Archive for September, 2009

Day 20 09/29/2009 2118hrs

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

38⁰58’22” N – 076⁰29’27” W

WINDY!!! And, if you didn’t notice, our GPS position has changed slightly. That would be because the wind blew us all over Spa Creek today and we had to reset our anchors twice. That was a little exciting “Somedayers”. But we survived, and spent the whole day aboard so we could keep an eye on our position and be sure we didn’t drag any more. We did use our time wisely though. We changed the engine oil in the generator, and we changed both of our Racor fuel filters. After that we got down to the serious work of the day… MOVIES!!!!! Oh, and popcorn for dinner. Wish you were here. Banana Winds standing by on channel 16… clear.

Day 19 09/28/2009 2015hrs

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Well “Somedayers”, there is a common phrase used among sailors communicating over the radio to inform one another of the sea state in their area, “no significant structures”. That means that there are no weather structures forming on the horizon. So that being said “Somedayers”… I’m reporting no significant structures. We have had a quiet day watching movies and resting.

That however makes for a very boring log entry, so I thought I might do something special tonight. You see, I like to write, and from the feedback we’ve been getting, most of you have been enjoying our log. I know that there are some of you who haven’t been following us the whole time, and there may be some of you who really don’t know us all that well. And of course some of you know the whole story and all about us and you’ll just have to suffer though this recap, I wish I could say I’m sorry… but I’m not.

The Banana Winds is a Formosa 51. She is a Taiwanese Ketch, owned and captained by Greg Smith. Capt. Greg has owned her for nine years. My name is Capt. Jim Southward, I however am not the captain of Banana Winds I am her first mate. We have a galley chief named Perry martin, and two deck hands Jim Bryant and Tony Lacko. We also had another deck hand, Steve Cheimets, but he was only with us for about ten days as we transited the Erie Canal. Those are the facts “Somedayers”, but there is a lot more to this crew than just the facts. So, to really understand our origins of and the cruise we are on together you’ll have to follow me back to the beginning of the summer of 2009.

First, Captain Greg Smith decided that this summer he would relocate his charter business “Banana Winds Sailing Charters” from Toledo, Ohio to Port Clinton, Ohio and set up shop behind the Lakeland Motel. Capt. Greg is a former truck driver how fell in love with sailing as a young man aboard his uncle’s boat. He has owned three sailboats including the Banana Winds. Like the rest of us, when he first saw her he couldn’t get her out of his mind, he knew that it was meant to be. He is fun loving, quick to laugh, holds no grudges and has become my sailing mentor. Every boat needs a captain, and every crew needs a leader, Capt. Greg is ours. He’s not perfect, but speaking only for myself I will follow him to any horizon he plots a course to. Plus I’m pretty sure we can’t get rid of him… the boats in his name.

06

Jim Bryant, from Columbus, Ohio spends quite a bit of time up in Port Clinton and saw the mast of a beautiful ship sitting at a dock behind the Lakeland Motel. He was drawn to her like so many other people have been. He spoke to Greg and was hook. He was the first of us to sign on for this cruise. We call him “LT” because of his service in the navy during the Vietnam War. He is our “eldest” crew member and brings a calming, eclectic feel to our band of sailors. He has been a power boater on Lake Erie and seems genuinely intrigued by the beauty of sail. He is full of questions about sailing and brings a youthful curiosity to everything that’s new to him.

IMG_3282

The next of us to come along was me. I had just returned to Port Clinton from Maine where I spent the spring looking for a position as a mate on sailing ships. I found two, and just didn’t quite feel like they were right for me and the type of sailing I wanted to do. So, I came back to my home waters of Lake Erie. Being that it was July and half way through the sailing season, I was not finding much in the way of sailing positions. Until, I saw those wooden Masts behind the motel. I called the number on the marquee and talked to Capt. Greg. I asked him if he needed someone to sail with him as a mate, and he promptly said “NO”. I left my resume’ with him and moved on. The next day I got a call with and an invitation to go sailing that night. The next week, after a few more charters with him, he started introducing me as the first mate of the Banana Winds. I had found my place among the sailing community, finally. I have been with him nearly every day since, and I have loved every minute of it.

01

Perry Martin could barely get out of his own way getting to the Banana Winds. I wish I could tell you a story that was different, but he found the boat the same way LT and I did. He walked up to see the boat and Capt. Greg invited him to sit on the quarter deck and talk. Within a couple hours Perry had booked a day sail and was determined to make the passage south. He was paid in full a week later. He volunteered for the job of cook and has been bustin’ his tail ever since. Perry, being our galley chief (that’s “chief” not “Chef”) has been nicked “Cookie”. He has a laugh that can be heard across oceans.

02

Tony Stumbled upon the Banana Winds web site mostly by accident. He was looking for a week charter in the Florida Keys or the Bahamas, and saw that we offered charters in Florida and Lake Erie. Curious as to how that could be, and while surfing the site, Tony saw that we were going south by way of the Erie Canal and figured that that was just what he need to unwind for a while. Tony is a tournament deep sea fisherman. He has spent tons of time on big tournament fishing boats that go really fast and make huge waves. Those boats burn tons of fuel and that makes him a “SMOKER”. Let me explain the term “Smoker”. If you have ever seen the movie “Waterworld”, the guys in the power boats and jet skis that make a bunch of smoke are called “Smokers”. So we started calling Tony “Smoker”. But then, while trying to grab a line in one of the locks in the Erie Canal, Tony grabbed our fish gaff (not our boat hook) and hooked the line like a pro, he’s been “The Gaffman” ever since. He’s a blast to have aboard, and is showing great promise as a “Sailor”. But, he’s still a smoker.

06

And lastly there’s Stevie Cheimets, who is a Boston firefighter and has sailed with Capt. Greg a number of times in the past. Other than the captain, Stevie was the only one with any canal experience. He’s also a paramedic; I thought that that would be a great asset on the trip just in case any of us got hurt. Then, I got hurt when I triped over a deck fitting and ripped open my knee. I looked at Stevie and he looked at my injury and said “I’m on vacation!” thanks Stevie. But honestly having him along was a lot of fun and we were sad to see him go.

07

All in all “Somedayer” we all got here different ways, but we all got here, and that’s what’s important. The captain is always saying “things happen for a reason”, and I believe that. We came together as strangers; we’ve weathered storms, rain, inconsiderate boaters, fog, and even each other. We may have been strangers once but now we the sons of Miss. Banana and we will always have a place in our hearts for our maritime mother the Banana Winds.

Day 18 09/27/2009 2200hrs

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

38⁰58’22” N – 076⁰29’28” W

This was our first full day in Annapolis “Somedayers”, and we had fun!!!! Tony (Gaffman), Jim (LT), Perry (Cookie), and I all went into town tonight for drinks, dinner and some dancing. We had a blast, and it should be a fun couple of weeks. The Captain stayed back and enjoyed the boat to himself, for a change, and had a relaxing evening by himself.  We got couple of pics of our anchorage, but not much. Till later, I’ll keep y’all informed Somedayers.

Day 17 09/26/2009 2027hrs

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

38⁰58’22” N – 076⁰29’28” W

We are in Annapolis, MD. We motored the rest of the way down the C&D Canal and through the Chesapeake. And right now, as you read this we anchored in Spa Creek. We can almost see the Naval Academy from where we are sitting. We had a gorgeous sunrise this morning and then the weather got cold and rainy. I’m adding a few pics for the day but the scenery was limited. However “Somedayers”, in the interest of keeping you entertained, we had a catastrophic failure of our holding tank pump-out system. For those of you who don’t know what a holding tank is, without going into graphic detail, it has to do with where the “pooh” goes. And let me tell you it was not fun, and we owe Gaffman a huge debt of gratitude, for he was the one who “handled” the poop. I put some pictures of us all showing him where to go to get “Super-Stinky”. So until next time “Somedayers”, we’ll be thinking of you.

Day 16 Update 2037hrs

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Well, I guess I do have a couple of pictures for you “Somedayers”. Capt. Greg took a shot of sunrise during the storm that is kind of pretty and ominous all at once. And the guys took some shot while I was racked out this afternoon.

Day 16 09/25/2009 1810hrs

Friday, September 25th, 2009

39⁰31’34” N – 075⁰48’30” W

We are in the C & D Canal, between Delaware Bay and The Chesapeake Bay. It took us 31hrs of strait sailing to get here from Tarrytown, NY. And let me tell you “Somedayers”, it got exciting at times. You saw our day in New York Harbor on yesterday’s log, and it was dark most of the way from there, so I don’t have pictures for you, but I have a couple of stories. First, the trip down the coast of New Jersey all the way past Atlantic City was fairly uneventful, with the exception of a helicopter masquerading as a buoy. I was not on deck at the time so I didn’t see it, but Tony (Gaffman) and Capt. Greg were, and they said it was very confusing and caused a lot of VHF traffic. The real excitement of the night came shortly after we past Cape May and headed into Delaware Bay. A light gale kicked up and was blowing 20 to 25 knots of wind right in our face and shifting to about 35⁰ off the bow intermittently. This kicked up a swell that felt like 15 footers but was probably only 8 to 10 foot waves (everything feels bigger in the dark). With the sea state the way it was Capt. Greg and I agreed that it was best if the rest of the crew stayed below and slept, so they’d be fresh to relieve us this morning. I could taste the sea salt on my lips “Somedayers” and let me just say this… it tasted good! It is nice to be on the wide open ocean for a change. And lastly, Capt. Greg and I got a little scare when we noticed that an ocean liner had snuck up behind us almost close enough to touch. Capt. Greg checked behind us and it was clear, about twenty minutes later I looked back and all I could see was a huge black hulk bearing down on us at about 20kts. After us both screamed for a minute and suffered a quick M.S.P. (Modified Stationary Panic). We disengaged Harvey (we call our auto helm Harvey) and turned hard to port to avoid getting run over. The tanker either didn’t see us, or saw us, and didn’t care, either way it was kind of close. But we made it through the night and are anchored safely in a cove on the canal. Tomorrow we should be in Annapolis. Tune in next time “Somedayers”, until then, Banana Winds standing by on 16…. Clear.

Day 15 09/24/2009 2137hrs

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

39⁰21’53” N – 074⁰20’38” W

Right now this very moment we are motor sailing past Atlantic City, New Jersey. Today we have sailed from Tarrytown, New York which is just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge through New York Harbor, out around Sandy Hook, New York and down the coast of NJ. The scenes were something else. Everyone got their picture taken in front of the Statue of Liberty, and we got waked by about a bazillion faeries, barges and water taxis. We’re are going to sail through the night and try to get to the C & D Canal by tomorrow, where we’ll rest for a day and then head on to Annapolis. Well that’s what’s happening on our trip “Somedayers”, expect some more updates tomorrow.

Day 14 Update 09/23/2009 2050hrs

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

41⁰04’31” N – 073⁰52’06” W

Well “Somedayers” we’re not quite to The Big Apple yet. We made it to the Tappan Zee Bridge, and pulled into the Tarrytown Marina for the night. Tomorrow we are planning to leave here at about 0700hrs and sail through New York Harbor and out around Sandy Hook, past Atlantic City and all the way to the C & D Canal. The weather is supposed to be good for that tomorrow and get nasty on Friday. So we have only a short weather window, let’s hope it works out. If it doesn’t look like it will work out, we’ll just grab a mooring ball off of Staten Island and wait it out.

Today was a great day we finally got some good weather and had a pleasant motor down the Hudson. We saw a couple of tall ships and a bunch of tugs and barges. We went right past West Point and Singsing prison. Everybody had a nice day, and “LT” isn’t the only one who falls asleep on watch, someone else did today, I won’t mention any names but his initials are “Tony”! See if you can find him slackin’ on the job (it won’t be hard to do). Until next “Somedayers”, best wishes to you all.

P.S. Hey “Somedayers”, we still have one berth left open for the second half of our trip south from Annapolis to Miami. It’s just $750.00 all inclusive… Think about it… you don’t just have to read about it… YOU COULD BE LIVING IT!!!!!!

Also, we have been getting a lot of folks asking about the return trip in the spring so we’re going to start taking deposits on Oct. 1st. We will be leaving Miami sometime near the end of April or the very beginning of May (depending on the weather) and arriving in Port Clinton, Ohio no later than June 16th, 2010. The trip is $1800 for the whole trip or $900 for either half (Miami to Annapolis or Annapolis to Port Clinton). Deposits are $900 for the big trip and $450 for the short one. It’s first come first serve when it comes to who gets what berth, so don’t dilly dally “Somedayers”.

 

Day 13 & 14 09/22-23/2009 0830hrs

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

42⁰03’01” N – 073⁰55’41” W

Did you miss us “Somedayers”? Did you think we were gone? Well, rest assured “Somedayers” we’re still here and we’re doing great! Yesterday was a killer day, in both progress and exhaustion. We got the Banana Winds tuned, rigged and washed. Plus went to town and did a ton of laundry. So please forgive our absence for yesterday, I’ll be happy to provide a note from my mother if you require one (Mom get a note ready for me ok, thanks). Yesterday also marked the last day Stevie was with us, he left early to head back to Boston and go back to work (poor sap). We also had some interesting challenges yesterday arising from some sequencing issues when we stepped the masts. We had some lines running down though the shrouds but on the wrong side of the spreaders, so we had to toss a line up and over the spreaders and “messenger” the topping lift, the running back stays, and the mizzen flag halyard through. “LT” won the preverbal “kewpie doll” by being the one with the golden arm. He was the only one of us who managed to measure up to the challenge, and on only his fourth try too, way to go “LT”!!! We got a bunch of pics of the work so be sure to check them out.  

We are back on our way, and motoring down the Hudson River at 8.5kts. We are hopeful to make New York Harbor before stopping tonight. We would like to anchor off of Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty, should make for some nice pictures so stay tuned and keep us in your thoughts. Till later, “Somedayers”, we bid you fair winds and calm seas.

Day 12 09/21/2009 2018hrs

Monday, September 21st, 2009

42⁰12’50” N – 073⁰51’59” W

We’re almost sailors again. We got the masts up, we still have to tune ‘em and rig ‘em.  We even got recruited to help another sailboat pull their mast down. It is a 64 foot steel Golfstar. The mast was 75’ high and the crane was about an inch to short so all us big guys jumped on and went to the bow to set her and inch lower in the water. Nobody thought that would work, but we showed them, we’s got tonnage baby! We had a long day today and are all very tired. I’m putting a bunch of photos on for today and then I’m going to bed.

Copyright 2003  Banana Winds Sailing Charters