"Your ability to determine your position with appropriate accuracy under any conditions of visibility at sea is critical. Your limitations in these skills must restrict the extent of your boating activities, setting the boundaries of the waters and weather conditions that you can accept without endangering your boat or its crew."
After a series of serious sailing accidents in 2011 and 2012, a sailor asked this question in Scuttlebutt, a sailor's blog: "How does the average sailor get enough experience to be safe at sea?
In reply, my friend Brad Avery, who is director of the Orange Coast College Sailing and Seamanship Program in Newport Beach, California, said that the premise that there can be "enough" seamanship is mistaken.
"We are never safe at sea, whether we are professionals or amateurs. We are always one bad decision away from disaster. My goal is to sail error-free on each cruise or race, but I know this is impossible to achieve. The quest for a voyage free of mistakes goes on. Time on the water, training, humility, and constant vigilance are the keys to being 'safer.'"
Avery concluded with these words: "Knowing you're never safe also helps."
Thoughts like this run throughout maritime history. (Joseph) Conrad expressed the idea a little differently: "A seaman laboring under an undue sense of security becomes at once worth hardly half his salt."
Herman Melville wrote in Moby-Dick that the good mariner "feels just enough of trepidation to sharpen all his faculties."
Complacency is foreign to seamanship.
Every time an effort has met with success, we should humbly decline to claim too much credit. Circumstance, luck, and other factors far beyond our control inevitably play a part.
Absence of failure is not, in itself, a proof of absolute success. The best sailors I know are deeply concerned about seamanship and safety.
To quote an able seaman with whom I have sailed many miles, Howard Lapsley, "Safety and performance are not mutually exclusive."
Many of our guests who come cruising with us bring a nice lunch and drinks with them and enjoy it on the boat.
This crew pretty much "forgot" lunch and instead just brought the drinks....a case of beer and a bottle of Hornitos® Tequila.
They had a great time.
And then they got really hungry!
When you charter a private sailing cruise with us, you'll have the Old Glory all to yourself. What we do on your cruise is completely up to you...and that includes where we stop for lunch.
On this occasion, we were sailing a southeasterly course, roughly following the 1 fathom depth curve line on our chart, which kept us close to shore as we sailed down Estero Island, past Fort Myers Beach.
It turns out that right about when this group got hungry, there was a great place to nearby to grab some grub, right on the beach: Pinchers Crab Shack.
We pulled in close to the beach (as close as we could without risking a grounding), and dropped our hook (the anchor) in about 5-6 feet of water.
Though the water temp was about 75 degrees (chilly by my standards!! I only start swimming in May!), this group nominated three brave souls (all of them women) to jump in and swim/wade ashore to grab lunch.
Using their cell phones, it was easy for them to dial up Pinchers and order their lunch on the boat...and then SPLASH! SPLASH! SPLASH!
Three ladies went over the side (we're saving up to buy an outboard motor-powered dingy for the boat...), and although they couldn't touch bottom where we anchored, it was a very short, easy swim (in calm water, mind you) to the beach...while the guys waited onboard, guzzling beer (I know, I know...typical, right?).
The ladies killed some time ashore on the beach, while the guys hung out on the boat with me and Skipper Bud.
But they were back before long, making their way through the water (even swimming with it as they got closer to the boat, in water just over their heads) with lunch for themselves AND an AWESOME cheeseburgers and fries for the Captain and I securely protected in plastic bags, along with their cell phone and credit cards too!
What a FUN cruise this turned out to be... everyone enjoyed the lunch from our friends at Pincher's, and then it was time to make our way back to the marina.
After more than 160 cruises I've done with Skipper Bud, this was one for the Hall of Fame!
Join us for lunch or dinner any time!
There are lots of places just like Pinchers were we can either anchor offshore nearby, or, pull up to a dock at the restaurant...and you won't even have to get wet!!
— Capt. Kris
No matter how many times I've been out sailing with Skipper Bud on the Old Glory catamaran, I always find something unique to cherish.
Sometimes it's a spectacular sunset, or seeing a dolphin jump clear of the water...other times it's the wind, blowing hard enough from just the right direction to give us perfect sailing conditions.
On this occasion a few weeks ago, it was the very special treat of being joined by my new son, Benson, for his first sunset cruise.
Though he's only 6 months old, and still too young to enjoy it for himself, having him out with us instantly became one of my life's best memories.
Skipper Bud knows how much I love a sunset cruise, and on this day, he happened to have the chance to offer the boat to me and my family for the afternoon. And we jumped at it!
My wife Liz and her parents, who are visiting from Holland, have all been out with Skipper Bud before. But this was the first chance we had to bring Benson along for his first sail.
He even took a turn at the helm with daddy!
Admittedly, it was A LOT for him to take in...but as they say, you gotta start 'em off young!
There was some initial trepidation on my wife's part about taking him offshore and keeping him awake so long. We weren't really sure how he'd do out there.
The wind that day was out of the northwest at around 10 knots, but since the channel we sail out of (Matanzas Pass) is behind Sanibel Island, the wind and waves closer to shore were almost calm.
Once we got about 3 nautical miles offshore though, we cleared the lee of the island (the side opposite the wind direction) and got into a really nice breeze. Skipper Bud had our sails trimmed nicely and we were able to sail to within 40 degrees of the apparent wind, on a wonderful close reach.
Wave height and period were no issue at all — it was a comfortable ride on the catamaran for sure, and truly, the kind of conditions where our boat really shines.
I should point out; if we had been sailing on a traditional sailboat (a "monohull"), the breeze would have had us heeling over sharply. Which can be fun, for some. But we would have been hanging on for balance when going forward or aft, and bracing ourselves to remain seated upright in the cockpit.
Instead, our catamaran stays upright when the wind picks up. This means you can do things like sit a drink down on the table in the stern lounge without it tipping over and spilling. And you can relax without any effort whatsoever.
That's certainly how I like my sailing when I'm with my wife and family.
It took us about an hour and a half to reach the Three Nautical Mile line out in the Gulf and little Benson was doing great but starting to get fussy from a missed nap time.
This was our coming-about point.
With me at the helm, Skipper Bud handled the jib sheets like a pro and together we managed to execute a fairly flawless 180 degree tacking maneuver. With the boat now headed on a reciprocal course in the exact opposite direction from whence we had come, we started our journey back to the marina.
Mother Nature saved the best part of the cruise for last.
Just as we began making our way back up the channel, the sunset was setting astern over our shoulders and putting on the most magnificent display of light and color.
At the mouth of the Pass, we encountered about a dozen boats of all descriptions gathered for the show. Everyone had their cameras out, capturing the magic of the moment:
The sunset, sinking between two daybeacons marking the boundaries of the channel and the Sanibel Island Light rising from Pt. Ybel in the distance made for the perfect picture.
The perfect ending to a perfect cruise.
I'll never forget it. And I'll cherish this special memory for the rest of my life.
Thanks Skipper Bud!!!
— Capt. Kris
OLD GLORY WAS FEATURED IN THE JULY/AUGUST 2017 ISSUE OF MULTIHULLS MAGAZINE!