Thursday, February 26, 2009

More Delays

There is an important distinction between sailors and cruisers. Sailors take their boats out once a month on weekends for the afternoon. Cruisers are deeply involved with their boats and utilize them to the fullest extent, taking advantage of the ways in which a boat can increase one's quality of life. Most of them have crossed oceans, or spent months at anchor in a remote country. They are explorers who are self-sufficient and don't take modern conveniences for granted. They live exactly the way I've always imagined a gypsy would. More importantly, cruisers welcome the prospective cruiser into their community with kindness and generosity that is nothing short of the selfless benevolence associated with the early church as it was described by the apostle Paul in the book of Acts. 

After living only a few weeks with these good-hearted people, Patrick and I are resolved in our decision that this is the community we should be apart of. 

That being said, the engine is still not running. Furthermore, the previous owner who was contractually obligated to fix it has used ambiguous language as an excuse to exonerate himself from any further maintenance expenses. This means that Patrick and I are left with a faulty engine, that can be repaired but at a high price and in the meantime, the lease of our slip terminates in two days. We can't afford to stay in the marina, but we physically can't move the boat while the engine is out. A conundrum. 

Spirits are thusly low on the little Cape Dory. We only have further expenses and delays ahead of us. I am trying to make the most of things which could obviously be worse, but that thought has never brought much consolation to anyone. Poor Patrick is devotedly studying charts of the Near Bahamas, hoping against all odds that the engine problems won't permanently delete them from our itinerary. I've already sworn away all food besides rice and the fish we had better start catching as a pledge of my unswerving commitment to making any necessary sacrifice in order to realize our sun-bathed, tropical beached goals. 

This is only the first of many difficulties that we anticipated and were duly convinced that we wanted to brave when we planned this trip from the safety of our home back in Denver. I am proud of what we have accomplished. Mostly, I am proud of Patrick who has worked for this for years and was kind enough to bring me along. We have already done the hard part. Now we are only waiting for the right moment to set sail without having to look back.     

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You Can't Predict the Weather, or Engine Failure

Yet again our plans have been foiled by unforeseen, uncontrollable circumstances. Apparently when it comes to sailing, itineraries are more like new years' resolutions than anything: nice ideas, but generally unachievable. We are supposed to be in Long Boat Key right now, preparing for the second leg of our journey to Venice. Everything was perfectly on schedule. We were amply stocked with provisions, the boat had been scrubbed from stem to stern including the unsightly underworld called "the bilge" from which Patrick actually relocated a veritable colony of marine-plant growth out from under our floorboards and back into the ocean. 
For the first time ever, we were motoring out of the slip at 8:30 am, right on schedule. We had turned in our keys to the marina, said our goodbyes, and set our course for the Gulf. This lasted about 15 minutes. We had only just motored out of the harbor and maneuvering through the first set of crab-traps when the exhaust started spewing steam and the thermostat suddenly flickered up to 250 degrees. How very untoward. 

Things honestly couldn't have been worse. Patrick hadn't even put up the sails because we couldn't head into the wind until we cleared the crab-traps. I had no choice but to kill the engine, leaving us at the mercy of a particularly nasty incoming tide and probably 17 knots of wind coming from the same direction. Even in the lee of the harborage the Bay waters boasted 2-3 foot rolling swells. 

For those of you who have not sailed before, I will share a little information that should put the crisis we found ourselves in into perspective. In order to possess what is called "steerage way" one must maintain a certain minimum speed through the water. With no sails and no engine, one has limited to no maneuverability through the water. Luckily we weren't all that far off from the dock we had just left. However, getting back to the dock required several turns and each turn diminishes one's speed. With a current moving faster than the boat and a nasty tail-wind, I had strong doubts about our ability to keep our hull off of the jetties or any of the fancy power-yachts along the entrance to the marina. 

We both allowed ourselves a self-indulgent moment of panic before we began formulating plans A, B and C (C being the most interesting: call the coast guard and request a helicopter, or my favorite, wait for a pod of dolphins to swim us in). Patrick frantically fendered the boat (I totally made up that verb "fendered") while I tried to make our approach at wide angles that would minimize our leeway (the amount the wind drives the boat sideways rather than forward) without bleeding off all of our forward momentum. We cleared the first jetty without a problem. Next we had to turn down a channel towards our dock that exposed us to the wind but utilized the current. The flood tide kept us drifting along at an impressive 2.5 knots. Finally we reached our dock but the worst was still to come. How to get into our narrow slip with unresponsive steering and how do I keep from being pushed by the current into the other boats? Luckily we had gained so much speed by riding the current that we were able to maintain a direct course even though it ran perpendicular to the tide. Patrick was ready with the docklines and I cranked the wheel hard over making a slow turn towards the slip. The wind came at a perfect angle and pushed the bow into the slip allowing Patrick to jump from the boat to the dock and tie us off. 
This being done, we immediately busied ourselves with self-congratulatory exclamations and high-fiving. Our very first crisis! Docking with no engine. (I just learned that running aground is only a crisis if one runs aground on a reef, or rocks. Sand is nothing to write home about.) 
In all of our text books in the chapters designated "When Things Go Wrong" (I did not enjoy reading them) diesel engine failure was the first thing addressed. It is an extremely unpleasant situation to find oneself in, but as it happens we have already conquered it. 

This brings us to our next triumph, more Patrick's than mine really. Obviously, with a faulty engine, the grand voyage had to be put on hold. When we purchased the boat, we included in the contract that the seller would pay to do a once-over on the engine because it performed so poorly during our sea trial. Over the last two weeks he had been sending his close friend/mechanic who actually built the engine himself to take a look at it. Now, this man is without a doubt a lummox with an overblown sense of self-importance. He is incapable of any small talk aside from patronizing criticisms of our gear, our experience, our education, our common-sense, our ambitions, etc. After our bout with the engine, we had a different mechanic take a look at things since obviously the lummox hadn't fixed it. It turned out that this blathering imbecile who actually said to Patrick, "I have never made a mistake on this boat," had done nothing but replace a part that didn't need replacing and turn a few screws. Patrick, who was beginning to doubt this coxcomb's credentials and grow weary of his condescension was nothing short of exultant. If I were a little more forward I would call him up myself and say, "Listen you jackanapes. Patrick may be exactly as young as he looks, but there are qualities that make up for youth and inexperience, while there is nothing that makes up for arrogance and foppery!" But I think it would be better to prove him wrong by successfully sailing this poor neglected boat from the western coast of Florida all the way to Baltimore. Hah! 

Anyway, if we can pull the engine together and prepare the boat for departure again by tomorrow morning, we will be off to Long Boat Key and resume our original schedule. It is honestly a mark of our good fortune that the engine failed when it did, right outside of the marina, rather than 5 hours later in the middle of a narrow channel. However all of our engine difficulties are serving to increase our desire to sail rather than motor. We are beginning to look forward to the ocean passages rather than dread them. Give me deep water over a narrow, poky channel! 

This should be the last post for awhile, as we will have no internet access for around two weeks. The next post however should be a good one, with videos of Patrick and I taming manatees, making little shirts and hats for lobsters, spear-fishing, and drinking beers with one-eyed sailors. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Long Boat Key

(The Little Dory at anchor)

After spending exorbitant amounts of money outfitting our boat, we are looking forward to leaving the marina and commencing our first attempt at pseudo-asceticism. 

That being said, the pressure is on as far as basic skill mastery is concerned. Therefore we planned our most ambitious trip yet to Long Boat Key which is a good place to test your seamanship. We left early Monday morning expecting 15 knot winds, only to be met with 20 knots and even stronger gusts. Instead of its usual light chop, Tampa Bay looked like a washing machine for God's laundry (I haven't outgrown the tendency to analogize things in relation to God's hypothetical domestic use of them, ie: rain is still "God's pee"). For the first time ever, the wind and waves were too strong for us to steer our compass course, so we had to recalculate and tack back and forth along our course until the winds died down and we could steer more directly. We really got to know the Cape Dory. For only being 30 feet, she can hold her own in rough seas. My confidence in her seaworthiness increases daily. 

After being pummeled for hours in Tampa Bay we decided to stop at a midpoint- our old stomping grounds- Manatee River for the night. Once we had anchored, Patrick settled down to do a little fishing. Neither of us expected to catch anything, so we were surprised when he had a bite within 15 minutes. Rather than going into detail here, I posted these videos below which do a much better job of explaining our collective shock and unpreparedness. And please, don't judge me for being so squealy. I've already confessed that I am mortified by aquatic life and prefer all encounters between such species and myself to take place on opposite sides of a layer of glass. 

Day 2: Long Boat Key 

There are two ways in and out of Long Boat Key. One takes you through a narrow inland channel on the Intra-Coastal Waterway, the other follows along the coast on the Gulf of Mexico. We decided on the latter because the elements were conducive for good sailing. After navigating along a 7 mile stretch of coast, we had to "tuck in" (sailor term for you) through Long Boat Pass to get to our anchorage. This required passing under a bridge that we couldn't clear unless it was open. 

Allow me to regale you on basic bridge protocol: one must hail the bridge tender on the VHF radio and request its next opening. Patrick was at the helm so it was up to me to make our first VHF call. Drawing on years of voice lessons, employing my most articulate, captainly voice I said: "Long Boat Pass Bridge, Long Boat Pass Bridge, This is sailing vessel Swift Ranger requesting your next available opening, Over." (I can't tell you how silly I feel saying "over" and "roger that") The bridge tender promptly responded that he would open once traffic cleared, so Patrick and I start tentatively making our approach. Being novices in every sense of the word, we didn't think to plan our bridge crossing at slack tide, so naturally there was a strong current driving us straight into the bridge. The channel was so narrow there way almost no room to maneuver around the bridge while waiting for it to open. 

The bridge pilings were coming steadily closer and the bridge had only begun to raise. We knew that we couldn't hold position against the current until the bridge was fully raised, so I got back on the VHF (feeling very embarrassed): "Long Boat Pass Bridge, we've been caught in the current and aren't going to make the opening." To this he replied, "Swift Ranger, circle around and I'll hold the bridge for you." "Roger that." By which point there was an audience of swimmers and fishermen gathered around the bridge watching our painstaking progress. At the peak of personal anxiety, I did as I always do at the most demanding moments: imagine a friendly dolphin swimming alongside us, taking a line from our boat in its little smiley mouth and towing us to safety. But alas. After placing a safe distance between ourselves and the pilings Patrick made the turn and slid through the bridge.     

Safely through the pass, reveling in our combination of quick-thinking, fancy-maneuvering, and luck, we promptly misread a channel marker and slid into another sand bar. No tears this time. I know the drill. We got out the chart, mumbling things under our breath like "college degrees schmollege degrees" but before we even attempted to dislodge ourselves, a friendly Floridian in an inflatable with an outboard engine volunteered to nudge us out of the sand back into the channel. With punctilious attention and no small amount of self-loathing, we found our way into the anchorage practically flinging the god-forsaken anchor overboard, desperate to have done with the whole day. Patrick took his good boyfriend cue and started opening beers while we exchanged delirious confession-type apologies for everything we had blamed on each other over the last hour and a half. 

-This quick aside: If anyone wants to test their relationship before they decide to get married, I could think of a few scenarios that will indubitably show you what your love is made of in less than a month. 

One beer later, we were suddenly able to notice the serene beauty of Long Boat anchorage. It was quiet, with turquoise water. Pelicans were dropping out of the sky busy with their sunset fishing while dolphins surfaced intermittently along shoreline. After a quick phone call to Ed and Karen (Pat's parents), we were in the dinghy rowing to the shore-side restaurant Mar Vista for dinner compliments of the Riley's. From our table, we had a rewarding view of the Cape Dory, resting obediently at anchor. 

(View from our table)

During dinner, we had the opportunity to observe another sailboat attempt to anchor nearby. It had run aground only a hundred yards off, and was towed into the anchorage by a little tugboat. The man at the helm proceeded to drop anchor way to close to a neighboring boat, and in the entirely wrong direction. The towboat actually had to go back, tell the boat to stop what it was doing and towed it into a new position at a safer distance that would allow it to anchor. This provided the perfect amount of consolation. We weren't nearly all that bad. We can at least anchor ourselves. 

We crashed by 10pm only to be jarred awake four hours later by a strange new motion of the boat. The wind had shifted and increased speed dramatically. Patrick went outside to assess our situation. We had swung so that the stern of the boat was now facing the dock at Mar Vista, we had sufficient room between ourselves and the dock, however if the anchor was to slip even the slightest bit we would be driven into the dock before we would have a chance to correct ourselves. This being a terrifying possibility, we decided to put out a second anchor at a 45 degree angle to the other one. We loaded up the dinghy and Patrick rowed out a considerable distance against wind and current and tossed the anchor over the side. He rowed back to the boat paying out rode as he went. He passed the bitter end to me on the bow and I used a fancy sailor's knot to secure it to the anchor bridle. We didn't have a good way of "setting" the second anchor, so we went below to make some tea while we took turns checking the anchor hoping it would set on its own.  

Let me tell you, this was all very unpleasant as we were sleep-deprived and still flustered from the events of the day. However it felt more like a sailor's right of passage than anything we had done up to that point. An hour later, it was obvious our second anchor was holding and the boat had stopped swinging as much. Problem Solving Challenge '09 had come to a successful end. Just as we turned off the cabin lights to get some sleep, we heard the power boat next to us fire up its engine. We peaked out of the window just in time to see it drifting dangerously close to the dock. It's anchor had slipped and they had to reset their anchor all over again. We were proud that we had taken the initiative to correct things before we were in any real danger. 

We made the long, arduous trip through the Intra-Coastal Waterway back to our Marina in one leg the following morning, through two bridges without much struggle. For the first time ever, we were able to dock against strong winds without having to journey through the nine circles of hell first. We really are getting this. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day was spent treating and sealing all the exterior teak on the Cape Dory. It took about six consecutive hours but now our boat is officially the cutest on the block. So…happy Valentine’s Day, Cape Dory! Rather than romance, Patrick was overcome by a primal desire to hunt and slay our next meal, so he unilaterally decided that dinner on this special evening would be contingent on the fish that he would catch. I have never actually fished before. I have never seen a live fish outside of an aquarium and although I enjoy eating fish, I am in no big hurry to have one gutted next to me before it is tossed into my frying pan.

Armed with pliers, trashbag and deep sea fishing rod (which turned out to be overkill) we settled on a cement piling to prepare the bait. We used whole frozen shrimp—the most revolting creature known to man—but before the baited hook was even two feet below the surface, it was licked clean by at least two thousand swarming writhing scaly things. Patrick dropped the hook, reeled it in, re-baited the empty hook, and repeated this process around a dozen times. The whole scene was directly analogous to the free weekly dinners for the homeless back in Denver’s Civic Center Park. Overcome by the sort of ambivalence that is only experienced when one is simultaneously starving and nauseous, I insisted that we call it quits and head back for the Cape Dory.

In other news, we recently acquired a dinghy, which is a univocal necessity for anyone who intends to live at anchor. It is shocking how expensive dinghies can be. Those inflatable ones with an outboard engine? Over a thousand! We only had 200$ to work with, so Patrick decided we could forego the engine and resort to oars. I’m not so convinced, but he is confident that my discomfort with having to row everywhere will be alleviated in direct proportion to the increasing mass of his biceps. 

Tomorrow we will put the dinghy to the test by taking a short excursion to Longboat Key which is around six hours south of St. Petersburg. We hopefully spend the week at anchor, to get a feel for what life will be like once we have left the comfort of the marina. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Money Tree

We have our hands full with projects. Currently, we are searching for perpetual income; in this case we are selling a work out video. We made an income analysis chart and it looks like we will be able to support ourselves for the rest of our lives. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Manatee River

 The goal for the past week has been to improve our boat handling skills, and begin making small passages. The former requires vigilance, fortitude, and trial and error. The latter involves careful planning and navigation rather than making a few loops outside of our marina and calling it a day. The boat-handling skills, if they have been improving at all, have done so imperceptibly. For example, out of the 6 times we have so far docked and left the slip, 50% of those times have been near disastrous-- I have considered on occasion renaming the boat "Student Driver Keep Safe Distance" or "Caution: Amateurs at Helm". The other 50% of the time however, things go so smoothly as to supply us with a fresh reserve of optimism. I think it is a sign of improvement when your anxieties begin to branch out and become well-rounded. Rather than only being afraid of storms (which honestly can be carefully avoided) I am terrified of crashing into one of the children's dinghy-racing classes (there are literally hundreds of them!! Flailing about! Making erratic turns and then capsizing right in front of you! And where are there parents?!), or getting the propellor fouled in one of the ten million crab traps or, my new favorite: running aground.

 Let me explain. We decided on our first mini-passage. The destination: Manatee River (for reasons that are so self-explanatory). Only around 30 nautical miles from our marina, we weren't expecting anything too demanding. A pleasure cruise really, culminating with a long-anticipated first night at anchor. The morning of the passage, we got started a little late (noon instead of 8am). We excitedly motored out into Tampa Bay only to be met with 4 knots of wind instead of the predicted 10. This means that our sails forego all intended purpose and become decorative banners, curtains really. Preferring the wind over motor, we stick it out for like 2 hours before we realize that even floating heaps of kelp are beating us to our midpoint the Skyway Bridge. We power up and start making up time, it's already late in the day and we're both getting anxious to make it to our anchorage before sunset. 
(Going under Skyway bridge.)

 Still relatively illiterate in the language of buoys and navigation aids, we found ourselves a little overwhelmed by the random smattering of barely visible green and red markers in the distance. Which one marks the entrance to Manatee river? What course are we on? Which patch of Mangrove is Rattlesnake Key? Meanwhile Patrick is concerned with getting the anchor and its respective parts in order so we can anchor as soon as we arrive. Before leaving, when we examined the charts we divided navigation responsibilities in half (I had three charts and he had one--the Manatee River chart). In other words, I was unfamiliar with the area. Out of the assortment of red markers, Patrick tells me to head for one while he tends to the anchor. Filled with nervous excitement, I make progress towards the marker. We are getting close, when suddenly I feel the boat jump. This is a strange feeling, because the boat weighs 10,000 lbs and shouldn't make sudden leaping movements. I look at the depth finder. The depth which was only a moment ago 15 feet is now 4'8", now 4'5", 4'2"--exactly the draft of the Cape Dory. Suddenly we bump to a complete stop, the propellor still spinning madly. I look over the side into crystalline water, the sandy bottom so close I can make out the individual granules of sand. How could this happen we exclaim! We looked at the charts...mostly...we promised ourselves we would never be one of those careless boaters who run aground. 
(The sand bar that nearly claimed us.)

 First things first: assess damage. Luckily we were in soft sand so there wasn't much to worry about there. Now we have to figure out how to get unstuck. At this point we are attentive enough to notice that there is a distinct channel cut out through this sandy shoal, which is what that smattering of markers I mentioned previously were all about. We watched in a state of utter humility as sailboat after sailboat safely and calmly drifted by, using the markers as we should have done. We were only 10 yards away from safe water. 10 yards!! If only we could slunk along the shallow ground enough to slip back into the channel. We tried this with methods of varied intensity and desperation for about 45 minutes. The sun was preparing to set. I started imagining us being stuck for weeks, run out of provisions, no water, and our batteries dead. We had such bad luck fishing I just knew that eventually one of us would have to eat the other. 
 Realizing we were defeated by shifty sand, Patrick said we would have to wait for high tide because we couldn't afford a tow-boat. As fate would have it, high tide was at midnight (7 hours away), which would require us getting back into deep water and then navigating back through the narrow channel at night and finding an anchorage and setting our anchor in pitch blackness. 
 So, I'm crying. Patrick, who hates tears sends me down below angrily vowing to "figure everything out, just go below and calm down". Then, a miracle. A tow-boat on his way to rescue another boat in a similar situation happens upon us and decides to tow us privately for a low price. Unfortunately we have no cash. This kind angel of a power-boater decides to tow us for free! In five minutes he had us safely in deep water. I was quaking with joy, Patrick actually bowed to the man from the bow-sprit and tipped an imaginary hat while I saluted him. That kind, brave soldier. 
     We made it safely and timidly through the channel and threw down the anchor in the first suitable spot just as the sun went down. It was a full moon and the water was still, glass-like. We were floating in a big pool of moon. It was exactly what you imagine when you fantasize about sailing. 
  Because we worked so hard to get there, we decided to stay at anchor for an additional day and do absolutely nothing but read, nap, fish and sunbathe.
The journey back from Manatee River was utopic. We had ten knots of wind coming right over the beam of the boat. We were speeding at five and half knots through gentle unruffled waves making incredible time. The sails were so perfectly trimmed we hardly needed to steer the boat. Patrick, exultant, did yoga on the bow-sprit. We made it home to Dock 3 Slip 106 in half the time feeling both successful and wizened. 
We are in the marina now re-provisioning and planning the next trip.    

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Living Aboard

Now that we have been living aboard for over a week, I feel like I have some merited comments to make on the subject. Imagine your home, apartment whatever. Go into your bathroom. Now imagine that your bathroom is your entire house. Think about where you will put every conceivable thing necessary for living. Not only do you need a functional kitchen, personal affects, somewhere to sit/sleep and eat, you need tools, replacement parts, fuel, extra lines, pillows and blankets, definitely a book or two...but where to store all these things? We have spent days attempting to cram items into every nook and cranny--no square inch of space has gone unused.

Unfortunately, a boat isn't designed for storing personal affects. It's all about function. Storage space under beds or settees? Nope, that's where the water tanks are. How about the cockpit?
Nope, it's full of batteries and ropes and personal flotation devices. Under the kitchen counter? Pots and pans? No, a diesel engine! Imagine squeezing every personal belonging into two small drawers. To make things more difficult, imagine all your storage area 'sweating' with condensation, or worse, leaking rain from outside. Every single thing mounted in, on, or around the boat provides one more possible hole for water to seep into. Every morning, I will open one drawer, or discover a shelf in which everything is soaked with water. Be it from our holding tanks or outside...a home that is completely submerged in water is bound to get wet somewhere on the inside. Nothing is safe.

Other boat-living difficulties include getting on and off the boat. I remember the days when I could just wake up, get ready and walk out the front door. Now the front door is a small hatch that requires excessive clambering, only to arrive at...a sidewalk? No. A huge chasm filled with water with nothing but a small wooden post and rope to get you across. Yes, you have to dangle precariously between a swaying, drifting boat and a just-out-of-reach dock. Try to do this with a large bag of laundry and a heavy bottle of detergent. Try to do this without drowning, or loosing everything into the water. Try to do this every morning without looking like an idiot in front of all the other boaters. Try not to feel embarrassed when you give up and call for help, with one leg on a wooden piling and another wrapped around the dockline of the boat.

These are just a few of the many challenges to life on a boat, none of which I had anticipated. However there are some perks:

-You're fishing (hypothetically) and you catch a fish but you forgot your fillet knife. No you didn't! Because your whole kitchen is just below your feet, and your fillet knife is in the drawer!

-You feel lonely and miss your boyfriend. Well cheerup! Because he is literally, 12 inches away from you, behind that little door!! Go get a hug!

- (If you are Patrick) A cute little net hanging in the galley stores all your produce and keeps it safe while you are sailing.

-You love cuddling at night, but your boyfriend is all macho and hates it. Sleep in a V-berth!! You have no choice but to cuddle because it is exactly the size of two fully grown children.

-You are tired of seeing the usual wildlife. Squirrels, raccoons, etc. Boring. How about looking out the window and seeing a dolphin? Or a manatee, or a shark while you are making breakfast?

- Beautiful curls. (no hair straightener.)

-Gadgetry (ie: GPS, depth-finder, alcohol stove, foot pump sinks, 'hideaway secret table', VHF radio (you can hail Cruise ships! "Ocean Dream Cruise, Ocean Dream Cruise, Ocean Dream Cruise, this is sailing vessel 'Swift Ranger' requesting you to change course and dump all your drunk passengers overboard. This is 'Swift Ranger' standing by on channel 1-6, over.")

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The consequences of being boat owners

Our first day out on the boat involved one anxiety attack, one fake-real fight, another anxiety attack, and one minor injury. Apparently sailing isn't the hardest thing about boats, it's docking. As we slid into the docking-slip at entirely too acute of an angle I last ditch resorted to cutting the engine while Patrick used his body to stop the boat (this somehow resulted in a severe cut followed by blood all over the deck). 
I've been a little hesitant to try again since that episode. But Patrick is far too determined. Today was our second trial and it consisted of just as many mishaps, however the docking thing has been brought slightly under control. Because the sails and lines often demand more...muscular stamina, I have been permanently designated as helmsmen. This means that the girl who doesn't drive and has never had a car has to park a 30 foot vessel amidst, wind, current, waves...things you do not need to consider when parking a car! Inertia? Momentum? Trajectory? I studied philosophy of science, not science. I have to get out a freaking Physics text book every time I want to make the boat go straight. One minute we are 'into the wind' the next we are 'downwind' and before I can say "capsize" we are creating a miniature whirlpool from our own spinning. This is usually the point when anxiety attacks begin. 
Luckily in my case giving up and sun-bathing instead is not an option (Patrick always makes me continue when I don't want to, and lies to give me false encouragement when I think I am doing poorly).  The goal is to be comfortable enough with what we are doing to begin the trek down to the Keys by the end of, yikes. 

More generally, I appreciate comments I get from those of you checking in and I always try to respond, but because we are usually pirating our internet connection the signal never lasts longer than 30 seconds so I am going to start posting mass responses. Also, I am 
posting some pictures from the going away party (internet connection willing) I'm s
ure some of you would like them. Jen, I am posting one of you and Misa too, its adorable. So if they don't show up with this post right away, keep checking I am waiting for the WiFi gods to give me an uploading window.