Tag Archives: Navigation

Dredging Bill becomes Law

klaxonstrong“President Obama signed bipartisan legislation this week acknowledging that recreational boating is a significant contributor to the nation’s economy, according to BoatUS, which said it will work to implement the law.” Read more at:

Soundings Trade Only Today

Well, We Punted on the Bahamas.

The Exumas and Abaco will have to wait until late November and beyond. Once again, we have watched a weather window close up after teasing us for seven days. Now the rush-rush (at 7 knots or less) logistics of getting there and getting back would just degrade the stay.

More than anything, the bureaucratic delay associated with turning 65 put us on  this slippery slope. At least that’s our excuse, and we’re sticking to it.

We suppose if we hadn’t been to the Abacos, we would have adjusted our criteria to include iffier weather and sea conditions (Such as we encountered on our first return.) We didn’t. We are sorry to disappoint those who were looking forward to tropical pictures. We would have liked to have taken them. Be patient, we will return, as will the photos.

So now, we will motor, motor-sail, sail the local area with a few along-shore sails thrown in to prevent rust from gathering (on us, not the boat). The average depth in the Indian River Lagoon between Port Canaveral and Fort Pierce is three feet and we draw more than five so it’s going to be interesting. This is when we envy Paul and Sheryl Shard’s Southerly 49’s shoal draft characteristics. [OBTW, It’s For Sale]

Now we have to find a supply for conch and grouper locally. Not easy. But we are interested to see how plantains mashed for Mofongo will work as a binder for conch fritters.

100 Days

On January 1st, a hundred days ago, we started keeping track of weather windows for crossing to the Abacos under sail in comfortable sea conditions — good winds, long period waves, no lingering northerly or cross swells. I know, picky, picky.

Cross hatched days in orange had other wind directions but lingering north swells made them essentially northerly wind days. The other cross hatched days were so-so/good wind days subtracted because of bad swell.


Orange = BAD, Yellow = So-So, Cyan = Good, Magenta = GREAT

The upshot has been 86 of the last 100 days have been unsuitable per our criteria, and now the forecasts for good winds include thunderstorms and potentially heavy rains. The good days have been encumbered by other boat or life demands.

Patience is an attribute. (We keep telling ourselves that — daily).

Up, Up and Await

LoggerheadSo why are we still here in Vero Beach?

Well even if we were completely free agents, the wind hasn’t been particularly good for crossing to the Bahamas. Even long-time weather routers have commented on it. We have had friends sickened and seriously injured out there in the last few weeks. Unfavorable wind directions have dominated, and several otherwise good wind days have been problems because of lingering northerly swells. The forecast is for more of the same.

But we haven’t been completely free agents. The bureaucratic SNAFU associated with my Medicare card was resolved yesterday after 74 days. Dealing with the USAF won’t be complete until this coming Monday. It has been a game of tetherball with me as the ball. This week they added injury to insult, but nuff said.

Since we had all this time on our hands we have gotten to know the area well enough we have decided we want to know more. Plus after leaving my sail-making sewing machine in Brunswick, I had three jobs come up for which it is needed. So we are going to retrieve all that we have stored in Maryland and in Georgia including our car and put it in storage here.

And since we had all this time on our hands, but didn’t know when time would be up, we decided to install some stuff to make cruising easier and more enjoyable. The Lavac, I blogged about. Over the next few days we will be amping up our satphone with a high power fixed antenna and adding satellite TV, and finalizing a few things that have been in trial mode for a (long) while. Oh yes, and there is the teak.

The good news is our insurance company is now allowing us to stay in Florida through hurricane season. Much of their willingness was tied to the virtually land locked marina 10 and 15 miles from the nearest inlets — and more money and our assumption of more of the risk.

For those ahead of us, we are on our way, soon.

We think…

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

Click for Detail

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.


Small Vessel Reporting System and Local Boater Option — Addendum

exclaimWe are told returning to the U.S. with crew or passengers that do not have an LBO number will negate the benefits of the program and require an in-person check in. This is said to be true even if they are listed in the Float Plan. Something to think about when considering adding crew for a return trip.