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Impromptu Women’s Sail in Apalachee Bay

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Last October I got brave and attended a women’s sailing meet up during the Sailboat Show in Annapolis, and attending that event led to a great day of sailing in Apalachee Bay today. I had heard about the event from a podcast I listen to (On the Wind Sailing). Believe it or not, I was even feeling shy when I asked my friend Denise to attend the event with me and was very happy to when she said yes.

It was a great event, and we met a lot of women with a wide variety of experience. During one of these conversations, we met a woman who had recently purchased property within an hour of where Denise and I live. Beth was quite surprised to learn that we knew the town very well and we decided to exchange our contact information so that we might meet up next time Beth was down in Florida.

Fast forward six months, Beth happened to be in town when I had a free weekend and we finally arranged to meet up in Shell Point today to head out for a sail. I had reserved the yacht club boat yesterday morning, then I made a post on my yacht club facebook page to see if anyone was interested in joining us, which Tracy had accepted. The three of us agreed to meet up at the clubhouse at 10 am this morning.

When I checked the weather yesterday, today’s forecast appeared to be a rainy, stormy day, so I was not sure if we were really going to be able to sail. It turned out to be a great day for us with no rain while on the boat or socializing on the beach afterwards.

What made today extra special was this was the first time I took the lead in taking others out for a sail, and it was going to be on a boat that I was not familiar with. The bonus was that the crew had sailing experience, and it turns out that we sailed well together. There is not a chart plotter or depth sounder on the Capri 22, but I had Aqua Map on my phone along with what I could remember about the shallow canals, and we had no issues.

We raised the sails in the final channel, parallel to the beach, then headed southwest once clear of the tripods. It was an enjoyable, easy sail until the winds disappeared. There was enough room to drift, so the boat was left to bob around while we relaxed and ate our lunches. It was not too long after finishing our meal that the wind filled in and we were off again, taking turns at the helm.

Heading back towards Shell Point we played around the racing buoys practicing tacking and gybing as if we were racing. Eventually the winds grew so strong it was becoming difficult to handle the boat with all of our canvas up. By this time we had been out a little over three hours and agreed to begin working our way back in.

Once close to the tripods, we turned downwind to furl in the jib, then headed upwind to prepare to lower the main. Before dropping the main I needed to turn the motor on. The two times I started it at the dock, the motor started up instantly and purred like a happy engine. Now, with white caps forming around us, the engine took several pulls to start before cutting off. This occurred a few times. I am not sure, but I think the engine tilt was not fully engaged and causing some vibration. Once I heard it click into place, I pulled the cord again, and this time it started up and stayed on until I shut it off at the dock. Let’s just say, I was a little nervous all the way in.

Dropping the main on a boat unfamiliar to all of us made it a little hectic, but Tracy and Beth handled it wonderfully. It is so nice having people on board who know what to do and can work in slightly exciting conditions.

Then the magic of Shell Point started to shine. Susie and Bill were out on their pontoon with their family. Their daughter was visiting from Boston and recognized me, so they turned around and cruised down the main channel with us. More magic waited for us on the beach after we buttoned up the boat back at the club. The sailboard club was holding a practice day and gear swap. My friend Angel was hanging out there and I needed to pick something up from her, giving me an opportunity to introduce Tracy and Beth to Angel and some of the sailboard club. It was just a lovely day spending time sailing with Beth and Tracy today. I suspect there will be several more meet-ups with us and some others in the months to come.

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