05/16/2012, Up the Creek!
Did an off shore passage from West Palm Beach inlet to the major Port Everglades inlet at Ft Lauderdale? It was a nice close reach on port without needing a single tack. I made the mistake of going out to the sea buoy which seems to be IN the Gulf Stream. The water in the stream was indigo blue and the breeze was warmer and very much 'tropical'. With main and jib flying and Perkins ticking away at 1500 rpm we were making 7.7 kts through the water--unfortunately with 3 -kts of north flowing current and us on a 188 course that was only 4.6 over the bottom. It took a while to realize the error of my ways but when I did we headed in a lot closer and ran down the coast in about 50 'of water, Current in the shallow water is much less with bottom friction to slow the flow--only problem with this is the shallow water made for larger sea swell and a few white caps. It took 8 hours out there but it was better that the two days inside trying to get through 28 opening bridges!! When we got into the Ft Lauderdale turning basin I thought we had arrived and any major concerns were behind us; WRONG! When we got inside and dropped the sails and headed north we realized we had just enough time to make the 4 o'clock 17th street bridge opening. It is a 55' bridge but I'm not comfortable going under that close to my 54'6" height so we waited 5 minutes for the opening. The current was flowing with me and I had to back down and do a 180 turn to kill time!! Once the bridge opened I noticed a stack of boats on the other side fortunately I remembered that the up current boat has right of way and I went through first. Within a very short distance I came to a particular location in Ft Lauderdale that I have navigated UNSUCESSFULLY three other times!! Twice ran aground and once went around the sand bar on the wrong side!! This time with the aid of a good scale chart, a chart plotter and Dede yelling which way to go I made the passage unscathed. A short lived moment of joy however in that the next 90 degree turn to port revealed a 160' motor yacht coming right at me - I got to his port side and we did the honorable port to port passing with at least 10' between us--and next to nothing on my starboard side and the sea wall! It's not over yet--the next turn in the New River called Tarpon Bend bends an arc of about 130 degrees to port followed in 50 yards with a 90 degree turn to starboard into a narrow section of the North Branch of the New River at red day marker #12. This is where I met the "JUNGLE QUEEN "doing her river boat cruse tour. She is about 120 feet long and about a $%#@#$#$ mile wide! No radio communication...no horns... just run my sorry ass into the mud on the starboard side of the channel and keep going you %%^$#@! Fortunately at 2 knots and soft bottom on a flooding tide and current we slid right on through. I just had time to change my undershorts when we turned a bend to find the "New River Bascule Bridge" as it says on the chart. HOWEVER all the bridges on the New River are bascule bridges and they only respond to their 'proper names'--quick reading on Dede's part found the proper name on the street map and the port guide book--3rd avenue bridge. We called -they acknowledged and we waited -being pushed by the current -oh well turn and spin a couple of times and it will finally open. I felt like a dumb dog chasing his tail in circles!!! Oh did I mention that the bridges DO NOT open after 4:30 !! They are restricted until 7pm !! We were fighting the clock! So the time is 4:12 and we are working our way up stream in the New River...getting the hang of it now and the St Andrews bridge opens on our first call. We now know that just a few hundred yards ahead around the next bend ( 160 degree bend -lined with mansions and mega yachts on both sides) is the William H. Marshall memorial bridge -so we call ---the response is "call when you get here"! Well in about 45 seconds later we round the bend to a CLOSED bridge -we call and then do two donuts in the river waiting for the opening! Through that one and only one to go with 10 minutes to spare before 4:30. A mile further up the river making turn after turn -including a very cute 175 degree swing to starboard (thank God no out bound traffic--did I mention the sides of the river are lined with mega million dollar yachts) We made the call to the Davie Blvd. bridge at 4:28 and the bridge tender gave us the last opening of the day at 4:30! Thank goodness the next bridge is a simple fixed bridge of ----of $#!* 55 feet!! This is the 6 lane in each direction route 95 fixed bridge with a railroad bridge draw right after it--usually open (damn I hope so). As we approach the final bridge of the trip we pass the Lauderdale Marine Canter that usually only caters to mega - mega yachts 100 --200 foot. There must have been 10 of these suckers lined up on the port side of the channel.. There were so many yachts lined up on the side of the river we only saw the bridge when we were 50 yards from the channel fenders!! Yippee the rail road bridge is open-----But oh no there is a barge/dredge being pushed by a tug coming through--and holy $#!@% the tide board says 53 feet and oh my God were doing 3 knots in neutral with the current pushing us under !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did I mention our 54 foot mast -lest you forget my sudden concern! THIRTY FIVE HUNDRED RPM IN REVERSE! Rudder to PORT, BOWTHRUSTER hard to Starboard and did a Turn on Point!!! "Dede !!! get a set of lines on Starboard -screw the fenders -just get the #$$@$ lines--screw the rain and lighting that just started !!!
Yes there was some room between the big boys for a little squirt and Dede's fine line work -and the barges wake and sudden squall's wind put us smack on the dock -safe and sound unscathed!! After we stopped shaking we walked down the dock to look at the bridge -sure enough at high tide the bridge clearance is 53' NOT the 55 feet indicated on the chart!! The Dock Master John came by and said nice docking!! Told us we could stay for free until low tide at midnight then pass under at 56' of clearance -or wait till morning for the next low tide at 11 am and just pay the single night rate for dingys of $0.80 per foot! Damn 80 cents a foot is a no brainer after that experience!! So here we sat with the big boys all around us. Not one of the yachts had an owner on board all crew working at clkeaning and polishing--we are actually having more fun on our Lady than anu one here!!
Tuesday morning at low tide ( 10:30) we went under at 55' showing on the board and my VHF antenna tapped each of the 20 RT 95 highway beams. No damage it is just a wire antenna like on an old car -but it does give one pause to consider. I found my friend David's dock right across from another mega yacht yard and we squeezed in between a couple of normal boats and tided up for our trip home. Spent most of today cleaning up and closing down for a few days. Hot and humid --very glad for air conditioning.
Left Vero Beach on Friday am (May 11th), flying the jib w/a 15-20knt breeze. Beautiful under sail, but the ICW became soooo narrow and serpentine that we rolled the sail in and took watches at the helm. We reached what is known as "The Crossroads"...St. Lucie Inlet, St Lucie River, and the beginning of the Okeechobee Waterway. As soon as we crossed the Inlet, you could not have convinced me I was not in the Caribbean!!...the water was crystal clear and blue!! We proceeded into Manatee Pocket, and stayed for 2-days at the Stuart Corinthian Yacht Club. "Corinthian" has historically been associated w/sailing...but we were the ONLY sailboat there! Club very friendly, spotless bathroom and shower, no laundry facilities and VERY quiet. Jim's cousin Susan and Aunt Dot took us to dinner Friday night at FINZ...great seafood on the water!! Jim and I biked Sat am...went to Chapman's School of Seamanship...but no one around. Caught in rain...and back to boat. Susan picked us up to do a few errands (you DO need a sunscreen over your Bimini/dodger here...so we got just what we needed in the garden section of Lowes)...and then on to tour. We visited Hobe Sound...it is a quiet county which keeps a low profile...and a great deal of the land is National Wildlife Refuge...all sorts of wildlife including wild hogs!! We visited Jupiter Island...the playground of the "rich and famous"...Tiger Woods, Celine Dion, etc, etc...beaches beautiful on the Atlantic side w/outcropping of limestone called "Blowing Rocks."...the sea breaks against the rocks and sprays saltwater up to 50ft into the air. We proceeded to visit Jupiter Inlet...the wind over tide made for VERY rough comings and goings for boats!! The lighthouse was built in 1850; and, once completed the lens was stolen...supposedly Confederate raiders hid the Fresnel lens as an attempt to confuse blockading Union ships! At the end of the Civil War, the lighthouse keeper conveniently found the lens, buried in Jupiter Creek!
We left Port Salerno Sun am (May 13th) and headed via the ICW to Palm Beach. Along the ICW, south of Indiantown Road Bridge, the ICW extends into a collection of natural-looking canals and oxbows. "Admiral's Cove" is a gated community which boasts private luxury waterfront homes, with such residents as Tom Cruise!!
This whole section of the ICW...from Port Salerno to Palm Beach...has 7-bridges (3 open on request and 4 are restricted)...what an arduous job coming thru that section!! Some of the bridge opening times we just couldn't make...and had to try and hold our course in current for 20minutes!! Also, Jim and I both became keenly aware of the different "manners" of boaters south of Vero Beach...there is NO slowing down for a sailboat to avoid a wake!! It is VERY difficult to hold course in the very narrow sections of the ICW when boaters are creating wakes!!
Arrived and anchored in Palm Beach...south of Peanut Island. As soon as we turned to starboard toward Peanut Island, I felt like I was at the Newport Jazz Festival!! What a combination of boaters anchored/rafted to party!! Tiny Peanut Island, a dredge island in the middle of the waterway, found itself at the center of the Cuban Missile Crisis!! Before the crisis, the island was created w/dredging spoils and housed a small CG station. In 1961, the US Navy Seabees arrived to covertly build an underground emergency fallout shelter for President Kennedy and his family. The site was so secret, many of his closest advisers didn't even know of its' existence. During the Missile Crisis, the President and his family could be quickly moved from their nearby vacation home in the event of a nuclear catastrophe!!
We plan to pull up anchor in the early am...as we need to be in Ft Lauderdale by Wed (one of the few timelines we have!!). We are unsure whether we will go out the West Palm Inlet to the ocean, back in at Ft Lauderdale...or go thru the excruciatingly painful opening of 28 bridges thru the ICW down to Ft Lauderdale!!!!! Weather will be the determining factor...stay tuned....
Arr'd at Vero Beach Municipal Marina in about 4 ½ hrs. Picked up a mooring...$14.85/night!!!!!!! Clean bathroom, showers, laundry and free pump-out! Lots of live-a boards here. Free bus service...a great amenity as soon as you figure out the schedule!! What a nice place to winter over! Vero has long been known as the "gateway to the tropics..."temperate climate and warm Gulf Stream breezes. The Indian Rriver citrus community thrives here...produces more than ¾ of Fl grapefruit crop.
The day hot and humid...92degrees and 94percent humidity...ugh!!!! Had torrential rain, thunder and lightning storm in late afternoon...w/in 45 minutes, dinghy had water up to transom, gas tank floating!! Discovered leaks in boat I didn't know I had!! Pumped out dinghy w/an electric pump...and off we went to spend a lovely evening w/Bob and Gail's brother and sister-in-law (who are snow-birds and live here in winter). Went to "Bobby's" (on beach) for supper...GREAT burgers and fish sandwiches!
Spent Tuesday figuring out free bus schedule!! was able to get to West Marine!!
Spent Wednesday w/good friends/cruisers that we met 5-yrs ago in Newport...Tom and Linda Leonard...what a fun day. We ate, toured, went to their beautiful home on the river, and ate somemore!! Beaches beautiful...but we did not get a chance to go in as yesterday, as we ate lunch overlooking the beach, a woman was bitten quite badly by a shark!! She was only wading in waist deep water...and a large shark took quite a bite out of her thigh. As fate would have it, a med-vac helicopter was returning from an operation, and saw the trails of blood!! She was airlifted to Fort Peirce...and is in serious condition!! Needless to say, beaches closed to swimmers!! Spent today at Tom and Linda's bookstore...the likes of which I have never seen!! 27,000sq feet; 2 buildings; 2 stories...and the most wonderful childrens' floor I have ever seen. The store is well-known, and has many famous authors come to speak and do book-signing. I can't believe I spent my day there...but I was fascinated! It is "Vero Beach Book Center"...
Well, we are preparing the boat to leave in the early am...head south to Stuart. We need to be in Ft Lauderdale by the beginning of next week...have a quick weekend turn-around to MD (Grandparents Day for Nathan); wedding Sat in VT; and home to visit rest of grandhchildren on Sunday and celebrate Becky's 37th bday...then an 8am flight back to Lauderdale and on to the Keys!! Stay tuned...
05/06/2012, Serenity Island
Left Titusville Municipal Marina on Thursday May 3rd (my 65th birthday!!), to Cocoa Village Marina, Merritt Island...had about 15kts on the beam. Was overwhelmed w/all the birthday wishes from everyone!! Heard from all the "kids" and grandkids...as far as I am concerned, that was all I needed for my birthday!!
Cocoa history is closely tied to the water. The "local" interpretation of how it got its' name involves an old woman who lived on the banks of the Indian River and supplied hot cocoa to sailors as they traveled the river. The passing sailors would call out "cocoa cocoa" until the woman supplied the refreshment!! Believe it or not...
Cocoa Village Marina is a "must" for cruising...the price is right w/Boat US discount, the showers/heads new and spotless, and the laundry facilities looked brand new!! A little tricky getting into our dock, but the dock master will talk...then walk... you thru.
Nestled within the confines of downtown Cocoa is one of the real shore side gems in eastern Fl. It traces its' history back to the late 1800s...unfortunately, I did not get to the museum to explore its' history! The Village itself is charming...reminds me of a small Wickford. Lots of shops (for you women cruisers, a "must" is Warehouse 216), restaurants and even a local playhouse. Unfortunately they were in between plays while we were there.
Jim took me to a great little restaurant for my birthday..."The Black Tulip." Food delicious and my birthday cake was homemade key lime pie!! I learned after that it is rated as one of the top 100 restaurants in Fl...and I agree!!
My brother and sister in law drove over from Clearwater, and my niece Julie and husband Jeff welcomed us all into her lovely, large on the water home for the week-end. Great to spend my birthday week-end w/family!! Indulged in steak, lobster, hot-tub...Jim and Jeff took my 2-great-nieces out to the boat for the night...leaving Julie and myself alone Saturday night to watch a "chick-flick" in their fully equipped media room. Went to a beautiful little Episcopal Church Sunday morning...St Mark's...in the village.
Left their home on Merritt Island, and had a 4-hour sail down to a little island in the Indian River...Serenity Island. Dolphin swimming...but as usual I was too slow to catch their pic!! Beautiful sunset...and off to bed. Weather hot...92degrees, and humidity rolling in...Where to tomorrow?? Stay
Wow!!-OVER ON THE RIGHT UNDER OUR NEWPORT PHOTO I HAVE CREATED A PHOTO GALLERY LINK!! At some point I'll post some new photos!
There is also a MAP link. "CURRENT POSITION"
If you click on the map and follow Google at bottom you see our location!! Real cool. Helps me navigate!!
05/04/2012, Titusville Village arina
I'm not sure why but this log has not been getting as much attention as our first leg of the journey. I think perhaps because the coast of Florida has been explored by all of us so often before. Many of us have driven the cars down or visited the bigger cities along the east coast. It seems that in cruising south the big cities are the major stops along the way and are just overwhelming with tourist stuff to report on. However having said that Titusville is something else--KENNEDY SPACE CENTER is over the top (excuse the pun). I have been there several times -seen the stuff -watched the movies but they seem to change it and more and make it new and exciting every time. Unfortunately we are all well aware that the shuttle program ha=s ended and the center is in close down mode--as much as any government facility ever really closes down. There are still hundreds if not thousands employed with maintaining the facilities that may be used in the next manned space adventures in 2020 as well as the separate Cape Canaveral Military Launch Facility adjacent to it. Kennedy is NASA and Cape Canaveral is military. Surprising however the city of Titusville looks like a blighted town many shops and motels etc closed their doors when the tourist travel for launches stopped in the beginning of this year. One very unique location I fond still open on a side street in town was the "U.S. SPACE WALK of FAME FOUNDATION/Museum" www.spacewalkeoffame.com this is a building about the size of a four car garage--but filled with actual memorabilia from the beginning of the space program. I think some of it was donated as scrap-some snuck out the back door by local workers. Regardless of the source it is up close and personal to hold a space suite in your hands -I was not quite ready to ask to put it on -but I came close. One of the most surprising items I found a complete set of mission summary logs for every Space Shuttle Launch. I picked up one from 2009 and read the log of Columbia - summarized with word for word quotes of the entire mission. The last report--and at 09:21 communications were lost with the STS over Huston shuttle contingency plan has been activated---very sombering reading!! Then a blank page--It did go on a page later to describe rescue and recovery efforts ==actually detail of parts and locations of 25,000 of material -including the flight recorder black box.
Titusville Municipal marina was a good place to dock for a few days to celebrate Dede's 65th birthday on Friday with a small a party with brother Phil and niece and nephew.
.Navigating here is relative straight forward -follow the channel avoid the shoals and stop in marinas at a $1.00 -$2.00 a foot this allows us to plug-in and keep the new air conditioners running --did I say it's HOT HERE!!! Very glad I installed the two units. I hope when the times comes to run them on the generator when were in the keys they work as well as at the dock. I do need to build a sun shade however to reduce the solar uptake.
Dede's Take: Left Mosquito Lagoon on Monday am...came thru Haulover Canal, which in historical times was the obvious place to cross from the Lagoon to the Indian River. Native Americans and early settlers "Hauled over" their canoes and boats between 2 large river basins using log rollers over the narrow island area. In time as boats got bigger the 1st canal was dug by slaves of a local citrus grower... Exiting the canal was a site...off to port was the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and the launch pads at the Space Center. It was like opening a window into history. Unfortunately, as we subsequently visited the Space Center, it was depressing...the launch pads are being disassembled, and the bus tour into the "restricted gate"was leftr with only being able to focus on the bald eagle nest (700lbs...impressive) and the local alligators!! I found Titusville equally depressing as did Jim. For years it had been an enviable position at the junction of a railroad and steamship line. Citrus, pineapples, and seafood arr'd by steamboatwere processed including as well as a crabmeat picking and packing plant and transferred and packed to their railroad. Flaggers East Coast Railroad company put them out of business. Indian River citrus is still grown in the area but Titusville no longer holds the railway monopoly. With the changes at the space station, Titusville seems to be trying to re-invent itself as a tourism town. The large municipal marina is the center of new era of waterside commerce. Unfortunately the major tourist attraction NASA Space Shuttle Launches is done. The Kennedy Space Center is in Hold mode!
If you choose to go to the marina be clear that the offer of 1-night free if you stay 2-nites, and your Boar US discount cannot be combined (written in small print!!). Manatees are abundant in the basin...they feed in the early morning or late evening on grass...and surprisingly they will feed 5-8 hrs/day to make its' 30lbs recommended daily allowance!!
The old M. Brewer swing bridge has been replaced w/a 65 ft fixed bridge...if you have a car or bike, the trip over brings you to acres of the Cape Canaveral Nat'l Seashore...close up views of the launch pads as well as hiking/biking/beaching experiences. The mud flats...very visible!! Are mosquito laden and hence NASA was able to acquire the land easily!!
After 3-days in Titusville, I am ready to leave. NOTHING is open on Mondays; and those places open on other days in the "Historic district" close by 4pm!! Dixie Crossroads, w/their sweet red shrimp was worth the bike ride...but otherwise, look forward to being underway to Merritt Island/Cocoa. Stay tuned...
Jim -again you can tell Dede was less than impressed ;-) !!