58 Mile Trip

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#41
You can do this, bro... maybe not the entire distance at this time of year, but you can make a heller voyage and have a blast, just be prepared for adverse conditions, potential equipment failures, etc. Like Norcalsail, I'm interested to see & hear what happens on this voyage... keep marine safety your primary concern, and you'll be alright. Good luck to ya, and I say that as a hand who has done such voyages... not long-range in the traditional sense of ocean voyaging, but definitely long-range for small craft, AYE??? ;) CHEERS, BRO!!! BE SAFE & MAKE US ALL PROUD, LOL... :rolleyes:
Oh yes—always carry a spare nut and bolt. ;)
 
#42
Additional line sometimes helps... to hang troublemakers from the yardarm!!! Er, maybe the masthead or upper boom, LOL. If that doesn't work, trail 'em astern as bait for 2-ton Great Whites. Wonder if the OP made it back to shore in time for this upcoming Iron Bowl? :rolleyes:

Michigan Wolverines got declawed by the Buckeyes, disappointing game for Wolverine fans... hopefully this Iron Bowl has closer competition, AYE??? ;)

Damn, some of these cheerleaders are looking good, LOL... :eek:
 
Thread starter #43
Alright here it goes!

So I'm going to start from the Beginning, which for this story starts on Thanksgiving day. After eating an excessive amount of your typical Turkey day meals, I worked on reassembling / putting the final touches on the sunfish trailer. This, like many projects, was supposed to take an hour or two... 6 hours later and I am just finishing up. I still had to make a 30 min drive to pick up some go pro accessories from a friend and next thing you know it 9:30.. with still a few things to gets ready. I hurriedly gathered all of my gear to make sure that I was ready to go for the next morning finishing up by around 11-11:30.

4:30am came early and I had a list of B-Roll Shots that I wanted to get. This again took way longer than anticipated...are you seeing the theme here? We got to cedar point later than anticipated arriving after a1.5 hour drive @ 6:45am ( the trailer towed great BTW). I was excited to see that the forecast was spot on with strong winds out of the east, with 1-2 foot chop making a mess of my launching location. No worries though, as I commonly launch out of the beach in far worse conditions. However, I will say, having all of the gear with me made it a little more tricky as I did not want my electronics to get wet. It was still very manageable though and barley even a notable aspect. I had to reach about 1.5 miles to be able to pass under the Dauphin island bridge, this went quick and was a great start to the trip. At this point I would say winds where around 20mph with gust around 25mph. Transitioning to the run portion of the trip was nice, It signified the beginning of an epic trip and the point of sail that I would remain on. My excitement and anticipation lasted for about 10 minutes before I had my first continuing "issue". This is not really an issue, its just part of sailing a sunfish with 1-2 foot following sea's & strong wind. The boat would start nose diving every 10 Minutes, this caused me to have to be vigilant with the tiller having to move it slightly "windward" to mitigate the dive then correct back to course. This was an annoyance as I often would be trying to film or get a drink then it would happen and flood the cockpit. I did not want jibe back and forth in between broad reaches I know this is a common solution to this issue.

About an hour in, as some of you saw in the picture, My tiller came off in my hand and slung the boat into irons. Ugh OH.. LOL I had recently replaced all hardware on my tiller but have sailed 5-10 times on it since then. I am assuming that the nut worked its self loose and the bolt shortly after. It took me a second but I came up with the solution to tie para cord through the hole to secure the tiller from detaching from the rudder. This solution worked, but handled much like my first truck a 1991 Bronco. If you have ever driven an older vehicle, then you know what I am talking about. Its that feeling that you have to turn the wheel 15 degrees before you get any movement. It was this feeling that I had for the remainder of the trip, this compounded with the constant need to adjust the tiller due to the constant nose diving which was fairly frustrating. As the trip continued the bracket that attaches to the rudder did wallow out a bit which gave the tiller even more leeway. I want to be clear here, Id be lying if I said I was not initially Worried. However, After the failure had a temporary fix and I was underway again I made the decision to keep going rather than stopping at our nearest preset meeting point. I know this may be seen as a major safety Issue, I think I would agree... However, I knew I could fix it if it happened again. So I notified my GF, informed her of what happened and my intent to proceed.

Other than these few things it was an awesome trip.. dolphins swam closely along side for close to 20% of trip as if they where welcoming me and encouraging me to proceed. Literally at one point a dolphin came up and sprayed water right in my face! I have sailed with dolphins before but to see them tag along that long was really cool.

In Pascagoula I accidentally approached several duck blinds which I mistook for little spots of land, until I heard repetitive gunfire which indicated otherwise. I gave them a wave as I sailed by, it was an odd sight. I am a pretty avid hunter and I had no idea that there was duck hunting in the gulf such as this. It was actually right in front of the large oil refinery.. maybe some one knows more about this?

I thought I had a close call shortly after with a large ship that was leaving a refinery. I could see that the tugs where pulling him into position so I quickly adjusted to a broad reach to get out of his path quicker. Hind sight it really wasn't that close.. it was just something that I was very conscious of and wanted to be very care full.

I continued on and was approaching Biloxi when I noticed my phone starting to die. No big deal.. I prepared for this, I had two JBL speakers that could charge my phone, 3 Portable chargers. I made sure my cord was brand new, I pulled it out of the packaging before setting off. By now you have probably already guessed that the cord did not work :/. I called and let everyone know, and we decided that they would try to follow me once I got past Biloxi (the road runs parallel to the beach). I continued on with my phone dead and got past Biloxi. By now it was 4:00 pm and I was flying parallel to beach, probably the fastest part of the journey. Around 4:15 I looked over at an adjacent parking lot and noticed my jeep along with my family and friends waving me in from the beach. This wasn't my designated stopping point, But if I could not make it there in time I would have no way of notifying them of where I am. I was cold, wet, tired and happily went in to celebrate with my family and friends, Total distance 52 Miles.

Little did I know they had been chasing me for 10 miles, drone and all. To make the trip even better I got to take me niece sailing today for the first time. It was all just an amazing experience. We don't do these things to be comfortable, we do them to learn about our selves, to challenge our selves and to get better. Thank you all so much for following along, I will be making another post sometime next week with things I would do different, and planning strategies, that will hopeful help people with there own voyages. As for me, I WILL sail the entire Mississippi sound in due time probably this summer. Here is a pic after sailing today with my niece, I'm also working on the video I will share it with y/all when I can.
Add me on facebook: Kevin Walker Kevin Walker there is some video of me making landfall.
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L&VW

Well-Known Member
#47
Those large ships are a pain. :mad: Some are so large, you have to sail to windward to avoid their "wind shadow". Many larger sailboats have discovered this, with the loss of their entire boat!

Other large boats are so fast (relatively speaking), like Florida's shrimp boats, it's hard to judge where to go. Shrimp boats, and other fishing boats, also head out in long and very-determined lines. :eek:

.
 
#50
52 miles... WOOHOO!!! Nice voyage, you're officially one of the "Long Rangers" now with that little boat!!! Always steer clear of working craft, regardless of size, show 'em a little courtesy and they'll look more kindly upon small craft sailors in general... I always made a point of giving 'em the road, even if that meant temporarily heaving to and letting 'em pass. Good write-up on the voyage, I could feel the boat speed while tearing along on a fast reach and run, LOL. Had a similar problem aboard the Minifish while sailing the length of the Salton Sea: had to dodge steep surface chop at speed or the bow would pitch hard, leading to flooding of the cockpit and a potential "death roll" (not fun when the wind is gusting well over 20 knots). I'm thinking electronics aren't so hot aboard small craft, UNLESS those electronics are "ruggedized" and bulletproof for marine use... the only thing remotely electronic I used to take with me on my voyages was the small Canon cam, wrapped in a Zip-Loc bag and then placed in a small waterproof case with car keys, a copy of my vessel registration, etc., the case clipped to an eye strap in the cockpit. Even with those precautions, dealing with the camera was often a PITA... but ya gotta document such voyages, LOL. Glad to hear ya made it safely, and that your family was looking out for ya... a voyage like yours can bring family together, my voyages were mostly made solo, the family too busy with other things, ya know? No worries, we were taught by a submarine commander to rely upon ourselves and stay outta trouble, AYE??? Can't wait to see pics and maybe some video of your voyage... good job on the bad@$$ adventure!!! :rolleyes:

REMINDS ME OF THE MILITARY MOTTO: "WHO DARES WINS!!!" YOU'LL REMEMBER THIS VOYAGE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE... YOU'RE ONE OF THE CLUB NOW, AND I MEAN THE REAL CLUB, LOL. CHEERS, MY NAUTICAL FRIEND!!! :cool:
 
#51
I was thinking how great it was that you were pretty much able to predict the timing of the journey. Such a prediction can be difficult of course as you never know what the wind is going to do. 52 miles in about nine hours so maybe a bit over 6 mph? Really cool...
 
Thread starter #52
Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to follow up with some things that I could have improved on and things that worked well. I am still working on gathering all of y'alls suggestions together in a checklist format, in hopes that other sunfish voyagers can use it as a tool to make sure that they are prepared.


What I could improve on


1.) I let my other obligations rush me slightly. I didn't forget anything, luckily, but I think ideally you have to block out the time needed to check and double check that you have everything as perfect as possible. Preferably, I believe you should have this completed a day or two before starting the voyage.

2.) I was a little late starting because I wanted to get some "b-roll" shots before the trip. I think keeping to the task at hand here is the best bet, forget everything else. I could have gotten those shots a day before. If your serious about going the distance, then get to your launch spot as early as possible.

3.) Stowage- with just a footbath for stowage, it makes it tough to plan for such a trip. you want your equipment safe, waterproof (preferably), and easy to get to. I struggled with all of the above. You would think a waterproof bag would be an obvious choice, I didn't want to spend the money for just one trip (those things are expensive). Hindsight's 20/20, I think I could have gotten one off amazon for a reasonable price, and saved my self a few headaches. I will say though.. this does not fix the issue completely, it can be very tough to keep one hand on the tiller and the other hopelessly tossing things around in the bag looking for that one item that you need. After contemplating the Issue, I think I have a design that may be great for sunfish voyaging/ stowage. Check it out:

This would be a powder coated wire basket that has legs lifting it above the coaming. It would also have a 3 or 4inch lip around the side. This would allow you to lash gear to one side. it would be easily accessible & out of the way. Add in a few waterproof cases, maybe a way to attach a gps/phone to the cockpit sit and you have yourself a pretty handy storage rack. oh.. maybe a quick release "vice" like device on one side of the dagger board slot to keep the board locked into a specific positon. LOL.. idk I'm going to try it and see what happens.
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4.) I got complacent with my sunfish. With all of my recent repairs I was very confident that my sunfish & rudder assembly was in tip top shape. This turned out to be not the case. A thorough inspection of my sunfish before launching could have mitigated the bolt detaching from my rudder assembly. In addition, my next voyage I will include a few cabinet nuts/bolts with washers (you can customize the length with pliers) and they are pretty low Hassel to get on and hand tighten.

5.) My communication plan was good, however it became to much of a hassle to text my coordinates every 30 minutes per our plan. She was tracking me on "find my iPhone" so instead I would call her every hour then send coordinates which was much more manageable. Its important to set some kind of a grace period.. say 15-30min.

6.) Bring Extra's... my phone died because I only brought one charging cord that happened to not work. Bring extras, don't let one equipment failure be the end of your trip.

7.) Long distance cruising on a larger sailboat you would almost always have a life raft. While that is obviously not possible on a sunfish. I think if its possible to store a small blow up raft it may not be a bad idea depending on your specific voyage.

8.) I think for food its best for it to be something that can be eaten with one hand.. say a protein bar. don't laugh.. but I had some left overs from turkey day so I went with that... yea, it didn't work out so well. Also, I brought one big container of water, also not a good Idea bring your normal sized water bottles for ease of use.


What I did well
I did a lot of things right during the planning and completing the trip. To save time I am only going to mention a few things I find the most important.

1.) I came to this forum seeking advice- this sounds cheesy, I know. The bottom line is I don't care how experienced you are there are people who have had experiences and knowledge that you don't. Use it, soak it all in, the ability to crowd source information is invaluable and helped immensely in planning this trip. This was definitely a win & I would like to think I made some friends along the way too.

2.) Emergency planning- we had a set plan at each step of the journey for a variety of situation. Luckily, I didn't have to use it, but I firmly believe it could be a life saver.

3.) Weather planning- I knew the conditions that I was comfortable completing this trip in & was okay with postponing the trip if it needed. Again, I didn't have to, but this is a big deal, Be willing to post pone if conditions aren't right. Additionally, I got my weather information from a variety of sources. This is absolutely mandatory & I also accounted for the time of day VS my prediction for where I would be. Don't assume that because your local weather station shows favorable conditions, that your destination has those conditions as well.

4.) Back ups- I missed the ball on a few things here, But I also did a good job with some items as well. I had two handheld compasses, a Garmin GPS, & my phone. If you are out of sight of shore this can be very handy especially if one or two pieces of equipment stops working. Multiple phone chargers, signaling devices, water/food. Also, Para cord and sail ties where a huge help.


I'm still working on the video.. unfortunately I am having to set up a time to borrow my brothers laptop to get is situated. Some of the video is In 4K which means I have to have a pretty strong computer to do anything with the files. It is super frustrating but I will get it out as soon as I can!
 
Thread starter #53
I was thinking how great it was that you were pretty much able to predict the timing of the journey. Such a prediction can be difficult of course as you never know what the wind is going to do. 52 miles in about nine hours so maybe a bit over 6 mph? Really cool...
Thanks Norcalsail,

It worked out well, I'm sure mostly because of the favorable winds! I have to imagine if my sunfish was as light as it was 20 years ago I may have made the same distance an hour or so quicker. unfortunately, as far as sunfishes go she is a rather piggish 200 or so pounds, one day ill replace the foam core but in the meantime she will still get plenty of use!
 
Thread starter #54
52 miles... WOOHOO!!! Nice voyage, you're officially one of the "Long Rangers" now with that little boat!!! Always steer clear of working craft, regardless of size, show 'em a little courtesy and they'll look more kindly upon small craft sailors in general... I always made a point of giving 'em the road, even if that meant temporarily heaving to and letting 'em pass. Good write-up on the voyage, I could feel the boat speed while tearing along on a fast reach and run, LOL. Had a similar problem aboard the Minifish while sailing the length of the Salton Sea: had to dodge steep surface chop at speed or the bow would pitch hard, leading to flooding of the cockpit and a potential "death roll" (not fun when the wind is gusting well over 20 knots). I'm thinking electronics aren't so hot aboard small craft, UNLESS those electronics are "ruggedized" and bulletproof for marine use... the only thing remotely electronic I used to take with me on my voyages was the small Canon cam, wrapped in a Zip-Loc bag and then placed in a small waterproof case with car keys, a copy of my vessel registration, etc., the case clipped to an eye strap in the cockpit. !!! :rolleyes:

Thanks Man!

I completely agree with your electronic approach to, Simplicity is always better ! you definitely have to document it, I may have went a little overboard here but hey, lesson well learned! Cheers, I hope you got to watch the LSU vs AGGIES game it was absolutely insane. I was more nervous watching that game than I was on my trip!
 
Thread starter #56
Those large ships are a pain. :mad: Some are so large, you have to sail to windward to avoid their "wind shadow". Many larger sailboats have discovered this, with the loss of their entire boat!

Other large boats are so fast (relatively speaking), like Florida's shrimp boats, it's hard to judge where to go. Shrimp boats, and other fishing boats, also head out in long and very-determined lines. :eek:

.
Good Point about the wind shadow, I'm sure had I been a little closer as the ship went by It may have had this effect.
 
Thread starter #58
How old is your boat? Do you have a port in it? Have you leak tested? If it doesn't leak you can dry out that extra water.
I don't have a port in at this time, I do have a drain plain plug & have leak tested it and repaired all issues. However, water has saturated the foam I am surely going to have to replace it in due time.

**Edit** I didn't thoroughly read you comment: I have heard of people drying it out but I thought it took a few months of no use. I may be wrong here, let me know!
 
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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#60
First, congrats on the trip!!

If the boat really weighs 200 lbs, it is not going to handle well and it is probably making the nose-diving in waves worse. The rack idea isn't a bad one, but you will need for it to be aluminum or SS. Powder coated steel will rust and it'll quickly be a mess. I'd also try to have it not be as close to the cockpit as you show. Going downwind or on a reach there is too much chance of the sheet snagging on it or your cargo. It may not work at all do to the geometry of the boat, but it seems worth a closer look.

To get the boat down in weight, use the drying techniques on the forum. They work, and replacing the foam is difficult and can destroy the boat.

Lastly, don't bother with a life raft. A Sunfish is unsinkable and you will be a lot better off just staying with it in case of some type of disaster rather than trying to inflate the raft and get aboard (and you won't have to deal with the weight and size of the raft.
 
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