DAY 101 OF OUR GREAT ADVENTURE
02/09/2012, LAKE PARK HARBOR MARINA
Stuck in lake Park. the weather JUST is not going to happen any time soon. At least it looks until Monday. We have been in this slip since January 26!
This morning the wind was howling again. Boat is shaking around in it's slip. At least it's warm. But, we think tha's about to change again. Think we might rent a car and go to the movies. Or for $4.00 we can ride the Route 1 bus all day long and just go bus exploring. Ate some fish on board tonight. Kind of stir crazy in some ways. We are comfortable. The TV reception is pretty good. So, wait, wait wait. Today we went to the Customs Border Protection office and registered ourselves for something called the "local boater option". It appears that many boaters were traveling back and forth to the Bahamas and having to go through cutoms upon returning to the US. So, they came up with this registration process with a FBI check and finger printing and picture in a database. So, that's what we did. When we come back from the Bahamas, we just have to call a number instead of appearing in person.
Of course that depends on if we EVER get to the Bahamas.
So, far to go to the Bahamas we have:
bought special Bahamas charts
Gotten a special Customs Border Protection sticker for the Boat
Both registered with the Customs Border Protection "local boater option"
Bought a FCC station license for our Boat's VHF radios
Bought a FCC operators license (so that I can operate my radio station)
Extended our insurance to the Bahamas
Got SKYPE for telephone use.
So tonights picture is a look at the ICW from the marina toward the Bahamas.
Some day soon I hope to take a picture the opposite direction.
DAY 99 OF OUR GREAT ADVENTURE
02/07/2012, LAKE WORTH INLET
HEADED OUT - BUT NOT FOR LONG...
It was 5:30 and breezy out of the SE when we left the dock. Cloudy and had rained much of the night. And then i saw lightning to the north and thought that wasn't supposed to be happening. But it was to the north and moving away. After entering the Lake Worth inlet to exit to the Atlantic, we met a cruise ship coming in. The inlet isn't very wide so we turned around and waited for the ship to get past. Then I saw lightning to the south. Did I mention there were no thunderstorms forecast and that Thunderstorms are VERY rare in the winter here. We continued east and the GPS was telling me we would arrive at WEST END IN THE BAHAMAS at 5:50PM. Sun sets at 6PM over there. So, that was cutting it close. We had a 13 kt wind on our nose and forward progress was bouncing around 5.5 to 6kts. I was counting on making 6.2 to 6.5kts. So arriving after dark was the killer. It was time to turn around
What about the sea state if you ignore the flashing sky you ask? Well it was not great. lots of short chop in the Ocean with the normal swells too made it quite boucy. Suz and i could stand it. But every now and then a few waves would slow the boat down considerably and that was of great concern.
We met a sailboat that had left an hour earlier than us headed back in. We told him we wanted to look for ourselves and would probably be back. He was waiting at the dock as we returned. He said that "sailors don't like to go out if the weather is so bad. It would spill your drink." It was rough enough that my coffee was in a tervis tumbler with a lid on it and I was afraid I might knock my teeth out trying to drink it .
So, now what. We looked at the weather forecast and there is no foreseeable window for a crossing. We are guessing MONDAY. But have not real forecast for that to be a reality. We think we are going to leave the marina and anchor out in West Palm and dingy in to the town. It's just a few miles south of here.
But we have been at this marina for 13 days. I believe that the MONTHLY rate is close to what we have paid. So, we might just pay for a month and hang here until the weather clears.
Picture is our flag at 6:15am this morning.
Now the next WINDOW to cross is not on any forecast. NONE!!
We are going through lots of money at this marina. So, we might move on. If something does not happen for us to cross in a week, we might just head on back up the ICW and stay longer at some of the interesting places we liked on the way down...
After we docked we had a huddle with the other boater that was attempting to cross and decided on a giant breakfast at the Dunkin Doughnuts restaurant.
Now I'm getting very sleepy.
DAY 98 OF OUR GREAT ADVENTURE
02/06/2012, LAKE PARK HARBOR MARINA
We didn't leave this morning. Squalls forecast today. Tomorrow really looks like departure day. Yesterday we took Liquid Therapy out for the first time in 8 days. I had a diver clean the bottom and really wanted to check out the performance. I also reset the GPS and Autopilot for True courses as that is how Bahamas charts are configured. I had installed a replacement fluxgate compass for the autopilot and needed to calibrate everything. The boat ran great and we ventured down to the Lake Worth Inlet to take a look at the Atlantic. It didn't look that bad yesterday. But we knew it was still rolling from the previous days blows.
We came back to the marina and filled the fuel tanks to full. I had never done that before. So, I now have 350 gallons of diesel on board. My method of gathering fuel has been when I see a good price I just add to what I have. When we left Islamorada I had the tanks close to full and we only took on 45 gallons yesterday. I will need no more than 150 for the Bahamas round trip of about 400-500 miles. So, I will not need to buy any expensive fuel in the Bahamas.
Right now I'm listening to the short wave radio to the Chris Parker detailed weather forecast. Chris is saying tomorrow and Wednesday will be pretty calm. Suddenly yesterday some organized weather popped up around Cuba headed North. It was thought this might be the first named storm of the year. But it has fallen apart and is causing some squalls out there today So, ONE MORE DAY AT LAKE WORTH HARBOR MARINA.
It is pretty calm as I write this which can only help the sea conditions tomorrow as well. So, 5AM tomorrow we head out
Picture is last year this time in Canaan West, VA. Burr cold there. It's 74º here!
DAY 95 - 97 OF OUR GREAT ADVENTURE
02/05/2012, LAKE PARK HARBOR MARINA
Happy Superbowl day. I'm a little distracted about the game today as I awoke to a strange sound. CALM. Not forecasted. But it is CALM here and in the Atlantic too. We are sitting tight today as NOW the forecasts for the seas to calm down today and we are headed for the Bahamas at 5AM tomorrow. It looks very good.
There are three boats counting us that are planning on crossing tomorrow. So, we will be calling each other on the VHF. Gonna take the boat out today and give everything a shakedown as we haven't moved in over a week. Top off the tanks and check everything we can think of and then it's head to the Bahamas in the morning. UNLESS THE WEATHER does something else we are not forecasted.
So, we have just been doing small projects about the boat. I have done ALL my major projects with the installation of the salt water wash-down system.
Water consumption has been a guess that we have no gauge for. We take on fresh water whenever we get the chance. WE hold 220 gallons. So how many gallons a day do we use? How much can we conserve? We have not been really conserving and may NOT have to worry about running out as water is available throughout our cruising area. We filled up in Islamorada 1-23 and had not taken any on until yesterday. 12 days! and we hadn't run out then. So, we should be fine with water.
So, it looks like it will rain some tomorrow. But it will be Calm. I'll take a little rain without wind. It also appears the rain may be along the coast and when we get off shore we will have some clearing.
Have a nice SUPERBOWL EVERYONE.
We should be doing the BLUE TANGO in the Bahamas tomorrow night.
DAY 94 OF OUR GREAT ADVENTURE
02/02/2012, LAKE PARK HARBOR MARINA
We missed a crossing today.. Was forecast good then updated to bad.. ended up good.
But suppose we had headed East and the revised forecast had happend. It was supposed to start out marginal and then in the afternoon get bad. 8 hours into a 10 hour passage and the weather gets bad. TIRED. ENTERING A FOREIGN COUNTRY that does not have nav aids with nightfall 2 hours away. Not my idea of a good crossing. Today it stayed calm enough with some rain.
So, now we are looking at a Sunday crossing.
So what is the weather we want. How about LESS than small craft advisories. 15kts or less with a southerly component to go with the flow of the gulf stream. If there is any northern component at any speed, it opposes the gulf stream and it gets rough in the gulf stream.
But where exactly is the gulf stream? Well we are in Palm Beach less than 2 miles from the Lake Worth inlet. The western edge of the stream is 2 miles off shore. We hear all kinds of stories about the speed. Lets suffice it to say it's gonna set you 2.5knots for the entire crossing distance of 54miles. So, it must be moving faster in some spots. 4knots for parts of it.
The crossing navigation calculations are interesting. You'd think. Just put in the "WEST END" Grand Bahama waypoint; tell the autopilot to go to it and sit back and relax. WRONG!!!
While the autopilot would keep you on course all the way across, it would be constantly turning south to correct for current. at some point the current is strong. Lets say it gets to 3.5 -4knots and I'm going 6. Well the autopilot would have me turned so far south I would not be making forward progress.
So the calculation is a set and drift problem with 2.5 knots on the starboard beam for the entire 54 miles. You aim south right from the start. You keep the same COURSE the entire time. You can set the autopilot to steer a "constant course". You just can't tell it to "go to the waypoint". As the varying gulf stream current influences you at varying points during the crossing your GPS will show you are going to end south of the waypoint at first and during the strongest current it looks as though you will miss the waypoint to the north and then as you get further along with less northerly component you will come out hitting the waypoint. Sort of an S shape across the ground with a constant course and speed.
I had a diver clean the bottom. Tomorrow we are going to do speed trials. I almost have a full load of fuel, And I will have a full 220 gallons of water for the speed run. I have made two calculations of 6kts and 7 knots of speed THROUGH the water. My guess is I will be running 6.5 kts. I will be running the engine at 1800 rpms for the speed trial tomorrow and for the crossing on Sunday.
I have been running 1600 to 1800RPMs to get 7.0 MPH in the ICW (6.2kts). This is based on opposing and aiding currents. These currents are always head on or directly behind you in the ICW. But the gulf stream is on the beam. So, I will be making a few more calculations after the speed trial.. I'm switching from MPH to Nautical Miles Per hour as we are no longer in the ICW which uses statute miles. The charts I have NO Compass roses on them. They use True, not magnetic compass, for headings. I will be changing the GPS to indicate instead of magnetic. The Bahamas charts also use meters for depth so I'll be switching the depth from feet to meters.
So as we head out to sea @1800 Sunday I will have wind on the nose which will slow my speed through the water. I will have calculated the set / drift problem for several speeds and will set my course based on my speed through the water at 1800rpms.
We are looking for winds under 10kts with a southerly component. As I write this the forecast is going the wrong way """"" SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY NIGHT
EAST SOUTHEAST WINDS 13 TO 16 KNOTS. SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET. INTRACOASTAL WATERS A MODERATE CHOP.
SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS. """"
I am hoping for 2-4' seas. They say if you start out there and you see what looks like elephants out on the horizon to turn around. What you are seeing are steep waves in the gulf stream. I hope the forecast improves..
I am attaching a picture of my flight computer from my flying days set with 2.5knot set from 184º T (gulf stream) and my intended 094º T 6.2kts. I will have to steer 116º (22º more south) to make the 094º intended course.
DAY 93 OF OUR GREAT ADVENTURE
02/02/2012, LaKE PARK HARBOR MARINA
We were leaving today for the crossing to the Bahamas. But the weather window deteriorated and we are staying put. The next window is Sunday-Monday. We will try then to leave the marina Sunday morning. We might might venture out to the edge of the gulf stream and turn back. The edge of the gulf stream is only 2 miles off shore here at Lake Worth. So, a turn back would not have lots of distance traveled.
So, yesterday we made the best of it by walking to lunch at "SOUTHERN KITCHEN" and had a nice lunch and brought back a huge wedge salad to have with our left over london broil for dinner.
I got back into the sanding and varnishing mode and finished a few windows and doors. The product I use is called cetol and takes 4-6 coats of very thin applications.
But this waiting is allowing us to do some projects in the calm of a marina.
That is about the extent of our news. Waiting, waiting, waiting...