Fort DeSoto Gathering - August 12th - 2006

by Ron Hoddinott

It was going to be hot, we were sure of it, but we were delighted to find that there were no storms scheduled to rumble through and a sweet west wind of 5 to 10 knots was forecast for our west coast. I arrived at the Fort DeSoto boat ramps about 8:30 and already Scott and Charmaine Baumer were there setting up their SeaPearl Tri. They had gotten on the road at 5AM to drive from the Titusville area on the east coast. Now that's dedication!

Before long almost the entire second row of parking on one side of the grounds was filling up with Squadron boats. Ed and Becky Combs arrived with their Potter 19, Minnow. Paul Waggoner and Billy VanDeusen arrived with Paul's SeaPearl, Steve Morrill arrived with Shadow, his SeaPearl in tow, Gary Ellis and his family arrived with their brand new SeaPearl, Bill Fite arrived with MoonShadow, Gary and Wendy Fuller arrived with their SeaPearl Bonnie Blue, and Gil Walker arrived with his beautiful H14 sloop.

Before long we were all launched and the serious sailing began. The tide was in-coming, and the wind was out of the west, so we had to use our best skills to work the boats toward Bunces Pass and the Gulf. The wind was somewhat flukey in direction and strength, but working the edges to stay out of the strong incoming current payed off pretty well. Whisper, MoonShadow, and Paul's SeaPearl made it out into the Gulf after about an hour of steady beating. Whisper took off like a shot and sailed north up to Pass-a-Grill Channel before turning around to head back to the rendezvous point on the south side of Bunces Pass. The channel was pretty busy, so we set out our stern anchor as we came up to the beach alongside, Shadow, and the other anchored SeaPearls.

I was anxious to get wet, as it was starting to get seriously warm. Brenda broke out the fast food salads that she purchased on the way in the morning. After a quick swim, I sat down near Steve Morrill and the other gathered sailors for a lunch break. As usual the discussion centered around future outings and cruises. Bill and Ed suggested that we change the after Christmas cruise to a slightly different venue from the past few years. Instead of the 10,000 Island area, they suggested the area between Flamingo, and Key Largo, or leaving from Homestead marine park and sailing to Key Largo, or the islands such as North Nest Key in Florida Bay. We're looking into re-supply spots on Key Largo, and also considering alternatives such as a run from Flamingo through Whitewater Bay, out Shark River and back to Flamigo. These ideas are all in the planning stages, so get in on the discussion on our Yahoo Groups discussion group!

After lunch, we spotted another SeaPearl heading toward the pass. It turned out to be Gary Weinkie who was sailing his beautiful 1989 SeaPearl, La Perle Nue. Gary has built a special boat house for his boat, and that's the secret to its lovely condition!

So altogether there were 8 SeaPearls in attendance, and two other boats. Possibly the most SeaPearls we've ever had at one time! You just never know what to expect when you come to one of our outings! Bring your boat next time!