Sunday, 23 September 2007

First sail, barnacles

We made first sail on Sunday the 9th, leaving the harbour of Punta Gorda for the southern part of Florida. As we were removing the last ropes from the pier, Afika suddenly felt very generous and gave the assistant harbour master, Randy (yes, that is his real name), one of her elaborate colourful drawings. As Mads was commanding the vessel steering her out of the slip, he noticed that she was rather slow on the uptake. After about a minute, as we are turning to face the exit of the harbour, I see a very worried Mads, who loudly exclaims that the engine is not responding as it should be. He revs the engine but no response and Double O is moving but rather sluggishly through the harbour waters. As we exit and head for the markers for the outer channel (one has to keep her wits about in these waters, there is hardly any water under the keel, therefore some hard concentration is required to stay on the channels with sufficient water), Mads suddenly shouts that I have to get ready to put the sails up as we do not have enough speed to steer Double O. In the middle of the channel, there we are unfurling the genoa/headsail and the main! Lo, people must have thought we are really cool. If only they knew that the boat had no power. We made it into the channel though a tortoise would have been faster than us. As soon as we had manouevering room, Mads promptly took the chisel and jumped into the water. His immediate suspicion that the propellers were covered in barnacles (bastard creatures that attach themselves fast on anything on water) was rather accurate. With snorkel and chisel, he started working on removing them- not an easy job without diving gear. After an hour of diving, scraping, going up for breath, he managed to scrub a thick layer of barnacles off. The engine responded accordingly after this cleaning venture of the props. Mads was once more a content captain. We had speed and since there was no wind to speak of, we could make way without dragging a whole colony of shell fish.

After a couple of hours of sailing, as dusk was setting in, we decided to set anchor in Charlotte Bay. The wind picked up at night making us a bit worried that we would drag during the night. To our relief we were still at the same spot at dawn. The journey continued south in the tricky waters of the Intracoastal- somewhat sheltered waters between mainland and the islands from the southern USA all the way up to Maine. Doing the Intracoastal means you don't have to worry about the wind in the Gulf and the Atlantic ocean but it also means you have to use your engine a lot more than your sails as some of the stretches are very narrow not leaving much room for movement. The second anchor was planned for Cabbage Key


Blackgirl On Mars said...

Welcome back my intrepid seafaring family! You've been missed.

Afrodite said...

My vicarious adventure continues! I've only ever heard of barnacles in novels about swashbuckling pirates. Mads, it's official, you're a hero :) Great writing Pam!