The Stable Fly looks almost identical to the common House Fly except for the biting mouth parts and stubby abdomen. These were a nuisance during the day and one of my most unwelcome visitors at the beach sites next to the no-see-um's which would not hang around in the bright sun.
Here we go again...packing to leave Highland Beach...destination, Northwest Cape Sable.
I have tried many techniques without success to make the chore easier, it just needs to get done. To get this far is 90% of the effort then to place it in the canoe and lace the covers down completes the offshore requirement.
Highland Beach was the easiest of all beach sites for loading due to the calm water and fairly smooth bottom.
Back in the Gulf sailing and once again the wind is starting out from the East. All of my days on the Gulf thus far have started out with a Easterly land breeze (colder land, warmer water effect) then diminishing to nothing and reversing to a Westerly sea breeze (as the sun heats the land it becomes warmer then the water).
The Hobie sail has done a lot of work for me on this trip. I'm quite sure my back and shoulder would be suffering much more had I paddled all the time. I designed Robinson Calusa for this purpose. Any canoe loaded with so many hundreds of pounds of gear would take additional effort. Another factor is windage, when not sailing I have the outrigger, connecting aka's and mast/sail all acting a wind breaks. When I knew I would be paddling for miles without the help of the sail I would take it down and strap to the aka's.
View of the space just in front of my seat. These things were in constant flux. Whichever I needed in an instant would be towards me. The watch is a tide watch which calc's the tides by Lat/Lon to the degree without regards to land masses, somewhat helpful but 100% off on the Harney River. Compass was used when impending storm was close. GPS most of the time I could glance at it for speed.
Power boats have been around me since entering the Gulf but none approached within 1/4 mile. I hear one coming up from behind and then slowing down. I'm a few miles offshore at this time and think it may be park rangers or just someone curious about a one arm canoe this far offshore. It slows to an idle and comes along side...it's Capt. Dan! Dan is the great guy that gave me the ride to/from the grocery store back in Chokoloskee. He had told me he did some guide work and here he is a long way from home going fishing. We chat a minute, I thank him again, and he blasts off for some lucky fishing grounds. Very nice fishing rig...if you ever want a fishing guide for the Everglades please stop at Chokoloskee and look up Dan the fishing man. He is a true Chokoloskee native and genuinely helpful person - I'd be willing to bet he is one of the better guides around too.
A short time after Capt. Dan left the wind started building from the West but this time I noticed some large thunderstorms building over the land. Here you can also see the lee board in action. The leeboard worked flawlessly the entire voyage and also acts as a depth indicator under 2'. I must have got it in the right place because the helm was just slightly on the weather side which was by design.
This storm cell was just about over my intended destination NW Cape Sable and appeared to be moving slowly Northwestward. I did not want to get caught up in one of these so I head further offshore to the Southwest. The storm stalls and starts to split up into a wider area and grow larger.
It mostly passes to my Port side as expected but I do catch some rain for 15 minutes or so. Pull out my GustBuster umbrella for the first time and it worked great. Covers the cockpit and I stay dry and happy although the wind has almost died now.
Another storm cell moves in just behind this one and is much larger. I'm pointing at the wall of water coming my way fast! It reaches me in seconds and wind reverses with ferocity. I could not take any photos at the height of it but I'll tell you, it was powerful. Visibility was about 25' and I think some hail was in it. Freezing cold rain water driven in at all angles. No way to use the umbrella in this, the wind would have ripped it out of my hand.
I pilot in a semi circle with about 2' of sail out, just enough to keep control in the blast which also generated some large steep waves. Finally, half an hour later it subsides or moves past and I can make out the tip of NW Cape just visible in this photo.
I'm soaked through and through with ice cold rain water but glad to be floating. Another chapter opened in the Steve Robinson fond memory library. ...as the storm intensified my focus became crystal clear as I discussed the next moves with my cousin. Some of you may think I'm a lunatic, so be it! This is the Steve & Steb Memorial Adventure.
Land, it feels good to be here. There is something about this open treeless cape that I have looked forward to. Right now is no time to reflect, another storm looks to be sneaking up behind this one. I need to hustle and get the tent setup before it hits. I setup fast and climb inside just in time. It rains a little on and off, I keep putting things up in between. A Park Ranger power boat stops a little further South on the beach but I can't quite see what is up. I'm back in the tent for rain when he pulls up and toots the buzzer horn. I come out and talk with him, the rain has almost stopped now. He asks me if I knew anything about a dead Manatee where he had pulled in earlier. I explain that I just pulled in and setup camp after surviving the storms offshore. He told me that he tied an anchor to the Manatee and a group would be out the next day to inspect. I bid farewell and he blasts off South down the coast.
After getting camp somewhat organized I take a walk down to the poor Manatee. It saddens me to see any creature in this state especially such passive ones. It was on its back so I could not detect any propeller marks. I take a few photo and return to camp.
Yet another storm is making it's way across land to the sea but fortunately the most of it looks to be North of me. No sense in gathering firewood tonight so I climb in and change into clean dry clothes. What a lift in moral from just changing clothes, the fresh water soaked clothes worked as a nice bath.
The edge of that storm passed with barely a sprinkle and it is shaping up to be a nice sunset. I rest up a little and gather a little firewood for tomorrow. I plan to stay another day here, it is a scheduled stop but I am currently three days ahead of schedule. I'm starting to feel the close of my adventure draw near and I want to experience everything and absorb every moment I can.
The clouds are really awesome, all around. The storm systems are building over land and fading out at sea. What a sight to behold, I don't know where to look next, afraid I will miss something changing every moment around me.
The sunbeams are spectacular with the contrasting clouds. My emotions during this sunset are indescribable.
Storms are 360 degrees around me yet clear overhead. Guess I deserve this grand display after being tested in it earlier this afternoon.
Beautiful ending to a thought provoking day!
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