Saturday, November 27, 2010

Apalachicola to Clearwater Florida.
Just unfurled the Jenny for the first big passage across the Gulf! Strong north wind at 10-15 knots should take us 147 nautical miles from Apalachicola, FL in the panhandle to Clearwater, FL in the peninsula overnight.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The swampy land along the Intercoastal in northern Florida's panhandle. Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Motorsailing, it's sunny 75F, 7m/h wind, 1ft waves, & speed 6.3kt. 

Florida's Panhandle & GIWW

The Gulf Intercoastal Waterway is a great route toward east. GIWW stretches from Carrabelle, Florida all the way to Texas. I have taken the Intercoastal from Mobile bay to Pensacola bay, continuing to Choctawhatchee bay by Fort Walton Beach & Destin. Right now heading toward St. Andrew bay and a stop by Panama City to pick up my friend Dee. Along the GIWW, there are beautiful white sandy beaches on the south shore & beautiful homes on the other side. The white beaches are amazing and one of the kind.
Since I got down to the Gulf, the wind has been east to south east and that's the direction I'm going! Unfortunately it has not been much of sailing yet. Yesterday however, I sailed for an hour heading northwest, 12-15 wind on reach doing 6.5kt and it felt great!
One of the downsides for a sailboats on the Intercoastal is all the bridges. Most bridges are around 65ft. But there are 2 bridges from Pensacola bay to Choctawhatchee bay that are only 49.9ft. The antenna on top of the mast touched both of the bridges & that's was very scary.
Another scary thing this morning was the fog. Visibility was maybe 100 feet and I could not see the midway bridge (64') till I got very close to it.
I will tell you one more last beautiful scary story and that will conclude this input. This morning at 7:30 I left last nights anchorage. Meanwhile I'm having my cup of tea & focusing on not running aground, a big fish jumps out of the water just next to the boat & that freaked me out. It was a dolphin trying to say good morning but she scared me! I end up getting friends with miss dolphin & invited her aboard on Earthling for a cup of tea, but she couldn't get on so she accompanied me swimming next to the boat for few minutes. :-)
Thanks for reading

Sent from a iPhone

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pensacola Beach, Florida

Pensacola Beach, Florida.  It feels like it can't get more beautiful than this. Palm trees, white sandy beaches, & nice weather. A special visitor is joining me for the weekend so Pensacola beach is home for the next few days!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gulf of Mexico by Mobile bay, sunny, 71F(18C), wind SE 1-2, & calm water!

Mast Bridge Collision

Since the mast went up few weeks ago, I've been nervous going under bridges. Earthling's mast is 48ft & with the antenna it goes up 50ft. I've passed many bridges that are 52ft and it's very scary. Few days ago I arrived to Meridan and Bigbee Rail Road Lift Bridge in Alabama. According to the charts & the books, the bridge is 44ft closed & 55ft open. The bridge was down when I arrived, I kept calling on CH13&16 & didn't get any respond. On the bridge pillars it said 50ft from the water level up. I wait around for 30min or so  and decided to go parallel to the bridge and see if the antenna is touching! The camcorder was on the stand and recorded the attempt.

Yes, I did touch the antenna, broke off the wind indicator, and broke the new mast light that was installed few weeks ago! For the next 45 min I tried to call the railroad and the company that manages the railroad but no success. I only need a foot to pass the bridge. If I put the sails on and wait for good wind to come through maybe I could get her to tilt a foot! Meanwhile I'm thinking and getting the jib sheets ready I hear a noise, look up & the bridge is lifting!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mobile Bay, Alabama. The first leg of this adventure is accomplished. Chicago to Mobile, 43days. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cloudy & rainy today, but I see seagels & that's a good sign! 

Black warrior Tombigbee

For the last 3 days I have been motoring and anchoring on Black Warrior Tombigbee waterway. There are not that many good anchorages along this 216 miles. A stern & bow anchor have been used to minimize swinging in narrow creeks off the main river. I'm getting good at using 2 anchors, never before have need to do that!
There are 60 miles left to the ocean & the smell of the ocean is hitting me more & more. I can't believe Ive sailed over 1200 miles from Chicago, cutting through America's heart to get to the ocean!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tenn-Tom Waterway

Single handing and going through locks becomes challenging sometimes. Two days ago I went through 3 locks in 24 miles distance. Every first attempt to tie around the bollard didn't work, so I had to back up and try again! Poor dinghy was almost crushed when I was backing up for a reattempt! I also dropped the pole in the water twice! I was accompanied by 2 motorboats, "Hallelujah" from Michigan and the other one from New Hampshire! Hallelujah was calling in the locks. After the first lock he started counting me in the calls and tell the lock master that the last vessel is a sailboat and he's single-handing. Whitten lock dropped 84 feet, It was like an eight story brick wall around you. Water was dripping from the walls like a water fall! Every time I go through a lock I have to pay attention to the mast, the bow, and the stern so it doesn't hit the wall!

The dingy had to come up on deck and lay down and 2 big fenders were blown up for port side and few other things to make it easier going through locks.
Yesterday I got a big surprise, Perry and Darius called and said they are on their way down to Mississippi to meet me! I get so excited when company shows up. They drove 11 hours from Chicago and stayed till today 1pm and just left. I'm getting ready to make another 25-30 mile passage today and there is only one lock to go through!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pickwick lake

Chicago is four weeks behind today. I have gone over 800 miles down the rivers from Chicago to Pickwick lake, Tennessee. Tomorrow the Tennessee river ends for my part and Tenn-Tom waterway starts, which stretches from Pickwick to Demopolis, Alabama. Two-Third of this part of the adventure is passed, the weather is getting warmer and in 2 weeks I should be able to smell the ocean.

I hope it's not going to take 2.5 hours like it did today, for each lock of the 12 locks down to Mobile. Few miles before Pickwick lock, I heard a sail vessel calling in the lock. I got so excited there was another crazy sailboater on the river. I haven't seen any sailboats going down the rivers to the gulf since I left Chicago! I heard about the french sailboat that lost their propeller on Mississippi river & I remember seeing them passing by Canal St. Marina few days before I left Chicago. However, the lockmaster at Pickwick lock & dam told "Surona" the wait would be 1hr to get through! Great, by the time I get there I don't have to wait long! When I got closer, I called in and the lock master said that there are few barges before and the wait will be 2.5hrs. That was weird! I was happy that at least there was another boat I could wait with. There was no place to dock! I saw Surona drifting around & I joined them! I met Pete and Cheryl and we end up putting the fenders between and raft up and drift together. We shared our stories, had a beer and 2.5 hrs went by quick! Surona ( left Chicago way before me! However, her shaft & propeller got damaged after hitting a log on the river! She had to come out of water and the prop and shaft were replaced($$$)!

There are so many big logs on Mississippi river. The current and turbulence takes the smaller ones below water and you can't even see them. I've been lucky & I hope I keep it that way!   

And what happened to my luck fishing, I lost 3 lures and caught zero fish since Lee & Roy left. I guess the fish knew that Lee is good at catching them so they didn't play hard to get! The fish don't know that I am not giving it up that easy, I will catch them sooner or later! :-)