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Our Journey – by Jodi

Our Journey!
The Boat:
470 Catalina 2000.

The Crew:
Captain – Gary BrattonDCIM100GOPRO
Semi-Retired computer programer and jack of all trades.

First Mate/Admiral/Executive Officer – Jodi Bratton
Retired Sr. Project Manager and jack of all trades.DCIM100GOPRO

Deckpaw – Rio
Active – alarm dog, watch dog and night watch companion. Rescued from the pound.DCIM100GOPRO

Gary and I met 10 years ago and married 7 1/2 years. I was a competitive Country Dancer when we met.  I retired 2 years later and Gary had a dream of sailing around the world.  We bought my first sailboat, Gary’s 6th in Galveston Texas, a little 33′ Newport.  We sailed her home through the ICW.
During our trip I said, ” you are either going to marry me or divorce me when this trip is over”.  It took 11 days and lots of motoring and long days of sailing. We met many interesting people and every tug boat on the ICW knew we were out there somewhere.  Not another pleasure boat in the channel in that cold month of March.  We had 5 wonderful years on her.  The grand kids, Jaggar and Jacob enjoy being on her and sailing, they spent many of night at our boat and the marina.

Gary and I moved to Seminole Florida from Tallahassee in August of 2005 right after we got married.

We sold “Little” Dancer and went on the hunt for “Big” Dancer.

Found her in Mobile Alabama.  We brought her home in 3 days, this would be the first of our long distance, overnight sailing trips.

The Journey began when Gary said in December 2012, “we are leaving on March 22, 2013,” his 62 birthday.  He told his boss and I turned in my notice for retirement on February 28, 2013.  We rented the house and we had to be out by March 10.  So my mom, Gary and I had several garage sales and packed what we thought we would need on the boat. So on Friday March 8th we moved on to our 47′ Catalina sailboat which we bought 3 1/2 years ago.  We made several improvements to her, new sail, solar cells, dingy davits, shelves and turned the aft shower into a pantry.  We stayed on the marina for 3 weeks packing and stowing all the provision for the trip.  Mom stayed with us and help put things away.  Our new cockpit enclosure was completed on April 2nd and we tossed our lines on April 5th, 2013.

Day 1 of our around the world cruise, April 4th 2013.
casting off
Our day began @ 5 A.M. or so it was to, hit the snooze button and up at 6. Our goal was to be out of port by 8:00.  Took our last long hot shower, then finished stowing the last minute items, bikes, propane cans, Jerry cans, etc…Quick trip to the store for a bag of ice for the cooler in the cockpit, we are ready to toss our lines, we are no longer land lovers! We are now Cruisers!

Gary and I pull our dock lines at 9:30 A.M. and cast off for the last time in Madeira Beach Florida.  We radioed the bridge for the next opening.  The bridge tender said he would get the bridge right up.  The tenders know Dancer well as we brought Christmas baskets to them for several years as a thank you.  Under the 1st bridge and on to Johns Pass which will be our last Florida bridge to go under.

Weather was to be 20 knots of wind coming from the north, the weather man was right with 3 to 5′ seas.  We set our jib sail at the last marker and headed south for Key West. This will be the first leg of our trip, 207 nautical mile.

As the winds continue to blow the waves continue to grow throughout the day. Gary and I started to feel like a message in a bottle bouncing around the sea. following seas It was nice that almost everything that was stowed stayed in its place, except the aft head (bathroom) cabinet.  It popped open on one of our rolls and everything went cur-plop to the floor. One white basket later it was all restored, only this time on the floor. Need to fix that!

With only the jib up we traveled at 6.5 knots at noon.  Gary rigged the Jack-lines on both sides of the deck for us to tether on to.  Our new PFD’s have build in harness’s that makes going forward so much safer.  Even Rio has a harness and tether to keep him from going overboard or forward with out adult supervision :-) Very proud of Gary, he wore his life jacket and tether every time he went forward to the bow.

1st dolphin sighting at 1:00, they didn’t stay long.  By 2:00 the seas grew to 4 to 6′ and Gary gave up on trying to nap.  After 5 hours of sailing the wind switched and we pulled the jib and started the motor.  One hour later we decided to take the whisker pole down and try the jib again.  BINGO we are under sail again.  dolphins

It was a long night of rolling seas, pitch black skies and a little sleep, Rio would curl up with who ever was on watch and sleep between our legs, he too did not like the rock and rolling seas.  We work on 2 hour watches, Gary will sleep, then me.

Day 2, Saturday 4/5/13

We arrived in Key West at 5;30 P.M., anchor down, boy was Rio happy, he could go on deck and take care of business, 24 hours of holding it.  We went about putting the boat back in order from the 32 hours of sailing through rough seas.  Dinner was Chicken on the grill and boiled potatoes. Lights out by 9.

Spent 2 nights in Key West.  Sunday morning went into town to get a few items we needed to repair the mast.  We went from in-mast furling to a full batten main so the furling was clanging in the mast.   Gary had thought he had this fix before we left.  We dinghed to Home Depot for 2 cans of foam spray to fill plastic baggies to stop the clanging.  up mastThen back to the boat and up the 65′ mast Gary goes armed with his tool to fix the bang, 45 minutes later all done and no clanging.  Went to town and walked around for a few hours on Sunday then hung out on the boat getting ready to sail again in the morning.

We left Key West Monday morning at 7:30 towards Marathon, wind right on our noise at 18 knots.  Will have to motor for quite awhile. Nothing exciting happen on this leg of the journey.

Tuesday April 8, 2013

With the sea a little calmer Rio venture out to the “poop” deck this morning with adult in tow.  We told him to poop & pee and treats to follow.  This became the routine for him. napping

We tacked through the night to round Key Largo and were able to put the sails up and shut the engine off.  How quite!! This was around 9:30 A.M. Small rainstorm went thought at 11.  We sailed with full main and 1/2 the jib out for the rest of the day and night.  We we able to get into the Gulf Stream with add speed to our sailing time.  We got 4 extra knots with this and 229 mile in the day.  WOW! Thank you Gulf Stream!!

Charelston, SC

Absolutely the fastest day ever!

The fastest day ever

So, how fast is fast anyway?  Obviously for sailors, fast is somewhat relative. Relative to other sailing vessels and other sailors, not to Suzuki Hyabusa’s or F-18 Hornet jet fighters.  For Dancer, we usually figure on making about 5kts during a passage. That’s about the same as a good brisk walk, but string 24hr of those together and you have moved 120 nautical miles through time and space.
When we spend any time traveling at above 6 kts, it was”a good sail”. Above 7.5 and we were “hooked up” and  “in the groove.”
Since Dancer has a hull speed of 8.5 kts, that is as fast as she is ever supposed to able to go, so when we see 8.4 or above on the knot meter….  well we go home and write about it in our Blog!

If we could actually hold 8 kts for a full 24 hr period, we would travel 192 nautical miles. There are boats that can do this, but they are not 47feet long and carrying the crews entire life along with them. This is beyond any but specialty built race boats and crews.
So what do you say when your third day at sea turns up to be a 229 nautical miles “Boomer?”  That my friends is an average of 9.54 kts every single hour for 24hrs. That is an average that is 13% faster than the boats supposed top speed.  And yet that is EXACTLY what S/V Country Dancer did on April 6, 2013.  From Miami to St. Augustine. 229 nautical miles in 24 hrs.

Absolutely the fastest day ever!    Watch the HD Video

Did I hear someone say “wait a second?”  Yes, yes, you in the back there. What about the Gulf Stream?  Well, yes it does run from Miami to St Augustine.  Well yes It does sometimes move at 4kts.  Well yes, I suppose it does mean we were actually sailing at just over 5 1/2.  Please sit down sir. A record is a record after all. Any other questions?

Please tell us how you like the videos.  The crew is beginning to rebel at my constant ideas for a  “cool” shot.

P.S. After blasting up the coast, the wind died completely some 70 miles from Jacksonville, and we had to humbly motor our “super boat” into the anchorage.  Dooh.

Sitting in the cockpit

Sitting in the cockpit, I grab the three quarter inch Dacron Genoa sheet to keep from rolling off the seat.  When a puff hits, the force is so great  I can literally feel the huge line stretch and thin in the palm of my hand.rough seas

We are twenty miles off Fort Meyers beach on the first day of Country Dancers trip around the world.  And what a first day it has been!  As I write this, it is midnight and dark as sin,  no moon and the only horizon is the faint glow from Ft Meyers. Before dark, we could see the huge waves that were sliding up from behind us and rolling us from ear to ear,  but now they simply strike, and we hold on.  Jodi is trying to get some sleep on the other seat in the cockpit,and Rio is cuddled in my lap. He doesnt like rolling around either.

This weather was supposed to let up some by now, but I have seen our speed hit 9.6kts and then a minute or two later, 9.7.  For a boat that needs all of her 75 turbocharged diesel horsepower to reach 8.5kts, just think how much force is being generated by those sails, and transferred by a braided piece of dacron line.  And this is with two reefs in the main and only enough jib out to keep us from broaching in the rollers.   Even so, we are booming through the pitch black night like a freight train with no brakes.

Did I mention the waves….
As we rattle around the cockpit, my head is about 8 feet above the ocean.  Many of the waves hitting us block out the horizon as they pass, meaning they are more than 8ft high. Nasty, steep waves.  The kind that roll under you swinging the bow to the left and then pitching it back to the right just in time for the next nasty to grab you and start the sickening wallow again.

We are about five degrees off course, but I will correct for this at daybreak when I can at least see the sails.

Well we needed a shake down befor crossing the Atlantic.  If Dancer can hold together for tonight, she might just be ready for the crossing.

Warp Factor nine Mr. Solo!

Summary:  Slip 37, ABC marina, Maderia Beach to anchor drop in Key West
203 miles and 32hours. Leg one complete. The video does not do this one justice.

The view from The Top

Part of sailing is being a bit of a monkey, and Country Dancers crew is fully qualified.  This little trip to the top was to install a new sheave in the masthead to accommodate  the new halyard for the Mac Pack and Full Batten main sail.  Fortunately, I have no fear of heights, and the electric secondary winch makes going up the stick a pretty simple and easy maneuver.

S/V Country Dancer from 65' up the stick

S/V Country Dancer from 65′ up the stick

Here’s the link to the full HD video.