Monday, April 14, 2014

Great Start

At Sea, 25 50.351 N 081 45.478 W
Monday, April 14, 11 AM
It has been a while since we were at sea. Last night was a great start.
We are sailing from Marathon to Fort Myers Beach. A distance of about 110 nautical miles (117 statue miles). The winds are light and we are motoring while sailing.
We departed Marathon Sunday around 5 oclock. (I miss Marathon already!!!) That gave us about three hours of light to get out of the harbor, under the bridge and on course. We chatted with our friends Bob and Sandra on Carpe Diem. They were anchored at Coconut Key for the nighgt. They and we appeaered to be the only vessels in Florida Bay. Amazing. The sky was clear blue and the water turquoise.
As an added treat, we had a nearly full moon. Libby and I love sailing at night with a full moon. It's really beautiful. The moonlight competed with the phosphorenct light in our wake. At first I thought we would be treated to a sight we've never seen before; a lunar eclipse while at sea. But I misread. The eclipse is tonight, not last night. We'll probably be sleeping tonight at 2AM.
Right now, we're passing Marco Island. We should arrive in Fort Meyers Beach after dark. That could be a problem. We may decide to put in at Naples instead because we could be there in daylight. But we've never been in Naples harbor before. We'll see. Tomorrow afternoon might be stormy. We don't want to be exposed then.
One bit of bad luck. We snagged a lobster trap. It must have happend after I went to sleep around 4AM. Libby didn't notice. She turned on the engine, pushed up the throttle and continued. When I got up around 7, I immediately saw that the speed was too low and the engine was laboring too hard. Something was wrong, and I suspected a lobster pot.
So, we stopped the engine. I stripped naked, put out the boarding ladder, put on my mask and snorkel, deployed the boarding ladder, grasped a sharp knife in my teeth and dove in the ocean. Romantic huh? The water was warm which I appreciated.
I checked the propeller and shaft. It was clear. I checked the rudder. Aha! We did have a trap and its line was jammed in the 1/2 in gap between hull and skeg rudder. We have a metal tab that crosses that gap to prevent lines from getting in there, but sometimes it happens anyhow.
During the day, we keep an eye out for lobster traps and avoid them. At night, we can't do that. Many cruisers refuse to sail at night because of that risk. But they have fin keels, spade rudders, and exposed propellers. The likelyhood of them snagging a trap is higher and the severity of the damage is more, than on Tarwathie.
If my memory is correct, this is the fourth time in 9 years and 45,000 miles of cruising that we snagged traps. The worst was in Maine where I nearly succumbed to hyperthermia while cutting it free.
I dove down and cut the line. It only took five seconds. (Having an extremely sharp line-cutting knife on board is very important.)
That fixed, the problem. Speed and engine power returned to normal. I estimate that we must have dragged that trap 15-20 miles. I'll have to train Libby to be on the lookout for such events. But in this case we would have had to wait until daylight to dive. I never would have spotted that black line in the water in the dark.


  1. Diving in with a knife to cut something loose reminds me of the time in VT, except I had clothes on and the water was bitterly cold !

  2. I knew the Mills family was badass but this takes it to a new level! -mat


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