Back At It Again, Cruising, That Is

late spring 800 (4)

Seeing Us Off

It’s amazing how a “few months” can turn into nearly two years.

We moved ashore this time of year (or so) in 2014. The plan was to get moved in and sorted out in time to return to the Bahamas in the Winter of 2015. OK, it wasn’t a plan so much as an idea. As ideas go it was butter sculpture. Things melt faster here.

What we hadn’t counted on was an underlying layer of burnout when it came to the boat. It was mostly driven by frustration with weather windows and the excessive amount of time spent in marinas. The local natural limitations on sailing (water depth and channel width*) and the lousy Florida attitude toward cruisers didn’t (and still doesn’t) help. *[Last year, we took the boat for a haulout and bottom job some 15 miles north of here. We ran aground in the marina channel five times. Inside the marina, we had to plow the keel through muck to get to the haulout slip which we couldn’t enter for several days. This was with the cruising guides and the marina owner assuring us six feet were available to the slipway.]

We almost went to the Bahamas this winter. We almost went to the Keys. Weather thwarted one and water depth the other. We talked about catamarans, centerboard boats and powerboats. None of those do anything for the Florida attitude which became legislatively worse this winter. Florida has criminalized anchoring in several locations and will, no doubt, add many more.

But the sailing itch was returning in a big way. The house and its surrounds are pretty much the way we want them. The boat is subjected to the Florida climate, day in, day out. We are still healthy and vigorous, but for how long?

So, We decided to give the Keys a look see for ourselves…and then friends with a sister-ship returned from there with a report that left us ambivalent (-). So, we decided we’d check out the Indian River Lagoon — where we learned to sail and race 43 years ago, where we live, where I volunteer. Kind of like taking a Sunday drive to see what’s changed.

We set a departure date. Hah!

The air conditioning cooling pump failed the day before we were to leave. I yanked the old one out and made some wiring changes dictated by the new one I had ordered online with premium shipping (ching, ching) which arrived on the same day non-premium would have. Of course, the mounting pattern didn’t match the old pump’s.

Then it was oops. We need to charge the bluetooth headsets we use when anchoring/docking. They failed to recharge, and three calls later I was told by the manufacturer “if they fail in warranty we replace them, if out of warranty, no repairs are available.”  They were about two weeks out of warranty. The dealer made good on this though. But they didn’t arrive in time for our departure, so we were back to hand signals.

A few nits and noys popped up and were dealt with in the longer wait for the pump.

Finally, off we went.

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Perfect Conditions

We sailed from Wabasso all the way to our Eau Gallie anchorage half the way north toward our destination — The NASA Causeway to watch a Falcon 9 launch. Janet refused to relinquish the helm, and the wind was perfect for a staysail and full main all day.

And then the anchor windlass failed. I would press the toe switch and maybe the anchor would go down (or up) and maybe not. Maybe waiting half a minute made a difference and mostly not. I got out the hand crank and discovered cranking a couple of links of chain almost always solved the problem. So it seems as if the motor has developed a dead spot. This would become problematic in a few days.

The Falcon was scrubbed, and we bid The Oehler’s on OUR DREAM (another sister-ship) adieu as they headed back north into what would become tropical storms Bonnie and Colin.

The next evening we watched the launch from a semi-sheltered spot farther south.

So far, the weather had been wonderful. Sailing breezes, warm days and open hatch nights with only a sheet needed from 0400 on.

late spring 800 (1)

Not So Perfect Conditions

Then we anchored near Melbourne for our first squall line as daily thunder was back in the forecast at 80%. The anchor was well set, but the wind shift was 180 degrees and jumped from zero to 30kts. We gained enough momentum in the 200 feet we traveled on the shift to pop the anchor out of the bottom. Gorged with mud, it could not reset, and we were headed for causeway rocks. With the windlass unreliable, I jumped topsides and fired up the engine and motored us into the squall, balancing between over-riding the anchor chain and the damage that can do with not drifting into a field of crab pot floats and the possibility of getting caught up…all this while under a barrage of lighting, the closest about 500 feet off our bow.

It lasted 20 minutes. When done, the plotter track looked like a drunk had been playing with an Etch-A -Sketch. We put out more chain, a lot.

For the remaining days, the Florida Boomers went either north or south, and most evenings were punctuated with lightning flashes and distant rumbles.

late spring 800 (2)

One of a dozen or so that rode our wake.

And so we spent 10 days out and about. We stayed north of Vero Beach because there is no there there for sailboats to the south in the Lagoon.

We are back to planning for the Abacos, and with no schedule it’s so much easier.

Did I mention the eleven year old microwave oven died on the first attempt to use it? (…and none of the replacements we can identify fit the space the old one went in.)

Or that something large and avian landed on our masthead wind indicator and destroyed it?

It’s a boat…

One response to “Back At It Again, Cruising, That Is

  1. So good to have you guys back cruising and writing about it.

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