On the Move - Finally
31 January 2012
After five halcyon weeks at Loggerhead in Stuart, we decide that if we don’t soon move on, we’ll meet ourselves on the way back in the spring. So with some reluctance but also the anticipation of adventures on the horizon, we, along with Blair and Laurie on Odissey XX leave Stuart to head south. Our departure is somewhat ignominious as we chose a blustery day with strong cross winds and currents to leave the marina. Blair and Laurie’s majestic Morgan 46 weighs well over 40,000 pounds and as such does not respond very well to engine power in close quarters. So our first attempt to get them off the dock and out of the marina ended in aborting the session for fear of crashing into a brand new Kady Krogen 54! As the current abated, we tried again and they made it out. Now for Sea Sharp. We are much lighter and while we have a lot of freeboard and get blown around more by winds, we can throttle up quicker and manoeuver better and were able to leave our dock without incident. We got past the perilous “cross roads” at the intersection of the St. Lucie River, the ICW and the St. Lucie inlet without incident despite the shifting sands and shallow waters. It was great to drip the hook (anchor) in a deep part off the ICW in Jupiter. This place is where the Über-wealthy reside and we think we were anchored off of Greg Norman’s mansion.
It was very nice being back at anchor and the gentle movement of the boat in the light breeze and slap of the water on the hull made for a wonderful sleep.
Next day, we up anchor early and with a multitude of bridges ahead of us headed to West Palm Beach and further to Lantana where we had booked a marina at a sister marina of the Stuart Loggerhead. Because Loggerhead owns/operates a chain of marinas in Florida, they offer reciprocal arrangements between them, which effectively makes staying at a marina affordable for budget-conscious cruisers like ourselves.. We booked three days at Lantana and even though it was smaller than Loggerheaed Stuart, it was glamorous with a wonderful pool. Needless to say Judy/Nemo had a field day here.
It was here one morning where Laurie discovered on her iPad that Jimmy Buffett was launching his 2012 tour in Miami in a bit more than a week so we set to buy tickets on line. Judy and I saw Jimmy a number of years ago in Toronto and I’m a big fan.
We purchased lobsters directly from the fisherman on the next dock and while these so-called lobsters without the big, succulent claws are poor cousins to our “real lobster”, the Homarus americanus, they were certainly tasty particularly with a glass of wine and in great company.
After three decadent days at this marina, we cast off to challenge the numerous bridges between here and Fort Lauderdale. As I mentioned in previous years, this stretch of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) is peppered with bridges, most which open at specified times or “on demand’. Navigating these on a sailboat with modest propulsion and close quarter manoeuvrability is a real challenge. On the day we leave, this challenge is exacerbated by strong tail winds which makes manoeuvring even more difficult. Some bridge tenders (folks who operate the opening bridges)are courteous and patient! others not! One in particular, just past Boca Raton, was particularly impatient with us because we were holding back quite a ways from the bridge while we awaited the scheduled opening. When she admonished us to get closer to the bridge in anticipation of the impending opening, I told her that we were battling a stiff tail wind and current and would not put our vessels in peril. She scoffed at us and Blair got on the radio and in no uncertain terms told her to worry about opening the bridge on time and we’d worry about piloting our vessels. She got the point!
After a long, stressful day, we arrived at Fort Lauderdale and headed for moorings operated by the municipality just past a last bascule bridge. Our adventures were not yet over as the current against wind propelled Sea Sharp right over the mooring. Fortunately I was able to kill the engine and we did not wrap our prop on the mooring. We then successfully picked up the adjacent mooring. Poor Blair and Laurie, did the same thing but they got the mooring wrapped on their prop and were disabled and tangled around this mooring. But, fortunately that’s why we buy towing insurance from Tow Boat US. Within 15 minutes of Blair’s call, to them, a courteous and capable young man in a super inflatable arrived on scene with diving apparatus and quickly undid the offending prop wrap. All’s well that ends well!
Weather was cooperative for our “outside” run from Fort Lauderdale to Miami the next day. We can’t take the so-called “inside” or ICW route and there is a famous bridge, the Julia Tuttle which only has 56 feet of clearance - the only fixed bridge on the ICW which does not have 65 feet! Our mast is 60 feet high so we go outside. But, it’s an easy 25 miles and a real pleasure after our bridge-battling days preceding.
But before we get out into the freedom of the Atlantic, we have one more lift bridge to negotiate. And the tension for this one is heightened because Blair and Laurie are unsure if there has been damage to their propulsion as a result of the wrap from the day before, there is a strong current, and the boat traffic is incessant, with a large pleasure vessel in front of us and a tug and barge behind. As we approach the bridge and request the scheduled opening :00, the bridge tender replies to me that I don’t need and opening and can clear the bridge. Well, the ‘fender boards”, a ruler like sign on the abutments by the opening part of the bridge clearly show me 56 feet of clearance and I take 60 feet to clear. All of the literature, guides and indeed authoritative information tells skippers to rely on the fender boards and make your own decision as to whether to proceed or not. I sternly respond back to the tender that had I not waited for the opening, I would have dismasted my boat with at least significant damage if not risk of life or limb. Blair is less polite and once more tells this guy to worry about the opening and we’ll worry about piloting our boats.
By contrast the quick run down the coast to Miami was tranquil and uneventful, and we even got to sail! Miami, here we come!