Friday, January 1, 2016

Our New Sails Work!

1st impression - love them!

We took Eximius out today for our first sail of the year. As reported previously, my Son, Bob came out with us.

An early start from the slip, Bob joined us about 9:15am and we completed a safety briefing and got the boat ready to start. Geeves (our Engine) started without hesitation, and we were under way a couple of hours after low tide.

Heading down the New River, all of the bridges opened with a cheerful new year's greeting, but we were not the only boats out for the day.

17th Street Bridge was not yet open, but tide was low enough to allow us through easily. We motored out of the Fort Lauderdale Channel and prepared the new sails to be hoisted for the 1st time under sail. And they looked good!

1st reef set in the main and 60-70% of the jib unfurled, the boat was beautifully balanced.
We headed out of Port Everglades, turned Southwest while I adjusted the sail. Eximius was going really well. Then we turned to the Northeast and headed out, almost as though we were going to West End in the Bahamas, but not today, we just wanted to get the sails up and trim them to get a feel for how they fly. And we were thrilled! They are great.

Within a few minutes, we had Eximius on a close reach and heading out to sea at over 7knots. And Balanced! Hardly any pressure on the wheel, I kept her pointed at about 60 degrees off the wind and we hit 7 knots again and again. First sail - great!

After passing the 3 mile limit, we turned back to port and eased off the sails. Again Eximius responded with a balance sail back to the Port Everglades channel.

There was a ship showing up on the AIS, we could see it off our port quarter. According to the AIS the ship was heading directly down towards the channel and we watched as a Pilot boat delivered and then headed back into port. The 'Broward' Tug was waiting inside the channel to chaperon the ship into the docks, we skirted by 'Broward' and stayed on the port side of the channel as the ship plowed her way into the port. Now on a beam reach, we were still hitting 7 knots even in the decreased wind of around 9 to 10 knots from the South.

Once inside the turning basin, we turned South under motor and into wind to drop the main sail. This was also a test of our re-rigged jib furling system - phew! that worked great too. The new sail dropped easily into the Cradle Cover with just the slightest supervision to ensure it flaked down neatly. Once stowed, we turned North towards the 17th Street Causeway bridge which was about to open. I called into the bridge tender and advised that I thought we would be able to pass, and once the larger boat was clear of the bridge, the tender started to lower the span. With 56' of clearance, we passed beneath it without any concern, but there were a bunch of folks ashore taking pics as we passed under the bridge.

Now past the bridge, we headed up the Intracoastal, keeping the Green channel markers on our starboard side as were heading away from Texas. (The Intracoastal goes to Texas, so we were effectively 'leaving' Texas). As we passed Sand Bar Park and turned East toward Bahia Mar for passage into Lake Sylvia.

Lake Sylvia was probably the most crowded we have ever seen it. Perhaps the impending Northerly due later this weekend/ early next week, is causing a lot of vessels to hold back till after it passes before they head over to the Islands.

Peggy, Bob and I enjoyed a lunch on the hook in Lake Sylvia before we headed back out of the lake. As always, we hugged the West side of the Lake entrance to stay clear of the shallows that have grabbed our keel previously. We cleared the lake entrance and turned Westward and to the North side of Sand Bar park. The channel was busy! Lots of small boat traffic, a couple of bigger boats, and another sail boat were following us up the River.

The Bridges all opened without much delay and we quickly passed the last of the Bascule Bridges and turned onto the North Fork of the New River. The sail boat behind us turned into the South Fork as we headed towards our slip.

We touched bottom briefly just before we turned into the canal where our slip is located, but it was really brief, probably a bit of shoaling due to currents in the canals. We easily pushed out way past it and turned into or slips channel. Peggy kept our speed up a little from our usual sedate transit up the canal just incase we caught the bottom again but it was clear and we quickly approached our slip.

I was able to step ashore on the dock as Peggy put Eximius in reverse to bring us to a stop. I think Bob was impressed with the ease that we brought the boat alongside and swung her around so that she was pointing down the canal ready for our next trip.

It only took about 30 minutes to secure the boat and take what needed to be ashore. A quick washdown of the deck and hull and we were ready to head home.

I hope Bob enjoyed it as much as we did, it really was a great day. It proved that we can participate in the club races next year. Perhaps Bob will Crew for us.