Two weeks in, it feels that we’ve been away long enough to have forgotten the day of the week. Our daily miles run is becoming secondary and our meals are becoming ever more appetizing. Today is Valentine’s Day, and lunch was tuna salad sandwiches, Pringles, and Dr. Pepper.
So maybe it doesn’t sound like we’re eating well, but we get to enjoy our meals in the open air of the cockpit, today is 60s and sunny. The rhythm of the trip is more realized, more relaxed as we come up on 200 miles to Mobile. We dropped anchor before dusk yesterday and left just after sunrise today.
The unhurried pace and good feelings of these days did not come easily nor totally by choice…
Thursday was a day of big ambition: we wanted to get 80+ miles. Not so easy when we average under 6 knots and have numerous locks each day. We awoke at 0500. Kyle had the engine warming up as Kassie and Dylan finished dressing for another day of winter. We quickly left our narrow, shallow anchorage for the narrow Tenn-Tom channel.
Almost immediately we see the spotlight of a tow coming around the first bend. Tows pushing long barges are the only boats we see, so their sudden appearance is routine. When you see them steaming upstream, you give them as much room as possible. Our depth reads 20′ so we move closer to the bank, our handheld spotlight fixed to the banks on our starboard beam.
Still 500 yards from the tow, Winnie’s bow rises, a jostling bounce and the depth reads 5 feet. She leans a bit to starboard as she comes to a halt. “To the upstream tow at mile marker 346, this is the sailboat Winnie. We have run aground.” Kyle throws her into reverse, but against the current our 25 horsepower diesel is all talk and no push. We hope that the tow’s wake will give us that extra bit of flotation but it doesn’t. He wishes us well but there is little he can do for us. A lesson in self reliance and ingenuity is upon us.
Seven hours later we free ourselves. Having already used every trick and a dozen attempts at each, our freedom comes with the simultaneous application of: full forward throttle, wheel turned to port, emptied water tanks (50 gallons), two anchors pulling our bow to port, and the dinghy pushing the bow to port.
Even listing these steps and how long it took does not give justice to our vain attempts: Kyle rowing anchors to at least 8 different places; Dylan organizing 200 feet of line that zig-zags its way around deck; Kassie working for an hour to get water siphoned out of the tanks, nearly resorting to drinking her way through its 400 lbs.; Dylan and Kyle together using the spinnaker spreader pole like a pogo-stick to rock the boat and free the rudder; everyone moving everything around the boat, climbing over everything, keeping cool heads, imagining how great it would be to use the barbeque grill on the sandbar 200 feet away, Kyle going for a swim because he didn’t heed the first warning to tie on the dinghy…
But finally we were free. We have since been living in the paranoia of its renewed possibility while also enjoying the liberation of our own ingenuity. We took it as perhaps a sign that we needed to slow down. As I put the outboard engine on our inflatable tender, I saw that we had the missing element put in place. And just then, the warm weather welcomed us to the south. Now we have spring air, replenished water tanks, a functioning dinghy, and just a few days until Mobile.
I was your cashier at Publix while you were in Fort Walton. I’m glad you guys stopped in and I got to meet you. I can’t wait to read more of your journey.
Sweet man! Thanks for checking us out!!
As I was standing behind you in the checkout lane at the Publix in Fort Walton Beach, I thought it was odd that you had 3 dozen eggs and an extra large bottle of sun block! But now it all makes sense. I will be following the adventures of the four of you (Winnie included) over the next three years. Your site mentions that Kassie is a big reader — if you haven’t read them already, the Master and Commander series by Patrick O’Brian would be my recommendation. Yo ho and safe sailing!
Glad our purchases make more sense. We probably look a little too old to be buying 3 dozen eggs on a Saturday night. Thanks for the book suggestions! Glad you will be following along!
We are following your journey from Chuluota, FL. All very interesting! Know that you are glad to be sailing!
Way to find the meaning in these hiccups! You sure learned a lot which will help you further down the “road”. It’s so good to see that this trip is giving you such great inspiration for writing and journaling. Love you!
Glad you guys are close to open water! So excited for you to be free of locks, and tugs! It will be fun to get some wind in your sail…
And you all rose to the challenge! Glad you freed yourselves, though sorry it took so long. Continued success as you navigate the larger ocean waters. Thank you much for the well written report!
Love reading the details, Dylan. Keep them coming! Glad you’re in Mobile. Have fun and be safe.