Ep. 6 – NO WAY OUT! Stranded in the Dry Tortuga islands

Soon after arriving in the Dry Tortugas, the wind and waves immediately picked up and ultimately ”trapped” us in the remote islands. The weather wasn’t great and after about two days, we saw what there was to see in Fort Jefferson. With that being said…Nick and I can make our own fun, wherever we are, even if there is nothing to do! We took some more dinghy rides and made a couple more trips to explore the fort further. We were keeping a close watch on the weather and discussing our options with the crew of Ohana and 2nd Unit. Our first attempt at leaving was the Thursday of that week. Our plan was to leave around sunrise and head to Key West. We wanted so badly to spend St. Patricks Day at Irish Kevin’s. It would have been a blast! Sadly, when we got up that morning, the weather was still not good enough for us. The winds were consistently blowing around 25 knots and the seas were 5-6 feet. Although Satori could handle that, it would not be a comfortable sail so we chose to wait it out. Nick and I went back to sleep to be woken up suddenly because our anchor was dragging. Luckily Jeff from Ohana saw it happening so he jumped on his dinghy to help. I tried my hardest to get Satori straight while Nick was on the bow. The wind was howling and I didn’t have enough experience to know what to do. Jeff jumped onboard and helped me get her straight. We came within 5 feet of a catamaran that was also in the anchorage. I was surprised that our chain didn’t get caught in their prop or visa versa. We were lucky!

Later that day, we hung out on the fort and prepared a Happy Hour on Satori for our friends. That was always a fun part of the day. We would sit together for a couple hours and have some delicious snacks and cocktails while sharing stories. I always looked forward to those happy hours. At that happy hour, we discussed our plan for leaving. We all decided the weather forecast looked decent so we decided to go for it. Only this time instead of heading to Key West, we would go straight to Ft. Myers. Since it is a 24 hour sail, we didn’t have to leave early. We decided to leave at noon. When we started to head out, everything seemed okay. The seas were a little rough but nothing crazy. After about an hour we heard Jeff from Ohana on the radio contemplating on turning back. The further we got from the protection of the reefs, the worse the seas got. The waves were crashing on the bow, the windows were soaked and Satori caught some air on a few of those waves. There must have been some 7-8 foot waves while they were consistently 5-6 feet. I know the video doesn’t do it justice but alas that was the situation we were in. Satori was handling the conditions like a champ so Nick and I decided to keep going. Until……our anchor bounced out of the bow sprit and went flying over the side. It was banging against the hull, quite the terrible predicament. Nick had to do something, the anchor could have easily put a hole in the hull! He hooked himself in and went to the bow with a razor blade. The only thing he could do was to grab the anchor and cut the line. Luckily he got it free pretty quickly. He brought it to the stern and tied her up. That was the moment we decided to turn around with Ohana and 2nd Unit.

When we returned, it was time for another Happy Hour on Ohana! We enjoyed snacks and some Irish Whiskey in honor of St. Patricks Day while looking at the weather. All of us agreed and decided to head to Key West the next Day. This was our best chance in terms of the weather and I had to get back to work on Monday. Key West has flights to Tampa everyday so that made it easy for me.

Stay tuned for our next episode where we have a rough ride to Key West but make it in time to go let loose at Irish Kevin’s! Until then…Fair winds!

Nick, Kelly, and Arthur

MAN OVERBOARD!!! Exploring the Dry Tortuga’s Ep. 5

Sailing to the Dry Tortuga’s is one of those things every sailor has in their bucket list. The fact that it’s only 70 miles west of Key West makes it accessible to the average coastal cruiser, though it is considered a remote destination. On a good day, it’s a 10-12 hour sail to Key West… but the weather often does not cooperate. I have personally attempted to make the trip 4 times and was only successful twice. This trip, we made it… but almost didn’t make it out. The reality is if you get stuck in the Dry tortuous, you better be well equipped. You better have ample food, fuel, and most importantly, water (or a water maker).

We set sail for the Dry Tortugas from Charlotte harbor, about 75 miles south of Tampa Bay, a 24 hour sail to the Dry Tortugas. Our plan was to time our sail so that we would arrive at the same time as two other boats in our party.  They were to depart St. Petersburg in Tampa bay the night before. This would take them approximately 36 hours. As we approached our destination, I fully expected to get them on the radio at some point. From my understanding, the average sailboat radio should be able to send/receive a radio signal up to 30 miles.  As long as we were within 3-4 hours of each others arrival time, there should be no issue. Even though I’ve been sailing for a number of years, I now realize that I had never tried to make contact with any other boat more that a few miles away. Well, this experience has shed some new light on this idea. We were very concerned as we approached our anchorage, with no sign of our friends. But as they sailed in shortly after we arrived, we were relieved to say the least.

The Dry Tortugas is known for its vibrant coral reefs and beautiful turquoise water. Its a haven for both fisherman and snorkelers alike. There are a number of sunken ships around they islands that make for an amazing snorkel experience. In the anchorages you will often find large barracuda, goliath grouper, and even shark. They have learned they can get a free meal from the visiting fishing boats as they clean their daily catch. We were lucky enough to have a close encounter with two goliath grouper that set up camp under Satori for much of our stay.

The designated anchorage in the Dry Tortugas is located near Garden Key and Fort Jefferson. Fort Jefferson was built in the early 1800’s after the Spanish American war. It was originally built to protect these major shipping waters from pirates and military threats to the united states. It is considered one of the most strategies deepwater anchorages in North America. Construction of the fort was never completed and amazingly, this structure is still considered unfinished.

As we toured the fort, it was fascinating to think that by the mid 1800’s, there were close to 2000 people living within the walls at any one time. During the civil war, the federal government decided to use the fort as a prison, even though it was still in construction. being sent to fort Jefferson was considered a fate worse than death. It meant hard labor, blazing sun, scarce food, very little fresh water, swarms of mosquitos, not to mention bouts of malaria and yellow fever. Prisoners were forced to wear a ball and chain while working day and night to build the enormous brick structure.

The forts most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd. Dr. Mudd was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of treason. Dr. Mudd treated the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. After a failed attempt at escape in 1865, Dr. Mudds heroic efforts during a Yellow Fever outbreak earned him a pardon in 1869. Now the only prisoner at Fort Jefferson is this saltwater crocodile that has been stranded on the island for years.

By the end of our second day in the Tortugas, there wasn’t much we had not seen or done. We had swam with goliath grouper, snorkeled the fort and a sunken wreck, braved a wicked overnight storm and repaired the dinghy motor. There was only one thing left to do… rescue a man overboard! Ok, so Jeff from Sailing S/V Ohana rescued him, but we saw him first! As the last boat in our group arrived the day after us, half the crew was seasick as dogs after making a very rough passage from Key West. One of the crew members was puking over the side as they approached the anchorage. He lost his balance and went over the side. Luckily, Jeff was already on his way to guide our friend into a safe anchoring position within the already crowded anchorage. Luckily, no-one was injured.

Now, the only thing left for us to do, is get home. Easier said than done however.  The seas in the Gulf of Mexico had picked up as soon as we arrived in the Tortugas and the forecast had no sign of letting up. How did we get home… we’ll cover that in the next blog. until then, fair winds!

Nick, Kelly, Arthur.

FRENEMIES! – The Adventures of King Arthur

Due to the popularity of “The Adventures of King Arthur”, we are now posting this segment as its own video… after it’s originally aired within our full episodes, of course.

“The Adventures of King Arthur” is a collection of short stories from the perspective of a 5 pound chihuahua we call Arthur (King Arthur to him).

To his owners, Nick and Kelly, Arthur is simply along for the ride as they sail their boat, Satori, around the US, Caribbean and beyond.

From Arthur’s perspective, his servants are tasked with primping and pampering his royal highness while chauffeuring him around the world on a yacht big enough for 100 chihuahuas!

These videos are excerpts from the Sailing Satori full episodes. New Adventures of King Arthur will always debut within the full episodes.

Cheers,  The King

We Can’t Find Our Friends! Night Sail Collision? (Sailing Satori) Ep. 4

In this episode, we pick up where we left off in our last video. We make our way down to the Dry Tortugas in a 2 day trip. We stopped in Cabbage Key, FL to rest up before our 24 hour sail to Fort Jefferson.

Along the way, I got seasick. I’m usually okay in rough seas, however I happened to have a bad sinus infection a few days prior and had to take a round of antibiotics. This makes me nauseous to begin with so that is probably the reason the conditions affected me this time. Good news, it didn’t last that long!

After anchoring in Cabbage Key, we took the dinghy to the “dollar bar” and had the chef prepare our fresh catch. It was delicious! The next day, we had a great time on our sail to the Dry Tortugas. Dolphins interrupted our ice cream treat, but we didn’t mind! They hung with us a good 10 minutes. What an amazing site to see them in their natural habitat!

As the night approaches, we prepare a fantastic dinner and settle into the night. Nick and I took 3 hour shifts on the night watch. While I was on my last watch, a few dozen shrimp boats were all over the place. The radar alarm was going off every minute. I noticed a boat that looked like it was headed straight for us. I woke Nick up and he confirmed they were too close for comfort. It was a close call…

As we approach our destination, we become worried about our friends. They were sailing on a different course but we should have been able to get in contact by that point. We must have called them 20 times. Nothing…Stay tuned to see what happens!

Denied Entry Into Disney World! (Sailing Satori) Ep. 3

In this episode, we see Kelly is not feeling so well…a case of seasickness! This makes for a very long day…We’ll see more of that later on.

Nick has a couple of last minute projects to complete before their shakedown trip to the Dry Tortugas. The first thing he has to get done is re-bedding the hatch above the V-birth. This task usually takes about 4 hours to complete.

Next they go on a trip to Magical Disney World. Hollywood Studios to be exact. Nick has a 4 day pass to use up before they start cruising. Kelly is a Disney fanatic so she has an annual pass and can go anytime! Nick and Kelly decide to really “ham” it up and play tourist for the day. They stop at the ultimate gift shop in Orlando, “Gift Land!” It does not disappoint. Every tacky tourist item you could ever want is in this place. Kelly finds Nick a beautifully horrible fanny pack along with a classic tourist Mickey shirt. They are set! Upon arriving at the park, Nick changes into his tourist gear and off they go to explore the park. As always, the park is crowded and full of strollers. Nick and Kelly decide to make the best of it. They talk to a few random Disney guests about their plans to sail the world. They met some pretty cool people and a few “crazy” ones as well.

As the day progresses, Nick and Kelly head over to Epcot to check out the countries and buy a snack and a beer. Epcot proves to be even more crowded! But in Nick and Kelly fashion, they still had the best time. They end their Disney day at Hollywood Studios riding a few classic rides, “Rockin Rollercoaster” and “The Tower of Terror.” Awesome!

You’ll also see Kelly has a teeny tiny bladder and has to find a bathroom every 5 minutes it seems. Nick is used to this and just “shakes his head…”

In the middle of all this Disney madness, “The Adventures of King Arthur” comes on. Is this episode, Arthur takes on a meat bone. This bone is fit for a King! His servant tries to take the bone from him but Arthur uses that to his advantage and kindly accepts the “help.” Arthur hides from his bone, he does this from time to time. Only Arthur knows why he does this but one would guess he is trying to “trick” his food into becoming more tender.

As final preparations are underway, Nick decides to get a new anchor chain for the trip. His friend Jeff gets him and a few others on the dock a good deal. They go to pick up the Canadian made anchor chain and install it. It’s beautiful and shiny but we all know that will only last until it goes into the water.

Lastly, Nick and Kelly cast off for their trip. The first stop is Cabbage Key near Boca Grand. This is about 12 hours away. Not bad! Except…Kelly gets seasick and is like that for a good 5-6 hours. It was not a pleasant morning.

The next episode will pick up where they left off. Thanks for watching everyone!

 

We Walk The Plank, But Will It Hold? (Sailing Satori) Ep. 2

In this episode, we start out by taking some friends out for a fun daysail in Tampa Bay near Saint Petersburg, FL. Our friend Chase decides he is now Satori’s head bartender and gets the party started. We felt this scene was so awesome, it needed some epic 80’s rock to set the mood.

We also continue work on the swim platform. This project extends beyond this episode, but we get it to a point where we can test it. Pizza and Coffee are the perfect morning fuel for a project such as this. We have sped up this build process so as not to bore you. We will release a more detailed project video in the near future for those interested in more of the step by step “boring” stuff.   Since we are not 100% sure how our design is going to work, we just wanted to get it to a point where we can use it during our upcoming trip to the Dry Tortugas. Then we can make any adjustments or design changes afterwards. We were able to get out and give a little test run while sailing however. The purpose of the platform is more for getting on and off the dinghy as well as swimming while at anchor, but we couldn’t help ourselves. We just had to climb down there during a little sunset sail.

Our little five pound chihuahua also joins us onboard in this episode. Arthur has been a frequent visitor in the months leading up to this episode, but not yet a permanent crew member of Satori. Arthur begins to settle into his new home in this episode. Unfortunately, that comes with a price. In this case, that price is Kelly’s need to “bug” him at all times. He is just too irresistibly cute for her… but this little dog is such a good sport.

 

Fashionista Moves Aboard, But Will Her Clothes Fit? (Sailing Satori) Ep. 1

We begin our series with Kelly moving aboard Satori. We made the decision last January to set sail this summer (less than 6 weeks from now!). We also had an idea that we might start documenting our story on YouTube… so we started capturing footage wherever possible. Or more accurately, when we remembered. We’ve already discovered that filming life on a regular basis is a very conscious decision. We don’t want to live our lives through the screens of our electronics, but we also want to share our experiences in a genuine way. This may prove to be the most challenging part of our endeavor.

Early in 2017, Kelly had an opportunity to be released from her apartment lease early, so we took advantage and moved her out with short notice. That was an opportunity to save quite a bit of money. Because Satori was not prepared for the amount of clothes and shoes she was about to take on, Kelly set up shop in her childhood room. This is the room you see in the video and will be the home for the majority of her wardrobe. She is a dancer, fashion school graduate, and a self proclaimed “Fashionista”. Because space on Satori is limited, she will continue to struggle with deciding what clothes and shoes to bring aboard until the day we depart. I will be sure to protect my own closet space as I have a feeling her items will slowly start to make there way into my drawers.

We also started filming just after I started one of the most rewarding projects I have done on Satori. I am building a fold-up 2’x4’ swim platform. This project will basically add 2 feet of valuable space, to the length of Satori. After weeks of starring at the transom, contemplating design ideas and building mock-ups, I finally came up with something I was happy with and brought in into my local welder for fabrication. In the video I start by showing the design templates that the welder worked from. Then after a quick trip the the shop, I am pleased to present the amazing workmanship of the guys at Embree welding. This project will continue into next episode and the final touches a few months down the line.

We also introduce what is easily our favorite segment of the video and will be a theme we plan to carry out in most, if not all, of our future videos. “The Adventures of King Arthur” is a window into the fantasy life of our Chihuahua Arthur. It’s even narrated by BBC – Planet Earth’s, Sir David Frederick Attenborough. (Ok, its just me with a bad accent). But there’s something about an english accent that makes even the most mundane daily tasks fantastically interesting. You’re gonna love it!

We plan to release new episodes every other Wednesday as we prepare to leave the docks. Once we get going, we will consider releasing weekly episodes if time and money permit.

Please take a look and LIKE our video. Also SUBSCRIBE if you haven’t already… this helps us tremendously. If you’re interested in helping even more, please check out our site on Patreon.com.

Lotta Love, Nick, Kelly and Arthur

Check out our Trailer!

Our first Sailing Satori video is complete! It’s been a lot of work getting this first one ready, but I think it turned out pretty good. We are both new to video production, so getting over the learning curve while prepping the boat for cruising has been a challenge. Despite the struggles, we really enjoy the creative process. Our goal is to keep this fun, entertaining, and educational… even if it means that we are showing you what NOT to do.

This video is a quick introduction to the Satori crew (Nick, Kelly and Arthur). Since I purchased Satori in 2013, I have worked on countless maintenance, refit, and upgrade projects. And with no sailing experience prior to moving aboard, I have also learned to sail her from scratch. Perhaps I should have taken a lesson or two… but what’s the fun in that? I met Kelly about a year and half ago. We weren’t dating very long before I could tell she would be on board for some real cruising. I’ve always said this was my plan form the day I decided to buy Satori, and she didn’t hesitate to jump on board. Once we set a date and committed to leaving the dock, creating our own YouTube channel was an obvious step. We started shooting footage immediately, starting with kelly moving out of her apartment and onto the boat. Granted, this is pretty random footage, but I hope we can present it in a meaningful way. We still have a lot to learn, but now we are definitely more conscious of how we gather our footage. Composition, audio, quality, etc.

Arthur is the newest member of the crew. At a whopping 5 pounds, he’s the perfect sized boat dog. He is a pure-bread Chihuahua, but comes without the nervous shaking and barking you would expect. He is the coolest little guy and I’m honored to have him aboard… even if it did take me a few weeks to warm up to the idea of cruising with a pet. Hey, I’m trying to avoid responsibility here!

We will dive deeper into each of our background stories in the next video, as well as show you some archive footage of when I bought Satori. In this video, we wanted to highlight some of the footage we have captured over the past 5 months. There has been plenty of dirty boat work, cool projects, awesome sailing, drone footage, and some great drama as we sailed to the Dry Tortugas, Key West and back to St. Petersburg.

Please take a few minutes to watch, like, and subscribe to our video above. There is so much good stuff coming in the next few weeks, you wont want to miss it. You can also sign up for our mailing list below to get updates on our status and new videos as they are released.

Welcome to Sailing Satori!

We are Nick and Kelly, a couple of novice sailors documenting our journey as we travel the world with our dog Arthur and our sailboat named Satori.

Since Nick purchased and moved about Satori in late 2014, he has spent the past 3 years learning to sail, repairing Satori, and prepping for the adventure of a lifetime. Nick met Kelly in early 2016 and she quickly grew to love life on the water. Arthur is the newest member of the crew and has quickly claimed his seat as King of Satori. (King Arthur… get it?)

We have finally set a date to the cast off and begin our journey in June of 2017. Watch us on YouTube as we prepare for our adventure and begin to set sail.