Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day Sail out to Hawk's Channel and the Outter Reef

Boot Key Harbor Bridge the primary route in and out of Boot Key Harbor

Burdines, great place for Fuel, Beer, or an evening meal at the Restaurant upstairs with super Sunset's
The Channel entrance is narrow and very shallow on both sides so  sharing with other vessels  keeps you on your toes.

A new color of Blue to sail in

That is Boot Key on the Left, we are sailing near Hawk's Channel on the way to the Outter Reef

Light winds but we ar making a comfortable 4-5 knots

This is "49" Green marking the edge of Hawk's channel and a  bit of a reef, do not get to close!

I'm in the Zone!

Sombrero Beach

Just can make out Gilligan's Island in the foreground AKA Little Sister  Rock

A few other sailors had the same Idea today

On the way back in the Channel we observed these commercial fisherman unloading some really large fish. 
Day Sail out to Hawk's channel and the Outter Reef

A few weeks ago I was getting a bit antsy and wanted to get the boat out of Boot Key Harbor and take advantage of the nice weather we were having for a day sail down Hawk's Channel and out to see the Outter Reef. I knew it was just past the three mile line out to the reef here and you could easily see all the sport fishing vessels lined up along the reef from all of the Atlantic side beaches. Also I wanted the Admiral to see that sailing down Hawk's Channel could be a very pleasant experience. As always it took a few days to prepare Body Mind and Soul and stow everything for the Day Adventure. There was a very pleasent South East wind 8-15 mph and we had a easy time departing the Mooring Ball and exiting through the narrow channel into Boot Key Harbor. The water was a New Blue to Wand'rin Stars crew. She had seen it before though with previous owners since the 1st Owner lived in Connecticut and the second owner sailed her to his home waters in Galveston Bay. Must have been a great trip.
I was in no particular hurry and was much more interested in sight seeing than racing around the Atlantic so I put out about 75% of the Main and about 80% of the Genoa. It was definitely a full sail day but we did have a few things to watch out for like rows and rows of crab traps and of course patch coral. We took a Beam to Broad reach out to the reef and I knew I would be on a close haul back but I was good with that. Besides the crab traps were easy to navigate on the way out to the reef. A very relaxing sail out. I was amazed at all the relatively small fishing boats out near at the reef, it was a nice day though and the swells 1-2'  or less.
We tacked to head back as I looked forward to a bit more lively sail close hauled sail. Well sailing through lines of crab traps close hauled is a different challenge. I need more practice at it as I continued to have to fall off to avoid the next one ahead as the leeway would surely take you right over it. Heading up was not an option,. I finally just went to a close reach and then had to fall off to a Beam reach to avoid the Coral Patch at Marker "49" We tacked after clearing the marker and reef but again it was no fun avoiding the crab traps close hauled and we continued to sail away from the channel entrance to Boot Key Harbor. I wanted to return to that relaxed state of mind that the Florida Keys seem to ingrain in you if you are here long enough. So we started the entrance and motored sailed the rest of the way in....much better.
This would be the first time the Admiral would be at the helm to pick up a Mooring Ball but no fear I had learned how to use wireless Remote VHF mic. I gave a quick 101 on how to use the VHF radio so I could communicate with her from the bow without having to use a loud voice. The demonstartion lesson worked great but as soon as we got near the ball the batteries on the remote mic gave up. No fear we just transitioned to our trusty hand signals and the Admiral nailed the mooring Ball on the first pass as if she had done it 100's of times. I was a proud Captain!

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