“It Will Be A Cold Day In Hell” Sailing Into Blue Hell Part Two

Continuing The Nepenthe Story from our previous blog…all photos are courtesy of Ted Genard, co-mate on the sailing vessel.  Weather now makes the news daily but this story continues with a cold side note historically speaking.

The Winter of 1976 was known for being one of the coldest on record for many states on the ast Coast.  The news reported that the Central Florida orange crop that year was in peril.  My wife mentioned she remembers this too as she was living in San Diego.  In our previous blog, we set the stage for our readers following our bold adventure bringing down a sailboat from the upper east coast near New York to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Normally January in Florida can be a much welcome destination from Cape Cod and New York City dwellers.

Take a look upper left photo;  it took two other crew members 45 minutes and at least a total list of 17 articles of clothing to get dressed to do your turn on watch.  No skin was to be exposed.  Gloves, socks, mittens, full face mask, and the boots with jacket and pants all foul weather gear.  The longest that you would be able to stand watch was two hours.

Then after your watch, you were undressed by your team, clothing laid out to air out and the next person placed at the helm.   It was called “blue hell” by Nordic sailors, since it stayed a steady 10 degrees morning, noon and through the night. The human body requires modulation of temperatures to repair and rest.

Nepenthe was known for loosing it’s mast twice in the Bahamas in the Bermuda Race.  Once coming down a wave that was so steep, the mast was left behind the vessel.  It was outfitted with a Ted Hood Mast and a 5/8 inch rigging.   Even with this famous designer mast and rig, the seas were so powerful against us, that the Nepenthe managed only one knot per hour with waves rolling off the bow near Cape Hatteras – known as the “graveyard of the Atlantic”.

Night sweats are not recommended.  Upon waking once, night sweats had leeched through my sleeping bag and attached my body to the wall.  Being frozen to a wall bulkhead was a nightmarish surprise.  Our crew was provided individual propane heaters.  But upon use we all had noticed severe headaches.  This was an indication we had carbon monoxide poisoning.  With malfunctioning heaters, and stoves that did not work all the time we and the vessel were being stretched to the limit.  All my life I was never this cold.

We were surfing on a full winter’s gale and waves would broach the deck more than once a day.  The waves and wind ever increasing, the ice built up to over a 1/4 inch on deck.  Walking was perilous. At one point, as a large wave was approaching I found myself grabbing the mast and my co-mate Ted for some reason leapt above me on the mast and as the wave covered us, I saw my friend being washed away and grabbed him out of a wave by his belt and pulled him back aboard.  To this day, we still talk about that moment in time.   When you look at the lower left photo, notice that the boat was listing at an angle.

Captain Hall was the first to discover the “droppings” on our bunk beds as the rats were scurrying through our air vents, jumping off our beds and going on deck to lick the ice. The rats managed to get into our food provisions, having eaten a half of a dried pepperoni roll which severely vexed our crew to know that the rats has invaded our food larder.    It was Ted who gained the notoriety of being Rat Slap (initials on the bow of the boat on a sailing bag) as when one large rat made way very close to him on deck.  With all of those layers of clothing the rats got braver, edging ever closer to crew on watch.  Swat out of the boat into the freezing water went the head rat.  One by one Ted eliminated the vermin.  How many survived the trip?  We never checked or knew.

Little did we realize at the time, that we were in fact riding the head winds of the cold front and stormy conditions that brought the 1976 historic snow both to the Bahamas and to Southern Florida that week.  When we finally arrived it was a much warmer and yet still cold 37 degrees in Fort Lauderdale.

Finally, we had reached our destination.  The trip from hell was finally over.  The Nepenthe around 42 feet long and crew had survived together an amazing adventure still told by crew mates today.  With all the heat waves around at the moment, I thought that something with a chilling edge would be the adventure tale to share.

Captain Albert as told to wife Ronda






“IT WILL BE A COLD DAY IN HELL….” How About “Blue Hell?”

If you every say “it will be a cold day in hell when..” take it back.  Because it could happen.  I said that myself and did not ever marry until 2010 and it was a chilly 46 degrees in Key West, the coldest day every on record in 150 years.  Iguanas dropped out of the trees freezing cold, the fish died and floated to the surface in South Florida.  It was truly a marked event that is miraculously a good one.  I married my now wife Ronda Rinald.  She called home to say “I married medicare, he married menopause; that she was my first wife and probably only wife, and the cold weather was (my) fault”…. It was a cold day.  People remember that year who lived in Key West back then and rarely does January ever see that kind of weather.  Right now weather is better in Key West than most of the country and usually even during hurricane season our summers are milder than everywhere.  Weather is almost in the national weather news daily.

About that weather, a cold day in hell – In 1976 it was a cold day in hell and every where else too.  I was out of money out of luck and owed my parents $500 and going to leave Cape Cod to go home and work to repay my parents the debt that I owed.  Leaving in my oil burning Buick, my future looked uncertain.  I had just interviewed for a job as a last resort.  On that fateful day, near Christmas time, I was stopped by Jim Cumberforte, a Sloan Fellow Honor Student from Harvard University, who was the new owner of the Patrick Ellam Yacht Delivery Service.   After an brief interview he said, “We can use you” Jim said, as he reached into his desk and brought out $500 and gave it to me he cheerfully remarked, “now go home pay your folks in Wildwood (New Jersey) take off three days for the holidays and come back ready to work.”  Crew members were hired and trained under other captains and companies.  The sailboat was in sad shape located in Block Island, Rhode Island; we stopped for some repairs near New York to make her more sea worthy.  I went to New Jersey for another break and we eventually made our way toward Florida in January, 1976.

Back in the 1970’s before the days of “licensed” captains you had to be approved by the existing captains for a company.   Off on my first delivery with Captain Hal Synder and wife Cathy, and Ted Genard (who provided the photos for this sailor’s tome), we were taking Nepenthe from Block Island down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  In my mind it sounded like a good start albeit cold as usual,  and ending up in Florida? Sure let’s do it. What could be bad about going to Florida after the holidays in January?

Little did we know that while in New York, we had also acquired unwanted stow aways while at the docks.  River rats took up residence in our sail bags in the Nepenthe’s v-birth.  With the wind at our backs although noticeably cold, we were young and full of adventure.   And so the sailor’s tale begins….





The Narr Family Having Fun At The Reefs Key West Vacation Sailboat Charter


Go to this link on our You Tube Channel to see the family having the most fun you can have on a boat!  You can too.


There is nothing more memorable than a Key West Sailing Adventure At Sea Excursion with your family.  Sail out to the reefs, watch for dolphins, dive in, fish for dinner if you like, take the helm, pull up sails together or find a hidden treasure at a sunken wreck.  Your choice.  Every day is going to be full of fun and excitement.  Call Capt. Albert.  Making sailing vacation dreams come true since 1995.  The Most Fun You Can Have On A Boat!  See you soon, call 9 am – 9 pm EST 305-304-4911.

Ronda guest blogger for Capt. Albert


Key West Summer Sunset – Charter A Sailboat Vacation


Summer in Key West is much more enjoyable than you would expect; average temperatures are much nicer from 84-92 degrees in the day time and mild sea breezes at night.  Explore the natural setting being at sea on anchor under the stars with an off shore Key West Sailing Adventure Excursion.  All meals, BYOB – non alcohol beverages and water with your snacks included along with expect crew to guide you through snorkeling, sailing, and fishing experiences.   Dive a hidden wreck, enjoy bird watching and watch for wild dolphins to play beside your sailboat as you take the helm and pull up the sails together.  Take a photograph of your family and friends having fun.  Call and reserve your charter at 305-304-4911 with Captain Albert.  Making sailing dreams come through since 1995 in downtown Key West Historic Seaport, 201 William Street, E Docks 10, 11, or 12.

Summer Time Will Be Here Soon! Would You Enjoy An Excursion On A Sailboat?


All Dennis wanted to do was fish but he and Marsha both wanted more than anything was to take a break and see dolphins and did they ever!  Excursion Adventures include everything you need from snacks, drinks (non alcohol BYOB) breakfast, lunch, dinners under the stars!  This fun couple had a captain and mate to guide their trip, allow them to take the helm, go snorkeling, island hopping and all meals prepared and served to them.  Measured in 24 hour trips, leaving either noon or 1 pm sometimes earlier 11 am, it’s up to you, we don’t worry about getting anywhere to fast.  You take off with sandwiches from the deli and then we fulfill your wishes from there.  Visit a couple of reefs, toss a line in the water to fish, explore an island, go to the dolphin playground, if the weather is nice possibly dive a wreck (secret spot)!  We plan as we go sometimes according to how you enjoy and relax.  Talk or meditate.  Tell stories or nap.

Think it’s expensive? when compared to just getting a room in Key West then buying food  from a restaurant that you maybe don’t know about, and hope you like it?  hmmm we spoil you really as much as possible and according to your wishes.  Pretend you own the boat and do tell your crew what you wish to find and experience.

Since 1995 Key West Sailing Adventures, Inc makes dreams at sea come true.

Are you calling our number yet?  9 am – 9 pm or until the phone runs out of battery- see you in Key West at E Docks, 10-11-12 behind Waterfront Brewery, 201 William St. Key West, FL 33040   and – look us up on Google Maps – if it says Key West make sure it’s  the island and City of “KEY WEST”! there is an island chain and several islands up to 14 miles away share the same post office.  Then relax – Remember you are on island time.



Ronda Rinald, guest vlogger for Captain Al


Dolphins, Dolphins And There Are MORE Dolphins Off The Bow!


If you wonder what it is to have a two or three night excursion in Key West Off Dock at SEA! and how it looks this is what you need to look at – a pod of dolphins was all that Dennis and Marsha from Atlanta wanted and did they ever get it! Special thanks to our guest videographer First Mate Tess Sibley! She did a great job capturing the feeling of what it would be like to have meals served to you, snack tray and to be treated like a million dollars for just you and yours.  Captain and Mate do all the work, you pull up sails or take the helm if you want to or just relax.  Since 1995 making sailing private charter dreams come true at the same location – 201 William Street, Key West, FL 33040


Call and find out why we are still the original and best charter in Key West!


Submitted for Captain Albert by Ronda Rinald

Bermuda, Bahama, Come On Pretty Mama – Key Largo, Montego – The Florida Keys!

Now you can take a deep breath; the winter holidays decorations are finally put away, Valentines Day and Spring Break are here March brought festive Irish themes with St. Patrick’s Day; and its colder weather throughout most of the country. The news shows the tip of Florida is around 82-84 degrees from November through the whole month of February and into March. This includes Miami and the island chain to Key West, The Florida Keys. “Bermuda, Bahamas Come On Pretty Mama…The Florida Keys” sang the infamous and beloved “Beach Boys” – one of the reasons Captain Albert and I met! My daughter Amber Walsh sang this song together for many years!  “Key Largo, Montego-”

During the winter months, many who live in the north, east and mid western states have at some time encountered that delightful fantasy to take a winter vacation to some tropical island somewhere. Whoever you are, if you are under ice and snow as you read this, you have the winter blues or are fantasizing and planning steps to take a short vacation to thaw out in the warmer climates. The cold weather serves to remind you that you are not covered in hair and fur (some of you may be) and that a break now through April (Or Summer as it is milder in the Florida Keys) is calling your name. Maybe you wanted to escape to the warm weather during the holidays did not go wished you had gone away on a long weekend. “Where can I go?” Kokomo? How can you find a warm spot in January, February or March maybe April to get a piece of summer, still in the continental United States? Stay in the good ole’ USA! Come to Key West

The British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic or going to another country such as Puerto Rico or even Bahamas may be more off shore commitment than you would want. Did you every here the Beach Boys singing “Bermuda Bahamas, come on pretty mama to … The Florida Keys….”    Cross over Jewfish Creek enter into Key Largo-Just about an hour outside of Miami through the Redlands and Homestead-You will begin a drive that will transform you to the Sub Tropical Zone in Monroe County

Now Showing! The Bridge Goes Over The Everglades



Different Ways To Get Around, Walking, Biking, Paddleboarding Or Kayaking


Sunsets – The Daily Event. Everyone Stops & Takes A Look.

Native Plants The Mangroves – The Island Building Blocks – Finger Roots Hold The Sands To Build On Old Hardened Coral Reefs

Starting with Key Largo (mentioned in the Beach Boys song), you can get off a plane, pick up your rental car and meld into a totally different world that is still in the United States. Why not stay with www.keywestsailingadventure.com just a couple of blocks from downtown Key West (the actual island is only 2 by 4 miles wide! So be in the action and fun.

Stay tuned in for more as we share what you will see coming into the Florida Keys!

Submitted by,
Ronda for Captain Albert

Key West Sailing Adventures, Inc. Since 1995 For The Most Fun You Can Have On A Boat! Making Sailing Dream Vacations Become Reality

305-304-4911 or 305-393-0604