It’s finally starting to feel like we’re cruising! In this episode, we prep for our longest sail yet: 190 miles from St. Joseph Point to Clearwater. We give you a peak inside our ditch kit, install a MOB (man overboard) device in each of our lifejackets, and test our PLB (personal locating beacon).
Then, we set sail! We have an amazing downwind sail wing-on-wing to our overnight anchorage, we spend a horrible night on the hook and wake up early to get tossed around in rolly seas. The first part of our passage is marked by visits from dozens of dolphins, and we don’t see another ship for over 24 hours while crossing the Gulf of Mexico all alone.
Hope you enjoy!
Lauren & Kirk
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Our camera gear:
Hey Lauren, can you hear me?
[Lauren] Alright, we ready to do this?
This really starts to feel like the beginning of our sailing journey.
Last night was terrible, couldn’t sleep a wink.
[Kirk] There’s a bunch of dolphins on the bow.
[Kirk] Oh that’s a big one right there.
Are we even halfway yet?
[Lauren] Last time on Sailing Soulianis, we left Alabama for the panhandle of Florida.
Man that’s shallow.
Adios Pensacola Bay! We then ventured into the Gulf of Mexico for our first truly salty sailing endeavor. First gulf sail!
[Lauren] Upon arrival in Panama City, we finished preparing for our 180 mile, overnight passage to Clearwater. One of the last things on our to-do list was to get some additional safety equipment ready.
We’ve got our man-overboard devices. These will be inserted into our life jackets and if one of us were to fall overboard, the other person who is off watch will be alerted with an alert on our radio. As you soon as you go up to the chart blotter you’ll actually see, with an AIS signal, where this device is in the water, hopefully still attached to the person that fell overboard. So I’m about to program this now. It’s flashing quick green, I think that means it worked then hopefully we should get an alarm. You ready? What’s happening Lauren?
We got our man-overboard device to work!
[Kirk] Alright, now how do we turn it off?
[Kirk] No, but how do we turn it off on there?
[Lauren] I think it’s off. It’s not flashing or anything.
[Kirk] Okay, hold this.
[Kirk] I got to figure out how to turn this off. Well that’ll certainly wake us up. Yes.
[Kirk] That seems pretty good.
Yeah now we need to do the other one, right?
Yeah, we need to test the other one. Do you want me to do the test procedure, or would you like to?
I can do the test procedure.
‘Cause I should have you on camera, ’cause you are the eye candy.
Ew no, look at this right now.
I do look pretty good right now don’t I?
You look fantastic.
Alright so Lauren is going to go take the other MOB device off the boat, like 100 feet away, so that, we can test the location accuracy of the GPS signal, and the placement of the AIS icon on our chart blotter. Stand up and jump around a little bit so I can see you.
[Lauren] All right we ready to do this?
All right, now it’s giving me a position.
[Kirk] Yeah, it’s got you right over there.
[Lauren] Haha, woo!
I’m going to go shut off the, the radio. Hey Lauren, can you hear me? So, I was just doing a little test while that was going off, I just adjusted the volume on the radio and it doesn’t actually affect the alarm. So even if the radio is turned down low, it will still sound really loud, yeah. So in addition to our man-overboard devices, we have a personal locator beacon, which we are actually going to be using, as our boat’s E-PIRB. We’re kind of cruising on a budget here, and, we didn’t feel like we could drop $2,000 on all the electronics and emergency devices, we wanted to have in an ideal situation. And since the only difference between an E-PIRB and a PLB is the duration at which the signal will continue to operate, we felt that because we’re only ever going to be 70 miles offshore, give or take, a 24 hour operating location beacon would be plenty enough. And what we’ll do next year is we will add to these electronic devices, by purchasing another PLB, and then an E-PIRB. So then, we will both, individually, be able to have a man-overboard device and a personal locator beacon, plus an E-PIRB for the boat.
[Lauren] Can you tell me why there are pirate ships behind you right now?
We hired them as background crew for our safety demonstration. So we’re going to test this thing, make sure that it connects to a satellite make sure that it gets our GPS co-ordinates, and relays that to the 406Link.com website that we have set up. To operate this, you flip open the antenna. It wants to be vertical to the sky, is the way they say it works best. And there’s two buttons. This is the actual emergency button, you don’t hit that unless it’s an emergency. This is the test button. So now, it will continue to flash red, until it gets a GPS signal and locks on, and it will then flash green, and this can take a while. They said up to two minutes. Oh, there goes the green solid light. So now it has connected with the satellite, it’s gotten our GPS location, and then it will send a signal off to Lauren’s phone–
[Lauren] Oh, look at that!
To indicate that it was successful. Our beacon is now coming to go into our ditch kit, which we always leave readily accessible when we’re out sailing. This gets clipped in so that we don’t lose it, and it’s strapped right inside, with our whistle, sunscreen, coconut waters, regular waters, emergency blankets, compass, mirror signaling device, some flares, what else have we got in here? All sorts of fun stuff.
[Lauren] Snacks, we got snacks in there.
[Kirk] Snacks, we got some snacks in there.
Gotta have the important stuff.
[Kirk] Our high-vis sun hats, to keep the sun off of us so we don’t get roasted. We got good stuff in here.
[Lauren] Is there microwave popcorn in there?
[Kirk] There’s not microwave popcorn in there.
[Lauren] Good, ’cause we don’t have a microwave.
All right, we are headed to the Port of St Joe. It’s about a 30 mile sail south. We’re gonna do an overnight anchorage there, catch a little bit of rest, and then continue onto Clearwater which is another 190 miles south. Nice. Nice job! Those your wings?
We’re gonna leave really early in the morning, tomorrow morning. We’ll sail all day tomorrow, all night tomorrow night, and then hopefully we’ll be in sometime the following day before sunset. But this really starts to feel like the beginning of our sailing journey. We spent a few months coming down the river under motor. We spent a few months stuck in Mobile. But now we’re finally free. We’re anchored. We got a beautiful sunset that’s going down right before my eyes here. And we’re about to embark on the largest, longest, open water crossing we’ve done yet. So, life is good right now. Are you ready for tomorrow? So what is it, almost 6?
We’ve had a really terrible night of no sleeping.
It was probably the worst night ever!
We’ve got 190 miles to put behind us.
This is the big one. Big one for us. Biggest saltwater passage yet.
Think there’s a boat whipping around out there. Oh no, that’s just us. We’re just whipping back and forth that fast.
[Lauren] Why did you think there was a boat?
I dunno. I saw a green light going past. Yeah. You look hilarious by the way.
I know, I know. I… Like so, I have to wear my glasses, I don’t even know where I put them. Here we are. And the only way to keep them on, was by wearing this hat and still covering my ears, is to have this bandana underneath and my glasses in between and the hat over the top. It’s ridiculous. I look like a clown, I know.
[Kirk] You have like a square head.
Yeah. Last night was terrible, couldn’t sleep a wink ’cause we were like keeled over at anchor, and the boat was sailing around like crazy, so yeah! All right, great start to our 36-hour passage to Clearwater! But, what are you gonna do? Stay here?
We’re gonna go.
No, we have to go.
We’re gonna go. That’s a big one right there. So what do you think, how’s it going?
Getting better. Pretty wild ride earlier! Right now reminds me of our sail back from Milwaukee to Racine. Sun’s out, waves are big, I forget where the wind was coming from when we–
[Kirk] Pretty much like this.
So we started the morning with 20 knots coming from the north, and we were motoring into it, to get out and around the anchorage that we stayed in last night and that was pretty nasty. And then we had beam on for a little while and we lost a coffee cup. Now things are starting to calm down a little bit. We’re out in deeper waters, so I think the swell has kinda smoothed out a little, and the wind has dropped, ever so slightly. It’s supposed to drop a little bit more throughout the rest of the day. And hopefully, by the time it gets dark, the waves will be quite a bit smaller.
Are we even halfway yet?
No. No, we’ve gone about, 70 miles almost, but we’re gonna do more than 200 on this trip, just because of the way the wind has been.
It’s been directly behind us and we can’t go directly downwind.
Doing a bad job of steering and talking. We’re still making good time. We’ve been doing better than six knots over ground the whole time. We’re looking at getting in tomorrow afternoon between one and four, it will probably be five.
It’s like 50 degrees out right now and, I don’t know if either of us actually got warm today at all. So–
Oh that’s right.
I heated up. I could’ve jumped in for a minute.
Kirk was running around on deck, changing the sails this way and that, trying to figure out the optimal sail position.
We didn’t find it.
Worked up a sweat.
We’re gonna be right in the dead center of our crossing at about 1 AM tonight. We’re hoping that, I mean, it’s like a new moon our eyes will adjust enough to the point where we can just see under starlight.
Or else it’s gonna be really black.
Or else it’s gonna be pitch black, and we won’t be able to see anything ’cause there’s nobody out here.
We haven’t seen anyone else on AIS, we tried to call the one boat that was anchored just south of us where we left this morning and they didn’t call back. They were probably sleeping. So yeah, it’s just us. Us and the dolphins.
And the seabirds.
Now, I’m gonna go and make some dinner before it gets dark and I can’t see anything.
And I’m gonna continue to steer by hand.
Yeah! ‘Cause we, our autopilot is great.
When there’s not six-foot funneling seas.
See you in the morning. Hey birdie?
[Kirk] There’s a bunch of dolphins on the bow.
[Kirk] Yeah. I’m gonna go check ’em out. You guys are so fast! Well, it was an absolutely gorgeous night for our crossing. It was like living on Pandora, from, I can’t even think of the name of the movie now, where everything glows and sparkles. We had bioluminescent trails, trailing off behind our boat. You could see the dolphins come up and join us throughout the night, because they have bioluminescent trails behind them. There were just millions and millions of stars, And it was just like we were floating through a sparkling galaxy of wonderland. We were visited by probably, 10 or 12 different pods of dolphins, and these guys that I’ve been just filming now have been hanging out here for the last half an hour. There was probably 20 of ’em at one point. What an amazing way to end our first night crossing of the Gulf! It started out really, really rough, and true to sailing I both hated it and loved it. It was a very polarizing experience for me. Sometimes I’m just completely over it and don’t want anything to do with it anymore and other times like, now I’ve seen these magnificent creatures just playing the water beneath me, while the sun is rising in front of me, on the bow of my own boat, cruising along under auto-pilot, while my love is sleeping in the cockpit, it is a pretty amazing feeling.
♪ By day she comes ♪ ♪ Sails from sea ♪
[Kirk] There she is.
♪ By night she sings ♪ ♪ The stars to sleep ♪ ♪ When morning comes ♪ ♪ The ships will sail ♪ ♪ Salty soul ♪ ♪ Without a care ♪
I got the camera all salty, that’s probably not very good
♪ Ooh, don’t let it pass, oh let it pass you by ♪ ♪ Ooh, you’ll sit and wonder, sit and wonder why ♪ ♪ ‘Cause on and on and on ♪ ♪ It goes ♪ ♪ Time ♪
What’cha cooking good lookin’? I saw it was putting out 38 amps
Until we went down below and started smelling electrical burning.