Archive for April, 2009

Entry for April 19, 2009

April 19, 2009

The past 2 days have been pretty awesome getting used to sailing again and being away from the dock. For our last evening in port Hank and Nan joined us for Laura’s famous pizza along with Mike and Kyle from Meggie.  The party didn’t break up until after midnight then Laura and I spent about 2 hours finishing up last minute projects like pulling up the dinghy and motor.  We were up at 7:30 after only 5 hours sleep and still a little hung-over.   

Thursday started out with light winds and we only sailed for about 1 hour before turning on our engine for the rest of the day.  Then the weather forecast got worse so we decided to keep going (instead of anchoring in our normal spot) and anchor along the Hawk Channel just before dark.  10 minutes after we anchored the wind changed from a light southeast to 20-25 from the northeast.  The Hawk Channel is open to the east so we were getting bounced around pretty good.  After 2 hours our anchor finally let loose and we started drifting toward shore.  I was still awake (a hazard of the first night on the anchor) and immediately started the engine to keep us away from land.  I pulled up the anchor as Laura steered the boat back toward the channel.  Between the high wind and big waves we were only making 2 knots with the same engine RPM that gave us 6 knots the day before.  I navigated up the channel using my GPS and radar until we finally decided to try anchoring again around 2:30 am.  The anchor set great and we slept like the dead for 5 hours before getting up and doing it all over again.

The winds had died a little by Friday morning and the waves were only 2-3 feet in the Hawk Channel versus 4-5 feet the night before when we were getting saltwater spray into our cockpit.  The wind direction was north of east so we couldn’t sail without using the motor.  We motor-sailed the whole day with just the main up but made good time (5 to 6 knots) against the wind and waves.  By 1 PM we were entering the Biscayne Channel and an hour later were anchored on the west shore of Key Biscayne.

Laura made a great dinner which we enjoyed immensely after not eating much the past 2 days.  We were to bed early (9 PM?) and I slept great!

Saturday we stayed put because of the 20-25 knot winds from the northeast which would have really whipped up the ocean off Miami.  The anchorage here is beautiful with the Miami skyline in the background and huge, Spanish-style houses right in front of us.  There is one house under construction that must have 40-50 rooms.  It’s huge!

This is a very popular anchorage and by 2 PM we had probably 200 power boats anchored within 1 mile of us.  Many tie up together for a “raft up” and we saw a group of probably 30 that made a long string of boats across the anchorage.  Everyone was having a ball (waterskiing, wind surfing, etc.) and we could hear partying going on way past midnight. 

It’s now Sunday morning and we plan to head out shortly for an off-shore run up the coast.  The winds have gone to the southeast which should push us nicely to the north.  Our only problem is the winds from the past several days have driven the ocean waves to 7-9 feet from the northeast which will be uncomfortable until they calm down later today.  But, everything should get better the further north we go.  All the weather forecasts show a front coming through on Tuesday so we want to be anchored somewhere nicely or motoring up the ICW by them.  We hope to make Ft. Pierce by Monday then maybe 3-4 days motoring up the ICW will get us to St. Augustine by Friday.

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Entry for April 15, 2009

April 15, 2009

It looks like we will be leaving Marathon Harbor tomorrow.  The only thing we are waiting for is one package I ordered on-line that hasn’t arrived yet.  The weather over the next week or so should be great for sailing up the Florida coast so we hope to make St. Augustine in about a week or less.

We’ve had a pretty busy last 2 weeks and had a great time with Laura’s niece Sarah who visited over her Spring Break from college.  We rented a cheapo car for the week so had wheels again for sightseeing and a day-trip to Key West.  The weather was awesome for most of the week she was here and it was hard to keep her northeast-winter skin from getting sunburned.  But, she did a pretty good job with it and left with a very nice tan to make everyone else jealous.  You can check out her photo album on Facebook.

After taking her to the airport last Saturday, we stopped at Wal-Mart (AGAIN!)for another stock-up before heading out.  We also shopped on Monday morning before taking the rental car back.  We’re packed “to the gills”!

Our jib roller has been binding and when we took Sarah out for a sail it was very hard to roll in and out.  I called Gary from Keys Rigging (they has completely re-rigged the boat 2 years ago) and asked him to stop by and take a look.  He didn’t think it looked too bad but wanted to see the top roller and the wind was blowing too hard to take the sail down (it has to be rolled all the way out then let down on the furling).  We made an appointment for him to come back on Monday so I had the weekend to take down the sail and check out the halyard roller. 

Sunday morning was calm so, after our walk, Laura and I took the jib down and folded it up on deck.  I spent the next several hours taking apart the halyard roller which was made more difficult by 12 tiny screws that had to come out and I was working over the water on the bow.  I took my time and it came apart nicely.  Gary had warned me that it was filled with grease and within 10 minutes I had it all over me including my hair.

After cleaning it up, I saw that everything look great!  All the bearings were fine with no wear or looseness.  Hmmm.  When we had taken down the sail I loosened everything up so it would come down quickly and we wouldn’t get in trouble if a gust of wind came up.  We saw that the jib rolled out without the binding problem.  That was weird.

Gary came over on Monday morning and checked it out.  He agreed that it looked good.  I asked if an over tightened halyard could have caused the binding.  A couple weeks ago we had a very strong wind from the west and the halyard was slapping on the mast.  I was in bed and the slapping was keeping me awake – plus I figured everyone else in the marina was listening to it.  I wasn’t in a very good mood as I plugged in the winch handle and put just about all my strength into tightening it.  It didn’t slap any more.  But, it turns out that tightening it that much over-stresses the halyard bearing and causes it to bind.  When I asked Gary if that could have caused the problem, he seemed a little embarrassed because he didn’t think of that right off the bat. 

I re-filled the bearings with grease and put everything back together.  With a much looser halyard, it rolled up nicely.  Now I’m looking forward to sailing up the coast with a jib that’s much easier to use.

The past couple days have been pretty busy with last-minute jobs before leaving.  Our main anchor line has become pretty rusted so I took it all out on the dock to check it out.  It was pretty bad for the first 80 feet or so which is what we use the most.  I ended up cutting out the bad part, putting in a special chain link and adding 50 feet of new chain that I had as spare.  I also took off our Delta anchor and replaced it with our Fortress that is usually stowed for storm use.  The Delta seemed to drag more often in the muddy ICW anchorages so I thought it was time to try something else.  This was a full day job when it was very hot and humid.  I worked in my bathing suit and hosed myself down every ½ hour or so to keep cool.  Around 6 PM I finally had it done and everything cleaned up.  It all looked great including stowing the Delta anchor on the rail near our stern.  I was worried about finding a good place to stow a 45 pound anchor and we just happened to find a place that worked perfect.

It’s only 1 PM and it seems like I worked a whole day already.  Laura and I were up early to walk before it got too hot.  Even at 7:30 AM it was humid and we were sweating pretty good.  We stopped at West Marine on the way back to pick up line to replace our main outhaul which had become worn.  When we got back Laura made breakfast while I caught up on finances with the computer.  She and our friend Nan (from a boat on our dock) went for a beach walk while I replaced the gas hose on our dinghy then ran the new main outhaul.  Doing a professional job with new lines takes awhile because I whip all the ends plus make sure all the runs are clean and fair.  I don’t want the sail to let loose in the middle of the night because something wasn’t right.

A little more time on the computer to write the blog and that brings us up-to-date.  I’m gonna make some lunch then relax awhile in the nice cool air-conditioning before finishing up a few jobs this afternoon.