The Ship's Log - December 1996

The latest poop from the crew of Hetty Brace

Here's Michelle at Cabbage Key during our December, 1996 cruise...

OK...I just replaced the third head (that's a toilet for you midwesterners...). This is about as disgusting as you can get. Why have I had to replace so many heads? I must have done something horrible in another life. The first experience was aboard my previous boat, an Ericson 27. The original one was leaking. The second replacement came when I first bought Hetty. The head on board had not been used for several years and was completely frozen up. I wasn't about to clean it so in went a new one. Another disgusting job. Unfortunately, the one that I bought also happened to be cheap. I've hated it ever since. Well I decided that I couldn't stand it anymore and in went a new one. This one should be much better. I really don't want to have to do that again. The only advantage is that I can milk favors from Michelle for months. Of course, she was nowhere to be found while all the crappy work was being done!

Well...I didn't mean to be so literal with the "Poop" page. There's been alot going on around Hetty lately. In December we started on a cruise bound for the Dry Tortugas to meet some cruising friends, Steph and Jerry aboard their ferrocement ketch, Chez Nous. About 140 miles down we ran into a nasty norther with big seas and heavy wind. The waves were really close together and averaging between 9 and 13 feet. We measured the wind at over 47 knots. We hadn't finished the wind vane rudder yet and our marvelous (really - it did a great job) autopilot couldn't pick the proper path between the waves so we decided to sail into Ft. Myers Beach rather than spend a long, cold, bumpy night hand steering.

After spending a couple of days at anchor in Ft. Myers Beach we headed up to Charlotte Harbor. We anchored off Useppa Island across from Cabbage Key for 2 days. Of course we had the obligatory "cheeseburger in paradise" at the restaurant. Cabbage Key was really nice - accessible only by boat it's really a beautiful tropical island. Some people we met while at anchor told us about a small inlet at Cayo Costa island that let to a trail over to the Gulf side of the island. Cayo Costa is a state park and is also only accessible by boat. I started getting the Sears outboard ready for the dinghy but Michelle thought we'd (read: I'd) be able to row with no problem. Ok...I like to like idiots we jumped into the dinghy bound for Cayo Costa.

Cruising lesson #367 - never row an inflatable dinghy to a destination that's too far to see. The row was a nightmare. It took forever and best of all...we didn't even know where the hell we were going! We were looking for a small inlet in heavy mangroves. Oh well, we found it and, to be honest, it really was worth the work. We had miles of completely deserted white sand beach to ourselves. We found several perfect sand dollars and other shells. Unfortunately, we couldn't stay long because we had a LONG row back to Hetty.

It's amazing what a difference a couple of days can make. The Gulf changed from a boiling cauldron with breaking waves and blowing foam to a flat mirror on our sail home. We went offshore out at Boca Grande and ended up either motor sailing or just plain motoring most of the night on the trip home to Tampa Bay.

Other happenings... We've been doing alot of work on Hetty lately getting her back into cruising condition. In November we installed a Rutland wind generator. Rutland is a British product and I think that, as a proper British lady herself, Hetty enjoys such things when possible. Of course the old head was also British but hey - they can't make everything well. We also installed a 121.5 EPIRB, which will be packed into the abandon ship bag when we get a 406 EPIRB. We've been painting, varnishing, cleaning, replacing up a storm. Hetty is in great shape and is more beautiful everyday.

In the midst of all this work, Michelle and I are going to be getting married on April 5th, 1997!!! If anyone is looking for wedding gift ideas, feel free to click here.

We've decided to adopt a very strict, very tight budget so that we will be free to go cruising by January, 1998. We have alot to do in the meantime - not only buying and installing a liferaft, EPIRB, sails, a gazillion charts, and millions of other miscellaneous items and spare parts - but also we have alot of research and planning to do. We are currently planing on sailing down the coast of Florida to the Dry Tortugas and the Cuba. From there we'll probably head for Panama. We'd like to get through the Panama Canal before the U.S. completely leaves in 1999. From Panama we'd like to cross the Pacific to French Polynesia. Hopefully New Zealand, Australia, or American Samoa will be in need of good computer programmers about the time that we get there - our cruising kitty will probably be in dire straits by then. We still have alot of planning to do regarding timing. Our cruising schedule will be heavily dictated by the world's hurricane seasons. We need to figure out when and where we'll be so we can stay away from those nasty monsters. Please send us an e-mail - we'd love to hear from you. Do you have advice? Are you a wannabe? Are you related and feel compelled? Regardless....we've created a page called the Mail Boat just for the purpose... Send us some mail!

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