12 May, 2011

Florida is a REALLY long state

Location: Cumberland Island, Georgia
Position: N 30 43.009 W 081 18.184

We just spent 3 days and 3 nights traveling 483 miles along the coast of Florida. The passage was not one of our best but we got a lot of miles under our belt. The winds were fairly light and not strong enough to sail most of the time, other times they were dead on the nose and we still had to motor into them. The good thing is we are now at one of our all-time favorite spots - Cumberland Island. GA. We've spent the last couple of days walking the beaches and through the live oak forests. Great after being on the boat for so many days.
On our way into Cumberland Island a huge submarine passed us on it's way to the base upriver

Today we are leaving again for an overnight passage to Charleston, SC

01 May, 2011

Culture Shock

Position: N 24 34.175 W 081 48.206
Location: Key West, Florida, USA

After crunching some numbers here are some interesting facts about our trip north:

Total miles traveled: 1,157 nautical miles (1,331 standard miles)
Total travel time: 7 days 20 hours
Average speed: 6.1 knots (7 standard miles per hour)

We feel compelled to give a huge thank you to our wind vane 'Helga'. She's been on the boat for almost three years now and we haven't really used her that much, but this trip was so long we decided to take the time to get to know her better. On the first day we learned the wonders of wind vane sailing. Not to get too technical, it's a self-steering system which uses the wind to steer the boat. No electricity, no battery power, no fuel...only wind. You set a paddle to point into the wind, adjust the sails so they are set perfectly (this is the hard part), then engage the lock to Rachel's steering wheel. That's it! Now sit back and watch Helga do her magic - silently and using no electricity!! She steered the boat almost the entire way back - we love her.

Why is she called Helga, you might ask? Well!! Our wind generator in called Wendy (windy), our electric auto pilot is called Otto (auto). As the wind vane was a close relative of Otto she also needed a Germanic name. After a few days of discussion underway, and with not much else to do, we decided on Helga, because she's a 'hell of a gal'. Can't help it if we're not all that creative...

We are finally getting caught up on our sleep and are starting to feel like our old selves again. Except that we're in Key West. Key West is a wild and crazy place, at the best of times, but after spending months in Central America and our most recent time in remote Kuna Yala, we are having culture and sensory shock. So many shops where we can buy anything, and we mean ANYTHING in Key West. So many people. So much noise. We've probably spent as much money in a week as we spent in Panama in 3 months - Yikes!!

Since we've been here we've seen a battle for the independence of the Conch Republic that involved among others biplanes, schooners, a Coast Guard fire boat. It was quite impressive.

Then yesterday we got to see the bed races. Yep. That's right. They shut down 6 or 7 blocks of Duval St. (one of the main streets in town) for a few hours and have a "parade of beds" and "bed races". Different groups (and we mean "different"!!) dress up and push a "bed" on wheels up the street in a parade, then race back against the clock. Hilarity and mayhem were the order of the day.

We're looking for a weather window to head East to Miami, then to points further north. It looks like next Wednesday will be the earliest we can leave, given the easterly winds we're expecting to have through next Tuesday.

It feels good to be back and we're looking forward to seeing all of you soon.

Fair winds.