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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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Las Olas: The Waves
74*, partly cloudy, ENE winds 20mph
02/08/2009, Ft Lauderdale

Wow - we've been in Florida for 2 months now, (and Wayne says "Florida hasn't been the same - it's become part of the cold climates LOL). It's a long coastline with attractive harbors that we've stayed to long in. But there's nowhere we have to be for now.
Once we leave Florida and cross over to the Bahamas, it's my understanding that my phone and Internet service will probably be non-existent to perhaps spotty (spotty as far as Internet). If we had SSB, we'd probably have our email/internet to post journal entries and get email, but since we don't, the postings and contact will probably be spotty. Our limited budget won't allow many non-emergency phone calls (heck our phones won't work there anyway) so family/friends - use the blog comments or email if you need to make contact so when we can access the blog - I'll know to call home.

The marina headquarters was packed this afternoon. All of the Billfish Tournament participants were all standing around waiting for the results of the contest to be tallied up. It was interesting looking at all their questioning faces as we walked past to the showers. It was really a festive atmosphere especially around the main tent were the food was being served up and the beer running freely. Some of the boats that had entered the competition were amazing. They ran from the little fishing boats to the large megafishers. One boat we saw had 4-300hp engines on the back. The people tallying the results had the windows blocked out in the meeting room so you couldn't see into it, and they were also using the laundry room too. I asked one of the guys in the laundry room if they had a good turn out this year and he said definitely better than last year. They have this every year at this marina so he laughed and told me this so I could plan ahead for next year LOL

The trolley driver that took us into town today was a happy soul - singing and joking with us and his other patrons. I asked him if he knew what "Las Olas" meant (we're at the Las Olas Marina off Las Olas Street, close to downtown Las Olas). It feels like it's a term I should know but don't recall from my Spanish classes. He said depending on context it means "the waves". I thought it very appropriate for this area of Ft. Lauderdale with the waves always in motion. You can hear them at night if the ports are open.
We bought a couple more Cubans (love these sandwiches!) and a couple of steaks for dinner. I was going to make some salad and mushrooms to go with dinner but after having the Cubans for lunch, neither of us was very hungry so we just had the steaks and shrooms for dinner.

Time for a little reading before lights out... Tomorrow we head for Miami.

Home is where the birds play or the boat lays
72, cloudy, winds ENE 20mph
02/07/2009, Ft Lauderdale, FL

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Coffee, juice, French toast and sausage for breakfast and then we caught the trolley into Ft. Lauderdale to the Publix store. I made a lemon chicken last night for dinner using lemon jello. It turned out really well so I decided that I'd better get some more so that I can make it again in the future! We picked up a pot roast for me to experiment with for dinner tonight using the pressure cooker. I wasn't to sure about this - all I could think of were my mom's pot roasts on Sunday's. She used to use a pressure cooker and the meat never had a taste to it. I was pleased with the results though - so will try other pressure cooker recipes in the future too. From what I've read, the pressure cooker is a great help in the nautical environment and with an alcohol stove and heading into a warmer (???) clime; I'll take the help!

There was a couple on the beach today feeding the pigeons and gulls. It reminded me of when I used to run out to the store to buy loaves of bread to feed the birds - only you could tell the woman did this a lot. The birds would line up on her arms taking the bread from her hands. I thought it was pretty cool until I started thinking about all the birds that surrounded her. That was a lot of poop and a possible gift of lice from the birds (in her hair, clothes, etc.). I figured I'd just take pictures this time and not join in on feeding the birds. That's all I need - bring lice into the boat.

Later, I was sitting in the cockpit (strange name - wonder who first came up with that) watching another sailboat come in at sundown. While the man was picking up the mooring, the woman was at the wheel nervously looking all around her - at the depth sounder, the neighboring boats and her general position in the mooring field. As I continued to watch her, I could see myself in her and read her thoughts - she was nervous as far as depth and position; I could visualize the thoughts running through her head - the same or similar to mine: It looks really tight in here... are we going to swing into the other boats? When the tide goes out, do we have enough water under us, or, are we going to accidentally careen the boat (lay it on it's side)? I could see all these thoughts going through her head, and as nervous as she seemed, I was comforted in the thought that I'm not the only one that goes through all the thoughts and emotions when coming into a new harbor that's unfamiliar. We've done a lot of that this year. Each place is new, with new bottom contours and compositions. Each anchoring dance, even though I have the same partner, feels like a new dance and I never seem to lose the apprehensions "will the anchor hold? Do we have the right set? Is there enough scope? Are we going to snag something and not be able to retrieve the anchor?" "Is that other boat going to drag into us?" I wonder if the apprehensions will ever leave me? How long before I feel totally at home. Home... At home, in our homeport, I never really thought about most of those things. We always came into the same territories, and you pretty much knew what to expect. Here I find that the charts aren't always right, and anchorages aren't always readily available or if they are, they aren't always accessible. While the anchorage on the chart shows 8-15 ft available for you to anchor in, it doesn't show the shoaling or tell you that the depth to get into the anchorage is only 4 ft - bump, oops, sorry hon - didn't see that shallow area on the chart... wait - there is no shallow area on the chart... sigh... The good news is, that the bumps here are relatively soft - mud, sand, etc... As we head into the coral areas though I can see where Wayne might become more apprehensive too. Coral heads can do a great deal of damage to the boat... The good news is - I hear the water is crystal clear so we should be able to see where the coral is?

It's looking like the trough that swung down with the jet stream bringing all the cold weather with it, is going to be pushed back up north and the winds are supposed to lose their northerly component by early to midweek. Once they swing to the east, we'll watch for them to start to turn from the south and we'll head out from Miami to Bimini (Alice town). We keep watching the weather patterns. If we head out into the east winds we'll be fighting them, so a southerly component will give us a boost with the wind as well as the current from the Gulf Stream. I'm a little apprehensive in crossing the Gulf Stream. It'll be interesting to see if we can hit our destination. A little vector analysis is needed - point the boat further south than the destination we want and let the Gulf Stream move us (or crab us) northerly again across our rhumbline. Speed, distance, time, current, tides, winds...sigh 60 D ST

Billfish tournament
Thick cloud cover, cool 60*
02/06/2009, Ft Lauderdale, Fl

Friday, February 06, 2009

Well we were going to take off today for Miami after our morning showers, but after going up top and feeling the wind chill, neither of us wanted to stand out at the helm - especially after seeing a thick cloud bank coming in off the eastern seaboard. So, we decided to stay put. I'm not sure what it would be like; going into Miami during the weekend, with cruise ships and weekenders, so we may be here for the weekend. We'll see how weather and conditions go... We noticed that whenever we seem to travel on the ICW, during the weekends, it tends to be a bit congested with the weekend fishermen. This weekend, with the 44th annual Billfish Tournament going on, it as all the makings of a busy trip between here and Miami - So... we'll see - but for today - Ft. Lauderdale is home again.

By the way - billfish include sailfish, spearfish, marlin, and swordfish (there are differences). Their large, beautiful bodies are built for endurance and speed, which are needed to travel thousands of miles through the ocean in search of food. Because they're so sought after by sportsmen, as well as a food source in other countries, the populations have dwindled over the years. I'd love to see some in their natural environment and hope someday that I will. Learning about the tournaments that go on up and down the eastern seaboard, gives me hope that I might! I chatted with one of the guys in the marina about the tournament (headquartered here at the Las Olas Marina) and it sounds like they catch them (using those O hooks Diana told me about during Christmas instead of J hooks), tag them, weigh them, and then let them go - they no longer bring the fish into the marina. I find this a much better practice than the days of yore - where they had to bring them in and bodily weigh them, etc... Since they were needed as proof of the fisherman's prowess, caught fish were never returned alive. Some of these fish can take 5 - 10 years to reach maturity (for instance the Blue Marlin*) so - such practices were devastating to the billfish populations. Now, when one is caught, the process must be recorded to a DVD - including the release of the billfish safely back to the water. If its not recorded, or the fish is damaged/killed, no points are issued to the sportsman. Since there's big bucks involved with the tournament (prizes up to $300,000 for the whole series), it's in their best interest to return the fish unharmed. All billfish caught during the tournament must be returned to the ocean or the boat is disqualified. Since they also pay a hefty fee to enter ($1750), most are serious about returning the fish from whence they caught them.

*Billfish are found in all of the world's major oceans. Blue Marlin is one of the largest billfish species. They've been known to reach sizes of 1700 pounds - with the larger individuals (those over 350 pounds) most likely to be female. The Atlantic blue marlin grows rapidly during the first two years life but it typically takes 30 years for one to reach 1,000 pounds. These billfish can make incredibly long journeys through the seas - the record being 9,254 miles from the state of Delaware to Mauritius (an island off the southeast coast of Africa) in the Indian Ocean. Taken from: for more info on the various species - click on the link provided.

02/07/2009 | Wendell
Freezing temps down this far south are GENERALLY not seen. However since you decided to come down here I guess we can all blame you!!!
I still think you've got a book in this adventure.
02/07/2009 | Pat Aben
mm hmmm... It's those Aben's - things just follow them from place to place Just ask Laura LOL

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