Monday, March 28, 2022

St. Patrick's Day Cruise 2022


Sailing on St. Patrick's day

We try to get the boat out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day each year, it's just another reason to get the boat out and it's always a fun weekend.

Tides demanded that we leave the dock around 10am on Friday, the weather was cooperating so it looked like we could actually 'Sail'. This would be the first chance we have had to put the sails up on the Ocean since we installed the new Auto Pilot (Link to that post).

Nothing special about our trip down the New River except for a note about the FEC Railroad bridge. We lined up with other boats Upstream of the Seventh Avenue Bridge. There was a Catamaran and another power boat in front of us. As soon as 7th opened, the power boat went through but the Catamaran dawdled, that's not the way to go through a busy road bridge. Road traffic is halted and the other boats in line are waiting. Worse was the fact that they didn't know how to use the radio and their communications with the bridge tenders was unintelligible, the only way we knew of their boat name was because we were directly astern of them, it was not clear on the radio. We all passed 7th bridge and the boats behind us were closing up to us due to the slow boat ahead of us.  Now we hear that the FEC Railroad bridge is going down in Six minutes and the rate of progress of the Catamaran would put us behind the Railroad Bridge and that could mean hanging around for as much as an hour! I called the Catamaran  on the radio but they did not respond. I called again, no reply. I could see someone on the flybridge of the Catamaran but could not tell if he was at the helm of if the boat was being helmed from the cabin. There was a woman moving between the Flybridge and the cabin. What radio transmissions we heard from the Catamaran were made by a female voice, but still no responses to my calls. Finally I pulled alongside their Port side and gave them a taste of my Navy 'AHOY! which, if you have heard me, it's not easy to ignore. The guy at the flybridge turned to look my way. At that time I was far enough forward to see a tow ahead by the Railbridge. I sped up and moved over to the south side of the river to let the tow pass on my port side. The Catamaran was still not responding to any calls from either myself or from the Tow boats. Grrrrrr!

We made it pass the FEC Railroad Bridge and Andrews Avenue as well as 3rd Avenue bridge opened and stayed open while we all passed. Guess what! Still no clear radio comms from the Catamaran.

As we headed down to Sand Bar park, the intersection of the ICW and the New River, we turned at Marker #5 towards the 17th Street Causeway Bridge, the Catamaran was well  astern of us with Fenders still hanging from his Port Side Rail, I guessed the he was headed to the Lauderdale Marina just upstream from the 17th Causeway bridge. The bridge was open but due to close, there were no other sailboats astern of us except the Catamaran so I called the bridge and advised that we did not need the bridge to be open ( our mast clears the bridge when it's down, even at spring high tides, we have at least two feet clearance at the center of the bridge spans.

The 17th St. Bridge had been open quite a while, we heard the bridge tender call the 'Catamaran North of the bridge' asking if they intended to pass under the bridge, no reply, the tender called several times, again no reply. Finally, as the Catamaran was getting close to the bridge they replied to a desperate call from the bridge tender, we could still not make out the clear intentions of the folks on the Catamaran  and they still did not communicate clearly despite speaking English.

Well enough of that fiasco. We turned around the corner of Port Everglades entrance and headed out to the Ocean. We saw the Catamaran turn on the wrong side of the channel marker. They were probably shallow draft and not restricted by the depths, however, being out of the channel meant they were in the exclusion zone, normally a vessel straying into the exclusion zone would get a visit from the port police, but they looked pretty busy. They turned out towards the Ocean, still hanging fenders. 

Ok, we passed the 2nd Green Buoy of the entrance from Port Everglades and turned South East into wind and raised the Main ( we need to wash our main sail!) then, turning towards the North, we unfurled the Jib. We're sailing! 


And now the good news! 

This (blurry) pic shows our Garmin Instrument displaying the wind data (at night) .
Note the big Black Dot in the center! It's Black, nothing there. We never thought about it being empty.

As mentioned, this was the first time we had taken the boat out on the Ocean since installing the new Auto Pilot.

We set the pilot to follow a track from Port Everglades up to Hillsboro Inlet.

After about 10 minutes, I just happened to notice this.


Look at the center of the display, it's showing Drift! 

Normally we would look at the Chart plotter and subtract the Water speed from the COG speed and calculate the Speed of the water.

Don't have to do that anymore, in fact, not only does the display now show the Drift rate but it also shows the drift direction.

l can only assume that the display was enabled when we added the Heading unit of the new Auto Pilot.

Sorry, it's a geeky thing, but this is very cool. I'm looking forward to seeing how it displays the data when we're in the Gulfstream.  WooHoo!


Ok, back to the sail. We sailed on Autopilot to within about a mile of the Hillsboro Inlet, turned into wind under power and lowered the sails. We motored into the inlet, the current was flowing hard and with the wind from the South East, it was wind over waves, that means - Bumpy! But we got into the inlet without any issues and then did a few doughnuts waiting for the bridge to open.

As we motored under the open Hillsboro Inlet Bridge, the Drift rate was 4.49knots on the nose (the triangular arrow in that center dot display shows the direction of the drift), that's a heavy flow and we were running the engine at just over 2,000 rpm. That was an exciting transit.

On the VHF Radio, we had heard Summer Wind call for the bridge before we were in range. Chris was taking the boat home from PlayBoy Marina where he had some bottom work done.  We motored easily up towards Hillsboro Blvd Bridge, as we neared it, there was a Tug pushing a barge and the bridges open on demand for commercial vessels (like tugs and tows). The Hillsboro Bridge tender called us and advised that we could follow the tug through if we wished. So we snuck behind the tug and followed it all the way up to Lake Boca. And Lake Boca was already crowded despite it being early Friday afternoon.

We anchored near the North West corner of the lake because it was too crowded on the North East corner. That put us closer to the ICW and a little to close to the other anchored vessels (they looked like permanent residents) so we dropped a 6-1 rode thinking that we would move in the evening when the power boats all headed home. 
They didn't. So we had to wait till the morning to move to the North East Corner, but when we did we had a prime anchoring position.

As the day wore on, Saturday turned into a great day to be on the Lake with a bunch of other club members and their boats.  Mike Megarity on Spruce Goose, Mike Miceli on Loony-Poons, Chris and Kelli Whitlock on Summer Wind, Barry Simmons & Jamie Remacle on Lady Grey, Tom Garvey and Norma Glanz on Ohana,  Mike & Brenda Duvall on Imagine, Jeff & Judy Keiser on Affection, Pierre & Osa Holstein on Sea View, Sea Dragon, Blythe Spirit, Bob & Joyce Tiger on Diversion, Eduardo & Eva Rabadan on Cookie Monster, Bill & Collen Stolberg on Duet, And of course, us on Eximius.

Of course, there were probably a couple of hundred other boats, large and small, it looked like there were a lot of people ready to enjoy the weekend.

One of our best stories was about a small power boat that tried to anchor about 20' off of our Stbd side. Sure it was too close, but we have learned to deal with that at Lake Boca. The number of boats in the lake at a weekend with good weather is crazy! So, this power boat dropped his anchor. Peggy & I were sat in our cockpit just enjoying the view, it was obvious that the power boat had not put out enough rode and he kept dragging and moving further North, basically along our stbd side. Then he pulled in some of the anchor line, it didn't help, so he threw out another anchor off his stbd side, now his boat swung at an angle to his first anchor and the boat was still drifting. I spoke to him (he was close enough to our boat to hold a conversation. ) and asked how much of his main anchor line he had out, he replied that he had 20' feet out at first but he was dragging so he pulled some in. Duh!  I tried to tell him that in 9 feet of water and a bow roller about 3' above the waterline, meant that he should have 5 x 12' or  60' of rode.
He explained that he had done a boaters safety course and that he should have 50' of anchor line for a 20' boat. I was about to give up and just watch him drift further to the North where there were other boats anchored (and not dragging). His female guest/wife on the Bow said something to him and the next thing we know is that he has pulled up both anchors and was heading out of  the lake and up towards Palmetto Park Bridge. Good plan!

At 6pm, Chris stopped by our boat to give us a ride over to the Hosts on Loony Poons, There were quite a few folks already aboard and soon that number increase enough to flow over to Summer Wind.

After a few drinks, the food was attacked, there were a couple of serious Shepherds Pies and plenty of other food, there always is at our club events.

Jokes, Limericks, Songs and a good time by all, by dark we headed back to our boats, the boat stories flowed along with our drinks, we even covered some club business. 

During the early morning we were awakened by the noise of an anchor chain being pulled up or lowered. Quickly out on deck, we could see the host boats raft up were moving South, deliberately. They were being quite well behaved which was surprising because it was dark, hand signals didn't work, and we could only hear 'Forward!' or 'Reverse' and 'Neutral' which we guessed were the commands to whoever was at the helms of the three boats. Come the morning the host boats dinghy'd over to our raft up and explained what had happened. You probably guessed, some of the boats were too close and when the current changed around, that turned into a gentle bump or more. Well done the skippers and crew of those three boats, and one being a catamaran. 

Sunday morning breakfast and it was then time to separate from the other two boats in our raftup and head homeward. For Cookie Monster, that was a move of about 150' for us it was a motor all the way down to Sunrise Bay, we reached every bridge on time, didn't have to wait for any of them, so it was a reasonably quick trip down the ditch.

Of course, Sunrise bay was packed with Party Boats, but we found a decent spot to anchor and guessed that most of the Party boats would leave the bay by 6pm. They did, and we had a quiet night at anchor.

Monday morning we left Sunrise Bay and headed down the ICW towards 17th Street Causeway Bridge and then a sharp turn Starboard down 15th Street for a Pump out, it's the second time we have used that facility, it's great, the Pump is not particularly strong, but it gets the job done.

Once pumped out, we headed out of the canal and turned to Port and back towards the New River turn off at Sand Bar Park. We had a minor incident as we held between 3rd Avenue Bridge and Andrews Avenue bridge. There was a Tow in front of us which meant there was not a lot of space between the two bridges. In retrospect, I should have turned the boat downstream which would have put us with the current on the boat and the wind on the bow. With strong forces dictating our movements, at one point we touched a fender of a boat on our Stbd side. No harm done except to my pride. We probably held station for about 10 to 15 minutes, that's stressful. If we had  a full keel it would have been virtually impossible unless we had a Bow Thurster - we don't. Once past Andrews Avenue Bridge, I turned the boat to face the current and wind and we easily held station while waiting for the FEC Railroad bridge to open.  Then it was turn again and head up river to the fork and the up the North Fork of the New River to our dock.

Back at the dock, Peggy made a snack for us as unloaded the boat and rinsed it down, especially the anchor chain, it had a lot of use this weekend.

See you on the water soon.


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