Our Key West

Key West is a fantastic little city. A quaint drinking village with a fishing problem. If only there were not so many tourists…

Still, we absolutely loved living on a boat anchored just opposite Mallory Square; riding bikes through the narrow streets carpeted with tiny yellow flowers fallen from huge trees and iguana droppings; eating sandwiches at The Cuban Coffee Queen tossing occasional crumbs to the paranoiac wild roosters proliferating all over Monroe County; roaming through downtown in the evenings with friends and a backpack full of beers; or making a small fire after sunset on the coral covered shores of a mangrove island.

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Most of all, we will miss our friends. We played a six hundred year old plastic bottle game in front of The Green Parrot, we waited for the afternoon rain to stop on the terrace in front of Turtle Kraals looking out at the grey waters calm under the raindrops. We sailed. Aboard Fata Morgana, Rocksteady, and The Liquid Courage, we dreamed together and planned the future.

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It’s time to leave, one more time. To part. It has been twelve years since we arrived in America. We didn’t land here by plane, we got here swimming across a dark river. We arrived wet. And that is how we are leaving, twelve years later, the waters again will carry us some place else.

As you are reading this, we will be probably somewhere in Cuba, if not at the bottom of the sea.

Farewell Key West, we left a lock of Maya’s red hair and a piece of our hearts on the dinghy docks, next to the tarpon pond.

And farewell friends and boats, we will be seeing you some crazy day in Guatemala, Tonga Tonga, or at the bottom of the sea.

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Laundry On The Boat

Ah, the laundry post!

There isn’t a respectable sailing blog without a heroic laundry post, explaining how it is a huge achievement to wash clothes aboard the boat with seawater and dry them in the breeze hanging them from the mast…  And the pubic is full of admiration and esteem.

We, Americans, Canadians, First World, First Class citizens, are addicted to certain technological comforts and doing without is an act of bravery.

So here we, go:

We, the Nomadiks, like to announce to all: we are doing laundry on the boat! Washing clothes by hand with seawater, rinsing twice in rainwater which we collect through a very complicated system in buckets and coolers. Then, we hang the laundry from lines and rigging, and the sight of this colorful installation amazes the tourists piled up on sunset cruises, who turn their cameras toward our boat, neglecting for a short second the setting sun. I mean, it must be quite a sight if the sunset becomes secondary.

And we don’t limit ourselves to shorts and t-shirts. When Ivo steps in, Ivo steps literally IN (in a 5-gallon bucket where he stomps with his feet bed sheets and even blankets!)

The electric washing machine was invented in 1908 by Alva J. Fisher, Google told me. How did people live before that is no longer a mystery.

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Breast Milk Crepes

As we left our home and friends embarking on this journey, we invited everyone to come and visit, whenever they want to and whenever they can. And we are hoping to see you guys all, sooner or later, in some beautiful part of the world.

The first to visit were Kotze and Desi, our Bulgarian friends who we first met in Saint Petersburg Florida a few months ago. The visit was short, only three days, but full of fun and emotions.

Kotze and Desi aboard Fata Morgana at Sand Key, Florida

Kotze and Desi aboard Fata Morgana at Sand Key, Florida

 

We sailed to the Marquesas, we snorkelled in the reefs, we fished and we grilled our catch on the BBQ, we saw dolphins, sunsets, mysterious things glowing green in the dark waters at night, and skies filled with stars. It was truly beautiful.

Kotze and Desi snorkelling at Sand Key

Kotze and Desi snorkelling at Sand Key

But for me, personally, the highlight of the visit were the pancakes.

You see, Kotze and Desi have two daughters, Dahlia who is 6 and Lilly, who is barely 8 months old. The girls didn’t come this time, they stayed home with their grandparents. But Desi, who is still breastfeeding little Lilly, had to collect the breast milk every day. You see, the breasts cannot take a vacation, cannot just stop producing milk for a couple of days, so the milk keeps flowing even when the baby is not around.

Desi's breast milk

Desi’s breast milk

Us, on the other hand, don’t often buy milk, and so milk on the boat is a sort of a rare commodity. And so, I carefully took Desi’s breast milk, added a couple of eggs and some flower and I made crepes! Maya was a bit shocked at first, but when she tried them decided that these are the best crepes ever. Viktor ate a whole bunch, and we all followed, and yes, these were the best crepes ever!

And if you react like most people, shocked or disgusted, think about it! Why not? How much more natural, organic, whole, milk can get? If a baby can drink it, why can’t we?

Thank you Desi!

Desi and Maya eating breast milk crepes. Yum!

Desi and Maya eating breast milk crepes.
Yum!

And thank you guys for the wonderful visit! We can’t wait for the next time, and bring the girls too!

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The Wreckers

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The Wreckers by Rush

 

The breakers roar
On an unseen shore
In the teeth of a hurricane
Oh, we struggle in vain
A hellish night
A ghostly light
Appears through the driving rain
Salvation in a human chain
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All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
Of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary
Everything in life you thought you knew
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
‘Cause sometimes the target is you
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Driven to ground
With a helpful sound
Drowned by the cheer from the shore
Oh, we wonder what for
The people swarm
Through the darkening storm
Gather everything they can score
‘Til their backs won’t bear any more
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All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
Of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary
Everything in life you thought you knew
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
Of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary
‘Cause sometimes the target is you
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Key West’s Geology

Lying in shallow tropical seas, a long and disordered chain of islands, the Florida Keys, stretches between the southernmost point of Florida’s mainland and Dry Tortugas. Alongside, submerged in turquoise waters and hidden from view, run the corral reefs: a 200 miles (320 kilometres) of underwater wilderness just a few feet bellow the surface. Beyond the reefs, a busy ocean highway flows, a major shipping route: The Gulf Stream.

How many absent-minded ships carried by winds and powerful currents have diverted from their route in the uncertainness of night to slit their bellies open upon the shallow  underwaters? Countless.

For them- disaster.

For local wreckers- booty.

A Short History of Key Wet’s Wreckers

It’s been going on for centuries, since ships started sailing in these waters: a wreck per week. For centuries, rootless islanders have been awaiting  unaware vessels to run aground, sometimes luring them towards the shallows with deceiving lights.

When an elephant falls, a hundred hyenas rush to the carcass,devour it, fight for a chunk.

The wreckers would anchor behind mangrove islands at night and patrol the dangerous waters during the day looking for stranded vessels to pillage. The first wrecking captain to reach a crushed ship would became the wreck master. He would employ as many wreckers as he needed to help salvage the ship, and direct the whole operation.

The salvaged cargo and the ship, if it could be saved, were taken to Key West where they were appraised or auctioned. The wrecking vessels and crews that participated in the operations would then be awarded a share of the salvage value. Half of the salvage award went to the owners of the wrecking vessels, divided among the boats on a tonnage basis. The other half went to the wrecker crews, proportional to the number of crewmen on each vessel.

Thus, by the mid 19 century wrecking, regulated, became one of the main industries in the region, along with piracy, drug trafficking, smuggling, and other shady activities.

Recent Wrecking Events

Tyler calls on the VHF and tells us of a recent wreck. A sailboat has ran aground and has been abandoned. What exactly has happened and why is a mystery. So are the identity and the whereabouts of the boat’s owner. We decide to go check it out.

The wreck is near Stock Island, a few miles away from our anchorage, and we get there sailing aboard Fata Morgana in a couple of hours. With us are Tyler and Tony. We get to the site in the afternoon and drop anchor away from the shallows using our dinghy to get to the wrecked vessel.

The crippled boat is leaning on its starboard side, the tip of its mast pointing towards the sunset. Its insides are a dark mess half full of water and green liquids. It must have been a slow painful death. There is a yellow note from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement explaining: Vessel aground. No sails. Abandoned. No apparent value. Open to elements. We, Tyler, Tony, Ivo and Mira, thereupon name ourselves The Elements, pumped up with adrenalin, and proceed to scavenging the wreck, working with screwdrivers and hummers, taking anything that looks useful.

We get a bunch of valuable stuff, we have to do two dinghy rides to bring them to Fata.

The boat is stripped of most of its valuables before the night falls and we are going back to our anchorage in Key West to split the goodies.

Approaching the wreck

Approaching the wreck

Boarding the wreck Ivo and Tony

Boarding the wreck
Ivo and Tony

Inside the Wreck Tyler and Ivo

Inside the Wreck
Tyler and Ivo

Green diesel water inside the wreck

Green diesel water inside the wreck

Notice

Notice

 

Grabbing stuff Tyler

Grabbing stuff
Tyler

Inside Mira

Inside the wreck
Mira

Ivo finds the American Flag

Ivo finds the American Flag

Smoke break  Tony and Tyler

Smoke break
Tony and Tyler

Bathroom break Ivo

Bathroom break
Ivo

Tony's new anchor chain

Tony’s new anchor chain

 

Back at Fata Morgana Tyler and Tony

Back at Fata Morgana
Tyler and Tony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClbE019cLNI

 

 

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Doctor Ivo’s Floating Orthopedics

*The name Ivo is pronounced with an e (eevo) and sounds much like evil

One day Stacy and Ryan drop by for beers. Stacy is not feeling too good. She has stepped on some broken glass on the dinghy dock and has two cuts on her left foot. After about a week she is still in pain and her infected foot looks worst than before. Ivo examines it and immediately admits Stacy for an emergency night operation aboard Fata Morgana. Using a razorblade and alcohol for disinfection, he first removes the dead skin and scrapes off the decaying flesh inside the wound. Stacy is suffering quietly, she is so brave. The only anesthesia she gets is a shot of rum. She says the cutting hurts less than the alcohol Ivo pours over the open wound.

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Maya is assisting Doctor Ivo holding a spotlight and staring at the operation. I couldn’t do this… I am taking pictures from the opposite side. Just thinking about the open wound: putrid meat oozing with blood, makes my stomach turn. But Maya is brave, like Ivo, and maybe one day she will be the one operating. She learns so much from her dad.

That first night Ivo cleans one of the two cuts and does the second one couple of days later, again in the dark.  This time Ryan is the assistant. He is so impressed with Ivo’s surgical skills, says Ivo is better than any general doctor he has encountered in America, and since the operation calls him Doctor Ivo (which is a much better nickname than The Bulgarian Flying Hummer, I think…).

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Today, Doctor Ivo is treating new patients at his private nocturnal cabinet. The doctor works in his swimsuit and only at night, using cutting-edge technologies such as razorblades and tissues soaked in alcohol. Bring your own rum if you prefer a bit of anaesthesia before, during, or after an operation. Tips in the form of fish, lobsters, beers, buckets, and others are always welcome.

If your feet are in such a bad state that you cannot walk any longer, the floating cabinet can sail over to you anywhere on the planet.

D-r Ivo

D-r Ivo

 

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Peter the Sailmaker

On one of our first time sailing aboard Fata Morgana, the headsail gets a bit torn on the edge where the sun cover is while furling it. This means we have two options: buying a new jib or repairing the old. Both options involve spending money which is the last thing we want to do.

We research in the Internet and it turns out that a new jib for our boat costs about $ 3,000 and a used one could be somewhere between $500 and  $1,000. There is a sailmaker in Stock Island, and we bike there to see if he has any adequate used sails and get a quote for a new jib or for repairs. His name is Peter and it looks like he is the only sailmaker in Key West because everyone recommends him.

Peter inspects the jib and tells us the thread on the suncover is burned and needs to be restitched, which is normal, and that the canvass is still good. He can repair it for about $250. Sounds better than buying a new or a used sail.

Peter

Peter

We tell Peter that we are “on a budget” and that we could work and help him if this will bring the price down. Turns out, he has an old wooden sign to be repaired and he hires us to do the job, Ivo will do the woodwork and I will do the artwork. He will repair our sail and we will repair his sign, no money involved. Barter. How cool is this!

Barter is a system of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money… Barter usually replaces money as the method of exchange in times of monetary crisis, such as when the currency may be either unstable (e.g., hyperinflation or deflationary spiral) or simply unavailable for conducting commerce. [From Wikipedia]

I think barter is a better micro economic system of exchange as it creates relationships and is a lot more satisfying and ultimately creates a sense of community where people interact with one another helping each other using their particular skills on friendly basis. Plus, it is a better option for people low on cash or who don’t want to deal with cash, like us. From now on, we will try to do this as much as possible.

Mira and Peter working on a sail in Peter's loft

Mira and Peter working on a sail in Peter’s loft

The next week we spend at Peter’s loft listening to some good old blues songs, helping to remove the old stitches from the suncover and fixing the sign while he sits behind his sawing machine and works on our jib. We like Peter who is all about adventure and sailing, a bit of an anarchist like ourselves. In the past, he and his late wife have organized and participated in regattas and races to Cuba many times.

Ivo repairs Peter's wooden sign

Ivo repairs Peter’s wooden sign

Thus, we not only had our jib fixed without spending money, but we also learned a lot about fixing sails. Also, we made a new good friend who is also a good sailor and who enjoyed snorkelling and sailing with us on Fata Morgana, teaching us valuable tricks about tacking with a catamaran, for example. I suspect, we will go out sailing and snorkelling some more while we are still in Key West, Florida, plus, we will probably make a dodger for our boat with Peter’s help, we’ll see about this.

The sign is ready

The sign is ready

Thank you Peter!

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The Shrimp Who Became a Shark

June 27, 2013 Key West, Florida

I wake up one morning to find a small transparent shrimp on the steps of our boat. Looks like a suicide.

Next day Ivo finds another one. And another one the day after. A dead shrimp becomes a part of our morning routine. We wake up, we make coffee, and we collect the inevitable shrimp.

The first (or second) dead shrimp

The first (or second) dead shrimp

There must be a shrimp kingdom beneath our boat, Fata Morgana. The shrimp king, a fat orange fellow with long antennas, probably had concluded, after a restless night full of hallucinations, that Fata Morgana is a powerful shrimp goddess. One who’s anger and might could annihilate in a minute the entire shrimp population for no particular reason. “Therefore, he had announced to all, sacrifice is needed to appease the powerful goddess hovering above our shrimp kingdom”.

I take the little carcass and gently place it on a hook on one of the fishing poles. I don’t have to cast far. I just drop the hook with the shrimp directly beneath the boat. Two minutes later I catch a small fish. With this little fish as bait Ivo pulls out a bigger one.

Mira with fishes

Mira with fishes

And with the bigger fish we catch a reef shark, about four feet in length or maybe even five.  It isn’t easy pulling it out of the water, the animal resists and tries to free itself. Its heavy body is silvery grey with a white belly. Its head and jaws are smaller and less impressive than the Great White shark we have all seen on TV. The Reef Shark is a common coral reef dweller and they are not dangerous to swimmers. Once, a six-foot reef shark passed nearby as we were snorkeling around a reef and none of us panicked.

A Reef Shark

A Reef Shark

Thrashing about on the deck of the boat, fighting for its life, the creature doesn’t look scary at all but frightened and helpless. It is a beautiful animal and I am against killing it.

„100 million sharks are killed each year-by longlines, by „sport“ fishermen, or by a barbaric practice known as shark finning. Hooked sharks are hauled onto boats; their fins are sliced off while they are still alive. These helpless animals are then tossed back into the ocean where, unable to swim without their fins, they sink towards the bottom and die an agonizing death.

With 90% of the world’s large shark populations already wiped out, sharks are being depleted faster than they can reproduce. This threatens the stability of marine ecosystems around the world. Sharks are vitally important apex predators. They have shaped marine life in the oceans for over 400 million years and are essential to the health of the planet, and ultimately to the survival of mankind.“ (from http://www.seashepherd.org/sharks/)

 

Sharks are endangered species but Ivo and the kids insist on grilling and eating it. Ivo says he is not exterminating large shark populations, just providing protein for the family, like Bear Grills would do…

The shark we caught

The shark we caught

And so we do. We eat the shark. There is so much meat and no bones. It is not bad at all but a bit chewy. I feel guilty…

The next day my belly is killing me, swollen, hard and hurting like hell. I feel like dying. The pain goes away very slowly; it takes me a few days to feel good again. I am sure it is the shark meat even though everyone else is fine. I knew we shouldn’t eat the shark…

Often in ocean predators bigger than four feet heavy metals accumulate, like iron and mercury, and people avoid eating them.

Shark fillets on the BBQ

Shark fillets on the BBQ

 

Today, we are more aware of the problems posed by unsustainable fishing practises around the world. New legislation regulating the overfishing of sharks are being implanted around the globe.

Shark are critically endangered and faced with extinction and some species are already wiped out due to overfishing and shark finning practises. From predator they have become pray. The survival of this marine creature with false bad reputation is being threatened. And it is not just the sharks who are in trouble. All life is interconnected in a fragile balance, and if sharks disappear, our own survival is at stake.

Personally, our family has become aware of the horrific shark-hunting industry thanks to a 2006 Canadian documentary by Rob Stewart Sharkwater. The film is not only informative on the subject, but also full of thrilling action, suspense, and hidden camera footage, as the film crew gets chased by poachers and police in Guatemala and Costa Rica, exposing the illegal shark trade and corruption. It is a must-see documentary.

Sharkwater.com

Sharkwater.com

We decide, from now on we will no longer fish for and eat sharks, unless we are forced to do so by extraordinary circumstances.

* A link to 100 Great Points of Interest in Sharks and their Conservation by Erik Brush

 

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The More We Sail, the Less We Yell

Since a few days now all that needed to be repaired and fixed on the boat is repaired and fixed. Fata Morgana is ready for sailing. And we sail pretty much every day, not more than a few hours, keeping close to shore.

Fata Morgana under sail.  -Photo by Tyler Bullock

Fata Morgana under sail.
-Photo by Tyler Bullock

Sometimes, our friend and boat-neighbour Tyler is coming with us, helping us and teaching us what to do and how, and sometimes we go sailing just the four of us in order to see if we can do it without help. We did it, all right, but we almost killed each other the first couple of times.

Everything in the beginning is stressful and difficult: anchoring and pulling the anchor up, hoisting the main sail and bringing it down, unfurling and furling the jib, adjusting the sails, tacking and jibing, reefing, even keeping a straight course, are all maneuvers that excite much screaming and panicking among the four of us.

– I told you to go port, not starboard!

– I did it! I am all the way to port! The boat doesn’t listen to me!

– Pull that rope!

– Which rope, what are you talking about?

– Use your common sense, god damn it!

– Fuck, we lost speed!

– It’s your fault!

– Watch out that other boat!

– Don’t scream at me, this is not a car, it reacts slowly!

– Don’t talk to me like that!

– We are drifting backwards!

– It’s not my fault!

– I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!

I remember once reading a heated debate about guns on board: should we have some or not. Well, let me tell you, I wished I had a gun those two initiation sails, so I could kill everyone on board, believe me.

But then, we come back to the anchorage, drop the anchor in our usual spot and all goes back to normal. Life is beautiful again. Love is in the air.

Mira suntanning and enjoying the view on board Fata Morgana

Mira suntanning and enjoying the view on board Fata Morgana

People tell us all this is normal. “Happens to everyone in the beginning. You can tell the newbies when you see a boat approaching a quiet anchorage and everyone on board is screaming and panicking. It will get better as you learn, though. The yelling and hating will slowly diminish, your skills will improve, and sailing will be fun.

And I believe this is true, as each time we go sailing we do a lot better than the previous time. Now anchoring is a routine two-minute operation, hoisting the main sail is a few steps job which Maya and Viktor can do by themselves. As we are getting better at sailing we are also getting more relaxed and we begin to enjoy the ride. We don’t need guns on board any more.

Ivo at the helm, Mira and Viktor raising the mainsail -photo by Tylor Bullock

Ivo at the helm, Mira and Viktor raising the mainsail
-photo by Tylor Bullock

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Happy Birthday Tony

Tony's B-day cake

Tony’s B-day cake

Tony was born thirty something years ago on June 6 sometime in the afternoon. Legend has it that he was born with tiny baby dreadlocks which grew longer, darker, and thicker as the years passed. He uttered his first baby words when he was only a few months old, still in diapers. With determination and a very serious expression on his face, he said: “beer” and “bike” (in that order). People thought that he would grow up to be a prophet or a genius. They were pretty close to the truth; he became a sailor, adventurer, punk-rocker, anarchist, freedom-seeker, beer-drinker, and biker. He became Tony Beerbike. He also became our good friend.

Chopper and Tony

Chopper and Tony

We met him and his trusty companion, Chopper, in Stock Island where he is working on his sailboat Pisces, a 28 feet Cape Dory, getting her ready for ocean travel and adventure.

On June 6 this year, we improvised a small birthday celebration and went out for a short sail on Fata Morgana with Tony and a few other friends. Tony made a huge pile of Mexican rice, so good, from now on this is how I will make it.

Tony making Mexican rice

Tony making Mexican rice

The sailing was fun and pretty much uneventful. We had a bit of waves that made the boat jump up and down. At the end we tried to anchor without using the engines, but a minor storm came out of nowhere, wind and rain, and we ended up using them.

The birthday celebration at sea ended with a traditional dinghy ride in the rain to a near-by uninhabited boat which was dragging her anchor quite a bit in the direction of some other uninhabited boats, and so an intervention was needed. Cherri, Tyler, and Ivo went aboard the stray boat and successfully deployed two more anchors to stop her from dragging and crashing into any of the other boats. We received thank you calls from some of the neighboring boats who witnessed the whole thing. We felt good about ourselves. And tired.

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The Booze Cruise Turned Survival At Sea.

“Waiting is not a waste of time. The patient man succeeds.”

-An ancient Inuit saying

Wednesday May 29th.

The boat is finally ready to sail and we decide to move her to the anchorage near Key West, north of Fleming Island, about two hours of sailing from where we are in Stock Island. It is getting late, the sun is almost ready to dip in the ocean, and this means we will either have to wait for tomorrow or navigate at night. We have no charts, we have no sailing experience, and we have a problem with the starboard engine, it won’t start. We decide to get going anyway. We have been waiting way too long.

The crew members are: our family of four plus Tony and Tyler who are coming to help with the sailing and guide us. We have no experience except the one month sailing school in Saint Petersburg, where we learned the basics of sailing on 18 feet keel boats.

Tony

Tony

Tony has been crewing and working on boats for some time, but he is also pretty new to the sailing world. He is currently working on his Cape Dory 28 on the hard at Robby’s Boatyard getting her ready for the sea.

Tyler

Tyler

Tyler has a lot more time spent on boats. He is the one who knows what he is doing. He has two boats anchored at the same place where we are heading.

Sailing into the sunset

Sailing into the sunset

As we get out in the channel we hoist the mainsail for a first time. We are finally sailing! We have captured just a bit of the wind, a tiny air stream, which is filling the sail and is making the boat move swiftly in the direction we want.

Hoisting the main

Hoisting the main

I once saw a baby struggling with a toy, trying to fit the right shapes in the correct holes. I remember the triumph in his eyes when after much effort he finally succeeded. He laughed and he screamed with excitement jumping in his place, and he was thus proud with himself as if he had performed some sort of a miracle.

First time sailing on your own boat feels the same way.

Ivo at the helm

Ivo at the helm

It gets dark. We are sailing with a speed of six knots. At some point we have to jibe. Jibing is much more radical than tacking and as the boom swings from one side to the other, the stopper for one of the lines breaks and the same traveler that Richard just saved a few hours ago breaks loose and flies off the track! We hear bearings rolling down the deck and into the sea. But the traveler is attached to the lines and so it doesn’t fall in the ocean. It hangs in the air swinging around. Tyler and Tony rush to attach the loose mainsail which is flapping in the wind with much noise. They succeed to secure it in place and the traveler is saved again.

During these 10-15 minutes of panic, nobody pays attention where the boat is going. At some point we see boats anchored where there shouldn’t be boats anchored. Or maybe we are not where we think we are? In the dark, we are navigating by looking at the channel’s green and red lights and the lights on shore. Without a GPS and charts, the only electronic device we are monitoring is the dept sounder. And the numbers it shows us begin to get smaller and smaller so fast, we have no time to think and react. Twenty feet, eighteen feet, fifteen, twelve, ten, eight, six, five, four, alarm!, alarm! , three feet!, two feet!

We run aground. The boat gently stops, there is no crushing sounds.

Remember that excited baby with the toy? He just pooped himself.

The shore is far away, there is just water around us. We are stuck in a sandbank. Great. First time sailing and this is what happens.

There are some weird metal structures sticking out of the water. One is pretty close to the boat. In the dark it looks white.

We take the mainsail down and we try to start the port engine and go in reverse in order to unstuck the boat. But it doesn’t start. Both engines are dead.

With the dinghy Ivo takes the spare anchor away from the boat, in deeper waters. The anchor line is not very long. Tyler says it would be much better if we had a longer line.

The plan is to deploy the anchor and pull ourselves away from the shallow waters by pulling on the anchor line. We work like crazy, pulling at the rope, and it is a heavy job. Tony does an incredible job pulling. I’m sure he won’t feel his arms tomorrow. I just hope no one gets hurt.

We get unstuck but the wind picks up and pushes the boat towards the metal structure. It is now just a few feet away. If we hit it we will damage the boat for sure. At least the port engine starts and we now have a hard time pulling the anchor up by hand. We finally succeed and we start motoring away from these forsaken shallow waters full of strange metal structures. We motor back to the place where we got lost and sometime after midnight we finally get to the anchorage in Key West.

As we go to sleep for a first time anchored out at sea I reflect back at what has just happened. On the positive side of it, I think that we have acquired a valuable experience; we have learned what to do in a situation like that without any damage on the boat. We have also learned that charts are important, engines are important, and most of all: patience. We should have waited and sailed in daylight.

Lesson learned.

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