FL night sailing

Sailing into the sunset forty miles off the Georgia coast

As a natural born chicken, overcoming fear has been my single greatest challenge in this new life of ours. When facing a new experience, my imagination automatically goes into overdrive, hell bent on convincing me that whatever it is, it will surely kill me. So, imagine the full-on war waging in my brain as we made the (calculated/informed/rational/people-do-this-all-the-time) decision to take to the sea for days on end.I’m happy to say, it was so worth it.

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s/v Hecla, with Jon single-handing, leaving Cape Lookout, NC.

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s/v Jasaru with Justin, Rob, and Tom aboard leaving Cape Lookout, NC

Having completed the 30 hour sail from Hampton, VA to Cape Lookout, NC, we were feeling more confident about spending multiple nights at sea. Sleeping in shifts, cooking on the go, dealing with the cat – been there, done that. With the routine down and a weather window that we were confident we could handle, Brian and I looked forward to focusing our efforts on sail trim and configurations this time around.

Fifty hours is a long time to be moving, and there is considerable downtime. It turns out that I’m a terrible sleeper underway, so I passed my off-hours reading instead. Brian tried his hand at fishing for the first time, throwing a line over the rail, hoping to snag a fish feast. Hours passed before we suddenly noticed that the line was jumping – lo and behold, Brian had his first fish.

Unfortunately, A Cruisers Guide to Fishing had not prepared us for the carnage that followed. Their recommended method, an icepick through the skull, did little to quell the flapping beast, and Brian, buzzed with adrenaline, futilely poured a quarter bottle of vodka on the thing, missing the gills completely. With support from Justin and Tom via VHF radio, he finally bested the fish (for future notice: wrap fish in towel, hold it by the tail, bash its head in), creating a blood-spattered crime scene on the aft deck.

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We had dolphin companions all along the way. On the first night as the sun set, over a dozen of them put on a sunset show for us – catching air across our bow, doing flips, and swimming along with us on all sides. They seem to know that we appreciate their company. PS – Dolphins are really tough to photograph.

FL passing time

Sailing Faith: The Long Way Home, written by our friend Emily’s dad about their sailing trip around the world, helped time pass more quickly.

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One of the lures gifted to us by our friends Ben and Miranda in New York. Such a sweet goodbye present – thanks guys!

FL - First fish

Brian holding his prize.

FL - Tunney

Fresh sashimi on the move

Having spent three nights at sea, I’ve discovered  the unique pleasures of night sailing; the jolting splash of a dolphin coming up alongside, looking forward to the setting and rising of the sun, moving through the water into the darkness with a million starry eyes staring down on you. I’ll eventually learn to sleep in a bed stuck on spin cycle, and overcome the cranky sleep deprivation that was setting in. By the time we reached Florida, we peeled back our layers, lost the wind, and spent the final hours motoring into the anchorage in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

FL - Arrival

Sleep deprived and happy, we finally reach Florida

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Toasting our passage and reunion with bubbles from our friend Emily, who could only be with us in spirit. Thank Emily!

In the anchorage, we were excited to reunite with friends aboard Jasaru, who had arrived before dawn, but none of us could fully relax until the next morning, when we stuck our sleepy heads up out of the boat and saw that Jon and Hecla (which moves more slowly than ours) had arrived in the wee hours, safe and sound. Finally together, we shared a breakfast toast to a successful passage and our arrival in Florida.