No Name Harbor

We both slept 10hours… guess we needed to catch up.  We’re up early to address our dead outboard, and get the dog to shore to go potty.  

Paddle boarding the bike at No Name Harbor

Paddle boarding the bike at No Name Harbor

 LA’s bright idea was to paddle board Boomer, AND our bikes AND the bike trailer to shore to then ride into Key Biscayne to look for a fuel filter and breakfast. 

Nick thought she was crazy, it’s hard enough just to balance yourself, but if the bike falls in…  Even though we were only 100 yards away and in a protected harbor which seemed flat calm, she’d be balancing odd items and making 4 round trips (2 bikes, 1 trailer and Boomer).  There is no talking her out of it…

As LA was trying to lift her bike off the paddle board over the sea wall to the path (obviously not well thought-out) a man approach on his own bicycle and offered to assist; life saver!  A wonderful Cuban gentleman, helped get the bikes and trailer up, then even offered to drive us to town, we thanked him but decided to ride our bikes.  On her final leg to the sea wall with the dog wagon, LA passes a couple rowing their dinghy and called out to them thinking they too had a motor issue.  Turns out they didn’t, they were just trying out rowing, not bothering with attaching their outboard.  (Scott & Mary a wonderful, young couple on Fleur De Li - a 34’ mono, also heading to the Bahamas).  As they reached the sea wall, Scott ask what was wrong with our motor and mentioned that he was a diesel mechanic in a prior life, and far more handy than either Nick or I.  He offered to take a look at our motor, so we invited them over for drinks and appetizers that night.   We jumped on the bikes and headed for town.

Boomer is new to the pull-behind cart and jumped out a couple times, nearly causing us to crash.  It is hot and sticky.  As it turns out, this southern end of Key Biscayne is sparsely populated and mostly touristy - there is no marine or hardware store nearby.  So, we sit down to a nice breakfast to regroup. Having a dog, made it impossible to sit inside and enjoy the air conditioning. So we took turns sitting inside the restaurant to cool down. Breakfast was delicious and it was time to give Boomer that needed potty break. As LA rounded the building to walk the dog, who appears?  Our new friend!  He offers to throw the bike in the back of his truck and drive Nick to a West Marine in Miami!  We accept the offer this time and got a new fuel filter and some additive, then he dropped Nick back at the park boundary.  Meanwhile Boomer and LA biked back to the harbor and then paddle boarded back to the boat, but LA had to go back to collect her bike (she’s a paddle boarding stud!). 

Scott and Mary showed up for our scheduled happy hour.  It didn’t take Scott long to determine the problem. He disconnected the fuel line and used the squeeze bulb to pump fuel into a plastic water bottle. The obvious separation between yellow and clear liquid gave the problem away: Water in the fuel!   Note to self: when your dinghy is not used often, condensation forms in the plastic tank (especially if you leave it in the sun).  Scott suggests we drain it and replace all the fuel, but this is not the place to attempt that.  The weather is looking good for tomorrow - Scott and Mary may join us sailing to Bimini - I’ll deal with the dinghy/fuel when I get there.

Casting Off

Captain’s Log:

12/10/2015- Last minute maintenance, outfitting and provisioning.  Oil changed, bottom cleaned,  A/C filter’s cleaned, Sea strainer’s cleaned, Barnacle Buster, etc.  Perfect break in the weather, flat calm and slight breeze from the WNW;  decided to use the timing to get the stack pack reinstalled.  With the help from Marina-Mark, it was completed in an hour…Nice.   Also figured out our plan for the cellular extender – it will be pulled out only when needed and positioned to optimize the directional signal.  May not be pretty when we use it, but it will be the most efficient AND save us from permanently mount additional windage, hole in the deck, etc.   I attended the Grand Opening for SolarTech (a locally produced high end, residential solar panel manufacturer – that I want to distribute (EHome) and I’d like to add a couple to the array on WF.  Meanwhile, LA loaded up provisions at the grocery store and we charged all electric devices.  

12/11/2015 – We shoved off with the high tide at 7:45am.  Goodbye RBM!   Now we will be living Totally Off the Hook!  First stop: Sail Fish Marina for diesel fuel, which I navigated beautifully BTW.  (Note: do not trust the young local dock hands – quite often they are some yacht club member’s grandson, untrained and none-too-smart.  Throwing them a line without clear instruction can be disastrous).   I estimated we needed 40Gal in the port engine and advised the lead dockhand of this, explaining that once hit that make we should stop and I would read the gauge.   Wouldn’t you know it, as he casually mentions “ok, captain, we’re at 40,” – I told him to stop as I started for the helm station.  That’s when Lori-Anne began yelling “We’re overflowing!”   As the chubby employee scrambled to sop up about a half gallon of bright pink diesel off of our transom – I read the meter, 42.3Gallons.  Hard to find good help these days…

Knowing we had a 14hr sail in front of us and not wanting to arrive in the dark… we headed south down the ditch and spent the day anchored off City Place WPB.   A celebration cocktail at ER Bradley’s while we wait for our departure.  LA took a nap (she would take first shift tonight).  As it turns out, the Flagler Memorial bridge opens on the quarter hour, every hour EXCEPT 4:15pm on weekdays…  So, we haven’t made it a half a mile and we are now delayed by an hour as we wait for the 5:15pm opening!

6pm – depart Lake Worth Inlet.  Chris Parker and NOAA forecast tonight to be mild (E winds 12-17 knots and seas 2-3 feet,  aka: Perfect for a southing trip).  We head east past the marker buoy then ESE for about 2.5 mile until we are approximately 1.75 miles offshore, then change heading to 180 and set sails, so we are pointed dead south.   

7pm - Seas are slightly higher than the prediction, more like 3-5ft and the breeze is NE at 17-20Knots with gusts to 24.  We have a reef in the main, but are struggling to get WF moving well in a broad reach; (the significant wind coming over our left shoulder (port tack 120 degrees off the wind)).  This is very frustrating and I get a bit pissy.  I can sail WF really well EXCEPT for what is supposed to be the very best position; the coveted ‘broad-reach.’  18knots of wind and we can’t seem to get going over 4.5knots… obviously something I am doing wrong.  

8pm – I go to bed, LA has the helm.  Seas are rough; square top waves, high frequency, and inconsistent direction; lots of banging.

11pm – Haven’t slept more than an hour in total, a couple 10-15 naps before being jolted awake. Came up to relieve LA a bit early.   Winds have shifted to E, which puts on a perfect beam Reach (which WF loves).  LA recognized this and adjusted the sails, a nice larch forward.   Trying to tweak out the telltales on the genny, LA put a reef in the foresail – voila!   Not sure why this worked, but when I came up, the engines were off and we were cruising along at 6.5 – 7 knots!  She is an intuitively good sailor.  We hung together for an hour before she went to sleep.

12/12/15 - Midnight – Despite rough, troubled seas, it is a beautiful night.  Wind = 18-23knts from the East.  Seas remain 4-6ft and tumultuous.   SOG = 6.8Knts, heading 186 degrees.  Making good time.

3am – LA woke to find me sitting up from with my iPad app (Raymarine controller) and binoculars.  Just past Port Everglades channel (Ft Lauderdale) – not as much commercial traffic as anticipated.  Going to bed, taking boomer with me (he is a little green), LA has the helm.

5am – LA wakes me up in a bit of a panic…  she has ‘hit the wall’ and realized it just as we encountered quite a lot commercial traffic heading to port of Miami.  Meanwhile winds were dying off and shifting direction a bit.  She wisely fired up the engines, dropped the sails (on her own) – point us in a safe direction and woke me up.  She was asleep less than 10 minutes later.

WF anchored in No name harbor key biscayne, fl

5:30am – I realized we were arriving a bit too early, need to kill nearly an hour (want to navigate the channel, crab pots etc. with a bit of daylight – besides, LA probably needs a bit more rest).  So, I steered 15 degrees westerly to avoid the Miami channel traffic and stay a bit deeper.  Realized I could / should put the sails back up… but, I don’t want to wake LA (electric wench) and I’m exhausted.  Seas have calmed a bit, winds dropped to 12knts.

6am – LA comes back up as I approach the entrance to the channel – perfect timing.

7am – Dropped anchor in No Name Harbor!  13hrs 0 min.

Anchored like champs, made some breakfast – crashed for 3 hours.  Took a nice walk to the lighthouse.  Police showed up telling most of the boats to leave – had to make way for the Christmas Boat Parade!  What a nice surprise.  We were in the center of the harbor and obviously cruisers (as opposed to the day runners from Miami) – so they let us stay.  We enjoyed our sun-downers with DJ Christmas music and a dozen lit-up local yachts.  Very cool.

12/13/15 – We both slept 10hours… guess we needed to catch up.  First day of the cruising life, good time to start the right habits… so we did our yoga stretches and took the dingy to boater’s grill, did about 3 miles of power walking, a coupe lunges, couple sprints.  

NOAA and Chris Parker are both predicting big seas and significant winds today with various squalls.  We’re staying hunkered down in our protected little harbor today, we plan to head out to the Bahamas early in the AM – after confirming the latest weather of course. 

The Band-Aid Pull

Captain's log - 11/03/15

I kinda always looked at this whole adventure as a four phase proposition: 1) Dreaming, planning, acquiring,  2) Learning and outfitting,  3) Coastal training wheels, and 4) Off to the wild blue yonder.

Today, we begin the transition from phase 2 to phase 3.   Thus far, everything has been 'preparation' - buying, planning, learning, outfitting, etc. Turns out, the dreaming and scheming is a lot easier (and more fun) than actually stepping off the precipice.  Today - I gave notice at my secure, office based job.  

Since acquiring WF, we knew we needed income.  We also needed to learn the boat, outfit her, and - oh yeah, learn to sail her.  So it was only reasonable that we sign a year long lease at the marina, plug into shore power, internet and cable TV - while I drive off to work everyday in an office...

The year flew by and looking back, I have both positive and negative observations.  Met some wonderful people, shored up my resume and reaffirmed my place in the corporate machine. However, as a sailor, you are already limited by the cooperation of the winds and seas (about 50% in South Florida FYI). I was further relegated to evenings and weekends.  Thus, we actually got out sailing a lot fewer times than I wished, planned or hoped (I think we logged 16 sailing days and 4 motor ventures down the ICW in our 52 weeks here).  So we decided that in this case -More is NOT better.   

Are we ready? (No).  Can we afford it (Don't think so)... but we did not buy this boat to sit at a P.O.S. Marina in the US.  So, we're going to at least get mobile.  Maybe a change of scenery from time to time.  This is 2015 afterall, more people are working remotely than ever before.  If I have a cell signal, Wi-fi and Uber to get me to the airport - who cares if I am in West Palm Beach, Key West, New Orleans, or Boston Harbor?  Since I want to see it all anyway - I quit my corporate gig today.  Took a more mobile job (better upside anyway) with my buddy.   I'll transition over the next month, get through the holidays and then be 'Working' from WF!