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since it meant that Bob was elected chef for the evening. Grilling outside also kept the heat out of the galley. Captain Dave lived nearby, and so we invited his lovely wife Julie to row out to our boat and enjoy our evening meal with us. An hour later, we were all eating a delicious dinner, while the retreating sun cast a splendid light over the water. It was a lot of fun sharing stories and relaxing out in the open air. We were sorry to see Julie leave, but she had to go to work the next day. Tuesday morning dawned early, and Bob and I decided to try out the stall shower by our stateroom but quickly realized that we had not opened the drain. Water inched up inside the glass stall, reminding me of some very bad movie scenes. Cutting short our shower, we quickly dressed, located the drain release, and noted for the future not to take such things for granted. Deciding to fry up some bacon for breakfast, I had a little trouble with the pilot switch on the stove, but we had matches that helped the situation. After breakfast, we checked the engine oil and radio, and went over the local charts as we planned our sail for the day. This daily process does not take long but does ensure that we know approximately where we are going. Today we were headed out to DeSoto Point, a historical point of interest in southern Tampa Bay. Bob reviewed the chart coordinates with Dave and plugged the numbers into our GPS system. We had never used a GPS with a color display before, but now I would highly recommend it. Color makes it so much easier to read the LCD screen, even with a harsh midday glare. DeSoto Point was a quiet place to moor for the night. It was also a good place for us to practice some maneuverings. We had asked Dave to review the process of setting two anchors and techniques for recovering a man overboard. The two-anchor process had to be postponed, as we realized upon close inspection that our second anchor was incomplete, missing an essential piece, and not functional. So we went ahead with some other skills we needed to practice, like learning how to set up a rescue, just in case one of us fell in. I nominated Bob to be the one rescued, but Dave had us use a floating buoy instead. After a few maneuvers, we decided to take the dinghy and motor over to explore DeSoto Point. People were catching fish on the beach, and we heard them shouting their success as we pulled up to the shore. DeSoto is visible from the water by its large cross and monument. There were marked trails pointing up toward the park station. The July heat made the prospect of air-conditioned rest rooms sound enticing enough for us to walk toward the park along trails edged with unusual vegetation. Encountering herons and crabs along the way, we also ran into other tourists speaking German, Japanese, and Spanish. We arrived at the station at 4:30, just before closing time, so we had little time to look at the exhibits of Desoto and the early explorers to the area. However, the rest rooms were clean so I splashed water on my face while wishing for a bath. Back on our boat, we dined on grilled steak complemented by chilled Coors. Life was good indeed. Dave entertained us with his repertoire of local stories and people that he has encountered from living in the Tampa Bay area most of his life. It was extremely helpful to learn about places to visit as well as places to avoid on our travels. Wednesday morning Dave set up some time to practice steering maneuvers before we left the harbor. Luckily for us, because as we practiced backing up, the cable between the throttle and the engine snapped, and we were left without LOCAL NEWS FOR SOUTHERN SAILORS

the ability to control the engine speed. Having an experienced captain on board was advantageous for us because Dave knew exactly whom to call for assistance. Cell phones have become standard everywhere, and cruising was no exception. Cell phones were an easy way for us to contact the charter company, who then put us in contact with Captain Andrew, who agreed to meet us that evening for repairs. Meanwhile, Dave connected a small piece of thin rope between the engine and the throttle that worked as a temporary connection for us to have engine power when we needed it. Luckily, there was a breeze and so we used the day for sailing practice, sailing to the Isla Del Sol Marina. It would have been rather tricky, sailing directly into a slip, so we called ahead to the marina and arranged to get a slip that we could maneuver into easily. Easily is a relative term when you are using a makeshift throttle. The marina operator met us at the dock where we scrambled to get lines attached and then breathed a sigh of relief. Once we were tied down at the pier, we enjoyed the benefits of marina life including dinner with wine in a beautiful restaurant overlooking Tampa Bay accompanied by Dave and his wife, who drove over to the marina after we had docked. Andrew arrived that evening and started to repair the cable but needed to get a part to finish the job the next morning. Early the next morning, Andrew arrived and completed his repairs to the cables. I decided then that I would ask about procedures for repairs before we took off on our next sailing charter. Everything was soon in working order, and we were ready to continue on our journey around the bay. For the next two days, wind was very light, but we were able to spend time charting our route, sailing around the bay area, learning to navigate bridges using the correct protocol, and honing our skills. We were ready to return to a hotel with lots of hot water and showers at the end of the week but reluctant to say goodbye to Lady Dorothy K. She was a wonderful boat and had taken us places not accessible by land. Bob and I had come wanting to learn the ins and outs of chartering a boat and learning to sail on our own. Dave Ellis had been the perfect coach for us, helping us with relaxed instructions as needed, and modifying our routine to make sure that we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. We look forward to chartering a boat again and starting our next adventure. Have an interesting charter story? In the South, Caribbean, Bahamas or points beyond? Contact

See CHARTERS continued on page 69


April 2004



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