Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lela, don't look at these pictures!

Martin and Pavel, check out how manly Dan is at the top of the mast.  (This was a week before the halyard broke that to which he was attached.)  
Bet it makes you want to climb Kilimanjaro!

Barb and Ken say Dan is on a power trip.  Dan says that 3 more solar panels and another wind generator ought to do it.
Dan is installing the windspeed indicator while still in Port Aransas.  It gets repeated in St. Petersburg as the original one quit working with the first storm.
He seems to get to go up the mast pretty frequently!   Looked like a real challenge to scale the top 10 feet to install the new halyard.  Fortunately, Matt the rigger and his wife Crystal gave Dan a tip about making steps with a rope wrapped around the mast.  Then hiking the steps up one by one as he ascended.  No pictures of that, too busy gritting my teeth!

That was in May.  I'll tell you more about May soon.  Time flies!  Right now we are in Ft. Myers and plan to leave tomorrow.  It's beautiful out, sunny and blue skies.

Happy trails to you!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waiting for Debbie to leave Ft. Myers

Today marks a week in Ft. Myers, Florida.  We got to visit my Aunt Jeanne Powder and fun cousins Diane and Marilyn.
Diane, Jeanne Powder, Marilyn

Too rainy to take everyone for a sail though Ray and Dale braved it in Pearl.  I think they just wanted to show off.  Well, we all know that doesn't run in the family!
This is actually St. Petersburg where Dale and Ray went to the Daddy school of sailing.  They both received their sailing permits and have been sailing around solo in Pearl (within sight!).  Ray says it is his favorite thing to do.  (At least it beats out schoolwork.)
Daddy's School of Sailing, part I
Daddy's School of Sailing, Part II

Diane took us to the beach side of the island on Sunday on the way home from Jean's just to see the waves.
Here's Ray trying to catch some!
I like his hair!
Debbie made big waves, glad we are not out in it.
The dock we are tied to ended up being about 4 inches under water at high tide yesterday.  Seems to flood often here during storms, the island is so low.  This is on the northeast end of Estero Island, just 4 blocks from the other side where Ft. Myers Beach parties.  This is a shallow channel and kind of industrial but pretty calm..... and safe too! ... the coast guard is just across the channel.
Land ahoy!  Dale and Ray as our lookouts as we head towards Ft. Myers Beach.
Smooth sailing on the way to Ft. Myers.

This is how we wait for good winds!

It's been so nice to get to visit with wonderful family.  We are waiting patiently (or not!) for Tropical Storm Debbie to vacate the area.  Looking for winds to take us to Key West and then on around Florida to the north!  
My cutie patootie!

Hope you are all well and happy!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

offshore thunderstorms

This video was taken about 150 miles from St. Petersburg, after our 3 thunderstorm.  We were successful avoiding storms that we encountered earlier in the crossing, simply by sailing around them.  Mother nature only lets you cheat like that for a limited time.  Early one morning, just after sunrise we noticed a thunderstorm forming to the south and behind us.  We thought we could outrun it like the other storms.  Not this time.  We were running with full sail at full speed when a gust hit.  Sunny Ray rose up on top of the sea and started surfing at a scary speed.  I was thinking capsize.  We tried to round up to drop the main, but the apparent wind speed increased dramatically as we turned and the wind took control.  Our mast was shaking and wiggling like a noodle.  The noise was intense.  We tried to drop the main but the wind was pulling on it so hard it wouldn't drop.  Quick thinking Marty used our reefing system to pull the sail down to 1/3 it's normal size and we could get control of the boat again.  Everyone sighed in relief and we sailed at top speed out of the stormy area.  It was time for coffee.
Cheers, Dan

1000 miles and noone puked!

The crew of Sunny Ray just crossed the Gulf of Mexico and arrived at Anclote Key Thursday morning the 7th of June.  We were exhausted!  We left Port Aransas, Texas on Memorial Day, the 28th of May.
You may view our spot tracker by going to this link to see my location updates:
> The password is: sunnyray
Last I looked though, it just showed the spots for June.... not May.
We were entertained by many groups of dolphins.  These were about 3 days out from Port Aransas.  The kids named these 4.  They stayed and played in our bow wake for quite awhile until they were distracted by a dead fish on floating seaweed.

Oil rigs dotted the horizon in Texas and then near Louisiana, it was dominated by them.  The oil rig complexes were cityscapes in themselves.  About the 4th day out Dan & I, being pretty tired, decided to head towards Lousisiana just below New Orleans to find a place to anchor.  That night Dan danced around thunderstorms on his watch, avoiding all of them.  In the morning we saw our first funnel cloud starting to form.
Fortunately, it went the other way.  We continued north til about 50 miles away from the coast and with the tons of traffic, oil rig obstacles and not many definite anchorage possibilities, we headed back out to sea.  That was stress relief!  The next day was wonderful sailing.  And then, we were becalmed.
We finally hit the blue, blue water when all oil rigs were out of sight.  So blue it looked purple to me. Dan took a picture of the water and you can see the trampoline on the boat...
The water was so very clear. 
Dan and Ray caught an amberjack(?) tuna!  Yum Yum.
Then, the next day, Dan caugt a wahoo and let it go.  This tuna and the smaller one caught the day before has provided us much pleasant dining.  John, the 2 biggest were caught on the pink lures you gave Dan.  Thank you!

The next evening.... we caught the current!  I felt like I was flying through the desert because there was nothing but slightly wrinkly waves on either side and we were going fast!  It was wonderful to have the moonlight and hope we will always be able to plan for that on crossings. 

Moon Goddess
Three days away from Florida is when thunderstorms started cropping up.  The first hit us by surprise with all our sails up.  We ditched them in a hurry and haven't found anything broken yet.  After the first 3 minutes of incredible gusts, it calms down.  We got to experience being in about 5 storms in those 3 days.  The boat makes so many eerie noises when it is heaving and lurching around.  Dan thought he heard the radio when it wasn't on several times.  I kept hearing people call me.  The kids are real troopers.  They did not complain about the motion.  They were very helpful.  Ray is getting the hang of the sequence of setting sail and all the maintenance of sail.  Dale has shown herself to be a natural in steering. She really likes to bark orders too! 

My sailor kids
Thunderstorms make for extra special sunsets

The wind created by the storms benefited our progess. As you can tell by Dan's happiness.
Sailing and sailing along

After the first storm, I notice Dan' glass he keeps by the helm, was half- full.  Dan's water collection system.  Works pretty good.
Right now we are in a very nice marina, called the Port Tarpon Marina.  Today we took the dingy Olivia upriver to downtown where the yummy Greek restaurants are and all the natural sponges hanging everywhere. 
Well, now there are more repairs to do.  We hope to head down to St. Pete soon.  Then to Ft. Myers to see my wild and wonderful Aunt Jeanne Powder and fabulous cousins. And on to the East side...
Catch you soon.  We miss you all!