A Travellerspoint blog

South, at Long Last

rain 70 °F

Well, things changed. The weather that looked good on Sunday didn't look so good on Monday morning when it was time to really get underway. Fairly high winds, and when we would have been south of Palm Beach, those winds would have been near the Gulf Stream, making for very rough water. So, we waited. The marina is OK and cheap, only $15 a day for a mooring ball, sort of like the difference between a Holiday Inn and a hostel. But we have facilities, access to town and, occasionally, scenes like this in the morning.


On the way to Vero Beach a boat named Cheers passed us, as all boats do, so we had a brief VHF conversation about boat names, ours, Ziveli, also meaning cheers in Serbo-Croation. Long story short, they came by our boat to ask us over for dinner, an invitation we accepted gratefully. Not only did we have a great evening with a nice and interesting couple, we also got to see a 42-ft. Beneteau ..... a real treat and, as Carol said at the time: "What a difference 6-ft. makes."

Their cockpit is completely enclosed, the first such in which we have ever been. No wind, a little sunshine and you have, as Palmer called it, a solarium. This may be the next upgrade for the boat. Carol and I have declined offshore passage opportunities not because of the sea and wind conditions, but because it would be too cold and too windy in our cockpit, open on three sides. Their boat also has a built in generator. With this they are able to recharge their batteries; we actually have move battery capacity than they, but they need less because they can recharge any time. They can also run their two Cruise-Air heat pumps to keep things toasty warm in the cabin. Way nice, but not possible on our boat; the little Honda will just have to do the job.

The trip has produced our second cruising casualty, after the O/B motor: this time the dinghy itself. As a means of conveyance an inflatable dinghy has two fundamental requirements: keep air in and keep water out. Ours was failing in both requirements and it looked like it was probably an irreversible death spiral. So, we had a new one delivered, smaller by about 3-ft. and lighter by about 20-lbs. It also has a rigid fiberglass floor and transom. This presents new storage problems because the old one rolled up into an awkward but manageable rubber block; but, we'll find a way, necessity being, in this case the mother of ingenuity.

But, wait .... there's more. Adam, who delivered the dinghy, helped us to move to motor and stuff. So he drives off and Carol and I get in to return to the boat. We hadn't gone 100 yards before I noticed water coming into the bow and stern through fittings in the fiberglass bottom. Out comes the cell phone and back comes Adam to take the dinghy back and to seal or reseal all the fittings. Two days later we had the dinghy back and it's now dry.

Now the only dinghy problem is Carol who doesn't so much get into and out of the dinghy as she lurches, lumbers and lands, rather like an elephant trying to dance on one roller skate. Now the launching and landing areas have been reduced .... a lot! I expect that sometime this trip Carol will end up in the water.

So, on Saturday last, the long hoped for weather window arrived, not only good weather offshore but also reasonable temperatures. We motored from Vero Beach to the Ft. Pierce inlet and at 1050 on 02/20/2010 we entered the North Atlantic Ocean. It was a good, and I thought, very easy passage; Carol, perhaps, thought otherwise. There was some wind but not enough to drive the boat without the motor so, we motor sailed pretty much the whole way. We learned from last year about the power of the Gulf Stream; this year we never went east of the 80th meridian. Even with this, to counter the northward current , over the last 20 miles, or so, we had to move so close to shore that we could see the white foam breaking on the dark of the wet sand.

We arrived at Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday morning, about 1000. It's a wide and deep channel since there are about a half dozen cruise ships home ported there, the easiest and shortest channel we've yet used. These are some of the cruise boats as seen from the channel.

And then the games began. Sunday morning, a weekend, the first warm and clear weather in weeks and the first day in many without small craft advisories or warnings .... every boat in Broward county was on the water. The ICW channel is so narrow and sinuous in some places that the pilings for the day marks look like a picket fence and little of the water's surface between the picket fences was bare of a boat .... big and small, sail and power, craft of every conceivable configuration and color were on the move. The bigger boats, and sail boats, moved steadily, if not slowly, while the smaller boats darted between and around them, taking comfort in clearance that was measured in femtoinches .... no scratches in the gel coat, then no problem. Everyone seemed to understand the navigation and the complex choreography except us. In the boating sense I felt like the rural guy from Spring Creek on his first trip to the "Big City."

We went to a marina to refuel, no real problems, and then headed for Cooley's Landing, a marina that had been recommended to us by a couple of people as cheap with OK facilities and in a beautiful tableau ... along the New River with a river walk akin San Antonio's. So, off we go! We had to cover about 3 miles to the marina. We had studied the chart but the difference between the six inches on paper and the 3 miles on the water was beyond my imagination. The river is tortuous, with more twists and hair pin turns than NC Hwy 209 and, in some places it's not nearly so wide. The amount of traffic on such a small waterway was staggering: the huge boats that moor there were out for the nice day; others, some semi-huge, were just sight seeing; then there were the tour boats, some tarted up as paddle wheelers. The New River must be an A-list sort of place, big bucks! The narrow waterway is lined with yachts and mega-yachts parked at their mansions; 50-ft. is a small craft and more than 100-ft. is common. These dreadnaught wanna-be's so narrow the channel that some keep fenders on their water sides for the inevitable bumps that occur. At one point a 75-ft. boat literally honked its horn at us because we were going too slowly and he wanted to pass us; I found a way to let it by. Another used its loudspeaker to tell us to get the H... out of the way; I did not. The high point of the transit was when a bridge keeper started lowering the span onto our mast, claiming that he did not see us as we passed through with several other boats.

This is the New River, from a bridge, where we are moored. We are directly across from the large white boat on the left side in the second photo.

This back end of a boat, so big, that it is being towed up the river. There are tow boats on the bow and stern so that it can be pushed, pulled and pivoted through the turns, something it could not do under its own power.

We did not know the precise location of the marina and this one, a city marina, has no sign or yellow arches to identify it. We were instructed to get there at 1245, slack water, for the easiest mooring. The person neglected to say that he would be at lunch then and, on return, too busy watching the Olympics to respond to the VHF radio or phone. So, in the narrow channel, we leaned over the side to ask the folks in the boats next to us if they knew where the marina is. One, in a kayak, confirmed what we suspected, that we were in about the right place. At this point, my legendary, saint-like patience exhausted, I decided that we were staying there, right or wrong, and that Carol could sort out the issues later. The only problem was that we were in the "right hand lane" with heavy boat traffic behind us and a steady stream of boats coming toward us from the bascule bridge; we had to make a "left hand turn" into the marina. It never occurred to me that a boat might need a turn signal but one would have been useful. The only option was to wait for a break in the oncoming traffic, which is when the big boat behind us used its loudspeaker. We moored safely; it was the right marina; and after I told the man on duty what I thought Carol did, in fact, have to sort things out.

The marina's setting is, as advertised, a beautiful place. It's going to be 75 degrees today. The river walk is gorgeous and there are stores near by. We'll stay here a couple of days, rest a little, do some maintenance, make a repair or two, and then head to the Keys before the weekend.

Posted by sailziveli 07:37

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