We left Texas! Yee-haw!!! It took us 5 days (and some change) to get to Florida, and we motored almost the whole way (don’t kick us out of the sailing club yet!) However, for our FIRST ocean/ gulf crossing as a family, and with lots of nervous parents and friends watching – we thought it better to make it safely across in a good weather window, than to take our time and end up with a miserable experience that would tarnish any future ocean crossings.
As we crossed the Gulf of Mexico, Matt and I each kept our own daily journals. I decided to combine our daily logs into a series of posts… I have captured each day in a new post. For simplicity, I tried not to repeat the exact same information, but did try to keep the different perspectives from each of us.
Let’s do this!
11 pm the night before:
Michelle: The ice maker is BROKEN!!! It just stopped working. One of our most favorite items on the boat decided to break right before we were leaving for a six-day crossing of the Gulf!?! UGH!!!
Day One: “Miserable”
Michelle: Man, we were so excited we were finally leaving Texas after months and months (and months) of getting our boat fixed. GIRO was ready, and we had a good weather window (i.e. no hurricanes headed to Gulf), so we finally cut the dock lines Saturday morning at 7 am.
The waves were a bit choppy as we entered Galveston Bay, but we had dolphins everywhere… and we knew it was going to be a good trip. Yay! Look at us! We are about to cross an ocean!
Shortly after entering the Houston ship channel, the starboard bilge alarm started going off… we were taking on water! NOOOOO!
I pulled up the floorboards to see water gushing in… This was definitely a Matt job. I took the helm, and he investigated. Turns out the starboard head’s hot water line was no longer connected and it was spewing water down the bilge. Our fresh water. For our six-day trip. Pouring down the bilge. Ugh. Matt reconnected the hose (while getting burned by the hot water) and that solved our bilge problem. Of course, now we were wondering how much of our precious fresh water flushed away into the sea. Sigh.
Matt: After the bilge fix, we hit a squall before Galveston. A little rain? No problem.
I had no idea that this squall was the omen of what was to come. The entire day was rough with a sea state that can best be described as a washing machine. Confused seas with swells coming from just about every direction.
Michelle: But we carried on! We sent an update on Facebook that we’d already hit a squall and fixed a fresh water leak, but we were all doing well three hours into the trip. But then we hit the Gulf. Barf. Literally. We were hit by a second squall immediately, which intensified the craziness of the waves. We were bouncing all over the place. I was down for the count less than four hours into our trip.
Day one consisted of me in a horizontal position trying not to puke, OR leaning over the side puking. That’s all I did. All day. I could not even sit upright. The boys, who are used to having me as their servant, had to gasp! do everything for themselves. I honestly have no idea what the kids or Matt ate all day… but I think they ate granola bars for every meal. Matt told me he promised the boys ice cream when we landed in St. Petersburg as a peace offering after this horrible start.
[Lucky for you – there are no photos or videos of me being sick. You’re welcome.]
Matt: Every now and again we would catch a spot between swells where I could check on the boys and make sure they had what they needed. I don’t think they quite knew what to expect in an offshore trip like this, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t it. Hell, this wasn’t what I wanted either. I could only hope tomorrow would be better. Because if the rest of the trip turns out like today, everyone might just get off the boat in Florida and not get back on. Ever.
Michelle: We were hit by several more squalls – at least twice I remember because I couldn’t even move out of the rain. I just lied there in the cockpit getting soaked. Which actually felt not so bad.
Matt: Michelle said we went through something like 6 or 7 thunderstorms/squalls but I honestly lost count there were so many. She was so sick. As is in Nagel* sick all day long. Periods of sleep interspersed with apologetic moans and vomiting what little bit of food was left in her.
Michelle: About 50 miles offshore, when there were finally no storms in the area, I asked Matt (from my horizontal position), “Why don’t we put up the sails now? Maybe it will help us cut through the waves instead of getting slammed all around on top of them. And then maybe I won’t be so sick.” So Matt hoisted the main sail and with about 16 kts of wind, and seas that were bouncing us all over the place, our (brand new, just installed) port shroud looked like a spaghetti noodle… HOLY SHIT. NOPE! We have to take that sail down before we lose our entire mast and rigging….
Looks like we might not be sailing to Florida after all… what a total and complete bummer. I swear this boat would rather be motored than sailed. If you ever need two really experienced catamaran motorers, let us know. We know how to motor this boat like nobody’s business. Good thing we loaded up on diesel just in case.
Night watch #1 (7pm – 7 am): Better, and Then Worse
Michelle: Around midnight, I finally managed to sit without puking. The seas were still rough, but the sky was clear. I didn’t feel great, but somehow the night made me feel less sick. Matt got a few hours sleep (all he had all day), while I was on watch. However, around 3 am, we hit a really big storm. Matt took over and I went back into the fetal position.
Matt: Daylight brought with it the ability to better gauge the waves and set a course that would allow for me to put some diesel in the tanks. After transferring two jerry cans to each side I cleaned up and made some coffee. The sea state was still crap with slop coming from just about every angle off our starboard side. No real relief at all. I had been watching squall after squall pass by. A couple of off-angle swells would catch is every 5 minutes or so that would really kick us over and bounce us around. Definitely enough to get your heart racing and make your knuckles white on the helm. I skirted the outside edge of a storm for well over an hour, possibly longer until I was able to turn a bit northeasterly and catch the swell more astern.
Michelle: We went through one more storm around 6 or 7 am. And my body revolted one more time. In total, we survived seven storms and five pukes in 24 hours. Day One was the worst.
What happens on Day Two?! Will Michelle feel better? Will the boys still have enough granola bars? Will Matt ever get sleep?
*Bill Nagel had the honor of helping Matt bring GIRO to Texas across the Gulf of Mexico the first time. He also puked the entire first day. I totally “pulled a Nagel.” 🙂