St Augustine, FL to Harbortown Marina, Merritt Island, FL

What a ride, at about 10:30 PM is when we got our first taste of the rolling seas.  We began to panic just a little.  What do we do?   We had just encountered the scariest experience we have had on the boat.

Here’s how it started:

We left St Augustine on Friday afternoon an hour later than we had planned, it was 5pm.  It had been a beautiful day, sun shining, winds mild!

IMG_2003               IMG_2004          IMG_2005               IMG_2006

We got through the bridge and our engine overheated and stalled, it was quite sudden and there was another sailboat behind us, we quickly restarted the motor and pressure and temperature resumed to normal, whatever it was seemed to have dislodged or resolved itself, we decided we would continue our trip and have not had an issue since.

We favored the reds all the way out the St Augustine Inlet and had no problems.

Once we got out, we put up our sails and gave them a good shaking!  Dusty (our 17 lb cat)was enjoying the breeze!


It was a beautiful day and we were having fun!

Sails up, sun-setting

The sun went down, we pulled in our two head sails and we began our 2 hour shifts, making sure we would get some rest so we could stay alert throughout the night.

It was about 10:30 PM, when we got our first taste of the rolling seas.  We began to panic just a little.  What do we do?   We had just encountered the scariest experience we have had on the boat.  We slowed the boat down, the seas were rolling 4-6 feet, every 5-7 seconds and the wind was blowing 15-18, gusting to 25 knots.  The boat was rocking from side to side every 7 seconds or so, and then we would get hit from behind with another surge, the only place we could get relief was heading towards land, and we still had to go out past the Hetzel shoal.  We tethered ourselves and Sasha (our dog) to the boat and began to lock the cats up, Syd scooted up front to reef the main sail, (we had planned on reefing at sunset but it was beautiful and we were not expecting rough weather).  We turned into the wind and began to hit the waves head on, Sketchy (the youngest of our cats) had managed to escape and follow Syd up the starboard side of the boat, and he pinned her to the ground while he worked and she stayed right there. Once the sail was reefed and all three cats were below we took some time to discuss our options.  We were all freaked out.  Sasha had taken her place in the cockpit foot well (thankfully we had gotten that work done prior to heading offshore) and the cats were secure and meowing below.

Our options:

1)  Motor sail outside of Ponce Inlet for approximately 5 hours, until sunrise and then stay at a Marina and regroup until the weather became more mild.

2)  Continue on and hope that we would somehow stay in front of the north west winds and pray it would not get any worse.  We were supposed to be at Cape Canaveral at 11 AM the next day if we maintained our speed.

We spent the next couple of hours evaluating our fear, feeling out our boat and trying to decide if “Perfect Partner” could handle the rolling seas.  Syd was looking at the weather to see what our overnight would hold.  Looks like the weather was going to continue throughout the night.  Do we go or sit and wait for daylight at Ponce Inlet?  After the few hours of “playing” in that weather, and securing ourselves, we were sure of a few things.  We were definitely uncomfortable, we knew the boat could handle what she was receiving, we knew that it would take us longer to get to Cape Canaveral than we had expected and we knew even though we were uncomfortable, that we could do it.  We decided the best course of action was to keep on and try to get some rest in between our shifts.  We got almost “comfortable” with our circumstances and we were tired, so we slept during our off shifts, although at each wave, we would wake up and brace ourselves for the onset of the next 3-4 waves.  We would have 7-10 seconds of calm and then we would ride up a wave, down the other side, another wave would be right there, tipping us over and just when we thought we were done another wave would come up from behind lifting our stern.  It was quite the trip, but we laughed and whoo hooed and sometimes held our breathe as the waves came and went throughout the night.  I found myself wondering if I would be more or less comfortable in the morning and decided once the sun was rising that morning was much better than not seeing what was coming during the night.

It was an interesting experience and until you go through it, there is no way to prepare yourself.  Be as ready as you can and make the most conservative choice.  In our circumstance, sitting offshore for 5 hours, circling did not seem conservative, so we kept going.  If we had known the weather was going to come early, we would never have left that day.  Sometimes you get caught off guard.  When we finally landed in Merritt Island, you should have seen the mess we had below, anything that was not tied down or put away was on the floor, gives us a whole new perspective of how to prep a boat for offshore.  Good news is nothing was broken and none of us got boat sick, except for 1 kitty cat!  On the flip side, the boat is small and it was easy to clean up after!

Here’s a short video you can watch taken from the rail of our cockpit (you’ll have to download it).

Offshore waves from the cockpit rail.


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3 Responses

  1. Your Bro says:

    You really must secure everything below when you go offshore. Plan for heavier seas and winds than what the forecast calls for. This was a good experience for you and you made the right choice. I’d rather ride it out than try to make for a port you are unfamiliar with at night.

  2. Elisa says:

    Left on a Friday, did ya? (**wink**)

    Glad you pushed through, realized your mistakes, and arrived unscathed. Good on ya’!

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