the night with the group. The Harrells arrived at Goat Island first to find the pre selected landing site, a sandy beach, was already occupied. We dropped anchor near the beach, a respectable distance from the party already at the beach. Calvin and Grayson came in shortly and did the same. The bottom was muddy and not a very nice place to swim but we made the best of it. Just before the Barkers and Bill Shaw arrived, the party at the sandy beach left and we directed them to a much better landing spot. They were able to step off their boats to a sandy bottom. We swam and cooled off in the water for about an hour. We then retrieved the GPSs and clues to the hidden cache and hiked to the summit of the island. All participated in finding the cache. A few weeks earlier I had taken my grandson to look for the cache and he was disappointed at the “treasures” inside the container. He insisted that I take him back to the island where he left a container filled with treasures that a kid would like to find. So if you have little ones, take them on a treasure hunt and get Cruiser Quest credit for finding the cache. You don’t really have to have or use a GPS but it sure makes it easier to find. The group left Goat Island and arrived at the Harrells place at about 6 PM. Food orders were taken and three of us went to Paradise Barbeque to pick up rib, chicken, and pork plates. We ate our fill and sat around on the Harrells deck swapping tales until about 11 PM. The Barkers went home to sleep in their house bed, as did we. The Smiths and Bill retired to their boats that were tied up at my neighbors dock. Being an early riser, I got up about 6:15 and made coffee. Noticed that the thermometer showed outside temperature of 72 degrees, good sleeping temperature. The Smiths and Bill Shaw didn’t begin stirring around 0800. I made a fresh pot of coffee and Charlotte served cheese toast for breakfast. The Smiths had cold steak they had grilled the night before. Bill and Calvin and Grayson left for OSYC about 1000 and we got ready to go to Atlanta to attend our three year old granddaughter’s birthday party. Before leaving for Atlanta, Charlotte and I went back to back to the club to retrieve my truck. John and Sherry Davis and Howard Gregory were there. Howard had planned to go on the cruise but he was ill on Saturday. The Davises arrived at the club late on Saturday and didn’t get on the water until about 3:30 PM. They sailed in the vicinity of the club and did not make it to Goat Island. The wind was lousy but the fellowship made up for it. It sure was nice sitting on the deck in the cool of the evening and the morning swapping stories with good friends. {Jimmy Harrell}

Full Moon Night Race, July 31, 2004

{{{Full Moon Night Race, July 31, 2004}}} The evening started with a fantastic grilled chicken dinner organized by Dick and Arlene and we owe them our thanks for expertly predicting how many people would show beyond those that signed up in advance. Even without the race, the dinner alone would certainly qualify as a huge success. All evening, before, during and after dinner, there was much debate about exactly how we should arrange the upcoming race. Various proposals were floated and discussed and revised. Finally Bill Shaw gathered a crew and headed out to drop some marks in the lake. The skipper’s meeting was another ad-hoc affair as we made up and changed the rules as we went. But everyone seemed to take the chaos in stride and we finally settled on the following: 1) we would start at 8:30pm, 2) we would race up to five laps around a two-mark course, 3) at 10pm each boat would finish their current lap and cross the finish line between the no-wake buoy and the club dock, and 4) each racer would record their own finish time, as we didn’t have a race committee to handle the finish. In hindsight, it would have been nice to have a race committee, but we managed well anyway. Meanwhile, my family was dealing with our own internal logistics. Right up until the very last minute I didn’t know who would be sailing with me or even if I would get to go out at all. Such it is with two little kids. In the end, 4.5 year-old Joseph decided he wanted to sail and as a result participated in his very first sailboat race! After much scurrying about, we pushed away from the dock just as Dick blew the six-minute pre-warning horn. We barely had time to raise the sails, sail to the starting line, make one turn to get lined up and head for the line. My watch said we started at exactly 8:32pm and Joseph said “I’m going to blow my whistle because I’m having so much fun.” The first lap was easy. Joseph “helped” trim the jib and kept us informed about the progress of the setting sun and two other boats that kept getting closer until they passed us by. The sun set right on schedule, but reflections off the clouds on the horizon kept some light on the lake for a good while afterwards. Unfortunately, those same clouds kept the moon hidden for about 30 minutes past it’s scheduled arrival time. By the time the moonlight was plentiful, it had been good and dark for half an hour. Now, there are several ways to find race marks after dark: you can take compass readings for each leg of the course, you can mark the locations with your GPS, you can use a powerful flashlight to scan the water, you can look for landmarks to line up with the marks, or you can watch the boats ahead and hope they get it right. I saw examples of all of these approaches that night, but on my boat we had no compass, no GPS, no flashlight, and took limited notice of landmarks. So we watched other boats and squinted into the darkness. Note to self, it’s about impossible to find a starting line flag in the dark – next time we’ll use a big buoy. This time we just crossed our fingers and sailed towards the club lights following the Griffins until it seemed the wind direction would be about right if we turned upwind. So we turned figuring there was no way we would ever know if we were actually inside the mark. But less than 50 yards later, Joseph said, “There’s the flag Daddy” as if it was no big deal. I looked over and saw the flag not more than 10 feet away slipping past us in the darkness. And then he said, “Daddy, I want to sail all night. Because I’m having so much fun.” Okay Joseph, we’ll keep sailing. At the windward mark we were starting to get moonlight but we had to sail past the mark to see the light on its face and make our turn. Heading down the back stretch now, we spotted a large group of boats still heading to the lee-mark. I shrewdly calculated that they certainly were close enough to see the mark in the moonlight and I headed exactly where they were headed. Turns out I was wrong, as all at once the white stern lights ahead turned to reveal green bow lights and all the boats, in unison, headed to the right. It was pretty to watch, but a bit disconcerting as an indicator of the mark location. After rounding the mark I gazed into the moonlight reflecting on the water and it revealed to us a secret path around the calm spot that had enveloped the boats ahead, so we headed off in what appeared to be the wrong direction to avoid the glassy water between us and the finish line. As we silently ghosted along in the peaceful moonlight and in the close company of friends in other boats, it was one of those nearly perfect sailing moments. Right up until Joseph looked over at a nearby boat and asked, loud enough to be heard and in all seriousness, “Daddy, why are they going backwards?” Softly I explained, “They aren’t, we’re all just moving very slowly.” We reached the dock shortly after 10pm, behind Bill Shaw who finished first and Ken and Jennifer Griffin who finished second. The rest of the fleet was back by about 10:30pm, with some finishing three laps and others finishing two. The multi-lap format appeared to work very well by allowing all of us to sail and finish close together. The short course worked well too by keeping us all within sight of each other the whole night which made for some nice views of sails against moonlight and red and green nav lights crossing in the dark. And finally Joseph was tired enough to admit, “Daddy, I’m ready to go home now.”

How to find the Cache on Goat Island

{{{ {{Goat Island Hidden Cache}} }}} The Cache has been hidden on Goat Island. The coordinates are N33 degrees 12.971 minutes, W 83 degrees 15.485 minutes. For all of you who are really adept at using your GPS, this is all you need. For all of us who need some help, look at the clues below. I went out today, April 6 2004, and hid the cache. It is a semi permanent Glad container about the size that will hold two sandwiches. It is hidden under some leaves under a log. Inside the Glad container is several small trinkets and an index card for you to record your finding the cache. You are welcome to take one of the “treasures” and are requested to leave one of your trinkets. Record on the card what you took and what you left. Here’s what you do: Using your GPS head out in your sailboat and plot a course for Goat Island (up the Oconee channel from Rooty Creek). Make landfall on the island and using the coordinates above, try to locate the cache. If you must, use the clues. Open the container, record your name and date and what you take and leave. When you finish, hide the container in the same place for the next seeker. You get 20 credit points for finding the cache, plus the points for a cruise to Goat Island. You also get 5 points for finding a goat. I have added 5 additional points for seeing a goose egg. There are numerous Canada Geese nesting on the island. They are very protective of the nest and it may not be safe to get too close. We did however find a nest that was unattended and there was an egg. {{{Clues}}} The cache is hidden near the highest point on the island. Look NNE from a position at the summit and find twin trees (two trunks coming from the same base). There is or was a rock about 8 inches across near the base of the tree. Look NNE of the double tree about three feet and find one larger fallen tree and two smaller tree sections next to it. Move the middle tree section and the cache is a few inches under the leaves. Jimmy Harrell {{{Pictures}}}

Why Race Sailboats?

I’ve been asked by more than a few non-racers why we all bother to learn the rules and struggle up and down the lake on sometimes windless days. I’ve come up with two main reasons: first we race in order to sail more often and second, we race to socialize. Let me explain. In a typical year, many racers at OSYC were on the water for about 20 days of racing/sailing (with a few significantly higher numbers posted). Yes, some of those days were hot and windless, but some were nearly perfect and we were out there sailing and enjoying our boats and the lake. The typical non-racer didn’t sail nearly as often. It’s just that much easier to make the effort to go sailing when you know that others will be around for you to share the day with. And that brings me to the second point: racing is about socializing. We gather before the races and talk about boats and wind and weather and anything else that comes to mind. We gather again after the races and do the same thing. Even if you have nothing to say there are plenty of stories, jokes, and tall tales from the group to keep you entertained. So that’s our secret – racing is mostly about being there and sharing an activity that we all enjoy. I guess I should go ahead and mention that racing is also about improving your sailing skills and friendly competition, but you don’t need to be an expert to have fun by coming out on race day and just sailing around the course. This is definitely a case where more is better. There are more than 30 days of racing scheduled at OSYC this year. Surely a few of these fit into your schedule – if you haven’t tried it yet, you really should.

Lake Sinclair, Georgia