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Miami Beach, Part Deux

sunny 73 °F

Monday night the high winds started and with the winds came high seas. So, we are still sitting in Sunset Lake waiting for better weather, which probably will not arrive until late Saturday. This is still a pretty good place to wait things out: reasonably sheltered, particularly from east winds which we are now having; very good holding, no problems to date with the anchor dragging despite the winds; South Beach is just a short dinghy ride away; there is a Publix and a Walgreen's very close by.

Not too much activity going on. Carol has done laundry and shopping; I repaired the toilet which was working but not right. After the great lipstick inspired toilet rebuild I noticed that a valve unit was working OK but not working as it had before; in addition we had an irritating leak around the piston seal, salt water, not as bad as some other possibilities but it required running the shower pump every couple of days to remove the accumulation ... not very shipshape. The Raritan toilet is a sufficient mystery to me that we actually have hard copies and PDF files of the parts list and the owners manual. Unfortunately, in this instance I had to consult the manual on how to repair both problems. On the down side, I have broken faith with generations of men, past and future, who all eschew instructions of any kind; on the plus, side the thing now works right and does not leak. Not a bad trade off, except for the fact that in fixing two old problems I created at least one new problem, maybe a gasket that didn't seat properly.

Carol has proven beyond all doubt that she is a Spring Creek kind of woman, and thoroughly grounded in the middle class. We went out to dinner the other night and were walking along Alton Road at about 5 PM when traffic was getting heavier and the traffic backed up at stop lights was getting longer. In the long line of stalled traffic Carol saw a two seater, white convertible which caught her attention. After cursorily looking at the two young women in the car, moderately attractive but extremely well kept, she noted the car which was very stunning. Being a regular lady she saw the silver horse logo and started rambling on about the newly designed (Ford) Mustang and how much she liked it. She had the horse part almost right, except for the small fact that the horse was rampant, not galloping, and the car was a Ferarri, not a Ford. She can be forgiven this, I guess, since we have owned both '64 and '71 Mustangs. (the one on the left is Ferarri)

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Anyway, we had a nice walk along South Beach, Collins Avenue, and a good dinner. I got to do a little EMT stuff; a chef had cut his finger severely and I told him to keep the hand elevated, above the heart. After eight months of being rigorous in my diet, I was abetted, enabled even, in stopping at Epicure on the way back to the boat and getting a pot pie sized key lime pie which Carol and I split. Delightful to the max!

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On Saturday morning we decided to move, positioning ourselves for a quick exit from Biscayne Bay. Given our choices, Carol opted to go to Dinner Key Marina, as we have the past two trips. This time, however, she also told me how much we pay to stay there. Ouch! It's sort of like checking into the Ritz-Carlton but not getting the Frango mint on your pillow; in fact they don't even give you a pillow. On the plus side, we actually got to use the big, sticky-up part in the middle of the boat for about a second. Once we cleared into Biscayne Bay we had about 2.5 miles to the marina channel, so we ran out the sails and flew in 20 knots winds.

This is race week in Miami, some sort of Bacardi Cup event for smaller, 20~24-ft. open cockpit sailboats, of the type that might race in the Olympics. We saw these boats out practicing as we headed to the marina. They are very, very fast for having not very long water lines. In the heavy winds this morning they were actually getting a little bit airborne as the leaped over small waves. But the fastest sail on the water belonged to the sail boarders. With the high winds they may have been going 20 mph.

So, on Sunday we head south hoping to hit Marathon on Monday and, also, hoping that they have room at the inn. As we did not move during the high winds neither did any boats in Boot Key Harbor head for the Bahamas. If that doesn't work, we'll head to Newfound Harbor roughly halfway between Marathon and Key West. We will see cousin Sue and Jay, hang out for a while, and hope for an early weather window to head for the Bahamas. Key West may not be on the trip plsan this year.

Postscript: I was, perhaps, insufficiently generous in words in describing Steve. I should have said that he has a graceful charm, an amusing and gentle wit and a perspicacious insight into all things social, political and philosophical, all of which is actually true.

Posted by sailziveli 19:12 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

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)

We Made It!

sunny 70 °F

Well, we got underway from Brunswick on Thursday. It was cold, maybe 35~36, and dark when we left. But we were not the first boat out. That was the Bug Catcher, a small shrimper. The good thing about the marina in the East River is that you can go a mile or two without paying too much attention to navigation marks while you wait for the sun to rise. We caught the tide as planned everything was going great until the glass panels of the newly enclosed cockpit started to fog up. We, of course, didn't think about the defroster option. So Carol wiped and I squinted as we headed for open water.

The trip was interesting .... either too much or too little wind, not at all what the weather forecasts indicated. I had thought that we would sail the whole way; in the event the motor ran the whole way and the sails provided an occasional modest assist. Both nights for about six hours it blew, 20~30 knots. The thing that was strange to me was the sea's surface. With that much wind I expected to see lots of whitecaps and foaming water; there was very little and I would not have believed the anemometer save for the way the boat was behaving. The first night these heavy winds were on the stern corner, almost, but not quite, from behind. This is a difficult wind to sail because unless you're really good, you can get an accidental jibe where the boom swings rapidly from one side to the other causing all sorts of damage; our boom has a scar to prove it. The wind had the boat pitching, fore and aft, as well as wallowing side to side. If Carol and I had not used the seasickness patches it could have been a really ugly, messy night. No amusement park rides can capture that particular sensation, and why would they want to? The next night the winds were even worse, but on the beam. It was so rough that with the sails up, first the auto-pilot, then Carol and finally I was unable to manage the weather helm. We'd get the boat on course, say 160 degrees, and in a nonce we would be headed 270 degrees, straight into the wind. Both nights we quit trying and took in the sails. Lessons learned and remembered .... our auto pilot cannot handle winds much above 15 knots and, apparently, neither can the captain or crew.

The only tense moment of the trip came on Friday night during the very high winds. We heard a strange noise coming from an area where there was nothing to make noise. Then it dawned on me that I had the wind generator on in anticipation of sailing, not motoring. This was majorly not too bright. It was going so fast and vibrating so much that if it didn't rip free from the boat, then we were going to fly rather than sail. My first thought was to shut it off; so, I crawled out of the cockpit and hung on to the pulpit to get it turned off. Even then it sounded bad. So once more into the breach .... I climbed out and up the stanchion and got it physically stopped and then used a piece of velcro to secure a blade. It worked. This was a pale attenuation of what it must have been like in the rigging of canvas powered ships, but it was more than enough excitement for me. And I did have a safety harness and life jacket on.

Other than the first morning with the condensation, the canvas surround was great. The first night was cold; I had on everything warm that I owned, pajamas mixed with polar fleece, without regard to Carol's sensitivity to color and style. All I needed was another day without showering or shaving and Carol would have thrown all my stuff into a three wheeled grocery cart and sent out onto the street to live.The next day broke warm with clear skies and the solarium did its trick ... a tee shirt was good enough. It was so nice that I may start a Sailing Naked Club. That could make for some interesting blog posts and Facebook updates of sailors baring all.

This was a good shakedown cruise. In the main, though, if I could have had Scotty beam the boat and us down to Ft. Pierce, I would gladly have done it. Barring that, I-95 would have been faster and the bathrooms are bigger. So, we got to check out a bunch of stuff to see how well we did.

  • The engine ran for more than 50 hours straight and didn't quit. So maybe the new starter did the trick.
  • There was some pretty rough weather; the davits and the dinghy came through without an issue.
  • The enclosure was great. But it changed things, e.g. all the hand holds we had used are now outside the canvas. We will have to adapt to it.
  • The dripless shaft seal? I checked the engine after every watch and everything was always dry. Somewhere in the last few hours we got some water on board, not much, and I'm not sure how.

Carol deserves some credit. She always fixes a meal for dinner, not fancy but substantial. Many a time we have both eaten straight form the pot in which something was cooked, dirtying only two forks. But, sometimes, it seems to me that she grocery shops in thrift stores for army surplus WWI MRE's. She always has a great reason for the choice, "Well, the doughboys in the A.E.F. spoke very highly of it and it was quick to prepare." At times like these we need Wile E eliminate the point of contention.

We covered a fair amount of territory spending most of our time 20~25 miles off shore. And not once, in the whole trip, were we in water deeper that 95 feet.

We have followed Dawn's injunction that after any overnight cruise of any duration, you should stop someplace where they are no security issues, e.g. anchors dragging. So, Carol and I are, once again, at the Ft. Pierce City Marina, where I stayed month while Carol looked after Joan in 2009. Dawn's advice was good; we both slept about 12 hours after having slept a total of 4~5 hours in the two previous nights.

If there are 100 boats in this marina, there are no more than ten sailboats. They put us on a transient dock, not much used, I guess, because the layer of Pelican poop was deep and crusty except for the top layer which was very fresh. I actually hosed down the dock first so that we would not track said P.P. back onto the boat, a first at any marina at which we have stayed.
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In this marina, our little boat is like a Yugo hatchback at a Cadillac convention. About half the boats here seem to be for off shore charter fishing; the rest seem to be boy's toys, markers in the testosterone driven belief that size really does matter, at least in boats. The marina's saving grace is a great location and that every Saturday they have a high end farmer's market and craft fair. There are several little restaurants within walking distance, including a Greek joint that we much enjoy.

Ziveli in repose.

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Posted by sailziveli 09:47 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Liftoff 2011

sunny 36 °F

The boat went back into the water a week ago. We have been working to try to get ready to get underway and to ensure that the boat is ready to do so. It seems strange. A couple of years ago we knew bupkis about the boat and boating and had no trepidations about leaving; we were dumb and happy. Now, having two years of cruising experience and having learned lots about all aspects of boating, it's harder to pull the trigger. We are more aware of the issues and fail points and what could go wrong. It's a boat so there are no guarantees; it may not go but it won't sink, we hope.

Anyway, we've been running the boat and checking things out. The problems that we have found have been minor. A small oil leak ... time to tighten a few bolts on the oil pan. The fuel gauge did not work .... we checked with Beneteau to see if switched sender wires could be the problem (it could) and that there would not be an explosion if that was not the problem (the system is low voltage). Changing the wires worked and the boat didn't blow up. The shower drain would not work. It took a few hours to trace the problem: about 10-pounds of red dog hair at a narrow junction point. Wile E will be part of this boat long after the call has come for the sea to give up its dead.

Two new things to add to the worry list: the transmission has made very strange sounds a couple of times when moving into reverse; we seem to have a very small cooling system leak near the water heater. I think that it has been there a long time but worry that the drop a day could become a gusher.

So now the most pressing things to do prior to leaving are to (1) remember to return the library books and (2) convince Carol that the boat is not a democracy, where everyone has free speech and gets a vote, and it's not the book club where everyone's feelings matter. She still struggles with the captain/crew roles. The other day she informed me that the thing that I least wanted to happen had, in fact, happened. On the boat the phrase, the thing that I least wanted to happen, covers a lot of territory and encompasses a lot of serious downside. In this case it meant that Carol continued to keep her cosmetics in the head, above the toilet. She had ignored my admonition to keep the lid closed, imagine that, and a tube of lipstick had gone into the toilet, down and around the corner. It was small enough to slide down easily; it was big enough that it could not be retrieved. So, the net result was a full day devoted to disassembling the toilet and, while I was at it, doing a complete rebuild.

We've been enjoying the new canvas around the cockpit. Carol has insisted on dinner up there several times; we had folks over for drinks one night, a sort of memorial for Ed; he would have approved. Ray and Susan came over the other day. He looks pretty good; he's put on a little weight; he's half-way through chemo. We're pulling for him, but not to worry; he's a former recon marine and they're way tougher than cancer.

On Monday, 01/24, we went for a test drive, a mile or so down the East River and back. Everything seemed to work really well. We've taken on the extra water and fuel in the jerry cans; everything is secured. So it's just a matter of weather. It's about 230 straight line nautical miles to Vero Beach; so, it will take something in the area of 48 hours to get to there. With transit time to and from the sea buoys .... three days, two nights on an ocean cruise. And, the tickets are free since we own the cruise line. What could be better than that!

The work/preparation was done Monday; Tuesday we got 40 days and nights of rain in about 12 hours; Wednesday it BLEW! ... 30~35 knots in the morning. So today, Thursday, is the day. We sail on the tide (I've always wanted to say that) at dawn's first light, about 0645. Actually, we'll motor for a few hours until we get to open water and then run out the sails. It's a bit of dramatic license but I feel like I've earned it.

Posted by sailziveli 05:39 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

2010 Liftoff

37 °F

"Travel not only stirs the blood ... it gives strength to the spirit." Florence Prag Kahn

The quote is from the wonderful log/journal that Stan and Connie gave us in 2008. The quote seemed appropriate since we are now traveling and I could probably use some strength of spirit.

The strength of spirit refers to another entry I've added to my growing list of things that most people are smart enough to know shouldn't be done even once. In this case getting hit by a car while I walking across the parking lot. Being small in stature and slow of foot, my serious aspirations for the NFL ended in the 7th grade on the junior high team. While other guys on the team were dealing 5 o'clock shadow I was wondering if I would ever weigh 100 pounds. So, now, twice, including the dock and ribs, I know what it's like to get hit by Ray Lewis, except that a Ford Explorer is even bigger than he is. Anyway, I'm just a little stiff and sore and probably will be for a few more days.

The ribs and cold weather not withstanding, we thought to be under way several weeks ago. Given all of the projects that we have completed in the last few weeks that hope was either naive or stupid or both.

On Wednesday, we got the last serious issue completed when we took the boat out for a few hours to calibrate and sea trail the new auto-pilot I installed last September. Technology is great! The sea trial was not going well, so I called RayMarine from the cell phone, they gave me a trouble shooting tip which I completed, all the while underway. Now it works like a charm.

Then there was the 48-hours the boat spent out of the water while we had the seals around the inside of the propeller shaft replaced. We went to St. Mary's for a visit since we could not stay on the boat. The old St. Mary's is pretty, picturesque and quaint. We walked around the docks for a while and talked to other boaters and then had a great sea food dinner at Lang's restaurant where the food was promised to have come from Mr. Lang's boat, probably the only local sea food we've had in two years. For desert, we had this great sunset over the marsh ... Sunset_in_St__Mary_s.jpg

The biggest project was to try to trim the boat. Some guy was walking by and commented that our boat was listing badly, e.g. it was leaning to port and down in the stern. The trim had never been good but when I had the third house battery moved to the port lazarette and we bought the Honda generator a bad situation got much worse: about 550-lb in less than 2-sq. ft. This is a lot on a boat that weighs less than nine tons. So, two trips to Jacksonville, FL to buy lead ingots and one trip to Savannah, GA to buy bags of lead shot along with some weight lifting plates from the local Walmart and we've added over 700-lb. in various nooks and crannies. The good news is that the boat is in trim and we can make some adjustments as things change. The bad news is the extra weight which may have increased our draft an inch or so.

It sometimes seems that all we have done is work on the boat, approximately true is not literally so, a white bottomless pit into which we pour time and money. However, at St. Mary's there were some cautionary examples of why that is necessary.P1270171.jpg This was a sailboat, there's a winch for the jib sheet. 270_P1270172.jpg So was this.

So ..... at long last, we're off, putting Brunswick to our stern and headed for the Fernandina Beach mooring field. We'll lay over there one night while some thunderstorms pass and then head offshore for a two day run to the Ft. Pierce Inlet and then the Vero Beach mooring field to visit cousin Les and Jean. Cool weather, some wind, some seas and it's great to be underway again.

Posted by sailziveli 20:53 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Still in Miami

sunny

Well, here we remain, and that's OK by us. Flexibility in all things and never, ever make the boating gods angry.

We had intended to leave for Key West on Christmas morning. So, we had our "Christmas Dinner" on Christmas Eve. Carol fixed a nice pork roast and we had our presents for dinner: hers was strawberry cheesecake, not from Wolfie's; it's no longer in business. But the guy who owned Wolfie's later started a place called Epicure and, as far as cheesecake goes, it is well named. Mine was a more pedestrian bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano double chocolate cookies. Carol was nice and shared her present; I did give Carol a cookie.

On Christmas day, and the next two days, the winds were about 20 knots. On the ocean this would have been OK; in the shallower waters, +/- 20 feet, where we would have been, this would have made for a very rough ride. So, we opted to hang around.

On Friday we walked up Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Lincoln Road is about a 2/3's of a mile, open air, pedestrian mall that, more or less, goes from the bay to the ocean. In a place like Miami Beach where there is so much wealth on ostentatious display, the mall is less about shopping and more about consumption. We hadn't seen anything like this since north Michigan Avenue in Chicago. We did have a nice lunch there, in the center of the mall under umbrellas. An interesting place to visit, but give us the land and people in Spring Creek. And on top of all that, there were no pickup trucks or Christmas decorations anywhere to be seen. Maybe there's a law.

We were anchored out for a week and while at anchor it was plain that the boat was drawing too many amp hours from the batteries, a bad thing. Plus, it was overcast for several days so the solar panels were no help. Since the only thing that was running, most of that time, was the refrigerator, the problem was easy to identify.

There seems to be a perverse rule to all which boat designers adhere: if something is important to access, put it somewhere that is impossible to access. It's a good thing that I'm a skinny guy; if I weighed two pounds more I couldn't get to places like the evaporator coil for the refrigerator. We dug down to it and, sure enough, the cooling fins on the evaporator coil were caked solid with crud as was the duct leading to it and vent too. To clean the coil we found a small air compressor with a tank at an Ace Hardware; it's 110 volts and I wanted to wait until we were on shore power to use it. Plus I wanted shore power for a good recharge on the batteries.

So, yesterday, Saturday, we pulled in to Dinner Key Marina, in Coconut Grove, very close to where Carol grew up in Coral Gables. The air compressor worked well enough and we managed to get the coil clean and to jerry-rig a filter to reduce further accumulation. And then the fun began. We we barefoot and all of a sudden we were walking in water in the rear of the main cabin, a very, very bad thing. It appeared to be fresh water and there is a 40-gal. tank in the rear cabin. Since I had just filled both water tanks, that seemed like the place to look.

We literally deconstructed the rear cabin to get to the tank and to expose all of the water hoses to and from the tank. After a couple of hours of work and inspection there was no place that could have put out that volume of water. And then the light went off! On the stern platform there is a fresh water shower head. It turns out that it was stuck in the open position and when Carol left the water switch on it pumped 40-50 gallons into the boat in a short time. The fix was dirt simple. The bilge pump evacuated most of the water and we used a hand pump to get most of the rest. But it was another couple of hours to put the rear cabin back together again.

Too much work and too much excitement for old, retired folks. That brought us to the existential question of the day: do real sailors order pizza for delivery? The other Rhett had the right answer: I don't really give a damn! It was late, we were tired and there was more work to do; so, Papa John's tasted great.

Carol's feeling a little off today, so we'll stay another day at the marina so she can rest and, maybe, head out tomorrow morning.

One of the interesting things that we've learned so far is that traveling by boat is not like traveling by car on an interstate; there isn't always another exit down the road with a Motel 6. When we can't travel at night, which includes almost all inland waters, plus the Keys and the Bahamas, we have to organize a day's travel around a place to stop at night: an anchorage or a marina. Although we've passed the winter solstice and are farther south, there are still only about 10.5 hours of working daylight. So, some days when we can manage 50-miles but the next safe place is 60-miles, we settle for two 30-mile increments. Trying to figure out how to traverse the Keys through Hawk Channel has been particularly vexing in this regard but I think that we're ready to try.

Posted by sailziveli 04:46 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (1)

Sailed in to Miami Beach B... O... A... T...

Didn't Get to Sleep Last Night

sunny

With apologies to the Beatles and to Michael Jackson, who probably still owns the copyright, Back in the USSR was going through my sleep deprived brain as we were heading into Government Cut, the channel into the Port of Miami. Blog readers might want me to start getting more sleep.

What a trip! It looked so simple on the charts.

After a nice visit with Les and Jean they dropped us off at the boat in Melbourne and we motored to Fort Pierce. No big deal. The next morning we set out for Miami.

Palm Beach is about the eastern most point on Florida's coast. Fort Pierce is west of Palm Beach, more or less in the lee as far as northerly ocean currents are concerned. As we approached Palm Beach, and left the shelter of that lee, it was like the boat had started going through jello. We lost over 40% of our speed.

I have read about the Gulf Stream and am very aware of the issues we will encounter crossing to the Bahamas. The NOAA broadcasts said the the "western wall" of the Gulf Stream was 15 miles east of our position. No matter! Even on the attenuated western edge it must have had at least 1.5 knots of northward velocity. We never got the speed back until the water was less than 100 feet very close to Miami. I guess that this is a good example of the difference between book learning and practical experience.

About 10 PM that night I noticed that we were about to have an oil pressure problem with major downside consequences. Addressing this was something that I should have done in Fort Pierce, but I wasn't paying attention to the accumulated motor hours. So, we found a Walmart parking lot and pulled into it for an hour to make repairs. Of course, in my Mr. Badwrench way, in fixing one problem, I created another. We were able to get that corrected too. A quick stop at a Dunkin' Donuts for caffeine and sugar and we were on our way.

Later that night I saw that the depth sounder was "stuck" at 601 feet. The ocean bottom in not that level for that long and my charts indicated a depth of more than 800 feet. Not a big deal on the ocean, but big trouble everywhere else. So I activated the three R's: reset, restart and reread the owner's manual. Nothing seemed to work. Since nothing worked and I was out of R's, I formed a new hypothesis: 600 feet is the most that the poor thing can register and the digit 1 means that it's more than 600 feet deep. Fortunately, this was the case. In the shallow water of Miami it worked just fine.

Traveling overnight is hard on 60-year old bodies. But there are minor compensations like meteorites, moon rises and sun rises. We saw this to our east Sunrise_in_Miami.jpgand the reflections of the sun on the buildings to our west. Miami_Sunr..he_West.jpgPretty nice.

We are anchored rather out than in a marina. Marinas are dear everywhere except Dudley's in Swansboro, NC, where they charge $0.75 a boat foot. Miami is on another plane. We called one place that wanted $4.50 per foot. They asked if we were going to stay and were told that unless they had a 50% off AARP coupon there was no way.

The anchorage is incredible, as well as being very sheltered. I knew that there was a front coming through and that we needed a good, safe place. What I hadn't counted on was how pretty Sunset Lake is. Anchoring_..et_Lake.jpgIt's a lake, of sorts, formed by a four islands. I'm not too much of a fan of Florida in general and Miami in particular but this place could make me change my mind, maybe.

It's just a 1/2 mile dingy ride to a dingy dock of sorts. From there it's one block to a major street; 25 cents will get you a bus ride anywhere in the South Beach area. Carol and I took the plunge and put down 50 cents to go over to the beach. We had last been here in the 60's before we were married. We used to go there for cheap dates when 25 cents bought two hot bagels and the second run theaters were 50 cents per person. Much has changed; South Beach has gotten younger and we have gotten older. When last we saw it, South Beach was a strip of old hotels with cracked and peeling stucco in faded pastel colors where "old folks" named Max and Irma came on vacation from downstate New York to wither and grow old in noonday sun. Now, almost every hotel has been renovated, updated, decorated and speculated upon. It's a classy place where the young have displaced Max and Irma and there isn't a bagel shop left on the beach. On the bus ride back we saw two or three buildings where Eisenhower was still president but mostly it was Extreme Makeover on steroids.

The weather is still dodgy so we will probably not leave until Thursday, Christmas Day. It should be about three easy days to Key West but we might stay over in Marathon for a day or two. There's no reason to hurry .... we're on boat time.

Posted by sailziveli 17:04 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sebastian, Fl.

semi-overcast 75 °F

We made good time from St. Augustine south. St. Augustine is a pretty place, but ..... the horrible weather coming into town and the channel navigation through the inlet and waiting for the bridge to open gave me a level 10 case of flop sweat. I am way too old for all of that! A good day in the market would be enough excitement for me on any day.

On Monday we passed Cape Canaveral. Cape_Canaveral.jpgThe picture doesn't show much except for the immense scale of the building where they prepare the rockets for launch.

Just below the Cape we passed through a protected wildlife area. At one point we saw, no exaggeration, between 1,000 and 2,000 water fowl in a 100 yard diameter area. There must have been a rich food source at that place in the water. Unfortunately, I was too busy with the boat to get the camera ready for a picture.

In the way of planning (see below) ... we were trying to get through Daytona Beach to a marina south of the city. We were one bridge opening away from getting there in good light when the bridge operator came on the VHF and said that there was a problem with the bridge, i.e. it would not open, and they needed several hours to repair it. New plan, turn around to the north and anchor out for the night. This was OK but there was a strong tidal cross current which induced me to an all night anchor watch.

Cousin Les and Jean live in Sebastian, FL, but none of the marinas there have a sufficient depth of water in approach or at the dock to accommodate our boat. Staying in Vero Beach would have been better but the one marina there that would have worked was full. Go figure! It's Christmas and there's no room at the inn. So, we stayed in Melbourne, FL, just north of Sebastian.

Les and Jean came and got us on Tuesday, 12/16/08, and we have been with them for two nights, heading back to the boat today, Thursday, 12/18/08. DSCN2058.jpgWe had a great visit which consisted, in large part, of them schlepping us from place to place to get provisions, prescriptions, computer repairs, and other things to keep us going. It was fun visit anyway. We got to see the pictures of their recently completed trip to: Italy, Spain, the Canary Islands and St. Maartens Island. They were on planes and trains, boats and buses and it must have been a heck of a trip because the pictures were awesome. DSCN2060.jpg It was also nice to be in a house with Christmas decorations and a tree. This was, likely, our only chance to see holiday fixings. It's an interesting irony that they'll be in North Carolina for New Years and we will be in Florida.

We don't actually have a plan; plans speak to hubris and only seem to enrage the boating gods and to inspire them to great mischief. We work now more on concepts that allow for variables such as weather, repairs, fatigue, etc. So, our concept is to head to Ft. Pierce. From Ft. Pierce to Miami there are about 40 bascule bridges in approximately120 miles. Too much trouble in shallow water with boat traffic, wind and currents. We'll head outside to Miami and then rest up for a day or two at the south end of Key Biscayne near or in No Name Harbor. After fuel and water, we'll head out for Key West taking the Hawk Channel, which will keep us east, southeast and south of the Keys. The charts indicate pretty good depth of water but we'll not be affected by the Gulf Stream, which is heading in the other direction. I don't know how long this leg of the trip will last, but we will probably be in Key West around the turn of the New Year. This may be the last entry until we get to Key West

The only given is that on January 8th, somewhere, some how, I will be in front of a TV watching the Florida vs. Oklahoma game and, hopefully, rooting the Gators to victory.

Posted by sailziveli 07:42 Archived in USA Comments (1)

St. Augustine

sunny 0 °F

We're staying two nights here, Thursday and Friday, before heading south to Sebastian, FL. The trip into the marina on Thursday was a little too much excitement; 30/40 knot winds in a rain storm with a difficult cross current at the marina entrance. We made it safely in.

My boat handling skills must be improving; I think that I've improved from terrible to merely bad. I've backed into slips, parallel parked the boat and run marina mazes that would have defeated the average lab rat.

We spent the morning sightseeing in St. Augustine. The old fort is truly remarkable, having been built decades before Jamestown or Plymouth Rock. Carol___Ru..he_Fort.jpg. Its preservation is quite good despite 500 years of usage as an active fort and as an historic location. The side bar to the visit was that I bought my Golden Age pass to enter all national parks and sites for free. There aren't many benefits to being old, but the pass, and my first Social Security check this month, are two of them.

I guess that it is a sign of our slipping into the cruiser mentality that given a choice between exotic shopping in old St. Augustine and a trip to West Marine to get stuff to repair a dingy painter and to make a kellett, West Marine came first; then, of course, Walmart for groceries.

I was talking to our neighbor in this marina and some comment I made prompted him to say that in 16 years he had over 35,000 cruising miles. At this point in the trip, along with the visit to the Chesapeake this summer, we have over 1,000 cruising miles; certainly nothing to brag about, but at least the number has a comma.

Posted by sailziveli 12:29 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Ever Southward

semi-overcast 62 °F

We left Charleston, SC on Wednesday morning, 12/03/08. The cruising guides indicated that the ICW is dodgey with lots of shoaling from Charleston to Florida; so, we decided to head to Brunswick, GA the short way by sailing. The good news is that the temperature that night was very mild, the warmest evening in several weeks. On the other hand, there was no wind at all; the ocean surface was literally like glass. So, we just drove the boat. That big stick in the middle of the boat has seen about two hours use since we left Oriental. It took about 26 hours to complete the trip.

Carol and I lived in Brunswick for four years in the middle 1970's. Sears moved me here to work in the local store and Carol taught school at Brunswick High; so, this was a homecoming of a sort. Despite living here all that time, I had never seen the area from the water so coming into port was a new experience for me. This is the lighthouse on St. Simons Island. St__Simon_..hthouse.jpgBrunswick is on the mainland and the entrance channel is formed by two islands: St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. St. Simons had become a very high end place; most of Jekyll Island is owned by the state of Georgia and has not been as developed.

This is a picture of the new bridge which replaced the one while I was working here. The_Bridge.jpgThe old bridge was a big part of my retail learning curve. About two weeks before we moved here a freighter hit the old bridge and it was closed for repairs for over a year and a half. With the bridge closed, we lost access to a large part of our trading area. We had to work hard and scramble to "make the day," i.e. beat last year's sales, and were not able to do it very often.

We're staying with a friend, Larry, who lives just south of Brunswick. Larry___Russ.jpgA real bed has been a novel experience, and a very comfortable one. Larry's place is beautiful, opening onto the tidal marshland called the Marshes of Glynn. 6Larry_s_Place.jpg

Posted by sailziveli 08:41 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Are We There Yet?

That Depends on What the Meaning of "There" Is!

0 °F

We hit Charleston on Saturday, 11/29/08. According to my official "Captain's Log 2008" this Sunday is day 19 of the trip. We've come approximately 300 miles and Key West is still more than 700 miles away.

The weather has been terrible... way too cold; temperatures have been 12~15 degrees below average. Al Gore: where is global warming when I really need it? On Thanksgiving day we preparing to get underway between first light and sunrise. The boat, the mooring lines, the dock.... everything was coated with a 1/4-in. of ice. We wanted to sail overnight to Charleston but the prospect of 12-hours of darkness with temperatures at/below freezing in an open cockpit with 15 knot winds was too much for either one of us... we wimped out and drove the boat down the ICW. I guess that it's called irony when the cold weather prevents you from doing the things that will get you away from the cold weather, or something. Anyway, when we left Oriental I thought that we had brought too much warm clothing; today I think that it was not half enough.

We did take the boat out one day to sail; the weather was actually too nice and the wind died. I think that we're both ready for more sailing and less motoring.

There have been good surprises, like getting the heat pump fixed. We had another one on Thanksgiving Day. We stopped at a marina near Georgetown, SC. When the dock master and his wife returned from their dinner with friends, they decided that their gift to us would be a free stay. This picture was what we saw on Thanksgiving evening. Our boat is the one on the outside of the dock. I might rather have had turkey and dressing, but the view was truly one for which to be thankful. You might notice Carol standing on the side of the boat. Ask her if she was enjoying the view. Heritage_P.._Marina.jpg

We did finally have warm enough weather to anchor out one night. We pulled in to the anchorage and checked Skipper Bob, the ICW anchorage authority. The recommendation for this location was to put out two anchors. We had never done this and decided that this was a good time to try a technique that we'll need later. Predictably, chaos ensued; the Three Stooges could not have written a screwier script. The upshot was that one anchor wouldn't set, and the other one wouldn't break loose and we had the line from one foul the propeller. So, over the side I go, wet suit, weight belt and mask into the cold water. Did I mention that I don't like being in cold water? After about 30-minutes I managed to free the line from the propeller; boat, line and LLoyd Bridges don't-wannabe are all doing fine. The wet suit must work pretty well; I expected to come out of the water a skinny, shriveled, black popsicle, but I was OK.

When we finally recovered both anchors they were covered in something I had thankfully managed to forget: pluff mud. It's great for growing rice but our nice white boat is now pluff mud brown; with the wind and rain it got onto everything. Pluff Mud --- don't leave South Carolina without it... because nobody in SC wants it.

We've seen a lot of porpoises, probably Harbor Porpoise, but I've never been able to get a picture of them; they're pretty quick and don't pose very long. Birds were rare in NC, too cold I guess. These two pelicans in Morehead City were not having a peak experience. Pelicans_i..ad_City.jpg
In SC we've seen more birds, like this osprey, along with lots of blue herons and a couple of snowy egrets. Ospreys_in_Nest.jpg

When we got underway on the Friday after Thanksgiving it sounded like WWIII, a constant barrage of gun shots. It finally dawned on me that it had to be duck season in SC. The SC boys must be really good shots or the ducks are really smart because we haven't seen any ducks.

The plan in Charleston is to hang around a couple of days, rent a car to do some errands and, finally, pizza and the new James Bond movie. Then it's off again for points south and, PLEASE!!!!, warmer climes.

Posted by sailziveli 18:23 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

Too Much Work, part #1 the House

sunny 0 °F

We have a friend who is going to stay in our house while we are gone. She has a son in the 8th grade. Getting the house ready for other people to occupy is about the same as selling it; the main difference is no need to repaint, although it does need it.

Closet and dressers are getting emptied; cabinets are being cleared out; boxes are moving to the attic; stuff is going to the dump site. The left handed benefit of all of this is a general "decrapping" of the accumulation of 5-years of occupancy. The house will be less cluttered when we move back in.

Needless to say, this has been traumatic for Carol, who forms emotional bonds easily with any/everything she has accumulated, and she has accumulated a lot of stuff. She's in shock but the prognosis is fairly good; she still has not exceeded the credit card limits.

I, on the other hand, have. The list of things we may need to travel safely is long, and since these are for a boat, they are, by definition, expensive. The main acquisitions have been have been an EPIRB and an inflatable life raft in case the boat sinks. Since we have these, of course the boat won't sink, I hope. New anchors and rodes, weather software and spare computers, charts and navigation guides; the list just goes on and on.

We have dodged the dog question, for now anyway. Wile E's former owner has agreed to mind the mutt while we are gone. This is good; we like the dog, but he doesn't work on the boat.

The headline news is that Carol has cut her hair shorter than it's ever been since I met her in 1965. If she were driving a Cadillac she would perfectly look the part of a 61-year old real estate agent. Wanna' buy some mountain land?

Work not withstanding, Fall in the mountains is gorgeous. The weather is cool; the leaves are turning; life is way good Dogwood_09_26_06.jpgBarn_on_Up..0_10_03.jpgFall_Color__2007.jpg

Posted by sailziveli 09:12 Archived in USA Tagged boating Comments (0)

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