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Cedar key Small Boat Gathering - 2013

Cedar Key Trip - Part I


Thursday we got going before 8am. There was a lot of rain but otherwise this trip was much less eventful than the Appalachicola trip.

We stopped here at the Tin Top Cafe near Troy for lunch. This is a really neat place. We generally avoid large chain restaurants except when expedient.

The country generally offers a much wider choice of parking for the boat and trailer.

We then headed to Branford. I was glad to have written directions since the GPS acted up near Branford. I was very happy that we arrived before it got dark. We enjoyed a visit with the relatives although the rain was incessent. In the morning I bailed about 1" of water out of the cockpit.


Friday afternoon we headed on down to Cedar Key. As soon as I got into town the sun came out. The Small Boat Gathering is very informal. There is no published list of events. But some of the gracious folks there told us what was happening and when. We attended a welcome pot luck dinner and met lots of neat people, including some from as far away as Michigan and Maine. got to see many different varieties of small boats, mostly sailing craft that people had bought or built from plans or their own design. This is part of what makes this so neat.

This is the rough ramp. I can mount the masts and everything but this is exposed to the sea. Retrieval would be difficult. There isn't even an area to tie the boat up to and get the truck.

This protected ramp allows easy launch and retrieval but I have to motor under the low bridge to the beach area to rig. Both of these ramps are near A and 1st Streets.

Lots of boats here already. The scene looked almost Mediterranean with all the stern anchors deployed. The number of boats made me wonder if I should have arrived earlier in the day. Next year...


The first thing we did with the boat was to put her in the water. Normally I put the mast on and bend on the sails before launching. Not at Cedar Key. Here I launch the boat right away as if she were a bass boat. The water is quite protected so it was not difficult at all. I backed the boat and trailer into the water far enough for the boat to start to float. I then backed just a bit more and jammed the brakes. The boat's momentum carried her free. I then pulled out and drove the truck back to the hotel. Meanwhile Debbie bravely waded waist deep into the water to maneuver the boat away from the rocks and over to the dock. I walked back and arrived about 5 minutes later.

We immediately saw that we needed a longer bow line.

We then motored under the low bridge over to the beach area. Then I picked a relatively wide spot between two boats, aimed and rammed the bow into the sand. She came to the water's edge before grinding slowly to a stop. I jumped out onto nice sand.

Next thing we put the masts up and the sails on. Many people had their sails up but flapping in the wind. I did the same and it worked ok. I had difficulty with the brail line and getting the lacing separated from the halyards right. Then she was ready enough to sail.

We motored out and set sail for Atseno Otie Key. The winds were about optimum for moving this boat. I continued to struggle with the mainsail lines.

About 30 minutes later we beached on the key. Many others gathered there with their boats.

Soon I saw a Paradox pull up. I chatted with the designer and his wife for a bit. It was neat to see this boat in person after reading so much about it on the web. It is high on my list of other boats to build and I have a set of plans.

We also met a nice couple who outfitted a canoe as a sailboat. They used a 1920's wooden ironing board for the leeboards. It's amazing what people are able to do with what they have.

Next thing I noticed the tide was going out. I realized I needed to get the boat out into deeper water and quickly. Beaching works well on lakes but tides complicate the picture on the ocean. I could not push the boat by myself since she was already too far up on the beach. If I failed to refloat her then I would be stuck on the island until well after night fall when the tide came back up. But luckily two others were near by to help me. After a few heaves she started to budge. Then it got easier after that. I thought for a minute about how to situate the boat to avoid a repeat. The wind was blowing toward the beach with about a 45 degree angle to the shore. So I set the stern anchor far enough to put the stern in about 2' deep water when the stern rode was tight. I then cut the remainder of the anchor line and ran it from the samson post all the way up on the beach. She floated freely but we could pull her into shore when ready to board.

I needed a stern anchor but didn't have one. We pushed off and set sail back to the mainland. We landed about 3:55pm. The hardware store closed at 4pm and was about 100 yards away. Debbie made it in there just in time. She shopped past closing but made a friend for life by purchasing an anchor and some lines. Meanwhile I tidied up the boat after landing. She trudged back later with a nice plow anchor and 200 feet of line.

We took some things off the boat and secured it. Given that some of the guests with boats were staying in the hotel facing the beach I felt she had some good eyes on her. We went to the BBQ dinner on the beach and talked with other folks.

I set the anchor up and finished readying the boat for the night. This beach had more than a dozen boats at this point. It was quite a good turnout.