Sailing El Tigre To Sarasota

Wednesday, February 11th, 2004

My crew, Alan, and I arrived from Ft Lauderdale in the van along with Captain Karen and her dog Flotsam at 1500. Karen was driving the van back to Ft Lauderdale for us. It was a very hot afternoon with temps in the 80s.

We had picked up more gear and stores for the trip in Ft Lauderdale, and stopped at the local Publix for perishables just before getting back to the boat.

Captain Karen and I boarderd first, and found a lot of water in the bilge. The pump needed a new float switch. We unloaded everything we needed from the van very quickly, just putting it on the dock and Karen left with the van at 1600.

Alan and I stowed gear and launched the dinghy before settling down to watch the news and have a leftover spaghetti dinner we had brought along. We spent a good part of the evening reviewing our paper and elctronic charts and plotting an alternate course through Marathon. I changed the engine oil and wired up the external VHF speaker. We stayed up watching the news and David Letterman before turning in at 030.

Thursday, February 12th, 2004

We awoke to a warm morning with dense fog at 0700. The morning forcast called for the fog to lift but it never did. We had a lot of work to do to make our scheduled 1400 sailing to catch the tide at John's Pass at 1500.

I assembled and wired the generator while Alan stowed and lashed. We restowed sails and gear in the cockpit lockers. I called in and activated our Sea-Tow policy. We dealt with many other details.

Lines were cast off finaly at 1505 with about one half mile of visibility in the fog. I slowly motored out to John's Pass and called for an on-demand opening at 1555, then continued to motor SSW out the pass with the fog thickening as we went.

It seemed as if the bilge pump was cycling more frequently, and I went below to investigate. The rudder shaft packing had worked loose with it's first use in years. Experience told me it wouldn't get much worse than it already was. We decided to keep a course closer in to the coast for a while just in case.

I raised the mainsail and unfurled the jib but we didn't have any wind in the fog. I continued to motor untill 1945 but shut down due to a good bit of oil smoke and my concern for the old Atomic Four engine.

We were hailed on the VHF by a couple of casino boats out in the fog and confirmed our position and told them we were barely making way under sail in the fog.

I ran the engine from 2230 through 2300 when Alan went to bed and I found a few gentle puffs of wind to sail on.

2130 N27 40.94 W82 49.57

Friday, February 13th, 2004

I checked the engine oil and motored through the fog for an hour from 0100 to 0200.

0100 N27 40.173 W82 49.267

It was a long, cold, wet, and slow going night on watch. At 0400 and went below and made coffee, then started up the motor again to cross Egmont channel. I didn't want to do a slow drift accross the Tampa sea lanes in the fog. Alan woke up at 0645 and used the head. The handle borke off the pump while trying to flush it. He took the watch at 0730 while I grabbed some sleep.

0730 N27 35.077 W82 50.494

I woke up just before noon to non-existant breeze from ESE. I busied myself with cleaning out the fridge and making some ham, cheese and egg sandwiches for brunch.

1200 N27 32.545 W82 53.872 150 @ 2.8 kts

We started up the engine again as the wind died altogether after noon, and motored through 1400 when a fresh breeze started kicking up from the SE. I started the generator for a half an hour of charging and bailed out the head.

1600 N27 30.006 W82 43.831 122 @ 3nm

The wind has picked up to a steady 5-8 kts, but swung around to due south - right where we want to go. We're just off the beach at Anna Maria Island, and tacking offshore to get some sea room. It's a kick to finaly SAIL my new boat! We made hamburgers in the galley and shared a bottle of wine for dinner. I ran the generator for a while and then hit the bunk for some sleep before taking a midnight watch.

2100 N27 24.159 W82 44.962 170 @ 3.7 kts

Alan woke me up before 2100 asking if we could start the engine again, as the wind had died again. We ran it for about an hour untill a breeze kicked in. The old Atomic Four is still burning a bit of oil, but doing pretty well. Alan isn't very happy with our progress, and wants to be dropped off to take a bus back to Ft Lauderdale.

2400 N27 18.622 W82 45.859 190 @ 2.3 kts

We lost the wind for an hour at 2230, but it kicked back in a bit at midnight. We're going to head in to Sarasota bay to drop Alan off and anchor out from a blow coming in on Saturday night.

Saturday, February 14th, 2004

Happy Valentines Day!

The wind came steady after midnight, at 8-10 kts from the SE.

0150 N27 17.083 W82 44.850 50 @ 3 kts

We've turned in for Big Sarasota Pass. There's a clear sky instead of fog at least. The seas are still pretty calm though it's a bit chilly out at 60F. Alan is going to take the watch for a while and I'll try to get more sleep...

0400 N27 21.101 W82 38.837 190 @ 3 kts

We just turned south after making our way in to about 2 miles off of the Sarasota beaches. I took the watch from 0400 through 0630, then grabbed a quick nap before heading in a new pass. At 0700 we turned in for Big Sarasota Pass and I hailed Tow Boat US for local knowledge. Although Big Sarasota has plenty of water on the charts Tow Boat US advised us to use New Pass and stay to the south side of the channel to avoid some recent shoaling. We altered course to head back north for New Pass. I furled up the jib and took the first reef in the main to slow us down a bit as we aproached the pass while Alan took the helm. Even though we had warning from Boat US I felt that sickening feeling as we ran aground on the north side of the channel! I quickly started the engine, unfurled all the jib, and brought the helm hard to starboard, tacking into the wind and heeling us over a bit. We started to sail free of the shoal but unfortunately the the tow line to the dinghy managed to work under the boat and wrap the prop. We didn't know it yet, but that wasn't the only damage. Tow Boat US had been waiting on the far side of the pass to show us to the anchorage, and we let them know what had happened. He came out the pass to guide me in, and threw us a tow line when we were becalmed from the lee of New Pass itself.

Tow Boat US dropped our tow line at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron and we dropped an anchor to survey the situation before sailing down to the anchorage. The first thing we noticed was that El Tigre wasn't drifting with the current along with the other boats, as though we were aground, though we were in 10ft of water. My best guess was that we had lost our centerboard cable, and the centerboard was hanging straight down from the keel. I called Sea Tow to take us the last mile to the anchorage south of the Ringling Bridge. The tow boat arrived at 1000 and by 1100 we were anchored out... dd


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(c)Copyright 2004 by Eugene Kashpureff