Lessons Learned

Storm jib = crucial on a NB 17.5  in my opinion, the NB is overpowered by her working jib, especially on the end of the bowsprit. Jibs for her should Have their tack at the bow. A storm jib is SO helpful when you have a reef (or two) in the main.

The mast lowering system was great. We dropped the mast in one minute, and raised it in two, generally. Effort required, but no gymnastics. Go ahead; scandalize the Bimini.

We REALLY liked using the cigarette lighter jacks to plug in the solar panel and our iPhones. We were texting and emailing with abandon. Sad we didn’t escape technology, perhaps, but nice.

The MREs worked.

A silTarp over the mast when down was an excellent shelter. I rigged shock cords to various bits on deck ahead of time, and it went up quickly and worked perfectly.

The Garmin 78 was fine, although the 78 SC was sexier (Bluetooth sharing of waypoints and tracks).

The twings are very useful for jib sail shape, though I cannot actually say I can see the jib while sailing… Doing it by estimation and “minds eye”.

Autopilot: really helpful for those times it can take over the tiller and allow you to concentrate on other things. If I was solo, it would have been a huge advantage. Sailing with crew it was still useful as all heck. I have to design a beefier method of attaching it to the tiller, though.

Extra bouyancy bags: don’t leave home without them.

Drysuits: worth every penny. Smartwool long underwear is worth even more.

Bivy sacks: awesome. Should have gotten better mattresses, though. Don’t skimp: sleep is crucial.

Taking out the forward floorboards was a good idea. It meant we had someplace to store extra oars and gear. 

I picked up some automotive suction cups with bungee  cord/ ball keepers. We put two inside under the spray dodger (very  useful, btw) and two on the deck. Used them to hold halyards and sails on deck. Nice.

The kick-up rudder kept popping up because of wave action and/or boat speed. I need to put a stronger bungee on it, perhaps consider the push-rod method of reseting it on the NB website. Pronto. New oarlocks, too. 

The beach rollers worked. The NB fully loaded is heavy. No other way to start.

My packing organization needs work. Didn’t find some useful items until later in the race.

Can’t do this race competitively without having sailed the waters, since some of the best weather to travel is at night. Probably helps to have camped the boat before, preferably multi-night. 


4:10 p.m. March 6: Ok, are safe and sound in a marina/resort sipping drinks and writing post cards. We will hit “help” on the SPOT so WaterTribe stops tracking us. We plan to stay until the winds moderate; about Thursday or so. Thanks for your support.

Thank You

March 6 3:51 p.m.: Ok, we give up!! We were out in the gulf, heading south under spinnaker, when the big wind hit. Changed to storm jib on the beach and pulled into a nearby marina with BAR. Am now ordering rum drinks! We thank you and WITHDRAW from EC2012. Thanks everyone for your support

Made Checkpoint 1

9:19 a.m. March 6: We’ve made it to Check Point one, Crossing Charlotte Harbor, now entering Pine Island Sound. Some great sailing today and yesterday.


11:01 a.m. March 5:
Cruising down the ICS. Bridges every now and then prompt us either to wait for an opening, or as we just did, drop the mast and row. Didn’t even lose forward movement last doing that his time.


March 4: So, winds have moderated. We will wake up at 0400 and get going with 1st light. Try to make CP1 and take it from there.

DolphinGal and Alexo will be going soon, but Wally and I don’t want to run the Intercoastal Waterway @ night. Not sure what Josh and Denise will do. I suspect Macatwa and Santiago will shove off in the am. They are kayakers who showed up at 430pm having had gear failure while underway, but relatively under control going downwind in the wind & waves.

I really enjoyed the conversation with sailors today, held by fireside or out in the yard, especially with Mead Gudgeon (pronounced the French way), and his good friend Hugh. These guys have built more boats than I’ve probably seen in my life! Monsieur Gudgeon was racing ice boats on a frozen-over Cheapeake Bay in 1976 against the lunatic Russians and the fins, and Hugh writes a regular column for Small Craft Advisor, in addition to being an expert canoe builder. Together they collaborated with two other friends to come up with a perfect sailing canoe which was pretty much matching our speed yesterday! Mead’s boat is a work of art.. A strip-planked seamless beauty of ultimate function with minimal hardware, maximal function, and carbon fibre everything: mast, boom kicker/halyard control, rudder and even the seat, which he then covered with polar bear fur! Yes I made that up, but it’s some kind of fur.

Everyone at the sailing club knew these guys, some from decades ago, and they chat about people I know of only through books and articles by and about them so casually, it’s awkward to try to contribute and not appear ridiculous, so you just “smile and nod.”

We had run the boat up on the beach earlier in the day, at the conclusion of our “wild ride.” The full force of the winds blowing the water out of Sarasota Bay plus a high tide around 1100 left our boat high and dry. We went to bed at 2000, woke at 2200 to take advantage of a high tide and successfully pushed the boat into the water and tied her up at a dock at the sailing club. Lines doubled. Now to bed.

EC 2012 Wildness

6:27 p.m. March 4: We had a challenging Tampa Bay crossing, but really appreciated the storm jib on the shorter foretriangle.

Once in the Intercoastal Waterway we made good time when you comsider it was all upwind. We had to take down the mast to get under the bridges, since the wind and current would otherwise drive you into the pilings. We were able to clear those obstacles faster than some of the other sailboats we were with… The mast lowering system we have worked well.

We sailed into Sarasota Bay with Mead Gudgeon and Wizard, but listening to the weather report and not knowing the waters, wanted to find a hidey-hole before dark.

We holed up in the mangroves outside longboat key moorings, and shifted around the corner when the front came through. Wow. As the front hit, it was wild, with lightning and wind moaning around and through the rigging of the moored boats in the harbor. 80 knot gusts recorded on one of the buoys out in the gulf!

During the night we met DolphinGal, who had a rough Crossing of Tampa Bay. She was pressing on at 10pm.

We called a weather hold into PaddleDancer at 0325, and she responded immediately; I suppose she had a sleepless night.

We met Macatawa and NorthernLite just as the front came through, from 430-6am. We chatted for awhile, and, yes your name came up! Small world.

After they headed off, we cooked breakfast (MRE oatmeal and coffee), packed up, and thought things had moderated a bit. Turns out, we were just in the lee of a beautiful shore. But seventy yards out, you were committed… We doused all sails, and went about 5-6 mph without any sails up, making just enough steerage way from the mast and hull windage to maintain control. Just.

White knuckled, we careened down the bay, a tense forty minutes punctuated by calls of “wave”, and “big wave”, and “oh no!!”

Scanning the chart while zooming in and out and on top of the waves, I spied what looked like shelter around a bend. We hoisted the sail (fully furled) for power, the center board down a smidge for directional control, and scooted up on a beach… Right at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron where Scareman, DolphinGal, SunDance, Diehard and Diehard2 and others had sought shelter the night before!

I cannot say enough about this club! They have a great, albeit rustic, faculty with everything you need to have kids, young families and everyone else involved and happy sailing. Everyone we’ve met has been kind, welcoming, and well educated about all the Watertribers. Very nice place and people.

Now at the Old Salty Dog for fish &chips for her and a Maui-wowee burger for me. Maybe early tomorrow we will head onward, but with big east winds predicted for Florida Bay, most doubt there is much chance of finishing this year. Kind of nice to have the pressure off.

Sarasota Bay

11:07 a.m. March 4: Had a wild & crazy ride down Sarasota Bay, but didn’t like the conditions. We are now eating hot food and having coffee in the wonderfully hospitable Sarasota sailing squadron. Mead Gudgeon, Sundance and others are here. Weather delay starts again. Maybe not moving until tonight or tomorrow.