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"It’s Not a Gentleman’s Sail"

Only some great pictures of Mayport, Florida’s wonderful pelicans but no pictures out at sea outside Georgia because we were busy 24 hours straight sailing in blustering (17 to 30+ kts) winds overnight in the Atlantic!

The quote in the title is from Jack Ellis, a new friend on Wild Horse, who sailed with us (sort of) in a very special overnight sail, the first overnight that we have done together without our son Adam onboard or other former crew like Ivan and Michael, Maggy and Greg, etc. It was quite a sail. We have heard of big sailing ships covering 200 miles in a day, but never thought we would with our little Afterglow. We covered 180 miles in a few minutes under 24 hours.

It was a tough one, not because of the wind speed, with roller reefed main and jib, we were hitting 9 knots at a few times, but because of the waves, especially after 2 am when they were on the starboard stern quarter, and the autohelm was seesawing so far we were worried about backwinding the main with the preventer on; that would have been disastrous. So Allen did a lot of hand steering and even when I was on watch he kept a close eye on the autopilot. Our new friend, Jack just sent a link to a good article on fine tuning the autohelm, and Allen will study that well and trim the settings in the future.

Norma loves her pelicans!

I’m a Wretch! Allen’s biggest concern was Norma getting seasick all night and all day during this 24-hour sail. Those waves were large and incessant, more than Norma could take in 36 years of sailing with Allen. She had almost gotten over coughing incessantly from a sinus infection and now adding this all-day and night seasickness was a bit too much. Queasy and retching is no fun, but nevertheless, Norma kept up her two-hour watches so Allen could get a bit of "sleep" (sometimes with one eye open). She even ventured outside the cockpit to help reef the jib. She was harnessed in for safety when outside the cockpit. Allen is a good captain—safety first!

Anyway, we arrived 8:00 am at the mouth of the St. John’s River in Mayport, Florida. After getting the boat tied up, Allen went immediately to sleep which he needed while Noma cleaned up—herself and the boat where many items had shifted from the heeling all night. It was a single tack the entire way! Our friends on Wild Horse tied up behind us on the Morning Star Marina dock and went to sleep as well.

Later, after our nap, we walked into the tiny town and had a great lunch of shrimp platter, spinach cakes, and the best seafood chowder we have ever had. Across the street, the restaurant had a store and fish processing plant and the best selection of fresh shrimp, seafood of all types, and sauces, fish coatings, and spices for seafood, etc.

Finally, in Florida! The small town of Mayport was closed up a bit (except for the Navy Yard which had active crew in ships and smaller boats) because, we were told, the town empties when the temperature gets below 60 degrees. Well, it’s below 60 degrees and windy here with lots of seabirds and pelicans all around hoping for throwaways from the fish plant nearby. It’s an authentic place with authentic and delicious seafood! We are actually considering a side-trip to the North up to Fernandina Beach at the Florida-Georgia line. Now we are here, we want to slow down a bit and enjoy our stay. We shall see how that works out.

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