Saturday, 3/8/08 Day 35
Yippee! Mom and I finished 99% of the website. We must add one more thing for Dad, and then we can upload in onto the internet. It is awesome!
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We did school and played around. I sent and received some e-mails from my friend Erik L. He is so funny. We're going to start writing e-mails in Morse code! It's fun!! Life is awesome (mine, if nothing else)!!
Sunday, 3/9/08 Day 36
Today included a major disappointment. After doing school and playing a bit (which is what we did for most of the day), Mom and I finished the website and went to upload it to the internet. It uploaded in computer code!! We have worked for at least a week straight! I can't believe it! Now we will have to wait until we get to Key West so Mom can call the software company to figure out how to fix it.
The rest of the day was okay. We are leaving on a passage to the Dry Tortugas, Florida tomorrow, so Dad and Mom made sure everything was ready.
As he was getting off the boat, Josh fell into the water. You have to step on a dock line to get off the boat, and Joshua lost his balance. He said it was really cold. I saw him teetering on the dock line, and then saw him fall and heard a splash. I ran and told Mom and Dad. Bro treaded water until Dad pulled him out. He took a hot shower and is fine.
We took showers at the hotel this evening. They were long and hot. I had fun today and can't wait until tomorrow. I hope we catch some big fish!
Monday, 3/10/08 Day 37
Our first day of our first offshore, overnight passage was today. We are traveling to the Dry Tortugas, FL. The weather and seas were rough for the first half of the day, but settled down this afternoon. It is still a bit rough. The waves are choppy instead of big, rolling swells.
Today was not totally boring, but not the best. Though we had two lures out, we didn't catch any fish. Mom was tired, (I think it was from seasick pills) and slept for part of the day. We didn't do any school.
The pitching of the boat can be fun though. When the boat drops down the backside of a swell, you kind of get lifted off your feet. If I jump at the right moment, I can do a full blown aerial front flip on my bed. It was cool.
We listened to Jimmy Buffett for most of the day. I heard "Why Don't We All Get Drunk" at least 3 times. I heard all my favorites by him.
The water is blue. All in all, the day was good.
The Night of 3/10/08
After Josh went to sleep, I stayed up with Mommy. She is usually tired and hates the night watch. I stay up with her to keep her company and keep her awake. We played Backgammon and talked and checked the boat's course, speed, trajectory path, Autohelm course, and AIS receiver. We also checked the wind direction and speed. I got real tired around 10:30 and went to bed. Mom and Dad switched shifts an hour later.
Tuesday, 3/11/08 Day 38
Today was a bit exciting, even though we didn't catch any fish. A large pod of small dolphins came next to the boat. A small group of them came and jumped in our bow wake. Another group of them jumped in the large waves all around our boat. We don't know what type of dolphins they were. They were not bottlenose; that is certain.
I was very tired from last night and went to sleep for a while today. It was a refreshing nap. I had to sleep on Mommy and Daddy's bed because my bed got soaked because of a leaking hatch. Large waves were breaking over the bow and water leaked in through the hatch's ventilation fan. I will have to find somewhere else to sleep tonight.
I woke up just in time for a squall to come. Josh happened to go to sleep just before it came. It wasn't bad. The light-medium rain washed all the salt off the rails for us. It looked as if the whole ocean was vibrating. I wish we had caught some fish.
The Night of 3/11/08
Again tonight I stayed up with Mom. I was very tired and fell asleep a couple of times. Around 11:00, Mom was having trouble with the sails. We had jibed once or twice because we were sailing downwind, so she called Dad for help. The seas were getting rough and he tried to reef the main sail, as well as put a preventer on to help keep us from jibing. Mom and Dad also struggled with the mizzen sail. More wind trouble forced us to drop the main sail. Just as Dad was about to drop the sail, the preventer, which was run through the toe rail, chaffed through and broke, letting the boom jibe. When the boom jibed (a dangerous and uncontrolled maneuver), it broke the piece that connected the boom sheet to the deck, and keeps the boom from flying uncontrollably everywhere. The boom flew out over the side of the boat and over the water. Mom grabbed it and was able to pull the boom back over the cockpit where Dad secured it with a piece of rope. Everything under control, Mom and I went to sleep.
Wednesday, 3/12/08 Day 39
Today was pretty boring. I have noticed that my hair has grown fairly long. I have not gotten a haircut since Pearland, and that was over a month ago. When we get out the new clippers and trimmers, I want Dad to cut it extra short. The long hair I have now is getting obnoxious.
We did not catch any fish today. It is very disappointing. In Venice (which is a town known for great offshore fishing), we were told that we were almost definitely going to catch a few good fish. We haven't caught anything besides seaweed.
I had three real meals today. I had a yogurt parfait for breakfast, a ham & cheese sandwich for lunch, and hard-boiled eggs for dinner. That is usual passage diet. We also eat pre-grilled chicken, fruit and granola bars. What generally happens on passage is that people usually eat six or so snack-like meals a day. There is no cooking offshore. Sometimes, if we get a fish, Dad might grill a piece. None of that is happening on this trip.
The seas were calm this morning. We were glad. They got rougher in the afternoon, but calmed back down in the evening. It is not cold anymore. This passage is turning out okay.
The Night of 3/12/08
Dad said he wasn't tired and he took Mom's shift for her. I stayed up with him and we played two games of Backgammon. The first game was regular Backgammon and Daddy beat me. The second game was Daddy's special version called Speedgammon. You use 3 dice instead of 2. It was fun, but I got beaten again. My bed was still wet, so I curled up with Mom again.
Thursday, 3/13/08 Day 40
Today was an almost perfect passage day! The weather was really warm and all of us were dressed in shorts and t-shirts. The sun was out all day, and there were hardly any noticeable clouds. The seas were calm all day, with 1-2 ft. swells. Unfortunately, the wind was on the nose (straight in front of the boat).
The wind and seas were calm, so Dad cooked up breakfast tacos in the morning. At the same time, I had fun being a DJ with the I-Pod. We use an I-Trip to hook it up to our speaker system, and I got to choose the songs we listened to all morning (all Jimmy Buffett). Josh asked if he could take my place, but Dad said that I could continue as I was. It was fun!
Josh and I did a bit of school. Mom said that when we get to the Dry Tortugas we'll get 2 days off. That will be great. We are very close to the Dry Tortugas. We will get there tomorrow morning. I can't wait to go swimming, visit Fort Jefferson, play on the beach, and maybe go snorkeling.
In the afternoon, Mom and I enjoyed the beautiful weather as we sat on the deck and looked for jellyfish. We have seen a bunch of Portuguese Man-O-War, and Mommy wanted to take a picture of one. We took 2 or 3 photos in the end.
At around 6:35pm, a fish bit our line. It didn't take dad 5 min. to land it. It was a pretty good sized Wahoo! It was 35 in. long and weighed 11 lbs. Josh and I were so excited about what it was that we yelled, appropriately, "Wahoo!! Wahoo!!" We caught the fish on a squid lure, not our new, special deep-diving Wahoo rig. The lure was a bit special because Dad rigged up the leader, hooks and other parts. He hoped that his homemade masterpieces would work, and now we know that they do. Daddy filleted up the Wahoo and we ate some of it for supper. Today was a great day, and I can't wait for tomorrow!
Friday, 3/14/08 Day 41
Paradise at last!!
I got up at 5:00 this morning to help get in to the Dry Tortugas, Florida. Mom and I prepared the boat and let Dad get some much needed sleep (he stayed on watch all night). We played a few games of Backgammon. After Dad woke up, he and I brought the fishing lines in and out as we were not sure when the Dry Tortugas National Park started.
On our way into the channel around 8:15, I spotted a pod of dolphins coming toward our boat. About 24 Atlantic Spotted Dolphins rode our bow wake and jumped about. I have recently seen a documentary on Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and learned that the more spots the dolphin has, the older it is. The older dolphins glided along the boat's wake while the juveniles did lots of tricks. One extremely playful juvenile even did underwater rolls and swam on his back, upside down. The dolphins eventually started breaking away after about 15 minutes or so, but 3 remained for a few minutes longer. Then, the most amazing thing I have ever seen happened. The dolphins, totally synchronized with each other, sped up to twice our boat speed. After they got about 30 feet away, they jumped out of the waves all at the same time. One jumped on our port side, one straight in front of us, and the last on our starboard side. It looked like a Sea World training move!! It was perfect!! Then they were gone, just like that. Watching them was awesome!! I'm glad I got to see that.
We saw land around 7:30am. It was the lighthouse on Loggerhead Key (named after the turtles that breed there). Then, I saw Fort Jefferson on Garden Key. We pulled up to the anchorage around 9:15am. We spent a while trying to anchor. At the first place we tried, the park rangers hailed us on the radio to tell us that we had inadvertently parked in a channel. We moved and tried another spot. It was too shallow and we didn't even try to drop the anchor. A man on another boat yelled to us and said that there was a deeper spot in front of him. We seemed to be losing our anchoring touch, and we dropped the anchor too close to the man's boat. The fourth time we tried, we went in the perfect spot. Then we prepared to go ashore.
We all changed into bathing suits, I got my skim board, Bro grabbed our goggles, Dad dropped the dinghy, and Mom got towels. Then we went to shore on Garden Key, a.k.a. Paradise spot #1. Mom and Dad went to talk to the park rangers while Josh watched me skim board on the beach. We walked to another part of the island where there was a large beach and swimming area. About 200-300 tourists come every day on ferries from Key West to spend a day on the beach and visit Fort Jefferson. A lot of them were at the swimming area. They were snorkeling just to snorkel, only seeing sea grass flats. Josh and I went swimming. Bro said he saw a little Barracuda.
Daddy and Josh went back to the boat to get digging stuff and check on something. I lay in the sun with Mom. She made a lot of funny jokes. I sang a lot of Jimmy Buffett songs I know. When Josh got back, we tried to make a sand pool near the water. We weren't very coordinated and had a lot of problems. When Mom came over and said that we needed to leave soon, Josh and I made the final plans and really got down to business. A bit later, Mom came back, saying that it was time to leave. The pool was still filled in with sand in some places and looked awfully unfinished, but Mom took a picture anyway. Dad said that it might be there tomorrow, but I disagree. The tide has been coming in and wrecking our walls (one of our problems), and I don't think it will last.
When we got back to the boat, we quickly settled down for the night. I got very badly sunburned and it hurts. I am bright red all over my chest, arms, shoulders and back. Mom says that I should wear a t-shirt while outside tomorrow to keep myself from getting sunburned on top of sunburn.
There are the largest fish you have ever seen under our boat. I remember from our last trip here that there was a huge Goliath Grouper that hung out near the dock and under our boat. Now there are five! They must weigh at least 300 pounds each, probably more. They are very cool, yet scary. They like the shade of our boat, and also the scraps that are fed to them. We ate the last of the Wahoo for supper tonight. Dad dropped the leftovers overboard and they came out from under the boat to swoop them up. The funny thing was that they must not have liked the spicy seasoning Dad used on the fish because they did not come for the second piece. The gulls, on the other hand, didn't care. They will eat anything, even tomatoes.