Hurricane Delays & Greeted by Dolphins, Now We’re Sailing

Hurricane Delays & Greeted by Dolphins, Now We’re Sailing

Welcome to the Sailboat Shakedown Cruise Take Two. I say take two because this is indeed our second time to leave Ft. Lauderdale with the intention of sailing south towards the Florida Keys.

Hurricane Hermine obviously doesn’t follow our website and didn’t care that we were embarking on our shakedown cruise. So, I blame her for any missed adventures (now that she’s long gone).

Last time we left you we had made our way to Lake Sylvia for a day of recuperation after receiving our service bill (thanks a million for all the encouraging comments). We picked up anchor the next morning and headed north for West Palm Beach. We chose to go north for a week for two reasons. One, because we had a week to kill while we waited on some spare parts to arrive (spare parts on a boat are super important). Two, because we wanted to go back to Peanut Island for some snorkeling.

peanut island by sailboat
anchoring peanut island

Once our parts arrived, we started sailing south and made it all the way to Pumpkin Key inside Biscayne National Park. Sure enough that was about the time all of the tropical storms started brewing in the Atlantic. Hurricanes are incredibly unpredictable and simply put, we weren’t ready for our first big storm…much less a full-fledged hurricane.

We had two options at that point.

  • Find a hurricane hole (a snug spot hidden in the mangroves) to ride out the storms at anchor and hope for the best.
  • Turn around and go back to Ft. Lauderdale where the team at Just Catamarans could help us properly secure the boat, take down the sails and provide an option of evacuating our sailboat if necessary.

We may be new to sailing, but when every boater in the area was starting to make plans…we knew we needed to act fast. Well, that and the fact that Kent (who is not known to be overly conservative) says, “When it comes to hurricanes and safe spaces, possession is ten-tenths of the law.” He warned us that he would try to hold a spot for us but if we waited too long, someone else would take it. It didn’t take long to figure out we needed to suck it up and head back before things got crazy.

Luckily, the only tropical storm (of the three that were brewing) that turned into a Hurricane was Hermine and it hit way north of Ft. Lauderdale and she only caused one fatality. As for us, we had a few good thunderstorms and then it was right back to sunshine, humidity and heat.

The one good thing about the delays…it gave us a chance to get caught up on all kinds of tasks. Which means we were really ready for take two of the shakedown trip…and ready with cameras in hand this time!

Can you believe those stellar sunsets and dolphins! We were like school kids experiencing something unknown for the first time. Watching ourselves I can hear the excitement with a little bit of mystery in our voices as we search out those dolphins…and when that one guy jumped, it nearly scared Jason right off the board.

Sorry for the dark grainy footage. Filming in the dark is incredibly challenging and its times like these we wish we had a super camera to capture it. Maybe we can find out where National Geographic discards all their used gear or something.

sailing life aboard a catamaranBiscayne National Parksailboat shakedown cruise

Biscayne National Parkspectacular sunsets Biscayne National Parksunsets from a sailboat

sailing life

Ok, beautiful scenery and wildlife aside we’ve already discovered one thing Curiosity is in desperate need of. A spinnaker! Light winds and downwind sailing are not typically words most sailors want to hear. Yet, it almost always seems this is the scenario we are faced with. A spinnaker sail is a lightweight sail designed for just this instance. If you are interested in learning more about downwind sailing and the different sails, I highly suggest checking out the blog Sailing Totem. Jamie is a well-known and respected sailmaker in the cruising community and I am learning a lot from his posts:

Land Miles vs. Nautical Miles

Sailing might be one of the slowest forms of transportation but it sure does have a lot of perks that make it all worthwhile…times ten!

We learned in our sailing class that a nautical mile is based on the circumference of the earth, and is equal to one minute of latitude. 1 nautical mile = 1.1508 land miles which isn’t a huge difference.

If you want to get super technical:
1 knot = 1 nautical mile per hour = 6076 feet per hour
1 mph = 1 mile per hour = 5280 feet per hour

So, for all of you non sailors out there, when we say we are sailing at 2.5 knots, that means we are traveling at 2.5 nautical miles per hour. Convert “KTS” to “MPH” and you’ll see we’re travelling slower than 3 miles per hour!

It’s slow…real slow. To make it plain as day: The average walking speed is 3.1 miles per hour. Ouch.

The fastest we have personally sailed was 10 knots (that’s a leisurely beach cruiser bicycle speed) during our first solo sail. We’re hoping for a lot more of that in the future…especially with the addition of a spinnaker.

Thanks again to all of you for following along, offering up words of wisdom, encouragement and always motivating us to keep on keeping on.

Stay tuned for the next leg of the journey where we hit some squalls, possibly run aground, finally make it “outside” and deeper into the keys.

Gear Used

Equipment used to film this video:

Sailing Report

Weather: Sunshine and Humidity
Wind:  South to Southeast 3-8 knots
Route: Ft. Lauderdale to Outside No Name Harbor to Billys Point, Biscayne National Park