Wednesday morning I awoke to the roar of the waves on the other side of the island, calm water at our anchorage, and a beautiful sunrise. The morning's anchoring lesson was interrupted by Blue Angels' practice (in the picture below, the small looking diamond in the sky in the center of the photo just above the horizon is actually 4 Blue Angles jets!) After the impromptu air show and completion of anchoring practice, we piloted our way through the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW) to Perdido Bay. Once in the bay, we practiced a different type of man-overboard maneuver, heaving-to, points-of-sail, and sail trim. That night, we docked at Bear Point Marina, Orange Beach, AL. Dinner was at Flippers, a restaurant at the marina, where we enjoyed Royal Reds (shrimp) and dizzy Dolphins (rum drink). I was responsible for running rigging (1) all day, which was basically making sure that all of the sails were trimmed properly with the help of the other person on running rigging (2). I got a great, all day, bicep and back workout.
Thursday was my day at the helm! That morning Kathy informed us that conditions in the Gulf of Mexico were good, if we wanted to go out. Of course we wanted to sail in the Gulf of Mexico!! After safely leaving Bear Point Marina, we motored through the ICW to Bayou St. John and onto Perdido Pass. Navigating the channel was a little nerve racking because on both sides of the channel were shallows. If the boat had gotten outside of the channel, by just a little bit, we would have run-a-ground. Kathy, in fact, shared that this has happened to her students in the past. The last hurdle, before reaching the open water of the Gulf of Mexico, was the 54' bridge over Perdido Pass. Now some might say, "big deal a 54' bridge," but the top of our boat's mast was 53' off the water. I had to steer the boat just right, so that the mast and instruments on top of the mast did not hit the navigation light hanging below the bridge. This was another exciting and nerve racking moment. After we cleared the channel and bridge, I was given a heading and off we sailed back toward Pensacola Bay. Sailing in the Gulf was a nice respite to piloting the channels. It was so relaxing and calming, just sailing (I can't wait until my family takes off on our adventure!!). The day ended with us practicing the Run point-of-sail, more sailing to a given heading, and me docking the boat back at its home marina. That night we had dinner with Kathy's husband John, at a local restaurant. John also happens to be an instructor.
Tomorrow's post, Part 3 will complete the blogs of my experience while obtaining my Coastal Cruising and Bareboat Charter Certifications.