A Travellerspoint blog

Ft. Lauderdale

semi-overcast 77 °F

My Favorite Thing Is to Go Where I Have Never Been
Diane Arbus

Another quote from the log book from Stan & Connie. Diane Arbus was, maybe, a degree or two away from true north but she was a noted photographer and she had this sentiment exactly right.

Carol and I have developed a rhythm for and division of tasks that must be done prior to getting underway. I'm not really sure how this happened; there was no conscious thought in the process. It just evolved and, like much of evolution, it is workable. It takes about an hour, more or less, to get things stowed, systems on, accoutrements in place, power unconnected and, finally, untethered from the shore. One of my major responsibilities is to check the engine oil level; diesels, generally, like to be well lubricated. I've missed this several times, but I've been better this trip since we actually left Brunswick; but, sometimes, quien sabe?

The trip planning for this leg has been problematic; the goal is to arrive at the channel just at/after full daylight. The new propeller may push us a little faster; my navigational record of managing the Gulf Stream is very poor, always staying too far east for too long before heading west to the shallower water. On the trip to Ft. Pierce we averaged about 5.2 knots, dock to dock. I'm not sure that we can manage 5.0 knots once we turn the corner at Palm Beach and are exposed to the Gulf Stream.

Leaving the marina, and Ft. Pierce, is always a problem. About 1/2 of the marina channel is narrow, less than 15 yards and shallow, close to 5 feet at low tide. This section runs east-west the marina guys always say that the channel is fine if you stay in the middle, but they always seem to forget that the tide runs north-south and in the middle with a sailboat is the impossible dream. On the way out we almost had a worst case scenario: a manatee feeding in the channel. Only one thing to do: put the engine in neutral so that if there were to be a collision, there would not be any cutting. Of course, when satisfying Florida law we violated the cardinal principle of boating: always maintain complete control of your vessel at all times. The manatee moved away and we didn't ground the boat.

Exiting Ft. Pierce is generally challenging. It's only 3 miles from the dock to the easternmost channel marker but when the tide is running out, like yesterday, one of those miles, the last, is purely ugly. When the fast water from the tide hits the slow moving water in the ocean the fast water backs up and creates waves. When we first saw the channel entrance there was a solid wall of waves and white caps from jetty to jetty. It was good for a rough ride and a little bit of excitement before we cleared into open water.

The open water was about like we expected, pretty lumpy and bumpy. This catamaran was all over the place, in this instant the hulls being mainly clear of the water. So, I guess, that means that we were too.


Our boat has a bolt on keel, so the bottom of the hull is rather rounded from the bow back ... no vee to cut through the water. So, when it gets rough with waves coming onto the bow, the boat does the equivalent of a belly flop, smacking the water -- hard and loud -- with a predictable wash of sea water coming over the bow and back to the cockpit as the bow clears the water. At one point the strata-glass windows were so caked with salt as to be barely translucent. Fortunately, things calmed down and, as predicted, after dark and the ride got a lot smoother and quieter. Early the next morning there was a 30-sec. rain shower that was hard enough to rinse off much of the salt.

The anti-nausea patches make us thirsty, so lots of fluids have to consumed under way. Because it was fairly rough, Carol decided that the right thing to do was to give me my drink, iced tea, in a sippy cup. How humiliating! I'm a grown man after all, although I am sure that many/most women conflate the handling of small children with handling large men. The good news is that my sippy cup does not have anything to do with the Tele-Tubbies or Sponge Bob Square Pants. Miss Piggy might be cool, though.

I hope that we have not been getting cavalier about this. On this trip, so far, we have known the areas so well that we have not really bothered with charts, just had them handy for "just in case." Once we rounded Palm Beach we tried something new: rather than steering to a point, distance and bearing, we steered by the depth of the water, trying to avoid the Gulf Stream currents. This turned out to be simple to do. If the depth was greater than 99.9, steer to shore; if the depth was less than 90.0 then steer to open water. We zig-zagged down the coast anywhere from 0.75 to 4.5 miles off shore, seemingly never troubled by the northward flow. I wish that we had done this on previous trips.

We always cover the distance from Palm Beach to Ft. Lauderdale/Miami in the dark. One way we could tell that we were getting close to Ft. Lauderdale is the Hillsboro Inlet lighthouse, the only working light from Palm Beach to Key Biscayne. It was a solid beacon for the last several hours of the trip., being about 10 miles north of Port Everglades. (photo not original)


At the mouth of Port Everglades we saw another anchored boat carrier, maybe the same one from earlier this year. The big difference .... this carrier was loaded with boats, probably a dozen or more. The sport fisherman boats at the rear are probably 50-ft. and those forward are even larger. I never had a sense of the actual size of this thing until I saw how many boats were on board.


We arrived at the marina at 0830 on Friday, 12/23 and, improbably, handled the boat well into the slip. Brunswick is bad for birds; as these photos show, Ft. Pierce is even worse. The solar panels may not have seen the sun for the past week. Hopefully, we will not have this problem in Ft. Lauderdale.


We are at the Hall of Fame Marina, the hall of fame being one for swimming. The Hall of Fame has a couple of pools and diving facilities behind the main building; I am not sure why this hall of fame would be here; but, frequently, the logic of these decisions is not obvious. The marina, more or less, uses the sea wall around the facilities. It's a very nice location, only one block from the beach. And its main attraction: we can come in from or go out to the open water without having to wait for a bascule bridge to open. (photos not original) Our boat is on the south side (right hand) of the peninsula. The other photo is of the behemoths at the Bahia Mar Marina, about 50 feet south of our slip.


The new propeller worked just fine. We were able to hit 3,600 RPM's and a few extra so it stays in place of the smaller one. I'm not sure that it actually contributed much in the incremental speed department, but my sense was that it may have helped and, certainly, did no harm.

Bahia Mar is mostly full of power boats. One of the few exceptions ... this sailboat. We thought that the snow flake "sail" is pretty neat. I have no idea how big the boat is, very being the right answer, probably 80~100 feet.


This boat almost seems like our constant companion. When we were at the Lauderdale Marine Center waiting for the engine, it came in for work and was across from us. When we later moved to this marina to do sea trials, it arrived and was across from us. Six months later? Ditto that. The reason that Carol and I have noticed this boat in particular is its name: Never Enough. We have spent much time during cocktails discussing what the actual rationale is for the name. We did see, we think, the owners one day: a small, gnome-like very old man and a very much not very old woman. Generously, it may have been his daughter or grand daughter.

On Friday we were able to get together with Steve, a friend from high school. Despite the short notice, and the holiday season the three of us had a nice dinner and a couple of celebratory drinks.

After our first, shortened trip we decided that we needed a better way to sit at the helm than a pile of fenders or the original piece of crap bean bag chair. So, this project has become my version of the white whale. If this were a software project we would be at version 4.something without having made any appreciable improvements since the beta version. On the way down I decided that this seat was not well enough padded for my bony butt; Carol admitted that it was not as comfortably wide as it might be for her decidedly not bony butt. Having rented a car for the weekend we were off to the newly opened, world's largest West Marine store. After testing several we compromised on a new seat. After about an hour of work to remove the old one and to install the new one I decided that I liked the old one better. Another hour to reverse the process and Carol was off to return the not so great idea toWest Marine. So, it seems that we will both have to be uncomfortable, each in our own way. Tolstoy got this just right. The interesting thing that I learned on this trip was that the "seat belt" actually does fit across Carol's womanly woman's lap.


This will be our fourth trip but we have only spent one of the three prior Christmases "down south." Despite having lived here in our youth, the intervening decades have made the prospect of Christmas with palm trees surreal, sort of like life imitating a Corona beer commercial. On Christmas eve we listened to Christmas music over Pandora radio since we do not have any on the iPod or computer. The music was evocative, calming troubled waters and comforting to the soul. I wonder if this will be the case for young folks today when they are of a similar age. I would hope this to be the case, but I rather doubt that it will be. Anyway, Christmas breakfast on a boat looks like this ... and has for millennia from the Phoenicians to the Venetians, from the Dutch to the English, sailors have all celebrated Christmas with New York strawberry cheesecake and French eclairs washed down with champagne. I know it to be true because I read it in my blog.


It can now be reveled: Carol dispensed with such conventions as cutting the cake into slices and immediately sunk a fork into the middle of the cheesecake and started eating. Later, she handled the segue from champagne to mojitos seamlessly, all this before 10 am.

On Christmas morning Carol and I reflected on he fact that, in a religious sense, we have been much blessed; in the secular sense we have been given good fortune beyond any reasonable measure. If it were to be within our power we would share these, give them away, the blessing and the good fortune, with those we love and hold dear. It would truly be a grace for us to be able to do this.

We had hoped to get out of here early next week. The weather, however, is looking like that probably will not happen. There are a series of frontal systems stacked up and headed our way. These typically bring north winds which make the Gulf Stream unpassable for small boats like ours. So, we'll wait. The weather here is 45 degrees warmer than at the house (75F v 28F) so, it's not a bad place to be stranded.

Posted by sailziveli 10:06 Archived in USA Tagged boating

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