Friday, January 23, 2015

Gulf of Mexico Passage Day 1 - Friday Jan 9th

When my phone roused Kara and I from our nice comfy berth, in our very cold boat, we grabbed our stuff and hiked down to the marina showers, which where very nice and heated.  While Kara was showering I checked my phone and noticed the weather was still a bit confused but was looking slightly better with the wind shifting sooner from NW to N to NE later that day and Saturday afternoon shifting to East.  It still looked like it would be a bumpy uncomfortable ride but at least we could get NW across the Gulf instead of having to head due W and pray for a shift.  This meant we’d probably be leaving today, and that it was going to be a cold trip.  High’s around 50 degrees F and lows in the 40s and possibly even 30s as we got closer to home…of course this was the time for Texas to have our once a year arctic blast.  I mean what better time than when we really need to get Baboo back home?  Kara and I need to get back to work and have some chance of actually having enough cash to ever make this dream of some full time cruising, actually happen.  We’re both very cognizant of the fact that the most dangerous thing to have on any sailboat, is a calendar but unfortunately the reality of our lives right now include having to be back at work…hopefully by the 15th.  If we run into issues with the weather, the goal is to be close enough to shore that we can be in a marina within a day or so.  We always have the option of finding BABOO another temporary home while we go back to work and find another block of time to finish the return trip – but we’re hoping not to go that route.

So, Blaine meets us at the boat around 9 we review the weather and opt to head out while we can, motor to the mouth of the bay, 2-3 hour trip, and stick our nose out and see what we see.  If we can do WNW we’ll go, if we’re stuck with straight W we’ll drop back in and wait for a shift.

So we fire up the iron-geni, Untie The Lines (great youtube channel) and motor out of the marina and down to the mouth of the bay.  As we leave the bay, it’s my watch so Blaine goes below for a bit of a nap and Kara and I watch apprehensively as the wind and waves start to build.  We pretty much always have the main up (reefed at this point) so we have options if the engine quits in a bad spot, like a shipping channel surrounded by shoals in a 25 knot wind...  So as we’re heading out, we can really feel the wind and know that we’re in for an exciting ride.  As we pass the final shoal, we start our turn to Starboard NW, slow the engine and unfurl the jib (about 2/3rds of it anyway).

Leaving the shipping channel outside Tampa Bay

Up until this point we had the equivalent of a single reef in the main (about 1/3 of the sail is still furled in the mast) and had been comfortable.  However, once we started our turn up into the wind and killed the engine, our inclinometer and the, shall I say pucker factor, let us know we still had too much main out.  So we furled in another couple feet of main until the boat was more comfortable and we where still clocking a good 6.5-8 knots up into the wind.  The seas where steep and blocky 3-4 foot waves with period of maybe 3-4 seconds and it was blowing a good 25-30 knots, but Baboo can do this all day long, we just needed a little time to get comfortable (?) with it.

Not our actual route but this was as far North as we could point leaving the bay.  The wind shifted as expected and we adjusted our course about 30-40 degrees further N later in the day.

Unfortunately, Kara wasn’t feeling great most of Friday and it was super cold in the cockpit.  Typically she and I are both up most of the day talking and just enjoying the view from the cockpit, regardless of who’s on watch.  With the cold and rolly conditions we agreed that the best bet was to get below when you’re off watch and warm up and relax a bit.  This all amounted to us not seeing much of each other outside of watch changes.

We didn’t cook dinner since it was so rough and not everyone was feeling up to a meal.  My dinner was a PB&J during my 4 hour afternoon shift followed by a granola bar and a yogurt for my night watches.

The winds actually shifted a bit to the NE over night and we where able to point pretty much due NW or just East of New Orleans and then just settled in for what turned out to be a 140sh mile day.  That’s 140 miles closer to home.

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