Fort Jefferson, what a beautiful place! Many thanks to our National Park Rangers who help to maintain and preserve the pristine beauty and history of this national monument. Libra took an adventurous crew of six out of Key West to the Dry Tortugas to spend a warm sunny day walking around Fort Jefferson before shoving off to make the remaining 400 miles north to Pensacola. With big winds, strangely from the south that time of year, Libra made some great speeds in the southern part of the Gulf, rocketing along at 10+ knots. The wind died off the last two days of the voyage and the crew spent some very serene, beautiful evenings on the deck of Libra watching the sun dip down below the horizon. Many of the crew members said their biggest takeaway from this voyage was time spent with Captains Ryan and Randy learning sail tactics, navigation and just, in general, a passion for offshore voyaging. Ryan and Randy look forward to sharing the same experience with you: www.saillibra.com/join-a-sail/
BIG FISH ON! This was definitely Libra’s most exciting voyage for fishermen as we had Big Dave aboard who runs a deep-sea fishing charter out of Orange Beach, Alabama and has a killer instinct on how to hook the big ones and keep them on the line. The Libra crew caught blackfin tuna, mahi mahi, mackeral and another tuna. One was so big we had to cut him off the line. Big Dave guessed around 100 pounds! What a monster!
It was a very sporty sail across the Gulf departing the colorful Mexican island of Isla Mujeres December 5, 2016 in the morning hours and lighting Libra’s rockets the minute she got out into the Gulf to make a record run across the Gulf, sailing over 600 nautical miles in under three days. The crew aboard included some return voyagers who found the the trip down from Pensacola to Isla Mujeres on Libra to be so much fun they wanted to hitch a ride back across the Gulf, too. Thanks to crew members Joe and Kim for hopping back aboard. It was a fast, windy run, one none of the crew are sure to soon forget. In the back of their minds, they’ll hear the wind, waves and Big Dave shouting “Fish On!” Want to reel Libra’s next catch in? Join us at www.saillibra.com/join-a-sail/.
Check out Libra! Docked at her very own remote tropical island:
What an incredible trip this was. Each time Libra makes a runs from Key West back to Pensacola, we always try to include a stop in the Dry Tortugas, weather permitting, as it is such a pristine, captivating place to explore. The historic ruins of Fort Jefferson, jewel-toned green waters, excellent snorkeling and diving, not to mention (on this trip) a stop at Libra’s own private island. Captain Ryan bravely nudged Libra up to this dock with just inches to spare under the hull.
The sail from Key West, departing the afternoon of January 4th on an approximate 24-hour run, was calm and required some motor sailing, and the time was spent acclimating the crew to the navigational equipment aboard the boat and the many systems and sail plans as well as enjoying the sunset and a night under crisp stars. Libra docked at Fort Jefferson right at sunrise the following morning and allowed the crew most of the morning free time to explore and learn about the interesting designs and uses of the fort over its lifetime and snorkel around the vastly-populated reefs and pilings along the fort’s shore before sailing over to Loggerhead Key for more snorkeling around “Little Africa” reef on the back side of the island.
Libra tossed the lines around sunset and continued her way approximately 200 nm north to Clearwater to pull out of the Gulf while a cold front set to bring north winds of 25-30 mph rolled through the Gulf. This was when Captain Ryan captured the stunning drone footage of Libra that so many have commented on on our social media pages!
The last 300 nautical miles of the trip, from Clearwater to Pensacola Pass, on the back side of the front in the Gulf, offered some very sport sailing conditions and excellent upwind offshore sail training for the crew. Libra galloped along at an average speed of 8.1, completing the passage in a record 37 hours. It was a wet, windy, memorable ride! Here are some more photos from the sail. Join us next time at www.saillibra.com/join-a-sail/.
National Imagery and Mapping Agency. This the agency that collects data and creates pilot charts. Pilot charts are a collection of historic data over time based on months and seasons. They give the prevailing winds, strengths, wave heights and much more info. Year to year pilot charts do not change (much). View the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico pilot charts below.
Every ocean sailors friend… Here are the charts for the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean
Pensacola, FL to Isla Mujeres, Mexico was Libra’s inaugural offshore run of the 2016/2017 season and what a voyage! Many of the nine-member crew met Libra (and each other!) for the first time when they boarded on Nov. 19th, but most will say they left the boat with eight new friends they will keep for a very long time. Libra left Palafox Pier around 11:00 a.m. the morning of Nov. 20th, preparing to head south toward Isla Mujeres. The crew enjoyed some brisk winds during the first part of the trip, averaging seven knots the first two days. The crew motor-sailed the following days when the winds lied down, but the calm conditions allowed for splicing lessons during the day on the deck, soothing crew-wide sunset-watching sessions on deck in the evening and even a Captain-ordered “lights out” one night where all crew were welcomed to sit up at the bow of the boat, tethered in, and lie back in awe of the crisp smattering of stars overhead and neon phosphorescence in the water.
After a couple of nights of intense navigating among the heavy ship traffic near the Yucatan Channel, Libra picked her way safely around the reef north of the island of Isla Mujeres, surfed a legendary “ten foot wave” (it gets bigger each time we tell it!) and docked at the El Milagro Marina Thursday afternoon, Nov. 24th around 2:00 p.m. Crew member “Deep Sea Devy” then declared the “Offshore Sailing!” was so much fun it was worth celebrating with some “Inshore Drinking!” and celebrations commenced, ending with a home-made, impressive Thanksgiving spread by the staff at the El Milagro Marina for all crew members. The rest of the night and following colorful days spent in Isla Mujeres eating, drinking, salsa-dancing were a memorable Mexican blur while Libra was cleaned and prepared for her return voyage Isla Mujeres to Pensacola departing Dec. 1st. While the photos and video will never capture, we share all the same. Join us next time to Isla in March, 2017!
It’s Cuba. What more can we say? YOU NEED TO GO! This was Libra’s third trip to Cuba and she sailed this time with a full, excited crew eager to embrace the Cuban culture, food (and, let’s not kid ourselves, primarily the rum and cigars!). Libra left Pensacola, FL on the morning of Dec. 27th and pointed south across the Gulf of Mexico on a straight shot for Cuba. Unfortunately, the winds were light in the first days of the voyage and Libra motor sailed initially while the crew got acquainted with the boat, her navigation systems and electronics and the galley, cooking up some hearty passages underway. It was a good thing the first days were light and easy, though, because the crew was well-rested for some wicked north winds that kicked in during the last leg of the passage, building from 20 to 25 kts, with gusts of 30 kts right on the stern, forcing Libra to charge through the entrance to Marina Hemingway in 28 knot winds and 10-12 foot seas. “It was one of the most difficult landfalls I’ve ever had to make,” Captain Ryan said.
Thankfully, it was one of his most successful too as Libra made her way safely in and the crew soaked up a few eye-opening days in Cuba, including New Years Eve in Havana before making their way on another incredibly-windy romp from Cuba to Key West in just 10 hours January 1, 2017. Happy New Year crew!