Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Monday, December 28, 2020
Monday, December 21, 2020
Friday, December 18, 2020
Friday, December 11, 2020
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Tuesday, December 08, 2020
Friday, December 04, 2020
Wednesday, December 02, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Monday, November 09, 2020
Saturday, November 07, 2020
Tuesday, November 03, 2020
Watched a very insightful surf flick about the late Andy Irons. He is the only surfer to win king of the surfing world 3 times in a row. He had some mental issues as well as drug issues that eventually killed him 10 years ago at 32. His bipolar disorder gave him a laser focus and brought him many big wins. It also tore him down into deep depression. Pretty sad story but amazing as well. It's free on Amazon with Prime.
Sunday, November 01, 2020
With our time and season changing, I thought I would jot down some highlights of the summer. We are blessed with great weather into early November here in the SF Bay Area and this year has been spectacular. The smoke has cleared, the days are bright and the wind continues to blow.
Closing out the partnership of the boat with 2 new partners to make it a 4 partner boat. July.
Getting my guy friends out for a sail over a long weekend along with the pups.
Getting our pup up to speed on being on the water. Hana has been grreat and is turning into a good swimmer.
Saw a high wind speed of 38 knots near Angel in July with Andy and Tom.
A 5 day sojourn up to the Delta for the Delta Doo Dah. We had a free slip for 3 nights and spent the days at Potato Slough. I believe this was my 6th trip up there and it was great to have a chartplotter.
With the Bay Area on lock down, solo sailing was spectacular as many days I was the only boat on the bay.
A weekend trip with Andy to Aquatic Park and Angel. We biked around the island for some amazing views of the Bay and the Mathew Turner schooner.
Getting beach time with Hana every time we go out.
Bocce with Olivier and John at Angel.
Fixing the stove/oven!
Getting the boat varnished, waxed and buffed was huge. Thanks Glenn!
Being the only boat at Clipper last week and romping on the beach with our new pup.
A small Delaware reunion over Labor Day with a perfect sail.
An overnight on John's boat to China Camp with beach time and Hana.
The low point of the summer was getting some water in the fuel tank. It was expensive and time consuming to clear the tank and get the engine running again. I sure learned alot about our fuel system.
The winds die off in the winter, however, we still have some nice 10-15 knot winds from time to time. And the bay is always crisp and clear. I really enjoy the lighter winds as 20-30 knot winds every day in the summer gets to be a bit much...but we love it anyway!
Monday, October 26, 2020
Thursday, October 15, 2020
I recently put about $5k into the interior and exterior of the boat with the experts buffing, waxing, sanding and varnishing our 2001 Jeanneau. She looks exceptional! Heading out this weekend for a sojourn with my best childhood friend Andy. Not a whole lot of wind but some fine weather is forecast. Hana will be joining. She turns 8 months this weekend. She has been an excellent addition to our boat.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
A licensed captain, I have sailed the equivalent of eight laps around the globe. In 2010 I became the 53rd woman to row the Atlantic.
The row from San Francisco to Hawaii — alone in a 21-foot fiberglass craft with no support boat — was supposed to be training. I thought of it as a 2,500-mile “half marathon” before the “full marathon” I’m planning to do next year: rowing 5,500 miles from Japan to San Francisco.
Nineteen attempts have been made to row from Japan to San Francisco solo. Only two were successful — both men, both towed the last 20 and 50 miles to land, respectively. I am on a mission to claim this last great first, not as a woman but as the first person to row land to land across the North Pacific.
My reasons are complex, but the bottom line is I set out to empower myself. I wanted to rebuild my body, my mind and my self-esteem. “If I don’t meet someone and have a baby by 2015,” I told my friends, “I am going to row the North Pacific.”
Over time I realized that I wasn’t going to meet someone and have a baby because I needed to row the North Pacific.
I set out for Hawaii in June without any fanfare. The voyage was supposed to be a fast-blast sunshine cruise once I passed the continental shelf. But the wind pushed me south and made turning west extremely difficult for weeks.
Rower Lia Ditton sits by the shoreline on October 1, 2020 at her current residence in Lanikai, HI.
Then 300 miles west of Ensenada, Mexico, on day 21, I capsized. A 40-foot wave broke into a rumbling avalanche of white water. I was thrown into the sea and my boat rolled upside down.
The water was cold, the waves huge and the boat began to settle upside down. My chances of survival were slim. I knew I needed to act immediately to maintain the inertia of the boat and threw my body on the hull. Miraculously the boat started to move and I was plunged back underwater. When I resurfaced, I tried to haul myself on deck, but there was no strength left in my upper body. I was, again, a beat from drowning. A refusal to accept this end drew every core muscle to force my body up and onto that boat.
I rowed on.
My second capsize was 1,000 miles east of Hawaii on day 52. I was sleeping inside when a wave caught the stern and turtled the boat once again. The cabin hatch was ajar and water gushed in. “GET OUT! GET OUT!” screamed the voice in my head.
The boat did self-right, but I struggled to fall asleep during the remainder of the trip, 34 days.
“Right here, right now,” I would tell myself in moments when anxiety about the capsizes threatened to overwhelm me. I couldn’t control the future, and I couldn’t escape the environment of the past. I rowed 10 hours each day and wrote a blog for a growing audience of online followers every night. My writing became raw and vulnerable, but I never felt self-conscious. If I could verbalize what was going on in my head, I could purge some of the pressure.
I found comfort in the beauty of the ocean. On some of my toughest days, the sun shone through sheets of squally rain to draw rainbows so vivid and spectacular it was hard not to believe in something greater than myself. A troupe of 3- and 4-foot yellowtail tuna swam alongside my boat for days, while flying fish dive-bombed my boat’s deck at night.
I was alone but rarely lonely. My bird, fish and even shark visitors kept me fascinated, and I found joy in bringing these encounters alive for my followers through my blogs and videos. I travel somewhere most people will never go and see things most people will never see, and I take seriously my responsibility to share these wonders.
Having said that, I had no idea my journey was drawing an audience of tens of thousands across social media.
After 84 days, I saw land: first a Chernobyl-like mushroom cloud over the mountains, then the faint outline of a flattened potato. In the video of this moment, my voice cracks with emotion. My world had, quite literally, been turned upside down — twice — and the strain was there to see. But the voyage wasn’t over yet.
Twenty-three hours out from arriving, I realized I was going to have to row nonstop for land. As night fell, I entered the Molokai Channel a.k.a. the “Channel of Bones.” The waves were invisible in the dark and the current was driving me south, away from the island.
“THIS ISN’T HOW THIS ENDS!” I screamed.
For my team, my Believers and above all for myself, I drove through my legs and whaled on my right oar until my muscles were on fire. This was the final showdown, a battle of Lia versus the elements in the 11th hour.
At 6:08 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, I touched the dock of the Waikiki Yacht Club. I had smashed the world record by 13 days.
I wanted to arrive wearing a bikini top — attire befitting a Pacific island. Plus I had tanned completely through my clothes. But I knew if I raised my arms in celebration, my underarm hair would become the story.
Rower Lia Ditton gets into the water on October 1, 2020 in Lanikai Beach, Kailua, HI.
It is perfectly acceptable for men to emerge from these long-distance adventures with giant beards and scraggly hair, looking like they have been marooned on an island for a year. We might be disappointed if they didn’t.
But women with body hair? The horror of it!
Ultimately, I decided to arrive in a long-sleeved shirt. But I haven’t shaved my underarms to this day.
I still have a lot to process about my adventure, but one thing I am sure of: After three months battling the sea, I care less what people think of me.
Here next voyage will be Japan to SF, a sojourn of 5000 miles! This was just a little shake down cruise.
Friday, October 02, 2020
The sailors on Yes Dear were rescued twice in one week. Hurricane Sally in the Gulf finally put an end to their ill fated odyssey with a container ship rescue. Yes Dear is now for sale, to the lowest bidder. Ripped sails and all. Bene 423.
I was always intrigued by this sailing legend and now I know why. Here was a guy with very little resources who made a huge splash in the round the planet races. He was always working by the seat of his pants but he made it happen. He won some races and was becoming a rock star in the sailing world. In his quest to get to a race start in France in his radical new boat, he failed to take care of some paperwork and it had disastrous results. Check it out on Amazon.
Monday, September 28, 2020
Friday, September 25, 2020
The brain trust that started the R2AK has now released their own documentary on the 700 mile race. I just watched it from the Port Townsend Film Festival online. It was a great film and one I highly recommend. I love this race because of the challenge, danger and ingenuity that must be employed just to finish this race. The first rule is no motors. The second rule is that you are on your own if you get in trouble. We have everything from Hobie 16's, paddle boards, rowers, cats, tris, and many others. The race starts in Port Townsend, WA and finishes in Ketchikan, AK. The racers can encounter currents of 15 knots in some areas, gale force winds, huge logs, and no wind at all. I have no interest in doing a race like this, however, I love the spirit and the courage it takes to complete a race such as the R2AK. This years race did not happen but hope is high for 2021. Trailer below.
Go to the Port Townsend Film Festival website to watch, $12. Worth every penny!
Full Screen Please!
The Maxi is preparing to challenge the Jules Verne Around the Planet record of 40 days (23 hours and 30 minutes), is the exact time to beat if the crew
of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is to topple Francis Joyon and IDEC
Sport, the current record holders. It’s also the time that Gitana Team
has left before it officially commences stand-by for its first attempt
at the Jules Verne Trophy. Indeed, from 1 November, it will be all
systems go to take on the challenge of the round the world record under
sail, which the skippers of the latest addition to the Gitana fleet
describe simply as the outright round the world! However, this same date
will herald the start of a new ‘race’ to pinpoint the optimum weather
window to extract themselves as quickly as possible from the Breton
coast and, on a larger scale, the North Atlantic.
“A round the world is no mean feat and there’s a very strong human
dimension in this exercise. The fact that we’re one of the first of this
generation of flying boats to take on this record inevitably adds a
sense of adventure to our story”, admits Charles Caudrelier.
Well-versed in crewed round the worlds, notably with two victories to
his credit in the Volvo Ocean Race, the skipper will however be setting
sail on his very first Jules Verne Trophy, as is the case for Morgan
Lagravière and David Boileau. The first is known and acknowledged for
his incredible feel for the helm and his acumen with regards getting a
boat making fast headway. The second is one of the mainstays of the
Gitana Team, of which he has been a part for over ten years. The boat’s
strongman, crew and an extraordinary technician, David Boileau is the
boat captain on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. Though they hail from
very different backgrounds, the two sailors have a number of things in
common: they both share a passion for anything that flies, they’ll both
be on watch together in the round the world and they’ll be contesting
their very first Jules Verne Trophy. So here we have the boat’s rookies
presented to you via this quick profile comparison! Good luck and God's speed to the crew!
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Sunday, September 13, 2020
She departed SF in June and after several almost fatal capsizes, she has finally arrived in Honolulu. This is an amazing accomplishment. Some may ask Why? Why put your life in danger for such a self indulgent act? As a mater of fact, another rower died trying the same thing during her voyage. Humans are born to experience hardship and isolation. We have an unbelievable tolerance to endure. I was just reading about 3 boys who tried to escape boring island life so they stole a boat and were found drifting and barely alive after 51 days at sea. Wow! Check out Lia's site for more updates. Currently, she is asleep at a luxury beach front hotel. After 86 days at sea, they did not require her to go in quarantine.
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Friday, September 11, 2020
They just announced the cancellation of this years Haha. I had hoped to help a boat get safely down the peninsula and complete my 7th Haha. My first Haha was in 2010 aboard a quick cat. I have had nothing but wonderful adventures sailing the coast on other folks boats. The sojorn is 750 miles and takes 10 days with stops in Turtle Bay and Santa Maria. The destination is Cabo San Lucas. 150 boats and 500 folks. What fun. You can still safely sail to Mexico and with that in mind, one of the long time participants is organizing the Nada Haha. 40 boats have already signed up! Cruising in Mexico is permitted at this time and the folks that doing it are enjoying their time. I will look forward to next November and hope the Haha tradition continues.
Tuesday, September 01, 2020
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
I grew up surfing back east in southern Delaware. When I moved to Nor Cal in '81, I found my home with 8-10 foot waves in Carmel and Santa Cruz. My first tube ride was in Zuma on shrooms. What a ride. They say that getting tubed is like returning to the womb. However, this is a womb with a view! Sorry, old joke.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Tex and I took off Monday for 40 mile run to the Delta. Hana's first big sailing adventure and she did great. We were up near Benicia and I knew we needed to get her on land for some relief. As we entered a close by marina, the depth went from 30' to 4' in a second or two. Stuck pretty bad, I was able to use the engine to turn us into the wind and move us back to deep water. We continued onto Pittsburgh where we got in barely and docked. Hana was very happy to see grass and a park nearby. Off the next morning we had some wind but decided to motor as the river bends so much making it difficult to fill the sails. We had a reservation at Delta Bay Marina and came in slowly as we did not want to get stuck as we draw 6.5'. We made it in and hailed the owner who showed us a nice 40' slip. With a park across the street, Hana was a happy sailor. Normally we would anchor up here but with a puppy, being able to access the land is important. Next two days it was off to Potato Slough for some swimming in fresh water and relaxing. We would leave early and then return to the slip at night. Meet some folks there that were from the Richmond Yacht Club. The kayak rides thru the tules with Hana were fun. We found a patch of grass for her on a small island and that worked well. Headed back on Friday with a 12 hour motor back home. The trip was bittersweet as Tex and I have been cruising together for the last 20 years, including our now famous voyage to Ztown, Mexico and back. Tex has decided to move back home to Tennessee for his retirement. He says he will be back to visit and go sailing sometime in the future. We hope so!!
Potato Slough with Mt. Diablo in the distance.
Monday, July 20, 2020
Monday, July 13, 2020
Wednesday, July 08, 2020
Good luck girl, you are gonna need it!
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Tuesday, June 09, 2020
Just watched this 2 part documentary with a huge smile on my face (and a few tears of joy!). These are some of my favorite bands and performers that lived within 10 minutes from each other near LA in the 60's & 70's. Joni, CSN&Y, Moma's and the Papa's, Doors, Eagles, Jackson Brown and many more. I love this film and if you remember the 60's, you weren't really there!
Monday, June 08, 2020
Saturday, May 30, 2020
Thursday, May 07, 2020
It goes something like this:
For a number of years, there was disagreement among various nations about the exact measurement of a nautical mile, which is based on the Earth’s circumference. In 1929, the international nautical mile was standardized at 6,076 feet; it was adopted by the United States in 1954. A nautical mile is different from a mile on land, which is based on walking distance. The Romans first defined a land mile as 1,000 paces or pairs of steps; it was set at its current measurement of 5,280 feet by Queen Elizabeth I in 1593.
We all had a good laugh and enjoyed the sail and the humpbacks.
Wednesday, May 06, 2020
I love the story lines of this race. How tough it is and how wild it can get. Plus the innovation needed to propel your boat when the wind dies. It will not happen this year due to you know what. Check the vid below for a cool look at what some brothers put together. You need some big cajones to finish this amazing race!
Tuesday, May 05, 2020
To recognize this momentous occasion, here is a look back at our voyage to Mexico and back to SF on my Jeanneau 40. We returned about a year ago and I have very fond memories of the adventure. I was looking thru an old journal of mine from 1986 and the seeds of this journey were born over 30 years ago!
Sailing the Cali coast was a dream come true. I have been up and down Hwy 1 so many times dreaming about being on a boat and here I was heading to Monterey and next, Santa Barbara!
Santa Barbara was delightful. We spent 3 weeks in and around the harbor as well as extended stays at Santa Cruz Island with friends visiting from the Bay.
We pulled into a tiny anchorage on Santa Cruz and challenged a boat load of other dudes to a game of bocce. We kicked their butts and laughed so hard for hours. These guys were a ton of fun.
Painted Cave on Santa Cruz was a huge hit for us and our friends. The largest sea cave on the planet!
Newport Beach with my friend Barry and his wife took us out for an amazing evening of cruising the waterways and seeing some beautiful waterside homes.
I had never been to Catalina and that was a blast. We played bocce near the plaza.
San Diego - we could not find a slip due to the Haha. I ended up calling all the marinas and one got back to me saying they had plenty of space and we could stay for 2 weeks! We arrive at Fiddler's Cove and it turns out they thought we were military folks and this was a military harbor. They realized our predicament and their mistake and allowed us to stay a week. We had a ton of fun and they were all very kind.
My friend from Delaware, Steve, came out for a week and we had an amazing time. Swimming, Frisbee, 420, bocce, hanging with my son and meeting his cousin for a dinner party.
We had a pretty good sail down the coast of Baja. The best was from Santa Maria to Cabo with 20 knots of wind.
San Jose del Cabo was a very cool stop. We hitchhiked back and forth and folks were happy to give us a ride. What a cool art district with great bars and restaurants.
My sisters and family came down to Cabo for NYE and I took them all for a very relaxing sail along the coast.
Our first real cruising anchorage was off La Pax at an island anchorage. There were several other boats around and we invited them all to join us for a drink. We had 2 couples join us for a fun evening of stories and lies! I am kidding about the stories. : )
Yelapa in Puerto Vallarta was one of my favorite spots. In a deep valley and surrounded by green lush hills, it is idyllic. My son and nephew also visited PV along with John. We had great sails with them and saw lots of whales breaching.
The trip from PV to Ztown was spectacular. There were a couple anchorages that really stood out. One of my favs was Pariso. Secluded and a small bay inside a bay with a pristine beach right off the boat. Gorgeous. We were the only boat there!
Monday, May 04, 2020
Here is the first in a series of four shorts about the adventure. The production is well done and as a sailor with a passion for surfing (me), I had to share this amazing video series.
Sunday, May 03, 2020
Five days before Christmas, I booked my ticket home. It was evening, at the end of a long day in my marine repair shop, BoatRx. After being in Miami a month, it was already starting to feel like home. I reviewed my to-do lists, grateful to be returning to a steady routine as I drove back to the marina where Eclipse, my Tayana 42 and my home, had been moored since I’d arrived from Boston.
The wind was blowing hard when I got there. I went for a run to ease my mind and donned my foulweather jacket before taking off into the darkness. In no time, I was getting soaked by the spray blowing off the tops of the waves with the northeast gale. Luckily, the trip to the boat was both short and a fairly straightforward one—straight out the channel, then left at the red marker toward mooring #91, where I’d see the blue hull of Eclipse.
As soon as I made the left, I knew something was wrong. Mooring #91 was right where it should be, but there was no boat. I raced to the ball and grabbed the plastic thimble. It was intact, but there was no sign of the two lines I’d run through it earlier. Adrenaline shot through my veins as a wave nearly swamped me. I sprang into action.
There was a Catalina nearby. I headed over, shouting for anybody aboard. A kind man named Vernon came out on deck. He called a few friends of his who salvaged boats, but got nothing. We swapped numbers, and I headed downwind, knowing the wind was blowing onshore. Had Eclipse been stolen? In these conditions? How had she managed to break free and then make it through the mooring field without hitting any of the other boats?
I got the skiff up to full speed, pulling the drain plug to empty the water now coming in with the crashing waves. There was soon not a dry spot anywhere. The laptop in my backpack was likely destroyed. Moving downwind, past the mansions in Coconut Grove, I scanned the anchorages and shallows. Keep breathing, use your head, I told myself. You’re OK, even if the boat is gone. I had no light, no life jacket, no paddle, no radio. I had no choice but to return to the marina.
Arriving at the van, I immediately called the Coast Guard and filed a report. Moments later someone called back. “This is U.S. Coast Guard Sector Miami Beach. You said it was a 42ft blue-hulled sailboat, correct? Yeah, well, we just got a report of one dragging its anchor.” They also sent me a set of coordinates, which I entered into the Navionics app on my phone. The position was upwind of where I’d left Eclipse, but maybe someone had found her adrift and anchored her on the north side of the channel. I stripped down to the basics, grabbed a headlamp and took off again with the skiff into the darkness.
It was late when I arrived at the coordinates. It wasn’t Eclipse, but another blue 40-footer that had dragged anchor and was now sitting off Dinner Key. The boat seemed to be holding steady, so I went back to the van, feeling hopeless and totally discouraged as I climbed into the driver’s seat.
A short while later I phoned my friend Mat, who I’d been renting my shop space from. He and his wife, Lucia, said they’d have the couch ready with fresh sheets when I got there, and after taking another shower at the marina I drove over in the van and settled in for the night.
The next morning, Mat and I headed out again in the skiff. The wind was as bad or worse than ever, but now we had daylight on our side, and I figured we’d see Eclipse right away, probably sitting on her side in the shallows. We buzzed the mooring field, the anchorage and the entire shoreline from Dinner Key to Matheson Hammock Park. Some areas we checked twice. Nothing. I couldn’t believe it.
Returning to the dock, I called the authorities again—the Coast Guard, the sheriff’s department—as thoughts of Eclipse being bashed up against a line of rocks or a sea wall raced through my imagination. I spoke to some Sea Tow captains who warned me that a search would cost as much as $400 an hour given the conditions.
At the marina, I met Jenson, a captain who ran a watersports rental company. With his tactical-style center console RIB and 150hp engine, we were able to move quickly and stay a bit drier than I had aboard the skiff. But again, it was no use. He, too, was billing by the hour. With the wind and waves, it was just too difficult to make any kind of meaningful progress.
Next, I called Paul Columna, a cousin of my business partner, who is a firefighter and retired Air Force pararescue specialist. He had a plane in Fort Lauderdale and was on the runway when we spoke. He said he’d be willing to continue the search by air, but that it would be pointless. The cloud ceiling was too low, the winds too high.
Later that same day, I called off the search. Sitting slumped in the seat of my van at the Dinner Key Marina, I began to feel truly hopeless. Now that the initial shock had worn off, I started wondering whether my continuing to search for Eclipse didn’t represent a kind of denial—denial that the sailboat that had served as my home for the past five years was now either stolen or destroyed. Grief crept in as I thought of all the people I’d had aboard, the over 10,000 miles we’d sailed together, how I’d lost of all my possessions. I found myself wondering what it was going to be like having to start all over again; thinking to myself I should’ve done a better job of securing the boat; that I should’ve insured her again after being dropped by my previous insurance company; how if I’d thought to leave the AIS turned on and my Iridium tracker enabled, they would have led me right to her.
Luckily, my grieving proved to be only temporary, thanks in large part to my friends, my family and my girlfriend, Lisa, whose invariably positive outlook kept me from utter despair. “You’ll find her,” she kept saying, even though it had now been almost 24 hours since Eclipse had gone missing.
Mat also helped me keep things in perspective. “Phil,” he said. “You owe it to this boat to keep searching. Think of all that boat has done for you. Stop feeling shame about mistakes you might have made. These are the types of things that happen to people who are constantly pushing their limits.”
Back at Mat and Lucia’s, I retreated to their couch to write a couple of Facebook and Instagram posts to help get the word out. In the following days, these two posts would be shared over 1,000 times. Little did I know managing the communications stemming from this initial outreach effort would end up becoming one of the more challenging parts of that weekend.
By nightfall little had changed. The winds were still blowing relentlessly out of the northeast, as I fielded calls and texts of support from the many people who had seen my posts. Finally, a total stranger, Michael Harding, wrote to me saying, “I have an airplane in Orlando and would be willing to fly search patterns.” We connected by phone afterward, and he told me a little about the search and rescue work he’d done in the Caribbean. We agreed to stay in touch and keep an eye on weather, as the conditions still made any kind of search impossible. It felt great having someone like Mike, someone I’d never even met before, in my corner.
Another connection I made was with an old friend, Jason Barron, owner of Barron’s Boatyard in City Island New York who put me in touch with a local pilot-boat captain named Bill Rychlicki. Bill and I connected by phone. He seemed to know everyone on the water and contacted every single professional captain he knew currently working on Biscayne Bay to ask them to be on the lookout.
By the following morning, a Sunday, my phone was full of replies, but Eclipse still hadn’t been located. The northeasterly was also still in full effect. I was eager to get back out on the water, but knew it would be impossible—and Bill and Mike agreed. The forecast called for rain overnight with the wind shutting down on Monday. I called my family to let them know I wouldn’t be home for Christmas. With my ever-evolving team helping out, I planned my next steps.
Another friend connected me with Tony Anderson, a seaplane pilot who flies tours in the Miami area. Mike, Bill and Tony all agreed that when the weather broke a seaplane would be my best bet. Tony and I agreed to talk again the following day.
Monday morning, December 23, I woke to find the wind was finally settling down for the first time in five days and learned the rain was supposed to stop in the afternoon. Tony was at the airport fueling up the seaplane. I had another boat and captain at ready as well, if needed.
Mat and Lucia met me at the marina during their lunch break. I jumped in their Jeep, and we went to meet the seaplane. Tony confirmed we’d be good to go around 1230. On the way, I noticed the weather was already clearing. Julio, who worked at the seaplane office downtown, led us to a dock where we jumped in a small runabout. It felt strange having him give us an abbreviated tour of Biscayne bay, pointing out dolphins and manatees as we motored out to meet the plane. I tried my best to enjoy myself, but it was an expensive trip and my boat was still gone. This whole thing could be a waste. Moments later, a single-engine seaplane dropped out of the sky and came to a landing. We pulled alongside. Tony stepped out with a gleaming smile.
Seated in the aircraft, Tony told us where the life jackets were and then asked where I wanted to go. Opening up my Navionics app again, I pointed to an area south of Deering Bay Channel. Tony piped some cool island music through the headsets, which got a good laugh, throttled up the engine, and we took off.
Flying low, we passed over Dinner Key. The skies had finally cleared, and the view was incredible. Barely 15 minutes into our search, I tapped Tony on the shoulder and pointed to a spec a couple miles in front of us. We nodded to each other. I could already tell it was a sailboat, and we all knew a sailboat didn’t belong in the shallow waters off Biscayne National Park. Seconds passed. It was agonizing waiting for the speck to come into focus, but there she was. It was Eclipse.
She was perfectly upright, balanced on her keel and rudder, high above the water, resting in the mud only a short distance from shore. Even my inflatable dinghy was there. Tony set the seaplane down just behind her. We’d barely come to a stop before I was jumping into the water and grabbing the mooring line from the plane to tie us alongside.
Shimmying my hands along the edge of the toerail, I hoisted myself on deck, where I swung open the companionway and took a quick inventory. The hatches were all shut and dogged tight. The battery voltage was still a good 12.6 volts. The fridge was running with the food inside fresh. The bilge was nearly dry. I waved to Tony one last time as he took off.
Surrounded by clear blue water and mangroves, I stood on deck and took a few deep breaths. After that, I walked up to the bow where I knelt to inspect the shredded mooring pendants. Returning to the cabin, I started making a mental list of all the people I needed to call, at the same time putting together a plan to get the boat out of the muck. I also called Lisa. I could hardly believe how lucky I’d been.
At 1900 that same day, a pair of SeaTow Boats arrived at high tide and pulled Eclipse free. The operation involved dragging her on her side nearly a mile across sand and rock, until she was in deep enough water to float on her own. Finally, when I was alone again at the helm, I picked up the phone and booked another flight home. I’d be there for at least a part of the holidays after all.
What I Did Right
• Never gave up trying or gave in to despair
• Enlisted the help of the local sailing community
• Suspended the search when conditions made it impossible to continue doing so safely
• Didn’t compound the situation but getting myself hurt or putting myself in unnecessary danger
What I Did wrong
• Didn’t make absolutely sure the boat was safely moored
• Failed to have Eclipse properly insured