The Rest of the Story
20 March 2012 | Ft. Lauderdale
cc/hot and windy
To catch up on our day yesterday let me start by saying it began well and ended well; in between it got a little interesting. After leaving Coconut Grove Sailing Club at 7:30 am, we went to get fuel at Grove Harbor Marina which is just around the corner. A lady walking her dog said they didn't open till 8 so we decided we could top off the fresh water while we waited. Eight o'clock came but no attendant. Finall at 9 am a couple of guys sauntered out to the fuel dock and we were able to get fuel. They're tip was parallel to their helpfulness - zip.
Then it was off to Governor's Cut. The cut is like a funnel bringing the tide back to sea while the wind was blowing into the bay which forms giant waves! There were boats ahead of us so we figured it they could make it so could we so off we went into the washing machine! Before I said it was a bounce, bounce, bounce but that does not really explain it. First it's a hurl up the face of the wave; all you can see is the sky. Then the bow tips earthward and gathers a snoot full of sea water which it has only enough time to collect before the next ride up begins, so she throws it over her head to engulf the boat and its occupants in the chilly brine. As the crest of the wave passes under the boat it hits the bottom of the dinghy and splashes into the transom giving the captain the effect of a Jacuzzi tub for just a few seconds. Then it's back to the top and we start all over again. We did this for about a mile before clearing the inlet and got out to sea. The waves here were not so big or splashy as we took a beam reach north up the coast toward Ft. Lauderdale. We had some good 5 and 6 foot swells, but other than tiring us out there were no real problems. Well, for us anyway.
Listening to the VHF radio we heard a fishing boat three miles off the coast call a May Day. His boat was taking on water. He was alone, but had donned his life jacket as he tried to thwart the flow. The Coast Guard responded and talked with him getting his GPS location and other information. They were sending a helicopter out and other vessels in the area headed his way. Finally there was a panic stricken hail that the boat was going down and he was in the water and then nothing, a bone chilling silence. The Coast Guard reported their location and that they would be on the scene in several minutes. The wind at 15 plus knots and the waves continued. One can only imagine the poor man's terror. Within fifteen minutes the CG came back on the radio to say that the man had been successfully removed from the water and the civilian boats could return to their prior courses. The whole time the young lady Coast Guard radio operator maintained a cool and professional demeanor. Our praises go to her, the crew and all who risk their lives for our safety and freedom.
As we neared the Port Everglades Inlet, it was time to furl the headsail. I grabbed the furling line and started to pull when I realized it was all ready in. This is not good; quite confusing. Something was not right. We are still bouncing around pretty good, but with the wind behind us it is much less. Terry went forward and was able to furl it by hand as I kept her steady. He tied it off and returned to the cockpit. Disaster averted! We arrived safely in Ft. Lauderdale and took a slip at Los Olas City Marina.
Since we wanted to leave the next morning, we set about washing the encrusted salt off Zephyr and repairing the headsail furler even though we were very tired. Upon close inspection, my brilliant captain found the problem: three screws had loosened themselves and jumped overboard. Fortunately, we had replacements that fit and Lock Titened them in place. The test run worked like a charm and we were back in business.
After dinner and showers we were quickly in that prone/snore mode. Today is going along much less eventfully and we'd like to keep it that way!