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Maiden Voyage

I had a productive Saturday. Practiced docking stern first which is harder to do with a sailboat. Since there is only a single propeller sailboats tend to walk (move sideways, in the case of Palani to the port side) in reverse. So you have to compensate for prop walk, the cross wind that was up as well as moving backward. With an older heavier boat it’s extra special. Took a couple of tries but was successful (meaning nothing was hit and no damage was done) and now I had the stern of the boat close to the main dock so I could put the graphics for the boat name and hailing port on the stern. Finally was able to remove the stripper sticker that the previous owner put on (which I found was to cover a bare spot in the paint, wtf?).


Sanded off the last of the varnish on the stern toe rail but ran out of teak cleaner, so about 10 minutes of work left on the exterior wood and that will be finished up. Did some house cleaning below and then the afternoon thunderstorms that Florida is famous for in the summer kicked in. Closed up the boat so it wouldn’t get flooded and sat on the deck talking story with the neighbor Captain Tom. The drenching felt good to wash off all the sweat and dust off.

Maiden Voyage Off Jacksonville Beach

Moving the boat around yesterday made me realize I bought the boat for sailing and it was time for a maiden voyage. I don’t mind the projects and repairs but not the real reason for the purchase of a boat to live on. Since the marina, I’m in is shallow (Palani rests on the mud at low tide) I have to time my comings and goings based on High Tide time. So a little before 8 am on Sunday I headed out of the slip and onto the ICW (InterCoastal Waterway). It was a 2 hour trip from dock to the inlet for the St Johns River. Palani is a slow motorboat.

This was my first time sailing Palani since I had purchased her. My original relocation trip was all motor time as she needed a new running rig to be functional. After getting the sails raised a set her on a close haul down the coastline towards Jacksonville Beach. Not having an autopilot putting up (and as it turned out taking down) the sails an exciting experience. I tied off the wheel pointed into the wind, the scurried forward to raise the sails at the mast. One of the things I’m going to change is to bring all (or most) of the lines back to the cockpit so you can handle the sails entirely from the comfort of the cockpit. I spent most of the day in light winds (est 8 – 10 knots) and small 1ft seas. Palani handled excellently once under sail. When I got lucky and had the sails balanced correctly (more practice will remove the luck part of this) you didn’t even have to steer her, she held a straight line without any control at the wheel. Even unbalanced I could hold the wheel with a little pressure from my knee and sit back to enjoy the serenity of being under sail.

One important thing I learned sitting there under blue skies and the warm sun (quite a bit cooler being out on the ocean vs. sitting at dock working on things) was how close I was to be able to sail off if I wanted to. While I have a huge list of stuff, I want to accomplish before retiring if life turned bad the list of things NEEDING to happen on the boat to be ready to go was rather small.

I spent 4 hours or so tacking my way down the coastline, getting just past Jacksonville Beach before heading back. Set on a nice broad run with waves and the wind to my back it felt like we were hardly moving, but if you looked at the shoreline, we were flying by (for a sailboat). My knotmeter is on the fritz, so I don’t the exact speeds but a handheld GPS is on the way so I’ll be able to track it (as well as provide maps of the voyages) next time.

maiden voyage

Just to prove that God has a sense of humor he waited until I had gotten Palani pointed into the wind and climbed up to the mast to take the sails down to stir up the ocean. As soon as I was on the foredeck the waves kicked up to 2 – 3 ft swells and at odds with the wind. This made for some exciting times as I fought the main sail down and the odd motion of the boat at the same time. Next time I’ll sail into the St Johns inlet and take the sails down behind the security of the breakwater.

Another relaxing 2 hour trip down the St Johns and then a left at the ICW. Learning my lesson from the previous trip, I held my place in the middle of the channel as the water is skinny in this section of the ICW.

There were a bunch of little things I learned on the day out on the water. Some things that need to be adjusted with the running rig, the fact that the cabinet door locks the previous owner had put in didn’t work well (a lot of stuff ended up on the cabin sole, including a full bottle of coconut oil – floor has a nice shine and smell now), and how much easier life will be when I have the autopilot installed. But overall it was good to get away from the dock and get out on the water. A nice maiden voyage. Next trip I’ll explore north of the St Johns Inlet, have a long weekend in Sept coming up hopefully the weather will be good.

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