Caladesi Island Gathering

April - 2007

A week or so after the Cortez Small Boat Festival at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, we scheduled another event. We sailed to Caladesi Island and rendezvoused in the marina. Bob Wood and I were lucky enough to be invited to sail with Harvey Brillat aboard his new SeaPearl-Tri. Harvey, We met at the Clearwater Sailing Center on Sand Key. Harvey had bribed the launching crew to come in early and put his boat in the water, which isn't so easy to do on the gently sloping ramp. They use a large farm tractor with a 20-24 foot boom on the back to attach to your trailer and then back it as far into the shallow water as they can go. Hopefully you'll be launched. The tide was pretty low, but they did manage to get her off the trailer. Can't say much for the future of the tractor, since its flywheel was throwing salt spray before the boat was launched! We all climbed aboard with enough gear and food for the day's sail and headed out Clearwater Pass into the Gulf of Mexico. The SeaPearl Tri is an tremendously stable boat, and the leeward ama never dipped below water, even though we were putting a lot of stress on the mast in the strong northeasterly wind. I'd never sailed a tri with so much wind, and was really surprised at the way the main mast was bending. In a monohull the heeling of the boat keeps the loads off of the mast. We were pushing the boat pretty hard sailing along the Clearwater coast, and going about 5.5 knots, so we decided to reef the main. Bob and Harvey went forward and put a couple of turns in the main. We didn't slow down much, and the mast wasn't bending like it was before.

We sailed past Hurricane Pass and closed with Honeymoon Island to get out of the waves and into the lee of the land before tacking toward Caladesi Island. I hoped that we wouldn't have to stay in the channel, but the tide was pretty low. We tried to skim over the shoals and take a direct route to the entrance to the marina on Caladesi, but we ran aground trying to cut the northern coast of the island a bit too close. We all jumped out and pushed. the SeaPearl Tri draws a few inches more water than the standard SeaPearl, and weighs a bit more too. One the plus side the akas make great pushing points. After about 50 feet of struggle we found enough water to sail, and continued onward. We spotted Bill Fite's SeaPearl Moonshadow sporting new sails, and a Bay Hen sailing quickly toward the entrance to the marina. Bill changed course to intercept us, but the Bay Hen when on in. It was about this time that we discovered that the engine wouldn't start. We'd just sailed out of Clearwater and hadn't checked the engine. No matter, we sailed in, then reefed down drastically so we could sail in under control.

When we got in to the marina we saw a space right next to Joe Milavsky's Bay Hen. Joe hadn't had her out for a few years, and was learning all over how much fun it was. Joe's dad was his crew for the day. After getting secured to the dock, we were almost knocked over by the arrival of an old friend! Bud Tritschler, who sold his SeaPearl this year, showed up sailing a Folboat Aleut with inflatable amas! What a pleasant surprise! Bill Fite came cruising in and we fit him in right along side.

The marina at Caladesi used to be almost always empty. Now days the motorboat crowd just fills it up on weekends. We were lucky to find a few slips down on the last pier. I wondered why that was, and Ed Combs told us that it started when they installed power to the docks so the boats could run their air conditioning!

Ed and Becky we beaching it when we arrived, but came down the docks to meet and greet. Dave and Linda Bybee's sailed in aboard their SeaPearl Tri, Papa's Boat, and Dave and Bud came aboard Harvey's tri and we had some lunch. Before long another Squadron boat arrived. It was Art Gregory and Brenda Bell in Art's Peep Hen, Kiva.

After lunch we investigate the engine, and discovered that we didn't have the fuel valve in the right position. It started right up after a bit of choking. We had a long sail to get back to Clearwater Sailing Center, so we didn't hang around too long. Harvey, Bob and I had a nice relaxing sail back to Clearwater out in the Gulf, which gave us time to chat about dozens to topics and get to know each other better.

Sailing the tri is a lot like sailing a bigger boat. It responds by accelerating but not by heeling, and you can sit back and really relax aboard. It helps to have a crew aboard though, especially when approaching a dock. Bringing in the amas while on the water takes some cooperation.

The Clearwater Sailing Center crew pulled her out of the water soon after we got back. It was nice to not have to crank her up on the trailer! Thanks for a great day on the water Harvey!