Sunday, June 19, 2016

That was Fun

June 17th. 2016 - Port Everglades

We had planned to spend the weekend with Bob & Pat with Espirit Du Vent the Sister boat to Eximius, if things had worked out, we might even have cruised down to Biscayne Bay, but time didn't allow that, so we reserved a couple of slips at Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale for Friday & Saturday night, with plans to sail together on Friday and all together on Espirit du Vent on Saturday so that the girls could get some practice in for the upcoming HISC Lady's Race.

Leaving the slip early on a weekday requires that we either get past the New River Bridges before 6am or wait till after 9:30am as they don't open during rush hour. So on Friday morning we were down at the boat by 8:45 am and had everything ready to leave the slip for 9:30. We barely waited more than a minute for any of the bridges to open. As we approchaed Andrews Avenue Bridge, we called in for the opening, but as we came around the bend we could see that the East Coast Railroad Bridge was down, and the current was ebbing at a good rate. So we did a few donuts on the west side of the bridge but even that one opened within 2 minutes of when we sighted the bridge was down. So it was a nice motor out to the ICW. 

As we passed beneath 17th Street Causeway bridge, it really is a nice looking bridge, I had nearly everything done in prep for hoisting the sails. It was a beautiful day, as forecast, and there were several sailboats heading out from Port Everglades. Moderate winds in the low teens, but we had planned to leave 1 reef in when hoisting the sails, we could always pull it out if the weather was too quite.

Leaving the port, several folks in the condos on the North side of the channel waved as we headed out to the ocean, it was going to be a great sail. We called Espirit Du Vent as we approached the Port's outer marker. Bob & Pat were under jib alone way up north, barely in sight and making good speed down towards the port. We had both sails up and started making good speed to the North. Bob & Pat were perhaps less than a mile from us and the plan was to sail past each other and I thought I might get a few pics of E.D.V. to share with Bob & Pat. It was looking like a really good day to be out on the water. A little cloudy way over to the West.

All of a sudden, our Radio screamed, alerting us about an important Weather Alert. As we listened to the forecast it did not seem to match the conditions, but NOAA was predicting strong winds up to 70mph and possible damage to homes and trees. We take notice of those things. So Peggy & I agreed to drop the sails and head back to port. I called E.D.V. and alerted them about the severe weather warning and they too decided to head in under power right away.

I closed up the Dodger with the Eisenglass screen and under motor we headed back.

One of my "Capn's Rules" is that anyone outside the cabin when we are not tied to something has to be wearing their PFD, as the weather headed our way, we donned our Foul Weather gear and secured ourselves to the boat with Tethers. Peggy sat by the closed companion way entrance sheltered by the Dodger while took the helm.

By the time we had the boat and ourselves ready, and we were heading back the way we came, towards the Channel at Port Everglades, the weather hit us! 

First the wind picked up, from the leisurely 10kts when we were under sail, to the high 40knts and visibility started to shrink as the rain came upon us. Rain in winds of 45kts hurts! and the wind kept going up, we know it hit 52kts because our wind indicator keeps a history and records the highest wind as well as a graph of the wind for the recent past.

The rain basically blinded us. I was not prepared to be in the Port Channel during those heavy winds. If we were knocked down in the channel, it would be just a few moments till we would founder upon the rocks on the South side of the channel. So I turned back towards the North and saw that E.D.V. was doing the same thing. 

We were basically hove to under power but the engine barely running, less than 1500 r.p.m. Rudder hard over, the Sail cover acting as a sail, headed North but drifting 060 at about 2knots. Every now and then, during a gust, the boat would heel over, but it felt solid and I had total confidence in the boat's ability to handle the weather. Peggy was safely tethered in still sitting in the lee of the dodger, every now and then she turned towards me and I smiled back - we were doing ok.

The rain was coming down so hard that it beat down the waves that had been growing with the wind, the Ocean became almost monochromatic grey scale although we could only see about 100 yards. No sign of any other boats or the shore.

I turned the Radar Overlay on and could see the storm surrounding us, there was so much clutter that I could not pick out the other boats. We saw a fishing boat doing the same thing as us, not sure which of us was handling the situation the best. We heard the local Tow Boats calling in about rescuing paddle boarders on the Ocean side and in the I.C.W. 

The radar showed a break in the storm was coming, nothing new here in SoFla - Wait 10 minutes and the weather will change. We called to E.D.V. and heard back from them that we both would have a great story to tell after this one. Another five minutes and the break in the storm arrived and I decided it was time to head back to the channel.

Now the water calmed quickly, the clouds past towards the East and the Sun started the drying out that we really needed. Our foul weather jackets did not pass the test! We were both soaked down to our skins.

As we got into the channel, we heard from E.D.V. that they were already in the channel, that was a relief. 

We motored in, under the opening 17th Street bridge and headed toward Bahia Mar. Bob & Pat were about 5 minutes ahead of us.

Arriving safely at Bahia Mar, we backed into the slip and the local crew helped tie up our lines - they could do with an ASA 101 course - just sayin!

By the time we had showered, changed into dry clothing and hung out the wet gear, Bob & Pat hoisted the Cocktail Flag. Perfect end to a great day.

What I took away from this day onboard.
  • Always make sure the Cabin is ready for a rough day at sea
  • Even in great weather, have the foul weather gear and tethers handy
  • Be aware of the location of navigation hazards - you never know when visibility is about to go away.
See you on the Water.