Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our Current Location

This is an experiment. The following link is our current position and can be viewed by clicking on it or cutting and pasting in your browser. Try it.,-80.172363(Time:19%3A48+GMT%2C+Mar+27%2C+2009%20Latitude:25.685936%20Longitude:-80.172363)&z=7

Friday, March 27, 2009

When Will These Winds Stop?

As was mentioned in an earlier blog, we took advantage of the "Ft Lauderdale Area Marine Candy Store". Didn't buy much because we are pretty much provisioned. But, fun to window shop. We departed Lauderdale Marine Center on Tuesday for the trek to Key Biscayne. Of course we had to retrace our tracks down the New River. We made arrangements with the local Diesel Delivery Barge to follow them. That way, they can open the bridges at the right time; and, because they are commercial, they can open bridges during the morning rush hour shut down. As Captain John said, "the Coast Guard doesn't like 6000 gallons of diesel fuel sitting in one place too long--especially near road and RR bridges.
But as great plans go, at 7:30 AM the barge captain said that he was told to go up river for a delivery before going down river. We were on our own. So, we waited till 9:00 AM and completed an uneventful 4 1/2 miles trip back to the Ft Lauderdale Basin. Funny, what a little experience will do for you. Here's a pic of Rickshaw in the New River and a good shot of one of the hair pin turns we had to make.

We arrived Key Biscayne late afternoon looking for a couple of spots in No Name Harbor--a great protected harbor with shore access. But, as we expected, it was stacked up with boats doing the same as us--waiting for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas. So, we sadly moved over to the Key Biscayne Bight for two nights then over to Hurricane Harbor (also a nicely protected area) but, again, no shore access. We dinked over to No Name in the 2-footers and of course arrived drenched. Oh well, that's boating. We did that twice and had lovely lunches with Norm's sister, Joyce. Joyce also transported us around for last minute provisioning. And, she entertained us at her condo with a fine bottle of chardonnay. We looked out over the ocean from her place at the waves and winds. Speaking of which, it has been very windy with high seas for two weeks now. Supposed to get better next week. After consulting with our friends in Marathon, we decided on a departure date, should the weather be as predicted. Hence, our planned date for the crossing will be TUESDAY.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Running the Wiggles......

We departed the Lake Worth Anchorage last Friday. Unfortunately, the weather was not conducive to running outside in the ocean (winds 20-25 mph with gusts to 30; seas 4-7 ft). So, we had to remain in the intracoastal and negotiate over twenty lift bridges in a long 50-mile stretch to Ft Lauderdale. Some cruising guides refer to this stretch as “the canyon” because both shores are lined with concrete seawalls much of the way and waves bounce off them and back to the boat to get us a second time.

Once we reached Port Everglades (Ft Lauderdale) we had an even longer 4 ½ mile crawl up the New River. The New River is a very narrow, serpentine waterway with strong tidal currents and multi-million-dollar yachts lining both banks. Of course they are docked in front of their owner’s multimillion-dollar mansions. Now, we did not know this at first. You see Vicki, our “Commander-in-Cheap” discovered a marina up this river that was 1/3 the cost of marina’s in the Ft Lauderdale basin; and, a diesel delivery truck with a reasonable rates.

So, up the river we headed, already exhausted from a long days run from Lake Worth. At first it was beautiful. Wide, tree lined with manicured estates and no bridges—very scenic. Then around a hair pin turn was a bridge that we needed to have raised. The current was on our tail and pushing us into the bridge. The wind, while somewhat buffered in this waterway chasm, was nevertheless a bit of a menace. “Yes skipper, I’ll be glad to open the bridge for you” was the response from the bridge tender, “just as soon as this Friday-afternoon-at-4:00-pm-traffic clears”. Rickshaw was behind me and a 60+ footer was behind her. The space to the bridge was diminishing fast as the three of us were being sucked forward by the wind and currents. I could not back up much—only hold position. I envisioned a pile-up at the bridge like the ones you see on an icy roadway. The battle was almost lost when we heard the banging of metal—the bridge was rising! Where’s the rum?

About a mile up river was a railroad bridge. This bridge was open most of the time and only closed for an oncoming train. It’s all automatic, we think. We were just about to the RR Bridge when a lighted sign on the abutment flashed “Bridge coming down in 30, 29, 28…..” A train was coming! Not again. Should we make a run for it? Yes; but, there is not enough time for both Rickshaw and us. So we put on the brakes. As we began to “pile up” again, we noticed an empty public dock. We headed for it and tied up for the wait, which can sometimes be 45 minutes. We’re not sure what the 60+ footer did because we and Rickshaw took up all the dock space. Also, we had our hands full in the currents and wind. Then after a brief wait, the RR Bridge began to lower—NO TRAIN!! What was that all about, we wondered?

It was now 4:22 PM. All bridges close at 4:30 PM for rush-hour traffic. The last of our five bridges on this stretch was still a mile or two away. We put the pedal to the metal and made a rush for the final bridge. Norm radioed ahead telling the bridge tender that there were three boats bee-lining for the bridge and to please hold it for us before the 1 ½ hour shut down. A couple of minutes later we heard on the radio, “Trawlers, where are you?” So, it seems that we phoned ahead too early and the tender opened the bridges thinking we were just around the bend. Fortunately, he was a kind soul and left the bridge open for all of us.

Well, we made it to Lauderdale Marine Center and docked in very nice modern slips; after which, we immediately went on search for the rum.