After months of preparation the time came to get Beautiful Dreamer to her new home port of Bradenton, FL. I’ve crewed on boat deliveries in the past so I knew what to expect with this trip, but I went ahead and hired a Captain to help me get Beautiful Dreamer across the Gulf of Mexico.
My Waterford Harbor dock neighbor Ruben Koene just happened to be a licensed captain AND had just returned from a solo circumnavigation! He agreed to the job offer and helped me run the boat prep check list.
On Tuesday, March 31 we topped off the diesel tank with 58 gallons of fuel and took off with a fresh Northwest wind which was perfect for getting past Galveston and offshore. We made 147 miles in our first 24 hour run, but that would prove to be our best 24 hour run of the trip as the winds moved east from there and remained from the east for the balance of the trip.
My Tayana 37 is a true blue water boat, but she is best suited to reaching and running with the wind. Going to windward in 20 knot plus winds and 8 to 10 foot seas is not her strong point. And day after day of heeling at 40 degrees with the rail in the water makes for a very uncomfortable passage.
Captain Ruben got to know the boat quickly and determined that we needed plenty of sail up to power through the rough conditions in the Gulf. Together we found the right combination of Main, Jib and Staysail that would give us 5 plus knots of speed. This and the occasional assist of the diesel helped keep our average speed above the 5 knot target.
On Tuesday morning, April 7th under the remains of the full Pink Moon we approached the Tampa Inlet and the end of a tough and bruising Gulf Crossing.
Our track can be seen at this link https://maps.findmespot.com/Track?ishr=5bd6af09-b528-4296-a166-ab7500c7ef23#panel-history
My captain. Ruben Koene started as my captain and ended the trip as my friend. He has an amazing knack for sailing and making a boat go as fast as possible. He knows how to drive a boat to top performance and he can fix problems in the most ingenious way. Well done Captain Ruben!
We saw a variety of marine life along the way, but the Porpoise and Whale sightings were by far the most amazing. On Sunday afternoon at around Lat 27.54 and Lon 87.21 we spotted two Sperm Whales swimming side by side in the opposite direction that we were sailing. They swam about 100 to 200 feet off our Port side. It was an amazing site. My phone and GoPro were not at hand so I did not get a photo or video and I was not about miss this amazing site trying to fish my camera out.
Sunsets were amazing and we were blessed with a couple of nights of clear sky’s and a waxing gibbous moon. The evening stars on the first night at sea were stunning. I’ve only see its equal when Donna and I went to Davis Mountain State Park, which is one of the darkest places in North America. The moonrise (when visible) was also a beautiful sight. On Monday night April 6 the Pink Moon was almost full and the seas were fairly calm. It was tough to go off watch this night as it was such a beautiful and peaceful evening.
We had only one storm to deal with on Sunday, April 5. Rain showers passed over the boat in waves during the early morning hours and then the Northeast winds kicked in at 20 to 25 knots, and yes, not in a favorable direction! It was rail down sailing for the entire day and evening.
Blue water! I’m always mesmerized by the deep blue color of the ocean when offshore. Anyone who has done a cruise or offshore passage knows what I’m talking about. It’s a color that I’ve only seen when sailing in deep water. There is no photo that can capture this color.
And the final Highlight of the trip… Arriving at Twin Dolphin Marina in Bradenton, FL.
This journey was an adventure for sure, but it was not a comfortable cruise. Having to wedge yourself against hard surfaces just to put on your cloths or foul weather gear can make for some very bruised hips. It was a bruising crossing. And don’t get me started on using the bathroom when your heeling 40 degrees!
Sailing for me is always about the destination vs. the journey, and I’m very happy to be at the destination.
Now we get settled into the new boating routine. First up is making some repairs to the boat. The old Perkins Diesel needs a new pump seal and the varnish work took a beating as we pounded through the waves. But overall Beautiful Dreamer did what she was built to do, make a blue water crossing and getting herself and crew safely to port.
I can now say the move to Florida is complete. All that’s left to do is retire!