Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


Beating the Winter Blahs

January 17, 1991

Pilots, and especially non-sked pilots of the charter, corporate and fractional persuasions home-based in northern climes, have unique opportunities to beat the "winter blahs" that afflict most residents of such climates. Specifically, by crewing on trips to sunny and warm destinations when such trips have multi-day layovers. Our flight department had no official bidding protocol, but you can bet that when a mid-winter trip to a Florida or southern California destination was posted on the schedule board, flight personnel that wanted to get away from winter for a few days made their preferences known to the base manager, who was in charge of assigning trip crews.

This particular flight as logged above was a pilot service trip for our client managed Lear 35. If I remember right, they were going for a chartered fishing expedition. But who cares? The crew would have several days down in the Florida Keys, where it's always sunnier and warmer than anywhere else in the U.S. in January. Tom brought along his fishing gear, found a good place on a bridge to do some fishing, and I found a local marina that rented small sailboats, and I went sailing. Don't remember exactly what the boat was ... a small sloop-rigged open cockpit day sailer.

The thing about sailing out of a Florida key is the current. Current isn't something you need to deal with on inland lakes, unless maybe you're sailing some wide spot in a river. The marina people did brief me on the current before I left the dock, but it was still an eye-opener. The current varies with the tides, as the moon's gravity pushes the water one way and then the other as it flows between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. I took their advice and spent a couple hours tacking back and forth going upwind and into the current, going pretty much nowhere, but having a grand old time, and feeling the warm humid sea breeze soothing my winter skin. And then when I'd had enough, I just turned around and sailed downwind and with the current for about 30 minutes, right back into the marina. All in a day's effort to beat the winter blahs, and it worked.

For some reason there were an inordinate number of trips scheduled to warm and sunny destinations during the winter months. Even corporations whose executives travel for business can find some reason to hold their meetings in Tampa in the middle of January. Winter is a whole lot easier to take if you can just get away from it for a few days.



References for Non-Pilots: