Curse you Michael Storer! I finally quit sailing my Goose on the namby-pamby lake and headed out into the Everglades for some serious adventuring. The weather forecast was a bit intimidating with winds at 15 and above. With the reefs surrounding Chokoloskee Island I figured my mastery of all sailing craft would stand me in good stead! I discovered one should never allow testicular hypertrophy to overwhelm cerebral caution. I replaced those spindly 2 inch wooden spars with some fiberglass and carbon fiber sticks from windsurfer masts. Got a great bend in the yard that really brings out the best in the Really Simple Sails Goat Island Skiff sail. It has three reef points, none of which I have ever used, but since you kindly included them in the price of the sail I took them as a bonus. With the tide dictating the departure, I naturally arrived late, but just in time to see my fellow voyagers heading off with a great boost from the outgoing current. I, of course, spent 2 hours recalibrating my rigging points and looking generally incvompetent at the ramp. As precaution I did rig the sail at the first reef point and ghosted off behind the sheltering mangroves.. 200 feet out the full force of the wind blasted across the water laying the boat on it’s side and giving me a defintive adrenaline surge. At 300 feet I decided that your including those extra reef points was much appreciated. I made landfall on a concrete ramp (OK, I crashed) alerting the homeowner that his personal space was being invaded and graunching the skids on the bottom of the Goose. I went down to the next set of reef points and although doing a less-than-professional job, I estimated that my 225 pounds was adequate to counterbalance anything I was likely to run into on the 11 mile journey out to Pavilion Key.
It took three and a half hours to cover the distance at speeds of zero to 9.6 miles per hour, reefed. Thank you for including all that bracing around the daggerboard as I came to several abrupt stops when bottom depths went from adequate, to non-existent. Seeking to make the most distance-made-good on each tack I discovered that the bulldozer bow does not penetrate nearly as far into the mangroves as my catamarans, thus simplifying my yanking the boat out of the foliage and heading off on my merry way to crash into something new and even more interesting. The first 4 miles took nearly 2 and 1/2 hours of some of the most creative maneuvering (and scathing profanity) in recent memory. That GIS sail ended up broadside pinned to the mangrove shoreline on many occasions as the wind as the wind topped 20, and then got better. I did resort to what I call “pedestrian tacking” which involves walking the boat into the wind until judged sufficient (or until the water reaches my nipples) to make another ineffectual run at more obstacles. Now this was mostly upwind work as the nefarious winds seemed determined to leave me parked in the mud, or the mangroves sleeping in the boat. No worries about the notorious mosquitoes as they were probably blown as far south as Key Largo by this time. Finally turning the corner on the back side of Lumber Key (at this point I am NOT going out into the open Gulf of Mexico) I began my downwind blast to Pavilion Key, it’s sandy beach glistening in the sunset light a mere 6 miles downwind! My Garmin GPS recorded a top speed of 9.6 miles per hour while surfing a wave and mostly above 8 on a sustained run. It did drop precipitously every time I misjudged the wave frequency. I had my prodigious posterior hanging over the transom on that wild downwind sleigh ride covering the 6 miles in less than an hour. with the daggerboard pulled all the way up, and just barely blocking the fountain of water from the well. I had just barely enough rudder submerged for control, as I was intent on ramming the beach head-on and thus lessening the distance I would have to drag the Goose to be above the high tide mark. With my posterior slung WAAAAY out over the transom, the bow rode over the coarse beach, and I released the mainsheet to let the sail blow directly downwind behind the mast. This spared me two most disagreeable possibilities. Pitchpoling onto the sand, or breaking the mast! The Eagle has landed!
Now about the cursing part! Although the mileage is around 11, as the charts depict, the actual distance run is probably more than double that. I was cranking, and a lot of the time spent perched precariously along the rail, or over the transom. This resulted in some serious horizontal cracks appearing on my posterior. For want of a better term we will just call it “waffle-ass” and I will spare you any pictures. Just think of it as being an excellent surface for playing Tic-tac-toe. This is all your fault for putting that skimpy narrow cleat on the transom. I am modifying it sufficiently to prevent any recurrence of my gluteal disfiguration. I figure 14 inches should about cover it (CYA).