Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Oktoberfest 2017

HISC - Oktoberfest 2017 - Lake Boca

Our first trip out since Hurricane Irma departed from South Florida and we were looking forward to a great weekend with buddies from the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club (HISC).

During the week, we had pretty well put the boat back together after the Hurricane: The Main and Jib Sails were setup, the Dodger was back over the companionway to provide shelter if the weather turned grumpy, and we had loaded most of the heavy stuff (Generator, Fuel, Extra Diesel) in order to reduce the loading on departure day - why does that never work? The back seat of our F150 Crew Cab was FULL. Bedding, Clothing, Frozen Foods, Drinks, Non-Perishable Foods, more Drinks, more food, Towels and there must have been more. It's like we were going away for a week rather than just the weekend.

We have to consider the tides when leaving the dock. It's skinny water nearby and we try to avoid that by moving to/from the dock within 2 hours of high tide. So we had plenty of time to load the boat, get everything stowed and prepare for sea. We cast off the lines around 2pm and headed down the river.

Due to the Hurricane, it's been weeks since we navigated the river, and it's surprising how much things change in just a few weeks. Some buildings under construction were apparently finished, trees that had been damaged in the Hurricane were gone, several nav aids were missing and replaced with temporary markers, and it looked like a lot of boats that were normally tied up alongside the river were gone!

We had an easy motor down to Sandbar Park and turned North towards Los Olas Blvd Bridge, then headed up to Sunrise Blvd Bridge and the anchorage at Sunrise Bay. It was Empty! None of the usual liveaboard boats, not even any passing visitors, just us. So we anchored in our preferred spot near the North side of the Bay. Our anchoring technique is getting better, we easily anchored, backed down to make sure it was dug in and then I setup the Snubber, even that is getting easy with practice. The Snubber makes a big difference, it almost totally diminishes the noise of the Anchor Chain grinding on the Anchor Roller at our bow as well as providing some shock load reduction thus keeping the anchor grounded in the mud below.

With everything setup at anchor, we just chilled, a glass, or two, of wine and some reading before dining on Chicken, Sweet Potatoes cooked up in a skillet. Start of what turned out to be great weekend.

Friday morning I checked my email and a buddy was going to be passing our position around noon, but we decided to head up to Lake Boca early. As I took the helm most of the way, Peggy prepared a lunch snack in the Galley below. We arrived at Lake Boca again - nearly Empty, just two liveaboard boats at anchor, neither looked like they could navigate but you just never know, sailors are resourceful folks.

We dug the anchor and setup the snubber and had an afternoon relaxing, some music, some reading, studying and clean up. A sailors life.

Later on, Sjofn arrived, Pam & Dave considered rafting with us but the weather was pretty blowy, so they moved South of us, and anchored in preparation for the other event host boats. Anticipation arrived a little later and tied up with Sjofn.

More reading, boat watching, and some Rum! Having a Rum Tot is a luxury that I enjoy aboard the boat and it's restricted to being tied up (the boat that is) to something, including an anchor. Rum & Ice and 2 parts of water. Luxury!

We ran the generator for a few hours to bring the humidity down in the cabin and cool off before bunk time, but most of the night we had the v-berth hatch open to provide some ventilation. Still, didn't sleep to well, it happens.

Saturday morning breakfast of Salmon, Cheese, Fried Bread, Grapes, OJ, and that very important 1st Cup of Coffee. My 2nd choice for breakfast but still a great one.

It was time to get the dink inflated and the engine setup. Moving the 80lbs of Mercury dinghy from the Cockpit up to the foredeck is an effort! It's not just the 80lbs, it's that huge bulky bag of boat. The electric air pump made short work on inflating the dink and then Peggy assisted in hoisting the boat over the lifelines and into the water. Once the dink was tide off on the port quarter, we lowered the outboard engine and locked it in place on the dink transom. It started up pretty easily, but it took about 10 minutes of clutsing around to get it to run consistently at idle.

As I finished preparing the dink, some other boats were turning into the lake. We could hear them calling the Camino Real Bridge or the Boca Inlet Bridge for opening. Endurance gracefully passed our Starboard side to head over to Sjofn and Affection. The host boats were in place.

With the dinghy ready to go, with Peggy listening to some music on her cell phone, I headed over to the host boats for a chin wag. Dave was keen to show off his latest electronics on their boat, and I was keen to see it. He has a great setup which I think is based on a Rasberry Pi and includes an attitude sensor which provides real time data for display on a monitor in the cabin. But even better is his TV system, very cool, basically rabbit ears antenna - digital converter and a monitor, so they have access to many local broadcast channels. On our last boat, JD, we had a 19" TV but the total cost was a bit high and not in our budget for Eximius, there are much more important things to spend money on than an expensive TV. So I was really interested in Dave's setup. Very cool.

Back to our boat for lunch and to prepare our Appetizer for the Oktoberfest party that evening. This was a first for me. My plan was to cook a Flaky Pastry Cheese & Spinnach Swirl in the oven on board. The only thing I had cooked in the over previously was a tray of Shrimp, not 'Baking' 

In preparation for the baking, I had made up the ingredients in tupperware so I just needed to put everything together. Flaky Pastry can get messy pretty quickly when it warms up. So I created the swirls in a single roll and put the whole thing back in the fridge to cool down before trying to cut them into individual swirls pieces. It worked out great. Once cooled, I was able to neatly cut them into 1/2" pieces and lay them out in a baking pan that fit inside the oven. The recipe suggested 15 mins at 400ºF but I knew it took longer as I had practiced them at home earlier in the week. After 25 minutes they were a nice golden brown and the pastry was looking very nicely 'Flaky' And the timing was perfect, we just had to pop the tray into our cooler and head over the host boats.

I said 'We just had to pop over' - but that's not what happened! I was loading the bag into the dink and the seat decided it didn't like to stay in it's designated position, just as I was trying to stand on it. Yep, time for an unplanned dip. I was actually laughing as I hit the water realizing what was happening, and then I'm soaked - Oh! Did I mention that I was wearing my auto life preserver? It works!

Once out of the water and back on board, time to strip down all my wet clothes and dry off. Probably less than 10 minutes and fresh clothes we tried again. No problems the second time around.

As we were heading over to the host boats, we stopped by Rhapsody to see if they needed a ride, but they were going to sit it out tonight. Then we stopped by Peder & Maria of Dalecarlia and gave Peder a ride over to the host boats too.

A bunch of club members were already aboard the host boats, they know the unwritten rule - come early, come hungry and come with good cheer. They were already diving into the many plates of great food, our appetizer was gone in minutes. Not sure if the judges got to try them, but no matter, if the food disappears quickly that's a good sign. 

We got to enjoy the flavors that others bought over for the party and had a German Beer - Dave was in charge of that. Then I had the chance to indulge my boat envy thanks to Jeff on Endeavor - What a nice boat, it was not just great quality, but the attention to detail was amazing. My envy did not dissipate easily. One of the many many features that I liked was the galley stove cover that was part of the counter top and folded back behind the stove top to act as a splash guard. Very neat concept, I'll keep that one in mind when I redo the galley counter on Eximius.

Soon it was time to head back to our boat. Dry! Dinner and some Rum. It had been a great day.

During the night it rained a couple of times, and early, before dawn Peggy heard a 5 blast signal - someone was having a problem. It was none of our boats. I was looking around from the cockpit and could see others aboard their boats, most likely they too heard the blasts. It could have been a boat further south by the Boca Inlet, there was definitely no issues on any of the HISC boats. It was tool close to dawn to go back to the bunk, so we got up and I cooked breakfast - Fried Eggs, Ham, Tomatoes, Toast and Coffee. My kind of start to a Sunday.

By dawn a couple of the club boats had left, but tide predicted that we didn't need to leave until nearly noon. Chip on Stargazer was waiting for us to move as he was concerned that he might drift back toward us if he pulled his anchor being alone on his boat. We stood by the fenders while Chip prepped his boat to pull anchor. Perfect procedure, he had time to secure the anchor to his bow and walk back to his cockpit and navigate away from the anchorage with us having to even wipe our brow.

At 11:30 we decided to head out for the 11:40 bridge opening, Peggy got the cockpit ready as I prepared to pull then anchor. We turned around to go West along the North side of the Lake, past the temporary marker due to the broken permanent green marker in the North West Corner of the lake, than South towards Camino Real Bridge.

The motor back was almost uneventful except for the weather. As we neared Hillsboro Inlet, it started to rain, and then it really rained! We had our lightweight foulies on, and the rain quickly soaked through them, it got so bad that we had to put the running and steaming lights on due to the poor visibility.

But, other than the rain, we made great time all the way back to the New river. We did need to visit a PumpOut and there are several on the South side of the New River either side of 3rd Avenue Bridge. Our first stop was at Sailboat Bend, just east of the bridge, we were focused so much on the approach to the dock that we missed the signs, yes, more than one, that warned of Shoal Area. Just as we turned parallel to the dock we felt the bottom. Good news was that we were within stepping distance of the dock so I was able to get ashore and tie up the lines. We were right next to a pumpout station, but it did not seem to be working. I walked the path from the East end to the bridge, but could not see a control panel to turn on the pumpout timer. We're stuck for about an hour with the tide rising to high tide in two, so not worried. 

A fellow sailor walked over and commented on the shoal area. Turns out, he lives aboard his boat a few docks West of us but had previously docked here. He was very aware of the shoal area and pointed out that they disappear just a few yards further West, but the overhanging tree was a constant pain as it dropped debris on his boat all day long. Still, it seemed we could just move forwards once the boat floats.

Once I saw the boat bob about, I took the lines off the cleats and walked the boat forwards off of the shoal area, easy. There was a large catamaran further ahead by I only wanted to move about 20' West of our original position. That's when I found out how strong the current was at that point of the tide. The stern moved off quicker than I could wrap a line around a nearby cleat and the boat was doing a 180 all on it's own. I pulled in on the bow line and cleated up, the boat completed it turn clearing the other boat by about 10' phew! Another lesson learned. Peggy came up from below and noted we had moved, apparently the move was subtle enough to not freak her out down below. So we prepped for moving to the other side of 3rd Avenue Bridge where there were more pumpout stations.

We docked adjacent to a pumpout that had a hose and looked in good condition and I headed down the dock path to find the control panel - not to be found! Remember it's Sunday afternoon, but the dock notice states that they are available 8am to 5pm, so I called the New River Dockmaster via cellphone. The very helpful guy answered and walked me through to the location of the pumpout timer control. It's located on the North side of the Smokers Park Monument sign (it is nicely painted with local scenic art right now), there's a small metal lidded box, just lift the flap and the timer is inside. I set it for 20 minutes and then high tailed it back to the boat, that's about a 5-7 minute walk, but I jogged back. At the pumpout there is valve that has to be open and a button above it that has to be pressed to open the vacuum line. I had already setup the hose with our own poop connector, so it only took a few minutes of holding the button in to empty the holding tank. Like a good neighbor, once the tank was empty (and Peggy had added a gallon of fresh water to flush it out) then I disconnected the hose from our adapter and dunked the hose into the river, a few seconds holding the button down cleared any poop residue from the hose. All done.

We called Andrews Avenue bridge before casting off the lines and joined in with some passing traffic to go under the bridge and head up the remaining part of the New River.

Today's trip started at 11:30am and we arrived at the first pumpout station around 3:00, just 3 1/2 hours. That's reaching all of the bridges with no wait time, pushing the boat on a couple of the legs, but not overdoing it.

Back at our dock, we tied up, spun the boat Stbd side to for the next trip. Packed up and loaded the truck and headed home. Time for a shower, some wine and dinner.

Takeaways from this weekend.
  • If we're going to move the boat along the dock, don't do it alone.
  • Use the waterproof cellphone covers before getting into the dink - my phone's usb charging port died and it cost $95 for a wireless charging station.
  • Use the galley oven more often, it smoked pretty bad, but worked great once that cleared.
  • We really could do with a Tank Monitoring System so that the holding tank poop level is not just a guess.
  • Install a T with cap to enable easy clearing of the through hulls for the engine and the Air conditioning raw water supplies.
  • Use the generator to run the AC overnight, way to sweaty here in SoFla in the summer.
See you on the water again, Soon!

Paul