Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ft. Lauderdale To Charleston, SC - Arrived!

The rest of the second day was an easy motor sail. With anywhere from 5 to 10 knots on the beam it was a very comfortable ride, but too little wind to just sail when we have perfectly good motors and plenty of fuel. We passed a die-hard who was sticking it out without motoring and he was making about 2 knots. In 85 degree weather, that's not much fun to me.

Mid afternoon we were lucky to be visited by several pods of dolphins. Two pods numbered at least 15 dolphins and we saw others off and on until dusk. It always brings a smile when I see them and Quinn and Jen love them as well.

We were careful to fine tune our arrival time in Charleston by adjusting how much motor assist we used. This was important to us as we would be docking at night without dock hand assistance in a marina that has up to 2 knots of current mid-tide.

As it turns out, we timed it well with only about a half knot current. That timing was fortunate as the slip we were assigned was only 6 feet longer than Mirasol, with a big Cat behind us the dock in front of us and a finger pier one slip over. We slipped in and wiggled Mirasol back and forth about a dozen times and worked her into the slip. Doing that in a 2 knot current would have been a bit touchy. Anyway, I'm sure the Cat behind us will be surprised when they wake up to new neighbors.

Time for some sleep. Later today... RIBS!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ft. Lauderdale To Charleston, SC - Day 2

The trip north to Charleston, SC from Ft Lauderdale has been an interesting one so far.   We left Ft. Lauderdale around 4:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday with the intention of arriving in Charleston in the early afternoon on Saturday.  The weather forecast was pretty good with the exception of 10 – 15 knots of wind just North of East for the first few hours of the trip in the Gulf Stream.  However, it was supposed to die down and shift south Wednesday evening.    The Gulf Stream flows due North by Ft. Lauderdale, so we thought the very small northerly component of the wind would not mean much chop in the Gulf Stream.  We were wrong.    So was the forecast.  What we found was 15-20 knot winds from the North-Northeast with 3-5 foot wind waves plus a steep fast moving ground swell from the Northeast.  After about two hours of uncomfortable bashing and rolling about in the Gulf Stream, both Jen and Quinn were getting green and we decided we’d had enough.  We turned due west to get out of the stream as quickly as possible and within about a half hour things were improving.  Within a mile of shore we turned back north in much more comfortable seas but without the lift of the current. 

By the time we reached Lake Worth, about 20 miles north of Ft Lauderdale, we were no longer able to avoid the stream as it runs right up along coast.  Fortunately, the winds had decreased enough to make the seas tolerable in the 2 knot current.  We didn’t get the predicted shift to the south until much later on Thursday.  Most of the morning Thursday was spent with Jen and Quinn just holding off being seasick as the seas were still very lumpy and confused with a persistent and steep NE swell.  The afternoon was an improvement, but still uncomfortable.  When the wind did shift to the South on Thursday evening, it just about shut off. 

All Thursday night was a motor as we were whisked north by a 3 to 3.5 knot current in glassy water.  After all the washtub action of the previous 24 hours, this was a welcome improvement.  It was also very eerie and beautiful with a clear sky full of stars.

At dawn on Friday the wind picked up from the West and we set sails and shut off the engine.  With the current we were doing better than 8 knots with less than 10 knots of wind on the beam.  Quite nice!  This lasted for about three hours until the Gulf Stream started to set to the Northeast which forced us to beat into the west wind to compensate.

Mid morning on Friday we found ourselves being overtaken by a US Navy Aircraft Carrier going 20 knots and conducting flight activities.   After a jet fly-by at about 200 feet, they called us on the radio and asked us politely to turn to starboard and maintain a minimum of 5 miles CPA (Closest Point of Approach).  Well, we tried our best to get out of the way, but the best we could manage was 3 miles CPA by the time they were passing us.  That earned us another fly-by, this time by a helicopter, but they didn’t call us on the radio to complain.  I doubt we looked too threatening.  We did get a fun show of several jets making training runs: taking off and landing on the carrier as well as a number of touch-and-go passes.  If my Top Gun movie recollection is correct, it’s called a bolster.  Or not.  Anyway, it was fun, and worth the 5 mile detour East.

As I write this we are passing out of the Gulf Stream as it turns Northeast around South Carolina and North Carolina and we are heading due North towards Charleston.   We could see the border of the Gulf Stream as we approached it.  The wave action and color are quite different, and there is a fringe of seaweed and debris right at the border. 

We are well ahead of schedule right now and may end up arriving in Charleston sometime very early tomorrow AM rather than in the afternoon.  We’ve visited Charleston a couple of times already so we’re comfortable with a night time landfall.  If it works out that way, it would be nice as that will give us an extra day in Charleston before we have to head north again.  I’m already looking forward to the tasty rib dinner that has become tradition on landfall in Charleston.

Check our Current Position link on to see where we are.  I think Jen’s uploaded a lot of new photos for the Ft. Lauderdale visit as well.

Ft. Lauderdale, Spring 2010

It was a busy time and lot of fun in Ft Lauderdale once again.  On arrival,  we cruised up the New River enjoying the sights of the fabulous riverfront houses and mansions.  What a fun place to live if you can afford it.  This time around it was a lot less intimidating transiting the New River as we were familiar with the current, bridge protocol and heavy traffic.  We were met by Matt the dock master at our slip along the New River between 3rd Ave and Andrews Ave.  We like this spot a lot.  It is close to the marina office, is two short blocks from a great supermarket and right across the bridge from museums, cinemas, restaurants etc on Los Olas Blvd.  After one day on the New River, we moved up the river to the Lauderdale Marine Center where we were scheduled to haul out the next morning.

LMC is a massive boatyard and marina.  The boatyard services modest yachts on up to mega-yachts.  Since Mirasol's beam is over 24 feet, we had to use the huge (and expensive) 300 Ton travel lift to get hauled out.  It was fun to be surrounded by 100+ ft mega yachts all blocked up on the hard, all getting our bottoms cleaned and painted.  While on the hard we had the bottom and saildrives cleaned and painted as well as the shaft seals on the saildrives replaced.  The seals seemed to be in good shape, but given the cost and inconvenience of a haulout, we decided it was wise to replace them anyway.  While the pros were dealing with the messy work of cleaning and painting the hulls, I took the opportunity to remove, clean and reinstall the transom rub rails which have been slowly working themselves loose.

Jen and I discussed doing the painting ourselves, but it didn't make much sense.  We don't have the vacuums, sanders, ladders, and other materials required to remove the old paint and put on new.  Plus, since boatyards and 4 year olds don't mix, Jen would be watching Quinn and unable to help with the work so it would have taken several days.  Given the cost of renting the equipment we needed and the additional cost of lay days in the boatyard, hotel and rental car expenses, it was only a little more expensive to pay someone else to do it.  Oh, and a lot more fun for someone else to do it too...

While the pros were working on the hull and I was working on the transom, Jen and Quinn went to see Shrek 4, visited a Children's museum and did some shopping.  On the third day my work on Mirasol was finished and I took Quinn to the beach.  Everything went well and we had no rain delays so Mirasol was splashed only three days after being hauled out.  We motored back down the New River to our spot by Andrews Ave where we stayed for about two weeks.

While on the New River we took care of a lot of chores that needed done such as doctor appointments, cleaning, provisioning and maintenance.  We also sampled some of the local restaurants and spent a wonderful day with our friends Brian, Shannon and Connor Hermann in their backyard.  Conner is about a year younger than Quinn and they got along very well.

Maintenance items we accomplished while here include replacing the fresh water pump on the port engine, replacing coolant, thermostats, belts and raw water impellers on both engines, replacing the starboard engine's exhaust mixing elbow, clearing out a clogged head (what fun!), reprogramming a malfunctioning Raymarine ST70 instrument, and replacing the broken Raymarine VHF.  Quinn got to visit another museum, a couple of parks and did a lot of bike riding.  Maybe we'll take off the training wheels in Charleston.