May 21, 2011
Dear Friends and Family,
We are home! The arms of Cayo Costa Island and Gasparilla Island embraced us as we entered between them at Boca Grand Pass from the Gulf of Mexico to our own Charlotte Harbor. The trip was in good time leaving Mexico at about 8 a.m. on May 18 and arriving dock side at Johnson’s home at noon, today, May 21, 3 days and 4 hours later. The entire trip from Guatemala to home was done over 11 days. A pretty quick trip for one that we didn’t rush.
We started out so strong with currents pushing us but then got caught in an even stronger counter current. Finally we rid ourselves of any current at all but winds were weakening as time progressed. We continued to make good time with sail assist and then finally just one engine. Unfortunately, we lost both the wind and the auto pilot last evening so the night watches were with couples as it was difficult to keep the boat on course just steering by the compass and so one person alone needed some help to keep watch or relieve the other one at the wheel. Actually Rob did most of our joint watches but it did mean that we got a lot less long sleep last night and I am feeling it now.
We had a little excitement as we entered the pass as it is Tarpon season. We wondered if they had built a bridge over the pass but as we got closer we saw that it was filled with boats fishing. We had two who were following fish on the line that nearly hit us. Steve had the blow horn handy to make sure they saw us. We were a big fish among smaller ones but those smaller ones were going crazy. There were so many boats it was hard to throw a line in the water and just look out if you caught one! It was crazy but what a sight to see.
We enjoyed the familiar 3 hour ride up the harbor to home and both Nancy and I remarked that we sailed so many places and yet the beauty that seems to draw people to those foreign areas are the same views we see every day in our own community. We were lucky to have been able to make this trip and are very lucky to return to this wonderful place as well.
This was a different trip for us. It was a little shorter than normal, and less social and land travel than normal. Maybe it lacked something since so much of it was a repeat of a trip we took about 4 years ago and yet nothing about this trip was the same as the last! One big benefit was to get to know the Johnson’s better and now feel much stronger friends.
Perhaps the part we enjoyed the most was the new leg of the journey, which was Guatemala. That place is so different as it is all about the land and the river which is so different than the open ocean.
It is also about the boaters who come there year after year and the ones who have chosen to stay for long or short times. We knew that we were just going to scratch the surface before returning next year but what we have experienced has really made us eager to continue our adventures on Catalyst.
We will spend the next few weeks catching up with family and friends, getting the provisions for the house this time, and generally trying to return to life on land. We have some family trips planned over the next months so will be in and out but always in contact.
We hope you enjoyed the adventure with us. If you would like to come along next year, it would be nice to know that you were along this year so please drop us a note letting us know what things interested you the most or what you could do without in the log. If we have not met you, introduce yourself. Everyone is welcome.
Send your replies to firstname.lastname@example.org as since we are home that will be our most used address.
CAPTAIN’S LOG SUPPLEMENTAL:
Some people have asked me to write about boat mechanical issues. I’m happy to report, considering all the different systems aboard, the boat did well. The water maker worked perfectly, as did the engines, refrigeration, generator set, inverter, battery charger, rigging, sails, steering, electrical, outboard motor, and lots of other things too numerous to list. What did break, we had spares for, or backup redundancy. (1) The most serious problem was the electronics for the auto pilot. This went out on our way to Belize. Diagnostics indicate we’ll be buying a new “course computer”. Our backup for this is we hand steered about 25% of the time. (2)We had an engine water hose leak from abrasion. We replaced it with one of the two spares we had aboard. (3)The electronic solar panel controller went out. This is serious because the entire boat runs on batteries which are charged by solar panels. We had a spare controller on board, which easily solved the problem. If we had not had a spare solar controller, we had redundancy with charging from both engines as well as the generator. (4)Our brand new chartplotter/radar occasionally locked up. This was solved with a new software download from Garmin. (5)email on short wave radio would occasionally lock up the radio, or blow the radio’s internal circuit breaker. I believe the problem is the USB cable from the computer to the radio and its modem. This will be solved with a new cable. (6)I dropped our notebook computer, damaging the screen so we can only see the left hand of the screen. While we had a spare computer on board, we decided to live with the aggravation, rather than trying to sync up the software between the two computers. I plan to solve this problem in the future by being more careful with the computer, or better yet, let Sue carry it!
For people unaccustomed to cruising boats, you may say it sounds like the boat has lots of problems. For a boat in saltwater environment, this is actually somewhere between a short and an average list. In three and a half months, the boat is used more, and subjected to rougher use than many boats receive in three or four years. I only hope we’re so lucky next year.
Here are some statistics for the entire trip: Total distance traveled 1377 nautical miles. Each engine was run an average of 107 hours. The water maker was run 110 hours producing about 1200 gallons of water. The generator was used for 18 hours. Number of times I bled working on something, once or twice (that I recall). Number of fingers left on each hand, 5.
Have a great summer. See you in the fall.
Sue and Rob Linehan
At home in Punta Gorda, Florida