Departed Kemah on Monday morning Dec 14 and arrived St. Peterburg on Friday afternoon.  Capt. Bill tells me one of his quickest trips ever.  We motor sailed the entire trip and didn’t need the extra fuel tanks I carried.  We added 52 gallons in Venice, La and I haven’t refueled since arriving but it appears we have more remaining than we did in Venice.

We had every type of weather.  Beautiful motor sailing the first day with a great shooting star show the first night.  Had a good wind and current assist with speeds of 8 to 9 knots.  Next day was wind on the nose, 25 knots, with waves so steep that the bow would go under about every 4th or 5th wave.  Didn’t pick up a lot of water, but banged the anchor on the retainer.  We lost a lifeline retainer pin on the bow during this.  We had an interesting thing occur I have not encountered, the breaking waves and pounding boat caused a lot of air under the boat.  This caused the prop to lose power every so often and slowed the boat to 1 1/2 knots.  We stayed at that speed for 30 seconds or so until the prop would catch clean water, and then pick up boat speed.  We had a slow average speed that day.

Next day the wind calmed but the fog set in.  Went through scores of oil rigs using the radar with less than 1/4 mile visibility.  Refueled at Venice and had great sailing and lighter fog.  A front caught up with us and we had a couple of downpours.  The new side glass worked very well to keep the cockpit and generally the helmsman dry.

The wind died and then later switched to the rear.  Wind speeds picked up to 30 knots apparent, but we were averaging 8 to 10 gps speed, so the true wind was significantly more.  Waves picked up to about 10 feet, but the boat handled it well.  The wind then clocked to the north so it was nearly a beam reach.  Steering got tougher as you needed to turn the boat to take the wave on the rear instead of the side.  A side wave would turn the boat and the winds would cause a significant heel.  Capt. Bill was much better at anticipating and steering in the heavy seas than I was.  We did set a new speed record for our boat, surfing down the waves, got over 14 knots every now and then.  When we slowed to 8 knots it seemed like we were crawling.

We were treated to a magnificent dolphin show about 100 miles offshore.  They came from every direction and lined up behind the boat to take turns.  Just amazing to see them play and jump in groups of twos, threes, and fours.

Very pleased with the boat reliability, we lost the one pin in a lifeline and the spreader halyard holding up the radar reflector broke at the end of the trip.  Looks like the halyard wore through where it went through a block.  No leaks noted in the cabin.  The dinghy davits were fine, although even with the motor removed and stowed on the rail they bounced once in a while during the heavy seas.  I was glad I made them as tall as I did, the bottom of the dinghy got wet once or twice.  However, no water came into the cockpit from the rear.  The rear lower step surface was under water nearly all of the time during the heavy seas but the water never got over the second step.  It did make me pay compress my lips when I looked to the rear and saw the waves above the top of the dinghy.

From the feedback we are getting, our boating friends are amazed at our lack of problems during the crossing.  Feels nice to have a reliable boat under us.

Kent, enjoyed your photos of Florida.  By the way, the texting part of the Delorme worked great all across the gulf.