Monday, March 19, 2012

29 Hours of Sailing to Ft. Clinch

Arriving at Ft. Clinch
SandyBottom and SOS sailed 125nm north non-stop for 29 hours from Ponce de Leon Inlet to Ft. Clinch.  112nm of their track was 24hours of offshore sailing and paddling.    Team B&B began this long day by leaving their  Canaveral National Seashore anchorage at 7:20am on March 15th and sailing 10 nm to Ponce De Leon Inlet.  Power boat traffic made short-tacking out of the narrow inlet challenging: a jetty to port, and breaking waves to starboard.  By noon Mosquito  was offshore and headed north.  The seas seemed smoother and the crew looked forward to a drier ride up the coast.  But in no time the NE winds kicked up rough chop for the day.

Tacking out of Ponce de Leon Inlet at New Smyrna Beach
From noon to sunset the Mosquito averaged about 8.5 kts.  Gradually, from sunset to midnight the wind declined and shifted to SE.  Speed decreased down to 2 kts.  When wind speed dropped to zero around midnight, the Mosquito was 4.3 nm offshore from the Jacksonville Inlet.

The sea was smooth with large rollers and no wind.  SOS was not feeling well and suffered nausea for seven hours.  While SOS tried to sleep,  SandyBottom paddled the Mosquito  at 2-3 kts for 25 nm toward the Ft. Clinch Inlet.

At sunrise the sea was cloaked in fog,  the inlet's tide was still out-going,  the crew could not keep their eyes open, and the SPOT messenger's 24-hour tracking function automatically turned off.  Fortunately the crew called home then and restarted SPOT tracking.   Waiting for the wind, and waiting for the fog to clear,  the crew nodded off a few more times and the SPOT tracking showed Mosquito drifting in a circle.  By 9:30am the  Mosquito  began to make steady westward progress into the inlet.   By noon they were motor-sailing (paddling and sailing) into the public boat ramp site.

SandyBottom and SOS were met at the boat ramp by DancesWithSandyBottom who had brought along the Kruger Cruiser the crew would be using for river travel in the next stage.

Team B&B spent the afternoon at the boat ramp facility unloading gear, preparing the Mosquito  for trailer travel,  and reorganizing as "Team Kruger".   The facility includes restrooms and a large open-air pavilion useful for sorting through gear in the shade. 

125 nm from Ponce de Leon Inlet to the Ft Clinch public boat ramp
No Wind Off Ft. Clinch Inlet
Ft. Clinch State Park (top), Public Boat Ramp (middle), 
Fernandina Beach's River Waterfront (bottom)
One of the two floating docks in the boat ramp's protected waters


Sailing south to the boat ramp


Arrival

At floating dock

What-If ?   SB and SOS talked about a "tactical mistake" and how their night offshore might have been completely different if they had exited Ponce de Leon Inlet at 9:00am instead of at noon.   If that had happened then they would have had 3 more hours of 8-10 kt sailing offshore and then when the wind died at midnight, they would have already reached the Ft. Clinch boat ramp.  Their late exit out Ponce de Leon Inlet occurred because Wednesday night (14th) night they did not sail all the way to the inlet before stopping to sleep for the night.  Instead they chose to stop at the northern extent of the Canaveral National Seashore (CNS) at 11:45 pm.   At the time,  they discussed this issue of needing to exit the inlet early in the morning,  but could not resist stopping 'early' as they were falling asleep at the wheel.    Sailing one more hour (11:30-12:30 Wednesday night)  to reach Ponce de Leon Inlet, would have given them 3 more hours of 8-10 kt sailing offshore,  and they would have arrived at Ft Clinch boat ramp at about 1am Friday instead of at noon Friday.   They would not have lost a night's sleep.     A twenty minute nap by one or the other crew Wednesday on the Indian River could have yielded one more hour of sailing Wednesday night  which in turn could have saved 11 useful hours reaching Ft. Clinch.   A faster more comfortable boat pays bonus dividends in speed and comfort.

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