Wednesday, March 19, 2008

EC Day 3

RiverJohn, ManitouCruiser, Captn, SuperBoo, and I were all up early and on the water by 2AM Monday morning. The wind was still blowing, and we slowly made our way up the boat channel and through the bridge. We’d set ourselves up for sailing with the Balogh rig once we got to the Gulf, but had the sails tied down on the aka in the interim.
It was a slow 5 miles, stopping quickly under the bridge to set the sails just before Dawn, about 5AM. RiverJohn was in Class 1, and at this point we separated, thinking he wouldn’t be able to keep up with us sailing. The joke was on us. He’s actually quite a fast paddler, who uses a 150 cm double bladed kayak paddle with his Kruger SeaWind. He chose to take the short Intercoastal behind Estero Island and come out at New Pass. When we got near the Pass, we could see him ahead of us coming out and paddling down the Gulf. We too were all paddling, motor sailing as they say, moving South, with winds South South East.

It was a very long day, getting past this 30 mile stretch down the Gulf. We’d already talked about getting inside away from the wind at Gordon's Pass. There is an intercoastal there that parallels the coastline going to the Marco River that will eventually take us past Goodland and back out into the 10,000 Islands area of the Everglades. The real positive of the day was some great sailing lessons from the Captn. A skilled sailor, he had lots of great suggestions that allowed us some forward movement at such a high point into the wind.

In case your wondering. The Balogh rig has just a bit more sail area than a very large surfboard sail, from 32 to 38 square feet. In light winds, you are paddle sailing (easy and relaxed paddling), or sailing at a paddling pace. Often during last years EC, I was sailing with no paddling along side KiwiBird while she both paddled and used her Pacific Action Sail, going the same speed. It doesn’t have any of the speeds that Class 4 boats can get with their large sail areas. Also, if going from point A to B, and with a deadline, it is usually much faster to paddle than to tack and jibe like a sailboat taking on the extra distance. Though I admit to times that day when I really wondered about the truth of it.

We had a short visit with KneadingWater (photo below), who was also making his way down the coast, he had paddled into the previous night and had camped just North of Wiggens Pass, my original hoped for campsite. We also hooked up with RiverJohn later in the day, about 5 miles from Gordon's Pass.

Throughout the day the winds were building, and turning more Southerly. By the time we passed the fishing pier at Naples, the winds were directly head-on, and strong. We pulled off on the beach to de-rig the sails for paddling, enjoy some ice cold lemonade, and put up bimini top on the Kruger Cruiser for Boo.
The headwinds were so strong that Captn and Boo were having trouble making any distance paddling. ManitouCruiser (super human paddler) began towing them for a few miles up to the Pass. Once inside the Pass there was some protection, but the wind still continued to funnel down the channels. Again, RiverJohn, ManitouCruiser, Captn, SuperBoo, and I decided to call it an early night again (heck it had already been 17 hrs on the water), and we camped on Keewaydin Island which I had marked on my charts for camping. ManitouCruiser made us all a delicious Mac’n Cheese and Tuna dinner, and off to sleep we went, planning another very early 2AM start Tuesday morning.

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