Saturday, September 29, 2018

Just a Day Sail

Just a Day Sail outside Port Everglades

We have been really busy around the house for months and the feeling of  'Why aren't we sailing' grew daily. So we planned on a Day sail outside of Port Everglades and an overnight at Lake Sylvia.

The Tides & Weather cooperated for a Tuesday sail, so we went down to the boat on Monday to tidy up the cabin, cool down the Fridge/Freezer, and load up the few things we had taken off the boat after the abandoned sail up to Lake Worth for Labor Day. 

Tuesday we headed down to the boat for a 9:30am departure from the dock, just after high tide and after the bridges open from their lock down during rush hour road traffic. 
At the dock we saw some heavy Algae on the surface of the water and just below. Yuck!

Leaving the lines on the dock pilings, and passing down the canal to the New River, we were the only moving boat, everyone else is still tied up to their dock in various stages of repair, recovery, or, sadly, seemingly abandonment.

We eased into the New River checking for boat traffic, it's rare just there, but if there is any, it can be an awkward turn as it's pretty narrow due to a few boats tied up opposite the end of the canal. Turning downstream we headed past the many boats that are tied up at various homes, most likely for additional income, some homes have a half dozen boats at their docks. 

Rounding the bend towards the 11th Avenue Swing Bridge, we call them on the radio requesting an opening
"11th Avenue Swing Bridge, 11th Avenue Swing Bridge, this is the Sailing Vessel Eximius, Outbound, requesting an opening" ---- No reply ---- try again "11th Avenue Swing Bridge" etc. By now we are insight of the bridge and slowing down while anticipating a delay in the bridge opening.

"Vessel hailing 11th Avenue Swing Bridge - Sorry folks, there's a delay in opening due to a control problem.... might take a few minutes to fix"

"11th Ave - Eximius, Roger, we'll just turn a few doughnuts out here waiting" This has happened before, and the last time it took about 15 minutes for the bridge to open.

We did a half dozen doughnuts (just going around in circles) as the wind was trying to move us from an easy holding station. After 30 minutes we called again asking how they were progressing.
Their response, not sure, might be an hour or more. 

Now we have a potential problem. We can only get to and from our dock about 2 hours either side of High Tide as at the Andrews Avenue Bridge. So if we waited at the 11th Ave bridge beyond 11am, we would be stuck until two hours before high tide that evening, about 7:20pm, that's a long hang out time! We decided to head back to the dock while we still could and try again Wednesday.

Back at the dock, we left the cold food in the Fridge/Freezer and took the non-perishable home - not wanting to leave any food for vermits!

Trying again - Wednesday

Yep, down to the boat, an hour later Wednesday (tide times) we quickly prepped the boat, including adding some Diesel Kleen +Cetane Boost to the fuel tank, we were ready to leave but had some time to kill so I took a pic of my latest sewing project - Gas Can Covers

This pic shows the Sunbrella Cover for a plastic Gas Can.
It's secured to a Stainless Steel tube rail that's attached to two of the Lifeline Stanchions. The cover has built in webbing straps with plastic buckles which wrap around the tube rail and buckle together while holding down the cover.








Back to the trip out. We called the 11th Avenue bridge by phone from the dock to confirm they were in operation. They are good to go, so we cast off and head down the canal. Approaching the 11th Ave bridge, we call on the radio and they start the opening procedure - without any issues today WooHoo!

All the other bridges are quick to open when we call them, and the FEC rail bridge is open, so no delays heading down the New River. We only had to wait a couple of minutes for Andrews Ave Bridge to open, no boat traffic so no problem.

Peggy took the helm as we passed around Tarpon Bend while I prepared the sails and running rigging. The wind was forecast to be in the low to mid teens, so I put in two reefs, the boat sails really well even with 2 reefs! We passed under 17th Street Causeway bridge, passed the turning basin and headed out of the Port Everglades channel. Tide was ebbing and wind was from the E - ESE, so the ride out of the channel was a bit bumpy, nothing more than that.

As we passed the last pair of channel markers, we raised the Main sail, using our trusty electric winch handle, then turned towards the NE and unfurled the Jib to the 2nd reef point (stopped the un-furl when we could see the first black dot near the tack of the sail). Dropped the traveller a few inches off center, engaged Otto (the Auto Pilot) and headed N-NNE.

The boat was beautifully balanced, our speed through the water was nearly 5 knots even with 2 reefs, and Otto handled the steering easily. It was a great sail. We headed up towards Hillsboro Inlet, did a few practice tacks with Peggy taking over the helm rather than work the Auto Pilot (something I need to practice if ever I want to single hand Eximius) 

There were several other sailboats on the Ocean within a couple of miles. Peggy was feeling very comfortable with the way the boat behaved, and that's important as we work our way up to going on longer trips (Keys, Bahamas, and further).

After a couple of hours, we turned back into Port Everglades - Now the Tide was in Full Ebb and the wind had picked up to a consistent 14 knots - Wind over tide is never very nice, it was really bouncy as we tried to run downwind inside the channel. So we turned into wind, dropped the main, turned back towards the Port and furled in the Jib, still bumpy, we may have been better off leaving the Jib out to take some of the bounce out of the channel waters.

Passing under 17th Street bridge heading North, we had over 2 knots of tide against us, our speed dropped from 6 knots through the water to less than 4 knots on the GPS. Once past the bridge fenders we picked up some GPS speed and headed up the ICW towards Bahia Mar, turned into the channel into Lake Sylvia hugging the East side to stay away from the really shallow sections. The tide was still heading out, but now it was behind us as the flow from the ICW is split between the ICW and the channels out on the South side of Lake Sylvia.

Surprisingly, Lake Sylvia was not crowded, there's normally a lot of Liveaboard / Derelict boats anchored in the Lake, but only 6 or 7 that day, so plenty of room to pick for our overnight anchor.

Peggy got the boat going astern as I started to drop the anchor, with about 75' of chain out, I called for her to put the engine (Geeves) in Neutral, as I did so, the Anchor Dug in and the chain sprung taught, we were dug in! We should sleep well that night.

Once the anchoring process was complete, anchor alarms set, electronics turned off and Beer & Wine were ready for a mid afternoon break, I setup the Generator (Honda 2000i) and the Air Conditioning. 
The boat astern of us was flying a Gulfstream Sailing club burgee, so I hauled up our Cruising Flags onto the Starboard Flag Halyard just in case anyone was there to see them. The only person we saw was rowing his dinghy from the South end of the Lake to his boat which was anchored NW of us, no mast, no boom - live-aboard with his dog. 

The boat cooled down in about 30 minutes, while we sat in the cockpit talking about how the sail went and how well the boat handled. A nice finish to a great day - it's always a great day when all's well on board in the evening.

We had dinner, Chicken & Pasta, watched a movie on the TV, showered, checked on our Emails and FB. A quick check up top to see that all was secure and no lines to clang against the mast. 

When I turned to look toward Bahia Mar, I could see these two really bright lights. They would ruin the night vision of anyone plying the ICW that night (if you click on the image you can view it full size) 

I raised the Dinghy up from it position on deck just in case we wanted to turn the AC off and let some air flow in from the V-Berth Hatch. Time to turn in, so we turned off the Generator, turned on the berth fan, opened the hatch and that was it for the night.

The wind was up and down like a yo yo all night, but we manged to sleep most of the night, a sailors sleep.

Thursday Morning

Workers on the house construction around the lake greeted us early Thursday morning, no consideration ;) We had Salmon, Avacardo, Tomato, Toast, and most importantly - strong coffee for breakfast, the Sun gleaming in through the open ports. Paddle board exercisers were navigating around the lake and the Guy with the Dog was returning to his boat, again.

Best time to be at the dock was between 10:30 and 12:30 as the tide would be coming out and it would be easier to hold station with the tide on the bow rather than on the stern. We opted to visit the Pump out near Smokers Park (West side of New River) and called the New River Dockmaster to check that it was working and available, it was. So we headed out of the Lake around 9:45.

The wind was higher today, and the tide was still flooding as we came along side Smokers Park, but Peggy did a great job of stopping the boat within inches of the pilings. I was able to step ashore and secure a midships line to a dock side cleat and a bow line to another.

Peggy started to put a snack together while I setup the Pump out. With the hose attached to our adapter screwed into the Waste Port on the Port side of the boat, I headed up to the park's exercise area where the Pump control timer is located and set the time for 30 mins.

Back to the boat I operated the pump out valve but no suction - dang - probably someone has left a valve open on one of the other pump out stations. So I set off to walk the docks - but none found. I add another 15 minutes to the control timer as I pass it on the way back to the boat. Still no vacuum. Time to call the dockmaster.

The New River Dockmasters office is very responsive, I had to leave a message but they answered the 2nd time and had a guy come out to the pump out. Turns out the system is due a rebuild and has to have a vacuum leak manually held closed to facilitate the pump out. Once that was taken care of we easily pumped out the holding tank, cleaned up and had a snack.

Listening to the radio and watching the boat traffic head up river, we knew there was a hold up at the FEC bridge as it was closed for a Brightline Train, so we decided to stay tied up at Smokers park till the bridge reopened. Once we heard the boats that were waiting in line report on the radio that they were passing the FEC bridge, we cast off from the park and headed up towards 3 Avenue Bridge. They reported back that a large vessel was outbound, and they were going to wait for it to get past Andrews before starting the lift, we had no problems holding station and the the 90' vessel passed us Port to Port.

As soon as we were past 3rd Ave bridge, called Andrews for an opening, but we could see that the FEC bridge had gone down again - they must be getting close to their limit of 60mins in any 2 hour period. We held station for a while, but it became obvious that this was going to be a longer delay. So we moved over to the East bank of the New River and tied up temporarily. I reported to Andrews what we were doing just so that they didn't think we were dropping our request for an opening. 

The FEC bridge was down long enough for me to strike up a conversation with a tourist family that admired the boat and asked us about the Iguana population. After nearly 30 minutes the FEC bridge started to open and we cast off just in time to go under the opening Andrews Avenue Bridge.

From there it was a simple motor up the remainder of the river, turn right at the Fork and head back to the dock. Peggy is getting really good at coming alongside our dock, I was able to step off and start swinging the boat around for our next trip. 

It took about 25 minutes for us to unload the boat and take the truck home.

A short sail, but better than staying home any day!

See you on the water.