Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Part II Florida * The ICW

Day 14 - 15 - April 14th & 15th. 

 Well, after a long radio silence… 2 ½ days that seemed like a week to me… I spoke to Bruce Saturday evening.  They made very good time and cut a day off of the estimated time it would take to do this last offshore leg.  They left the ICW just south of Cape Fear on Thursday mid day and came in at Fernandina Beach, Fl.  They were shooting for Jacksonville, but the light winds and wallowy seas slowed them down near the end so they ducked in just before dark yesterday and got a slip.  Bruce says its very nice in Fernandina Beach.  He is glad for once that I am not there because he thinks I would have a hard time not doing major damage to our credit card in the cute little shops along the way.  I think it would have been a prime opportunity to test my new "cruiser mode" mentality of not buying everything I see... but we may never know.

Bruce is increasingly pleased with the boat.  They motorsailed most of the way with only about 8 hours of sail only time.  Bruce said that they had a really great 6 our sail and another about two hours until the winds became very light.  He said that in light winds with 6 ft waves, the boat would come down off a wave and go nowhere without the motor.  They were nervous that they wouldn’t make it in before dark but the winds came up suddenly near the entrance and they had speeds of 8+ kts at the end.  He said that they had 80% uneventful times, 10% great times and 10% action, no fear or danger, just tense action. 

Steve, George, Bruce & Chuck
Chuck knew some people in Fernandina Beach… I think he knows “some people” everywhere… so they will have some assistance with getting to the grocery to restock their dwindling provisions.  They are losing Steve and George today and had engaged Lynn Walton to join them for the next jump.  In the light of morning today, it looks like the winds will be on the nose making an offshore passage foolish.  So… Lynn will not be joining them after all and they will continue on in the ditch, at least for the next couple of days.

The new plan is to head for Ft. Lauderdale, estimating 6 days.  Kevin has graciously agreed to join them there and they will proceed to Ft. Meyers, FL. (estimating 3 or 4 days).  They will spend a couple of days there at least, re-provisioning and waiting for weather, then head across the Gulf for Port A.  They will be conservative with the possibility of ducking in at Mobile, Gulfport or Galveston if weather becomes an issue.

My hopes of meeting them in Florida are dashed most likely.  It’s just difficult to time taking off work on the whim of the weather.  I guess there is a slim possibility but it’s very very slim, that I would get to go now.

After fueling up and provisioning, the guys got some local advice and decided to get a head start on it. They caught the afternoon tide going south and anchored at some unknown place, Bruce called it St. Mary’s but it could be something else.

Day 16 - They upped anchor early again this morning and made 40 some odd miles to tonight’s spot just south of St. Augustine.  They motored with a short sail at 4 to 5 knots all day with either current or wind against them much of the time.  At least they weren’t dealing with both together. 

Bruce had a chance to have conversations with both Lewis Eisenberg (is that right? Scotty & Lewis…) and Karl Stein yesterday, soaking up advice.  Karl had told him that the tides were 3 hours off the tables and Bruce said he was spot on 3 hours.  Thanks Karl!  Scotty & Lewis were just returning from a sail on their boat to the Dry Tortugas.  Karl and Jan just got home from a week aboard White Pepper in Florida right around near where our boys are now.

Bruce says the banks are lined with mansions and he is astounded by the wealth evident here.  They haven’t had mosquitoes and they’ve found shorts weather finally.  The water in the ICW is still icky. 

They hope to make it to Daytona Beach tomorrow.  They looked at going outside today but the winds were unfavorable. I wish I was there...

Days 17 - 18  Tuesday was another motor day doing mostly under 5 kts.  They made just over 40 miles or so in the ICW.  They anchored near Edgewater, Fl.  They could have gone further in the late afternoon with favorable tides, but there would have been nowhere to anchor, so they dropped the hook early and settled down to their allotted two beers and dinner. 

Breakfast at anchorage
Wednesday morning I was getting pretty tired of being by myself.  My husband wasn't doing much better as he was chafing a little bit at my weather report.  How can it be that the winds are directly on their nose no matter which way they turn.  I've been watching Passage Weather and it looks like the winds will continue to be favorable... everywhere Dos Libras is not!  Next week may get better for the Gulf crossing - at least I'm crossing my fingers and hoping.

 I spoke to Bruce in the evening and he was feeling a bit better.  Maybe just more resigned to this fate would be more accurate.  At least this way they aren't pounding themselves or the boat.  Maybe he's feeling sorry for me as I beg for pictures... he actually sent some.  He called these homes "low rent".  I guess they were compared to the sprawling homes along yesterday's route. 

They were passing Coco Beach and hopes to make it near Ft. Pierce in the remaining daylight hours.  There are places to anchor all along this stretch so they aren't being forced to drop anchor early today.  As long as they reach Ft. Lauderdale by Sunday for a rendezvous with Kevin, things are alright. 

All along the way, they seem to be going the wrong way... this is the time of year when cruisers are making their passage North.  Maybe that will be us next year! 

Day 19 -
Bruce and Chuck made really good time today.  I got a call from Bruce between 5:30 and 6:00 our time.  He said they were running from a storm.  I pulled up their position on the SPOT and consulted the weather radar.  They were near a place called Ft. St. Lucie and they were headed for Hooker Cove.  It looked like they were going to be passed over with a big storm on either side, maybe get just the tail end of the southernmost ball of rain.  I took a look at the area around them, found it to be very secure looking and I was OK.

I happily went off to dinner with Judy safe in the knowledge that they would be fine.  After dinner, I called Bruce up again and he said that they were anchored in 8 ft with lots of room all around and had nearly nothing at all out of the huge line of thunderstorms that had straddled them.  Not even a gust!  Yay weather radar and whatever luck is following my husband around.

I guess he got cocky though, he asked me to consult Passage Weather to see if they could escape the ICW through the outlet just right up the way from their current location.  I quickly dashed his enthusiasm with the forecast of more winds on the nose and the Gulf Stream screaming in the opposite direction to their intended path at 4 knots at 8 am tomorrow.  Combine that with waves coming from the other direction and across… I think it will be unpleasant.  Take the bridges over that mess and count yourselves lucky.  They still have until Sunday evening to make less than a hundred miles… TAKE THE BRIDGES! 
In the land of the "Big Money"
Days 20 - 21  Well,  we can call this a plan if we must give it a name… All that good time they've been making has at least positioned them close to the rendezvous point with Kevin.  Bruce called me on Friday evening after a previous text…” we’re running from a storm”.  They were motoring in the ICW nearing Boca Raton with angry clouds looming.  I consulted the Internet and found that indeed, they were going to get it. 

They moved aside to allow a couple of trawlers moving purposefully along and decided to follow them.  Radio contact confirmed that they knew where they were going so our guys fell in behind and followed them to  Lake Boca Raton where they dropped the hook and settled in.
They had thoughts of an early departure on Saturday morning to take advantage of the tides and a possible leap outside for a run to Miami.  In the wee morning hours, Bruce woke Chuck with news that the normal nightly decrease in the winds had not occurred so they went back to bed.  Incidentally, one of the trawlers they followed into the anchorage had drug anchor nearly hitting Dos Libras.  (Maybe being the only boat in the anchorage with a secure hold is not such a good thing… food for thought) 
Saturday morning found some wet spots inside the boat after the deluge.  One due to a port improperly secured, others due to minor drips, so they are drying things out as best they can with the continued rains coming down.  Forecast is for rain all day today with some local flooding.  Luckily no fixed bridges between here and Ft. Lauderdale.  They have done some strategic planning and all thought of going outside to Miami today (wishful thinking) has been banished.  They have some fuel docks noted and will head for a Marina in Lauderdale to await Kevin’s arrival tomorrow afternoon. 
Bruce plans to pick Kevin up from the airport and head for Kerry Ann (the boat) in a rental car.  Bruce and Kevin will do whatever needs to get done on his boat, leaving Chuck with Dos Libras.  They will not plan to leave Ft. Lauderdale until Tuesday at the earliest when conditions improve, then will shoot straight for home.  Currently, it looks like they will have favorable conditions through Thursday of next week.  No more far reaching information is available. 
Day 22 - 24  Well, it continues to be true "cruising" in that the plans change and change again.  But the basics remain.  Kevin arrived on Sunday afternoon (Day 22) and came back to Dos Libras to check her out.  He had hopes of getting the SSB to work.  They did get it revived somewhat but with an improperly installed antenae, the Jury is still out on that.  They slept aboard and in the morning, Kevin took the rental car to his boat in Cape Coral.

Bruce and Chuck stayed in Ft. Lauderdale where the sun proceeded to shine.  They went to work on a leaky hatch, luckily gaskets are some of the spares that came with the boat.  They went to West Marine and Sailor Man along with multiple other stops for boat stuff.  They got a Hypalon repair kit and found that there was already one among the dinghy spares aboard, so that went back to the store.  Hooray for spares! 

They generally filled their days in Ft. Lauderdale with preparing the boat for the journey, topping off the fuel and water tanks, finding and filling Jerry cans, provisioning and laundry.  They did some visiting with Chuck's friends.  They marveled at the other boats in their neigborhood... most of which made them feel like poor relations on our "little boat". 

Kevin returned on Tuesday (Day 24) and they finished their final preparations.  They were supposed to vacate their slip by noon but slightly overshot that mark.  The Marina was good about it.  I think they made liftoff sometime near 2pm and headed offshore for the next and final leg of this journey.

I'm missing Bruce almost as much as he is missing me.  I asked him if he was ready to get off that boat and he replied correctly... "no, I just wish you were here with me".  So he's still loving the boat and assures me that we are going to love it together.  Good times are ahead!  They hope to make it to Port A in about 10 days and I'm counting down.