Monday, March 19, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More Photos from West Ship Island

I intended to include these other photos in my previous post about my day trip to West Ship Island, but I was having trouble with my connection and could not do it last night. I also have some videos I shot with a small digital camera while sailing out there, and when I get back to my high-speed connection in a few days I will upload some of those to You Tube and put the links on here.

Unlike around the mainland Mississippi coast, the waters around the barrier islands are somewhat clear, at least enough so that you can see the bottom in the shallows where the sand bottom is just a few feet down. I anchored in water about waist deep after first beaching the boat when I arrived. The wind was too strong to leave it like that, so I pushed the bows off and carried an anchor out to windward and set it by hand. Shallow draft is wonderful! The simplest way to anchor one of these catamarans is to bring the rode through a fairlead or chock on one side of the forward beam, then secure this rode to that same side on a cleat on the mast beam. Since wide-beam catamarans behave best on a bridle type arrangement, it is then a simple matter to take another line, attach it to the main rode with a rolling hitch, lead this second line through a chock on the other side of the front beam and then to the cleat on that side of the mast beam. The main rode can then be let out some so that the pull from both sides is equal, effectively creating a bridle in the middle and just forward of the bows. I should have taken a photo of this arrangement, but did not. Next time I'll try to remember.

This is Fort Massachusetts, which has been standing on West Ship Island since 1859. It appears to be relatively intact despite Hurricane Katrina's fury. The 5-foot thick walls of brick fared much better than the U.S. Park Service's modern buildings on the island, which were all swept away.

With the boat anchored in waist deep water, I was able to completely clean the bottoms of the hulls with a scrub brush. The anti-fouling paint is working well; there was only a bit of slime on the hulls and no sign of barnacles. It will be easy to keep the hulls maintained when a good scrubbing like this only takes a few minutes and doesn't require diving under a keel, as I had to do on my monohull. After finishing this simple task, I hung out for awhile, ate lunch while relaxing on the forward tramp, and then sailed back to the mainland on the same steady breeze that brought me out there. I'm planning to take a multi-day trip out around these islands sometime in the next few weeks while the weather conditions are ideal for it. And in the meantime I will be working away on Element II at every opportunity.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Quick Trip to Ship Island

I sailed Element out to West Ship Island yesterday. The weather was perfect, with temperatures in the 70s F, partly cloudy skies, and a steady east wind at about 10 knots. This wind was just right for a beam reach, both going out and returning on the 27 nm round trip. This was the first time I've gotten to sail Element in really nice, warm conditions, wearing shorts and going barefoot. It sure beats some of the cold daysails I had earlier this year. The boat handled great, averaging around six knots for the most part but at times running 7.5 to 8 knots. I sailed right up to the beach just east of the old fort and range tower, then anchored in waist deep, clear green water and spent a couple hours hiking. I had the place to myself, which is unusual on West Ship Island. There was not a boat in sight, and with the ranger station obliterated by Hurricane Katrina, there was no one working or livng on the island.