Friday, January 20, 2017

Taking a Break

A Break from Politics

We had the chance to take Eximius out for a few days, but the weather suggested waiting till nearly mid week, else we would have been out on the water and headed down to Biscayne Bay on Saturday - Weather sometimes Sucks!
But it's often better to hang back and go when things get better. So we agreed to take the boat down to Lake Sylvia on Tuesday thru Friday and just take a Day Sail if the weather was ok.

Tuesday: We set off from the dock around Noon, best time for the tides and to ensure we didn't get stuck on any of the shallow areas near the outer end of the Canal where we keep the boat. We loaded the boat on Monday with Non perishables and drinks (Wine, Rum, Water and a few soft drinks - Low Sugar variety) So we only had to take a few bags down on Tuesday, I'm always surprised how much it takes to spend a few nights on the boat. Those 'few bags' included, Clothing, our 'Bag' of Electronics and a few last minute food items, you know, the ones we forgot on Monday!

As always, we ran the engine for a few minutes before leaving the dock, and this time Peggy noticed that the engine temp was above the normal 145°F, it got up to 175° and that's not good. Didn't take long to figure out the Raw Water intake was restricted. I removed the Raw water Filter and flushed out the inlet by letting about a pint of water flood in with the Thru Hull Valve open, then put it all back together. Nailed it! Started the engine and it dropped back down to 145° within less than a minute. Phew!

Cast Off

All set, we cast off and headed out of the canal.
Passing a couple of derelict live-a-board boats that give all boaters a bad rap. One we have seen before, at least we saw the top of it as most was under water.

Tried out my new Selfie Stick as we approached the turn from the North Fork of the New River where it joins the South Fork and becomes the New River proper. It was a beautiful day.

Normally I stand by the bow to give early notice to Peggy at the helm if there are any boat obstructing the channel ahead. It was clear.

Turning to the 1st Bridge

Ok, we have past the 11th Avenue Swing Bridge, but the 7th Avenue is the first bridge that opens 'Up' for us, it's just around the bend from the fork in the New River, close to Cooley's Landing. We stay close to the South side of the River here so that the Bridge Tender can see us when we call in for an opening. Like all the bridges on the New River, they open on demand except between 6:30am and 9:00 am and between 4:30pm and 6:00 pm. We hail the bridge just after we come around the bend as soon as we have the bridge in sight. 7th Avenue bridge opens pretty quickly, so we try to be up to full speed as soon as we see the bridge spans start to move.

 Clearing the bridge

Peggy is at the helm as we pass 7th Avenue. We have made this trip dozens of times now, and Peggy is really good about getting us through the bridges at a decent speed and right down the middle.

Great place to pick up guests

After passing 7th Avenue, we arrive at Sailboat Bend, this is a great place to pickup guests. They can drive to the parking lot by the Museum of Science & Discovery, then walk down to the floating docks to meet us. The docks are available on a first come first serve basis, but I don't think there is any overnight docking, not that we have ever traversed the New River at night - Yet!

It's great having a good partner at the Helm.

With the boat still setup for motoring, I get to relax while Peggy makes all of the turns in the New River, We have to pass through the Florida East Cost Railway bridge (normally open but becoming more 'used' due to the BrightLine railway development.) with the Pirates Republic bar and grill on the the South West side of the Railway bridge then Andrews Avenue bridge with the Briney Pub on the North West side of the Bridge and the Downtowner Bar & Grill on the South East side of Andrews Avenue bridge.

Andrews Avenue bridge also has water discharge sluces on either side of the bridge. When they open, the water flow is sufficient to blow us over to the South side of the River, and if we are approaching the bridge from either side, those sluce gates can get us. We anticipate them opening and either hold back or charge through them to reduce their impact. They only open for a couple of minutes, but they seem to wait till we are nearby before they dump the local rainwater out into the river.

The rest of the trip down to Lake Sylvia is pretty straight forward motoring, past 3rd Avenue Bridge and then over the Tunnel (Federal Highway passes below the New River just East of 3rd Avenue.) around Tarpon Bend and then the motor eastwards leaving Sand Bar Park to Starboard as we head towards Bahia Mar before turning south into Lake Sylvia.

Anchored at Lake Sylvia

Once anchored, we practice a few standard procedures to make sure we're ok for the night.

  • Set the Anchor Alarm as close to the point where we drop Anchor. I set the Alarm for twice the amount of anchor rode that I let out. That way we can turn a full circle around the anchor without the alarm going off, but if we go outside of that circle, it will scream at us. We have had many nights disturbed by a screaming anchor alarm.
  • Let out a scope of 7:1 anchor rode. So if we are in 10 feet of water and our bow is 3' from the water, that's 13' from bow to bottom. Multiply that by 7 gives 91' Most of Lake Sylvia is less than that, and at low tide we're lucky to have 7' water depth. So 70' is a safe drop for us.
  • Once the anchor is down, backup to dig it in, it's muddy down there, and when the anchor digs in while we're heading astern, we can feel the sudden tug as it brings us to a halt. Of course, the currents in Lake Sylvia are legendary, we have been at anchor and all of the nearby boats are facing almost in a circle, so we try to ensure we're not too close to any other boat. We ask, as we did this week, and the nearest neighbor was uncomfortable with how close we were to them. No big deal, we pulled the anchor backup and moved 80' away from him, of course, that put us nearer to another boat, but not so close. We stayed, probably, 60' from the nearest boat despite the fact that we were pointing in opposite directions at times.
  • Secure all mast lines, don't want them clanging all through the night.
  • Have a couple of fenders handy, just in case anyone gets too close for comfort.
  • Put up the Cockpit enclosure. We have shade netting for both sides and the rear of the cockpit, cuts the heat down (Sorry if you're out of State reading this, but it gets hot in the cockpit when the wind dies down and the clouds clear. )
  • Send a pic (the one above) to our kids. And hope that they send one or more back - we miss them.

Overnight on the Water is really special

Tuesday night we had dinner out in the cockpit, a glass or two of wine for Peggy and a Tot or two of Rum for me. Then an early night. Slept like a log, no anchor alarms (we didn't move outside of our set area) No clanking rigging lines, no Bumps in the night. So I woke up around 2am. Went out to the Cockpit and saw this. Beautiful Moon over Fort Lauderdale, and a couple of bright points, I think they were Jupiter and Spica that were clearly visible below the Moon in all it's glory. Had to take that pic and post it to my buds on Facebook.
The water was like glass, no wind, and the lights on the shore were mostly from boats in the lake's private marina. The sky was almost naked. Really was beautiful. Peggy woke up and asked what was happening, I pointed up to the Moon, she got it.

BFF - Break Fast Fried

Ok, I'll admit it, I like my morning Coffee and especially a Full Fried Breakfast - Eggs, Sausage, Toms and Toast. Although the Toast is actually Fried Bread - Definitely a winner.

This was our first meal where I used our new Herbs & Spices Box. A dash of Salt & Pepper and a pinch of Basil on those tasty Toms.
And I really don't like using Paper Plates, hence the Plastic ones that have lasted for several years now. More Environmentally acceptable. Plus it cuts down on Trash - that's a big Plus

Getting ready to go Sailing!

About time! After breakfast, we cleaned up the Cabin - Secure for Sea. That involves stowing anything that might get knocked around when we slosh through any rough waves (weather or idjot power boater that knows no better) and making sure all of the Ports are closed. This was standard practice when I was onboard Navy ships during my 25 years in the Royal Navy - But Peggy refuses to join 'My Navy' yet still, she gets it. And we make a pretty good job of Securing for Sea.

Had to show these off.

Our Daughter in Law gave us these Anchor Cushions for Christmas, they go pretty well with our Decor. Peggy thinks they are nice too, but also sees them as part of the 'Pauls Navy' problem. 😉

Time to take a dump.

If we're heading outside of the 3mile limit, we're proably going to empty the holding tank too. So we headed out of Port Everglades. We had the Main up after passing beneath the 17th Street Bridge and then turned East to head out of the Port Everglades Entrance. There's a large Condo building on the North side of the Entrance and a Rocky jetty on the South Side. It was Choppy!

We put the Jib out and turned down the engine as we left the Port. It was still Choppy! Not comfortable at all. But we were sailing. Then the wind died. It happens. This time it died after going crazy for about 20 minutes. The wind was wandering all over the place, and dropped down to less than 3 knots, that's not sailing weather. So we restarted the engine and headed out. 
The wind did not improve, so we turned around and headed back to port. The sails were furled and in their bag, so there was not much to do as we headed back in under the closed 17th street bridge. 
As always, other boaters that are passing under that bridge at the same time that we do, they look up at our mast head and seem to be certain that we'll hit the bridge. We won't we've measured our mast from the water to the top and add 4' to that to consider the VHF Antenna and the Wireless Wind Transducer that's sitting on top of the mast. We need 52' and that's available below the 17th street causeway bridge except during very high tides, we try to avoid those. But if we are headed beneath the bridge during those Spring or King Tides, we wait for the bridge to open.

Having only had about 30 minutes actually sailing, we headed back to Lake Sylvia and the same place that we spent last night was still available, so we dropped anchor and had lunch.

With most of the afternoon with not a lot to do, Right! that never happens. I got a couple of projects done. 
  • The Canvas Bridge piece zipper that we stitched last week was not quite right, so I cut the stitching and redid it. Looked much better.
  • Peggy wanted to add a Speaker in the Cockpit for our Stereo System. There is a speaker out there but it's not connected to anything. I think it was originally used as a speaker for the VHF radio, but as we have a really nice remote Mic-Speaker at the helm, it's not needed for that. So I rewired it to hook into the Stereo system. Looking at the wiring behind the Stereo reminded me that I really needed to clean that up. I spent about an hour detecting which wire was which. Checking which wires I could remove and which needed rewiring due to bad joints.
  • I also connected that 4th speaker to the spare output from the Stereo.
We slept really well that night.
But sadly, Thursday's weather was to replicate Wednesday's. So we decided to just stay on the hook. More projects:
  • I have 4 large plastic bins under the Starboard side seats that hold my tools, consumables, Electrical bits and pieces and a ditty box. That's a lot of stuff that has grown over the past 22 months of owning Eximius. I took the time to identify duplicate tools, and to sort out each box so that their contents were more obvious. In the process I eliminated one box - that's huge! That box can be replaced with a nice one that can hold Non-Perishables for our longer trips.
  • Last year I added LED strip lights to the Cabin Port Side, but they were on all the time if the Cabin lighting circuit was energized. Not good. So, being able to locate the electrical bits and pieces to add an inline switch, I did. Now we can power up the cabin light circuit and turn off any unwanted lights. It means we can get up in the middle of the night, take a trip to the head and be able to see what we are doing. That's good.
  • And we realized that the additional Stereo speaker was not setup correctly, they were not attached to the correct stereo outputs. It took the two of us about a half hour to figure out which speaker wires went to which speakers (they are now all labeled) and which outputs from the Stereo were for which speakers (and they are also now labled). Result - Nice! We can Rear Fade the system so that the Cockpit gets' the most audio or Foward Fade the system to keep the cockpit quiet.
Not a bad days work. We slept well Thursday night too

Friday - Sail Day

Low Tide was at 8:59, so we delayed leaving the Lake till after 10am. I spent a while polishing up the Eisenglass panels around the cockpit. They need their dose of TLC every two or three weeks.
And I took this unedited video showing the other boats in the lake.

As we motored out of the Lake, we passed a boat from Coral Gables, GhiJhia (?) that was preparing to leave also. They were anchored pretty close to a known skinny area - we know about it because we've been stuck for several hours on that bit of skinny. I called out to advise and they acknowledged and followed us out of the lake as we stayed close to the Eastern side of the entrance channel.

And now we get to sail

At Last! We raised the sails as soon as we passed under the 17th Street Causeway bridge, hey, this is becoming normal! And we unfurled the Gib leaving 1 Reef in place as the wind was obviously picking up. Then we turned East to follow GhiJhia down the channel towards the Ocean. As quickly as the wind popped up after raising the sail, it died again before we past the South Jetty. Come ON!

Once past the South Jetty though, it got better. The wind picked up to over 10knots and the sea was CALM! Beautiful day to be sailing. 

And it gets Better!

After heading out we practiced Hoving Too. We had done this several times during our Basic Keel Boat sailing course with the ASA, but had not yet done it on our own boat. The course obviously taught us well. We were doing about 5knots with a 12knot wind on a Starboard Tack. We simply turned to Starboard as though we were going to go about, but left the Port Gib Sheet in place. As soon as we went through the wind, I turned the wheel to port. That left us with the boat trying to turn to Starboard - the Gib was backwinded and the Main had flopped over to Starboard. The rudder was trying to turn us back to Port. Result - Nothing! We had ZERO speed through the water. The helm was steady and I could have just locked the wheel and kept us slowing drifting with the Ocean at about 1knot (GPS) to the North. Cool!
To get back on course, I simply turned the wheel to Starboard and we came back onto our original heading on a Starboard tack.

After an hour of really good sailing towards Bimini, 50miles away and not on our schedule today. we turned back to Port Everglades.

And yet still better!

The wind was from the South, mostly around 10 to 15 knots, we were doing an easy 5 to 6 knots in a sea that was only lumpy when a stink potter blasted by leaving a wake 4' high.
Peggy asked when we were going to drop the main, we normally would do that before we entered the Port Everglades Entrance Channel. Not today! I explained how I would like to actually sail under the 17th Street Causeway bridge.

WE DID - Our First!
The Port Everglades Entrance Channel is wide, has to be to allow all of the Cruise Ships that use the Port. We kept on the South side of the Channel as much as we could, so the incoming power traffic stayed off to our Starboard Side, and we were far enough over to port that any outgoing traffic could easily pass us but allow them to still be on the South side of the channel. Once we got near the turning basin, we kept on heading West as I really wanted to keep clear of that nasty outcrop where the channel turns into the Intra Coastal Water way. 
At that point, the wind was from directly astern. We put the Traveller all the way to Port and were able to keep the Gib to port - windy was being nice to us.

We sailed under the bridge - that felt really good. Other boats following us were able to pass us as we sailed under, and others were able to pass us coming South towards us. 

After passing the bridge, we put the engine in gear (we had it running all the time as we approached the bridge). The wind had dropped a bit and we were able to drop the mainsail without turning into the following wind. The Gib was furled in easily and we headed up the Intra Coastal crossing over to the West side to rejoin the New River by Sandbar Park.

The trip backup the river was easy - Gravy to a great day out.

By the time we got back to the Slip. we had a new President.

Can't wait till our next trip.

See you on the water.

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