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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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A Bridge to Far?
Weather at 7am Wind still to 8 mph SSE T72
01/28/2009, Peck Lake/Hobi Sound to Lake Worth/Palm Beach Fl

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
SunRise 7:08am SunSet 6:00pm Moon: Waxing Cresent

It was a travel day today with 28 miles to go and 7 bridges to open. First job (after morning coffee & scanning weather forecasts) was to see if we could get out of the anchorage without running aground to many times. High tide is in a couple of hours so it should be better than when we came in (at low tide). We were already lined up on the danger sign so, as Wayne hoisted up the anchor, I aimed at 260 magnetic to a point south of the green buoy and had from 10 to 16 feet the entire way to the channel. Hmmm, why couldn't I do this coming in?

We had beautiful weather to travel by today. It was sunny, with cool winds. I wasn't relishing having to go through 7 bridges and trying to time them all but they weren't to bad. The last one before Lake Worth, Palm Beach though gave us a bit of a problem. We may have gone a bridge to far. I think the bridge tender went on break or something. He's supposed to open on the quarter and three quarter hours when called, only he never responded to us. We got there at 1:35pm and hailed him on channel nine and got no response (which sometimes happens). At 1:40 we hailed him again to make sure he knew we were there - we couldn't see into his tower the blinds where down. At 1:45 when he should have opened for us and didn't we hailed him again this time using both radios (the hand held and boat VHF) and still - no response. At 1:46 I thought what the hey? I got on the radio and hailed him on all three of his names: "North Palm Beach Bridge, AKA Parker Bridge, AKA US 1 Bridge, are you there? Is there a problem? Hello? Hello.... Did we do something to offend you? Hello? Why won't you/didn't you open for us? Over" Still no response, so I switched to channel 16 "This is south bound sailing vessel Kolibrie looking for anyone with information on the Parker Bridge - over". Tow Boat responded to our call and said to hail them on channel 9. I told him we did - many times - then the situation, and said there might be a problem could anyone check on the guy in the tower to see if he's okay because he never responded to us. I stood by the radio on channel 6 with TowBoat while he called the bridge tender on the phone. Then he said to try the bridge again on 9. As I was talking to Towboat, the guy at the bridge came on channel 9 and said he never heard us. He should have at least seen us - I dang near ran into one of the pilings at the bridge trying to look into his tower windows while circling and circling (trying to contact him). If Wayne and I could hear each other hailing him on our respective radios, then the channel was open - so he must have had a problem on his end (um or went on a potty break?).

He then wanted to know if we wanted his next opening (2:15pm). Well duh! - I guess since we'd been waiting already, trapped between two bridges that YAH! We wanted his next opening! Soooo we circled and waited. Then he came on at 2:10 pm: "South bound sailboat, would you like my next opening?" "What the $%&#$?" - I say to my self as I grab the radio and say, "Yes, we're waiting for your next opening..." At this point I'm wondering if this guy in the tower might be senile? or just a smart $**... I was fuming thinking of him laughing at us in his tower after I had worried about him, but after he opened, I thanked him for his opening (at Wayne's objections). Wayne said we should have given him the silent treatment.

Lake Worth was choppy when we got into it, the fetch from the winds must have built up with some gusto. After running aground in one spot (me, not Wayne), yelling at each other in another spot, then looking around some more, we finally got anchored by 4:50pm. The bridge tender had managed to sour both our moods - but here we are in Palm Beach Florida sitting at anchor in Lake Worth right next to the outlet that we could use to head to the Abacos Islands in the Bahamas. We're talking going further south though and heading for the Exumas.

Interesting side note on Lake Worth - it used to be a fresh water lake (now brackish since being connected to the ocean so technically a lagoon?). Henry Flagler (who originally built up this area) recognized that a sheltered access to the ocean would make Palm Beach more attractive to the rich and, as he intended, Lake Worth today is filled with luxury yachts. He made millions as a railroad magnate and invested and developed this area. His hotel, near the Flagler Bridge (now called the Breakers), charges a modest fee of $800/night for an ocean "view". Flagler built up Palm Beach and West Palm Beach as a playground for the rich so from what I understand, I better have my camera ready for the trip down to Miami! It promises to be quite a sight...

Tuna Salad with tossed salad and sour dough bread for dinner. And Jeeves - I'll have a Cabernet with the meal...

Crab? Whose a crab...
Breezy & mostly sunny. Winds 13mph ESE at 7:00am 70*; High today 78* Low 68*
01/27/2009, Peck Lake, Hobie Sound, Jupiter Island Fl

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It was nice to be able to sleep without bundling up first and loading the blankets on the bed. I listened to the winds all night and sometimes over the wind - the surf of the Atlantic as it slapped onto the Shore of Jupiter Island. Where we're anchored at, Jupiter is very narrow. It's a barrier island, hence composed of a lot of sand that's skinnier in spots than other parts. We're anchored at one of the skinnier spots so the sound of the waves comes through quite nicely when the wind in the rigging lets up.

Well the water line was scrubbed clean today all around the boat and then we lowered the dinghy and went over to Jupiter Island to take in the beach there. It was really pretty and kind of deserted. I was taking pictures at the Hobie Sound Wildlife Refuge of the waves, sand, seaweed, etc... and came upon this pile of seaweed that looked like it had an exoskeleton of a crab in the debris. I thought, "oh cool - I can get a picture of the jointed exoskeleton" and started to touch one of the legs and move the debris away from it. Well it wasn't a corpse but thoroughly alive and paying attention to my every move. The crab jumped out at me and scared me as much as I probably scared it! Woosh! Anyhow I took a few pictures of him trying to get around him for a back shot. He was having none of that. It felt like we were doing some kind of dance on the beach and I'm sure I looked a little strange to anyone watching me. He was a cute little fella - well actually not so little for a _______ crab. (Extra Credit time - who can tell me what kind of crab he is? I already know but do you?) He was a little bigger than the size of my fist and I wasn't going to put my hand next to him for scale - he was ready to attack me when I came near with my camera! I got some decent shots of ocean spray and waves, but my favorites are the ones of the crab and of the boat as we came back to the other side of the island.

Wayne's napping while I write this but it's time to wake him I think. Steak, salad and sour dough bread for dinner with apple pie for dessert (of course). The wind has continued all day so we've been running the wind generator all day - it seems to be holding its own against the refrigeration and my computer so far (Yay)

By the way - if you don't know the type of crab - I'll post it in a few days for any one interested.

On the road or into the ditch...
Partly Sunny High 70, Low 50
01/26/2009, Vero Beach FL (N27*39.399 x W80*22.262) to Peck Lake FL (N27*06.863 x W80*08.563)

Monday, January 26, 2009

On the "road" again or should I say, "ditch". After coffee we cast off the mooring and headed to the marina dock for fuel, pump out water and a last look at Vero Beach Marina then we were off headed south again at 9:00am. The weather is nice today; the sun keeps shining through the clouds (mostly fair weather clouds). It was funny because while at the helm, I was acutely aware of the breeze blowing across the cockpit. A cool air whispered ever so briefly across the skin, on my arms & shoulders, tickling the little hairs there as the sun disappeared behind a cloud. When the sun's out it's perfect, but the air seems to be much cooler when the sun disappears behind the clouds. One minute we're all covered up and the next minute, off come the sweatshirts. It's that kind of day - sunny but still able to raise goose bumps in the breeze.

It's nice to see blue/green water again. The water at Vero was always a muddy brown color. We had dolphins around us again whenever we neared an inlet - it's interesting to watch them hunt. They team up and circle the small fry to round them up and then seem to pounce on the minnows.

Passing Red buoy 172 there was an oceanographic institution that was new to me - Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution - right before Fort Pierce. I'll have to look them up and see what they specialize it. We also passed an interesting island today - perfectly square in shape, with trailers and prefab homes on them. I've never seen such a thing. It's called Nettles Island. It must be some way of garnering more water front property or something - but it's packed - wall to wall with homes. The picture is one of our views of it - doesn't quite show it in it's entire square though.

I swear the water keeps getting skinnier and skinnier the farther south we go. Most of the way to Peck Lake seemed like it was between 8-10 ft and you'd think that it was still the weekend - I couldn't believe the amount of boat traffic and people out fishing. I'm not sure why they need to anchor "in" the channel to fish though. All this water from shore to the channel will accommodate the draft (depth) of most of the fishing boats and pontoons but it won't accommodate the draft on boats like ours that have to stay in the channel and yet they persist in anchoring in the channel. Perhaps they're secretly trying to run us aground, or trying to collect on some insurance, as we have to run into them? LOL... whatever...

In trying to anchor in Peck Lake, I did run aground. But I expected to because I wasn't sure where the shoal was and most of this area is very shallow so I had to nose around looking for where to get into the anchorage. We nosed in, grounded (ever so lightly), backed out, and circled and then "Our Way" a powerboat/yacht (I think I remember them from another anchorage but I'm not sure where), radioed directions on where to get into the anchorage (up to the danger sign at the weather station and to the north of them). I was really grateful for the assist. My depth sounder read 5.5 as Wayne dropped anchor and I happily backed up as he dropped anchor. I realize that our depth sounder is maybe a couple feet below the water level, but I get really nervous when we approach that 5 ft depth because right after that we go "clunk".

I can hear the waves from the Atlantic washing ashore from the anchorage. I think tomorrow we'll go investigate it. It's on the other side of Jupiter Island and we're on the ICW side of it in Peck Lake.

By the way - I almost forgot! Happy New Years! Today is the Chinese New Year and so begins the year of the Ox. It lasts from January 26, 2009 to February 14, 2010. Based on traditional beliefs, some form of this quasi-lunar calendar has been in use for almost five millennia. Based on archaeological evidence some form of it has been in use for three and a half millennia. It is the year 4705, 4706, or 4645 (depending on the epoch used). In ancient China, the new year began on the second new moon after the winter solstice (in times under some other dynasties in ancient China, the year might occasionally have begun on the first or third new moon after winter solstice). But since the time of the Emperor Wu of Han, starting the new year on the second new moon after winter solstice has been the norm for more than two thousand years. So the year of the Rat is over and the year of the Ox starts today.

Soooo Gōngxǐ fācái (sounds like - gung he fat choy) time to kick back and celebrate with a beer (in my case probably a diet coke or green tea - beer for Wayne LOL).

01/29/2009 | Lily
How cool to see mention of Nettle's Island on this VERY cool blog! I am hooked to the blog by the way...I'll sail vicariously with you as I am in a land of MUCH SNOW and NO WATER! Oh do I miss the salt water.
Check out for the scoop on Nettle's Island. We started putting together an FAQ about Nettle's and I'm going to include the background on "square island" tee hee...give me a couple days to write it up! I always think space aliens would find it a funny sight too!
01/29/2009 | Pat Aben
I had to add one of my views of Nettles Island as we passed it. It doesn't really show it's "squareness" but it is a view of it. I look forward to reading your write up on the island - it really piqued my curiosity as we passed it :)

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