Saturday, November 12, 2011
Gulf of Mexico N 28 35’ W 083 52’ to N 26 37’ W 082 14’ La Costa Island, Florida
Last night we sailed through the night. Terry and I had the early morning watch from three to eight and got to see the sunrise. It was a beautiful day – nice clear blue sky, good winds of 10 to 15 knots. We had the “day off” and came back on watch at 6 PM.
Our “go to” spot on the GPS plotter was for Tampa Bay, at a bearing of 135. From there we headed south along the western coast of Florida. The water was smoother than it had been in previous days; heeled way over Appledore V sliced through the water, making upwards of 7. 5 knots. Occasionally we’d be wrapped in warm wind coming off shore.
There were no other boats in sight, which made it easier to enjoy the beautiful night, we didn’t have to be concerned about traffic and we were far enough out we didn’t have to worry about buoys. Before the full moon rose too high Terry and I tried to spot the constellations we knew: Orion, The Big Dipper, Casseopia, Taurus and the Pleiades were the easiest to spot. We also found the twins, Gemini.
Late into our watch the wind started shifting more south and tried started to cause some weather helm, bringing us into the wind. At one point we heeled over more than normal and at the same time an alarm went off.
“Captain, we’ve got an alarm going off.” I hated to wake him, but it’s part of the job.
Fortunately there was nothing to worry about – just water getting sloshed to one side enough to set the bilge alarm off. He decided to stay up on deck with us as we were going to drop anchor near La Costa Island. We were about 20 miles north of the entrance of Fort Myers. Trying to navigate our way in the narrow channel in the wee hours of the morning was not something Hugh wanted to do. It would be easier to lay up for the rest of the night.
“We’ll have anchor dropped and in bed by midnight,” Terry predicted.
We motor sailed the last few miles and saw a dolphin off our bow. Even though the moon was full and bright we saw shooting stars overhead. And ghost birds. Flapping furiously, they appeared out of no where and were a blurry grey color. They swooped close to the boat, over our bow and disappeared into the night. (The next morning I compared the shape and flap to seagulls and terns, determining that it had been terns we saw.)
What an amazingly beautiful night. It will be a night I remember for a long time – crisp and warm sea air, full moon, millions and millions of stars, dolphins, shooting stars and ghost birds all while sailing under full sail. Amazing.