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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

New Year’s eve was a relaxing day spent visiting with friends. Tom Hess, a former colleague who now lives in South Florida, and his girlfriend Natalia came for a visit. They not only took me on a run to West Marine, but brought us home grown tomatoes and herbs. We relaxed on the boat watching the cruise ships leave and talking about old friends at Qualex. We took a dinghy ride around the neighborhood and fantasized about which house we would prefer.

Evening had us in bed early for a pre-midnight nap. Just before the appointed hour, the cell phone beeped and Beth got her boys out of bed to welcome the new year while we viewed a marvelous fireworks display from the cockpit.

We hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2007!

Our "backyard" in Miami Beach

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ft Lauderdale to Miami

The three packets made it to Miami today and are anchored just south of the Venetian Causeway. That’s us on the right. We made the run inside and lucked out with the timing of eight bridges in just under four hours. We had time for Noah to finish school before we left. Passing through the Port of Ft Lauderdale we cruised past the shadow of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship much like the one we sailed on for Mom and Dad’s anniversary last spring. It was quite a site from the perspective of our little boat.  From there we passed massive condos and little waterfront cafes. At one point we were bounced around by a powerboat wake and, for once, there was justice. A Dade County sheriff’s boat zoomed up and pulled them over! We waved as we (slowly and carefully) passed them.

We’re anchored with a great view of the Miami skyline and the cruise ships coming and going in government cut. The plan is to wait in the area for a good weather window to cross. The soonest one looks like Tuesday. There are supposed to be fireworks viewable from here on New Year’s eve so we will likely stay put until then. The Miami police paid us all visits yesterday and made sure we were following all the regulations. They asked us all to display anchor lights and wanted the boat closest to the channel to display an anchor ball -- not something that any of us are carrying. It may be time to color Noah’s beach ball with a black magic marker. We celebrated Captain Jesse’s birthday on Contented Turtle along with the crew of Cat’s Cradle. Fresh brownies, temps in the 80’s and good company. We can’t ask for anything else. 

Miami Skyline at Sunset

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Evening at Lake Worth Inlet
Tuesday morning we cast off from the marina and moved the boat down near the Lake Worth inlet to stage for an early departure. On the way down we stopped and fueled at North Palm Beach Marina. Be forewarned that they only have a large diesel nozzle if you stop here with a little sailboat like ours. It is a challenge to fill the tank without spilling and the openings in jerry jugs are just too small. They are more used to filling megayachts that take thousands of gallons of fuel. The seven mile trip down to where we anchored for the night was interesting as we passed vessels of all kind, from freighters being loaded with oranges to anchored boats that clearly won’t be going to sea again. Anchoring in Palm Beach afforded a good view of the “little” residences on the shore side.

Shortly after dropping the hook, we smelled something burning with that special scent of burning plastic. It was the charge controller for the wind generator having a meltdown. We quickly disconnected it before it caught on fire and got it out of the boat. Spent the afternoon rewiring the charge circuitry to make it simpler. The wind generator will now be controlled manually and, with a simplified circuit, is now providing more power. Beth cooked brownies, bread and meatloaf to help cover up the smell. Noah was able to go over and play with his buddy David on Contented Turtle while Jesse came over and helped us with the wiring project.

Three Island Packets left the anchorage about 0700 this morning and headed for the Atlantic. Contented Turtle (IP38) and Cat’s Cradle (IP380) were in the lead. It was 54 degrees and mist was clinging to the top of the water as we headed out. Winds were out of the Northwest at about 15 knots so we were able to do something unusual -- sail!  Noah even elected to come up into the cockpit for a bit to see the ocean. We dropped a Clark Spoon on a hand line in behind the boat and Noah pulled in a foot long mackerel within a couple of minutes. He elected to let it go back in the water rather than keeping it for dinner.

It was surprising how many boats were out on the ocean. We passed three boatloads of scuba divers and dozens of sport fishing vessels. By 1400 we were entering Port Everglades and winding our way up to Lake Sylvia where we are anchored for the night. Contented Turtle caught something in her prop on the way in and executed an excellent anchoring under sail. It turned out to be a huge palm frond that jammed in the propeller.

The Palm Beach Breakers Hotel from the Ocean

Island Packets on the Florida Coast

Anchorage in Lake Sylvia, Ft Lauderdale

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Christmas Greetings from North Palm Beach.  We wish everyone the happiest of holidays where ever you are. Today’s photo is from our side trip to Disney World and expresses our favorite holiday wish. We didn’t make or send “real” greeting cards this year, but are looking forward to reading any we received when we get back to North Carolina in June.

South Florida Christmas weather is windy with thunderstorms, so we elected to stay in the marina one more night. Tomorrow we hope to head over to the inlet and anchor in preparation for a pre-dawn departure for a coastal hop down to Miami. There we will wait for a good weather window to make the 48 hour trip to Nassau.

With calm winds, yesterday’s was a good day for taking the jib down and servicing the roller furler. It took us amateurs about six hours, but the rig is now tensioned better and we have a well lubricated furler. I took a trip to the top of the mast to insure that everything is turning freely. We had a chinese dinner with Dave & Danielle and wished them a safe return trip to Michigan. It was great to be able to visit with them while here. Noah will miss his cousin.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Noah’s Ladies

Noah’s great aunt Dorothy took us, and his cousin Danielle, out to a fun lunch at Panama Hattie’s yesterday. Dorothy is his “Great” aunt because she takes him to Toys R Us and will go for walks in the snow with him in Michigan when everyone else wants to stay inside.

We’ve been spending most of the last two days shopping with occasional breaks for swimming and boat chores. We have most of the provisions needed, with the exception of hot dogs, which Noah will insure we remember to get tomorrow. Beth found a doctor in the area so we could get our final inoculations before leaving. Noah was a little concerned about getting the shot, but the doctor showed him how he gave Beth a shot and then had Noah give me my injection. By then his was no big deal.

Beth’s dad brought home stone crab claws tonight so we had an excellent, messy dinner once we found a hammer. We’re defrosting the fridge and freezer on the boat, so had lots of food in the condo to add to the meal. We can report that the holding plate works really well as we poured hot water on it around 10 this morning and, even after leaving it off in 80 degree weather, the hot water had turned to ice by the time we got back to the boat this evening.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cell’s Back

Beth's Dad and Beth
We are happy to be at Old Port Cove Marina to visit with Beth’s dad who has a condo just up the road. Dave and Danielle (Beth’s niece) are here for a week, so we are fortunate that their visit coincides with ours. We’ve been able to do laundry go to the beach and Dave took us out to dinner at one of Beth’s favorite restaurants, The River House. Noah had a great time at the beach, playing in the surf and being buried in the sand.

The cell phone stopped accepting a charge, so we visited the local Verizon store. They replaced the phone under warranty, so we are able to communicate by phone again. That shouldn’t last too much longer as we won’t be using the phone in the Bahamas. We hope to use Skype and now have a Skype In number. That service will work when we have a wi-fi connection and take messages when we don’t.
Noah and his Cousin Danielle

Spent some “quality time” with the engine over the last few days. While performing the 250 hour service we noticed chafe on several of the fuel and water lines. They run on the opposite side that they did with the old engine and get pinched between the engine and the side of the compartment. It was worst where the metal engine mount was vibrating against the raw water hose. One portion of the hose had abraded to the point where the metal reinforcement was visible. It was hidden and tied with wire ties. Spent most of the day running new hose and still need to provide more chafe protection to insure it doesn’t happen again. Only relay this so that other folks will do a thorough inspection of hoses as a  preventative measure.

The weather doesn’t look conducive for our crossing to Nassau this week, so we may stick around here while Beth’s family is in town.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Vero to Lake Worth

We left Vero Beach on Saturday morning with a forecast of 10-15 kt winds out of the East switching to North with scattered showers. The actual weather brought rain, steady enough to wash our decks and add 30 gallons to our tank with winds to 25 out of the south. It was good to have two pairs of eyes looking for oncoming traffic and channel markers as visibility was limited at times. We dropped the hook in Jensen Beach, just south of the bridge and used the engine heat to dry our clothes. Noah got “TinTin” videos (Herge’s comic books written during the cold war) for Haunkah and we relaxed watching them down below in the warm, dry cabin.

This morning dawned brighter and we were underway by 0830. We motored past beautiful homes in Hobe Sound, and then rounded the Jupiter lighthouse to begin the narrow ICW canal and four opening bridges. The trick is to time the passage between each bridge so you get there as they are opening. We fell in line with the crew of Nonstop who we met through the waterway radio morning ham net and exchanged greetings a couple of times while waiting for openings. They are the boat just behind us in today’s photo of the PGA bridge. There are lots of huge homes with equally large boats along this section of the waterway. Several had large light displays that would be fun to see at night. By 1400 we cleared the last bridge and entered Lake Worth where we have anchored for tonight. There are 36 other boats anchored here, just north of Palm Beach. It is a good place to wait for a crossing to the Abacos, but we are here to see Beth’s dad and Aunt who live nearby. As the sun set this evening, we heard the sound of conch shells being blown by many of the cruisers. We’ll have to be on the lookout for a good shell so we can join in the tradition. Several of the boats in the marinas that line the lake are decorated for the holidays with large strings of lights making for a festive setting to the anchorage. We’re surprised that only five of the boats are showing an anchor light.

We will be moving to Old Port Cove Marina right here in North Lake Worth for a few days to make it easier for visiting ashore with family.

Noah has been on a Louis Sacher reading binge. He is reading “Holes” tonight after re-reading “Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes” this afternoon.

The Crew of Nonstop

This is Us! - Thanks Nonstop.

"Little" Homes on Lake Worth

Anchored in Lake Worth

Friday, December 15, 2006

Velcro Beach

Vero Beach from our Mooring Ball
Vero Beach is a spot where people get stuck, in a good way. There is free bus transportation and a City run mooring field that only charges $11 per night. Moorings are shared with up to two other boats and this is a fun way to meet other boaters. There are close to 300 boats moored here this week. We’ve met lots of nice folks and finally caught up with Dave & Jill on Nonstop. Check for a real sailors blog. We shared a mooring ball with Bill & Sharon on Silver Lining. Scuppers, their cat, came over and visited most days.  Also met Pete & Monica, friends of friends from Rochester days that live in the marina.

Contented Turtle came in the day after us and David & Noah played most days after school this week. They invited us to join in their Chanukah celebration Friday night. Beth made amsterdam apple pancakes and the crew of Turtle hosted with latkes and matzo ball soup. Everything was delicious and it was an unexpected pleasure to share the holiday with another crew!

We went into town a few days and stocked up on essentials like a spear tip for the lobster spear. We’re optimistic about being able to catch some of our dinners this winter.

Noah and Beth

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