Where to take Windsong, and how to get it there?

Those who see sailing as an escape from reality have got their understanding of both sailing and reality completely backwards. Sailing is not an escape, but a return to and a confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape.

For centuries, man suffered from the reality of an earth that was too dark or too hot or too cold for his comfort, and to escape this he invented complex systems of lighting, heating and air conditioning. Sailing rejects these and returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold.

Modern civilization has found radio, TV, movies, nightclubs and a huge variety of mechanized entertainment to titillate our senses and help us escape from the apparent boredom of the earth and the sun and wind and stars. Sailing returns to these ancient realities.

-Robert Prisig

This weekend I took some time to catch the swell from hurricane Bill. I haven't surfed since my trip to Costa Rica two months ago, so it was great to be back in the water and have some fun. Saturday we went to New Smyrna Beach and enjoyed some of the most perfect Florida surf I have ever seen. They were not easy to get into, particularly because I had too small of a board for such large surf, but I was able to get many great rides. In the end, after about a hour of no waves, I caught one of the top 5 waves of my entire life, and easily the second biggest wave I have ever charged down (the largest being a wave from the latest Costa trip). Sunday we went to Cocoa but the swell had dropped and was doing nothing more than closing out in the shore break.

Now that I have had a two week break from the boat, I am ready to tackle it again. I haven't completely gotten my mind off of the boat as I have been continually researching, reading and doing more woodwork on the cabin door. I finally figured out how I am going to do the wood, and have settled on varnishing. Windsong deserves the great look of varnish, so I shall give it to her. I am experimenting on the door, and the first step is removing all of the old varnish. I have resulted to using a chemical peeler and have had some success getting the door down to the raw wood and color. Once I finish the whole door, I need to re-glue it back together (the door is in pieces) and then varnish.

As for the boat, there are currently a few phases that "The Grand Plan" (as I am calling it) will have to flow through:

  1. Get the boat out of Inglis
  2. Get it hauled out of water and decomissioned for shipment
  3. Ship it to Green Cove Springs Marina for work
  4. Launch and begin to sail the damn thing.

Step one would seem simple, but is proving to be quite the headache. Before anything can be done, the engine needs to be fixed. Hopefully I can talk to the PO and get some good guidance this week, and work on the engine with my dad this weekend. If the problem is beyond our abilities, I will eventually have to get a mechanic out there...something I can't really afford. I need all of the money I can save to get the boat hauled, shipped and stored.

Aside from the engine, the most glaring need is the Depth Sounder. The current sounder is an old Datamarine: It's current condition is...broken. I can't even turn it on, so I don't know if it is functioning beyond that. The first place I am looking to repair is the terminal block that the wiring for the sounder goes through. It is very corroded in places and the wire terminals for the sounder itself are very loose and seem trashed:

I hope by replacing the terminal block and the wire terminals the sounder will be able to turn on. If not, I have no idea what to do because the transducer is through-hull, so it isn't an easy swap out replacement. I may be forced to go down the coast out of Inglis without a depth sounder. And on the one of the biggest coasts of shoaling in Florida, I'm not stoked on that idea.

Aside from the engine and depth sounder, I feel she is ready to go. I replaced the running rigging, so sailing is going to be how I take her down. I do not want to rely on the engine for long, but I must to get in and out of the Gulf using power. Currently I have my eyes on Hernando Beach about 45 miles down the coast. It is very shallow in approach, but locals say that if you come in at a high tide (3ft +) there should be no problem. Well, the problem is that I need to get out of the Withlacoochie in Inglis at high tide as well. So I need to leave at high tide, make my way down the coast in time for the next high tide, all within daylight (!!??). Or I would need to somehow spend the night out in the Gulf and wait till the next day to try to enter the harbor. I have no idea if it is safe to anchor in the middle of the shoals of the Gulf, but there seems to be little other ways around this.

Of course, I could continue south and enter a harbor with less shoaling, such as Tarpon Springs. But I am still faced with an overnight journey. Let me interject that I have never done an overnight voyage before, let alone in strange waters, on a strange boat, with little instrumentation. You can start to see the task in front of me...yikes!

If anyone is willing to help me out with this issue, click here to see the chart of the area.

The channel to enter/exit the Withlaccochie at Inglis is at the very top of the chart. Hernando Beach is at 28°29′11″N 82°39′28″W. Tarpon Springs is at the very bottom.

There are a few marinas in Hernando Beach or Tarpon springs that can haul the boat and get it ready for shipment. Getting the boat ready for shipment will be a pain, but not as big of a pain as I see the previous tasks (engine fix, cruise down the coast). And once it is out of the water I will be able to finally see how much work I have before me. I am anticipating worst case scenario where I will have thousands of blisters (pox) and some other major repair jobs on the bottom. If there is one thing I am learning...expect (and prepare for) the worst, hope for the best. I will be very happy once it is out of the water though, because I can then get a realistic idea of what needs to be done and how long it will take before I can finally use Windsong in the way it deserves.

Once on land, it's time to ship to Green Cove. I am currently sold on Green Cove Springs Marina because they are hands down the cheapest of the yards I have looked at, they are in a location close to home (parent's house), and have a lot of friendly expertise and help around the yard. I will spend as long as I need on the hard fixing all of the things that need to be fixed and getting as much refinishing done as I can. I would like to get the boat in the water sooner than later, so I need to prioritize the projects that need to be done on land.

I have a rough list of projects I know for sure that need to be done, but will save the list for another post.