Wednesday, January 05, 2005

New Years Eve Cruise

We had our second overnite cruise on our soon to be named "Pelican."

We met the Dolphin Cruising Club at Demens Landing to view the evenings fireworks show off the pier. December 31 was a nice day, but the winds didn't cooperate much. We started the day by installing our new sail cover system. The Doyle Stak-Pak system eliminates our old lazy jack, sail ties and cover system that took forever to put on and take off. The new system now allows the sails to drop into a fixed bag and gets neatly zipped up. While it's still hard to pack the very tall mainsail on Pelican, it does save us at least a half hours labor everytime we take the boat out. And they look nicer too.

We left about 1:00 and motored to Demens Landing. The trip took a little over 2.5 hours and was pleasant and calm although too calm to sail. We took full advantage of our electrical windlass by staying in cockpit and dropping the anchor with the press of a button. That was cool! Then we dropped the dinghy into the water off of its new davits and went exploring.

After Betsy baked cookies in our oven (including learning how to start the oven!) we had a great time enjoying a cocktail hour on the deck of one of the Dolphin boats. We were one of 9 Dolphins anchored out. Everyone is very friendly and very knowledgeable about sailing. Later we went back to our boat for dinner of grilled steaks and steamed brocoli and enjoyed a drink or two using ice that we had made on the boat! Yes, this is a very comfortable boat!

We got an early start out of the anchorage on New Years Day, leaving the St. Pete Pier before 9:00 AM. Our intention was to enjoy as much sailing as possible across Tampa Bay taking a longer route home to enjoy the warm sun and calm bay. We hauled the sails, turned off the motor, and made our way across the bay and under the Sunshine Skyway bridge averaging a little under 4 knots along the way. We noted that most sailors were either under power or motor-sailing but figured our tall rig was doing pretty good under light wind conditions.

The bay was absolutely full of frisky dolphins who were constantly swimming alongside the boat or fishing not far away. Hoover kept whining and barking at them, and at one point we had to put the leash on him for fear he was about to go swimming after them. As we passed under the Skyway we headed north up the "ditch" which is the narrow channel that runs along the west side of the Skyway. Here we caught a beautiful wind across our beam and averaged about 5 knots under sail. All in all it was just a very comfortable and enjoyable cruise and a great way to start out the new year.


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