Gannet's Circumnavigation Takes a Hiatus in Marathon

Serial solo circumnavigator Webb Chiles ends the most recent leg of his round-the-world voyage in the Florida Keys.

st lucia
Webb Chiles has completed the next leg of his round-the-world voyage with a marathon to the Florida KeysWebb Chiles

St. Lucia to Marathon, Florida, was the most beautiful of passages until it wasn’t.

Twelve hundred miles were full of fine sailing, and the last 100 full of frustration and despair. The image of Gannet’s Yellowbrick track only suggests the agony of those last miles. I was aiming for Key West, but the wind was weak and then died completely and we were helplessly carried northeast at 2.5 knots in the middle of shipping lanes. Only skill and chance enabled us to get an anchor down Monday night, May15, off Boot Key, which encompasses Marathon, Florida. It took us seven and a half hours to cover the last 16 miles and my relief when we came onto the reef and the depthsounder changed from 160 feet to 30 feet and I knew we could get an anchor down and not spend another night drifting toward the Bahamas was immense.

The passage did not begin well. I woke at 0530, and put the Torqeedo on the transom at 0600. I tested it, and it started. But when I was ready to leave at 0745, it wouldn’t start and the display read “Error 33”. I don’t know what that means or how to correct it. I have emailed Torqeedo asking for explanation. I cursed various nonexistent gods, walked down the dock, came across a St. Lucian with a Cigarette boat who towed me from my slip and 30 yards before I could sail and refused payment. After that for almost two weeks it was so wonderful that I began to consider if good can be appreciated without evil; if all sailing were that good would we enjoy it as much as we do having known gales and hurricanes? I think not.

During one of the beautiful afternoons I was so happy I took the photo of an old man having fun.

Our sailing is mostly over for the year. Gannet, who has now gone coast to coast the long way, will remain a Florida boat for the rest of 2017, unless a hurricane blows her into another state.

In a few days I fly home, where I have not been since January, for a couple of months. I’ll return to Gannet and sail up the west coast of Florida to near Pensacola where I have been promised a sail on a Drascombe Lugger. I haven’t been on a Lugger for more than 30 years. Early next year, time and chance permitting, I’ll sail for Panama, get Gannet across the isthmus, and sail to San Diego to complete the circumnavigation, hopefully before my wife, Carol’s, birthday in April.

Daily runs St. Lucia to Marathon: 1,323 nautical miles

Daily runs Durban, South Africa, to Marathon: 7,746 nautical miles.

Daily runs San Diego to Marathon: 23,339 nautical miles.