Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ready for a cold beer under a palm tree...........

The weather window for the crossing was 2 days, but the next one was at least 2 weeks away. So you assess yourself, your boat, listen one more time to the newest predictions and forecast, and make your decision. We decided to go. We left Stuart for the days travel to Riviera Marina. Staying at the marina would allow us to nest closer to the West Palm inlet, saving an hour from our previous anchorage that we stay. It wound up costing only $1.75/ft Cheap when you consider the other benefit of not having to lower the dinghy in the dark, walk Blue and retie the whole dinghy thing again for a crossing, saving another 1- 1 ½ hour.

The trip down the ICW had winds on the nose at 20 knts and a fare amount of boaters with the same idea and plan. There is current according to the tides in the ICW so we had slow boat speed fighting it from time to time and other times it really carries you a lot faster. Added boat speed is always good, moving you to the next bridge opening quicker. The last 5 bridges open on the hour, and half hour. One bridge is quite far for us to motor the distance from the previous one and we usually get there too late, the bridge tenders are pretty stern about this. This year we where running with several boats, all the fast ones pulled away from us headed for this bridge, we were running our engine a little faster than I normally do, trying to stay close to the other boats. Then the gap between us and the pack started to open up and again we were sure we’d miss it. We had to be at the marina by 5pm to check in and it was going to be close. Then we’re not to surprised that another boat passes us, but by doing so he filled in the gap between us and the other boats. By the time the 1st boats got to the bridge there was a steady line of 10 boats, all within a few boat lengths. The bridge tender had no chose but to leave it open for all of us. That was a ten minute opening,..if you where a car that day, Sunday, at the 2:30 opening on the Donald Ross Bridge, I’m sorry for the long wait. We get through the bridge and now realize that we only have 20 minutes to make the next bridge which is going to be way too close again. But the long line of boats and current now with us, again made the timed opening. Then only one more which is close and opens on the quarter and ¾ hour, but its right around the corner, no issues.

Riviera Marina
Pulling into the Marina we are told it had all new floating docks and they put us right next to a brand new Beneteau 55 ft monster of a beauty of a boat, this is a Beneteau dealer so 4 other new boats all lined up. Arline reminds me there is current and wind (still 20 knts) and not to hit anything. Thanks Dear. We landed fine and shared a finger with another big 47 Beneteau that was headed out in the morning and another 36 Beneteau ready to go.

We got up at 4 am and got ready. The wind sure did sound big and still from the south which was predicted. The waves on Saturday and Sunday, in the north flowing Gulfstream, where 10-15 ft, this was because of a week long blow from the north, thanks Canada. The wind on Sunday switching around to the south should have settled the Gulfstream down to 3-5 ft for us on Monday. Did it settle down or are we going back to Stuart, which was the golden question. The marina is right on the ICW, still dark, and everything ready to go for us. I look at my AIS (Automatic Identification System) and other instruments and see that a boat has just cleared the inlet, I have his boat name but he doesn’t answer my call on the VHS. Another moment passes and I see another sailboat just passing the marine on the ICW. Again I see his boat on my AIS. Ursa Minor answered my call, I asked if he’d give us a report on the waves when he got out there. He was traveling with another boat that had been out there an hour already. Another moment passed and we had his report that waves where 3 ft and nothing breaking! We’re Off!

sun rising out side of Lake Worth.

Blue just waiting to get there
Still dark, the inlet was calm but the incoming current had us down to only 3 knts SOG but boat speed was 7 knts, aghhhh. The opening itself right at the ocean had some really big rollers that knocked us around for a short bit, but we were out and going. Once we set our sails, pointed the boat on a close reach to start making as much south as we could we realized right away that we were not going to be able to make Port Lucaya, it would be West End.

In the Gulf stream
All the way across it really was sailing as close to the wind on a Starboard Tack, as possible, a little too close and our speed would drop off. Off the wind the boat speed would increase but we would miss West End to the north by miles. Did that both other times to West End, this makes for a long makeup south at the end of the day heading right into the wind. Our heading is where the boat is pointed, that was about 115 degrees, but our Course Over Ground (COG) was 93 degrees which is the heading to West End. That’s how much the Gulfstream was pushing us north. Just afternoon we began to see a difference. The COG and heading came together meaning we were out of the Gulfstream, Our boat speed picked up and we were pointed right at West End, this is when Kasidah started to Fly. The auto pilot (Auto) had been on all day and doing well, but the seas where just a little too much and the boat speed would very too much. Rather than try and remember how to make adjustments to Auto, I decided to sail her. I really don’t get to sail her that much so I put my gloves on and sailed for about 2 ½ hours. It was fantastic, she would hold her course and speed, the wind picked up a bit and the helm was a little strong. But the boat speed was great and we were right on our rum line headed straight at West End. The wind picked up a bit more and we where starting to worry about getting into West End before 5 PM when they leave. I rolled in a little of the head sail and her speed picked up again. Arline took over and steered for a while and took it all the way in till we took down the sails just outside West End at 4:20 PM. It really was a great sail and the straightest line we've ever made sailing,…..anywhere.

The channel
We needed to make the Silver Cover cut taking us to ORYC no later than noon, which was 2 ½ hours after high tide to have enough water below Kasidah. So we were up at around 3:30 and out before 4:00 am for the planned 5 hour sail. Dark as could be, no moon at all and some pretty good SE wind on the nose (As always). We tried tacking out and back in only to find we really weren’t making any headway down the coast to Freeport. Once we could round that point we could turn more east and sail. So the main sail came down and we motored for a few hours into the wind. Arline steered most of that time and got a good rhythm of steering around the waves to keep out boat speed above 4 knts. The waves were indeed bigger than yesterday in the Gulfstream. We put up the staysail which really did balance the boat, and gave us a little speed. We are a sail boat but the window weather had closed in a bit and the tide was going to hurt us if we didn’t make it. We could see Freeport now and about 10 tankers, most of which were anchored just off the inlet. It was interesting sail around them and keeping an eye out for the one that just went onto port and the one just coming out. I think the wind shifted a little south and Kasidah was off again. Boat speed was now close to 6 knts and we were going to make the tide. We were right at a point where the depth comes up from thousands of feet to 100 ft so there really where some big waves. I had the wheel now with 2 hours to go and as I looked out over the boat I could look through the top few feet of the waves and see that gorgeous turquoise blue color telling me the waves were big. Arline and I were guessing 8-9 ft because of how much water was coming over the bow. We have that sunken area on the fore deck and I have never seen waves fill that and then boil onto our flush deck making its way back to the cockpit. Bruce King had an excellent design with that, as much water as there was it never made its way to the cockpit. Finally we could see the Silver Cove Inlet which faces south. All writings about the inlet say do not do it with any south over 15. Opps it’s 20 south wind. Looking through the binoculars I could see it wasn’t breaking over the rocks on either side of the inlet but knowing the inlet I saw we had still a lot of tide left, so I felt really good about getting in. I would not have tried it if I thought I was putting us and Kasidah at risk. As we got closer the waves started to settle down but the wind was really right behind us. Kasidah did get rocked back and forth quite a bit until we surfed one or two waves coming in, lots of steering and some engine RPM,..Very Exciting! Once in and the calm overcame us, we knew we had done it. Passing a few tourists inside on the wall fishing they screamed that was awesome! “You have no Idea!” was my thought, but thank you.
Blue getting a full view of Thanksgiving turkey.

We invited Kevin from Connecticut out for a ride on the dinghy..
Kasidah settled into the same slip we had last year and fellow boats came in to say their hellos. Later that day we find out 2 other boats turned away from the channel, one big trawler came in and said wow, everything in his boat was trashed and somebody else flipped their dingy in the channel. The local dive shop canceled his afternoon dive and all claimed that the waves were well over 9ft. Thanks Kasidah.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Just sitting and waiting.

Leaving CT after a great meal with my bother Tim and his friend Christopher was our next journey. But what a meal and night we had with them. Christopher is from Vietnam, he and my brother must have cooked all day for us. It was a short ride to the house from Mom and Dads onto Winterberry Pl. in some town. Setting my Waze App (Love this App) we arrived and a call to my brother revealed that we where at Winterberry CR, a minor mistake my Waze and a 20 Minute back track… Mom and Dad, Arline and I, ate great Vietnamese food, soup, spring rolls with hot home made Hosni sauce, and on and on, finishing with Vietnamese coffee WOW. We didn't get to sleep until about 3am that night. Did I mention that Arline and I gave up CAFFEINE? WOW!!! Mom and Dad had 2 glasses of wine and I haven’t seen them in such good spirits and up that late and really enjoying the evening in years. I think that’s why it was called “Spirits” years ago, rightfully so. Thanks Tim and Christopher.

Traveling next to Amy and Jeremy’s in PA, they are in a small apartment waiting to close on their 1st house. Everything was on track for them and they were to close in a week or so. We visited and spoiled Cal as best we could in a short time. We played tennis, did a little sight seeing and we babysat one night so they could go to a movie. Cal had been being nursed but Amy had some stored that Arline was to feed him,…..well he wanted no part and was putting up a fuss for his mom. It wasn't until we distracted him and took his mind off the bottle that he would stop fussing, it worked and he took the bottle. Of course I was now tired from jumping up and down. That’s how we distracted him, Grandpa was playing and waving his floor toy over his head and showing him his mirror and stuff. Thanks Amy and Jeremy.
Jeremy always thinks of Arline’s addiction of chocolate and made sure she was set for the entire season, filling the Jeep with Hershey.

While with Amy and Jeremy I traveled just 25 miles to Philly PA to do a job at a customer’s house; he’s a prominent lawyer/judge in that town and also has a house in Skaneateles just off the lake. I did a nice job for in NY and he found out I was traveling by his real house and wanted me to install a generator switch for him and take care of a couple of motion detectors. He does a lot in the aviation field in his practice and we had some great talks about Amy and her plans. Thanks Chris

We only stayed a few days with Amy and Jeremy and headed to Kasidah and Florida. We had one last job in West Palm Beach too. Another customer from Skaneateles, the owner of a well know Rug retail and service store in Syracuse that I’d been doing work for many years, figured out how close Kasidah was to her summer home. She was having a problem getting some lighting fixed around her pool and yard. Somebody had come in and promised her that they’d have to pull up all the

landscaping and dig 18 inches down with a machine and blah, blah, blah$. Arline and I got there and saw none of the low voltage lighting working. We found a loose connections on a transformer, some bad bulbs, lose connections on light fixtures and it all worked. It took longer to drive to Home Depot to get some new LED lights and a few motion detectors than it takes to install them,…well almost anyway. We stayed the evening had a great meal with her and a couple of friends and a neighbor that invited us to do a few things for her. Thanks Lucia.

Next day we had another drive to Home Depot for the neighbor’s parts. It really was a few simple things but she is an older lady that just wanted it done right. The thing she was the most pleased with, and she was willing to take her new Ford back to the dealer and get a new one, was to program and sync her visor button to her garage door opener. (It’s the simple things in life that make you happy). Glad we could help. What an active great lady she is, at near 80 she reminded us of Katherine Hepburn, so alive with stories of her winning fishing tournaments, trophy turkey hunting, trophy Sailfish hanging in her study. Thanks Maryanne.   

Thanks Jeremy
We arrive at Kasidah to find her in the best shape yet after a summer in the yard. Her deck was nearly
clean meaning the down stairs had no mildew or anything. All the lockers and the storage areas were dry, the stored lines did not need cleaning, and it got better and better. We did find some signs of water but again nothing was really bad.
No one steals Jack's dinghy!

We have run into many of our cruising friends and have also been having a great time with all of them. Sid and Kate on an IP 40 have been with us for years,…this is our 5th year I think in the yard or traveling with Sid. He’s an electrician on the west coast so we really have a lot in common. Kate has been with him for 2 years now I think. Sid had some Prop Speed left over from doing his prop. It’s a slippery kind of anti-fouling epoxy mixture just for marine prop$. I think he paid well over $100 for enough to do his. He mixed up a bit too much and brought it over to us, then Arline and I got busy on our prop getting ready for the application. It really is an amazing product makes the prop slippery, pretty and marine growth is not suppose to like it. Arline thinks we picked up ½ a knot on our trip motoring to Stuart. Thanks Sid

I changed the hot water heater that leaked last year. The old one would not come out of the locker. Lucky for me I brought my Milwaukee saws all. Now the old one was round and the new one was square. I looked and planned for a full day to figure out how to take some wall apart so I could get it in. There is absolutely no where else on the boat it could go. Then I took a drawer out of the aft cabin to show Arline the heater and why it was taking so long. The drawer is full of tools and heavy, as it came out it dropped hard and came unglued, Busted.  BUT I could see the heater and a way for it to slide into the area. I just had to take the 2nd draw out, cut a simple piece of the section between the two drawers out, then knock the back wall out of the drawer area, build a new platform under the heater after it was in place mind you, rework the plumbing, put the drawers and cabinet area back in and it was in,……All of this while blindfolded, one arm tied behind my back, on my stomach in the 80 plus degree heat. One of the hardest things I’ve done on the boat in a while. But it’s in and works great. Thanks Kasidah.

After the launch we rigged Kasidah for the season but this year we did all our shopping from Indiantown. We figured we’d leave the Jeep in Indiantown instead of bring it to Stuart and do our shopping there. We did our runs for canned goods, another for real food, frozen food, and another run for booze, and diving needs. A few trips also for parts and we were done. Happy not to have a car in Stuart, the parking here can be difficult and other than shopping we wouldn't need it here.

Our trip to Stuart was for the most part uneventful till after the lock when we were passed by another sailboat that came into the lock with us. After he was in front of us he went on the wrong side of one buoy then almost went down a channel that wasn't a channel. If he’d gone another 50 ft up the non-channel he would have been aground and going at hull speed he would have been quite far up on it. Thanks Crazy Ivan.

Sitting in Stuart is always a nice time, the breeze keeps the bugs away, it’s always cool at night and on days that the Canadians keep their weather to themselves, it is in the 80’s and mostly sunny. The solar panels are keeping the batteries charged, and on days when those Canadian’s let their cool air come here the wind generator kicks in. Downtown is a short walk away, with great priced restaurants and shops. The showers are great here, WiFi is less than so-so out on the boat, but good on shore near the office. All the cruisers here are looking at weather, studying charts and sharing plans and stories.

Today is a cool day and raining so Arline caught the marina bus to Wal-mart to get a few last item things, I hitched a ride with Sid and Kate to get more parts for Frankenmotor. It’s now going to be 15hp with parts from an ‘87, ‘77, and these new parts will throw in a little ‘82 also.

Last night when most of our friends and family were getting cold blowing record snow we got a pretty good blow too. I heard the wind generator kick up and I know the sounds it makes at different speeds and the corresponding out puts of electric. Doing a battery system check I saw 30 amps going into my batteries. With all the boat lights on, the inverter on for the computers and a refrigerator or 2 running this was record setting and maxed out.  

We are now looking at a weather window that might open up for Monday or Tuesday to cross the Gulf stream.
We will see if it holds or not.

 Weather rules here……………