Uncomfortable Ocean Passage and Mistakes to Learn from!

They do say a lot of things on the internet, but we have decided to find out what works well for us, on our own. That should absolutely be the case for cooking and gardening. When it comes to sailing, however, it may be better to hear what they say, because learning from mistakes at sea... so how come we did not listen that one time?!

When going out of a narrow inlet, into the open ocean, it is not a good idea to leave with an outgoing tide and a strong in-coming wind. This is especially true for smaller fishing boats, but our sailboat gave us quite a roller-coaster ride too! I did not take any photos of that experience, and I hope I never get a second chance!

Overall, this post will be a bit short on photos, because they were not on my mind during the passage!

Once we decided to leave Vero Beach, FL, we prepared for an easy (that's what "they" say) overnight sail to Miami, FL. We motored the ICW to Ft. Pierce, FL, and headed out the Ft. Pierce inlet under the conditions mentioned above.

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The waves did not look that bad from far, but once we hit them, it felt like being in a washing machine. Our boat would rise up over the steep peaks and then smash down, diving the front under the next wave. Turning around might have flipped us over, so we had to continue; Joe managed to somehow keep finding a better angle to take those waves, and those waves... I would love to come up with some dramatic dive into description, but I am afraid my language mastery might turn this into a swamp at best, so I wont even try. People at the near-by park had their cameras out! On the boat, some of us were screaming, others were quietly praying, most were shaking... We did slowly inch our way out of the disorganized mess, into the open water, praise be to God. Once out into the blue, Boris declared “That was awesome, can we do it again?” He doesn't take that from me.

Our first mistake (for that trip, that is) was complete and it was time for our second one! This one is more subjective, and many sailors will probably lough at us, so I am glad most people who read this are not sailors, the rest of you, lough quietly!

Here would be a good place to share how we choose our passage weather – we check different websites, which show the wind and waves predictions for about a week ahead. Comparing at least two separate sources, provides a reliable forecast.
One of our favorite websites. We avoid anything beyond blue! The angles with lines show valuable wave characteristics.

Another app we frequently check, here showing wind strength and waves.

Animated version showing us the direction of the wind. I do not like yellow and beyond.

Without going into much detail, let me just say that up to that point we had always selected comfortable winds and more or less comfortable waves to sail in. That time, however, anticipating an “easy” sail, we decided to try and push ourselves a bit and go into stronger sustained winds and bigger waves. It was not a reckless, or risky decision, the boat could easily take much more than that, but the crew was not ready for it!
Uncomfortable sailing, rolling seas!

 After a few hours of sailing, and with night's darkness quickly blown over us, I declared that was too much for me, and Joe took over for the rest of the trip. Somehow, the kids managed to go downstairs and fall asleep; I was too sea-sick to sleep, and too scared to sail, so Joe had no other choice but to sail, while throwing up! It certainly did not help calm his stomach, that someone had left the head (toilet) valves open, and it overflowed!
Joe in charge of sailing and not sea-sick yet!

By the time we reached Miami, the following day, we were both exhausted, dehydrated, covered in salt from waves splashing over us, and sunburned! On the bright side, we saw a giant sea turtle, reached 1000 miles of sailing, and I turned 40, during that trip.

Glad to be out of the rolling seas!

As it turned out, our stay in Miami lasted around two and a half months. We all decided life at anchor was much more fun and adventurous, than being in a slip, and we bumped into another kid-boat, with three kids and two dogs aboard, whom we made friends with.

Hello, Miami!

The Miami chapter of our life at sea deserves its own post, so let me leave this one with the salty ending of splashing waves and rolling swells!


  1. I apologize for the extra large spaces between paragraphs, updating the blog from Apple devices seems to be messing things up somehow. It might be time to upgrade to a better blogging platform, any suggestions are welcome!


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