19 December 2021: Up the Mast


19 December 2021

Departure point

Matanzas River, FL, USA

arrival point

Ponce Inlet, FL, USA

distance (NM)

44 NM

Cumulative Mileage (NM)

1,411 NM

Crew on Board


Skipper, first mate, chef, entertainment and more; I guess that is solo sailing for you!



Calm AF.


Grey, cloudy, ominous.


Cold rolling in with the coming northerlies.


Dry, thank goodness!


This chosen anchorage had two purposes: getting a couple of errands (rigging and sails) done and protection from a coming storm.  

I knew the storm was coming soon and one of my errands was measuring all of my rigging for the best riggers in the world (Kyle and Daniel at New England Yacht Rigging in Rhode Island).   Kyle had already talked me through which measurements he needed over text message and I had measured all of the parts of the rigging that I could reach from deck level: clevis pins, wire diameter, etc.   I had also found the original specs of the boat in my filing box of documents left for me by old owner, Mike.   This gave exact measurements of the rigging so they could be cut to size and swaged together by Kyle before shipping to me, with the exception of the forestay and the backstay.   The forestay had to thread through the foil for the furler so nothing could be swaged on the end or it would not go through.    The backstay would also be cut by me because I have a backstay adjuster so it was a little trickier to rely on the original specs for a precise measurement.

My original plan was to get my rigging made in Rhode Island and then friend Sal who has a plane and was headed to Florida for Christmas was going to bring me the rigging and come for a visit!   Plus the Rhode Island sailing world is a small place and Sal and Kyle know each other so coordinating delivery was easy.  While measuring and making plans with Kyle, I got word that Sal likely had Covid-19 and was not going to make it down for Christmas (poor guy!).   But New England Yacht Rigging knows their stuff and had all the ground and air shipping options for me to choose from to make sure I still got it on time.   Now there was a little more time pressure so I really did need to get these measurements to Kyle ASAP so he could get all my rigging in the mail.  

I was also lucky that I had contacts – Jenn and Rich (fellow coaching clients of Jamie and Behan) – in West Palm Beach in Florida who were happy to have me use their address to receive mail (not just for rigging but more parcels, not as much as George and Mary’s house in St Augustine but still a fair amount).

As a solo sailor with no current solution to climb the mast, my plan was to leave Matanzas as early as I could manage and therefore arrive well before sundown.  That would give me time to get up the mast and finish my measurements before the bad weather rolled in that night.   The motorsail down the ICW was uneventful and I arrive with plenty of time before dark (which is coming earlier and earlier every day now).  

There were two other boats nearby in the anchorage.   I immediately jumped in the dinghy and went to the one that I could see someone out on deck, the catamaran in the above photo.   With a general visit (and assessment of whether he might safely send me up the mast) it seemed like a go and he was more than happy to oblige me when I asked a favor after knowing him for only 5 minutes.   

Looking at the horizon and the coming weather, he also thought it was a good idea to get done as soon as possible and came straight over.   We were pretty efficient and I got everything measured and written down and was back down the mast before those ominous clouds in the distance approached.   


My other errand here while I was still not too far from St Augustine was to sort out my old sails.   They currently took up the entire lazarette an after in inspection and taking photos to discuss with Coach Jamie when in St Augustine it was decided they were not worth keeping.  

The current sails were from 2018 and were in great shape.   Plus if I was to have spare sails maybe a light wind sail would be nicer for later on in the trade winds rather than just redundant sails.  

Coach Jamie was a sailmaker by trade so I definitely trusted his opinion on this one (though I trust him on all things really).   

A common option for getting rid of old sails was to either sell them secondhand or donate them to a company who makes bags and things out of them.   However, they were not really in great enough shape to justify the effort in hopes of selling them secondhand (I really should have done this in Annapolis where there is a great secondhand sail loft who might buy them).   And they were not in such bad shape that they should be cut up and turned into merchandise just yet.   

But I remembered my friend Cooper who I had met in Beaufort, North Carolina also sailed a 1981 Ericson 38.   He had just bought a used mainsail but I figured it did not hurt to ask.   It was easy to track him down in our Ericson owners Facebook group and just my luck he wanted them!  He was in St Augustine, which I had just left, but he had a rental car for a couple days so he could drive the hour and 20 minutes to come grab some free sails!

I loaded up the bags into the dinghy and met him at the dock!  I was glad that something I did not need could help out another sailor on a budget!

I made it back in plenty of time for the bad weather and set my anchor alarm so that I would be alerted if I was dragging anchor once the weather hit.   I could feel the chill, see the lightening in the distance and the wind was picking up.   In the early part of the storm a downpour began, so I grabbed my brush and deck wash and gave Tala a scrub in my shorts and sports bra in the pour rain!

This was her shower and my shower!

As I could see this weather would continue for the rest of the evening, I decided to make a hot drink and warm soup for dinner instead of lighting the fire (I learned my chimney did not do well with gusty weather) and then settled in for bed.

“You cannot wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.”

 – Patricia Schroeder

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