Saturday, February 28, 2015

One Good Turn . . .

   Our meeting up with Raindog was never really planned.  We only "knew" each other through the Cruisers Forum and when we actually met for the first time, we didn't expect to be buddy boating.  However, the fact that we are has definitely turned out to be a good thing.  There have already been numerous occasions where one of us has helped the other out.  In some cases, we would really have been in a mess if it wasn't for our buddy boat. We've gotten to know each other, had each other over for meals, and helped each other with problems along they way.

Raindog's Colorful Spinnaker
   After our little off -kilter issue (see previous post), Brian, Erika, Bill, and I were still waiting for a weather window to make the jump to Clear Water.  We decided that all four of us would head out on Raindog for a day sail to do some beachcombing.  We anchored about an hour away from the marina and were met with more shells than you could possibly pick up.  We found some great shells and got some exercise walking around the beach.  As we were heading back to the dinghy, we were met with strong winds and noticed the waves were growing in height.  The waves were too strong for us to take turns heading back in the dinghy.  So, Brian and Erica took the dinghy back to the boat so that they could move the boat to a section of the beach with calmer waters.  Brian then came and picked us up on the calmer end of the beach and we headed back to the marina.
Scupper Likes When We Come Over
Beautiful Beach

No.  I Didn't Set the Shell This Way, The Waves Did

These Horseshoe Crabs Came Up The Beach Together. 
Unfortunately They Couldn't Get Back To The Water.


Sunset First Afternoon Out

   A few days later, we found a weather window and headed out for Clearwater, FL.  This leg of the journey took us about 43 hours, motoring nearly the entire way.  We were expecting to only spend 36 hours traveling but, the weather had other plans.  The cold temperatures that are causing problems for the northern part of the country are affecting us here, too, in the form of very dense fog.  This fog meant we had to slow down. A lot. For a while, we couldn't actually see Raindog with our own eyes in broad daylight, even though our AIS said they were less that a half a mile from us (thick as pea soup). 

Nap Time
   The fog was so bad, it nearly helped to cause catastrophic issues for both of our boats.  Not long after sunrise on our second morning out, Bill noticed a fast moving blip on our radar.  He communicated this to Raindog who doesn't have radar and was depending on us for these readings (Radar allows you to see ships that are on the water but, not broadcasting on AIS).  We could tell that that this blip was a large pleasure craft (a yacht over 150 ft. long) moving at 17 kts. straight for our boats.  As if that wasn't worrisome on its own, the person(s) operating the yacht were not responding to repeated calls on the radio.  With the fog not allowing us to see a thing, this was getting scary.
That Barely Visible Spot is Raindog
Before The Fog Got Too Bad

   We then (according to protocol), sounded our horns; 5 long blasts for a "Danger" signal (At this point I was thinking it was a "Hey, Idiot! Pay Attention!!" Signal but, it was 5 blasts either way).  We and Raindog did this two times each.  Still no response.  The yacht was still barreling towards us.  We made a quick, decision to alter our course by 60 degrees (yes, it was that close) so that neither of us would end up with two halves of a previously whole boat.  We turned in just enough time to hear a roaring engine go past us.  The yacht never slowed down and we never actually saw it; The fog ensured that.  All we could hope for was that the Coast Guard was listening in and tracked him down.

About To Start The Race
   Once we were finally settled in in Clearwater, we spent two days relaxing and recuperating from our journey.  On our first morning there, we woke to find ourselves surrounded by little racing boats (International Contender class).  We were literally beside the starting line of their races for the day.  Apparently this little team races for fun and, according to the officials we talked to, does as many races as they can when they meet.  Cool! We had the best seats in the house to watch these guys strut their stuff.  We were so close that, at one point, the wind shifted and nearly sent one of the racers into the side of our boat! If he had been any closer, he'd have hit his head on our rub rail.

Motoring Down The ICW
   Once the racers were finishing up, the wind started to rear its ugly head again.  So, we decided to move a little further down, away from the winds, for the night.  The next morning,  we pulled up the anchor and headed for the Manatee River.  This was a wonderful morning to sail.  The weather was perfect and since we were motoring down the ICW for most of the trip, waves didn't become an issue until we had to head "outside" (away from the ICW) for the last few hours of the trip.
One Of The Many Bridges That Had To Be Raised For Us

Two Texas Dinghies In Florida
  So, here I am, writing this on our second day in the Manatee River.  This is definitely a quaint little spot to hole up for a few days.  We have taken the dinghy over to the beach a couple of times to check out a few of the local sites.  The De Soto National Monument and the local park are great places to check out. 

Black Mangrove - Their Roots Actually Grow Up

Heron, I think

Pretty Flowers At The Park

Walkway At The Park

   We spent our morning today (unexpectedly) working on the batteries.  Bill tried to start the engine so we could charge the batteries but, nothing happened when he pushed the start button.  Hours later, and after having to borrow Raindog's starting battery, we got the kinks worked out (a stuck solenoid) and we were charging again.  Funny enough, as soon as we had the engine going, Brian called us on Bill's cell.  He wanted to know if we could go "rescue" Erika.  She had taken their dog, Scupper, for a walk in the park by way of their dinghy.  On the way back, their motor had died and she was stuck in the water.  So, we got into our dinghy and towed Erika and Scupper safely back to Raindog.   One good turn deserves another.   As the Beatles so eloquently put it, "I get by with a little help from my friends . . . ".

Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (Just click on "No Comments" if no one else has commented yet.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments.