Monday, May 01, 2006

Life After Katrina

I have a feature article in the current issue of Sea Kayaker magazine:
Life After Katrina: The Mississippi Gulf Coast in the Wake of a Major Hurricane.

This issue in bookstores now, for those who are interested. There are several photos in the article from the coast, some taken immediately after the storm and some taken a few months later when Travis Easley and I did some exploring in our sea kayaks.

Here's a link to the Sea Kayaker website:

An Easy Gulf Passage

Artie Vaughan and Halcyon at Ft. Myers Beach Marina, FL

Note the new bowsprit and anchor platform that I built for the boat earlier this year, as well as the new bow pulpit Artie installed.

Artie Vaughan and I had an easy four-day passage across the Gulf from Biloxi to Ft. Myers Beach last week. We left Point Cadet Marina just before dark on Sunday night and made our landfall Thursday afternoon, and had the boat secured at a dock there before dark that evening.

The timing for the crossing worked out just right, as we stayed ahead of a cold front and a line of thunderstorms that was moving into the northern Gulf by Monday. For most of the passage, we enjoyed light winds out of the south, allowing us to sail on a close reach on our direct rhumbline to the southeast. Winds during the trip never exceeded 15 knots, and most of the time were less than 10, making it necessary to run the inboard Yanmar for assistance in maintaining our 5-knot average. Seas were about as gentle as could ever be expected for a period of four days on the open Gulf, averaging about 2-3 feet.

Dolphins in the blue water midway through the passage. There were about 25-30 of them in this group, cruising alongside and playing in the bow wave. This far out, the Gulf is Caribbean clear. At night our wake appeared as a trail of sparks due to heavy concentrations of bioluminescent plankton.

Halcyon is as great a boat as I suspected she was the first time I saw her when Artie arrived at Point Cadet two years ago. All Pacific Seacraft boats are well-built to the point of being over-built, and Artie has especially well-equipped this example of the Orion 27 model. The boat is ready to go practically anywhere on all oceans, with all systems in excellent order and good repair. A retired electrical engineer, Artie is meticulous in maintaining his boat, and in my opinion, wise in choosing a vessel of this size. Give me a well-found 27-footer designed for bluewater cruising any day over the 35-40+ footers that are so popular these days. A boat the size of Halcyon is easier to maintain, easier to handle, and a lot easier to buy and equip, while still being large enough to be comfortable and seaworthy.

Artie is going on from Ft. Myers to the east coast of Florida and then the Bahamas for a few weeks. I'm sure he's going to have a great cruise, and I'm envious of all that time he's going to get to spend sailing a great boat in warm, clear waters.