Wednesday, January 05, 2022

 After almost two years in her slip, getting out a couple of times for overnight and once for a survey, we said goodbye to Alizee.  We put her on the market just a little while before the outbreak of COVID 19, and she languished there.  Finally, after getting a couple of really lowball offers, I decided to donate her to a charity and get the tax benefit, which was well above the offers. Penelope and I spent a couple of days clearing off 12 years of things from the boat, cleaning her the last time, and shedding a few tears of farewell. 

Charities that take boats and cars, of course, turn them around quickly and with really low prices. Alizee was sold to Adam Schantz, a Navy guy in Jacksonville, Florida, within a couple of weeks. A nice fellow, he trucked Alizee up to Jacksonville and put her in a yard for some six months for refurbishing. Once he got her back in the water, he changed her name to Orion, an unfortunate choice compared to Alizee in our view. 

I think his plan was to cruise, but he got transferred to Colorado, so he put her on the market again, becoming one of the few boaters I know who made a profit on the resale.

At any rate, the new owner Steve Sears got my number from Adam. I spoke to him today, and he said he'd read this blog and the accompanying maintenance log. So after he's done replumbing the head, he and his wife will keep the dream alive and I know Alizee a.k.a. Orion will be as good to them as she was to us.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

From invigorating to relaxing ...

We finally just took the time to go sailing last week.  Alizee was happy to get out of the slip, and we found ourselves facing 20-25 knot NW winds with gusts even higher.  For our bodies, which have been land-locked for a month or so, it was invigorating to exhausting.  Our initial plan was to head north to Punta Gorda, but we were really a bit to tight into the wind, so we altered course, ran south a bit, and headed west to Pelican Bay, our favorite nearby anchorage.

We did some nice tacking on the way, and we arrived at our anchorage in four hours.  It felt like eight hours or more, and we were ready for sundowners long before sundown.  While we hoped the wind would let up in the evening, it didn't and we had 25 knots blowing all night and into the morning. This made sleeping a bit awkward ... we're too used to our nice stable, king-size bed at home ... and we were not just exhausted but sleep deprived in the morning.

Although we'd only planned an overnight sail, we were able to get our cat-sitter Alan to check in on our furry buddies that evening so we could spend another night on the hook.  We stretched our food supply a bit to do the extra night, but it was really worth it.  The winds moderated nicely on Saturday, shifted from north to southeast, and we had a lovely calm sail back to our marina that afternoon.

Got to get out more!  We really enjoyed it!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A hiatus from the water ...

We took a hiatus from the water around June, putting Alizee in "summer storage" (the opposite of what folks do up north).  It's just too hot for us to sail, the winds are usually not much more than an occasional zephyr, and when it is windy it's because of afternoon thunder and lightning storms.  So we spent the summer biking, swimming at home, etc.

We took a trip to Porto, Portugal for ten days, and had a great time there sampling wines, exploring the city and its environs.  We planned the trip to tag on to the last couple of days of the annual history of technology meeting that James used to attend regularly, which meant we got to see some old friends and participate in the traditional jazz night that comes at the end of the conference.

Meantime, James's has been playing as always with his jazz quintet, All That Jazz, every Sunday night at Cassariano Italian Eatery in Venice, about 45 minutes north of Punta Gorda. 

But, our hiatus from the water ended with four days on the boat over Thanksgiving, joined by Penelope's sister Patricia.  We just stayed in Charlotte Harbor (it really is a large bay, the second largest in Florida), sailing up to Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda for the first night, and then back to Pelican Bay near the entrance to Charlotte Harbor from the Gulf of Mexico.  We spent two days there, visited Cabbage Key the day after Thanksgiving (a big mistake because of the crowds of boaters that Friday), and sailed home to Burnt Store on Saturday (managing to go aground twice, proving we've not been sailing enough lately).  We also tried out our replacement dinghy, a less expensive Walker Bay replacing the expensive Walker Bay Genesis.  It worked fine.

Of course, once Alizee was out of summer storage, that meant we found deferred maintenance to do, so I direct readers of this to Alizee's maintenance log for December 2016.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sailing for a week ...

It is said that Charlotte Harbor in Southwest Florida offers some of the best sailing anywhere. With 120 square miles of cruising waters in the harbor (in my mind a bay), and access to the Gulf as well as inland passages south to Fort Myers and north to Tampa Bay, one can find lots of adventures on these waters.  And for this past week, that's what we did on Alizee.

After getting getting some running rigging work done the beginning of April, the first mate and I provisioned for a week on the 16th and 17th, and set sail on Monday the 18th to rendezvous with friends in the Dolphins Sailing Club at Pelican Bay at the western mouth of Charlotte Harbor. This little pod of Dolphins had come down from Tampa Bay, some on their way just as far as Fort Myers, some going on to the 10,000 Islands, and a couple of boats headed off for two months in the Bahamas. Because most of the Dolphins' cruises are in the Tampa Bay area or northward (only one or two a year getting down to Charlotte Harbor), this was a real treat for us.

We arrived in Pelican Bay at 14:30, anchored.  Pelican Bay has become one of our favorite spots (as it has for many other local boaters). It offers a calm and safe anchorage, is protected from truly heavy winds, has wonderful shorelines to explore, is the gateway to Cayo Costa State Park, and more. Of course to explore the area one needs there dinghy in the water, so once anchored, I lowered ours, I pumped her up good, washed and let her dry, and applied a good coating of 303 Aerospace. Truth is, the hypalon tubes are almost worn out, there are lots of tiny leaks that I can barely keep up with, so we may have to replace her this summer.

I dinghied over to Mikani Koa, an Island Packet 31 belonging to Mike Palaez, a Dolphin anchored close by whom we had not met. We had a nice conversation, which ended only because the Dolphin pod leaders for this trip, Bob and Sandy MacNeill, dinghied over and introduced themselves. Apparently, happy hour was to be held at 17:00 on Celestial, a trawler captained by an old Dolphin friend, Steve Cardiff. When the time came, we renewed acquaintances with Joe and Kathy Mansir, of the Island Packet 37 Halcyon, and met new Dolphin members Mike and Jane Kyot sailing Alors and bound with the MacNeills for the Bahamas.

Tuesday morning found the pod heading southward down the inland passage (the ICW).  The plan was to anchor off St. James City and dinghy into Woody's (a well-know bar/restaurant on a local canal) for lunch. We had a nice sail for half the trip southward, until the channel changed and the wind came head on.  Along the way, we caught 5 Spanish Mackerel on our hand line, throwing two of them back as too small and keeping and filleting the others. Meanwhile, before we got to St. James City, the pod's plans changed and everyone moved on to Fort Myers Beach, which has a large protected mooring field. We elected to anchor out in San Carlos Bay, and we didn't go in to the mooring field for the evening happy hour with the group.  So rather than being surrounded by other boats and a shoreline, we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset (going down over the bridge from Fort Myers to Sanibel Island).

At 07:00 Wednesday, we were up. The bay was roily, which we did not remember from two previous stays, so after coffee, we weighed anchor and motored south about a mile to anchor just outside the Fort Myers Beach channel and entry.  The rest of the morning we relaxed with coffee, I cut off the worn end and then whipped our snubber line, and at 11:30 we dinghied into the dinghy dock under the Mantanza's Pass Bridge, which connects Estero Island (Fort Myers Beach) with San Carlos Island and the mainland, to meet up with the pod for lunch.  Lunch at the Salty Crab was fairly pedestrian, but it was nice to get together with everyone, and Mike Palaez and I spotted a good photo op just away from the dinghy dock.  When we left, we told Mike that we were leaving early in the morning to sail north in the Gulf to Boca Grande Pass, thence into Charlotte Harbor.  We weren't sure we'd make it into Pelican Bay, as the tides were high at about noon, but if not we'd anchor at Useppa Island nearby on the ICW.

On Thursday, 21 April, we were awake at 03:30.  The roily waters were a bit much for us, but we'd gone to bed at 21:00 so were pretty rested.  Since it was a full moon with cloudless skies, we decided to weigh anchor, and departed the anchorage at about 04:30.  With a east wind of 12-14 knots we were under sail heading south to go around the shoal that juts out a couple of miles from Sanibel Island.  When we turned west, of course, that put the breeze right on our stern, and the roily seas made it impossible to keep on a good course wing-on-wing.  So, we dropped sails, fired up the "iron jenny" and moved ahead at 6 knots over ground to get into position to turn northward and capture the wind again.  It took about two hours, during which we saw the moon set and sun rise within 20 minutes of eachother, and during which I fought off a bit of mal de mer. But once we turned north, we got a lovely sail all the way into Charlotte Harbor, thence after a tack into Pelican Bay almost all the way to the spot we anchored.  Mike, who left two hours after we did and came up the ICW, appeared 10 minutes behind us. (We had a bit of a problem with our radio transmitter in the cockpit, which we discovered while trying to keep in contact with Mike.  Have to get that sorted out in the next weeks.  Also see that the Sunbrella cover on our Genoa sail needs replacing.) Turns out the trip was fairly fast (we probably averaged 5.5 knots), and we arrived at Pelican Bay at high tide: noon. We progged about in the afternoon, read (which we do all the time when on the water), and had Mike over for happy hour at 17:00.

We decided to spend all day Thrusday at anchor, and the day was another one of reading, napping, progging about. Around 16:00, we took our fishing poles and tried our luck in the shallow grassy waters along the mangrove shoreline; lots of sea trout and other fish, but we had no luck. So, we went into the so-called Manatee hole nearby and after sitting quietly for a half-hour were rewarded by Manatee come to investigate us and appearing here and there all over the area. When we returned to our boat, Mike hailed us to come over, where we met another old Dolphin acquaintance, Chris McDonell and his sailing buddy Dennis.

One of the things we do especially well when were cruising is to eat and eat well. Our menu for this trip included filet mignon with potatoes and green beans (Monday dinner), "mom's" spaghetti (Tuesday dinner), fresh fried mackerel for breakfasts (twice -- once with scrambled eggs and peppers and mushrooms), Empress Chile dogs for one lunch and then again for a dinner (because we'd snacked too much at happy hour), and a wonderful Belgian-style rabbit stew with potatoes, peas and mushrooms.  When we can we prepare meals at home and freeze them for the trip, and we've gotten pretty good at it all.

Friday, we weighed anchor and departed for home at 10:30. We had a great sail back to Burnt Store, and put the boat away (washed, canvased, cleaned, and packed up) by 15:00. We have a bit more rigging work to be done in the next two weeks, after which it may be too damned hot to enjoy sailing, but this week was perfect!!

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Another night on the hook ...

We managed to slip away from the house and sail over to Pelican Bay on Monday, March 22nd. The wind was light, and we only rolled out the Genoa as we got out of the marina at 12:10.  Half way across, I wished we had brought the spinnaker on deck, but we were both too relaxed to do it at that point. So, at 16:00 about a mile out from Pelican Bay, we turned on the "iron genny" and motored in to anchor. We had to push our way through 5' of water in the entrance channel, as it was not high tide. But we managed and anchored at 16:45 in 9' feet of water east of the bulk of the other boats there ... and there were quite a few.

A bit of reading led to cocktail hour.  We talked about doing a U.S. Virgin Islands charter trip, sailing from St. Thomas to the Spanish Virgins, then to St. Croix, St. John and back.  About two weeks. Called sister Patricia, and she said she'd be up for it, so next year about this time is when we'll try to do it.  Now, I have to remember to schedule it!

A nice simple dinner of filets, baked potatoes and asparagus, along with a bottle of good red wine, and we were ready for a good night's sleep.  In the morning we arose, read, had gruel for breakfast, and at 10:00 raised the main, sailed off anchor, rolled out the Genoa and beat our way out of Pelican Bay.  We had a nice 12-14 knot wind from the SSE and managed a good sail back to Burnt Store Marina, arriving at 15:15.  After washing Alizee down, we were home by 16:30.  A nice brief escape.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Two days with great winds and flat seas ...

Monday, March 7th, we awakened to a beautiful spring morning and by 11:00 hours we had loaded a couple of meals aboard Alizee and were ready to leave the slip.  Even with winds gusting 14 knots out of the east (to our stern), we easily let the lines go and motored out of Burnt Store Marina.  Just past the outer channel marker, we turned into the wind, raised the main and put out the genoa (with one reef).

What a gorgeous breeze ... we headed north on a broad reach, often reaching 6.5 knots over ground. Along the way, we threw out a hand line with a #10 planer and gold  spoon.  Although we hadn't caught anything our last couple of times out, I thought perhaps the water was warming and we might catch something this trip.  And, indeed, we pulled in a lovely 14-15" Spanish Mackerel, which Penelope filleted and put on ice.

By 13:00, we were in the Myaka River and dropped anchor amidst a sea of crab pots to have lunch. We didn't stay much longer than 45 minutes, and set sail on a close reach in a southerly direction back into Charlotte Harbor. We sailed about three miles south, then tacked back across the harbor toward Punta Gorda. Although the winds were to much on our head to get directly to our anchorage for the night just north of Gilchrist Park and Fisherman's Village, we got within about a half-mile before dropping sails and motoring in to drop anchor at 15:45.
We love sitting at anchor. We read, watch the birds, other boats, solve world problems (though nobody cares), manage to toast the setting sun (and Monday night's sunset was truly lovely), and always fix a comfort meal of some sort.  As with our last couple of sailing trips, we brought a prepared meal, "Mom's Spaghetti and Meatballs", which is one of Penelope's best recipes.  Truly a yummy treat for day's end.  Indeed, by 21:00 we were tucked in our bunk and gently rocked to sleep.

Tuesday at 07:30 saw the boat boy (me) up and making coffee (which I made a little too strong this day), and soon we were both nestled in the cockpit in the morning sun busy reading our books.  Penelope prepared some gruel (oats with raisins and nuts) for breakfast, which is always a good way to start a sailing day.  Can't quite remember as I write this, but I think we raised the main, weighed anchor at around 10:30, and sailed off the anchor on a broad reach.
The winds were unexpected.  Predictions had been for gusts of 14-16 knots, but we had gusts from 25-30+ knots and a steady 20-22 knot breeze. Fortunately, we'd put a reef in the main as well as in the genoa, and Alizee handled the weather beautifully, even when we turn south and from a broad to a beam and finally a close reach.  There were three or four other sail boats going in the same direction from the Isles Yacht Club in Punta Gorda, but they ran only reefed genoas, and one only its double-reefed main (it had to be motoring).  Indeed, they rolled up their genoas for most of the trip south, and I had to rest mightily the urge to go on the radio and ask why anyone would motor their perfectly good sailboat on a day with such great wind!  For the life of me, I'll never understand it!

We had to overshoot the Burnt Store Marina channel by a couple of miles to lay a course to it, but nevertheless, we were in the slip by 15:00 hours, and in 45 minutes washed Alizee down, put everything away, packed up and were headed to the parking lot.

It was a great two days, and it lingered. On Wednesday, Penelope had an early-morning appointment, so we postponed our final treat of the sailing trip to this morning: a fresh fried Spanish Mackerel breakfast!

Friday, March 04, 2016

Snatching a bit of wind here and there ...

We're making a concerted effort to get on the water this winter.  We sailed over to Pelican Bay for a night a week ago, celebrating the end of February, and this coming Monday and Tuesday we're going out for a night to celebrate the beginning of March.  If the weather and we don't allow our land life to interfere, we're planning 3-4 days staring March 16th and then the 21st through the 25th. So, we've been slipping down to the Alizee whenever convenient to do some cleaning and a few little maintenance chores, such as patching a couple of leaks in the dinghy, sealing the cap-rail teak, etc.