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Saturday, September 4, 2010

"You've Got to Embrace This"

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"You've got to embrace this" was the comment delivered to me with absolute certainty and a bit of rapprochement.

I had been seated at the bar at the Big Game Bar & Grill watching reruns of another mindless preseason football game and anguishing whether or not to set sail for Marco Island in the morning when another patron took a seat alongside of me. He noted in short order the sailing literature that I had along with me and we were soon talking about sailing, weather patterns and GPS way points.

He shared with me that he too had once been a sailor who had sometime ago soloed from Seattle on down through the Panama canal and parts beyond using only a sextant as his navigation aid.

I describe my sailing ordeal of the previous week and of the terrifying thunderstorms and ocean swells and how I elected to turn back to which he resolutely states, "never turn back".

It was soon obvious that he was unimpressed with my degree of preparations for my sail on down to Marco Island and then on to Marathon. At one point after a casual response to one of his observations, he looked at me square in the eye and with an emphatic hand gesture stated, "You need to embrace this"... as in there are no short-cuts, as in this is not an easy weekend day sail, as in you can die out there, as in you need to get your sh*t together son.

Message delivered and I take him up on his advise to go to the public library the next morning and photocopy the large nautical charts for my passage.

I'm riding the Fort Myers Beach bus trolley the following day to the library and relieved not to be sailing in fore casted 15 to 18 knot winds with gusts up to 25. I take my GPS along with me and spread my copied charts out on a large table and then program every relevant and not so relevant way-point for the various navigation aids en route to Marathon.

A day later at daybreak, I'm slipping out of the marina with renewed confidence, negotiating the narrow river channels on out to the open waters. Once out in deep water, I hoist the sails and I'm cruising along at a nice comfortable clip and as the morning progresses, the winds pick up and I'm now flying at a good six and a half knots. I partially reef my jib to slow the boat down just a bit for a less strenuous sail.

The strong yet steady winds push me on down to Marco Island in under seven hours. I anchor off the beach on the north end of Marco Island. The sail was a good test of what the boat can do and restores my confidence in my seamanship skills if only for another day.

S/V Blondie-Dog is a fine rugged, heavy boat.

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