Cruise Update: Gulfport to Ft. Myers

After closely monitoring the weather and looking at my route options, I’ve decided to do an overnight sail to Ft. Myers from Gulfport. We (me, my dad and Jenny) will leave around 3:00 p.m. out of the Pass-A-Grille channel, out a ways to avoid shoals at Egmont Key, then Southeast towards Ft. Myers staying off the coast approximately 5 miles. We should get in on Sunday sometime in the morning or midday where we will dock at Moss Marina for the night. We drop my dad off there and then we follow the Okeechobee waterway to the east coast! I’ll make updates along the way if I can.

Wish us luck! The weather should be beautiful for the night sail, but next week on the Okeechobee waterway may be a little cloudy and wet.

CRUISE UPDATE: This past Saturday night I sailed off-shore & overnight again from the Gulfport to Ft. Myers Beach, about 120 nautical miles. It was a much better sail than the first but was still a little nervy since we are all so inexperienced. But the crew did well, and the weather was good to us.

The plan was to go up the Okeechobee waterway this week, but bad weather has us stuck in Ft. Myers. Yesterday we traveled about 18 nm northeast up the Caloosahatchee river to downtown Ft. Myers. Until then we had clogged and replaced the fuel filters a few times, but right past Ft. Myers we used our last one up and a fuel line became clogged. The offshore sail had stirred up all sorts of gunk in the diesel fuel tank and it needed cleaning desperately. This morning we had a guy come out and “polish” the fuel by agitating the sludge on the bottom of the tank, sucking it through […]

sv Windsong: Sail log: Inglis, FL to Gulfport, FL

I have returned from the sea! This past weekend I took the first step in the long journey transporting Windsong from Inglis, FL to St. Augustine, FL. The trip will take me down the West coast of Florida, through the Okeechobee Waterway, and up the East Coast. The first leg was the long journey from Inglis to Gulfport near St. Pete, a total ride of about 90 nautical miles and well offshore. The entire journey is outlined in this picture:

Let me recap the story thus far. I purchased Windsong in July, 2009 from the previous owner, Paul, in Inglis, FL. Inglis is a small town on the West coast of Florida in a region called the Nature Coast. The Paul was kind enough to allow me to keep the boat at his house up the Withlacoochee River. I would visit the dock about every other weekend cleaning and fixing up the boat.

I am by no means an experienced sailor. I have only done a few day trips in very easy conditions. I’ve braved one squall, but it was in the Inter-coastal waterway in St. Augustine. The worst threat to me was running aground. Being an inexperienced boat owner and novice sailor, this is an intimidating boat to learn to operate. The first time I took the boat up the river the engine’s cooling water impeller busted and caused the engine to overheat. Spew steam out of the expansion cap, which I first thought was a fire brewing down below. It was pretty traumatic for a first ride and my confidence in the boat went down, as did my overall spirits. I spent the next couple of months trying to diagnose and repair the problem, learning as I went along. Eventually we were able to get it fixed and […]

Sailtime Storys by Bill Amt #6

My Most Recent ICW Experience

More and more lessons to be learned – dinghy towing can be hazardous

A passage from passage from Marathon FL to Fort Pierce

December 2009

I first became aware of Saffanah surfing E Bay and I first saw Saffanah at anchor in Boot Harbor in Marathon FL.  She is a 32 Downeast cutter built in the seventies in Costa Mesa CA, and definitely showed her age – weathered and crazed hull, sad canvas, lousy sails, no electronics, a busted motor and grungy water line.  But stepping aboard I immediately had the feeling she was a match for the West Sail 32 I had regretfully sold ten years ago.  And so once more I re-demonstrated the very first watery lesson learned (or very obviously never learned) – a fool and his money soon part.

A year later after having her hauled and stored at the Marathon Keys Marina and Boat Yard, and a few thousand dollars later, she was functionally ready to begin her trip to Jacksonville FL where I plan to address the cosmetic issues she so sorely needs.

So on the Day after Thanksgiving 2006 we motored out of Marathon circled the point and entered Hawk Channel.

We had planned to leave the Tuesday before Thanksgiving but a cold front blew through the Keys and even the task of provisioning for the trip was difficult with the wind and rain coming down in torrents.  I had never actually sailed Saffanah but knew in my heart she would handle as well as my West Sail.  But I did have a concern that the old Perkins, although very thoroughly reworked by the great diesel, David Brown, would be reliable.  David had cleaned the fuel tanks, replaced all hoses, rebuilt the water pump and […]