Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving Cruise 2017

Biscayne Bay Cruise November 2017

What a great weekend - Friday through Tuesday, we learned a lot this trip so we're really glad we made it.

Departure - Friday Nov 24th.

The day after Thanksgiving. Due to the tides, we decided to head away from the dock around 10.30am. I had already gone a fuel run, getting 15 gallons of Diesel and 5 Gallons of Gasoline for the Generator & Outboard, but we decided against taking the Generator as temperatures over the weekend were forecast to be in the 70's / 80's and being cooler at night. We still took the Gasoline as I keep a 1 gallon portable tank on the boat, small enough to refuel the Outboard engine with ease.

Peggy prepped the Food & Bedding so we quickly loaded the truck. I took along our beach cart to save trips from the Truck to the Boat.

We navigated down the New River, called the bridge tender before we could see the 11th Street Swing Bridge and it was open by the time we got there. It was an easy motor down the River.

Once anchored, we dined on Chilli for dinner, a quick freeze a meal.

Detour - not again!

Yes, again! During breakfast, I realized that I had not included some of my meds in our kit, no choice but to go home and get them.
Choices: Go back to the slip and drive home - Tides and Bridges dictated that would have to be later in the morning - too long. Go up river to Sailboat Bend, tie up and get Uber to home and back - again, too long. See if we can tie up at Bahia Mar and get Uber to home and back. 

I called Bahia Mar on #16 (switch to #68) and asked if they had facility to allow me to tie up for a couple of hours. Not sure if they recognize the name of our boat, but they responded that we could tie up North of the fuel dock. So we quickly pulled the anchor (actually I got the engine running, pulled the anchor and went back to the wheel getting us underway while Peggy was still below sorting out the cabin.  We tied up at the dock about 10 minutes later, scratching the hull slightly (hope it will buff out) on their wooden dock edge. Requested a Uber ride and walked up to the Bahia Mar entrance to meet him.

Requesting an Uber from the Dock is not the best way to get a ride - walk out to the entrance and request the ride from there. When I requested the ride, the Uber app incorrectly identified my location as being at a residential community just North of the Bahia Mar, probably because there are no residences at the Dock! It took the Uber driver about 10 minutes to navigate what would have only taken him 2 if the App had correctly identified my location.
Chirs (Uber Driver) did a great job. We chatted all the way to my house and then he waited while I picked up a few things (you know it's always more than one thing!). 

N.B. Uber Round Trip Option

Upon arrival at our house, Chris, Uber drive, closed the ride and I tried to book a new ride back to Bahia Mar. But, despite that Chris was sat in his car at the end of my driveway, he was not selected as the driver, so I cancelled that request. Tried again, same thing, cancelled again. Chris suggested he should exit the App and I should try to request a ride from inside my house. Tried that, same thing! Grrrr.

Second N.B. There is no 'Return Trip' option in the Uber App - I confirmed this with an email to Uber help.

Hear's the reply from Uber:

Hi Paul,

Happy to explain. There is no feature in the Uber app to request a round trip ride.

After requesting a ride, connect with your driver to let them know you would like to take a round trip. If they agree to take the round trip, be sure to enter the address of your first destination in the app. When you’re approaching your first destination, update the app with the address of your final destination.

Please note that because you are altering your destination while on-trip, the quoted price will not apply.
Because I didn't know that (nor did Chris) Chris offered to take me back directly.

We got back to the Bahia Mar around 10:15am. Peggy had finished prepping the cabin, taken the garbage ashore and was ready for departure as soon as I got back.

We motored away from the dock at Bahia Mar, under the 17th Street Bridge and out onto the Ocean. Beautiful day for a sail, Otto von Helm did most of the steering, we just had to make a few minor course adjustments in order to go around the hundreds of fishing boats that were anchored over every available reef!

Wind was offshore hovering around 10 knots or less most of the time. It was a relaxing sail, about time!

We kept an eye out for Duet (Bill & Colleen), guessing they had spent the day at Fowey Rocks bug hunting, but no sign of them. We motored past Government Cut in Miami down to the channel just South of Bill Baggs State Park lighthouse, then we motored up the Channel keeping to the deeper parts. There was a very busy crowd on the Beach on the South side of the Park.

Turning up on the West side of the Park, we passed No Name Harbor and the few boats that were anchored off, then Westward in order to keep in the channel and finally North, up towards Nixons Anchorage.

There had to have been over a hundred boats, many of them blaring their boom boxes and thudding the airways around the anchorage. But, typical of Miami, we expected they would depart at Sundown.

No sign of Duet, so we anchored on the North side of the anchorage. I figured they had spent Friday afternoon at the anchorage and decided they would head south to the Boca Chita or Elliott key area to get away from the noise.

Before Sunset, Duet called on our Cellphone, they wondered if we were in the area. Bill informed me that they were on the outer limits of Nixon's Anchorage, up on deck, I could see their hull and black sail bag, so I waved. It had been a long day, and I didn't feel like re-anchoring, so we agreed to just hang out and call in the morning.

As the Sun went down, Miami Lit up. It's a beautiful city at night. Click on the pic to see the big picture. I should really get Peggy to take better shots, she's a much better photographer than I.

It was a pretty quiet night once the power boats departed. We dined on Chicken & Sauce a bottle of wine and a Tot o Rum.

Slept pretty good, very pleased with our progress today.

In the morning, the boom was swaying in the wind and squeaking with each swing.

I investigated the squeak, turned out to be due to the Gooseneck Securing bolt (the long vertical bolt in this pic)

It's pretty corroded. I applied some Super Lube and that stopped the squeak, but that's a critical bolt - will replace that next week.

While preparing for the morning sail, I decided to inspect the Furler Drum which I repaired just over a month ago, the line was bunching up at the bottom of the furler making it tough to furl in the sail.

Easy solution, I moved the block (the one on the rail to the left of the Furler Drum) up by about an inch. That moved the angle of the line parallel to the drum base. Problem solved, it's easier than ever to furl in the Jib.
Note the corrosion on the tang that is below the Furler connection! More on that later.

Bill & I had agreed to spend Sunday night off of Elliott key Harbor. We sailed off the anchor in the morning and passed Duet which was getting the crew up for the day 😏

It was another great day for a sail.

I chose to tack downwind as the wind was directly along our route. We initially headed over to the West side of the Bay putting the wind off our Starboard quarter (as can be seen from the Wind Instrument) It was a great sail!

We watched as Duet hoisted their sails and turned south, it looked like they were running downwind, they have an advantage but we kept our course.

When we tacked (gybed) over to port, we passed ahead of Duet, that surprised me, I thought they would already be ahead of us.

They stayed mostly on the West side of the ICW line down to the Featherbeds Channel, we continued to sail off the wind slightly, it's far more comfortable for us than sailing dead downwind. (But wait till we get our new spinnaker up and flying.)

Wind had piped up to the low teens by the time we got to anchor. Bill & I decided it was not a great night to raft up. They came over to offer a dink ride along the shore, but we were not really feeling the need and decided to just have dinner onboard that evening.

Turned out it roughened up a bit after Sunset.

The pic is just one of several that I took hoping to get a good one. I posted it on Facebook noting that I was glad it was not a mile further North else I would have been worried. (Turkey Point Power Station is up that way!)

1st test of our new Griddle on the Stove top (have only used it in the Oven up till now) and it works like a charm, fit's like a glove and I love it!

I boiled the Spuds and Green beans, then finished them off on the griddle. Meanwhile I cooked the small Filet Mignon and then added some Almonds to the cooking beans.

Turned out really good, the griddle came seasoned, but it's taking a few uses to complete the process, hardly any smoke at this point compared to that when we first used it in the Oven.

Despite the bumpy night, we slept pretty good.
In the morning we motored off the anchor and headed for the Feather banks with a destination of Nixon's.

I don't have any more pics of that trip! Pity, because we had plenty of time!

After passing the Featherbeds, I set the Auto Pilot for a course back to Nixon's, but got tooo comfy letting Otto steer. Peggy & I were discussing the number of fishing traps on our course. I mentioned that I had found a Crab Trap in the locker that came with the boat and pulled it out.
Just as I was reading the instructions, out of interest, Peggy exclaimed - We've Stopped!

Yep, we were solidly aground on Black Ledge. Wind in the mid teens, sails with a single reef set, but pulling hard and we're going nowhere!

Checking the tides, we were at Low Tide and rising, that's the good news. The wind was trying to push us towards the center of the ledge and we were about 170' from the shallows West of it.

I wish I had a pic that showed me hanging out on the end of the boom! I had moved the Main Halyard to the end of the boom and secured that so that both the Halyard and the Topping lift were supporting the outer end of the boom. Then, with a line attached to the end of the boom and led back to the Port side winch, we eased the Traveler and the Mainsheet so that the boom could swing out all the way to the shrouds on the Port side. With a loop of line on the end of the boom, I put my weight on the loop and swung out as far as the shrouds would allow. Well, that did nothing! The good side of that is that our boat is really stable, the bad side of it is that it did nothing to lean the boat over so that we could raise the keel off the bottom. So Peggy pulled me back aboard - just in case you're ever tempted to try it, it's damned hard work hanging off the boom even with a loop for my feet.

We spent the next couple of hours waiting for the tide to come up and gradually the depth gauge read above 4' 4", when it got to 5' I pushed the engine to very slowly turn us towards the nearest edge of the ledge, within a few minutes, we were free.

Lesson Learnt

When using the Auto Pilot, make sure that we're aware of when we need to change tack. Our GPS has a feature where we can mark a boundary line or area, so it would be easy to put in an area where the the GPS would alarm us that we need to check things out. Somehow I think we'll be using that feature a lot!

We motored the rest of the way into Nixon's anchorage and found Duet already nestled in for the night. We've been to Nixon's several times now, but tonight we had a real problem anchoring. Each time we set the anchor and backed down to dig it in, it just dragged along, failing to dig down into the sandy bottom. Normally our Delta Quickset Anchor has no problems digging in, but tonight we tried 4 times without success. Finally I suggested that we move further to the East in the anchorage to test the bottom there. As we moved over to that side of Nixon's, a 47' Catana Catamaran pulled in even further East and they dug in right away. We dropped the hook, backed down as the anchor chain was paid out and it dug right in, WooHoo! 
We were pretty pooped, and when Duet called he offered to dink over to pick us up for dinner aboard Duet. They had the Lobster, we had the Filet Mignon, so we packed the cook gear up and Bill came over in his Walmart Dink, which seems to be a pretty good deal so far.

Over on Duet, I opened the Wine and Colleen brought out the Cheese, Crackers and Rum. Big shout out to El Dorado Rum! That stuff is so Smooooth! I wonder if Jeff from Cheshire Cat will read this and guess where the Rum came from 😎

Bill took us back to our boat in the dark, his boat light stuck to the top of the motor, wind picking up and it was forecast to rise up to the low twenties overnight. It did! At two o clock in the morning our Anchor Alarm sounded, a quick look showed that we were drifting South and had already drifted 180' (alarm set to 150') but it looked as though the anchor had dug in again. I turned on the Nav instruments and checked the wind speed, it was up to 28knots directly from the North. But the anchor had dug in, it held for the next 20 minutes. I had reset the anchor alarm and knew that we could drag South about a half mile before hitting the shallows on the South side of the anchorage. I elected to keep watch and suggested Peggy goes back to bed, fully dressed she did and was ready to help out if we dragged again. The wind subsided after about a half hour, we hadn't moved other than swing as the wind moved us in an arc to the East and West of our anchor point. The GPS showed a nicely bunched up track indicating that we were just swinging and all was well - for the time being. 

After an hour, I felt confident that we were set and I too went to bed, only to be woken up at 6:30 by my phone alarm in prep for the start of the trip home.

Tuesday morning I refueled from our portable diesel tanks and we left about 30 minutes after Duet, they were considering going up to Port Everglade on the outside while we had decided to go up the Ditch (ICW) 

We motored off the anchor and headed out towards the center of the Bay before we turned to go North and follow the route for the ICW to the Rickenbacker Causeway.

The wind hit 26 knots several times and we were both glad of our decision to go up on the inside.

Colleen called and advised that they too had decided to take the inside route.

This is not the first time we have taken the ICW up from Biscayne Bay. The ride up the outside would have been exciting, but perhaps a little too much so.

On the route up we had to push the engine some of the time to make the next bridge and other times we had to dawdle wasting time in order to not have to sit doing donuts in front of a closed bridge.

We did plan each bridge, so it was unexpected when we had to delay for nearly 30 minutes South of West 79th Street bridge. Our Waterway guide book reported that the bridge was open upon signal, but when we called for an opening, the bridge tender replied that the bridge next opening was on the half hour, apparently they have changed the opening from 'On Signal' to 'On the Hour and Half Hour'.

As we passed Dania Beach Blvd bridge there was a 2 1/2 knot flow against us, we crawled past that bridge, but once past we kept an eye out for the Dania Beach Cut Off canal. We'll be heading down there in a few weeks (January) to have the boat hauled out at Playboy Marina for some hull cleaning and a few other jobs.

The New River was not particularly busy and we easily navigated the bridges up to the junction between the North Fork and the South Form of the New River, then as we approached the last bridge on our route home, we saw that the 11th Street Swing bridge was open before we called and we had not heard anyone else call for an opening. Still, we called them on the VHF radio but got no reply. We carefully approached the bridge and noticed that the roadways on either side of the bridge were blocked off - seems the bridge was undergoing maintenance. 

Peggy took the helm as we passed the bridge and steered us up the canal towards our dock. 

As we approached the dock, we felt the first few drops of rain. I still needed to hose the deck down because of all the mud that was left from the anchoring demonstration the night before. 

We've pretty much got the process of unloading the boat down to an art form. I take care of the topsides, wash the deck, securing all of the lines. Peggy completes the bagging of bedding, food, clothing and laundry while I moved the truck from the parked position to the load position nearer to the front of the house and then load the bags, fuel cans, coolers, etc. etc. By the time I have everything ashore, Peggy is set to go and all I need do is secure the boat - Close all hull valves, check the electrical panel turning off everything but the bilge pump supply, setting up the damp rid and moth balls (they seem to help deter pests like rodent's and lizards), lock up the cabin, ease the dock lines and a quick check that everything is ready to leave so that we can go home.

All of that was done by 5.15pm, yep, Rush Hour! But by 6pm we were home, unloaded the truck and headed for a shower before dinner at home.

Exhausted, but what a great weekend!

As usual, we found a few 'GotADo's and we'll take care of them on Monday, including taking the boat for a dump!

Yes, we still love sailing!

See you on the water.


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