The Michigan Sailing Club is not just for summer anymore!
by Charles Child
Club member John Cadman preps the boat at the Cedar Key public ramp to open water, in background.
In mid January, I towed the club’s Wayfarer to Cedar Key, Fla. The boat will be in Florida until April for club members to sail. I also spent a few weeks in December painting the boat and improving the rigging with the help of Ovidiu Adam, Carey Jones, Ron Sell, Klaus Wolter and others. The boat still has a few quirks (raise the jib first) but is in good condition and ready to go.
One advantage of towing a boat to Florida is that you get to park with 18-wheelers at rest stops.
Cedar Key is a quiet, non-commercial town on the gulf coast north of Tampa best known for clams and birds. A few miles offshore are various islands, creating a small cruising ground for day sailing. Most of the islands are part of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, so they are unspoiled and great for bird watching. Here’s a link to an interesting article about a nearby island in the refuge, Seahorse Key: https://www.audubon.org/news/what-made-all-seahorse-keys-birds-jump-ship
I sailed to Seahorse Key, and it is very pretty. Full disclosure time: The keys have poisonous snakes inland, so stay on the beach. The water is generally shallow around Cedar Key, so at low tide, you need to follow the chart and stay in deeper water. Good fun! As the photos attest, Cedar Key is a fine place to learn about tides. The town also has a launch ramp with water at low tide. So if you don’t want to deal with mud flats, you can use a trailer to enter and leave the water — waves and wind permitting.
Needless to say, we waited for high tide to sail on this day.
After trailering the boat from Ann Arbor, I met club member John Cadman for a three-day vacation in Cedar Key. John moved to Florida last year and says “hello” to his club friends.
On our first day out, a dolphin swam next to the boat and surfaced a few times. Very cool, and perhaps a first for an MSC boat.
Although Cedar Key is a fine place, the Wayfarer does not have to stay there. You can tow it to other places if you wish. If you are interested in sailing the Wayfarer in Florida, please contact me or board member Carey Jones.
The obligatory moon at sunset photo.