It was 6 months ago that we left the dock at Nina's after doing about 5 months of hard labor in the summer Florida heat. Though the heat and humidity were unforgiving, I would say that things seem to happen for a reason. It was for this condition that we designed our electrical such that we could power down certain zones of the boat while keeping the A/C going. Things definitely seem to happen for a reason and I was always skeptical of it for quite a long time.
I grew up in the hustle and bustle of the urban sprawl of Los Angeles in the 80's and 90's. While earning my degree at UC San Diego, I mindlessly continued that ethic - rarely stopping to smell the roses. Always busy. I had slowly trained myself to function on 2 or 3 hours of sleep a night and could often be found snoozing at the track office between my last noon class and before warmups right after lunch.
What a difference now, "So when's the date?" I would often be asked.
"We've been leaving since November," I would joke... because we have been trying to accelerate the, as we discovered, rather steep learning curve to go from land-bound meat bags to a couple of souls beholden to the weather gods.
Leaving Since November
It's been about 6 months since we dropped anchor for the first time in Boca Ciega Bay. We decided that we were no longer going to be land bound. We're going to do everything we can to learn as quickly as we can about how to live aboard our tiny home. We would try to learn and teach ourselves new patterns while washing away the old patterns of waking to the blare of 5am alarms; the ritual of transporting ourselves to Tampa (tick) and back in the evenings (tock) like a metronome that never skips a beat and punishes you dearly if you miss a tick.
We'll leave this process of learning and training to another post where we'll detail everything we did for the last 6 months. It includes a peek into the absolutely astounding community of Gulfport and all the supportive folks whom we've met over the last 3 and a half years including our yacht club, Boca Ciega Yacht Club, the Gulfport Municipal Marina, local watering holes like O'Maddy's, sailing centers like Island Nautical, marine life raft vendors like Solution One Maritime... the list goes on and on.
This post is more about us (finally) leaving, weighing anchor, untying the dock lines, and heading south.
We'll return briefly to catch a flight out to San Diego for Asa's little brother's wedding... but in the meantime, we'll be heading down the ICW and doing small anchorage hops to Marco Island. From there, we'll do our first long overnight sail to the Dry Tortugas.
Ready, Set, Flat
We originally planned to leave on Friday, but as luck would have it, as Asa was moving aboard our provisions, she noticed that the port tube on our inflateable dinghy was flat. I guess there's a reason why a few of our sailing mentors and friends have called them deflateables.
Shoot. We can't leave with that. On top of that, some weather was blowing in. The storm was strong enough to close the Gulfport Casino's docks due to some damage it sustained.
Things were pretty bouncy out there...
Everything happens for a reason, right? Well, had we left on the day we planned, we would've been sailing out in 30 knots of wind and bad chop. So we delayed our leave time so that we may motor out to BCYC to use our last of 3 days on their t-docks to hopefully find the leak and patch it.
As luck would also have it, it was club weekend and duh flag weekend. So heck ya... sailing out in bad weather or spending one more night amongst our sailing family and friends to talk about our mishaps and lapses in judgement; a hearty lasagna meal prepared by sea scout leader Tony Angel; and a night of booze and jokes?
That was a no-brainer.
Fellow club member and vice-commodore Don Rogers helped grab some inflateable repair fluid that you inject into the tubes and roll it around a bit; and he also grabbed a hapylon patch kit for us. $170 for the dinghy's repair alone, ouch!
With that in hand, we spend the afternoon hauling out the dinghy with the club's boat ramp; we cleaned all the barnacles off; and we found a small scratch where the air was leaking out in the port tube. Ahhh... I distinctly remember us doing this not too long ago:
Or it could've happened while we were helping recover Mirror Image from the mangroves in another storm that passed just a couple weeks prior.
But I think it was the dinghy ride, since the port side tube wasn't the side that was pushing against the boat. And the recovery of Mirror Image will be for another post... lest to say, I was more than happy to help a fellow BCYC member Craig get his boat off the mangroves. When she finally slide off the oyster bank, there was a great hooping and hollering! His wife, Sue, and our friend Ray were the real heroes on the deck of the boat in the storm.
So in any case... I really think it was when we gave Rob a tow to the other side of the marina... because we distinctly remember us brushing up against some barnacles on a piling while trying to get ourselves going.
In any case... because we found the leak, we decided instead to go through the 3 hour process of applying the patch. This includes putting on some nasty glue, letting it dry for 20 minutes, putting on another layer of glue, letting that set for another 15 minutes, before finally pressing the patch onto the tube.
It appeared to hold air, so we felt that it was unnecessary to inject the goop into the tubes, to avoid the potential of compounding the problem with another mess that may further delay our departure.
Nothing But Love
We spent our last night on the t-dock, and in the morning, wouldn't you know it, James, the very person who not so long ago advised us to leave our name and number at Dolphin Landings which lead to us finding our boat, was also the very person who untied our last dock lines as we headed off.... to the Gulfport Marina just around the corner to fuel up.
We called into the Marina to make sure that there was space at their fuel dock. And we were greeted with friendly smiles and some last points of advice from the staff at the marina.
After topping off our tanks and jerrycans, we headed out the channel to Boca Ciega Bay. John McCleod, this year's fleet admiral, snapped a picture of us leaving the marina from their boat, Journey. Again, how very fitting.
Entering the bay, Legacy, one of the fastest boats in the fleet, sailed with us through the bay and to the entrance of pass-a-grille.
We passed by Nina's place where she had just sailed their new Catamaran, Two to Tango, into the dock where we had spent all those sweaty hours refitting Petrichor.
Lloyd, another BCYC member, helped to snap some great photos of us as we left under full sail.
Goodbye for now, Gulfport and BCYC. We'll be back in June for a brief moment before we head back down to Marathon and where-ever the wind blows us.