Sunday, 21 January 2018

False Alarm!

We thought we might make the great escape to the Bahamas at 5:00 tomorrow morning - but for various reasons it's not happening yet. The wind hasn't calmed enough, our friends haven't arrived to make the crossing with us, and our autopilot isn't fixed yet.

So here we sit at anchor, looking at a lovely partial moon, and sipping gin and coconut water - not too shabby, even if it is still in Florida!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

A Rough End to a Good Day

We spent yesterday meandering down the ICW - all the way to our final Florida destination - Lake Worth - where we'll hopefully cross to the Bahamas in a day or two, weather permitting (YAY!!).

As we moved further south we saw signs of increasing wealth and huge homes, each with a yacht parked on the water nearby. There were many lift-bridges ... "sailing vessel Sea Change, Southbound, requesting passage" - with a parade of boats behind us, all heading to the same place.

All went well, until we reached the Marina in West Palm Beach, where will filled up with diesel and headed to our slip for the night. That's when calamity struck ... apparently, the mechanic who worked on our boat last year had not tightened up the nuts on the top of the fuel tank below, allowing fuel to flow directly into the aft cabin and out into the galley. Everything was covered with pink diesel and stinking of fumes!!

After two hours of sopping up the worst of it, we went to bed exhausted, and this morning will try to finish the job. Not exactly the way we had planned to celebrate our arrival here! Boats ....

A Close Call – and An Impressive Reversal!

(Written 2 days ago)

We woke up to absolutely frigid weather this morning (0 celsius), with a howling wind from the North. So we delayed our departure to let things warm up a bit, and then left for the next leg of our journey at 1:30 p.m.

A cool four hours on the water were uneventful – except for one scary moment. We were trying to motor under a lift bridge, and circling to wait for it to open. The bridge operator warned us not to come too close, because of strong currents. Just as she said it, the currents started pulling us toward the bridge – which hadn’t lifted yet!! Yikes - a dismasting was not in our plans for the day…

But my Captain saved us by skillfully reversing the boat, as he couldn’t turn it around in the wicked current. Then, thankfully, the bridge lifted and we were able to sail through – with a commendation from the bridge operator on the VHF radio, saying with a laugh – “impressive reversal”.

Suffice it to say that was enough excitement for one day – we were happy to set our anchor at Jensen Beach anchorage a couple of hours later, as the sun was setting.

By the way – the first photo below is not us – thank God! Another sad remnant of the hurricanes here last Fall.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Feels like we’re Cruising Now

Two beautiful sunny days in Vero Beach – this is beginning to feel more like cruising and less like just surviving J.

We’re only one stop from our final Florida destination now, so yesterday was provisioning to get ready for crossing the Gulf Stream – probably early Monday morning (ie: 5:00 am).

Two nights ago night we stayed in a lovely anchorage near the marina – and last night we were at the marina dock. There’s a free bus into town each hour for trips to Publix (food store) and West Marine, so all very convenient.

Last evening we had a “sundowner” on our friends’ boat – 8 of us in their Jeanneau 45, with lots of room to spare in the cockpit. And we heard our first sunset conch-blowing of the season. This feels more like it!

Addendum – I just left the boat and it’s FREEZING outside again – a cold north wind and about 6 degrees celcius - sheesh!!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A New Addition to the Family!

(Written 2 days ago - January 14)

We woke up this morning to the announcement that our niece Lisa and her husband Sam have just welcomed their healthy new baby boy, David Warren, to the family. We’re so excited!

It’s also official now – we’re freezing our butts down here in Florida L. Today we motored for 3 hours in huge wind and white-capped water, with 50-60 degree F. temperatures. We both wore double pants, fleeces and heavy rain gear, toques, gloves and rubber boots – and we were still cold!!

The good news is, we were going with the wind and current, so we often made 8 knots of speed (3 more than usual), and arrived fairly quickly at a lovely, secluded cove just North of Vero Beach – our next stop. It has mangroves on one side and a bird sanctuary on the other – and no one else in sight.

Along the way, we noticed a variety of beached and tattered boats left over from the hurricane, and felt grateful that ours wasn’t one of them. And then we saw three dancing dolphins on the water – so all in all, it was a lovely, if cold day on Sea Change. Thank goodness we have our propane fireplace for heat at anchor!

Update, today (January 16)

After 2 lovely nights in a secluded anchorage, we motored to Vero Beach today in lovely, sunshiny weather (YAY!!!). We're planning to stay here for a couple of days to do laundry, shop for groceries, etc., and then we'll head toward our final stop in Florida, probably stopping halfway the night after tomorrow. We may not have an internet connection there, so it'll be a couple of days before another post.

All our friends from Titusville are here in the harbour with us - so there will likely be some partying!

Friday, 12 January 2018

What a Ride!

Wow – this afternoon’s motor down the ICW was quite a trip! First it poured as soon as we set out – with forbidding grey skies and howling wind. Then we had waves with whitecaps on the protected waterway, and a 25-knot blow (more wind than we would have wanted to sail in – fortunately we were motoring).

Just when things started to calm down – with some sunshine and rainbows, we were shocked by a howling alarm all over the boat (above and below). We were totally mystified about what this could be – I was imagining our engine about to explode – when my captain yelled down to me, “turn off the VHF radio”. Miraculously, the alarm stopped.

It was a “severe weather warning” and small-craft advisory – we were hearing about water spouts, gale-force winds and 10-12 foot waves. We never did figure out where all this was taking place (not where we were, fortunately) – I was still trying to stop shaking from the alarm that preceded this weather report on the VHF. It certainly got our attention!

We decided it might be wise to find a safe harbor, in any case – so we headed for the nearest marina at Melbourne, and here we rest for the night – with the wind still howling in the rigging. It looks like rotten weather followed us from Toronto to Florida – let’s hope we can find a weather window to make the Gulf Stream crossing in a few days.  We won’t go without one – but we may have to wait a while for the weather to calm down. There are definitely worse places to be … J.