Thursday, December 6, 2012

Week 9: Nov. 30-Dec. 4, 2012 (Day 57-63)

Week 9:

Wed. Nov. 28, 2012—Day 57:

Destination:  Vero Beach (Mile 951.7) to Hobe Sound (Mile 999)

Departure:  0730 hrs.                            Arrival:  1445 hrs.                                    Distance: 47.3 SM

Winds:  N, directly from our stern, gradually increasing 8K to 15-20K

Weather:  light cloud cover but sun visible, warm, H= mid 70’s & L= lower 60’s; night sky variable cloudy & clear patches

A Result of Hurricane Sandy?
I can’t believe we spent a week in Vero; I enjoyed every minute of our stay.  ‘Second Option’ & ourselves slid off the mooring ball with ease.  ‘Twomorrows’ waited to see if Lynn’s meds arrived at noon; if so they may move to Ft. Pierce; if not, more phone calls & possibly re-ordering the meds & have them shipped to Cooley’s Marina in Fort Lauderdale.  We cleared the Ft. Pierce North Bridge (bascule-Mile 964.7 at about 0930 hrs.  The water suddenly became so clean & turquoise coloured.  Shortly thereafter we were hailed by Merrill (Ambition) whom we had met 5 yrs. ago; they were approaching Vero & pressing on trying to get to Stuart X 3-5 days to reprovision, for parts & meeting friends.  It was a falling high tide about noontime as we approached St. Lucie Inlet at 7.5K; down to 5.5K past the inlet along the St. Lucie State Park.  A sailboat was on shore on the west side of the ICW across from Peck Lake with a shredded jenny.   I started cleaning & polishing the stainless but didn’t get very far as we had to request an opening of the Hobe Sound Bridge (bascule-Mile 995.9) & shortly were anchoring between R38 & R40.  The north winds had piped up to 15-20K, pushing us against the current & whitecaps; this was not an ideal anchorage for this wind direction.  We put down 100 ft. chain in 8 ft. water.  There were some pretty nasty looking black clouds to the NE of us quickly moving south.  We talked to Terri & Bill once they had anchored & learnt that Lynn’s meds arrived; hurray!  They will meet us in Lake Worth tomorrow.  We have only short distances to travel for the next few days but nevertheless planned an 0730 hrs. start in order to hopefully maximize tomorrow’s 6 bridge openings.  I made reservations for Cooley’s Marina, part of the Fort Lauderdale Municipal Marinas for Dec. 3 & 4.  The winds remained variable as did the sky with full clouds that swiftly moved on alternating with clear patches when the full moon was visible.

Someone has my money here in Vero!
Thurs. Nov. 29, 2012—Day 58:
Destination:  Hobe Sound (Mile 999) to Lake Worth (Mile 1018.4)
Departure:  0725 hrs.                                 Arrival:  1220 hrs.                                     Distance: 19.4 SM
Winds:  E to NE 12-20K, whitecaps in wide open waters
Weather:  mainly sunny with some clouds both white & grey during the day, brief rain showers late pm, clouds evening & night

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
A warm night, kicking off the duvet & many layers of bed linen & near 80F temp forecasted for today.  We started our trek toward the 1st of 6 bascule bridge openings located just past Jupiter Inlet.  Despite repeated dredging Jupiter Inlet is in constant flux & not recommended as a safe passage route.  We turned west past the red brick Jupiter Lighthouse perched on a hilltop.  Since 1860 it’s French lens gazes to the east.  We passed through the 1st & 2nd bridges by 0830 hrs. into the lower Loxahatcee River for a short distance, turning south on the Lake Worth Creek, making the 0900 hrs. opening of the Indiantown Road Bridge.  We were too early for it’s opening, then at the time of opening too far away by about 2-3 mins.; the bridge tender was verbally annoyed.  This loss of time cost us as we were 1-2 min. late for the Donald Ross Bridge; also it didn’t help when the bridge tender opened the bridge 1 min. early.  So we milled around for 30 mins. (1000 hrs.).  We had no problems with the last 2 bridges (1030 & 1045 hrs.).  We now were out into North Palm Beach & upper Lake Worth; I once again did not get to see/try the anchorage in North Palm Beach.  With a 18+K east wind we unfurled ¼ of the jenny & motorsailed on a beam reach at a speed of 7.5K only a short distance, until the Riviera Beach Bridge (fixed).  We passed the west side of Peanut Island & followed the ICW channel, turning to port between R4 & R6, anchoring twice; 1st time too deep (20 ft.) & 2nd time way too far from Riviera Marina’s dinghy dock.  There is a large area of mooring balls now & none of my literature mentions this.  My notes from trip #1 were at home; Trip #2 southbound we did not stop, but returning to the mainland from the Bahamas my notes were not very detailed as to anchoring location.  We motored up the non ICW east channel of Lake Worth & anchored west of R6 (8 ft. water & 80 ft. chain); when I took a closer look late, this is the exact suggested location in Active Captain & Skipper Bob’s instructions. There was lots of room, few boats in the entire mooring & anchoring area & decent protection from the east winds.  Bill & I ventured to Riviera Marina very slowly, fighting an east wind & 1-2 ft. chop that was travelling NE to SW; we just got a little wet.  We discovered all the waterfront was under construction & refit of many harbours.  We explained the purpose of our dinghy landing to show Bill the location of the Customs, Border & Homeland Security (CBHS) Building & they waived the usual $10.00 dinghy fee & a staff member drove us the distance by golf cart.  In the meantime Graeme had talked to Larry on the VHF & they were on their way; ETA about 1645 hrs.  The clouds rolled in & a few brief rain showers during the evening; patchy cloudy periods obscuring the full moon & clear periods throughout the night.

Fri. Nov. 30, 2012—Day 59:
Destination:  Lake Worth (Mile 1018.4)
Winds:  NE 8-10K à 15-20K
Weather:  sunny with cloudy periods to clouds late pm, clear & patchy clouds throughout the night

Pelicans are taking over Riviera Marina 
A warm night; winds at times howling & sometimes rocking ‘n rolling the boat from side to side but slept well anyway.  About 0830 hrs. we dinghied to shore without getting wet by going up the east shore, along the southern shore of Peanut Island & across to Riviera Marina.  We paid our $10.60 dinghy fee.  Ellis’ walked to CBHS & we tried to take showers but the water had just been turned off X 1 hr. due to harbour reconstruction.  Instead we did internet X 1 hr., watched the numerous pelicans flying in & out & then our showers.  Larry dinghied to shore & successfully renewed both his & Lynn’s local boating option cards so when returning to Florida from the Bahamas they just have to phone in.  Bill was also successful in acquiring his, but was unable to include Terri in his application & appointment.  She needed to file ONLINE ONLY & also make an appointment ONLINE ONLY despite the office was not busy.  After being assured they could get an afternoon appointment & after getting online to make this appointment, there were no available appointments for today.  Such bureaucratic carp!  Now this will have to be done in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami.  Instead of waiting around we walked down to Boat Owners Warehouse & a marine store across the street.  We went ahead & had lunch (expensive) at the Tiki Bar without the Ellis’ not knowing their final dilemma + getting soaked dinghying home.  They had up anchored & motored to the marina for a pumpout, fuel & water.  We all dinghied over to ‘Twomorrows’ for a social; we even witnessed fish jumping up at least 2 ft. out of the water & the Lake Worth police at work, catching a powerboater speeding.  NE winds continued to gust up & down.  We reactivated the wind generator X 2 days now, after the adjustments Graeme had been instructed to do; seems better in that there was less vibration.  And the wind generator has been getting it’s work out with all this wind.  A slight pink sky at sunset.  Night sky continued to fluctuate from cloud to clear over & over again.

Sat. Dec. 1, 2012—Day 60:  
Destination:  Lake Worth (Mile 1018.4) Boca Raton (Mile 1047.8)
Departure:  0655 hrs.                           Arrival:  1240 hrs.                                          Distance:  29.4 SM
Winds:  NE 10-15K
Weather:  sunny skies & intermittent clouds, H= 80F & L= 70F

Our route today
A good sleep again despite some howling winds & rolling action.  A near full moon still in the western sky well into the morning hours.  Warm temp, warm breeze, light to nil chop & still quiet with only a few boats in the anchorage compared to our past experiences in this location.  The mooring field seems to be confined to the middle section of lower Lake Worth between G3 & G3A.  We had 11 bridge openings before reaching our planned destination.  The distance to #1 bridge in the literature appeared to be wrong & we could have made the 0715 hrs. opening.  We observed a nice anchorage between bridges #1 & #2, both NW of R14 & E of R14, with public docks on the west shore; good depths where boats anchored, yet not in any of the literature the 3 of us have.  Royal Park Bridge (#2 bridge) was nearly 3 min. late for it’s opening (walker on the bridge) but Southern Bridge (#3) kindly had a late opening which we made after much haste.  SE of this bridge is Whitehall, home of Henry Flagler.  His granddaughter & a dedicated group bought the old home & partially restored it & now it is open to visitors.  Lake Ave. Bridge (#4) changed from on request to ¼ to & ¼ after the hour as of May 2012, most likely because of the following bridge under construction.  Lantana Bridge (#5) was under construction & ? becoming a fixed bridge.  The rest of the bridges were fine & our timing was good as well.  Only 1 problem, because it was such a glorious day & a Saturday & locals started making their appearance about 1100 hrs., we had some wahoos & their annoying big wakes with their powerboats; where were the police?!  I phoned Mom & maybe that was why I ended up having a really melancholy day; my confinement on the boat & lack of physical activity & exercise was a real issue today.  ‘Makana’ (boat we met in Georgetown, S.C.) caught up to us & over the VHF we caught up with news; they were going to Las Olas today & eventually to Marathon & flying home to Pennsylvania for Christmas.  The ICW follows lower Lake Worth from West Palm Beach to Boynton Beach, then through mostly a man-made almost continuous concrete canal.  One town flows into another without any obvious break.  Lush, elegant, rich , luxurious are only a few adjectives that can be used to describe many communities along this route.  Wealth oozes from every side; sequestered mansions worth millions, high rise hotels & condos with mini luxury motor liners lining every waterfront home & marinas & yacht club. We then passed through Delray Beach, a quaint island that was settled in 1906 by industrious Japanese immigrants, who planted pineapples first,  then many types of winter vegetables.  This area was called Yamato County.  It flourished until WW II when prejudice against the Japanese immigrants halted farming abruptly.  History of the area is displayed in the Morihami Museum.  We saw a lot of new construction of large homes & lots of homes already decorated for Christmas along this section of the ICW; one wonders how all this is possible in light of the condition of the economy.  Boca Raton anchorage was a busy spot today with numerous local powerboaters here for the day.  There was room though for all of us to anchor.  The afternoon was spent cleaning the stainless steel in the sun in a bathing suit.  By sunset the local day trippers had left, the winds picked up & more of a gusting pattern & the sky was orangey pink.  Scattered clouds, too many city lights but few stars visible through the clear patches.  Near 2200 hrs. we had a fireworks show.

West Palm Beach Highrises from ICW

Sun. Dec. 2, 2012—Day 61: 
Destination:  Boca Raton (Mile 1047.8)
Winds:  NE 8-15K & gusty
Weather:  sunny, warm & some clouds; 1 grey cloud that gave us about 10 drops of rain, H=80F & L=70F

Boca Raton Inlet
Yesterday we broke a cardinal rule of travelling in Florida on a weekend & with all the “hotdogs” out.  But not today; we stayed put & besides we are cheap skates that want to anchor rather than pay the hefty prices at a Lauderdale marina.  Also we were not sure & did not want to take a chance & move to find there was no anchoring space in Lake Sylvia, our only real other possibility.  It was a very pleasant, quiet day with only 4 sailboats in the anchorage till early pm when the day trippers arrived.  Mid morning we took our dinghies around exploring the shoreline of the anchorage looking for a place to tie up & walk & maybe even stop for a drink, but nothing.  We checked Boca Raton Inlet; huge waves from the Atlantic breaking & rolling in this difficult inlet.  The Coast Guard Auxiliary was conducting maneuvers in Boca Raton.  The police frequented the anchorage; they stopped us & asked if we had life jackets, which we had to produce.  This was a good opportunity to clean the water line of the hull while we were still in the dinghy.  After lunch in a bathing suit I worked on the stainless on the stern X 1 hr.  We collected on ‘Twomorrows’, watched a 50 ft. + Fleming motor yacht trying to anchor (at least 4 times) till the sun was soon to disappear.  We lifted the dinghy & engine in preparation for an early morning departure.  Christmas lights on homes & palms fronting condos that seem near empty.  We thought that these are peoples 2nd  or winter home & they have not arrived yet for their winter stay.  We were really pleased with the new addition of our solar panels; they recharge our batteries fully with ease.  We only use the wind generator early in the am before sunrise & after sunset when windy, but they’re are not nearly as efficient as solar.  Patchy clear skies & heavy clouds at sunset; pale orangey hue.  The persistent northerly wind blowing, gusting & howling at times & bringing both clear & cloudy skies through the night.

Boca Raton Palms light up
Mon. Dec. 3, 2012—Day 62:
Destination: Boca Raton (Mile 1047.8) to Fort Lauderdale, Cooley’s Landing Marina (Mile 1067)
Departure:  0730 hrs.                               Arrival:  1200 hrs.                               Distance:  19.2 SM
Winds:  ENE 10-15K & gusty
Weather: mainly sunny with clouds, both fair weather & rain threatening type, warm. 

Christmas along New River, Ft. Lauderdale
SW 7th Ave. Bridge
When  up anchoring, a tangled fishing line including the hook + a small piece of plastic bag was caught up in the chain; required a sharp knife. Twelve bridge openings today before we arrived at Cooley’s Landing Marina at mandatory slack tide;  high tide was 1142 hrs., therefore slack tide = ½ hrs. before & ½ hr. after.  We saw a full manatee while waiting for the 1st bridge opening at 0740 hrs.  All our bridge timings & openings went like clockwork as we made our way to Fort Lauderdale.  Nearly 300 mi. of canals, channels, & waterways make their way through Fort Lauderdale, hence it’s nickname “Yachting Capital of the World”.  Lauderdale lies about half way between Palm Beaches & Miami.  The New River & it’s tributaries cut through the center of town with artificial side canals everywhere.  Hence the marine industry ranks 2nd to tourism with most boating amenities & services concentrated in 3 areas: (1) ICW, (2) New River running off to the west & (3) Dania Cut-off Canal.  Fort Lauderdale is an important commercial harbour as well due to it’s straight, deep inlet at Port Everglades which forms an excellent big ship terminal & commercial port.   At “RG-A” we followed the markers into the New River & soon were totally immersed into residential homes & highrises of downtown.  With boats & yachts tied on each side, we crept around wending twists & turns of this narrow canal, passed unexpectedly & unannounced by the water taxi, met huge motor yachts & the Jungle Queen travelling in opposite direction to us & even a huge motor yacht under tow in opposing direction at the SW 7th Ave. Bridge.  Thankfully the last 4 bridges  (SE 3rd Ave., Andrews Ave., FEC & SW 7th Ave.) opened on request.  Cooley’s Landing Marina was immediately to starboard after SW 7th Ave. Bridge.  Despite slack tide, the gusting winds, at times 30K funneling around the tall buildings, had us badly miss our slip; we backed out down past the marina until all boats in both directions made the bridge opening.  On our 2nd attempt we approached slip #25 with a 90 degree turn & our starboard bow once again thrusted against a dolphin & dock.  We were finally successful on the 3rd attempt.  ‘Twomorrows’ easily slipped into dock #16, farthest from the comfort station.  ‘Second Option’ took a much greater angle & was more successful getting into slip #24, just as a manatee was swimming across.  Afterwards Terri admitted how terrified she was coming around the tight twists of the canal with blind bends, meeting other boats & suddenly upon a bascule bridge that fortunately we, the lead boat, had opened; she was shaking for a while afterwards.  Bill too said how anxious he felt.  One has to experience it to real understand.  It is very unnerving for your first time.  And what made matters worse was the chatter on VHF 09 which was particularly  loud, non-stop & irritating when trying to maneuver in such close quarters & communicate with the bridges we needed opened.  A few drinks & conversation & then a welcomed walk to “Briny Irish Pub” on Riverwalk for dinner; Larry & Lynn arrived stylishly by dinghy.  Afterwards Tina, Lee & Lelu came to the boat for a visit.  The sound of vehicle tires travelling over the steel grate of the bridge died down some & did not hamper our sleep.   Fresh northerly winds continued through the night.  The sky remained partially clear & cloudy.

Blinky Irish Pub on New River Riverwalk, Ft. Lauderdale

Tues. Dec. 4, 2012—Day 63:
Destination:  Fort Lauderdale, Cooley’s (Mile 1067)
Winds:  northerly, about 5-10K
Weather:  mostly cloudy, some sunny periods, brief periods of rain, (20% chance predicted), warm, H= 79F & L=65F

FEC Railroad Bridge in operation
New River in the downtown center of Ft. Lauderdale
The main projects of the day were: (1) defrost & clean the freezer & fridge, (2) laundry X 3 loads, & (3) engine oil change.  There were more jobs to be done but not today; a long list for tomorrow.  Already 1300 hrs. & I grabbed a salad for lunch, then Terri, Bill Graeme & I walked along the New River Riverwalk, saw a train cross the FEC Bridge & stopped for a brew on the way to Publix Grocery Store via Andrew Ave. Bridge; that’s the way to do shopping!  We hustled back as we thought we were going to get rained upon as the sky was black to the south.  The groceries & the laundry were put away & fresh linen on the bed.  Once again we all gathered on ‘Twomorrows’ & chatted+++; at one point Larry started chuckling, his shoulder shaking up & down & in a semi loud voice announced what a crazy, verbose group we were & if he wanted to say something, he would hardly find space in the conversation to jump in; we howled.  A small supper at 2000 hrs. then to the comfort station for a few hours to do internet; even Graeme brought his own laptop & worked away long after I was finished; better than sleeping all evening which is his norm.  The car & boat traffic decreased.  One sailboat passed through SW 7th Ave. Bridge with lights strung from deck to the top of the mast like a Christmas tree.  Rainy periods during the night.

A Christmas decorated sailboat motoring along New River

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