Lucy is our wonderful little row/sail boat whose original purpose was to be our big boat Siroccos’s tender. And while she serves as the most gracious of tenders, she has become much more. Lucy is only 7ft. long and is considered by many people “cute”. While she is cute, she is also a very efficient little boat. Lucy rows like a champ and sails remarkably well- also handles rough waters smoothly. She is light, fits on our cabin top, and the roof of my car. We have enjoyed many hours in Lucy- whether it be our daily commuter while living at anchor, taking her on a short sunset row, or our vessel of choice for a weekend trip- she has never let us down and we have always been impressed with her efficiency. This past weekend proved no different.
A couple weeks ago my good friend Lynne and I went on a paddle trip to Shell Key Preserve. We borrowed a friend’s double kayak and took off from the Pinellas Bayway. It was such an awesome day of sunshine, laughter, shelling, and kayaking. I had never been to the island before and was so thrilled by the find of Shell Key, that the following weekend Kyle, my parents, and I all visited the island together. We left mid-morning on Saturday; Kyle and me in Lucy, and my parents in a borrowed double kayak. After unloading all our gear from the car and into the boats, Kyle began to set up the sailing rig for Lucy. We decided that we would be faster than my parents and told them to go ahead… we were not faster haha! They kayaked ahead while Kyle and I tried to get Lucy underway. We were in muddy sand and the boat kept trying to sail away from us so our start was slow. Once underway we felt like we were cruising! It was beautiful and Lucy was sailing along happily in the shallow water. But I think we thought we were going a bit faster than we actually were, because the distance between us and my parents didn’t really seem to lessen.
After catching up and laughing a bit about us being “faster” we paddled and sailed around a sandbar in front Shell Key that was home to numerous birds of different species. There were white pelicans (who walk very funny!), sea gulls, cormorants, and sand pipers. The white pelicans didn’t like us being near the sand bar so they waddled their way into the middle of the bar. The other birds didn’t move, but they sure were hollering all about. It was a pretty cool scene- calm and shallow water, sunny with wind, few people, the barrier island and the Gulf of Mexico in the distance, and then just a bunch of birds yelling at you for getting too close.
After coming around the bird bar we headed for a landing on Shell Key. Kyle and I switched over from sailing to rowing, and my parents paddled ahead of us. I rowed us to where my parents had landed and we pulled Lucy on shore. Right away my mom and dad were looking for sea shells and Kyle and I looked for a camp site since we would be camping on the island for the evening. We found a nice little spot and set some of our stuff up while my mom laid out a wonderful picnic. Sandwiches, cookies, chips, fruit, and drinks- she always packs the best lunches.
We spent the rest of our afternoon walking along the island, searching for sea shells, and enjoying the sunshine. Once we made our way back to our camp we all got back into our boats. Kyle and I sailed and rowed around with my parents for a bit and then said our goodbyes near the sandbar; them heading back home and us exploring the various little islands. That evening once we got back to our camp spot we made a fire, cooked some dinner and played lots of dice and card games. It was a beautiful evening with an awesome sunset. Being that it was a bit windy we set Lucy up on her side to block us and the fire from the wind- she was a great little shield!
The following morning we awoke to calm water and blue skies. The birds were singing their lovely songs in all directions. After making some coffee we walked the beach a bit and then spent some time exploring the few trails inland. We wanted to take advantage of the tide that was in our favor, so we packed up early and headed out. We had decided to attempt to sail/row the 7+ miles from Shell Key Island to our home at Blind Pass Marina. What an adventure that turned out to be!
The first half of the trip was fabulous. Lots of wind, clear and shallow water, dolphins in every direction, making approx. 2 knots (not bad for a 7ft. dinghy filled with gear!). We were truly enjoying the sail.
It wasn’t until we made a turn under the Pinellas Bayway Bridge that things started to get a little interesting. Our wind began to die and the wind we did have was coming from the wrong direction. After adjusting the sail and the centerboard and trying different angles, we reluctantly began to row. I took a turn first, then we switched. We spent the last half of our 7 mile trip rowing about 3.5 miles home. The sun was hot, there was no wind, we were hungry, and were fighting a 2 knot current. Needless to say, there was some frustration and four letter words being said under our breathes as we rowed. Two different times I was rowing and got very excited that we were about to make this turn that I considered the home stretch; both times we weren’t even close to the turn… and that’s how the last half of the day seemed to go!
Anyway, after at least 2 and 1/2 hours of rowing and every once in a while attempting to sail, we made it home. When we first began to row I started to think it was a bad idea to make a 7 mile trip home in a 7 ft. dinghy- but once we arrived back to our mother-ship, Sirocco, it somehow was all worth it. We felt very accomplished, exhausted, covered in sweat, sunscreen, and salt water, and ready for a pitcher of cold beer. And I’ll tell you- it sure was a good pitcher. Cheers!