The Crossing: Lord Nelson, Wolverine and Ron White sailing the deep blue sea.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The camaraderie of sailors is the picture of selfless giving. We seem to know that our ability to travel and sail is interdependent.

Nelson Miller, Tim Parshall and I planned to sail from Carrabelle, Florida to Tarpon Springs, Florida a 170 mile trip taking us 50 miles offshore lasting 27 hours.


Nelson Miller is a smart, seemingly stern, quiet when it comes to speaking ill of others, generous, good natured, funny and has a

penchant for good cigars and fine whiskey. My kind of sailor.

And a sailor he is.


Tim Parshall. The Wolverine. A die hard Michigan fan.

A true wolverine in many ways. Always greets you with a

big, bright smile, a helping hand and a tenacious ability to

get things done. Almost anything. Generous to a fault.

I, who organized this trip, took it exceedingly serious. My friends lives were at stake as well my own.

For years, however, people believe I am Ron White. We share a certain look and savoirfaire.

So we play it up everywhere we go and have loads of laughs and get into special places.


We were struggling with how to get to Carrabelle from Nashville without leaving a car. There are no car rentals or buses to or from Carrabelle. Enter Howard Toole.

He offers to drive us to Carrabelle in Nelson Miller’s car. We drive to Tallahassee to pick up a dinghy which we named the Lord Nelson. All Howard asks for is camaraderie, a hot meal and a room to stay. He gave so much more. Helping rig the sails with reefing lines and inspecting and questioning all aspects of the boat. He is a licensed captain.

That night we saunter over to Fathoms for dinner and have a boat load of laughs and numerous Ron White encounters.

Sunday, April 25

We go out looking for breakfast and nobody but the gas station sells breakfast and they were out. Tim has barbecue. The grocery store has Hunt Pizza and Polish sausage.


We spend the day rigging the boat and a great dinner, drinks and cigars on board.

Monday, April 26

Tim insists on having breakfast before departure. Glad he did. Zyg Durski has consulted with me all along the way having made this trip a few times. His last text said to expect 15k winds and 3′ waves but there was something in the text that felt ominous. Later he shared he was worried and tracked our weather throughout the night.We consulted Windy and Weather4D for forecast. It seemed right on.

We depart Carrabelle at 9 am. Our heading is 136. Conditions are predicted to be winds out of the NE 8-12 knots until 2 then dropping to 3-4K. Around midnight expected 13-20K winds with 3 ft waves. Perhaps uncomfortable but we have done it before.

Low pressure passed through and we are riding a high.


There is no one out here but us chickens. No land in sight. No cell service. On our own for 170 miles, 50 miles off shore and pure adventure ahead.


We raise our sails. Shadow is racing through the water at maximum hull speed in a hurry to get home to Ft Myers.

Around 2 pm the wind starts to fall off and we drop sails and leave them down knowing that around midnight stronger winds are coming.

We see lone birds flying hoping to land. Birds on the backs of giant sea turtles. Airforce radio towers and the occasional fishing boat.

At one point I thought we entered the Bermuda triangle. My compass was spinning but the GPS indicated we were dead on course. Turns out the GPS had frozen and we were sailing in circles. Hard to tell with no land to judge.

We worked out a watch system for the night. We had no auto helm so we had to hand steer through the night. Two on deck at all times and one sleeps. Nelson and I used the Patch to be sure we did not get sick. Tim is a Navy man. A submariner. He was not going to get seasick. Maybe. 2 hour shifts. 2 hours at the helm, 2 hours on watch and 2 hours of sleep. We laid out Jack straps with tether lines and kept our life jackets on at all times.

Celestial Night

Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning, red sky at night sailors delight. Something went awry.

Tim was at the helm as the sunset a deep purple overcast sky with streaks of orange. The moon was completely full coming from the east.

I took the helm at 9 pm and Nelson was on watch. The light from the moon cast a perfect glow to sail by. I turned off the lights from the electronic navigation and practiced celestial navigation. It was dead on. Once the moon moved for a couple of hours both Jupiter and Saturn came up. I fixed each of their coordinates and again sailed through the night. Nelson may have been concerned but the track was dead on.

My time at the helm was over at 11 and I went below and slept like the dead. Nelson was at the helm and Tim on watch. Seas were beginning to build and wind pick up.

At 1 am I feel a tap on my shoulder and it is Nelson. ” Hay bud it’s your turn”. He was soaked with a little grin on his face. I asked how bad it was and if I needed rain gear. I did. This reminded my of General Richard Seitz as a battalion commander in WWII, when asked how bad it was when given orders to cross an open field at night, the officer he was relieving said ” Dick, there is nothing out there but a bunch of old men”. Turns out is was a reinforced German battalion with mortars.

So I go on my watch and am suddenly soaked with salt water spray from pounding waves. We believe they reach 6′ with a short span between each wave. Right on our nose. Pitch dark. Halfway across the Gulf. Quiet desperation. Tim begins to howl. Kind of maniacal.

Shadow is pounding through the night. Raising up like a Stallion and plummeting down hard onto the sea.

I take out my 5000 Lumen light to try and light up the sea but just too dark.

My time at the helm begins at 3 a.m. The seas are fierce. There is nothing to do but stand. I believe the trauma of the night caused a temporary black out of my memory. It took days to recall the events of the night.

5 a.m. came and  it was my time for sleep and Nelson was at the helm and Tim on watch. Moments later Tim comes down and turns on the lights and starts cussing that he cannot get his foul weather gear on. I remembered my first trip when that happened and I understood his frustration.

We all bounced like jelly beans when we tried to sit down. The girl was bucking. I had a dream about Shadow’s name and designed her logo as a Stallion horse with a seahorse as the tail.

Sunrise eventually came. The seas were still rough but we made it through the night and sailed into Tarpon Springs. Shew buddy as Ron White would say.


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