Friday, January 31, 2014

On to Miami, 1/8/14 to 1/23/14

Finally Thursday, there are no more chores that require us to stay in Vero and we pull away from the Velcro. We leave on a foggy and rainy morning. The south winds pick up and there is a pretty good chop on the ICW. Lots of spray, even though it is not that rough.

 New clear vinyl connector

We head down to Jenson Beach. Gertie had left ahead of us and we don't see them until late in the afternoon, anchored behind the north side of causeway to the Jenson Beach Bridge. We head further south to an anchorage called Manatee Pocket. Once we pass under the bridge the boats on the south side of the causeway are hobby horsing in the waves in the long southern fetch. Not a place I would want to be. Nearly, impossible to get on or off a boat in those conditions.

Although somewhat shallow getting into Manatee Pocket, we never saw anything less than 8 feet. As we are anchoring it starts to lightly rain. But we are very protected, none of the wind we had out on the ICW is blowing in this small harbor with 360 degree protection. Within 30 minutes, around 5:30 PM, it starts pouring and blowing. Because of the confines, we swing around a lot in the constantly changing wind direction, but we have no real waves. Amazingly, this torrential down pour goes on for 3 hours. Looking at the weather radar a rather small cell stalls over the area for hours. Back in Vero, they just have a few showers. We are in a boat, in a protected place, so no big deal. Later, I find out that our friends on Gertie, had their anchor drag as the wind direction kept changing. They finally had to put out all their anchor chain and rode to get the anchor to hold. It was not a fun time for them just a mile or two from us. They had an empty bucket that was over flowing in their cockpit, indicating that we had at least 12 inches of rain.

We are the blue dot and these two screen shots are 3 hours apart. The cell did not move in that time

Further south around Palm Beach another cell parks over that area giving them even more rain. There was considerable flooding and damage in this record rain. And this is the “dry season” here in Florida. Being in a boat we were unaware of the flooding on shore, we were floating just as high. Although the next day we are dodging a lot of floating coconuts. On the other hand the boat has been completely de-salted. Manatee Pocket looks like an anchorage that you could spent a number of days at, good shore access and stores and marinas close by. Unfortunately, we need to move on.
Jupiter Light house

The next day we work our way down to Lake Worth around Palm Beach. Lake Worth at some point in the past was actually a fresh water lake behind the barrier islands. Now, due to storms and man made outlets to the ocean it is mostly salt. Supposedly in the “olden days” sailors could sail in here anchor over a fresh water spring percolating up and scoop up fresh water and then sail back out into the salt water.

Another Manana
We leave the confines of the ICW out to the relative open area of north Lake Worth. Within 10 minutes or so this large power yacht comes bearing down on us full speed creating a considerable wake. Finally as they approach us they seem to slow down slightly, but too late. Our bow plows into the wave and sends water all the way up to our dodger. So much for getting all the salt off our boat. Linda thought they were trying to slow down, but there timing was off, Wrong. The Assholes were starting to slow down to turn around and head back at full speed, waking up from behind. SOB, if I only had a paint ball gun. I think it was a boat broker taking someone out for a demo and was too lazy to head out to the ocean. We were just in the wrong place. Unfortunately, a couple hours prior in the narrow confines of the ICW Linda opened up the hatch in the head to get some air in the boat. Violating our friend Genie Soboslai's, warning to close all hatches when underway. Even though opened only an inch or two our head takes a saltwater shower, filling the shower sump. A small piece of carpet outside the head door gets soaked when Linda opens it. Since Linda is always admonishing me for violating one of Genie's many rules, I relish in her screw up (Our motto – Screwing up is the gift that keeps on giving).

 Lake Worth anchorage

We anchor behind Palm Beach in Lake Worth in a popular anchorage. Later when we are having our evening libations in the cockpit, I notice a wave breaking along the far shore. About 5-10 minutes later the opposing wake reaches us. We quickly grab hold of our wine glasses, but I forgot I have a glass of orange juice sitting in the galley. I'm a slow learner. I go clean up. Score: Linda 1, Nile 1. My wife is happy to tie things up.

The next day was very windy with a heavy chop, so we stay on the boat for the day catching up on some more chores. Made an appointment with Customs in Fort Lauderdale to register so we can clear back into the USA from Bahamas via a phone call.

Mega yachts on Lake Worth

The following day, Sunday, we decide to take the ICW to Fort Lauderdale instead of sailing outside. With all the drawbridges it makes for a slow day. The bridges on Lake Worth are too far apart for us to motor fast enough to time their scheduled openings without wasting time. We can make the scheduled openings exactly on time, but unless the bridge is opening for another boat already waiting we are out of luck. Coast Guard rules are supposedly you must be waiting in front of the bridge to get an opening. Either that or the bridge operators on Lake Worth are jerking us around. Once we are off Lake Worth we are able to time all the bridges without any waiting.

Since it was a warm, sunny, Sunday the boaters were out in droves. It was very interesting to see all the wealth along the ICW from Palm Beach down to Fort Lauderdale. We stop one bridge short of Fort Lauderdale in Sunrise Bay a small cove just off the ICW and a no wake zone. By late in the afternoon all the yahoo's have gone home and we have the place to ourselves amongst some nice reasonable size homes.

The next morning it is nice and warm so I jump in the water with my brush and dent puller from Harbor Freight. Dent Puller ?, a great tool to hang on the side of the boat and scrub the waterline. All the fancy handle suction cups at West Marine are crap, they don't suck. The dent puller will stay on all day long, could probably leave it on for weeks. I digress, anyways our boat is now sporting a grass skirt after 25 days of sitting on a mooring in Vero Beach. There was a noticeable change in speed for the same RPM after our long stay. It takes me about an hour to get the hull clean around the waterline, which is now sitting lower with all the additional provisions. Late morning we pull the anchor and go through the last draw bridge and head up New River to downtown Fort Lauderdale. This is a rather narrow river that goes through Fort Lauderdale connects to a lot of marinas and home front docks. There are lots of canals branching off New River. The river has some greater than 90 degree bends so you have to pay attention, no telling what may be coming around the corner. A barge in front of us starts backing up in full speed reverse to make a bend to avoid landing on some wealthy persons front lawn. We quickly have to reverse also to avoid running into the barge.

We initially go through the first draw bridge, one of three, down town, that open on demand except for rush hour. There is still a fair amount of current coming down the River, but since we are facing it, pulling up to the wall is easy. Then we are told there is no 30 amp power available and will would have to move downstream of the bridge to get power. We have lunch and wait for slack tide to make the switch. With boats on both sides of the narrow river there is barely enough room to turn our 36 feet around and I sure don't want to do it with full current and a draw bridge down stream. For a second time we tie up along the wall on the City “docks” in front the Nu River Landings hotel, just down from a draw bridge. It is in the 80's so we are looking forward to having air conditioning and we set it to 72 degrees.

That evening we enjoy the parade of boats up and down, Mega yachts to kayaks. Most boats are too large to turn around in this area if they had too. Over the next couple hours, a Mega yacht must go by every half hour. Most of them are being moved by captains for work or staging for their owners. Many of them are being towed. A tow boat in front and another tied to the rear of the mega-yacht, also being towed, but backwards. The “trailing” tow boat is the brakes of the operation to slow the yacht down before the bridges and hold the yacht in the sharp turns. There are a lot of boat yards that service these yachts and they are constantly being moved around for their various service needs.

It is very interesting to be lying in our berths and looking up through the hatch and seeing tall buildings looming overhead. We are on the River Walk so there is a constant parade of people walking by and we have many interesting conversations, mostly with other boaters. Lots of museums and places to eat, we could spent two weeks here easily. We rent a car for a couple days, more errands, Customs, marine hardware stores, Sailorman (Marine consignment store, very interesting place). We have our own parking space (free) by our boat on the river walk, in an area where it costs as much to park your car for the day as we paid to park our boat. Pretty cool deal.
 Fort Lauderdale, New River, downtown

 River Walk at night

We went to Customs to get a customs decal (number) to clear back in via phone. We are told you can only order that online, but we do get the Small Vessel Reporting numbers for clearing ourselves as individuals, but not the boat. Between us and Dan & Dawn we get more differing stories on what is needed by the various customs officials, it's like they are all speaking different languages or are just idiots.

Again we make one last trip to Steve and Joanne's for mail pick up and, of course, laundry and dinner. They also had all the rain we had the week before. Their street had turned into a creek. We stop at the local Publix Supermarket a couple blocks away from our boat, where you drive up two floors and take the elevator to the first floor to shop. This place has the fastest WIFI we have seen over the last couple months. All my iTunes shows download way before we get to the check out counter. We decide to stay an extra day since the temperatures are suppose to drop into the 40's over night. We set the thermostat to 72 degrees, but this time our reverse cycle AC, is producing heat, we are getting spoiled.

The next morning I make a quick stop at Publix for a data download and some more plantain chips. Once back on the boat we head down the New River and out on the ocean to head down to Miami. An afternoon motor to Marine Stadium in Miami.

 For fans of "Dexter" he was not home.
Marine Stadium was a speed boat racing oval from back in the 60's. Now, is it a very protected anchorage with a fabulous view of Miami. The next morning Bryan rows over from the boat next to us “Windsong”. Bryan is a retired farmer from Indiana and this is their first boat. It's a 42 foot Bristol, they bought in Rhode Island and took down to South Carolina to refit. They plan to eventually head through the Panama canal and head west.

It is January 19th which is now the 128th day out. We head over to Dinner Key Marina to pick up a mooring. After two tries, Linda gets it hooked. I went ashore to pay up. Walked to the hardware store and Publix. Linda wasn't feeling well so she stayed on the boat. Showers were interesting (temporary trailer).

Joanne and Steve Payea drove down and we had margaritas on the boat. They gave us a ride to Home Depot and let us off so we could walk back since we needed our exercise.

Got up the next morning and headed to No Name Harbor at the Bill Baggs Florida State Park which is a good jumping off point. Ann and Jack Barnes (friends from Vermont and native Floridians) came to visit. Had drinks on the boat and went ashore for lunch. Jack and I went into town to get diesel. Linda and Ann stayed on the boat to get caught up. Our plan was to head to North Bimini tomorrow since Chris Parker said that would be a good day to head over. After staying up reading about North Bimini and getting into the harbor I decide that it would not be a good idea since the wind is suppose to come out of the west and pick up as the day goes on which is not a good way to enter the harbor. Will let Linda stay in bed longer.... Won't be another weather window until this weekend.

Next day is rained and we just hung out on the boat and worked on this blog and other projects. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Velcro Beach, December 20 to January 11

The mooring field at Vero Beach City Marina

Vero Beach, lived up to it's nickname for us. We initially told the marina manager we were going to stay for 5 days. 25 days later we left. Now we see why there are a lot of boats that stay there for the winter. We made a lot of new cruising friends. There was a weekly cocktail hour, potluck Christmas and New Years dinners at the marina.

The first night we went out to dinner with Bill and Sandy (Hot Chocolate), who we had dinner with back in Fernandina, and Dan and Dawn (Gertie). We ate at Mulligans on the Beach, which turned out to be the first of a number of lunches/dinners there. I guess we liked it.

 Greetings from Vero Beach

 Retrieving the electronic wind instruments for repair

My view, rafted up with Gertie

 Our rafting neighbor, Dan, with Skip and Rita in the dink.

The next day I climbed the mast to remove our electronic wind gauge which was not showing wind speed or direction. I discover that the o-rings have failed and allowed moisture into the circuit boards. I clean up the oxidation up on the circuit board and wind direction starts working correctly. Replace the bad o-rings. The wind speed was more of a problem, the sensor for that circuit was dead. I order a replacement sensor. That night we had dinner on “Kamouraska” (a 45 foot Island Packet), Skip and Rita Griffin. There were four couples and they had enough counter space for a buffet line and seats at the table for everyone.

The next day I moved on to a sewing project, making a clear vinyl connector for between the dodger and Bimini. Could of used it on a couple previous cold days to deal with the salt spray. Definitely had to change my sewing methods in the confines of the table on the boat versus having the whole ping-pong table at home to work on. Linda took the bus into town with Dawn to do some shopping. The pump out boat came by and I literally got a little shit faced when the hose popped out prematurely. That night, Hot Chocolate, Kamouraska, Gertie and us took the bus into town to eat at Chef Lins. This Chinese buffet had been highly recommended by a number of departing cruisers. We had planned to walk back 2-1/2 miles after dinner because the buses stop running at 7:00. It turned out to be a good plan. The food was so good we all walked out stuffed.

 Live Oak lined streets of Vero Beach

It took a couple days to finish the connector, but it turned out quite well. Linda, Sandy and Dawn walked to the beach area for some shopping on my second day of sewing. Not much room for two people on the boat when I have stuff all over for a large project like that. Fortunately I had cut the pattern out at Lady's Island Marina in one of their spacious work rooms. And the clear vinyl had been shipped previously to Linda's sister, Claudia, at Myrtle Beach.

On Saturday 12/21 Steve and Joanne Peyea, Vermont friends who had moved to Delray Beach a few years ago came by for a visit. Had lunch again at Mulligans. Steve helped on a couple boat projects and Joanne took Linda to a couple stores. We all went to dinner at Riverside which is close to the marina, but not as good as Mulligans. It was a very nice day.

 Key Lime Pie at Mulligans

Next day I finished the connector and Linda polished our stainless steel, which was starting to look a little sad. Another nice thing about sailing on fresh water, the stainless steel, never needs cleaning and polishing. After a few more days of boat projects and potluck suppers or game nights on various boats we rented a car to visit Steve and Joanne for Xmas. 

Steve and Joanne's house in Delray Beach

We stayed overnight and had a nice leisurely breakfast with Joanne, Steve had left very early for work. We left mid-morning with clean laundry, our mail stop packages and a homemade apple pie from Joanne. We spent the rest of the day driving back to Vero Beach starting our provisioning for our trip to the Bahamas. Stops at Costco, Walmart, Boat Owners Warehouse, etc. Next day before we returned the car we hit Lowes and Publix. Linda spent another day packing stuff away and making lists so we can find stuff when we need it.

Our first week at Vero Beach was rather warm, sunny and in the low 80's, we thought it was normal and were loving it. Average daytime highs are normally in the low 70's. The second and third week was cool, cloudy and rainy. Solar panels were not seeing much action. We had picked up a portable generator which was getting more and more use to avoid running the engine. With the shorter days and lower sun the solar panels produced only about 60% of the power we get in summer in Vermont. At noontime in Vermont summers the panels put out 16 amps. In the last two months I have not seen over 10 amps. Add lots of cloudy days and they produce very little power.

Waiting for the New Years Eve potluck dinner

 Buffet style on the washing machines and dryers.

The bathroom facilities at the Vero Beach marina are fairly good, lots of showers and hot water. Just had to remember to bring a towel, soap, comb and change of clothes in the dinghy. At my advanced age I had to double check I did not forget any of these items before the dinghy ride in. Finally one day I head into the showers, turn the water on and find I forgot the soap. Damn ! Then I remembered there was a piece of soap stuck on one of the other shower floors a couple days ago. I quickly look in that shower and see that the soap is still there, benefits of municipal employees. They have a daily sign up on the front door, but it must be for keeping track of how often they pee. Anyways, I think . . . “it's soap, it has to be clean”. So I scoop it up and hop back into my shower. Later after waiting outside for Linda I tell her my soap story, but she trumps me, telling me that she forgot her towel. She is still a little damp after drying herself off with paper towels. Ah, the problems of the old and senile.

The dinghy dock

 Cool day at the beach

After the holidays the cool weather continues. We decide to rent a car for the weekend. Enterprise has a good deal on the weekend rate, which is for three days. The price we paid for one day around Xmas. Turns out that wasn't an original idea. Probably a third of the couples in the marina were renting Enterprise Cars, because the rates are so good. One couple, who had been there for a month and a half, automatically signs up for a car prior to every weekend and cancels if they decide they don't need it. It was hard to find a parking spot in the normally empty parking lots. Again, we head down to visit Steve and Joanne to pickup the latest UPS deliveries, bring laundry (at Joanne's insistence) and stay for dinner. I feel like a college student dropping by for Mom's home cooking. Again we have a good time visiting with them. Monday we do a few more errands, before returning the car.

 I wonder what they do to animals in the PINIC area