Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Key West - At Schooner's

Let's see, which one is E14?
Today was the day for the cableguy to come by for our installation, after all, I wanted to see the Giant's game in full HD. I met him on the dock and discovered that he was down from Bangor, Maine on a cross training assignment. He connected the cable but there was no signal. After several calls to the home office, he discovered that there was a cable junction box between me and shore that had to be connected for my slip - but he didn't know where it was! The technical backup came and pointed out a metal box on the dock containing all the wiring routing to the dock slips. So after about and hour or so of trying various solutions, he hooked up the right wire at the junction box and we had cable!

Excess fish, sure made the pelicans happy
We walked through downtown today and it's apparent that Key West is keeping up appearances. They have mechanical scrubbers to clean the sidewalks in the morning and street cleaners to clear all debris away. When they get done it looks pristine. All the shops look freshly painted and nobody seems to be loitering around, at least when we're out. We haven't done our walkthrough at night yet.

At Schooner's - dual voiced singer
So we had our dinner (yeah Ann on the cooking) and walked over to Schooner's with Hoolie. They allow dogs inside (well, sort of inside, it has a make shift roof of sorts and a gravel floor) and Hoolie settled down after awhile. The singer had two voices, one was her normal female voice but the other one she used was as deep as Johnny Cash's. I don't know how she did that but it was impressive, she could sing male and female duets (not at the same time - she would answer herself in alternating male and female voices).

The wind is still blowing hard, 20 to 30 kts with big waves. It looks like it won't settle down until sometime next week. We don't care, we're snug in our slip and the weather is warm - and we're in Key West!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Key West - Boat cleaning, boat chores, etc.

Schooner's is still there, going strong
The first priority was to get everything ship-shape. A  boat wash down was in order as was laundry (there's no getting away from having to do the laundry). And, of course, we needed a pump-out which is included in the dock fees. Now at least the boat look presentable (still not Sharman clean but then who can do that besides Sharman??)

I called McDonnell Marine in Connecticut for advice on my higher than normal coolant temperature. As background, Brian of McDonnell Marine did the original warranty work on my engine when I first bought the Beneteau 423 and has been a valuable source of information ever since. He was even hired by Volvo to do all their warranty work in the northeast and he runs the largest Volvo parts supply in the area. I explained the symptoms of the gradually increasing temperature and he asked whether I noticed more black smoke than normal - I said yes and he immediately suspected the exhaust elbow. Coolant water is injected into the exhaust elbow through relatively small holes to cool the exhaust gases before being vented overboard. The coolant holes can clog over time with debris, corrosion byproducts, etc. The gradual increase in operating temperature fits that scenario exactly.

Hoolie  meets lots of friends!
Getting on the web I saw several articles describing my problem in detail and were all related to corrosion in the exhaust elbow. The gradual increase in operating temperature was a fit to an exhaust elbow gradually being clogged with debris. Most should be replaced or at least inspected every four years and ours had lasted 9 years! It's time for a replacement even if it's not the cause - although it certainly sounds like the source of the problem. So on Tuesday I will be ordering the new elbow and hopefully install it later this week followed by a sea trial to see it that fixed the problem.

My wonderful cook
The wind has really come up at Key West with 20 to 30 kt winds! There has still been no rain except for a few sprinkles. We're lucky that we watched the weather and made the passage before the surge in winds. At our dock, we're very secure and tied off so nothing touches and there is very little surge action since we're so far into the harbor. There are quite a few boats anchored out by the nearest island and they have to dink in across the channel with these winds - most are in full rain gear - not because of rain but due to the waves. We're happy to be here! Ann prepared a dinner of Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna with a soy and teriyaki sauce along with fried confetti corn (bacon slices, bell peppers, cream cheese, onion, etc.) and whole grain medley rice for a great meal - lucky me!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Key West - at a dock

Berthed at Key West Bight Marina - note the bow exit
We arrived at Key West today around 1:00 pm. No one was available to help us in so we came in by ourselves. Having been there last year, we now know how to prepare the lines (two up front for the dock cleats, two mid-ships led back for tying off to the pilings to keep us from surging forward and hitting the dock and two more to the same pilings to keep us from hitting the pilings). So we came in by ourselves and actually didn't have a problem. As last year, you get off the boat by stepping over the bow, there are no side docks. I had a plywood piece from last year that I saved and I reinstalled it this afternoon. It's a short step on and off the boat, no problem (the dock in front of the boat is the same height as the bow).

Our first stop - Cuban sandwiches for dinner ($6 each)
After that, I could just feel whatever tensions I had just melt away, Key West is such a great place. You're destined to hear about it for the next month if you follow the blog, it is so relaxing - hard to describe.

Still had the same problem with the diesel, it's running too hot, between 90 to 95C when it ought to be at 80C. Not sure what the problem is but I'll call some mechanics I know for advice on Monday. I've checked all the obvious things like impeller, water pump, raw water strainer, etc.

We're here now until at least 2/29, what a life.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Newfound Harbor - at anchor

Hoolie's friend - they ran and ran
Newfound Harbor is roughly halfway between Marathon and Key West and it sports an island perfect for Hoolie. In fact, it should be renamed from "Picnic Island" to "Dog Run Island". People from all over take dog and  boat to the island with most of them stopping a short distance away from shore with the dog jumping in the water and wading to the sandy beach.

That's us in the distance
We picked our time carefully, we thought, and took Hoolie ashore when no one was on the beach. However, just as we came to shore, a small powerboat came up with a large dog leaping out - hummm. Hoolie saw all this and was excited at having someone to play with. There was nothing to do but let them have at it. His playmate loved the water and waded all around, Hoolie watched, learned and joined in, much to our dismay (a wet, salty, sandy dog on board was not what we had in mind). Eventually we got Hoolie back, much soaked but happy and back to the boat we went for a washdown for Hoolie, which he did not appreciate.

On the night run we just about repeated the experience since the tide was way out and we had to wade in several hundred feet to dry land with Hoolie splashing along as I waded in. Oh well, Hoolie seemed happy.

Well of course, another sunset picture!
On the way to Newfound Harbor, we noticed that the engine was now running around 95C, about 5C higher than before and a grand total of 15C above historical levels. This is not good. I did all the standard stuff (checked water filter, new water pump and impeller, etc.) but nothing seemed to help. We'll try to limp into Key West and see about getting it fixed sometime while we're there. As Marty said, "It's a boat".

Friday, January 27, 2012

Marathon - Key Fisheries

Regardless of the outside looks - they have very good seafood
Last night I sent off an e-mail with photos of the broken anchor swivel by Suncor and today I actually got a call from them. They thanked me for buying their product and apologized for the problem I had. After some discussion, they offered to replace the defective swivel with a new one which I accepted on the spot. They had advertised a "lifetime warranty" but many times that is not honored for various reasons (one being that's it's for the useful "lifetime" of the product - not your lifetime (ha)). At any rate, they took all the information and said they would mail me a replacement to my Key West address which I thought was very satisfactory.

Local humor on how to live on $15/day
We watch the weather patterns every day and in order to avoid some high winds and storms we will be leaving for Newfound Harbor on Saturday morning, staying one night, and then leaving the next morning for Key West. In the course of all this rearrangement of our schedule (we had not planned on arriving in Key West until Tuesday) we realized that the one month dock contract was for the same date, one month apart. So arriving on 1/29 results in the last day being 2/29, leaving on 1/3. We were shortchanging ourselves by considering our one month reservations to be only for February (2/1 - 2/29)! So we gained three more days in Key West for the same cost as before, great news.

Always around
I saw that the marina had in their ad on the internet that they had cable on the docks. In calling about that feature, I was told that yes they have the outlets but you would have to contact the cable company yourself to arrange hookup. Well, that wasn't so great but I called anyway and found that basic cable was only $21/month - but what about hookup? At first I was told it was $120! Then after some back and forth it came down to $30, still too much. More back and forth and finally we agreed on $13 for the hookup so we'll have 99 channels at Key West on our boat. It pays to complain and negotiate - and I get to watch the Giants game in the comfort of my salon.

Finally we visited Key Fisheries, a local seafood restaurant and market. Ann bought some Mahi-Mahi for dinner and I got sushi for an appetizer. Ann has become quite a fan of sushi so now I have someone to enjoy it with.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marathon - Broken anchor swivel

A few jets overhead?
The day started out very warm but then the clouds came and we had a few sprinkles - followed by more sun and warmth. The chore of the day was to replace the anchor swivel that broke after 8 years of use.The swivel goes between the anchor chain and the anchor itself. It allows the chain to "uncoil" itself from boat motion which happens when the wind changes direction often and the boat goes in circles. The anchor stays put but the chain moves around. If there's no swivel then the chain can get a kink in it requiring manual intervention to undo before hauling aboard. Alarmingly, the Suncor swivel I installed in 2004 broke. It still retained the anchor but part of the nose broke off (see photo). Supposedly they have a lifetime warranty - we'll see about that on Friday. I ordered a new one from Defender Marine and tried to install it today but with no success. Suncor redesigned all their swivels 4 years ago and now a 3/8" BBB chain link does not fit their swivel - it used to. The BBB type of chain has a smaller link size in order to add weight per foot to the catenary of the chain, an advantage in anchoring. Well, the smaller link length is not long enough for the redesigned swivel. Calling Defender Marine, there's no problem returning the unit for a full refund but now I'm out of a swivel. I'll use a couple of shackles for now until I can get a new swivel.

After the adventure with the swivel, we settled down for our usual wine on the back of the boat to watch the sunset and to dine on a Cobb salad that Ann put together, a great way to end the day. The weather ahead looks somewhat uncertain so we're not sure when we'll leave for Newfound Harbor on the way to Key West - but we'll be in Key West on Wednesday for sure!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marathon - PYC South Meets Again

More Alligators!
Bill and Ruth McKeever also vacation in the Keys during the winter months and today we were invited for a tour of the area, dinner and a local pub for music. During the tour we visited the "Blue Hole", a fresh water pond in one of the keys that had the local, top predator, alligators. They are deceptive in that they do not appear very active -  but it's an act. They lie in wait to lull their prey closer, then they pounce surprisingly quickly. We were separated by a high fence, fine with us.

Bill and Ruth McKeever
We had Hoolie with us and the first place we tried for dinner wouldn't let us even use the outside picnic tables as long as Hoolie came along too. However, the next place was much more forgiving and Hoolie sat peacefully under the table as we ate. The weather is still warm with highs at 80 to 81 so we were in our shirtsleeves. We never had any trouble in Key West itself.

Bill took us by the campgrounds where they had their trailer. Their camper is more spacious than our boat. In their clubhouse the bar was featuring a local singer that was fun to listen to, nice on a warm night. Pleasant conversation with friends, can't be beat.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Marathon - We rent a car for provisioning

"The Tree of Knowledge" - now you know...
There is an Enterprise car rental agency at the local airport so we picked up a car for a day ($38 with all taxes) to allow for easy provisioning. Enterprise will send a driver out to pick you up, our meeting place was "The Tree of Knowledge". It's a shade tree that the boaters gather under and swap stories - or knowledge as the saying goes. The local Publix was jammed packed, what a land office business they have. We contributed to the local economy, doing our part, and the boat is now ready for another month of cruising.

7 Mile Bridge - a long way!
Driving the car back from the rental agency was my first reintroduction to speeds above 7 kts! Boy, did  the road every go by fast at 45 MPH!! After picking up Ann and driving to Publix, she said to be careful and not speed - no tickets needed. I was only doing 35 in a 45 zone but being at 7 kts for months at a time can do that to you.

The bridge going south from here is 7 miles long over open water. Strange to be out in the middle of the ocean with just a bridge under you. The old span that it replaced is still there but in disrepair. It's still used by joggers and fishermen, cars are no longer allowed. On Wednesday we'll meet the McKeevers from the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club for a rare night out, should be fun.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Marathon - Recovering from late night, dinner at Lazy Days

The view from the porch of Lazy Days restaurant
For a sailboater, it was a late night, 11:00 pm watching the Giants game which went into overtime. Recovering this morning, we had to take on water. At Marathon City moorings, you call ahead to reserve the water dock for your refill. After filling up we had a familiar situation with wind coming into the dock off the starboard side, pinning us to the dock on the port side. However, by now we know how to handle that spot. Just tie off the bow to a cleat or piling, power forward which swings the aft out, away from the dock - when far enough, put it in reverse, release the bow line (!!) and back out - avoiding any chance of contact with the dock. It worked like a charm - anybody watching us would think we know what we're doing (ha).

Right next door to the restaurant - so that's what powerboats are meant for...
Lazy Days is a local restaurant with a glorious view of the setting sun. Coming in a 5:00 pm, we had a table right on the porch with a sunscreen in place since the sun was still hot (got to 79 today!). When the sunset started to show good color, a waiter came along and raised all the shades so everyone could enjoy the show without obstructions. The photo you see at the top of the page is just as it appeared, other than reducing the resolution to save space and load times for the blog, there is no photo retouching - the sunset really did look like that! It's an amazing sight.

On Tuesday we're renting a car for the day to provision and do some sightseeing. Enterprise will bring the car right to the marina at no extra charge, good service.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Marathon - Giants Win

A sail through the anchorage
Short post tonight - saw Giants game, very late for me, great win for the Giants, more tomorrow.

Ugh, stayed up too late, great game though.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Marathon - we have to move

One of the many canals, condos with slips on both sides
It turns out that the mooring we were told to take was previously occupied by a boat with a deeper draft who was moved to a temporary mooring when the first mooring had to be repaired.  The temporary mooring was in too shallow water and the boat was touching bottom. The main office made a mistake when they assigned the mooring to us and today they politely asked us to move.

Always wildlife to see
However, we did explore the harbor today in our dinghy and went out the inlet to witness a flat ocean, there was just no wind at all - like a lake. The boats in the harbor are from all over North America with a few from the Caribbean islands - quite a diverse group. The weather continues to be amazing, no wind, temps in the high 70's and lows in the high 60's at night. We hope this holds up until our passage to Key West Feb 1. Sunday I have to look for a place to watch the Giants game. All up and down the coast we've had 30 to 50 stations to chose from but in Marathon we can only get three over the air stations, oh well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Marathon - We get a mooring

Sipping wind, facing south, absorbing the sunset...what else to say
We look the long dinghy ride in this morning for Ann's walk and my run, body maintenance - even sailing it's needed. We finally got a call this morning that a mooring was freed up and we got our assignment. We weighed anchor and took on fuel before picking up the mooring.

Spencer's friend from the Nonsuch club, "Catnap"
The big event of the day was a call from our contractor that was renovating our kitchen. Today he started tearing out the old cabinets. At home we have 6 webcams installed at various locations throughout the house, looking inside and out. Two were set up to look in the direction of the kitchen and we were mesmerized watching Ron, our contractor, remove all the old cabinets, soffits and move out the appliances, all in one day. We can receive the realtime video on the iPad2, fascinating to watch. When he was done for the day, he called and showed us details of what he had done by holding the webcam and pointing it at items of interest, such is modern electronics. We'll continue our viewing until the kitchen is done, sometime before we get back.

The weather continues warm and dry, low in the high 60's and highs in the upper 70's, not hard to take. I bought a pound of local fish, Mahi-Mahi, and Ann did her usual magic (coconut encrusted Mahi-Mahi) for a super meal. We initially signed up for a week here before moving on to Newfound Harbor and then Key West.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marathon - At anchor

At the far end of the anchorage - a better view of the sunset at least
Even though we were anchored 0.6 miles off-shore, it was a calm night at Rodriguez Key with light winds out of the north, off the shore. The worst thing about the anchorage was the long trip to shore for Hoolie relief.

The jellyfish are out
The same weather conditions that contributed to a calm night also led to light winds for our trip to Marathon so motoring was the order of the day (again!) We had to be alert for crab pots (but nothing like lobster pots in Maine!!) as we continues into Marathon. The town of Marathon runs a huge mooring field, 226 moorings! They rent them by the day, week or month but you cannot reserve them in advance. If they're full, then you go on a waiting list but you have to appear in person at the dock office to  be put on the list. Well, that's what happened to us - we're number 7. There is room to anchor still but it's a long way to the office and the dinghy dock. Hopefully we'll get a mooring soon and move closer so Hoolie trips won't consume most of the day.

Marathon rivals Block Island at night - even on a mooring, anchor lights are required to be on here
We'll be here until it's time to move on to Key West for our dock on Feb 1. Time to provision, do laundry and get odds and ends supplies. At least it's very well protected from wind and waves.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rodriguez Key - At Anchor

Stiltlsville - a collection of houses on stilts off Miami
We left Marine Stadium at first light since we had 50 miles to go for Rodriguez Key. Unfortunately, you cannot get very close to shore, we're anchored 0.6 miles off, Kind of strange being out in the middle of the ocean at anchor but it's only 8 ft at high tide here and we expect it to reach only 5.5 ft at low since it's a drain tide tonight. Still, it's nice and calm for now and it's supposed to remain so throughout the night. The trip to shore for Hoolie relief is a long dink ride, especially his last one in the dark! On the other hand, it's a great night for looking at stars - no lights and no moon with no clouds! It's a rare place anymore where you can see the sky without light pollution, we certainly can't do that at home.

It's a loooog dinghy ride from shore to Fleetwing!
The color of the water has changed to the light blue of the Florida Keys, beautiful. We're off to Marathon on Friday and hopefully one of the 240 moorings there. It is possible to anchor but all the best spots are taken up by moorings. We plan on meeting Don and Liz Bunch there for the trip to Key West on Feb 1.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Marine Stadium - Last Day

Goodbye Miami
It has been an interesting stay at Marine Stadium. There's always something to watch with the crew teams in training - people climbing around the stadium itself! Today the winds gradually died and a real warming trend is peaking with Wednesday topping 80. So, we did a few remaining boat chores and mostly relaxed.

One last look at hydrofoil sailing
I found that I'm using zincs more than I should. Last year I installed an isolation transformer so any shore power irregularities would not affect me. It didn't seem to help a whole lot and I went looking for more input. I found one instance where the problem was traced to having an iron keel (which the zinc was trying to protect!) and a ground path through the shielding of the VHF cable for the antenna on the top of the mast. The ground of the VHF radio was connected to the mast which was connected to the keel for lightening protection. There was no other DC path to the keel. The solution for one boat was to install what's called an "Inside/outside DC Block" that allows the RF signals to pass but not the DC. The block is supposed to alleviate the consumption of zincs. Since I just installed the DC block today, I'll find out whether it works after I change the zinc the next time, not until leaving Key West. We'll see.

Assulted overhead too
Meanwhile, Ann prepared her usual excellent meal. She uses two cookbooks by Jacques Pepin and one by Johnny Mo for most meals. The recipes are brief but very good, great for boat preparation. Tonight Ann prepared brown sugar glazed pork chops with sliced apples, white wine, butter, olive oil, brown sugar for the main dish from Johnny Mo. Veggies consisted of cubed potatoes with garlic and sage from Jacques Pepin and Ann added another vegetable dish of Harvard beets flavored with onions, etc. I consider myself a lucky man to have such a cook.

Wednesday we're finally headed south again, this time to Rodriguez Key for an overnight anchorage before continuing onward to Marathon.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Marine Stadium - Skateboarders!

Skateboarding at the local park?
At Marine Stadium there's not a lot of places for skateboarding, but there is one place - sort of unlikely, at least I thought. Look at the first picture of the skateboarders. It's a long distance shot taken off the back of the boat so it's a little fuzzy. They are skateboarders taking advantage of a strange up and down terrain.

The real location - Marine Stadium
Now look at the second picture that shows where they are really at! Doesn't look like much good sense is being exercised and at one point, one of the skateboards fell off the roof onto the seats below, minus the rider who managed to stay on top. That was greeted with a lot of laughter from the ones on the roof. Good thing there was nobody in the seats below at the time.

Still practicing!
We hosted Michael Taylor for dinner tonight and heard more stories of his war time experiences. One being that he took a troop ship of German POWs back to Hamburg and was startled at the devastation. There was literally nothing standing, the residents were living underground, everything else was just rubble. Ann prepared a great meal and all were cheery.

Michael will likely leave Tuesday for the Bahamas but we'll wait one more day and leave Wednesday for Rodriguez Key which is halfway to Marathon.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marine Stadium - We visit an ocean crosser

The boat that crossed the Atlantic
Michael J. Taylor fought in WWII for England and the boat he presently owns (pictured) crossed the Atlantic from England where it was built. He plans on going to the Bahamas for the winter. He came by this afternoon and invited us over for drinks. Part of the fun of going down the ICW are all the interesting people you meet along the way. If he's still waiting for weather Monday, we'll invite him over for dinner and more conversation about the Bahamas. We're still not sold on going over there yet, the Keys are such an attraction for us.

We had a boat anchor by us yesterday - too close we thought - and then watched him drag his anchor about 1000 ft before he pulled it up and tried to reset it down the line, this time successfully. I was interested in the type of anchor he had and found it was a Delta. Michael Taylor also dragged his anchor here and wound up on the beach but since he only draws 1.5 ft, he had no trouble refloating it at a higher tide. His anchor was a Fortress, a Danforth type anchor. They hold very well in ideal conditions without weeds and rocks. Unfortunately, both are present here. Meanwhile, we haven't moved an inch in the last two days with our Spade anchor and 60 ft of 3/8" BBB chain and 20 kts plus of wind.

Michael J. Taylor - WWII vet
One pleasant surprise is the TV reception. We put a small, "UFO" type antenna on the back of the bimini and we typically get 30 to 40 stations all along the ICW. Here in Miami we get 71 channels. With the requirement to now only broadcast in digital format, the picture is outstanding - better than cable since the signal is not compressed when transmitted over the air. Did I mention it was free! I watched the Giants game today on our 32" HDTV using battery power - 80 watts is all it consumes with LED back lighting.

We will continue our wait for weather with Wednesday still looking good. Michael Taylor has been here three weeks waiting for crossing weather. Oh well, that's part of cruising.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Marine Stadium - Racers arrive

All in pink! (an all girl crew - war canoe?)
Late last Friday evening, we were approached by a boat representing the boat club that requested us to move further from the south shore since they were going to have race practices the next day and needed the lanes. We didn't mind so we re-anchored across on the opposite shore which actually turned out to be a better anchorage than where we were at. It was more convenient for Hoolie relief and had less wind and wave action since the wind was out of that direction. It was the first time anyone had ever asked us to move in all the times we've been at Marine Stadium.

A sailboat on stilts?
Shortly after breakfast, the racing shells came out and we watched an took pictures of the colorful shells. We thought they seemed to be over-dressed for the temperatures in the mid 60s, especially with the physical effort involved but they sure sped along.

We were enjoying our wine on the back of the boat when we saw a one man sailboat go whizzing by - wow we thought, we didn't realize the wind was so strong, it didn't seem that strong in our boat. Looking more closely we saw that the boat was elevated on hydrofoils! It really flew! When he slowed down, the boat sunk to hull level but as he picked up speed in a gust, the whole boat elevated, the strangest sight! Miami University has a boathouse on the water where all the racers came from. The water in the anchorage is so flat that it's ideal for low water line racers.

Dinking around the anchorage
We're still going to wait out the winds, watching the forecast for an opening to head further south.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Marine Stadium at Miami - At anchor

Miami at night - new camera with optical stabilization, it works!(shot from a rocking boat)
We left with the prediction of calm seas and light winds and for once the weatherman was right. Although we had to motor, there were no bridges out in the Atlantic! There is only a 20 mile stretch of open ocean between Ft Lauderdale and Miami so it's no big deal to go outside here. The ICW through here has a 55 ft bridge that's problematic for our 55.3 ft mast so we chose the safe route outside.

Crew training - fun to watch
There's a cold front coming through Saturday that will drop the high for the day to only 70F! We're well protected from all strong winds at one of our favorite anchorages on the ICW at Marine Stadium. There's even entertainment from watching the crews train and on Saturday there's to be a master's tournament which ought to be interesting to watch.

We never tire to watch...
At night we have the usual view of Miami at night, spectacular! The lights are of all colors and reflect off the water to give a glorious display. We never tire of the panorama. We'll be here for several days, perhaps even until Wednesday awaiting calm seas for our trip to Marathon, our next stop.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

11 bridges yesterday, 15 bridges today! - At Ft Lauderdale on a mooring

Not a bad summer house
We fared much better today with all the bridges. As we found out last year, if you can maintain 7 knots, you can make all the  bridges without much of a wait. Yesterday was not so good due to the 1.5 kts of current against us causing us to miss three bridges with the accompanied 1/2 hour wait each time. Today was much better since the current was only 1.0 to 0.5 against us and we didn't miss the opening of any bridges.

Another typical house on the ICW
It was also very warm with temps near 80. All was not smooth since this section of the ICW is like the East River in New York City with concrete breakwaters on either side of the channel. If a powerboat comes down throwing a wake, it reflects off the walls and creates a very confused wave action. Luckily, we only had a one mile stretch of such wave action, otherwise it was smooth.

Looks like the Fitchetts are spending some time down south...
One thing you really notice are all the beautiful mansions right on the ICW. Although we saw many for sale signs, we also saw a dozen or so new constructions underway. Somebody is spending the money.

We poured over the weather this afternoon with the conclusion that Friday is the best day to continue south. We had wanted to stay a few days and enjoy Ft Lauderdale but cooler weather with some wind is coming our way and Friday is the last day to beat it going south. We'll head for one of our favorite anchorages at Marine Stadium with a view of the Miami skyline in the distance and wait out the cool weather before continuing down the Keys.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Palm Beach Yacht Center - Last day visiting with Joe Mastri

Some towns spend extra to make a "nice" bridge. This is just north of Joe's place
We went to a local marine store, Sam's and Winn Dixie for provisions. We had heard of a boater in a dinghy without proper lights at night being fined $90 by the local marine police in Ft Lauderdale. We had planned to pick up a mooring there and would need our dinghy to go ashore. We have the right lights for our dinghy but when we picked up a new outboard motor earlier this year, I forgot to remove the light mount off the old motor, oops! I had wanted to mount the light higher anyway to get the light above eye-level (blinding at night otherwise). After much discussion and some impatience from my fellow shoppers (Ann and Joe), I finally settled on an extendable pole. Now I just have to mount it on the dinghy.

The are 800 units where Joe lives, he's in the bottom, right corner apt
We're due for two cold fronts, a minor one came through today which caused more wind than anything else, it's still 71 here at 9:00 pm. Our plan is to reach Ft Lauderdale Thursday and then go outside to Miami on Friday to take advantage of the north winds and not too high seas which will build through the following days. The Marine Stadium anchorage across the bay from Miami will be a good place to ride out north winds. When they settle down, we'll head out down the Keys, probably later next week - at least that's the plan.