Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Palm Coast, July 19th 2008
… if timing is everything, then my advice to anyone thinking of sailing the east coast of Florida, do NOT go in July. You’ll make it a few miles unaffected, but there are rarely a few daylight hours in a row without a ripping thunderstorm with high winds, blinded visibility, and 'deadly lightning strikes', as the automated voice reading the marine forecast will report.
I was prepared to leave Key Biscayne (beautiful anchorage in a state park, from which the city skyline of Miami is visible) but before turning the engine key, something told me not to go.
And so, I didn’t.
Sometimes I think that ‘feeling’ is protecting me from approaching danger, other times I think it’s the universe directing me to people who’ll enrich my life in one way or another. This was the case in Key Biscayne and I spent a day in the company of some great folks on a motoryacht in No Name Harbor. Sure beats a day alone at sea, no matter how promising the forecast.
Leaving the following morning at sunrise, once in the gulf stream I was averaging 8 kts. The day was uneventful, one rare day without the terrifying thunderstorms with winds of 40kts and fork-lightening that seems to reach down halfway from the moon.
After 6 or 7 hrs on open ocean, I entered a narrow man-made break
in the beach that led back into the Intracoastal Waterway, from which it was only another 2 hrs of motoring to Kim and Mike’s house (folks I previously spoke of, having met them in Bahia Honda in the Keys a couple of weeks before). The next few days became a blur of fine wines, unbelievable food, rotating load after load of laundry, and running errands. It was time for Effie to get her rabies shot, and Kim patiently waited with me, on her precious day off, in line for hours at the local pet store where shots were being given at a fraction of the price of a veterinarian visit. And in search of a new electrical panel, Mike drove me all the way to Fort Lauderdale to the famous Sailorman, an emporium of everything boat related, new and second hand. Every evening was spent relaxing in their saltwater swimming pool, encouraging their golden retriever to do belly-flops into the pool (which he
never grew tired of) watching the palm trees sway and the flicker of distant lightening storms reflecting on the clouds.
After a little less than a week in their company, it was time for me to press onwards. I had booked my flight for British Columbia, and I had a lot of distance to make and a lot of work ahead of me to prepare the boat for what may be months of sitting idle.
Since leaving Key West, I was constantly torn by how exactly I wanted to make my way to Palm Coast. Would I sail on the outside the whole way, present myself with the challenge of my first 3-day non-stop trip alone, or will I play it safe, motor up the waterway and have a safe anchorage every night and get a good nights sleep? Every six hours since July 1st, I was sure I had made a final decision. Yes, go on the outside, you’ll have such a sense of accomplishment. To ‘do the ditch’,
as the waterway is commonly referred to, would be easy, but boring, and I thought I may feel like I was chickening out in a sense. I kept telling myself that people sail all around the world alone, surely I can sail a couple hundred mile by myself. But there are a lot of issues at play; most single-handers have autopilot to keep their course while they doze, and this was a coastal trip, in heavy ocean-traffic lanes. If I slept for too long, I may inadvertently run into the shore, or a tanker whose radar might not detect a small wooden boat. And if I was really lacking sleep and one o
f those storms was to sneak up on me, my ability to make good decisions might be compromised and… well, I’m this close to Palm Coast, why risk myself and the boat at this point.
By measuring 50 or 60 mile intervals on my chart, I chose a series of ports that I could day-hop between; sail offshore during the day, and go into a protected anchorage by the evening. But after Fort Pierce, to continue to sail offshore, I would have no other choice but to make that final 110 mile hop to Palm Coast all in one go. That, or motor up the waterway. Taking things one day at a time, I left Kim and Mikes, motored to the next break in the sand dunes, and set my sails, bound for West Palm Beach just 40 miles up the coast. By 10am, I was in 30kt winds, skirting the edge of a large thunderstorm. Thankfully though, the bulk of the storm continued out to sea behind me. I had good wind most of the way, never straying much more than a mile from the beach. Murphy's Law was confirmed as I approached the Fairway buoy marking the entrance to West Palm Beach though, and with little notice I was once again in gale force winds, but this time the rain was blinding, and the two 60ft sport-fishing boats I'd been tracking for the past 2 hours disappeared in the fog. A collision though wasn't at the top of my list of worries. It was the lightening. It was almost simultaneous with the thunder, and I kept thinking, 'Yup, this might just be the day'. The day my luck runs out. It's strange, the things that can get stuck in your head when you spend too much time alone, and they repeat again and again in your mind. On this day, it was the words Human French-fry. Once, I felt all the hairs on my body stand on end, I don't know what that means in terms of how close the strike must have come, but at this point I went below, closed the hatch, stayed away from metal objects, and let the boat sail where she liked for the next 15 minutes. I've never been more thankful for the change in my rig that Mike in Lunenburg insisted upon before I left Canada, providing me with a self-tacking jib. I was shivering
and shaking, partly from being rain-soaked and wearing only my bikini, but more out of fear and nerves. I kept looking out the windows, hoping to be able to spot the other boats in time if I came too close.
When I felt the storm was a safe distance away, I looked to my destination, and again, a series of white-hot forks made their way from the clouds to touch down who-knows-where. Feeling like a tall target on the wide flat sea, I made a run for the harbour, hoping visibility would stay on my side, and that I could make the 4 or so miles before the bulk of the storm hit.
I dropped my anchor in 8 ft of water not long after passing through the harbour entrance, and ran below, with a moment or two to spare. The next crack of thunder and lightening was one to surpass all the stormy situations I've been in to date, witnessed from sea or land. I started talking, muttering, nervously, incomprehensibly almost, to myself, or to the cat, or to both of us. "Did we just get hit? What just happened? Was the boat struck? Are we okay? Are we?'. I was convinced the boat had been struck, from the charge I felt myself, and from the unnerving sound of Effie's shriek a split second later. The ensuing torrents of rain calmed me though, an
d slowly I became rational, and gathered the courage to go out and check if there was a cindered spruce mast, being doused by the rains. I never did find any
evidence of a strike, but I have no doubt it was a close one.
I waited a few days at West Palm Beach for appropriate weather. It was a true test of patience, being unable to go ashore because I had only one oar for my dingy, and with little else to do but sit down below to hide from the sun and in
tolerable heat. Two days passed, then I was able to begin making my way to Fort Pierce. Within a few hours, storm clouds were looming, and a loud, piercing aggravating beep over the VHF prompted me to turn the station over to the WX channel (weather station) for an emergency broadcast. I heard the weather warnings of 30kt gusts with an approaching isolated thunderstorm the front, and I thought I had reduced sail sufficiently. With a small jib and my mizzen set, and the wind coming from behind, I though when it breezed up, I would fly downwind without too much fuss. I was less than a mile from the beach, and before I
knew it, the beach was made invisible by a wall of white. A moment later, instead of breaking speed records, Annie rounded up almost into the wind, then laid down on her side. I think I was thrown, I assume I was, and I attempted to steer her all the way into the wind, to let the sails flog, and to bring her upright. But, she wouldn’t.
The rudder must have been completely out of the water. I started up the engine and hoped that by motoring, something would be different, but it wasn’t until about 10 seconds later, when the wind eased momentarily, that she went where I wanted her to, and
she slowly righted. Not being able to hear the engine for the screech of wind in the rigging, I didn’t realize I had the throttle to over 2500rpm (2000 is my normal maximum) and as soon as she righted, her bow then passed right through the eye of the wind, and the wind caught the other side of the sails, and over I went again. It took me 15 minutes of running forward to the bow and out onto the spindly wires of the bowsprit to pull part of the jib down, then running back to the helm to bring her up into the wind again, numerous times, before the sail was down then I could deal with the mizzen from the cockpit. Then my thoughts turned to the beach. I could hardly see 60ft ahead from the driving rain, and in all that fiasco I had no idea how close I may have come. I decided to steer due east until visibility improved. Not long after I was able to take the engine out of gear; the windage on the boat itself was enough to keep me running downwind at 6kts. Once sufficiently satisfied that everything was going to be alright and I had things under control, I became aware of a throbbing pain in my right arm and baby toe. I didn’t think I was one to panic, but looking back on my actions, and realizing that I had no idea when or how I had hurt myself, I wondered how I could have avoided it. I was 6 miles from Fort Pierce, and unable to move my right arm, I motored the remainder of the trip, not feeling able to raise sail again. It crossed my mind to continue around Cape Canaveral on that overnight journey, because I wasn’t sure if, once dropped, I’d be able to retrieve my anchor again. Sailing might be easier, I reasoned.
Definition of the term 'easy' is primarily is a matter of perception. When I processed the thought, that spending a night at sea, alone, on a wooden boat, in relatively unfamiliar waters, where violent and deadly thunderstorms maintained a constant watch, where cargo ships habitually had a computer at the helm with watchmen only intermittently taking the care to lookout for those little red and green lights indicating another life on that broad ocean… I laughed when I realized that all that risk would be easier for me than the alternative of swallowing my pride and asking someone in the anchorage the following morning for help hauling up my anchor.
I motored towards the inlet. It seemed I'd not be let off easy on any account, and would not relax until that anchor was deep in the mud. As I approached the inlet, an hour after low tide, I thought I had the currents all figured out. I thought I'd have a nice easy rush of water at my stern, and I'd be able to motor at half throttle in around the bend. I was a little surprised when I had 3 kts of current working against me, creating standing waves and eddies that made steering difficult and kept my heart in my throat as I struggeled to keep centered between the two rocky breakwaters. I wasn't completely surprised though. I have been wrong before.
Friday, November 21, 2008
While all those aboard the boats at anchor continued to work, it was time for us to play. We rowed… no... PADDLED… you paddle a canoe… ashore and poked around for evidence of the wolves. There were plenty of tracks, none too recent though. An epic canoe journey ensued, into moderate surf not suited to canoes, but we explored many small inlets and islets, and our beachcombing turned up evidence of more wolves, bears, mother-of-pearl, tiny snails, and some baleen from a whale. I’m an obsessed beachcomber, but only until the point where I become overwhelmed with too much stuff, and overboard it goes. Usually all at once.
Arriving with high hopes of a wolf sighting but leaving with mild disappointment, we set out across the
The Queen Charlottes have recently become known as Haida Gwaii, a closer resemblance of the original name of Xaadala Gwayee in recognition of the Haida Nation and to place less emphasis on their colonial past. We had heard from many that the West coast of the
We waited a week dockside in
It wasn’t all disappointment though. We met a Haida elder who was eager to share his stories, and he gave us a driving tour of his home town of Skidegate, described their matriarchal society and how all the remaining Haida (approximately 4000) all belong to one of two social groups, or moieties; Eagles or Ravens. There are more than 20 lineages that exist within each of the Eagle and Raven moieties, and an Eagle must marry a Raven, never a fellow Eagle, and any children belong to the same group as the mother. Members of any of the Haida lineages have certain entitlements of land, hunting and gathering areas, and other natural resources.
Our guide took us to a totem pole along the shore of the reserve that was carved in the 1970s by renowned Haida artist Bill Read, whose art is also depicted on the Canadian $20 bill. His ‘Jade Canoe’ sits in
The other end of the Center focuses on the geology, biology, and history of Haida Gwaii. Here I learned of the shocking practice of the 18th and 19th century explorers confiscating anything from art, general household items, family heirlooms, and even Haida remains as trophies which they sent or carried back to their homes in
Monday, November 17, 2008
In the weeks leading up to meeting Jean-Marc, Brian had told me about, on numerous occasions, an excellent documentary at this years Banff Mountain Film Festival called In Search of the Coast Wolves. Brian thought Jean-Marc’s boat bore a striking resemblance to the one in the film. Vincent said it should because it was indeed the same boat. Jean Marc was hired by the producers as the knowledgeable captain to lead the search throughout the remote islands of BC, and the resulting film is fantastic. Check it out if you can.
I almost bypassed a fascinating story of coincidence, if it wasn't for Brian drawing my attention to a small, nondescript fiberglass motorboat in a seaside park.
With the perfect resource at hand, we asked Jean-Marc where we should go if we wanted to see wolves. Without hesitation, his answer was
It was necessary to make one stop on our way to
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Yes, as I stand behind the coffee machine making various espressos at Starbucks, I find it hard to believe that this time last year I was 200 miles offshore in the
As much as we may worry about the future and how we’re going to live it, there's no telling where all the little choices we make in the run of a day will eventually land us. Any plans I make right now have little purpose other than putting my mind at ease for the time being, fooling myself into believing I know what the future will bring. Chances are the plans I make now will bear little resemblance to where I find myself six months or one year from now. But what gets me through these land-bound days are hopes of earning the means to head back to Annie Laurie in early spring, dreams of a jaunt over the Bahamas, and a summer cruise up the eastern seaboard, hopefully arriving in Lunenburg in time for the 2009 September Classic boat race.
Making the most of what you have while working for what you want is a motto I strive to live by. I constantly remind myself how life can pass you by while you're busy making other plans. Therefore, I hope to make the most of my time in British Columbia, enjoy the company of the new friends I’ve made, while working for the winter to enable the next part of my voyage.
It's a challenge though, sitting still. I find clarity in motion and consider myself lucky to have literally endless trails throughout the mountains that loom on my temporary back doorstep. I’ve felt throughout my life that, in a sense, I've been drifting along in the dark, carried by the currents as I tread water. I rarely try to fight fate, and all in all, I don’t’ think the latitude of my existence has been hindered. Despite having the comfort of past experience telling me everything always finds a way of sorting itself out, I’m aware of a feeling of limbo, and I know something is missing. Without being able to identify what it is I seem to be waiting for to make my existence more complete, I see no better option or need to do anything but allow this current take me where it may. That being said, I’m slowly realizing that whatever the choices or currents in the coming year, they all lead to home.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The moon was on the rise as we approached the entrance to the bay, but it wasn't enough to illuminate the rocks that sat just a few feet above the surface on either side, as the diagram showed. From the bow, away from the engine, I could hear the swells breaking on the reef that offers protection from rolling seas once in the anchorage, but is a hazard when trying to get through it. There was enough salt spray in the air that the beam from the spotlight fell flat within a few feet, so was of no use. We tried to think of other options that would give us a better idea of our actual location. We had a brand new handheld Garmin GPS, which will tell you within 7ft where you are, but without a map or chart of some sort to plot that latitude and longitude, the numbers don't really mean too much. Then we remembered something. NOAA, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. provides all the charts for U.S. waters free of charge online, and Brian had downloaded some of the charts he thought we may need the previous week. Luckily, there was enough power left in his laptop to bring up the necessary chart, we plotted our position on the screen, then were able to plot a compass course to follow, and we winded our way past a few more shallow spots and islands and dry reefs before finally dropping the hook at 2230. It can be frustratingly confusing navigating in the dark. Just when you think you know exactly where you are, and identify the silhouettes of the islands and rocks and think you know what's what when making comparisons to the sketches in the guidebooks, you begin to proceed between the two islands only to realize it is one island. Nights like these, we go slow. Its always interesting to see all the obstacles you dodged when departing in daylight the next morning.
The following day was our first 'official' day in Alaska. Ketchikan is the first Port of Entry where you can clear customs when arriving from the south. Effie made sure she would be the first among us to set foot on Alaskan ground, and she took a flying leap off the boat when we were still a fair distance from the dock. Since the arrival of the babies we don't have to worry about her going too far. Speaking of which, Jake is gradually learning why walking forward is the preferred mode of transportation, and isn't falling backwards off the bunk as often. Mary-Anne is my favorite (I tell her all the time). In the beginning, she seemed to have inherited Effie's kittenhood fascination with blinking eyes, and would lay quiet and motionless on my chest in the morning, waiting for my eyes to open with the morning light, before going for the gold.
Ketchikan is a small town that caters largely to cruise ships. We awoke the following morning to no less than 6 cruise liners clogging the entire waterfront. The town is on the island of Revillagigedo, which eventually became Re-Village Gigolo to Brian and I as we struggled to grasp the proper pronounciation. We stayed long enough for Brian to celebrate his birthday in style, if by accident, when we ended up in the company of a lumberjack who'd just stumbled out of the woods, quite literally. He called himself Red, wore a red bandana and... well, what's the first thing that comes to mind when you think 'lumberjack'? Yes, good, 3 foot-beard, that's right... red-and-black plaid jacket, 5-lb axe... or perhaps he left that outside with the ox. He spent the evening ringing the brass bell at the end of the bar, which meant he was buying yet another round for the house. He passed out money for the jukebox and told us to pick 'songs from the soul' and bragged how he lived "totally off the grid, man", which, in his books meant kerosene lamps and candles. Yes, if you've ever wondered what you're missing out on when you hear Brian and Laura are on a boat in Alaska, now you know.
I think Brian and I came to the realization around the same time as one another that it was time to start thinking about turning around and heading home. We had reached our destination, and having set out late in the sailing season, the weather was deteriorating rapidly. Not only was the temperature becoming unbearably cold at night, but the Pacific storms were rolling in, one after another. We decided to circumnavigate Re-Village Gigolo, which would take a few days and take us up into the Misty Fjords National Park. We were 100 years too late if we wanted to see any sea-level glaciers. A glacier that graced our northernmost anchorage in the early 20th century has receded so far up the valley and around the bend that it would take a full day of hiking to reach its edge.
We were blessed with 3 days of sunny weather and decent winds. The Parks people provide moorings to tie off to, so finding a place to anchor wasn't an issue. After tying to a mooring in Punchbowl Cove, we decided to hike up to Punchbowl Lake, on the recommendation of the Visitors Center employee in Ketchikan. Upon canoeing ashore, Brian spotted some fresh bear poop and prints. As eager as I was to see a bear, I was uneasy with the prospects of coming face to face with one in such a remote area. We spent 1/2 an hour tip-toeing around, looking for more evidence, or any rustling in the trees. We made our way toward the waterfall, figuring we'd find a trail up to the lake. As we quietly stepped along the rocky shore, we suddenly heard a deep roar. Stopping in our tracks, we looked at one another, and carefully started taking steps backwards. A moment later I burst out laughing when I realized it was only a jet, high above our heads.
The lake was lifeless and silent. As a previous visitor had noted in the guest book at the shelter, God forgot to put fish in the lake. The shelter was supplied with wood for chopping, a fire-pit, raised wooden platforms for sleeping and paddles for an upturned canoe by the waters edge. Though the water was cold, it was fresh, so I took advantage of it with my soap and shampoo, knowing it might be some time before I'd find a shower again.
Wanting to get to another anchorage 20 miles south before dark, we limited ourselves to about an hour at the lake before hiking back to our canoe and leaving the mooring by early afternoon.
There is a very distinct rock formation mid-channel a few miles out of Punchbowl Cove known as New Eddystone. It's the remnants of the core of a volcano, much like the outcrops on which Edinburgh and Stirling Castle are built, the hard rock core remaining where the softer surroundings have eroded away. Captain Vancouver, who was assigned by Britian to survey the coast from California to Alaska late in the 18th century, reportedly stopped and had lunch on the rock . We passed within 1/2 a mile of the rock without seeing more than a slightly smugged dark patch in the fog bank. If Vancouver was surveying these waters in the typical west coast weather, it's more likely that he ran his ship into the rock, rather than have lunch on it.
We followed the shoreline all the way to our next anchorage, the fog being so thick at times that if we had been mid channel, we would have been unable to see either shore. We picked up a mooring at the mouth of a river where dead salmon were abundant ('tis the season), and a bald eagle watched patiently atop a dead cedar, searching for a suitable dinner. Brian caught dinner this particular evening, the first (and only) fish of any substance of our trip. A flounder with partially migrated eyes, as what happens in some stage of their development. It's not my area of expertise and I'm unable to find a reliable article on the subject, but I believe they are born with their eyes on opposite sides of their head, like a salmon, and they swim 'upright', like a salmon. At some point, one eye migrates to the other side, and the fish begins to swim like a flatfish, like a stingy-ray, along the seafloor, with both eyes on top. If someone knows about this, please feel free to comment. (no funny stuff, Doug)
Before heading back to Canada, it was necessary to re-stock in Ketchikan. The wind was dead calm and the fog left us with less than a boatlength of visibility. It's bad enough navigating in the fog when you have a radar and charts, but we had neither, and we were entering a narrow and busy channel with significant currents, frequented this time of year by as many as half a dozen cruise ships per day, along with any number of tour boats and tugs and barges. We estimated our position then set a compass course and noted the time, and calculated when Forgot-the-Name Island would appear from the fog. Quite some time passed and there was no sign of the land. I was on the bow, looking for shallow areas, still unable to see more than 30ft ahead. The fog can play tricks with your vision. You think you see land, then the shape evaporates. Eventually we found land, but as we followed along, we realized we were at least 2 miles from where we had hoped. We began 'bumping' our way up the channel, overshooting our desired points over and over, once arriving at a rockpile marked at its low peak by a small green lighthouse. It was very difficult to do anything else but motor along slowly, and look at the compass, and hope to recognize bits of shoreline that we'd seen a week earlier when we had entered Ketchikan the first time. A pilot boat, sent ahead of a cruise ship, spotted us and called us on the radio to inform us of the 300ft ship to follow. The cruise ship eventually called us too, able to see us on their radar. We were unable to see him until, miraculously, the fog lifted long enough to see we were well clear of each other, then closed in once again. Ketchikan is a high-traffic area for float planes as well, and we could hear them overhead, but never did see the ones coming in for a landing this particular day. We heard a random yokel on the VHF, muttering quickly and to no one in particular, "Dat plane up thaar, is'it okay? She's goin' round and round and round in circles". Float plane pilot is an occupation that has really stirred my interest in recent weeks, but in those conditions, I feel safer in a boat. Even Brian's boat.
In the hopes of quelling any boredom of retracing our steps down the coast, we had high hopes of cruising a portion of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Things have not gone as planned, but a second visit to Prince Rupert brought an unexpected meeting with a couple of very interesting people. As always, you cannot anticipate what is going to bring you the most fulfillment or enchantment in a journey such as this.
Friday, September 19, 2008
In Pruth Bay we spotted wolf tracks on the white sandy beach which was a short hike from the anchorage. The island is the site of a sportsfishing lodge, which had just closed for the season. Caretakers had just arrived by float plane to look after the property for the winter, and told us of the wolves, and details of the lodge, and pointed out an old cabin where John Wayne stayed when he visited the lodge many years ago.
Each day, the scenery has steadily changed. We've become completely spoiled with humpback whale sightings, and often stop and drift as they come up for their displays. Usually we see a fin, followed by a huge tail that swoops up, then falls beneath the water without a trace of a splash. A more impressive show is to see a lone whale somersaulting and slapping the surface with its long flippers, sometimes repeatedly for 20 minutes or longer. The sound it makes, in such a wild environment, is difficult to describe. When the wind and seas are calm, the only sound you hear is the ringing in your ears. It hasn't been unusual for us to go for days at a time without seeing another boat, or plane, or any other sign of civilization. I had no idea before setting out on the trip that there would be such long stretches of desolation. I do have to wonder how many outlaws seek the remoteness of this area, and live up in the mountains where, chances are, they would never be found.
Some days seem longer than others, especially when there's little wind, and we're just motoring along. There's a tendency to fall into a sort of highway hypnosis at the helm, and the boredom can lead to too much thinking. As a result, we've begun to take turns reading to one another to pass the time. I found a book in a second-hand shop in Squamish called Ralph Edwards of Lonesome Lake, about a pioneer in the Bella Coola area. Knowing we'd be sailing in the vicinity, I thought it might be of some interest, and its probably the best $1 I've spent since beginning the trip. His family became caretakers for the wintering Trumpeter swans which were dwindling in numbers and were dangerously close to extinction. He was credited for getting the species off the endangered list, which is just the beginning of his story. Suffice to say, it's a great read, and I would recommend it to anyone.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
A time consuming and somewhat challenging aspect that is defining our trip so far is the necessity to time the tides and currents. There are many small passes than must be transited at slack, or near-slack tides. Currents can easily run at 15kts, and in some cases 24kts a bit further up the coast. There are literally hundreds of mountainous islands, and dozens of routes to take. We decided we were going to go through Stuart Pass, 25 miles from the Gorge Harbour in Cortez, but the only safe (daylight) times to sail through that area were early morning and just before sunset, and there were no safe anchorages nearby. After moving to a somewhat closer anchorage, further north but still on Cortes, known as Von Dop Inlet, we changed our minds and ended up passing through Hole in the Wall, which our tide books gave slack water at 2pm. Arriving at 1:40 after a failed attempt in the areas popular and apparently fool-proof fishing hole, our cruising guide seemed to suggest near-slack tides were acceptable, and passing through the 'rapids' (the tide runs so hard, it really is like rapids) should be straight-forward. There were more than one narrow sections, it was a winding path, and the whirlpools were the best I've seen yet. The turn of the tide at the southern tip of Nova Scotia was quite a show as I recall as I left for Cuba on Annie Laurie, but it was nothing compared to what I was seeing now. I kept my eyes on the chart, trying to judge our position by the little coves and points of land I was seeing. There were rocks mid channel, I eventually noticed, but were veiled by the rapids, and looked like much of the rest of the water in the immediate area, white and frothy. Brian steered for shore to avoid the rocks, but we were still going faster on a perpendicular course. A well-powered fishing boat stopped to watch us, seeming a bit concerned and wanting to make sure we made it through to the other side alright, which we eventually did about 15 minutes later. About 45 minutes later a line-up of sailboat were motoring towards the same pass. We both thought, "Hmm, aren't they going to be at the pass a bit too late?".
Meanwhile, on the other end of the continent, Fay hit northern Florida as a Tropical Storm, with the eye, from what I gather, passing close to where I left my boat in Palm Coast. The storm surge had the dock under a foot of water, Shirley tells me, but Annie weathered the storm just fine. Thank-you to the exponent of a million, Shirley, Bill, and Art.