Sailing has always been a part of my life. Before I was 12 my parents had me in sailing camp at the local public beach during the summers. Learning how to sail was something my father really wanted to pass on to his kids. He had learned to sail as a kid and wanted us to find the joy there. While all of the sons sailed at least a bit, I really got into it. So much so that even when I lived in CA, I would come home to RI and rent boats in the summer and go sailing.
Fast forward to last year when my parents purchased a sailboat in Newport, with plans of keeping it Florida in the winter and Newport in the summer. I asked if I could join the trip south, and my father acquiesced and got the Captain to say it was it was okay.
Last years trip was my first long, out in the water trip. I bought true fowl weather gear. It was a 12 day trip with stops in Cape May and Charlotte on our way to Aventura. The boat was new to the family and through the journey we had countless problems with the engine and systems on the boat. It was a very trying, yet fun experience.
The boat made it north in April or May and for various reasons I wasn’t on the journey up. But when my father asked if I wanted to go south again this year, I said yes and the quest for Florida was born anew. The captain was new to the family, but had been on the boat before. We honestly didn’t talk much before the trip. I figured we would get to hang out on the trip so why spend so much time on land chatting when we have a week+ on the boat to chat. Even with my level of loquaciousness, a week is a long time to be stuck in a small place with people. No reason to exhaust chat topics beforehand.
Many insurance companies have rules for larger boats about not heading south before November 1st for weather reasons. To this end, the trip was planned for November 1 departure. There were three official crew and myself for total of four sets of active hands. I hesitate to call myself crew because these guys were serious and I was just having the time of my life.
This years trip could not have been more different from last years trip in so many ways. For one, Brandon, this years captain, does not like stopping. Brandon likes to move when he’s on the water, no waiting. Stopping adds time, so Brandon intended to do as much of the trip as possible without stopping. Stopping for Brandon is when you need fuel and that is it.
Also to this end we used the motor almost the entire trip. We motor-sailed to reduce the overall pull on the fuel tanks and the engine. We had pretty favorable wind almost the whole way. Towards the end we had to cheat the wind a bit because we being driven close to the Florida shore, but the for the most part we had beam or broad reach wind almost ever day.
With the favorable weather and the intent and focus of the Captain we made incredible time. The only challenge was really our Auto Pilot that stopped working about a day and we had to the remaining six days by hand steering. Watches were 2 hour solo affairs, but because you were hand steering, it was very hard to fall asleep during your watch. Making about 200 miles a day we made it to Miami just over 6 days of sailing.
We made it in just in time too. Nicole, an incoming hurricane is supposed to make landfall on Thursday and we are heading home on Tuesday. Pretty darn perfect.
So we are done for this year and it is time for my parents to move down to Florida. There is a chance I’ll visit, but not super likely. So with sailing done for the year it is time to work on my own boat and get it ready for next year when I might be able to take some more fun adventures.