Category Archives: 2013

Window Watching

No, it’s not Hitchcock, and no, we didn’t misspell “washing.” We are back into that mode of looking for and at weather windows for running down the coast from Fort Pierce to West Palm (163°T), W. Palm to Port Everglades (186°T) and Port E to West End, BS (058°T).

Window Watching

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These are the things we consider.

thunderTHUNDERSTORMS We’ve been offshore in thunderstorms. We do not consider that fun. If we are there when then they develop or sweep in, we attempt to avoid them. If we are going somewhere where avoiding them is constrained by shorelines and currents, etc, we wait them out. And sometimes we just get clobbered.

rainVISIBILITY Yes we have radar, but radar in the rain can miss the small stuff, and so can we when its raining. Given the congestion (and floating garbage) along the Florida coast, we prefer not to be coasting in restricted visibility.

GSWGULF STREAM WIND We do not get into even the edges of the Stream when there is a northerly component to the wind. Sustained easterly winds push the Stream toward the beach, so we often find ourselves less than a mile off the beach to avoid the heaviest current and sometimes to pick up the counter-current. Even in a south flowing counter-current the swell from the stream makes its way to the beach. So going coast-wise under sail at reasonable speed pretty much requires a due east or due west wind — rare, and usually associated with a recent or impending shift and, therefore temporary. SE-SW winds mean beating, which can add 25% to the time required. If the headwinds are over 12-15 it becomes a slog.

GSWANCHORAGE WINDS Anchoring in West Palm is problematic. It is an unconstrained wind tunnel N-S (long fetch). Winds over 12 mph without a significant E or W component (and preferably E) turn the anchorage into a very lively place and not one to be stuck in. One really wants to do the two legs in two days.

dollarMARINA DAYS  Marinas are expensive whether they offer a good value or not. For most places, the break-even day for daily rates for thirty days vs the monthly rate is between 9-11 days. So paying for a month and leaving between day 9/10/11 and day 31 is the cheapest solution (if you need marina services and access). But pay for a month and have a window come early, and you better hope the marina is willing to drop back to daily billing.

jetJET STREAM  It’s not on the chart, but the behavior of the jet stream is a big deal. When it hangs around the high latitudes and seldom dips south, the weather windows tend to be often and wide. When the jet stream wobbles its way deeply south and often, the windows tend to be less frequent and narrower. That’s what is going on now.

And so it goes, we’ll trade it for shoveling snow and commuting.


A New Mosquito Borne Virus in the Caribbean

klaxonstrongAnother one!

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Merry Christmas!


Yo, Ho, Ho!

Houston, We have Conch Fritters!


Two gone and the Aoili was good too!

Conch Fritters tell us we are on final approach to the Bahamas. [Yes we can get them farther north, but there, they are imported cuisine.] Last night, at Nippers Beach Grille  we had a plate of five that were well above the median. We followed them with a fish and shrimp platter (J) and blackened salmon served on a layer of sweetened collard greens that had been sauced with gumbo before plating the salmon on them (C). I asked for the Cuban black beans in lieu of pilaf.

HappyHolidaysThis was an excellent meal. While the salmon was blackened, it was almost lacquered from near perfect carmelization. (Though I like mine a tad more medium in the center, this was cooked very nicely.) The blackening spices and the sweetness of the collard greens played off one another well. The gumbo flavor got a little lost as it was subtle sandwiched between strong. When I scooped some out to taste individually, I would have been happy to have a cup of it.  The beans were delicious and generously portioned, enough so we took them home along with half of Janet’s entree. This was at happy hour (which reduced the fritter$ too), and we had a 10% discount because we were staying in the marina, so not only was this delicious, it was an exceptional value with exceptional service.

TheNippersViewNow the warning: Nipper’s has polished concrete floors and floor to ceiling glass walls, and can get quite LOUD. Eat early, as we did, or outside, weather permitting — if you want to carry on a conversation.

Before dinner we had the pleasure of meeting Craig and Lisa Rosindale of s/v “Second Spree.” They are liveaboards from Havre de Grace with season plans very similar to ours. We’ve added their blog link to our short list.

Florida Winter Welcome 2013


As we head back north into the strong current

Our return to Florida was punctuated by a train horn that Janet heard, and I mistook for the whine of truck tires on the hi-rise bridge we were approaching. Then as we were five boat lengths from the Kingsley Creek swing bridge (which means we were in plain sight) it began to close in front of us. No whistle, no lights, no nothing — been that way for years. This is an “always open” bridge — unless a train is approaching, something that has never happened to us here even counting 1980!

Really ClosedWe whipped into a tight turn in the narrow water way and waited for the train to cross. It was short. Maybe a dozen graffiti-garnished cars. After it had passed, we heard what sounded like a duck kazoo brazzing from the direction of the bridge house, and the bridge began to open. We waved to the bridge attendant (who had driven out in a pickup to operate the bridge). He looked like he was anticipating a different kind of wave.

The run down to the St. John’s was uneventful and impassible in a couple of spots had we not had high tide. Just before we entered Nassau Sound, the wind was gusting 30 kts, then it dropped suddenly, and we saw little more the 15 for the rest of the day. Of course the Sister’s Creek Bridge Tender continues to be one of the three nicest one’s we’ve encountered on the ICW, and his timing is impeccable! The St. John’s was as near slack water as we’ve ever seen it, but it was still an ebb that pushed one toward the rock jetties on the south side.

FloridaWelcome1Then we got our real Florida Welcome shortly before arriving at Jacksonville Beach. A right jolly old elf was he — even if he was full of air..

Dash away, dash away, both

We are underway! Today and the next two are governed by tides and thin spots. Brunswick was a good place to be, but it’s better in the Bahamas!