A Travellerspoint blog

February 2011

Miami Beach

sunny 78 °F

As we were sitting around in Ft. Lauderdale thinking about when to leave, we noticed that the engine had rolled another 100 hours and it was time for our scheduled maintenance, mostly changing fluids, belts, filters, et. alia. However, when I was doing my topside inspection I noticed that the pin which holds the boom to the mast had worked its way loose and was way too close to falling out. Major Issue! The downside could have been horrible .... the boom swinging free, under full sail, crushing everything in its path, and we would have been unable to recover the sail to stop the damage. The proximate cause: a cotter pin that, maybe, was never there, or, maybe, was lost since we have owned the boat. Regardless, it was something at which I have never even looked . It was a very easy fix, but the boom had to be disconnected from the mast to reposition the holding pin. We now have it on the 100 hour maintenance list and have a supply of very large cotter pins just in case.

The mechanical issues continued to Thursday, the day we left for Miami. We had been having an issue with the transmission cable disconnecting when going from reverse to forward quickly; the disconnection put the transmission in forward, no access to neutral or reverse . I had thought that I made the proper adjustments in Brunswick …. not so! With folks on the dock to handle our lines it happened again, the result being that I rammed the bow into the dock at a pretty good power level. No style points from the audience. It’s a rather simple adjustment which I quickly made after tearing apart the back cabin to get to the cable. I think that I’ll replace the cable portion of the mechanism; it cannot be a very expensive part.

The trip through the three bridges was not overly traumatic and things were going pretty well until a white, fiberglass version of the USS North Carolina approached from the other direction. We got very small and, almost, were so far over that we could have moored at a starboard side dock.

The trip into and out of Port Everglades entails going under a bascule bridge that has a 55-ft. vertical clearance. Our mast is a little over 51-ft. high and with the sundry things on top probably goes to 53-ft. Every time we pass under this bridge the heart just seems naturally to move up to the mouth.

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On the way out we passed these two sailboats, the largest which we have ever seen. I got on the radio to see if the owners wanted to swap, offering the lower mooring and maintenance fees of our 36-ft. boat. No takers, which is good, since we probably could not have afforded 24-hours of ownership for either of these boats. But ….. oh, the dreams.
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The trip to the Miami channel is a modest 20-nm, something that we should have been able to transit, with the good wind that we had, in less than 4-hours. In the event, it was 5.5-hours, two of those aided by the motor. Despite this being the 3d year we have made the same trip, I still have not got it into my aging brain that the western edge of the Gulf Stream is only 5~7 miles off shore. When I moved from 300-ft. of depth to less than 100-ft. we gained 2.0 knots. And we needed to be much closer to shore that, maybe in 20-ft. to escape the Gulf Stream GLUE that always slows us down. Maybe, next year, we’ll get it right, or not. Sometimes, it is more interesting to curse the darkness than to light a candle.

On the way south we saw this boat towing a tender that probably cost more than our boat did.

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The trip into the channel was, again, frustrating, the three gerbils working extremely hard, and not succeeding, to make 3.0 knots against the flowing tide. For the first time I actually thought about a new, more powerful engine along with a larger prop to push the boat. Way too expensive to contemplate.

We made good time once we were “inside” and caught the 1700 bridge opening to get to Sunset Lake which meant that we could anchor before sunset. When we approached the lake through the channel we saw that all the several sailboats in the anchorage were in the southern half, good for us because there is a nice wide point on the northern half. It struck us as unusual bit did not really click. As we maneuvered the boat to drop the anchor some guy was yelling at Carol to move away from where we were or that he would bother us with loud music. We did move a little north, away from his house, but that was for our purposes, not his.

This was our first anchor exercise in about a year. Anchoring, for us, is always a challenge …. low confidence and bad memories. We had changed the anchor, while in Ft. Lauderdale, putting the big Danforth/Fortress out, one which we know to work well in Sunset Lake. Despite this, the boat at anchor was not behaving in a predictable manner, i.e. the bow never swung into the wind, at the time being almost 180 degrees to the wind.

So, we kept the motor running for a good while as we studied our boat, to see if the anchor was really, firmly set. We were about 98% sure that it was, but the other 2% can bite the backside. While we were sitting around doing this, the man on his dock made good his promise to bombard us with music, in this case, very bad, very loud RAP music which is not very musical. If he could have found a Bob Seger CD I might have asked him to turn up the volume. As darkness fell, he upped the ante: shining a very bright strobe spotlight on the boat.

While this was going on a couple came over in their dinghy to comment that they had also suffered similar actions and that they had moved as a consequence. It was dark and we were not moving and I was getting into a typical male combative posture. So, rather than go to his place and do something stupid, I turned on the wifi hot spot, got out the iPad and found a non-emergency number for the Miami Beach P.D. I expected them to be polite but to blow us off, he is a local tax payer, after all. I explained the situation and said that we were being harassed. They were very polite and even called back for some additional information. They wanted to know where the house is; I gave a pretty good location from the lakeside but did not expect them to locate it with a patrol car.

Miracle of miracles … in about an hour a police patrol boat motors past ours. The two officers had no trouble finding the offending location. In fact, they too may not have liked the music because on went the flashing blue lights and the siren. Pretty cool! A few minutes later the music died (it should have been buried, too); soon after that the light went off. The police were there for 15~20 minutes so, things must have happened. Our night was quiet and dark. And, back to that male thing .... I won!!!

Still concerned about the anchor, when the bladder alarm went off at its usual 0330, I put out more chain and put on the chain snubber. We held firm and rode well through the night.

The next morning we saw these three guys out for their morning exercise? They look to be surfboards propelled by a long paddle with a single blade. Carol noted that their clothing was all dry so no one had fallen off his board.

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On the plus side of mechanical issues:

  • Tightening the hose clamps seems to have done the trick for the shaft seal. We stayed dry from Ft. Pierce to Ft. Lauderdale and again to Miami.
  • The new oil pan seal and new oil pressure alarm sender unit cured the minor oil drips that we had.
  • The refrigeration guy seems to have broken the code with his repairs; amp hour usage is now back in the 5 amp range, at which the unit is rated, but it still cycles a lot.

On Friday we lowered the dinghy and motor and got ready to leave the boat and to go ashore. Carol and I have been doing this for about three years now and if in the improbable even that we had to abandon ship I'm afraid that it would not go well for Carol. Based on three years of direct observation, Carol cannot leave the boat without: (1) drinking a Coke; (2) evacuating the prior Coke that she drank; (3) changing her shoes; (4) selecting the proper hat; (5) applying yet another layer of sun screen; (6) selecting which pair of gloves to take since she will be touching the dinghy line. The list omits the mundane aspects of purse selection and organization. At least she does change the order of events to keep it interesting.

The first stops were a Walgreens and a Publix grocery store. Very pedestrian. There is a fairly good "inner city" hardware store on Alton Road; this was the first trip to Miami where we did not have a long list of things to buy. In fact, we just don't have that many open boat projects, a rarity. We stopped at Epicure where Carol was prepared to spend hours without actually buying anything. She wanted to buy some ceviche but it didn't taste like supper, maybe an appetizer.

The Lincoln Road Mall was next. This has to be one of the best places ever for people watching. I wish that I had a little of Studs Terkel's ability to capture a city, his was Chicago, through its people. The mall strikes me as that sort of place. It's such a contrast ... the Rodeo Drive wannabe fashion mecca at one end and where the traffic starts again you are in the souk somewhere in the Levant, where Lebanese or Tunisians or whomever run camera and luggage stores and bargain on their wares as if they were the fabled carpets of the orient.

We had a nice lunch in the wannabe section, only moderately over priced and the wait staff was actually pleasant even if the hostess was not.

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For folks that are proud to live in Spring Creek, and we are, it is like entering an alternate universe. Many of the people are very stylish and sleek, Carol noting several women that could have been, and maybe were, professional models. Walking along the wannabe section Carol said that one guy checked me out pretty thoroughly; I'm all in favor of multi-culturism but not at that personal a level. The people on the mall are a fascinating brew with youth, looks and money being the ingredients that play out in individual measures. The rules of the game seem to be that if you have one, or more, of the ingredients then flaunt it; if not, then try to fake it; and for those old souls like us .... forget it.

Along the way we passed a church, United Church of Christ, which we had "seen" before but never noticed. It struck me a a beautiful in its unadorned simplicity. It's an old-ish building with wonderful wood construction, probably Southern Long Leaf Pine, the dark color coming from wood stain.

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We made it to the beach, for a minute or two, before Carol headed for the shade and a bathroom. For both she chose the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Carol seems to have the innate genetic ability to go anywhere, at least in the northern hemisphere, and locate the nearest bathroom and source of Coca-Cola both of which are existential issues for her.

On the way back we walked on the other side of the mall to get to a place we visit every year, almost a pilgrimage: the Peter Lik studio. With apologies to Ansel Adams et. al. he takes the most remarkable nature photos that I have ever seen, and that fact alone would make his oeuvre distinctive. But, beyond that, he enlarges the photos, sometimes to 4/5-ft. on a dimension, somehow prints the pictures on glass or a clear laminate, then mounts them over a light box which back lights the art. The back lighting adds special drama. 30 years of my best photos cannot equal one of his mundane shots. I finally got the courage to ask the sales person the cost of for a piece: $3,000 to $8,000 for some of the smaller works, up to $95,000 for some of the limited edition pieces. Peter Lik Photos

When we got back to the boat it was time for my first "cruisers bath" of this trip. I wanted to check the zinc on the propeller shaft and bath time seemed a good time to do it. The bath consists of putting on a Speedo bathing suit, at least in a populated area which this is, and jumping into the water from the stern, wash down in salt water, and try to rinse the salt off with a teaspoon to a cup of fresh water in a camp shower bag. Despite the fact that the water is relatively warm, it's still not a hot bath; my affinity for warm means that easing into the water can take hours .... a direct plunge is the only way to overcome the temperature. The salt water bath is not a very complicated process but there have still been learning opportunities: (1) do not, ever, ever, rinse the razor in salt water because your face will take a long time to heal from the shave the next day; (2) bars of Irish Spring soap do not float, even for a nanosecond. Carol's cruising ablutions are a mystery to me and I hope that they remain so.

On Saturday we visited another cousin, one of Carol's, Bill with whom she grew up in Coral Gables. It was a nice visit and Bill drove us by the house where Carol grew up. She, more or less, recognized the front wall as still being kind of original. The rest of the house had been subjected to the tear down huge-erator and had become just another McMansion. Still, in all, better than the fate of my former house which was razed to the ground. It is Florida after all.

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More excitement on a Saturday morning: Carol managed, somehow, to break a critical part of the toilet without which it doesn't work. This was a piece that is not supposed to break, so we had no replacement (it is injection molded plastic and there was a void in the plastic where it broke). Si, hay problema! Replacing turned out to be very expensive .... not for the part whose cost was nominal but to rent a car and to drive to Ft. Lauderdale which was where the only replacement could be found. It seemed a fair price to pay after 24 hours of actually having a pot to pee in.

We have noticed a new(?) thing this year. Many of the huge yachts we've seen have been home ported/registered in Bikini, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where Georgetown in the Cayman Islands had seemed to dominate. A quick internet search came up with the unsurprising result that taxes do matter to people who can afford these types of boats.

We want to head to Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, FL, but that inn is full. There is also weather headed our way and all of the anchorages we might use in the keys will be very exposed so, we guess, that we'll stay here for a while and wait to see what happens. The anchorage is fairly protected so that is not a bad choice.

Posted by sailziveli 09:13 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Ft. Lauderdale

sunny 79 °F

I wanted to leave on Sunday, Carol on Monday when the weather would have been a sure thing. But it was cold on Saturday night, 40 degrees, and another similar temperature was in the offing. I carefully checked the weather before setting out. 10~15 knots diminishing as the day goes on. We had met an experienced sailor who said always add another 10 knots to that. Today, this might have been good advice. We heard an extreme weather notice on the VHF from the USCG in Miami. I thought that that was for about 150 miles south of us, which it was. After listening more closely it was clear that they were reading a report about 24- hours old. My reading was that the hard center of the high pressure passed us on Saturday and was to the south. It would move away from us faster than we would move toward it, and that things would calm down in the late afternoon. In the event, that is exactly what happened, but I cut it too close.

We saw these brown pelicans roosting in trees near the mooring field entrance. Despite having seen pelicans on all manner of places it had never occurred to me that they would also roost in trees. Their great webbed feet just don't seem to be made for that sort of thing.

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We got underway from the marina at 0800 and cleared the Ft. Pierce inlet before 1100 having the benefit, again, of a running tide and a tail wind. The inlet at Ft. Pierce is one which I have come to dislike. The currents and winds can be difficult at best, treacherous at worst, for an underpowered vessel such as ours. Today did not disappoint. The good news was that the tide was running out which meant that we had almost enough speed to manage the exit. The wind was strong from the north and it was a lot of work to try to stay on the north side of the channel. There is a stretch, maybe a mile, from being in inland waters to the sea buoy that is hard. Today, once again, the waves were breaking over the top of the canvas on the cockpit, burying the bow and just generally making things difficult.

There were clues about the ocean that I should have noticed. The inlet on a weekend morning usually looks like I-95; today, not so much. There was only a boat or two near the inlet and both of those were well inside the breakwater. We were the only boat leaving and the only one on the open water, having this section of the coast to ourselves for several hours until we saw a few small pleasure craft in the late afternoon.

On the way out, at the difficult transition point we saw these guys doing, what? Para-surfing, maybe? Regardless, it looked pretty cool so I had to take a picture and let Carol manage the boat.

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When things started to attenuate, wind and waves, we got escorted, off and on, by several porpoise, sometimes just two, other times as many as four. Sailors being a superstitious lot, these seemed like a very good omen. But the ride was a rough one for several hours.

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We made really good time heading south, very unexpected .... usually the Gulf Stream slows us down a lot. We hit the Port Everglades sea buoy at 0730, several hours earlier than planned. Unfortunately, the marina on the New River has very swift currents, so they recommend mooring at slack water, in this case 1330. So we tooled around a bit in the open water. It was an interesting time for observations:

  • This vessel was anchored just outside the channel entrance. It is a floating dry dock with a motor attached into which people drive their boats for delivery to another location (the hull says: Dockwise Yacht Transport). I had never heard of such a thing. The financial implications of this activity are beyond my imagination.

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  • This is a sport fisherman, a very common style of boat in these waters. What struck us as different was that he was using kite type devices to run his fishing lines away from the boat.

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  • While we were going in circles two Navy ships, maybe destroyers or frigates, exited the harbor and took up a station a couple of miles off shore. They were communicating on VHF 16, just like any other craft. All of a sudden we heard this statement on the radio, "This is warship 57 off your starboard bow. What are your maneuvering intentions?" Some poor guy, for whom English was probably a fourth language, allowed as how he was going to get out of the way, and right now, lest the situation devolve to a weapons test.

The trip up the New River was again tense. However, this was on a Monday morning and there were very few pleasure craft about, although there were enough commercial tour boats to make things interesting. There are three bascule bridges in 3/4 of a mile with the marina occupying both sides of the last bridge. Once again I heard the captain of one of the tour boats say something nasty over his speaker system about my "driving."

We like the marina despite the tortuous, sinuous trip up the New River. The physical setting is gorgeous and Carol seemingly cannot get over the fact that she's sitting on the boat looking at palm trees of which there is a profusion.

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Ft. Lauderdale is probably the pleasure boat repair capital of the east coast, at least from the Chesapeake to the keys. So we are are availing ourselves of the many service alternatives. We are having a Westerbeke dealer replace the oil pan gasket .... called on Monday afternoon and on Tuesday it's being done. Hard to believe. The gasket was a project that I considered doing myself; but I was afraid the I might carelessly torque the head of a bolt and have a $10,000 problem. Seeing what this guy is doing, convinces me that it's good to let the pro carry the load. Later in the week someone will take a look at the refrigeration unit.

This stop, as last year, is a working time, trying to get issues resolved and changes made prior to the Keys and the Bahamas. We have a lot of things to accomplish so, to that end, we're rented a car for a couple of days. Carol seems excited to be able to SHOP making plans to visit every store and to buy everything, just like at home.

This whole boating thing continues to amaze. We arrived on Monday so I walked down the dock to see if Bruce's boat was still here, Bruce being a man we met last year and with whom we enjoyed some evenings. It was, so, remaking the acquaintance, we went out to dinner with him and an old high school friend, also named Bruce. It was a very nice evening. They are off for the Bahamas in the next day or two.

Today, Thursday, I was sitting in the cockpit reading the paper, on the iPad, when a sailboat pulled into the marina. The boat looked vaguely familiar in the way that all sailboats look vaguely familiar. This afternoon the guy, having seen Oriental, NC on our stern came down to chat. Their boat, Escapade, was one which we knew in its earlier incarnation as the Blind Date, moored about 5 or 6 slips down from us at Whittaker Pointer Marina in Oriental, NC. Not only did we know the boat, but we knew many of the same people, almost like old home week. They had bought the boat from Carol and Ashley. A very small world, indeed.

The view from the cockpit has not disappointed this year. There has been a constant cavalcade of boats, going and coming, which make ours look like the proverbial rubber ducky in the bath tub .... they are all either huge, humongous or leviathanesque. The boat density along the seawall is much less this year than last. Our speculation is that the Miami Boat Show is this weekend and many boats are headed south for the event. Carol and I, in our rubber ducky, are avoiding the whole thing while we try to complete projects on the boat.

Had a refrigeration guy come by on Friday, another of the checkpoints for Ft. Lauderdale. He did some stuff, draining, then evacuating the system. Things seem to be better but the change won't be apparent until we get off shore power.

Saturday was mostly for work and then for visiting. A friend who I knew in Boca Raton and with whom I went to HS in Delray Beach, came by for a visit. It was the second time I have seen him in 35~40 years. We are both, predictably, older and not even close to being our former tennis playing selves. I never, in all those years, beat Steve at tennis or ping pong; Steve was, for a while, a teaching tennis pro. But, he is the only person who has ever beat me playing ping pong left handed, or other handed. It is interesting and comforting that the thread which has connected us over distance and decades is still there. I will have to try to find a way to strengthen this connection. In our lives and in our lives together Carol and I have had much good fortune in our friends.

The security at this marina is, almost, over the top. Police patrol cars are through frequently as are cars from a private security company. There have been mounted police patrols and on the weekend police boats. Carol, and others, go to the shower, maybe 100-ft. away, in robes or pajamas with no concerns. And, like in many other marinas we have revisited, many of the same boats rest in the same slips in which we saw them last year. The boat on our starboard side has, by rumor, been sitting there for 14 years. If you had to pick a place to stay, this is not too bad. The weather has been beyond delightful, maybe a dozen raindrops one evening when a dark cloud blew over. I don't think that we have hit 80 degrees yet, but we have come close. Ft Lauderdale has all of the benefits of Miami without any of the apparent intensity. The marina also has some local interest like these characters:

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So, now we're waiting for a new cockpit LED light to arrive and for the boat show congestion to clear out of Miami. Our next stop, Sunset Lake, is probably very crowded with boats, being quite close to the convention center in Miami Beach. So, maybe Wednesday, maybe Thursday we'll make the 4/5 hour run south and stay there a few days before heading to the Keys.

Posted by sailziveli 12:28 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Florida Farrago #2

sunny 57 °F

Life by the bridge is no so bad. This was a pleasant sunset on a clear evening. Many days the bow has been pointed north which means that the cockpit faces the bridge. It has been interesting to people watch the bridge. There are a surprising number of folks going across the bridge .... not in cars, perhaps because the weather is cooler now. Most people, from the way the dress and the way they move, are exercising, the majority running, some walking, very few on bicycles; women outnumber men by 3:1 or more. I'm guessing that things change in August. Neither Carol or I have been inspired to demur on riding the bus in favor of walking.

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So, we remain in Vero Beach, waiting. Waiting for a weather window, which will not come for at least two more days; waiting for news from the Ft. Lauderdale Municipal Marina that they have a slot, somewhere, that will accommodate the boat. It's not so bad; as Milton said, "They also serve who only stand and wait." He must have owned a boat, too.

But life has not been dull. The other night we had nothing particular to do. Seeing the lights on at a nearby baseball field, we decided to dinghy over top watch the game. No game, just practice; back to the dinghy we went. As is our wont, I got in first and got the motor going; Carol, as is her wont, released the line securing the dinghy to the dock and started her unique butt-shuffle to slither into the dinghy .... first her feet, which in this case only pushed the dinghy farther from the dock. Since she had released the line there was no way to bring the dinghy closer, so it kept moving away, feet on the dinghy, hands on the dock, and her large center of gravity hanging in the balance. Being weak in the arms, the balance only lasted a nonce and down she went, the rest of her following her large center of gravity into the water which was deep but not too cold. She still had her hands on the dock, so no problems there, embarrassing but not dangerous. She does work very hard to keep me amused. The good news ..... this time she did not deep six the cell phone as she did in Norfolk, VA, saltwater dunkings and electronics being incompatible.

Part of the reason that we are still here is weather coming through, which just hit the mooring field. It was interesting. In about a minute the wind shifted from south to north, literally whipping the boat around; the wind velocity doubled and the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees, maybe more.

The last couple of days have not been great .... cool, cloudy. Since this has not been conducive to projects, Carol and I have just stayed on the boat with books in our hands. We'e are going through way too many books here, imperiling our supply for later in the trip. Most marinas have a common room with the typical 6-ft. x 3-ft. RTA bookcase or two. The informal protocol is bring some, take some. There are always some books that never get taken, e.g. book #2 of the really silly science fantasy trilogy about something or another. But here in Vero Beach there has been a fairly high turnover of boats coming and going, those coming into the marina having new fodder for the mix. So we have been breaking even in numbers. Cruisers have very low standards of what they will read, the basic requirement being that the book, for most, be in English. Today I was plundering the shelves and saw the spine of a book which I had read this week and had no specific memory of any detail of plot or character. That was, I hope, a failing of plot and character on the part of the author and not a senior moment for me. (When in doubt, blame the other guy)

While we were at Les & Jean's the issue of real estate came up, as it must in this part of the country. St. Lucie county has been hit very hard. I spent some time on Zillow.com looking at housing in the area and was stunned. A person can buy a 3/4 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage house of 1,500~1,800 sq. ft. for less than $100,000, well below the replacement cost. And, there are lots of choices, no need to stand in line. The recovery has not yet hit this part of Florida.

I suppose that every boat has a story and some, behind the story, have a dream. People watching in the marina is interesting .... sometimes you just cannot imagine what the story is, unlike ours, which is very pedestrian.

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This boat, 46-ft. is probably the largest monohull here. I don't think that there is an archetype physiognomy for sailboating, but there can be surprises. The two people aboard are older than us and are both way heavier than most people we see coming off dinghies in marinas. If you had to guess you'd say a motor vessel, not a sailboat.

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This boat pulled in a few days ago, 48-ft. long, probably the largest boat here on a mooring ball. Carol was aghast that the couple is in no danger of seeing 40 for several years. She couldn't construct a scenario where people that young had both the time to cruise and money to do it on a boat like this.

Tomorrow is Sunday. We plan on heading south to Ft. Lauderdale and arriving on Monday. Barring that, if the weather has not calmed down, we'll go Monday and arrive Tuesday.

Posted by sailziveli 16:16 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Florida Farrago

We arrived at Ft. Pierce on Saturday morning. Saturday and Sunday were for rest and recovery from the run south, much needed. Also I was trying to get a heating pad to get my left leg to work a little bit better; walking has been challenging and slow when compared to Carol and her Seven League legs that go forever.

Monday and Tuesday were work days. On the trip south we noticed that the main sail had some slack on the luff (forward) edge despite having tightened the halyard. Beyond the issue of sailing efficiency, there were some serious concerns about this; so we tried to tackle the problem. Step one: send me 4.5 stories up the mast to look at "things." Sure enough, the hoist car was not topped out. So, there were several calls to Charleston Spar, which produced the mast, located, of course, in Charlotte, NC. Their technical guy and I decided that an extra shackle in the rigging might be the cause. Down came the sail, apart came the furling mechanism and off came the shackle; the knot was so tight that I had to cut it out. Amazingly, improbably, everything went back together properly. For the time being it appears that we have proper tension on the sail. But, it had not yet been tested on the open water. The neat thing about being up the mast was watching Carol mis-secure the line which was holding me aloft. Had I not had a secure hold on the upper spreaders I would have plummeted to the deck like one of Less Nesman's Thanksgiving Turkeys. [[http://radio.about.com/od/thanksgivingradio/a/WKRP-In-Cincinnati-Turkey-Drop-Episode.htm|
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So, having been up to the top a few times and, also, having seen what Carol can do, I decided that it was time to rig a second halyard to use as a safety line, something that I should have done 3 years ago when I first bought the bos'n's chair. We spent a days and a half doing this before we got underway south. The view is pretty good from up there.

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On Tuesday night a couple arrived for the boat right next to us, an older guy and a younger woman. The young woman was, at least from the neck down, serious eye candy. The next morning I was out getting ready to leave and the guy was cleaning the boat, the young woman nowhere to be seen that morning, presumably still abed. Since Carol had been up and working for about two hours it made me think that there is much to be said In Praise of Older Women: [[http://bertc.com/subfour/truth/inpraise.htm Check it out.

On Wednesday we headed north to the Vero Beach City Marina mooring field. With the tide in our favor and a good tail wind we made the 12 nm trip in about two hours. Last year they stuck us at the very north end of the marina in the mangrove swamp; this year they put us at the very south end of the marina right next to the bridge over the Indian River/ICW. There is some highway noise but at night it's not too bad.

Thursday was the work day for the shaft seal leak or whatever is happening. I tightened all of the hose clamps some of which were able to take half a turn. Then we dried everything completely and spread paper towels under the whole mechanism to pinpoint any leaks. We ran the engine, in gear, for almost an hour and .... nada! Very frustrating. Maybe the hose clamps were the issue, maybe not. Intermittent problems really suck!

The new outboard motor has been its own challenge. When we put it in the water it started on the second pull, really good. At the dinghy dock, coming back, not so lucky. So then began the search for the owners manual, not where it belonged and nowhere to be found until Carol looked where it didn't belong and found it about an hour later. It has fuel injection so priming a hot motor flooded it. All this new stuff to learn. Now, we have been trying to figure out how to tilt the motor out of the water when not in use; this keeps green stuff from growing in the cooling lines. There's a fair chance that the problem is operator error, but that's not a given. The thing weighs so much, over 80 pounds, that it is a struggle to tilt it up and hold it there while trouble shooting the latch mechanism. Follow on: probably operator error; it will tilt and lock but requires an arcane choreography to make it happen. Carol has not yet worked with this motor; she was generally competent with the old one but will be challenged to understand this one.

This is the first time on the trip, less than two weeks old, that we have really been in the boating mode, not tethered to the dock with yellow electrical cables. So electrical consumption and holding tanks are part of every day. The refrigerator just seems to use too much power; it's rated at 5 watts and sometimes uses more than 9 watts and cycles way too often. Carol just defrosted and that has not made any appreciable difference; we've checked the settings to make sure that they're not too cold. No help. I guess that we'll have to have someone look at the compressor; it's about nine years old and may be failing. We've actually had to run the engine a couple of times to recharge the batteries; solar panels don't work well with clouds and dark; calm days don't help the wind generator.

We went out today and rode the bus to a shopping area. It's hard to believe that we two can actually cause a drop of the average age in any crowd ... but here we do. Vero Beach is serious geezer country, at least in the winter months.

On Friday Jean and Les met us at the marina for a weekend visit at their place. It was a very nice time, a couple of nice restaurants, a little shopping for boat provisions and a lot of doing not very much. Les and I watched the Super Bowl despite the fact that his beloved New York Football Giants and Da' Bears were not playing. It's good when family are the people you would also pick for friends.

A front came through last night .... we went to bed and the boat was pointed south and it was 75 degrees; we woke up and the boat was pointed north and it was 50 degrees. So, it's about time to head south. My unscientific observation is that you have to be south of Palm Beach to be fairly safe from cold weather, so we'll head south to Ft. Lauderdale in the next day or two, maybe, if the weather looks right and my order arrives and there is room at the inn.

Posted by sailziveli 13:30 Comments (0)

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