Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November 2015 Crossing to GHC

Click here to watch our Go Pro Video

We left the work yard and marina at Indiantown a week earlier than we had planned back in the summer as we set our time schedule. All the boat work went well, some of the big things we thought we would need to do,…didn’t need it, and the small new things, like a new Cutlass Bearing went very well. The other thing that made us leave early was a good High Tide which we needed to cross from the St Lucie River into the ICW.  The famous “Bump” is 5 ft at low tide, we draw 6ft and there was a 60ft sunken boat right at the crossroads and hump. We were pulled off from this at the end of last season, why would things change. Motoring down the St Lucie river we passed a marina where they build megabuck large sport fishing boats and saw an old beat to shit boat being hauled out of the water with lots of formal looking dudes standing around; You know, matching dark colored pants, shirts and hats. Some sort of large letters on the back of the shirts, and caps, Military looking boots and hiked up pant cuffs, and I swear it looked like they were all watching paint dry. Come to find out that was the sunken boat in the crossroads and they were watching for oil leaks as they lifted it,…… hmmm. Thank God another issue was out of our way.
Cutlass Bearing being replaced

Our one overnight stay at Sunset Bay Marina was our first night that we didn’t have the bug screens on the boat and a nice breeze was coming into Kasidah. What a nice feeling to be not tied to a dock.

Wednesday morning we crossed over the “Bump” at about 9:30 and had only 1 ½ ft under us, we really didn’t worry too much about grounding, there as the Boat US Tow Boat standing by and was within 100 yards of the spot, he’s the one that pulled us off last spring. We decided to travel down the ICW and do the Bridges instead of going outside. This was the 1st time that there was no other traffic at most of the bridges or along the whole ICW.  

Settling onto the hook at Lake Worth waiting for Thursday and the crossing was another good restful night after walking Blue and one last stop at a Publix’s.
Passing a ship as we exit the inlet at West Palm

We were up before the sun Thursday walking Blue then putting the dinghy hard away. The motor was taken off and extra straps on the dinghy just in case of big seas. The Anchor was hauled up just as there was enough light to motor the one hour to the inlet, making the inlet right at 7:30 as planned, and with 140 mile trip in front of us. At 5 kts it would take almost 30 hours.

So stinking hot at Indiantown we had to do this to Blue every other hour

Once the sails were up we pointed Kasidah south 15 degrees more than we needed, to take advantage of the wind angle, and to get south before the Gulfstream kicked us north. We were doing well at a little over 6 kts for about 2 hours then we hit the Gulf Stream which indeed started to kick us north. Our boat heading (where the boat was pointed) was about 140 degrees and our course over ground (where the boat was traveling) was about 125 degrees and the Bearing to our Waypoint (Where we needed to sail to) was about 110 Degrees. Our speed through the water was 6.5 knots, our speed over ground was 4 knots.
Sunset Bay from shore (Zoomed in sorry) 

Yeah we were fine with that, A better sailor might have started more south, but that would have meant 2 more days in the ICW and since there are not good free/un-harassed anchorages where we could get Blue ashore it also meant 2 or more nights at a marina at about $100/night. Yeah a better sailor,….I’ll talk more about this missing person later.

We never saw any big ships in the Gulfstream and it did have quite a roll out there, but we were doing well. Entering the NW Passage we finally left the Gulf steam behind and started our night run, my heading matched my course for the most part now. I like to stay close to Great Isaac’s Shoal on the south side of the NW Passage so large ships at night would all pass us to the north,…It didn’t work this time, maybe I was too far north because from about 10PM till 4 AM we had 8 or 10 BIG ships that I needed to watch off and on. Talk about a rush,….or was it the Mountain Dew and 5 hour Energy Drink at 10 PM, then another Mountain Dew at 2 PM HA HA.  I had three ships that bothered me, to the point that I thought I needed to do something. It was a new moon so no light at all out there. Night vision only works if there is some light out there. It was so dark I could not tell where the horizon was.

#1 - I saw lights on another ship telling me he crossing in front of me so I’m looking at his Port side (Left side for all you non-boaters including my cellar dweller customer with the hot tub) which is a red and white,…but there were two sets of these. Then after about 5 minutes I saw two white lights on the front set of lights indication a tow under 200 meters. The thing in tow has a second set of lights on it.

#2 – Red and Green lights were coming up behind me just off my stern to the starboard, AIS (Automatic Identification system) said .32 mn in 5 minutes. That’s too close for me. As he got closer I could still see the red and green meaning he’s coming right at me and I know he was a big Cruise ship. I had his name and hailed him on the VHF and yes he said “Yes I have you right in front of me,…I’m turning now to course 109,..” Yeah “  I’m turning to starboard I hope your turn to 1-9 is to your Port”  As he passed my stern I could see his boot strip and the ripple effect on the water.  Thank you have a nice night.

Some where around 12AM I tried to tack to the north as the light wind was right on my nose. There was enough wind to fill the 2 sails I had up which gave me a little boost but my present tack was now taking me too close to the shoal area. I gained 2 miles of north on the tack and then after another hour I tacked north again for another 2 miles. At this time Arline and Blue are fast asleep.
Sun rise on Friday.
Speed in Water 6 Knts
Speed over Ground 6.8 Getting a nice push from the tide, Thanks you. 

#3 – I saw another tow in front of me, this time with 3 white lights up in front meaning over 200 meters. All the other encounters the radar and AIS confirmed everything. This time the AIS wasn’t there as he was too far away but what I did see on the radar was the lead ship, small image and small tow, small image, not a worry of collision from this tug and tow. But then My Radar warning went off saying “emanate collision” and Radar shows its right in front of me, ¼ mile. I jump up and look,…no lights, Nice! It’s got to be a floating container that Arline is always worried about. She’s going to kill me and freak out if we hit it. Check Radar, Still there, AIS nothing. The darkness prevented me from seeing anything, I couldn’t see the horizon to see a contrast of blacked out ship or floating container. No sounds,…radar warning again, No AIS, the other 200+ tow is well off the port and on the opposite heading as me so no issue there. Again no lights, but radar, I pull out the 2 million spot, nothing. I never do this at nigh because it kills your night vision. (Kate,…Chris any guesses yet) Finally the AIS comes in for the 200+ Tow and he’s big. He’s closer now to off my beam than off my nose,…still no issue but now the radar has a much much larger image of his tow. Now the Radar hit in front of me disappears. Watching nothing there, radar clear. I’m safe or just passed a container. I believe the radar was doing some bouncing between the tow and the tug sending something back to me. If the radar hadn’t been so dead on all night long and year after year the same I might have questioned the warning. Anyway that was really it for ships for the rest of the night.

I think somewhere between #2 and #3 close call Arline and Blue wake up. Blue is having a nervous fit; she’s got to go do something. She’s walking all around. Being tethered in she can’t go far. Arline puts down a piece of grass we’ve been trying to get her to go on, nope. I even pulled the engine back to idle and they try downstairs. Now in the past she has gone up on the deck to do her stuff. Now that the boats at idle I see how dead calm it is. We take Blue up to the bow, nothing, nothing but stars, holy cow what a site. We go back to the cockpit and 2 minutes later blue goes pee on the grass piece. Her and Arline went back to sleep for another couple hours and I have another Mountain Dew. I NEVER drink soda, but when I do it’s got to be Dew.

I lasted till a little after 4 and felt my head starting to bob, so with no ships and everything else fine Arline took over.  No wind as evident from our Blue idle moment, there was no need to tack, Oh a better sailor might have put up a screeched and tacked back and forth proving what a sailor they are. But I left mine in the Jeep and brought beer in its place. I’m using ¾ per gallon an hour running my engine, I’m point right at my waypoint with an arrival time of 9AM. Since diesel cost $4.?? In the Bahamas and beer cost $50 a case (Is there even a gallon in a case),…I’m fine with this.

I woke up as the sun was coming up and the first site of the Berry’s was there, the large cruise ship sitting at Coco Cay. We tried fishing for a bit and hooked a Barracuda, he went back.

The sails came down, the last course adjust was made and we were an hour and a half from the dock.  As you might have seen we made a video with the Go Pro of our trip. The docking was fine and it was great to see all of our friend here at the marina. Check-in went fine except I wrote on one of the form that I had spare parts on board. Well I was told to make a list of spare parts, so I did: Belts, hoses, spark plugs, carburetor, and alternator. “ You’ll need to pay duty on those if you take them off your ship and I’m going to need to see them.”  Opps.  He comes aboard and asks me to bring them up but I suggest it better if he looks in my locker. He peeks his head at an area under one of our seats and sees, Belts, hoses, spark plugs, and a carburetor,…”Oh I see what you mean there’s nothing there, have a nice stay.” Thank you.

So we are here till the middle of December when we will head up to Grand Bahama for the rest of the season.

Thank you all for watching I hope you enjoyed our crossing.