Archive for October, 2009

Day 52 10/31/2009 2012hrs

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

27⁰06’43” N – 080⁰08’34” W

I’m taking the night off “Somedayers”!!!! LT will be leaving us to return to a land lubber’s life back in Ohio, and he and I thought it might be nice if he wrote some parting comments for the blog. So with that being said what follows come to you be way of Jim “Lt” Bryant.

 

 

Well “Somedayers”, this is Jim (LT) Bryant and since tomorrow is my last day aboard “Banana Winds”, our first mate Jim Southward has allowed me to add a few personal comments to tonight’s blog. As you “Banana Winds” followers know, our journey began fifty-one days and some two thousand miles ago to date and we expect to arrive in Fort Lauderdale sometime tomorrow. This is my first cruise on a sailboat so my comments should relate well to you “Somedayers”.

My first adjustment to the “cruising” life has been the capriciousness of time and schedules. If you ask a cruiser when they expect to arrive somewhere, you are likely to hear a response such as “Oh maybe sometime next week”, or for a more distant destination, “We expect to arrive sometime in November or December”. One sailor we met intends return to his native Scotland “Sometime next summer”. Such is the nature of cruising. You arrive when you get there. Speaking of time, cruising the ICW on a sailboat from early morning until evening tie-up or anchorage will net you about seventy miles over water. My last thought regarding the time is the irony that I will return to my home port of Columbus, OH after a few brief hours of flying time, contrasted with nearly two months of time on the water.

Another interesting discovery has been the varied destinations of cruisers that we have met. Of course there are boats headed for South Florida or the Keys to escape Northern winters. But we have also met boaters destined for the Bahamas, US and British Virgin Islands, as well as more distant ports such as Venezuela, Scotland, and even one cruiser destined for Thailand. The ranks of cruisers includes both young and the not so young, the wealthy and the not so wealthy. We shared the ICW a while with a young man sailing single-handed in a boat far less than half the size of Banana Winds. His boat puttered along as he sat on at the helm on an upturned five gallon plastic bucket for a helm seat. We never learned his name so we just referred to him as “Mikey”. By the way “Somedayers” don’t feel too badly for “Mikey” because he and his rag-tag boat will be spending this winter in Miami FL. We met a man and wife well into their golden years expertly handling a forty foot catamaran destined to winter “somewhere in the Bahamas”. Boats cruising the ICW come in all shapes and sizes from the most basic such as “Mikey’s” bare-bones sloop to the mega yachts which offer every conceivable luxury at sea. To each his own.

I won’t attempt to describe the innumerable sights and sounds that we have witnessed on Banana Winds” as Jim’s nightly blogs have kept you well informed in that regard. I will say, however, watching Dolphins (porpoises) swimming playfully alongside the boat, or observing the many varieties of birds seeking out their lunch or dinner, the rare gator, or such moving sights as the grand Lady in New York harbor or the gantries and launch pads at Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral) on the distant horizon (I think they shoot you if you get too close), or watching a soccer game at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, are among the many experiences that I have enjoyed.

I want to thank Captain Greg Smith for his skillful seamanship that has kept us all safe and sound. Despite the marvels of modern electronics, many situations call upon experience, intuition, and quick and decisive action to avoid the perils of the sea. Captain Greg’s decisions have always been the correct ones in a world where bad judgment can be very costly to vessel and crew. By the way if you think that pirates no longer prowl American waters, you have not met Captain Greg.

I want to thank First Mate Jim Southward, for his patient teaching of some of the essentials of sailing. I can now haul in the sheet on the mainsail, help unfurl the headsail, help set an anchor, and perform a fair job of line-handling, and even distinguish between a ketch, sloop, schooner, or yawl, at least most of the time. Also thanks to Jim for his masterful nightly blogs that have kept you “Somedayers” as well as the crew’s families and friends well informed of our experiences. Jim is also our “entertainment director” and we have all appreciated his humorous wit, infinite knowledge of sailing, and his abundant supply of DVD movies. If I were to ever captain a sailing vessel, I would put Jim at the top of my list as a first mate. Thanks Jim.

I would like to express my appreciation to my crewmates whose friendship has been my good fortune. As you can surmise, living together harmoniously in such close quarters requires a good deal of cooperation, physically and mentally, from all hands to keep spirits high. Thanks to Stevie Cheimets for literally teaching me the ropes for navigating the thirty-plus locks required to descend the 1200 feet or so from Lake Erie to sea level. Also thanks to Stevie for the copy of “Apollo 13”, a great read. Thanks to Tony (Gaffman) Lacko for the enchanting tales of his years as a tournament marlin fisherman in the Bahamas. I hope one day we can charter a trip together and chase the “big ones”. I’ll say one thing about marlin fishermen; they do know how to party. I should call ahead to give a heads-up to the locals in Key West that Tony and the Banana Winds is headed your way. Also thanks for the tournament t-shirts. Very, very cool. Thanks to Perry Martin for his work as galley chief. As you blog followers know, Perry departed Banana Winds  shortly after we left Annapolis where Perry and I enjoyed eggs and corned beef hash at “Chick’s and Ruth’s” diner, pizza and gelato on the waterfront, and our daily ration of Starbucks  coffee. Maybe our paths will cross again in Port Clinton someday so we can reminisce about the good times in Annapolis.  I wish Captain Greg, first mate Jim and all of my crew mates fair winds an favorable seas, and a safe return to their respective home ports.

One more thought “Somedayers”, if you are ever on a sailboat that has a sixty-two foot mast, and you are passing under a fixed bridge with a clearance of sixty-four feet, don’t look up.

This is Jim (LT) Bryant heading for my home port of Columbus, OH: At least for a while.

 

Thank you very much LT for your kind words and may all the journeys of your life bring you joy, as I hope this one has. Till next time “Somedayers”, Banana Winds standing by on 16… Clear.

Day 51 10/30/2009 1918hrs

Friday, October 30th, 2009

28⁰05’31” N – 080⁰35’28” W

We are past Cape Canaveral, we are even farther south than Orlando “Somedayers”. We have held up for the night at an anchorage near Melbourne, Florida. We got to see the gantry and launch hanger at the Kennedy Space Center today, and were blessed with an abundance of the finest sites Florida has to offer. Our day started with a sun rise through palm trees, continued on with pelicans on rocky islands and ended with a sunset that will convince you that God in all his glory is a show-off at heart. Mix in to that day great friends and playful dolphins and it’s hard not to be thankful for the world we live in and the privilege of being in it right now. And “Somedayers” we had a great dolphin visit today. A pair of them played and rolled in our wake today right by the boat for about ten minutes. They seemed to be as interested in watching us as we were in them. They would roll up on their sides to look at us standing at the rail watching them, and they would then roll over even more and show us their white bellies, it was a magnificent spectacle. I find it interesting that they always seem to be smiling at you when you make eye contact with them. I have sailed in and around sea mammals all my life, from orcas in the Pacific North West, and harbor seals in coastal Maine, to dolphins in the south east, and I will never get tired of them. I still find that my heart swells at the sight of them and my hands seem to clap wildly like a child, when the creatures of the sea perform for me. If nothing else I guess I’ll always be a willing and happy spectator to their performances and theatrics. I’ll tell you this “Somedayers”, the shows we see every day out here, sure do beat the hell out of Broadway. And with that, Banana Winds, loving this life, and standing by on 16… Clear.

Day 50 10/29/2009 2035hrs

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

29⁰01’57” N – 080⁰54’25” W

The fog this morning in St. Augustine was impressive, and caused us to get a bit of a slow start. But it did clear to become a wonderful day that provided us a terrific widow to put some sea miles under our keel. We have made it all the way past Daytona Beach, and we are anchored in New Smyrna Beach for the night. Just so all you “Somedayers” know, the water here is a brisk 81⁰, and is just the thing to refresh you after a long day of ICW cruising. I went in after we set the hook and while I was in I provided the evening entertainment as I entered the inflatable from the water to bail it out. And at the insistence of the Captain you will be enjoying the photos as well. I will have you all know, although it doesn’t look like it, I made it quite easily… on my third try. Other than that we are continuing to have wonderful days filled with warm sun (finally!!!!!) good friends and beautiful seascapes. Banana Winds, wishing you were all hear to enjoy this with us (I really do mean that) and standing by on 16… Clear.

Day 49 10/28/2009 2130hrs

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

29⁰53’14” N – 081⁰18’17” W

We’re in St. Augustine “Somedayers”, and it’s HOT!!!!!! We pulled in this evening at about 1820hrs and dropped a hook for the night. We had steak on the grill for dinner and we’re going to have the generator on all night so we can have the A/C on, it’s just so humid. We fired a two gun broadside salute to Fort St. Augustine as we were coming by. The only picture I have for you to day is one that Donna took this morning of the guys pushing the boat off the dock, kind of funny to see. Until next time “Somedayers”, Banana Winds standing by on 16… Clear.

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Day 48 – 49 10/27-28/2009 1020hrs

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

30⁰37’13” N – 081⁰28’51” W

WE’RE IN FLORIDA “SOMEDAYERS”!!!!!!! That’s right guys and gals; we’ve made it to our final state of this trip. So far, if your keeping track, we have been in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and now Florida. What a trip it has been so far. I also feel like we should get credit for North Dakota as well. Why? You might ask. Because up till a day ago the temperature has felt like that’s where we were (And because we watch the whole “Deadwood” HBO series, so we feel like we now the place too).  Yesterday we sailed down the Cumberland River, past Cumberland Island and the U.S. Navy sub base there, I was able to get one picture of a sub before the Nave started shooting at us (just kidding… they didn’t see me take it). We also sailed past Old Fort Fernandina; if you look close you can see the shore batteries. We got to Fernandina on Amelia Island yesterday at about 1300hrs and just relaxed, and walked around the town (cute little town by the way) until a friend and former crew member of Capt. Greg’s got off work. Donna was the cook on his first trip down the ICW, and true to her former crew position, took us out to a great little sea food place called “The Surf”. We had a great time and made a new friend as well. At the next table over there were two couples having dinner, they saw us all in our Banana Winds crew shirts and tried to put together our positions on their own. “LT” was wearing a wind breaker over his shirt (so they couldn’t see he was wearing one) so they assumed that he was the owner and Captain, and Donna (who was also not wearing a crew shirt) they thought was his wife. And that just left Greg, Gaffman, and me as the hired hands. Boy, were they wrong!!!! We got to talking and set the story straight. They were very nice folks and one of the ladies (the one who thought she had us figured out) posed with Donna for a photo.

This morning we got up at about 0730hrs, and the captain and I had breakfast with Donna before we fueled up, watered up, and shoved off at about 0945hrs. We are planning to make it to St. Augustine today. Till then “Somedayers”, Banana Winds standing by on 16… Clear.

Day 47 10/26/2009 1715hrs

Monday, October 26th, 2009

31⁰02’46” N – 081⁰25’21” W

We’re hangin’ with the rich folks today “Somedayers”. Jekyll Island, Georgia is the home to “The Jekyll Island Club”, where all the hoity-toity super rich folks from New England used to come back in the 20’s and 30’s. They had themselves a “cottage community” on the island of mansions that they would come down to in the winter when it got to cold for them up north. That’s where we are now. We got a slip at Jekyll Harbor Marina, which ironically is the same place my folks kept their boat when we lived in Georgia about seventeen years ago. The place hasn’t been “elite” since the 40’s, but we’re trying to bring it back by docking the Banana here. We made really good time today; we left at about 0720hrs this morning, just after first light. We were hoping to make it all the way through Georgia and stop at Fernandina, Florida. But, we got tired and saw that several of our cruising companions were stopped here as well so we pulled in for the night. It was a fairly dreary day today and we didn’t take any pictures… sorry. Banana Winds standing by on 16… Clear.

Day 46 10/25/2009

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

31⁰47’21” N – 081⁰12’09 W

We had an uneventful day today “Somedayers”. We made it into Georgia today, and we saw a few cool things along the way that I would love to tell you about, and you can see the pics we took of them. First of all we had a beautiful sunrise this morning. It was gorgeous. We left our little anchorage soon thereafter and made our way towards Savanna, where we saw a deer swimming across the ICW. I can only assume that whatever she was headed for was of the most critical importance, because the water is still really cold!!! And we saw a boat that was aground, I think it looks worse than it is, but you can decide for yourself. Other than that “Somedayers” we have little else to report. Banana Winds standing by on 16… Clear.

Day 45 10/24/2009 1815hrs

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

32⁰09-29 N – 080⁰51’07” W

What a morning “Somedayers”, it was beautiful. We even saw a rainbow. However, that rainbow happened to be to windward, and for you land lubbers, what that means is that the rain was coming our way. It did hold off till after lunch, but we did get some nasty wind and a few drizzles. You’ll see by the pictures even when it’s cloudy, it’s still pretty nice to look at. We went past Perris Island, and stopped just south of Hilton Head Harbor. And if this trip has taught me anything about ocean ecology, it is very clear to me that dolphins are in no danger of going extinct, as a matter of fact they must be thriving, ‘cause the water down here is infested with them. I love dolphins.  Banana Winds, swimmin’ with the dolphins and standing by on 16… clear.

Day 44 10/23/2009 1950hrs

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

32⁰37’01” N – 080⁰24’06” W

Well we got rained on again today “Somedayers”. Actually we got poured on to be exact; the wind was so high to that the rain was coming in almost horizontally. But, it still beats workin’!!!! Tony joined us last night and we were glad to share some of our bad weather luck with him today. We continued our journey though the southern states this morning as we slipped past Fort Sumter and continued though Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. We continue to see lots of dolphins and other sea life. It amazes me when I see the diversity of our little world, and then I look up into the night sky and see all those other worlds… it makes me feel blessed to be a part of it, even if it’s an infinitely small part, I know I’m still a part of it, as are we all. The rest of the crew and I spend much of our evening sharing these feelings. I’m sure you have had the same thoughts at some point, or something similar to them. So the next time you cast your gaze to the night sky and wonder at the heavens, know that we, Capt. Greg, Jim “LT”, Tony “Gaffman”,  “Boston” Stevie, Perry “Cookie” and me have spent much of our time doing the same and thinking of you at home… as we are right now. Banana Winds… no significant structures, standing by on 16… Clear.

Day 43 10/22/2009 1345hrs

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

32⁰48’22” N – 079⁰45’35” W

WE SAW DOLPHINS!!!!!! And we even got pictures of them that I didn’t have to draw circles for you to see them too (like last time). They came right up alongside us and surfed in our wake, I’m guessing that there were about five in the pod, but they all kind of look alike (geez I hope that doesn’t sound racist). They came along just as we were nearing the marina that we are staying in tonight, Isle of Palms Marina. The dolphins were a perfect end to a perfect, if short, day on the ICW. We woke up today with a little bit of cloud cover, after having a crystal clear view of the stars last night. The sun came out before 1000hrs and warmed up to 80⁰ by 1300hrs. The water keeps getting more clearer and is beginning to look very inviting. We saw some old derelict boats today and figured they must be from some hurricane from some time ago. Tony should be here in the next few hours and we should have a nice night. I hope all of you do as well. Banana Winds standing by on 16… Clear.

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