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Victorious By Danielle Kreusch

I

t is close to midnight with a cold breeze gently pushing itself across my cheek. The breeze is the only thing keeping my heavy eyes open...well, that and the turning of the engine over and over again. With each try of the start button, my heart would stop in suspense; hoping— pleading to hear the sweet sound of the engine roaring and screeching to life, knowing it is the only thing that could possibly alleviate the rolling of the boat and take us out of the open sea. After four hours, it is clear that the engine is not starting without fresh spark plugs, and we might as well get some sleep. After 40 hours of beating to windward we find ourselves anchored outside of a channel in the rolling swell left from a thunderstorm deserted. I begin to drift into a very necessary slumber and I am so thankful to be…boom! That is the sound my head makes as the boat heeled to the waves and I was flung from the cockpit bench where I had finally settled down out of sheer exhaustion. On the way down my head managed to hit the mainsheet traveler and tiller before my body settled on the cold hard fiberglass of the cockpit floor in a lifeless lump. Oh the joys of being engineless outside of a narrow channel with the wind coming from exactly where we need to go—I think to myself. In fact, it seems as though ever since my boyfriend, Kyle, and I had left our berth two days earlier on our C&C 27, the wind had decided to timely and carefully change direction to exactly where we were headed at the very moment of any course adjustment. We had left Tampa Bay on route

south before we would eventually turn to head north for Jacksonville at the Long Key Bridge in the Florida

Kyle walking the beach on Cayo Costa.

Keys. Our first stop on the list was Cayo Costa Island in Port Charlotte Harbor. We had intentions of our first anchorage being in the harbor, tucked up against the island, not outside the harbor’s channel entrance in a rolling sea. We arrived late Friday evening at the entrance of the harbor; night coming on, the chart showing a narrow channel surrounded by the shallow shoals that sailors learn to dread so much in these waters. The channel entrance required us to go east through this narrow channel, but the wind was blowing hard directly from that direction. We made the decision that we would be unable to safely sail to weather through the channel in the dark and instead we would motor in…simple! After working reliably for months, the engine thoughtfully decided it needed a break on this particular night. After many four-letter

words being used and hours spent troubleshooting, it was clear we would have to wait until morning, when the wind shifted, to sail into the harbor. Surely the wind would shift by morning By 0800 there was still a strong breeze coming from the east. We decided that since the sun was up and we could always turn around if need be, we would attempt to sail into the wind through the channel into Charlotte Harbor. Binoculars in hand to check every channel marker carefully, jib sheets ready to be tacked at any moment, and our main pulled in tightly, we took off into the wind. After almost two hours of endless “tack hoe!” commands, followed by the seamless rhythm of the zinging winch pawls clicking, we had made it into the harbor. It turns out there was a Tarpon tournament going on and the channel entrance is the “secret spot” for everyone with a line and hook to horde, but we made it. That evening, we felt rather impressed with our sailing abilities and teamwork and the victory of the day created a satisfied atmosphere in our little 27-foot home. After cooking a much needed hot meal, we rewarded ourselves by going to explore the island. As we approached the island after rowing away from the mother ship in our Fatty Knees Dinghy named Lucy, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was living in a different time: a time when engines didn’t exist and shallow waters were explored by dinghy. We pulled Lucy up on shore See VICTORIOUS continued on page 69

GOT A SAILING STORY? If you have a story about an incident that happened that was a real learning experience, or a funny story, or a weird or unusual story that you’d like to tell, send it to editor@southwindsmagazine.com. Keep them short—around 800-1000 words or less, maybe a little more. Photos nice, but not required. We pay for these stories. 70

April 2016

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Southwinds April 2016  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds April 2016  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...